Thursday, August 19, 2010

Greatest Summer Hits

I figured that since I'm going to take a little time off, here are some of my favorite and best recent posts. (I know-- I know. I hate it when people do this, too.)

(P.S. - This break is indefinite, but I'm still writing.)

"Let The Work of Change Begin" - Sometimes I'll look back at something I did and wonder, "When was I ever there?" I love this, so much so that I put it in a movie.

"I watched all three Twilight movies in one day and wrote about doing that / My Suicide Note" - Despite this being a horrible experience, it was a lot of fun to do. Oh, and this is the longest thing I've ever written, which is pathetic.

"What We're Doing" - The Habitat for Humanity New Orleans trip short I did. I like this because I feel that people who didn't even go on the trip can watch it and feel loved, if only a little.

"Conerning Pathos" - I'm glad I wrote down this little reminder.

"The Adventures of Dusky Panther" - This essay feels formal to me. Maybe it is.

"Si Vis Amari Ama" - This is a diary entry I did at a pretty low point, but I guess people liked it.

"Thoughts on Toy Story 3" - I punched this out right after I saw it. After doing that and feeling special, I saw that's pretty much what everyone did after seeing this movie, so I no longer felt special. I still feel I made some point with this.

"Of Jersey Shore, My Dougie, and Other Things" - I did two video vlogs this summer. Glad I had an outlet to let out my silly/frustration. I think satirizing can be the best/worst way to do that.

"Ceteris Paribus" - Pretty much nobody talked to me about this short remake I did of the old 60s TV show "The Outer Limits." People probably didn't like it. I understand why, but I still do.

"It's A Party" - Kind of a ragtag account of college orientation tied together with my political view.

Thank you. I probably love you.

Funny Sufjan released an album now. That's not fair. (I like tracks 2 and 5.)

<a href="">All Delighted People (Original Version) by Sufjan Stevens</a>

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What We're Doing

I’m in a place. I guess I was yesterday, too, but that was a different place. Until now I’ve never had a moment where I went away, came back, and returned to thinking that I was tired of this old pattern, tired of these old folks. I’m tired of sucking from a tube of photo albums of drunken parties that I never go to and watching videos that serve no purpose and accepting friend requests from people I’ve never met and exposing myself to a culture that doesn’t concern me, so I’m changing subscriptions. I was shown freedom and I want it back. Tomorrow I won’t be where I was yesterday because I’m already not there. I’m not here, either. I’m in New Orleans with the people I love.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ceteris Paribus

Here is a short film that I made in my closet called “Ceteris Paribus.” I would suggest watching it in full screen and in one sitting. It’s a remake of part of a show that was called “The Outer Limits.” Hope you enjoy it.

Odd thing happened. A little bit ago, realizing that my intensive week of blogging and filmmaking was at an end, I wasn’t sure what to do, but it was a really freeing moment. All I could do was crack open a book and relax. I usually don’t try to talk about my life too much on here outside of the things I work on (because I don’t care for that kind of attention and probably because they are tragically one in the same), but I’m leaving tomorrow for a Habitat for Humanity trip for a week. I’m going to document some of it with my camera.

If you don’t care to revisit anything I’ve written this week (they’re all on this page), then here’s something for you to oogle at while I’m gone.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Bye bye when the morning comes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why Playing “Picross 3D” Makes You A Better Person

For the second time in two days, I plan to draw a parallel between a means of well-living and a videogame without sounding too heavy-handed.

I’ve never been an empathetic person. As far as comfort in the material world goes, well, let’s just say I’m sitting on a couch typing on my laptop which gets a wealth of knowledge through our wireless internet connection in my room which is always kept at a nice temperature which is in my nice house in my safe neighborhood in the relatively crime-ridden state of Indiana (don’t tell that to the Black Expo shooters). Common logic says that I can’t feel empathy for anyone who isn’t a well-off white kid. A lot of people live this way and regard Sophia Coppola movies as the gospel. Everyone has the option of living within the realm of his or her experience or faking it. This “faking it” is called deductive reasoning, and we all do it.

For the past couple weeks, before I go to bed, I have spent about 30 minutes playing this video game called Picross 3D, which is pretty much a meta-Sudoku. You are given a blob of three-dimensional blocks with numbers either on the side, top or both. The numbers indicate how many blocks in the row are included in the final product. Therefore, when tackling a puzzle, you usually get rid of the “0” rows, highlight the rows with every block included, and so on. You deal with everything that must be true. These become the things you know. Based on the first stage of thinking, you then move onto what changed because of what was removed from that first stage. If there was a row of six blocks with four included in the final product and one was deleted, leaving the row with (block (empty space) blockblockblockblock), then it is now true that the one isolated block is not in the final product. For the first 60 puzzles of Picross 3D, two stages of thinking is all that is necessary, and is all that many people choose to function with in a respectable livelihood.

Eventually, Picross forces you to play empathetically, thinking from both sides and considering what absolutely must not be true. If there is a row of five blocks and three are in the final product, then it must be true that the very middle block is in the final product. This is when Picross starts to implement deductive reasoning. Eventually, and at the point of the game where I am, you are given a block canvas with almost no giveaways, and the process takes heart. It gets to the point where you begin and think to yourself, “There is no way I can figure this out. I just don’t know anything,” and that's completely OK. That’s when the deducing begins.

This is what’s beautiful about deductive reasoning — you only have to know a little about anything to talk about everything. You can understand without having to be an active participant. This is what’s ugly about deductive reasoning – you don’t know about anything. It’s the same reason we get into the habit of speaking and thinking in contrived truths based on our experiences and assimilating them to everyone. I felt this least when reading “Things Fall Apart” for my world history class. While I am mildly interested in the history and legacy of social justice depredated by trans-atlantic traders, I don’t know shit about yam farming (spoiler alert: the entire book is about yam farming). I’m not supposed to know what it feels like, but I can read a book that tells me what it feels like and get by.

Chuck Klostermann said that John Cusack and Coldplay created unrealistic expectations for how guys act in a relationship. For me, they merely indicated the type of person who I don’t want to date (someone who has those expectations). Culture obviously influences culture (see: any college paper written ever). When talking with someone, it isn’t all that difficult to root out who is living and who’s being told how to feel. Or you can deduce it. Either way, you’re doing the same thing- preemptively judging someone.

I don’t mean to speak pejoratively of deductive reasoning. There really is so much we can know. We all have to be teenage girls who want to be anywhere with anyone making out because Chris Carrabba sang it so. We all have to logic ourselves into believing that our decisions are both the appropriate and right one. We all have to make life easier or it’ll consume us, but people are certainly more than logic. You can’t logic someone into loving you, logically cry, logically watch the rain fall or logically go to Cracker Barrel. The ideas simply clash. Maybe you can’t logically know anything important, but as much as we suck at it, we can always work on empathy, learning it from MTV shows and weepy songs that we have nothing to do with. We get better at faking it in order to be better people. I suppose the rest is all yellow* while we’re figuring it out. Yeah, I ended this essay with a Coldplay allusion. I know.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Treasure Mountain Means to Me

When I was an older kid, between third and fifth grade, I would always find a way to manage my parents’ run for errands to make a stop at or near Half Price Books. I would do this so that I could shift through boxes of $0.25 comic books there for titles that I liked or thought that I would. I have a basket in my room full of around 500 comics bought from these trips, and from these comics I accredit all of my creativity, inspiration, and desire to know anything. I rarely read them today, foremost because they’re comic books and they don’t offer much to me. I read books now. Manga is for people who never grew up. I imagine most other kids read “youth literature,” meaning “The Hardy Boys,” “Harry Potter,” “Little House on The Prairie,” “Twilight,” and so on. Often people go as far as to say that these gateway books “raised them,” and even developed aspects of who they are. I never had those books growing up. I had Treasure Mountain.

Growing up (as just a kid, this time) my family computer served as our source of entertainment. The first computer for anyone in our family ran on Windows 3.1 and didn’t seem slow at all. Among the games installed on it were Minesweeper, Roger Rabbit, Mixed-Up Mother Goose, and our favorite, Treasure Mountain.

In Treasure Mountain, you play as a guy who’s trying to get to the top of Treasure Mountain. In order to climb Treasure Mountain, you must climb ladders with the first couple steps missing, which appear if you find the key. In order to find the key hidden behind one of the many pieces of nature along your path, you must catch elves in your net and answer their questions, which they then give you clues. The elves are scattered along the side of Treasure Mountain happily dancing along and whistling. This is until the haunting tall dark figure that you are captures the peaceful creature in a net, forcing him to ask you what animal has hooves so that you can answer him correctly, he can give you the clue, and may be set free to continue on his merry way. (It’s supposed to be an educational game, by the way (although it’s only educational if you’re severely retarded).) So you reach the top of Treasure Mountain, where a wizard attempts to throw you off with his magic wand that casts magic beams of magic. If you get past him, an item of treasure escapes his chest, goes down a slide, and you then follow it to the bottom of Treasure Mountain. Repeat. This is Treasure Mountain.

I have yet to tell you that the goal of Treasure Mountain is to collect as much fucking treasure as humanly possible. At the bottom of Treasure Mountain lies your treasure room where you can walk past shelves and shelves of your collection. At the time when every one of my siblings played this game for hours a day (each), we had over ten rooms filled. It was the type of game that made you care about the ends rather than the means of getting there, but the means was actually the entertaining part. If comic books sparked my creativity, then I will go as far as to say that Treasure Mountain made me who I am, because it made me who I’m not.

Until high school, my parents never pampered me. I was never allowed to buy extras at lunch (I always wanted a Fruitopia), I never went clothes shopping regularly, and I was sparsely allowed a penny for the horse ride at Meijer. This was all because my parents saw trends in other kids that they didn’t want for us (also my mom is a coupon addict). I’m thankful for this, but without Treasure Mountain to balance my materialistic vice, I would be severely fucked up in the head.

Capitalism is best in situations where it’s harmless, and we all want to be a part of it when we’re a kid. We want to spend money to get something that we want at the time, because it’ll satisfy our temperamental desire. It’s true that some parents simply give up, give in, and buy a gumball or ice cream or a Hollister shirt for their whining brat. While I did get two of those three things growing up at times, it was never because I asked for it. My parents made sure that everything I received, I would have no doubt in my mind that I didn’t deserve it. I would feel grateful but guilty, and without Treasure Mountain I would have probably guilted myself into Catholicism by now. Treasure Mountain taught me that there are things in this world that work can give you and that you can show for your body of work, see it, and feel proud of it. You may figure that basing my world view on a materialistic driven videogame would warp me into some individualistic meta-conservative, and you’re probably right. Both my parents are fiscally conservative and socially indifferent (but probably leaning liberal). If our hard drive hadn’t deleted, I probably would have followed in their footsteps.

We lost everything. All our treasure was wiped off the shelves and thrown back into the chest. I was devastated for a while. Everything I had worked for had simply gone away. It was all for nothing. It was nothing. Yeah, it was nothing! It was then that I saw what I had worked for didn’t take away what I had once felt. I could see the halls of treasure when they weren’t there, just as I can know the world continues to exist when I close my eyes. Although I’m sure many would dispute this, this realigned my egocentrism.

I don’t play videogames as much anymore. I mostly play to talk with people that I know in the real world online. But when I play videogames to play videogames, I play games like Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock, Fallout 3, Star Wars Knights of The Old Republic, and Pokemon Snap. I’ve always enjoyed videogames where you work to give yourself the illusion of growing, when you’re really staying the same. Such is life, often. We’re much too proud and invulnerable to change our ways most of the time. But the goal isn’t to be constantly changing or adhering solely to our beliefs. It’s about filling up our shelves and then burning them to the ground.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go scare the shit out of some elves.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sprawl II

I’ve come to embrace that while blogs may not the best way to get across the table my ideas and my words accompanied by my thoughts and feelings, the medium certainly includes the least distractions. I don’t like what the poem has done, mangling words into structure and format while claiming to despise them both like a contrarian teenager, forcing a set number of syllables and stresses and unstressed, confining feelings into recycled devices, clumping legacies into quatrains and sestets and stanzas. I do not like the poem, no. I don’t like the page, forcing when to stop and turn but somehow keep going in the same direction, making spaces with paragraphs and telling when to pause with commas and his periods – and – always – dashes. I don’t see eye to eye with Microsoft Word and his double spaces, 12 point text and Times New Roman font trying to make unprofessional words look professional. I’ve never enjoyed my teachers telling me to write about something that millions of papers have been written about, fully knowing that our words won’t possibly change our lives or their lives or anyone else’s life, and how many pages long we should spit this meaningless out of at the minimum. I hate the paper we printed them on, left in stacks and waiting to die. I hate the staples that we stabbed them with and the red pens which left them stained. All I care about is the word; the word that carries ideas and feelings and attempts to make something new from them for someone else, the word that I write and you read and skew and interpret. I won’t pretend that’s not the only thing that has ever mattered to me, but perhaps it should be. I do not give time to the format, the rhythm, the beat, nor the rhyme, no. I love the internet. It’s gets it. Nothing is really anything without someone to share it with, and if a book is on a shelf with no one to read it, then it’s just wasting space. The internet doesn’t judge and contort your work in order for it to be published. It doesn’t even care if you make mistakes. I have the right to change my finished product or kill it if I don’t like it. I talked with this kid recently about an English teacher he once had. This teacher forced his students to write in pen and never fix their mistakes until the end, claiming, “You may not think it, but you meant what you said at one point, and you don’t have the right to change it.” That may be true, but that doesn’t make it any less horribly abhorrent and wrong. The internet gives us the right to think about what we thought about, and because we do this does not make our sentiments impure, only reasonable. Our thoughts can be wrong; our thoughts can be scary; our thoughts always change. I have never listened to anyone who has told me I can’t change and doubt I ever will. I do not adhere to my primal instincts and I do not like the pen, no. I don’t have to sell my words or compromise to your interests and you don’t have to buy them if you don’t want to. It’s a marketplace where everything exists in perfect imbalance and you can have your own piece of the cybernetic American dream (and you don’t even have to claim citizenship). The internet doesn’t care about the past and the future. We fall into the habit of worrying about the past and worrying about the future, but the internet knows what’s important. It chiefly concerns itself with right now, the only thing that is real. And now and now and now and now and now and now and now and never then. The internet has given us the blog, effectively murdering the entire newspaper industry in 20 short years, an endless scroll where we can see and freely respond in the same space and make a reputation of our own. Like this post, it’s unstructured and it’s ugly and it’s a blob of words, but it’s freeing. We’re free. Now sprawl.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's a Party

“Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? “No,” says the man in Washington, “it belongs to the poor.” “No,” says the man in the Vatican, “it belongs to God.” “No,” says the man in Russia, “it belongs to everyone.”

As the charitable and compassionate society that we are, we claim that the stuff we own is not to be included in our genetic makeup. And in that sense, we’re right. You can’t look at a man’s face and estimate his worth. A good argument could be made that people would be less afraid if everyone was naked all the time. The appearance, the apparent socioeconomic class would be brought down (or up) to the same playing field. This would be the case everywhere except public schools and malls, where people look pretty much the same already. But we are afraid. Of ourselves—of everyone.

I returned from orientation for college today. The situation presented itself with one that I frankly haven’t seen since grade school. I’m sure this was a similar experience for many others. “You’re all here. Make friends,” they essentially told us. We were expected to make connections with people with developed experiences, world views, traumas, and psyches (well, some of them) and bring them to our level. It’s an impossible task, so we don’t even try to do it. Therefore, every conversation we have is artificial to some degree. It never felt like this when we were kids, but it was.

When I moved to Glenns Valley Elementary School before third grade, I was sad person. I never understand why I had to move. It felt like everyone I was friends with at my old school had died, and everyone I was meeting was their murderer. I had the option of being sad or angry. I remember my first day the principal gave me a tour of the school and introduced me to students. It was lunch and she sat me down at a table with several people who are still my friends today. I had just gotten back from a family vacation to Europe and my Mom told the principal this beforehand. The principal mistakenly construed this, telling my new friends, “This is Brandon. He travels the world.” This immediately sparked their interest in me and spawned many questions. Erik Knapp asked me, “Have you been to Africa?” I replied, “Not yet, but I’ve always wanted to.” Even though I used that as an opportunity to start over and build memories off of that, I lied to myself to make friends. I never felt guilty about that until now. If we’re to think about how we met our best friends, then we’ll see that it’s all built from nothing. “I like your shoes.” “You seem like a cool person.” “I like you.”

Looking around I saw meat. Meat everywhere. Meat wanting to jam itself in bread. It reeked of cheese. At orientation, pretty guys would approach pretty girls that they were sexually attracted to and talk about pretty nothingness. The underdeveloped conversationalists twiddled their thumbs (I talked with several), having more to say than those who would talk and talk and talk. I am not sexually attractive. I didn’t approach girls I was sexually attracted to because it would have felt stupid and cheap so I didn’t. I didn’t make any friends. I will in college, but not like that. I won’t allow myself to undermine what I believe or else I won’t be myself. If I really am myself and not someone else, then maybe I won’t have to lie. I don’t want to, but I’m alone, and I’m afraid.

We say that the man makes the suit, but the moment that a passerby even looks at and claims there even is a suit, there is a growing population who is calling that passerby a communist. I would argue that it’s because our fear precedes our existence. We are born with the fear. I watch Fox News and all I see are the pretty girls in second grade that would call me gay (this simply annoyed me). I am aware that most of these girls either ended up near the end of high school: shit-faced every weekend, tragically aborting a child, abusing drugs to escape. Everyone holds vices, but these are dictated by whom we surround ourselves with and of how afraid we allow ourselves to become. Pretty girls never understand me because I don’t let them. People like those girls, like those writers for Fox News and MSNBC pundits and those who simply can’t stand to live with reality that not doing drugs isn’t an option, are so afraid that it swallows their mind. The words above in the quote are pretty strong coming from a philosophy drowned in fear of the world.

Fear biases, not politics. Reporters tell their truth. This much is true. But what is always overlooked is the intellectualization of recounting what happens. It’s never a fight between swords and pens, right and wrong, or God and Satan. It’s within and not out. All those political arguments and talking points cast into pejorative gladiatorial generalization? They’re about how to spend what money and not much else. If you don’t agree with me than you are a gay child rapist who is known associates with terrorists.

These eyes have seen fear take over and lead lives to greatness and despair. I have been afraid all of my life, and I may take a crack at not.

You’re there and I’m here and I’ve wanted to talk to you again for some time now. My name is George Willard. I've traveled the world and it’s nice to meet you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What I don’t like about the FIRST Robotics League

In my 8th grade, freshman and sophomore year, I was a member of Cyber Blue 234, my high school’s award-winning and highly esteemed Robotics team. And for a while, I loved it. Eighth grade, the middle school team travelled down to St. Louis where we placed 4th in a competition of mostly high school teams. It was fast and exciting, and I even got to meet the guy who started the league (the guy who invented the segway and robotic prosthetic arm), Dean Kamen. I especially prided the accomplishment because I drove the robot for many of the rounds and our rank simply felt earned. I celebrated with the team, joined robotics in high school for two more years of enthusiasm for robot obstacle courses, grew annoyed with the type of people involved in it and the excitement built around it, and then I grew up and quit. At the time, I felt that I just grew indifferent to it. What I see now is that the motivation for Robotics derives from socioeconomic bias and negative aspects of capitalism.

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) is an organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen in order to encourage competition in youth through an unconventional medium, science and technology. Every year, a game is revealed to teams across the world. The teams are given six weeks to build a machine from scrap with the help of mentors. Because these machines cost a significant amount of money to make, teams are encouraged to come up with a business plan in order to entrepreneurially earn sponsors and responsibly appropriate funds to different facets of the team. In order to persuade sponsors to support them (and out of the goodness of their hearts), many teams participate in outreach initiatives in the community in order to further prove their value to the community and humanity. At regional Robotics events, teams are awarded trophies and medals for both their accomplishments on the field, on their business structure, as humanitarians, et cætera. All in all, FIRST teams must become businesses first and sports teams second and humanists third in order to be successful. In order to balance the three, many teams elicit help from professional engineers as mentors to the team, fully creating an enclosed world where the creators build, adapt to problems, compete, thrive, and succeed in the realm of one competition.

So ideally, it’s Atlas Shrugged. I’m not sure if Dean Kamen would be offended by this remark. He is the very product of individualistic achievement and has even criticized the national government for holding back people from reaching greatness at his World Robotics Championship held at the Georgia Dome. Kamen actually lives on a private island off the coast of the New York (which he calls the “Kingdom of North Dumpling”) where he invents and can be great all by himself. Kamen invented a constitution, flag, currency, and national anthem for his island. In my eyes, he wants to be Howard Roark/John Galt/Ayn Rand’s lovechild.

Mind you, in high school, I was in no way whatsoever involved with the making of the robot. I feel this gives me an outside look in. Other people might argue I don’t “get it.” I feel if I remained on the inside of the team “getting it,” I’m sure that I would buy into all of it. Instead, I was in charge of a team responsible for making a website in order to win awards for making a website I MEAN INFORMING THE COMMUNITY OF THE TEAM’S EFFORTS.

This is not the debate between Randian Objectivism and parasitic Collectivism. That’s what those in favor of FIRST would argue I’m doing. FIRST holds very collectivist motives, and indeed does the work of good people. But it’s the “Why?” that my Robotics mentors, and I would argue FIRST, have always refused to answer. Motive is the chief indicator of self worth, and the road to hell, is indeed, paved with good intentions. What has infuriated me most is that Dean Kamen has portrayed his Robotics competition as a paradigm for constructive competition and the human spirit though technology when it’s really just mock capitalism. I'm afraid an experience through FIRST does not necessarily yield good people.

Corporations give millions of dollars and hired professionals to help specific teams and not others; not all teams are built the same, or are even at the same socioeconomic class. This would be fine if FIRST acknowledged this. Alas, here lies the deception. Many of the same teams do well every year are paid thousands of dollars by Rolls Royce, GM, Allison Transitions, Delphi, Motorola, and NASA. Coincidentally enough, these corporations also offer internships to sponsored team members and later become their employers. Teams often complain that mentors from other teams build the robot and the students simply watch (at least Cyber Blue did). Occasionally a poorer school would place well, but often not. It’s not that it’s bad that the Robotics league became monopolized, but it’s absolutely abhorrent that it was founded with the expectation of this bullshit pretense that entrepreneurship is the means of being successful. It’s materialistic and selfish, but you would never derive this from their Gandhian mission statement.

I hope I’ve done a good job of establishing FIRST as a system. It’s the type of system that doesn’t recognize itself as a system, which is the scariest type of system. At one competition, teams were becoming frustrated with this rule called G22, which was the equivalent of a back-court violation. That’s all fine and well, but eventually other teams were exploiting this rule, causing other robots to get G22s, almost to the point that there were several G22s every match. All-in-all, the rule was frustrating and stupid. As people have been doing for hundreds of years, I decided to poke fun at the rule in order to encourage improvement. Thus, I printed off several signs which read “G22” and had members of our team sitting in the stands (for 8 hours a day) to raise them up whenever one was called. I thought it was funny, and at least gave something for people to amuse themselves with. However, I was chewed out by one of the adults on our team for disrespecting the event and jeopardizing the team from winning an award. I may sound like Glenn Beck here, but do we become so afraid of the system that we really say nothing when we think it’s wrong? Only a little bit? This was everyone’s attitude that I encountered towards FIRST. Nobody seemed to voice their disapproval of the hierarchical structure of teams and the required selfish motive and corporate sponsors to achieve. It’s like if Thomas Payne was the commissioner of a sports league. Marx would probably run the fairest sports league — ever.

If they were to remove awards from the competition, something that should ultimately mean nothing, FIRST would be worthless. They know this. It’s manipulation in the highest sense possible, in that the manipulated earnestly believe their efforts are purely accomplished by their own merit and aren’t influenced by money and directed by the pursuit of nothing. It’s really a trend in all professional sports. The Miami Heat is favored 5:2 to WIN the 2011 NBA Finals now that Jebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh were recruited in multi-million dollar deals. Yet to the wide eyed kid I once was who will be sitting with a bowl of popcorn in his family room watching the NBA finals, none of this will be apparent. For those imaginative children and the future engineers ecstatic to be in FIRST marveling at their collaborative accomplishments, it’ll be magic. Magic doesn’t exist, and FIRST doesn’t want anyone to know that. It’s really just science. That’s it. Sure, they’re the ones who will be changing the world, but they’re sure as hell not the ones writing the checks.

At least I made this when I was a freshman. This made it all worth it.

...and this my sophomore year.

I am John Galt.*

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Si Vis Amari Ama

I am going to reserve this space for sentimentality. I don’t do this often and will understand if you’ll want to shy away. I am going to start and then I’m going to stop and then I’m going to publish it. This’ll probably be pretty raw.

It would be too easy for me to say that I had a sad childhood, because I didn’t. I remember falling and being chased, waking up, sitting in front of my glass door looking outside of my family’s first house. This is my first memory. I remember my mother’s day care service, and never caring to make friends or sleep during nap time. I remember the block across the street’s block parties where they would play baseball in the road. I remember being chased by my neighbor with a real chainsaw while trick or treating and crying. I remember our first computer (which ran Windows 9.1). I remember that our second computer worked much faster. I remember learning how to emulate Nintendo 64 games on Windows and feeling like a genius. I remember consciously stealing a pack of gum at Cub Foods, giving it back when the alarm rang on our way out, and feeling guilty about it to this day. I have no other feelings of guilt about anything else I’ve done. I remember playing sports and enjoying it, despite clearly having little athletic ability and not caring much for sports. I sucked at baseball, where I was given “most improved” because by the end of the season I wasn’t afraid of being hit by a wild pitch. Eventually, I learned to stand and take it. I remember getting this award and going to the Pizza King where they had Nintendo 64s and the toy train that would bring you your drinks by railway. I sucked at football, where I played safety on the caliber of football team that doesn’t really require a safety. I remember my greatest achievement was returning a fumble for a touchdown that was called back as an incomplete pass, and going out for ice cream later to celebrate. I even sucked at soccer, one of the only sports at the youth level that nobody can suck at because nobody even knows what the hell they’re doing, anyway. I remember thinking that I was good at soccer. Even up until high school, I sucked at tennis because I cared enough, but not enough that I cared to get better. But still, I was a captain of my team and took them to eat disgusting fast food after most practices, at some times to later throw it up at the next practice that day. In my free time, I did well in my piano lessons, despite being unable to read music (I memorized it) and hating playing piano that I would sometimes cry while practicing (I stopped after four years). In school, I had it easy. I performed above my peers and got all As. My parents would let me buy one book at the book fair but never a Fruitopia at lunch. I remember moving to a new school and being sad for seemingly the first time, begrudgingly making new friends of whom I still care for. I was placed in a lower math class because I was sad during the placement exams and didn’t perform well. But still, I doubled up on math on my own and eventually caught up, of which I kept up until my junior year when I finished Calculus and decided that I hated math. I couldn’t double up on English and remained behind, of which I went into a deep depression entering middle school because I felt superior but held down. This terrible misfortune that I would never wish on any child is the only reason I have any work ethic, of which I would argue is the only thing that has separated me from my peers in high school. It was then that I learned that I had to work for what I care about because nobody will ever give me what I want. I remember directing my first video with 12 year old kids through a headset on Xbox Live (which to this day was the hardest thing to direct). It was called “Halo 451” and was a sketch comedy piece that wasn’t very funny. My second video, the sequel, “Halo 452,” was horribly titled but had fresher material. I remember Xanga and Myspace and writing and having no idea and learning ideas and making ideas even without having any idea. I remember Myspace bulletins and feeling indifferent to everyone’s vague approach to saying they liked someone. I remember falling in like and love and never falling out of either and remembering what that felt like after it didn’t go anywhere. I remember not wanting to remember and I also remember not wanting to forget. I remember writing letters and throwing them away and wanting to write an awesome suicide note but ending up making portraits with stick people in Microsoft Paint (201, to be exact (192 still existing)). I don’t remember the summer before my freshman year too well. I remember not being afraid of high school when everyone around me was, with some of the same people afraid of everyone when they graduated. I remember Creative Writing Club saving my life. In fact, I remember CWC my freshman year more than my freshman English class (which is supposedly important). I remember helping with (doing) projects for Ms. Sheehan’s freshman English class because I wanted to be in it so badly. I remember working on a website for six hours a day on Robotics and nobody giving a shit (including myself). I remember winning a bunch of awards for the website and everyone suddenly giving a shit (not including myself). I remember my Journalism teacher Mr. Wall talking about what is good and what is not good and what everyone is doing wrong and what I should do to be a good person. I remember listening to him, and I remember the people who didn’t were the same people who were always affirmed of their behavior and always will be. I remember learning from him that you could never be content with yourself. I remember starting to want to be a good person. I remember my Mom firing the superintendant (for reasons that were published years later on the front of The Indianapolis Star that proved my Mom right) and people hating me who I didn’t know for reasons they didn’t completely understand. I remember hating Spanish and cheating to get an A in my third year second semester (my last semester in Spanish) and not feeling bad about this. I remember I pooped in a urinal once. I remember trying to start a Baking Club with Katie and making a Scrabble club with Jamie and being in other clubs. I guess I was in a band, kind of. I remember dating some people, it not feeling the same, and stopping it out of nowhere (probably appearing to be (being) an ass). I remember Andrew killing himself and making a video the next day about making something important, of which I’ve been trying to do since. I remember Thomas dying and everyone really sad at play rehearsal (we all knew him). I remember everyone in school claiming to be his best friend (even though he was mine when I was much younger). I remember not talking to people about Thomas and crying like a baby at his viewing. I remember making a movie, but really watching it make itself and being pleased with it. I remember when everyone starting reading senior year and start writing and using words in the way they thought other people thought was smart, but were really saying nothing and sounding forced. I remember watching people I respect fall and not feeling anything from that. I remember staying at school longer than any teacher or student (with the exception of maybe two people) and not getting a single scholarship or earned accolade at honors night. I remember Mini-O, “planning” Prom, the end of CWC, Senior Issue and English. I’m sure there was other stuff, too.

These memories aren’t terribly successful (especially near the beginning). Then again, not many childhoods are. (And you know those that had successful childhoods and they’re pompous assholes. They all play tennis and go to North Central.) In fact, memories of childhood can seem pretty unsubstantial. Memories of us growing, happily or not, are meaningful. Maybe this is just because most of mine involved food. I feel like there are these huge divides between who I was and who I am and what I will be. I think I turned out better when I was afraid, and I certainly am now. They certainly aren’t the only things I remember. It’s not that they’re things that I care to remember right now, but maybe they’re just the things I care to share.

Until we meet again.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Goddamn Jackrabbit

It’s five now, and that’s better than four.

I don’t like four in the morning. I don’t enjoy existing when it’s four in the morning. So when my parents informed me that they required a ride to the airport at that hour, I was disappointed to find that all of my siblings would be somewhere else on that day.

Mornings don’t work for me. I prefer the night for the same reason why most people avoid it. People are sharper, more intellectually developed when they’ve been conscious for longer. Most feel fine when they wake up because they can fall into a routine without really thinking about it while time goes on. It’s at night when they drink, fuck, smoke, sleep, or really do anything in their power to sabotage the cognitive development they have undergone in their conscious hours in order to open their channels of awareness. If we were really consciously aware of ourselves all the time, we would probably all be disgusted with rather than in love with ourselves—but we’re not. I don’t like the feeling of waking up because I don’t like starting over, so this is why I stayed up all night and drove my parents to the airport today.

Driving on empty freeways doesn’t feel right. It’s like an empty time square, a sort of vacuum with spurts of unwelcoming fog. It doesn’t sooth the soul knowing you’re living while everyone you know isn’t. They’re unconscious and they’re aware of this and they don’t want to be disturbed. They left the world in just the way they want it and you’re stepping right through it with your muddy boots. These thoughts are with me when an adventurous white-spotted brown jackrabbit decides to bolt out in front of my car which A) I’m not consciously thinking about driving (because it’s four in the morning and I’m not consciously thinking about anything I should be consciously thinking about) and B) I don’t wish to be a bringer of death at this time. But while I’m thinking of this at the time, I’m really not. All I do is say, “Goddamn Jackrabbit,” and luckily miss him.

So I’m rattled and a little shaken up (but you could never tell) and suddenly am in the mood for cottage cheese. I don’t care to intellectualize this. Instead of the route home, I keep going forward to reach Kroger, where I find what I want and get it. The tired cashier asks if I have a Kroger card (I do) and I say that I don’t in hopes that there’s something worth liking about humanity. My $1 gamble pays off, of which I am gracious for (she scanned one for me).

I came home to my dog looking at me with wide eyes. She knows her parents are gone and she doesn’t know what to do, and neither do I. She follows me to my room and rests next to me while I eat a plate of cottage cheese. It tastes milky and sweet and rewarding. I have the house to myself, for now, and I’m going to do something with it. I’m just not sure what I’m doing yet. It’s five now.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I watched all three Twilight movies in one day and wrote about doing that / My suicide note

Happy 75th blog post!

(Yeah, there are spoilers, but it’s Twilight.)

Hey there, my vampires! Before I embark into Edward’s arms, I want to really get down the purpose of my masochism.

I don’t really know that much about Twilight. I think the first one may have been playing at someone’s house at some point, but I wasn’t really paying attention to it. Anyway, that was before we knew about 2012. Everything is different now. What I do know is that it’s about a girl who nobody can seem to like falls in love with a vampire who’s impossible not to love—and he’s Mormon, or whatever. Oh, and there’s also a Pagan werewolf… and Dakota Fanning.

Because this new “Book of Mormon” (or whatever) has become so popular among a group of tween girls most well read people find to be intellectually immature, it doesn’t surprise me that it has come under public ridicule. I even structured a parody around the effects of reading Twilight (having never read it, of course).

But that end of the social spectrum doesn’t confuse me. No one is ever confused with understanding just one end. The challenge I hope to tackle is to understand why so many find desirable what the rest of us interpret as inherently stupid. This means that I will be intellectualizing what many find to be inherently stupid. Take me away, Edward.

Twilight (2008) – Winner of no awards, from the director of Lords of Dogtown

Bella, the most ambiguous portrait of the teenage girl ever, moves to a new school where every boy wants to have sex with her. This will probably be the whole story. I will move past this. Bella sits with Edward in Biology and he almost CAN’T TAKE IT. Bella doesn’t show a lot of emotion because everything embarrasses her. This probably works well for a book, as I imagine there’s plenty of room to relate and delve into her thoughts. But all we’re presented with in the movie is a girl who bites her lower lip a lot and looks “complicated.”

I’m starting to see why people are Edward haters. People deem him invasive and possessive. I’m sure I’ll revisit this.

Hello, mythology! So the vampires and werewolves have a pact, that I’m SURE won’t be broken over Bella. Slow down, monsters! Get to know the girl and find out if she’s worth it before killing Tybalt! I’m getting ahead of myself. It could turn out different than this (it won’t).

Edward protects Bella, which is important because everyone wants to rape/eat her. Edward then watches Bella eat mushroom ravioli. Bella assumes Edward is bulimic (I assume).

I don’t think that tweens find the two’s interaction necessarily typical, but it’s almost an ideal fantasy. A guy who can understand you by trying? This has officially established itself as escapist entertainment. I’m a little surprised how heavily this relies on science fiction’s formula. It’s as if this is an expanded “Star Trek” episode written by a college girl who was broken up with one time too many.

Anyway, Bella thinks that Eddy is a vampire, has a stupid monologue, and whispers “vampire.” Unnecessary camera angles. Whatever. I’m just gonna look past this.

Edward feels guilty because he wants to drink her blood. Bella doesn’t care, because of course she doesn’t. I don’t think that drinking her blood is so bad, since everyone else in the movie wants to have sex with her.

Alright, we’ve established characters and love interest. Cueeeee conflict! (10 minutes of vampire explaining pass.) While I’m waiting for the conflict, I’ll try to tackle why people don’t like Bella. In a lot of people’s eyes, I bet they think there’s no reason to like Bella. I mean, you’re not really given one, but that’s kind of the point. A lot of this movie requires an unconditional investment (much like Edward’s unconditional love for Bella, or whatever). It just depends on how much you let yourself like an entirely ambiguous character. It’s either enamoring or retarded. All or nothing.

I am a little interested as to why Edward isn’t more emotionally mature, having been in high school for 100 years. For instance, he likes watching her sleep and he’s barking orders when he’s kissing her. But hey! They’re overcoming obstacles just as any relationship would, I guess. Their obstacles are just vampire boners, and ours aren’t.

Vampire baseball scene. Oh, 2008. It seems so long ago. The time certainly seems to have had an influence on this movie. Specifically the Hadron collider, because this movie threatens to create an infinite black hole that will suck everything out of the universe if it doesn’t take a sharp turn very, very quickly. Where is the conflict?

There you are, evil vampires (oxymoron?)! Bella was mean to her Dad and symbolically leaves her friends behind.

There’s a Butch Cassidy like chase scene. Now a fight scene (which is surprisingly not overstaying its welcome). Bella is bit. What? Is she a vampire now? Is someone going to have to make a decision? Called it! Oh, get over yourself, Edward! Love is sacrifice, which apparently vampires know nothing about. Except he eventually does and Bella wakes up to Sarah Clarke smiling over her. Hi, Sarah Clarke!

Now Edward is trying to push her away again. WE GET IT.

Jacob throws a curve ball! LINES WILL BE DRAWN. “I leave you alone for two minutes and the wolves descend.” SUBTLE. To be honest, the Jacob part is the only one I’m really interested in, which I guess is a good thing; because that’s probably all the second movie is about. Bella doesn’t become a vampire. I think that shows some selflessness on Edward’s part. Right? Right? This movie was kind of stupid.

It’s hard to judge this from my perspective. I’m not a girl, not the target age, and not stupid. I do like the Tuck Everlasting aspect to it because I liked Tuck Everlasting growing up (shut it). I don’t think they dwell on that nearly enough as they should. It lingers too much on the whole blood and desire and restraint theme, and tween girls don’t know shit about sex, but this isn’t helping a generation who already glorifies it to the max. But make no mistake, this movie is not as intelligent as I’m making it. It is pure escapist entertainment (unless you’re a young girl, of which this is just “entertainment”). Only a Mormon… Harry Potter is a lot better. I’m interested to see what happens next.
Can’t wait for New Moon!*

Stray thoughts:

Washington, where everything is tinted blue.

Jacob’s long hair.

Jacob – “Oh, I go to school on the reservation.” HAHAHAAHAHH WHAT A LOSER.

“I’m just trying to figure you out. You’re very difficult to read.” They have plenty of books in prison, creep.

The doctor is a vampire? Is everyone a vampire?

People are making a pretty big deal that Bella didn’t get hit by a car.

Stop making faces. Everyone makes the dumbest faces.

These girls are one bite away from being in a Tennessee Williams play. It’s tough to agree with the assessment of women without sounding misogynistic.

“I really just want to go to this book store. Because I’m deep.” – Bella, who is not deep.

Bella has the steadiest hand moving the cursor on her laptop—ever.

Sparkling in the sun is better than most vampires have it. Most of them burn alive.
“Here comes the human!” Oh God.

Over half of the movie has gone by, and we have yet to see the conflict. If this is how it is in the book, I have no clue as to how it managed to be successful.

Edward kisses Bella, he gets a vampire boner and almost CAN’T TAKE IT.

Cars seem unnecessary at this point.

The whole “hunt” part seems stupid. It’s a shame that’s the whole basis of the conflict.

Are vampires always this dedicated and persistent? Aren’t there, like, billions of people on Earth?

If she’s in Arizona now, why is everything still tinted blue?


Jacob looks like he’s enrolled at Hogwarts with that tie (not the hippie hairdo).

Radiohead in the credits? Really? That’s rude. I really like that song. Stop that.

New Moon (2009) – Winner of hundreds of MTV Movie Awards, from the director of American Pie (really)

The only association I have with New Moon is the soundtrack, which features a lot of artists that I like. I realize that this was a ploy to make me watch this movie. So it… worked? I don’t really know.

I grilled myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, have a glass of milk and now I’m ready to go! Vampires!

While it’s starting and nothing is happening, I think I’ll tackle why people hate Twilight. Other than the obvious reasons, people always have this fear that the generation growing up with a romantic figure will have no means of competing. This is totally true. Last generation had John Cusack, mine has Harry Potter, and this young one has Edward (or Jacob, whatever). I don’t see this as warping a generation more as I see it creating a divide. If pop culture has no hyperbolic figure to dictate what is good and what is not good, then I think pop culture isn’t doing its job. The job of the audience is, then, to determine what’s bullshit. And while it fears me that more and more girls are looking for the Edward in their life, it doesn’t irk me all that much. My generation has Harry Potter, and I apparently strike a resemblance. Disaster averted. My life is perfect.

Bella is running over the river and through the woods in a dream sequence to grandmother’s house… she goes. Edward emerges and is lookin’ snazzay. But wait! The grandmother is Bella! She’s old! Whuttt? WAKE UP TIME.

Bella is afraid of getting old, which is completely retarded (fitting). Bella also admits to Edward’s pedofilia! Jacob’s hair is still retarded but he’s been working out (TEAM JACOB, LADIES!).

Edward has to visit the Medici family of vampires who rips peoples’ fucking heads off.

Bella bleeds and everyone freaks out. The ordeal (somehow?) makes Bella want to be a vampire. Edward is 50 times more responsible than Bella. Bella and the entire tween population perceive this as Edward being a jerk. Edward basically asks her not to get raped, continuing his responsible streak.

Bella goes soul searching, has a girl moment in the forest and falls asleep. A Native American’s pecks carry Bella to safety. Clever time passing shot with more appropriate music! Good job, director of American Pie!

Bella goes through a screaming phase, like every girl does. Her Dad wants Bella to leave but she, likes, swears to God she’s doing stuff with her friends, and stuff. Edward’s ghost protects Bella, which is sweet. Like, Patrick Swayze in Ghost, sweet. Meanwhile, Bella is begging to get raped. Bella surprisingly doesn’t get raped (thanks to Edward, again).

Bella jumps into rebound mode. Hi, Jacob! Nothing is revealed to the audience as to why Bella likes Jacob other than him “being there for her.” Jacob is clearly the “reckless” choice that Edward was talking about, especially since Bella says, “I know this is kind of reckless, but…” Werewolf drama. Edward shows up in ghost form but instead she gets Jacob to take off his shirt. Jacob goes for more rebounds than Charles Barkley.

I know only a third of the movie has gone by, but is there going to be a conflict in this one at a reasonable time? Classic Twilight!

Bella goes on a double date with Jacob and the nerd (they both want to have sex with her). Bella continues to tease because she’s rebounding and he’s Charles Barkley. Jacob is completely AOK with that. I don’t think I’m being sarcastic. This is all actually happening.

OK. I AM NOT ON TEAM JACOB. RIGHT NOW. “I will never hurt you.” I will never hurt you? OK, now you’re fucking with us. Jacob is the kind of guy who would never apologize. At least Edward maintains a level of self awareness that he recognizes his destructive nature. Jacob just says, “I’m perfect, now kiss me.”

Back in Crazytown where everything is crazy, Jacob has a hot haircut and is confrontation happy. Oh, suddenly Jacob feels guilty! Is everyone in Twilight Catholic?

Suddenly, Sullen Sally sulks back to a flower bed where the bad vampire from the last movie is waiting to kill her (her meaning Bella, sorry). Out comes Jacob! Conflict, and only halfway in this time!

OK. I can see how people see this as Jacob “protecting Bella when Edward abandoned her.” Or, like the movie date, is this another REBOUND. STOP PICKING UP SLOPPY SECONDS, JACOB. You aren’t in love. Put on a damn shirt, wolf-boy.

Speaking of, this “is he or isn’t he” a wolf better not go on for much longer, because we all obviously know. Even I knew that Jacob was a wolf before I saw the first movie.

Oh, I see. Well at least that transformation part looked cool.

This is getting interesting! I wonder what Edward’s doing this whole time? The pacing is a lot better than the first movie.

Alright, so now I’m seeing this is a race relations/Shakespearean love triangle story set in the realm of modern teenage adolescence with vampires. That’s fine.

Now Bella’s going to kill herself so that Edward will come back and turn her into a vampire? That’s some pretty rock solid logic, Bella, meaning your head is full of rocks. Nothing really happened in that scene.

If I was Edward’s ghost, I’d be pretty shitty right now.

The heart to heart the two are having in Jacob’s car feels like it’s reiterating the first half of the movie.

HAHAHAHAHAH I loved that Alice showed up just to call Bella a moron for jumping off a cliff. She just said what we were all thinking, Bella! Alice is the best!

Jacob says something in Native American (I think? It was really quiet) and almost kisses Bella, but Edward calls! Whutt? Jacob tells him off! Edward thinks Bella is dead so he’s going to show himself to humans, effectively killing himself! Saucy!

I’m going to take this time to outline the biggest problem with Twilight. I don’t understand why they approach teenage love in such a dramatic regard. I mean, teenage love is certainly a real thing that is important, but other things are important, like world conflict, self-realization, and taxes. But none of these things exist in Twilight, only teenage love. That’s it.

Flash to Castle Grayskull! More vampire drama! Edward isn’t wearing a shirt and the movie is still surprisingly interesting! The Medici of vampires wants to run tests on Bella and Edward won’t have it. Dakota Fanning uses her scary eyes to run Bella through a test, of which Bella passes (and I can’t comprehend Bella passing a test). The Medici of vampires still chooses to kill Bella, and Edward will have none of that. Slo-mo fight scene.

Now we know Bella is going to be a vampire eventually! The Medici family of vampires lets them go. That was easy. Edward affirms why he left her (what she should have recognized all along).

Now Bella wants to be a vampire, going through a life-changing transformation which would leave her with everlasting life. How should she decide this personal decision? Let’s put it to a vote! The Cullen party passes the motion 5-1 (shove it, Mom)! Mazel tov?

Jacob makes some stupid rules because he wants to protect humans because HE CARES FOR THEM SO MUCH. Jacob almost attacks Edward, but Bella pretends to be the demilitarized zone. Edward is finally on board with the vampire idea, as he should be along with anything this idiot wants, but he asks for three years? And then he’ll marry her.

Well, that doesn’t seem much of a stretch, seeing as he’s giving her everlasting life. Hahah, “’Til death do us part.” Sucks to be Jacob!

But anyway, this movie was a lot better! There were many parts that weren’t horrible! I didn’t mind the stupid mythology; it was kind of an advertisement to all of the teenage love going on. I felt that it somehow managed to be more angsty while introducing better conflict. I think they just upped their game on this one. The werewolf stuff seemed a little tired after a while, but nothing that a trip to Italy didn’t fix! I mean, still pretty bad, but not that bad!

Do I really have to watch another one of these?

Stray thoughts:

First shot: IT’S A MOON. NEW MOON. I GET IT.

Good music that isn’t forced in or a stupid piano line!

Everything isn’t tinted blue!

Edward comments on Romeo and Juliet? TWILIGHT ZONE. GET IT? TWILIGHT.

This Bon Iver and St. Vincent song is so beautiful! That was a pretty short sad montage!

This one is shot much better and feels slightly directed. Take that, director of Lords of Dogtown!

“Quite frankly [all this screaming] scares the hell out of me.” Hahahahahah, Bella’s Dad.

Jacob is 16? Fine.

“You’re sort of beautiful, Jacob. You also sort of look mentally challenged.” This is all beside the point.

“I knew you were dating sparkle face.” (Something I wanted Jacob to say.)

“I guess the wolf’s out of the bag.” Oh God.

Hahahahahahahah, more wolf puns!


A Thom Yorke song! A little less appropriate, but still.

A Grizzly Bear song! I love it!

I’m sorry, but Jacob isn’t that threatening. “Things are going to get very ugly here.” Whatever, Jacob. Your nose is congested.

Michael Sheen is the lead Medici of vampires? That’s actually pretty cool.

Dakota Fanning is scary!

This movie had nothing to do with a moon. At all.

Eclipse (2010) – Future winner of the Oscar for best picture, from the director of Hard Candy and AFI music videos (I have got to be fucking kidding you).

I REALLY don’t know anything about this one. I haven’t even heard any of the songs on the soundtrack (with many artists that I like and several that I hate!). Since I can’t take my laptop to the movie theater, I’m just going to take a notepad and jot down notes, because that seems like the appropriate thing to do while watching the third installment of the Twilight franchise. The hope is for there to be a moment in the middle of the screening where I can look at the twelve year old I am sitting next to and say, “We are one.” AVATAR STYLE. See you later tonight, monsters! I hate this!

So I went to dinner after leaving home, which turned out not to be an inconvenience because the movie was playing on a screen EVERY HOUR. I sat with my notepad ready for punning.

I got to the theater (alone), and sat down in the back with my notepad. Hoping to be isolated, a flock of three 13 year old girls sat next to me, firing me questions like, “Isn’t going somewhere alone hard? I don’t understand how you can go to a movie alone! Why are you going to write about it? Just sit back and enjoy it!” But as much as I hate my life for engaging in such escapist entertainment, I am confident that every girl in the theater despises their life even more. I might be the most content person here, and I am certainly the least excited. Merry fucking Christmas.

The girls kept annoying me during the movie. (These girls were mostly Team Jacob, by the way. Normally this wouldn’t be an important detail.) They would not. Stop. Laughing. When I wrote that last sentence you just read? Laughing. I kept saying to myself, “My life is amazing. Everything is perfect. Don’t punch them. Oh my God, she just asked me if I was gay. I am probably going to jail. My life is great. Breathe.”
Finally! Hi, vampires!

(Harry Potter trailer WIN. Tell Twilight the score.)

Also of note, every guy who is here is with a date and wearing a Tapout shirt. That’s kickboxing, or something, and the sign of douchbaggery (sorry). I imagine that their dates are on Team Jacob. If you’ve seen the movies, you know what I’m talking about. What is happening to me?

When we left our blood-sucking adventurers, we were supposed to be surprised that Edward Cullen, the vampire who will eventually spend eternity with future vampire and bottom lip sucker Bella Swan, wished to become united with his lover in the mortal institute of marriage. Apparently, this was a shocker. It took Bella’s breath away, but then again most things do. Shirtless werewolf and dirty whore Jacob Black, the last descendant of the Sioux tribe, was cast to the Trial of Tears without the accompaniment of his true love* Bella Sacajawea.

So the movie actually starts with this guy who is about to get VAMPIRED. As it turns out, this scene is pretty much unnecessary to the film other than establishing that (yes) there are vampires and (yes) they kill people. Flash to a picture of an ECLIPSE (again the title has nothing to do with what actually happens in the story, so shut up).

Edward and Bella are sitting in a lily field, or something, and Bella just CAN’T MARRY EDWARD. Again, spending eternity together is easy but HOLD UP THERE, MARRIAGE? WHAT YOU TALKIN’ BOUT, EDWARD? (R.I.P.)

Cut to Bella’s Dad reading about a murder in town. Murders are always happening in this town. I haven’t seen the front of their newspaper and it wasn’t covering a murder. Bella’s Dad wants her to spend time with Jacob. I repeat—Bella’s Dad is on Team Jacob. OH COME ON. I LIKED YOU.

Bella tries calling Jacob him when she should’ve just howled. Am I right, guys? I’m sorry.

Once again, Edward is responsible and Bella is not. Vampire drama scene.

Bella gets a quilt. This apparently matters. Vampire chase scene.

Vampire/Native American race relations are at terror threat red, probably because of the Rodney King case. Again, Edward is sweet and Bella is dumb and impulsive. OK, everyone is impulsive in this world, but Edward at least has a 10 second delay.

Jacob talks about imprinting, which is like like-liking, but like, so much more than thahhhht.

Meanwhile, Jacob says he wishes she was dead. What an asshole! Later Bella says to herself, “Edward is right, and I am a moron.”

More vampire drama. I don’t understand why they keep having these scenes. We all know that they are not the point of the movie. Again, Jacob is a douche.
Werewolf drama? Werewolf drama. STOP IT.

No conflict yet? Nope. More origin telling in the third installment of a four part saga? Yep. Classic Twilight!

Ooh, vampire army! That’s actually interesting.

Edward finally plays the experience card over Bella. Later, Jacob tells Bella what she does and doesn’t feel. He honestly spends the whole movie doing this because he is the worst. Then he commits statutory were-rape (just a kiss, really). Bella punches his face and breaks her hand. Jacob tells Bella’s Dad all of this and it is hilarious. “I kissed her and then she punched me in the face and it broke her hand,” or something.

Vampire origin flashback to the Mad Men era. Or the 1930s? I don’t know. This whole part is unnecessary. Vampires are mean. I get it.

Dakota Fanning suddenly becomes the leader of the Medici family of vampires because they probably couldn’t get Michael Sheen to sign on for another vampire movie. Dakota Fanning displays her mind control, and I smell a conflict! Finally! Good job!

We are supposed to believe that Bella Swan graduated from high school. Surrrre. She would fail her parenting class—also basic skills.

I’m done with you, Jacob.

I’m gonna take a break in this impossibly dark theater. These movies don’t really feel like standalone installments of a series. They seem like one, long movie broken up at odd parts. That might be because I’ve just watched them all today, but I think I’m on to something.

The “newborns” are after Bella. I keep imagining the vampires punting actual babies. Everyone is freaking out about the babies, so the vampires train the werewolves for the Triwizard Tournament, or something. One of the 13 year olds tried to take my notepad and I swatted her hand away. She is now giggling, saying, “He touched my hand.” I don’t think you can blog in prison, so I’ll just keep writing.

I think I understand the Edward/Jacob divide. When I look at those on Team Edward, I see people who aren’t afraid of commitment, and those who solve problems with reason and embracing uncertainty. Those on Team Jacob are afraid of commitment, act on impulse and only think in their interests. Jacob is a bro, and I have just iced him.
Everyone is gearing up for a war. Mind you, they wouldn’t have to fight it at all if Bella was a vampire, but nobody seems to care about that.

More vampire mind control. Apparently, Jasper never learned occlumency.

They talk a lot about the fight but the fight doesn’t happen. Nothing ever happens in these movies.

Alice has a sleepover/is hot.

Bella’s dad awkwardly starts the sex talk, forgets to mention anything about vampires. Soon after, Edward and Bella come this close to having sex to Keyboard Cat, I mean Claude Debussy.

(I made that video. Sorry.)

Why is Bella pressuring Edward to have sex? Bella suddenly became a guy, apparently. Edward says he’s abstinent and that’s his “one rule.” Hahaahahahah. Oh, vampires. Having sex before marriage is impure, but ripping people’s heads off is AOK. Again, sex is placed in way too high of a regard in this movie. Everything stupid is glorified (like Bella!).

Edward proves for the millionth time that he’s genuinely sweet. He proposes to Bella and she accepts. I can hear someone crying in the audience. OH, COME ON.
More vampire drama. Jacob continues to be a bro. The big fight continues to not happen.

Tent scene! You are nothing to me, Jacob. “You’ll warm up faster if you feel my huge boner, Bella,” thought Jacob as he warmed up Bella in her arms. That’s how the book read, right?

“I could’ve made her happy,” says the douche.

“I wouldn’t have wished it [vampirism] on anyone, Jacob,” says Edward, who is not a douche.

Jacob hears that Eddie and Belly are engaged and acts like a seven year old who didn’t get what he wanted. Bella is a moron and asks Jacob to kiss her. Jacob is, like, “Durr, OK,” but Jacob still leaves after kissing her, like a bro after a one night stand. Jacob probably likes Asher Roth.

The fight continues to not happen. The fight happens. Heads rip off. Edward finally gets angry. All of a sudden, the whole movie is about Riley. Who’s Riley? Riley dies. Bye, Riley!

Edward pisses off the creepy Ginger.

Bella cuts herself (typical). Creepy Ginger is distracted by Bella’s mudblood and loses her head in the process. Suddenly, I have no idea what conflict could possibly be left in the whole saga. Oh yeah, the Medicis of vampires. Shit. They want to kill everyone, of course.

The vamp/wolf truce is broken, for some reason. Jacob hurts a lot, but I don’t feel bad for him. “I’m exactly right for you, Bella.” Whatever, Jacob. Go play Gamecube.

Bella starts talking about herself, is stupid. “Bella is a strong woman,” says Bella.

Bella’s ring looks dumb. The end.

So Eclipse, despite everything I’ve said, not bad! Really! It’s a lot like the second and shares a lot of its flaws, but it was overall a better show than the first two. Actually entertaining if you want an escapist movie (because we are in a HIGH DEMAND for those!).

Stray Thoughts:

Pregnancy joke! Tasteful!

A Beck song! Cool!

Edward has chest hair, and he will always have chest hair. Team chest hair. Just sayin’.

Do werewolves age? I feel like if I’m asking this question, they didn’t do a good job. I think they do age.

Do werewolves have boobs (when wolves, I mean)?


Bella claims to be “Switzerland,” probably understands nothing of global politics (or anything else).

“Doesn’t he have a shirt?” Haha! Good one, Edward!

Werewolves have “magic in their blood.” Good to know.

I know they’re talking, but there’s a Band of Horses song playing, and I like it.
Do vampires vote? Vote or die or not?

I can’t stand Muse. Stop trying to be Queen all the time. You’re garbage.

They made the training scene more campy and fun then the baseball one. Odd.


We get it, Taylor Lautner is strong.

“You can love more than one person at a time.” SPOKEN LIKE A TRUE MORMON.

The choice between Edward and Jacob is going to be Bella’s choice. SHUT IT DOWN. THERE’S NO POINT IN TRYING ANYMORE.

Bella, hyphenating last names is weird.

Edward should make Jacob a vampire! That’d piss him off!

Today was long! I will never have my day back! But in the grand scheme of things, this is Twilight. Do I understand those who love it? Probably not. I know that there is a place for teenage love, and that’s in your pre-teenage years and in Twilight. Love it and leave it, but you’ve got to move past it, go onto bigger things, and realize that the events happening in the world are bigger than Twilight can ever be. Right?

Shit. We’re all vampires, and the world is going to end.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Concerning Pathos

I should preface this by saying that by no means should anyone ever do or think or rationalize what I'm about to propose, because it is bad.

There's a terribly unpractical way you can gage how unhappy you are. A couple times when driving down a long straight road at night without any cars in sight, I used to close my eyes and count. Despite knowing I would be safe from crashing, the situation would immediately intensify. If, in that moment, you feel enough affinity for the world and life and people, three seconds is all you can do. 1 Mississippi. 2 Mississippi. 3 I want to live. After three seconds, I would begin to doubt if the car was driving straight. I began to fear and shake and question what I was doing. These four seconds are for those with a great indifference to the world, life, and people. 4 Avocado. 5 Stromboli. 6 Iguana cage. 7 I want to live. I can't describe the last three seconds. I only got there one time. I can only say that the whole period of time didn’t make much sense and I’m glad I didn’t hit that pole. It was the worst possible, most intense feeling of anxiety I’ve ever experienced. The numbers only go so high. It will always be agony, and my day will come when I will face it and move on, but that day is not soon. I could never put myself in that position again. If we all did what I did, we’d all eventually die from it, and I want to live.

People have told me that they don't "understand" me, leading me to believe that there are even more people who would claim to not "understand" me but merely haven't informed me.
I don't really understand that. In my eyes, these people either haven't tried very hard or just suck at understanding people. Yeah, yeah, people can't completely understand people, but people can understand people enough so that they can fairly claim that they understand people. I know this because I understand people. Now shut up.

This generalization is how we base our judgments and convictions of the world and its workings. What is also fair to say is that people suck at this process of compensating for another aforementioned process that people suck at (see: racists, over-generalizers, people who claim to know everything, people who HAVE to know everything, ego-centrists, 14 year-old girls, selective listeners, retards of emotion, Sylvia Plaths, texters, libertarians, et. al. assholes). What people do well from the process is probably what seems like what we shouldn't be doing at all, which is what I just did.

What I just did was outline the type of person who I don't want to be, without identifying who I do want to be. That's because it's easier to remember more specific details of undesirable attributes. If you were to try to think of things you would like to be, words like "trust-worthy," "kind," ”empathetic," "creative," "hard-working," and "enthusiastic" may come to mind. Those are all great aspirations, but those are also all words. It's hard to wake up in the morning and think, "I am going to be creative and trust-worthy today." As much as we admire words, we never really exist though them. People would argue that this is because people simply ARE, but I call
bullshit on that. People “aren't.” Our resilience to “aren't” is so much more powerful than our will to “are.” Kudos to thoughtful people, but mad props goes to those full of thoughts. These are those who are doing the work of good people. I'll back up.

Easiest example. Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy were great people. They did the work of good people, despite personal decisions pointing to what the general public would point to their being not only not “great people” but qualities of "bad people." But as history has shown, it's not what you do, but it's what you do. History never makes any sense, and we are all going to be a part of it.

For my entire life, I and everyone I have known have been encouraged to find role models. I could say I have five people who I can look at their worst moment and think, "I love and respect and want to be like this person, even now." You marry your role models (watch out, Jacqui Sheehan). That’s why most people marry their mothers. There are also those who you look at their best moment and think, "I can find no desirable characteristics about your personality and I will never be envious of you." These are who I call our role supermodels, and they deserve to be shown respect for shaping our lives just as much if not more so than our role models. I've always admired the, "love your enemies" aspect of Christianity. That's why those “great people” I mentioned before had sex with supermodels, apparently. Of course, all of my pastors have interpreted this as, "Love your enemies in order to piss them off and confuse them into becoming Christians," but I feel my interpretation has made myself and those around me better people.

(Un?)Fortunately for me, I will never be a great person and a supermodel will never have sex with me.

I can find no discernible reason why every person I meet should not be an experience of which to cognitively and socially grow off of. The more you look really is the more you find, and peace of mind is the single most important objective of life (or at least of the Sims, but there you achieve that by buying things, not introspective growth— this is beside the point).

People usually find peace of mind through love and Marriage. Maybe that’s all there is to it, but I doubt that Jacqui Sheehan would date a student. Sigh. This is going to be so much more difficult than it has to be.

Having “role supermodels” isn't some affirmation to the asshole lifestyle. "Truth will out," as an asshole once said. People know if you’re an asshole, for the most part. There’s no masking asshole. Again, it's about what you do, not what you do. It's not about whether you wake up in the morning and think, "I'm going to do something out of my ordinary routine in order to make someone else's day by sacrificing part of mine," but that you eventually will on your own if you're living the right way. And these people who live the “right” way live each day as a standalone unit of life, abiding to the unshakable and inexorable creed of, "Live today or don't." Because if you aren't "living," then what are you doing? This is what a person who is alive would ask himself-- every single day. It’s about what you are, what you aren’t, and what that makes you.

Keeping in mind, what makes you is always an ongoing process. We’re in such a hurry to get to wherever we’re going that we rarely end up going anywhere. Patience is certainly a virtue reserved for the virtuous. Sometimes I wish I weren’t so patient all the time, but it has its advantages.

Mr. Wall, the other teacher who made my role model list, once straight-up told the newspaper staff a couple years ago what love entailed, and half of them weren't paying attention and probably never will.

He told us that love can only exist when one person makes a clear and conscious effort beyond what anyone would ever expect to treat and interact with another person with kindness; the other person finally catches on and responds with an equally clear and conscious effort; the two find that they've moved far past each other, turn around, and realize they have made themselves room to build a relationship. He actually said it with the words, "You have this person who comes this far and this person who comes this far, and then you have room to make a relationship WORRRK. People don't think about it this way anymore." He made a drawing of it while explaining it to us. Then he scribbled all over the heart. We kept it up on our board for months, at a time where we averaged 14 or more hours of school every day working on the paper. I like to think that we kept it up to remind us that love exists when we feel we feel nothing but frustration.

Many are turned off to love's give-and-take relationship, but I see love’s dilemma as an essential indicator to life’s.

It's about knowing when to give and when to take, about when to know and when to forget and forgive, about feeling and empathizing, about sacrificing much to receive little in return, about the best/worst of times, about trials and tribulations, about misunderstanding and lying, about dying and living and existing without while holding onto the faintest living memory, about door holding and satisfaction, about sex and realizing it's one in a list, about seeing that it's always and never and nothing without promise, about leaving, about the mundane and the monumental, about getting what you want and then not wanting it anymore. At least, this is all that I gathered from this one picture.

Of all that I doubt and question, of this and only this I am completely sure.

I’m still figuring it out, but I want to live and I want to love.
All the same, really.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thoughts on Toy Story 3

(Spoiler alert, I guess. It won't be as good if you read this before, so don't.)

Watching Toy Story 3 was a delight. Everything about it was a joy. Beautifully comprised, perfectly paced, written by pros, inexorably fun. K, we agree? Good. Now we can move past that shit.

Watching Toy Story 3 made me realize how much I didn't like Up. Grab a tissue.

Even after finishing Up close to a year ago, I had the oddest feeling after its credits. It wasn't that it wasn't insanely clever or lovingly tender. I realized how beautiful it was, but still I felt nothing.

I cried a little at the beginning of Toy Story 3. I found it infinitely more beautifully tragic than the beginning of Up. This is a credit to Pixar's pathos-knapper (seen in both movies). A lot of movies (Pixar, in particular) rely on a certain emotional attachment from the viewer to the characters in order to have the story really make the viewer experience something. Toy Story 3 had this easy. For people who have watched the original (I hardly remember Toy Story 2 and for this won't refer to it, although I remember it being good?), the fondness felt for the characters was already there. You might have felt what Andy felt. You were supposed to. You had enjoyed the toys a long time ago, but now you're revisiting them just when it's time to say goodbye. People feel this when a grandparent or friend dies or when a love leaves at the wrong time. Or you might feel for the toys. At first, I thought the whole movie was about death, but now I see that it's about so much more than that. It's about leaving. Maybe it's for a lifetime or five minutes, but it's that feeling. Where The Wild Things Are hit where it felt like once at childhood, but Toy Story 3 is about how you might feel almost every day. For displaying this through Andy's mom's home videos, I cried, and of which I feel no remorse for.

Up tried the same shit on me and it didn't work. Haha!

For me, Up was so all or nothing. It was tragic. The characters had flaws that could relate to viewers. It tackled the issue of death. Why didn't I care? I'll tell you why I didn't care. Because I didn't care! To be honest, I was given no reason to like the old guy. No reason. I liked the dead wife better. She was deeper and more interesting. Again, I know, his flaws, whatever. And after the tragic montage where everyone in America was balling their eyes out (apparently), I was wondering how these suckers bought into caring about a character we knew virtually nothing about other than a horrible thing that happened to a person. Gripping.* And since I started off on the wrong foot, the annoying as fuck dogs, the irrelevant and brain dead comedic asides, the constant bringing up of the guy's dead wife (which was sad but seemed manipulative of the filmmakers), and the LITERALLY linear progression of the story did not help me enjoy it. In the end, I felt that Up tried to force emotion down my throat through a nostalgia that I refused to buy into.

But man, did I buy into Toy Story 3. It's because they did it without words, without seemingly any tactics or manipulative devices. It was almost as if I got there on my own. This obviously isn't true, as millions of people had to have "got there on their own," but at least the tragedy felt real. And in the end, all the toys can do is say goodbye after one last play and look ahead. Such is life. Sigh. Clouds. Sniff. (It really was beautiful, though.)


I mean, another beautiful part in a flawless movie, but the protagonists accepted death in a children's movie. Heavy. And then there's an immediate comic relief just when you are holding back tears and resolving an existential battle waging against the human psyche and Mephistopheles.

It really was great. Have I mentioned that? Up is also well done (Haha! See what I did there?). Of course, while there is no way I could possibly emulate the feeling of watching Toy Story 3 for the first time, I'm not sure if I would want to. Like the end of the movie (and of Lost, for that matter), it's about remembering, letting go, and moving on.


(P.S. - I wasn't that wild about Spanish-speaking Buzz. I know, kids movie.)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Leaving Danger Mountain

I re-cut my movie today and posted it online. Well, "re-cutting" is a dramatic way of putting it. I love the full thing. I just posted my favorite scenes online for people to watch who maybe didn't buy it. Yet somehow I feel as though I'm finally putting this big project of mine to rest, also a part of my life. It's an odd feeling when you realize that the primary goal of the spirit club you were a part of is changing the world. You've been good to me, Danger Mountain. I will remember you fondly.

Return to Danger Mountain was personal. Hopefully personal for a lot of people. Saying I'll never make anything personal again is like saying I'll never love again.

I finished "writing" my short film for this summer. It'll be less than 10 minutes and I'm going to film the entire thing in my closet. I'm trying to broaden my horizons, of course. I'll have to buy some equipment online before I can start, though.

I'm ready to fall in love again.
Maybe a love all the same but still undeniably new.

This one is my favorite scene in the movie (but I wrote it so of course it is). It's a love letter to rapists, at least my Dad thinks so. He was particularly disturbed by this scene, asking, "What? They're not all that... yes they are! Who wrote that?"

Happy birthday, Mom. Good night.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

An Intellectualization of Something That Was Meant To Be Inherently Stupid

Batman was arrested today. Or maybe it was yesterday.

I know this because the news has come to me as the headline story on my AP news feed. This is how the story read--

As part of an LAPD crackdown on people who dress up as superheroes and cinematic icons, then troll Hollywood’s Walk of Fame while illegally charging the errant tourist money for a photo, KNBC managed to capture the immortal sight of a shamed, arrested Batman as he was hustled into a squad car.

Upon reading that story I knew that the national attention it was given was utterly trite, unnecessary, and entirely important for our culture. I mean, it's so stupid. I understand that attention is paid to what isn't important. A fair argument could be made that television is a coping device. Well, pretty much everything else, too. I'm completely AOK with that because I see more and more that people blend the two. I would like nothing more than to over-intellectualize Jersey Shore. The juxtaposition of doing that is just hilarious to me. I've found that people notice the comedy in that, too. Because of this, I've recognized that the world isn't inherently stupid, but that we (close to) equally enjoy things that are both thought provoking and Ke$ha.

I thought people simply liked fighting robot movies because they thought they were fucking art. This has rekindled my hope in humanity.

But I know, I know. People are still pretty stupid. There are those who live on one end of the scale, entirely satisfied in not actively pursuing what people who claim to be actively pursuing important things are pursuing. To make it easy, they stereotype. We do it, too. Often the terms "idiots" and "intellectuals" are thrown around, but I don't feel the two are mutually exclusive. For the rest of this essay, I'll call the "idiots" "Wookies" and the "intellectuals" "Ewoks."

I am an Ewok. Fully, bonefide, pretentious, wannabe, greedy Ewok. At times I feel disgusted and indifferent to the Wookies. I make generalizations about them and damn their way of life as the lesser path. But I do like pretending. I listen to Ke$ha and watch Jersey Shore and fighting robot movies and respect the nuclear family. I don't take as much joy from the experience as Wookies do (occasionally I will), but I like to stay involved and at least understand what the fusses are about. I used to think I had this all under control, but now I know I do.

If one is to look at the world, to see everything that happens and everything that is paid attention to, it could be deduced that everything is horrible and there is no hope. Sometimes there isn't.* We are absolutely helpless in regards to the BP oil spill. There's nothing we can do. Nobody can end the war in the Gaza Strip.

At least not without enough people paying attention. Attention, attention must be paid.

More and more Ewoks are becoming plunderers of attention; absurdism is the new television. It makes everything tolerable, or at least copable. The promise of absudism remains that its efforts intend to progress society in the right direction, even though that direction is nowhere.

I've always realized that, but then again I have never been able to find someone who hasn't claimed that the notion of absurdism isn't bullshit. Because, come on. The Stranger is bullshit. The Fountainhead is bullshit. Books like that craft characters within the confines of bullshit, hyperbolic philosophy and ideals, never admitting that people can not be made up of solely philosophy or ideals. They present duality, so that's what the Wookies and the Ewoks make so. We craft real issues around this pejorative narrative so that little can be done in the matter. We start classifying people as “Wookies” and “Ewoks” in order to cope with the fact that we don’t understand each other and that we really are alone. We're so unsatisfied with the status quo because it always sucks. We don't want reality. We want Howard Rourke and Albert Camus and Charizard and Ke$ha and Batman.

We're all trying to be Jedis. That's not all that bad. Jedis are awesome.

Thus, it remains the role of the absurdists and the comedians to keep us all sane/sometimes be wrong. I've never really tried my hand at that before making my vlog, and I didn't even know I was trying that then. I just thought I was making fun of things I didn't like. I think now I feel I was maybe trying to talk to a person I don't understand. I'm still an Ewok. The world is just as it was and oil is still gushing out of a pipe somewhere.

But for whatever reason, I can't help but uncontrollably laugh when I watch Brodyquest. One would suspect that it's a Wookie's vice. Another would say it’s overlong and stupid. Part of me knows that it is, another thinks it’s the most important thing I’ve ever seen, and part of me wants to punch that other part in the face.

Now I'm actually going to take that break I was talking about.