We maraude for ears…

I’m a month off from being 33 and while there’s plenty of weird new thirty-something baggage I have to deal with; I’m finding it easier to think back on the past without being sad about the time that’s past.

One of the things I’ve found myself thinking about are those tiny little “sparks” the moments in our lives where something made so much sense; it was absolutely a part of you-a permanent fixture of who you are and who you will be. Those sparks are everywhere;
 our interactions with people, a piece of art we saw at a gallery, hell, it could be an argument you had with a friend.

20 years ago I discovered music, and that was my spark.

I don’t think I have to explain myself completely. We all have that moment where the music we listened to stopped being just the background of moments. That single moment where you stopped and actually listened to what was coming out of the speakers or headphones.

I can cite dozens of albums that cracked my skull open in 1993; The Broken EP, Enter the WuTang, Siamese Dream, In Utero, Vs., seriously, Google “albums released in 1993” and you will find a list highlighting what I consider to be the definitive year of the decade for all genres. It’s a phenomenal group of work.

There’s a single album that is still on my permanent playlist.

November 9th, 1993 is officially the day hip hop died in my eyes. A lot of folks will balk at that, but I’m not being negative. Midnight Marauders was the album that nailed it. A Tribe Called Quest managed to release an album that was not only fit for general consumption, but was so full of soul and meaning – so purely hip hop,  that it will never be outdone. There have been hundreds of good albums released since then, but this right here is the masterpiece.
I’ll put it in perspective. A lot of folks compare Tribe’s album before this, The Low End Theory, to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s, which is pretty valid. I think of Midnight Marauders as hip hop’s Revolver, an almost perfect album.
So anyway, this was an important work of art to me. Since that November, I can say that I went through three cassettes and two CDs of this album alone; all lost from overuse.
Now, I at least have it all on digital and still listen to every single track of this album with a smile on my face. 
I know every measure, every lyric – it’s been tattooed to my brain.
Thanks to Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, and sometimes Jarobi. I’ll continue listening for another 20 years.
Be easy, folks.

The Worst Movie Endings Part 1

How many times have you said, “It was pretty good, until the end where…” coming out of a movie?

The past few years, not only have I found myself saying that a lot more often, but I’ve found myself in one too many situations where the ending of a flick has utterly ruined a movie I was enjoying not ten minutes before it all went to hell.

So without rambling on and on, I’ve decided to focus on a few movies that I feel utterly destroyed all the good will built by solid starts with unbelievably terrible endings.

I’ll be doing two or three of these a week, seeing as my rambling will require me to focus one movie at a time.

Needless to say: SPOILERS.

Prometheus

Prometheus was supposed to be the answer to all my movie nerd prayers.This was supposed to be my jam in 2012.

Forget the ties to Alien; I didn’t give a damn about that. We were getting Ridley fucking Scott back on the Sci-Fi wagon! This was it, we were finally going to have something imaginative and intelligent. There were promises of clever ties to the original Alien, a departure from the standard prequel bullshit we always get.

Full disclosure: I’m a rabid Blade Runner and Alien fanboy. I don’t care how many issues a person can find with those movies, I love them deeply and make it a yearly ritual to watch both and simply bask in their glow. To hear that the director of both would come back to the world of Alien and provide a new, interesting story focused on a single moment of that film had me foaming at the mouth.

Dude, we were going to get an answer to this thing! There’s no way you can fuck up an explanation for something this weird!

The trailers amped me up. The cast seemed to be on point. Those viral videos with Guy Pierce being all Guy Pierce about robots and space. I was literally willing to have a thousand of Sir Ridley’s chest babies. I walked into the theater with the expectation that sure, maybe the quality won’t redefine my life but that didn’t matter; I was getting hard Sci-Fi for the first time in nearly a decade or more!

So let’s jump ahead to movie. The first two acts have their flaws, but I forgave them. I even looked past the geologist and biologist acting like two McDonald’s employees thrown in a cave. It was all going to be ok, Michael Fassbender was being amazing, and everytime I started doubting myself, he or Idris Elba popped up and reminded me that a cast this cool-a cast this classy; couldn’t be in the wrong.

Oh look, an alien vagina faced cobra! How can you not put your face up to it?

I even dealt with the wacky caesarian scene. For one; being awake during surgery is a fear of mine, so it made me squirm like crazy to watch it. Also, it was actually an interesting twist on the chestburster concept, so I gave them a little credit for thinking outside the box.

That was a mistake.

From the moment the caesarian is over we get:

  1. A woman who has just gone through surgery fucking sprinting on the surface of alien planet while wearing a cumbersome spacesuit.
  2. They somehow completely screw the pooch on a full answer to the space jockeys. Really? They’re god, but for some reason they want to kill all of us? 
  3. An inexplicably angry alien that it supposed to be our creator, but does little more than act like a cross between Michael Myers, The Hulk and one of the juice-heads from my gym.
  4. Charlize Theron running away from a falling spaceship; and not once thinking to run to her left or right; where she would more easily avoid the falling object that was longer than it was wide.
  5. That caesarian baby monster (torn from our main character’s body at about the size of a premature baby) somehow grew to the size of an elephant and grows a dozen penises from it’s vagina-head. This thing goes on to fight the pale, roided up frenchman (those dudes looked french to me, is that racist?) and face-hugs his ass.
  6. Our heroine jets off in a spaceship by herself, that she has no idea how to use with the robot that was just trying to get her killed to go and ask the rest of Frenchy’s friends why they’re so mean.

This is all pretty stupid, and I knew this, but I still gave a little love to the movie. Sure, none of it made sense, but maybe what they were setting up would pay off in a big way.

That’s when Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof read my mind, looked at each other and threw me against the proverbial pinball machine (if you get, you get it) and gave me this:

41 seconds to ruin an entire movie. 41 seconds to say “fuck you” to fans new and old. I’ve never had a movie do this to me before; and I spent money to see the prequels, Crystal Skull AND Superman Returns.

Now maybe you think I’m being harsh. Maybe you think I should have hated Prometheus as soon as one of those pale french dudes got half-naked and fell into a waterfall to make human happen. In hindsight, you’d be right. Prometheus was a terrible film from the start, but I let hype and an open mind allow me to embrace it, only for it to clue me in on it’s awfulness at the very last minute with a cheap, shitty link to the original Alien films.

I remember walking out of the theater feeling empty, finally understanding what so many felt walking out of Phantom Menace (a terrible film, but that lightsaber fight at the end was completely distracting and “fucking awesome” when I was 18/19).

Fuck Prometheus.

Until next time, where I’ll be discussing, you guessed it: Robocop 3…I’m not kidding.

Diving Back In…

So after a month of writer’s block it’s about time that I stop the laziness and get back to it.

For fuck’s sake, I’ve got a good 1/4 of my novel’s first draft done, how can I not get back into it? Though, there’s a lingering story in my brain that’s been demanding my attention more and more, and that’s where I find myself always going back to before I sleep, while I drive even while I’m writing something else.

Is it worth giving up on the more “complete” work to hop on over to another much less defined one? Obviously, what’s best should be what makes me happy and engages me, but I question my own ability to stick to the plan. I’d rather not have some sort of literary ADD and find myself 3 months removed from a project; only to come back and be completely detached, or worse, hating it.

I’m really not sure if other writers deal with this constant stream of doubt.

Ah well, it’s best to just keep writing and bettering myself.

Making Opportunities

I cannot explain the amount of times I’ve rolled my eyes at the suggestion that I take the problems in my life and view them as challenges or opportunities.

Seriously, fuck those people for being right.

They’re right. Absolutely, one hundred percent right. I can’t stand that it’s the case and I wish I can say that people who prescribe to that philosophy are dopes, but it would be a lie.

Every single stopgap – every pain, frustration or failure is a chance at being better. It’s hard to believe that, especially whenever we’re in the midst of the many existential crises we’ll experience.

The past few months have been tough. I’ve managed to injure myself training for the NJ marathon, sort of hit a dead end on an opportunity I was pursuing and managed to fall head first into a severe case of writer’s block (the jury’s still out on whether that’s as severe as I seem to want it to be). Sure, everything else is great, but I’ve found it pretty easy to let the hiccups get to me sometimes, and for the past few weeks they did.

Now, it’s not like I was in a depression or I was grumpier than normal. That really wasn’t the case. This time was more, spiritual, I guess? That whole weight of the world on my shoulders seemed pretty real.

So what do we do here? Is it so easy to say, “Okay, this sucks. Let’s review, define and find a means to change this into a next step.”

It’s super easy to say that shit. Execution is the bitch here.

Slowly, I’m getting there.

I’m aggressively rehabbing my running injury and some experimenting has actually given me positive results. If I take my lessons and continue on this path, I might be able to wrap a marathon up before the end of the year. Sure, the goal was to do 2, but I still have time and will get in races as often as I can.

That opportunity I won’t be detailing? Well, while it’s not necessarily “happening” there’s a small light at the end of the tunnel and if I network the right way, I might just be able to make the move I want. It will just happen a little later than planned.

Lastly – the writing.

That’s a toughie.

It’s very easy to get caught up in planning a story. It all seems to work in your head perfectly, but I find the struggle is getting it all on the page. I’m not giving up, though. I’ll push for a few words here and there, and hopefully that will become pages again.

This is all pretty ham fisted, and I’m pretty sure this is just some form of therapy for me today (I said I wasn’t making a theme of this project, it’s just going to be free form rambling). If you can relate to any of this, that’s awesome. Maybe this provides you with a little perspective. If not, that’s cool too. Though, it’s really weird you’d read all this if it didn’t really touch a shared experience.

Ah well, enough navel gazing. I think my next entry will be an elitist rant about why something is awesome/awful and you’re all too stupid to realize it.

Be Easy.

Indoctrinating The Youth

Going on three years ago, wifey and I were blessed to bring home a healthy, angry and LOUD baby boy.

During that time, you don’t think about the days ahead. This is due to the obvious lack of sleep and the fact that the little guy does nothing more than demand your constant attention to stay clean and well-fed.

Now that he’s on his way to full autonomy (when can they work again?), I’m beginning to think about the things that made me what I am today.

My parents divorced when I was the same age as the little man, so I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a dad around who thought this crap over. It wasn’t until I was 5 that my mom dated a psycho health-nut teacher/musician who found it in his heart to record hours and hours of movies/cartoons on VHS tapes to keep me quiet. The guy passed away pretty early in life, and it’s a real shame that he probably had no clue how much those shows and videos shaped me.

So now I’m building a little list of the best stuff to introduce to my future geek. Sure, some of it will be ignored or hated. Thems the breaks. I’m not looking to have a carbon copy by my side, but I believe that enough exposure to interesting media can lead him to think a little more outside the norm and find his own niche when he’s ready.

At the very least, we’re good on Muppets, Pixar and Spider-Man. The kid loves them immensely, so I think the plan’s been pretty damn successful so far. Music has been a tough sell, though. I think that sort of stuff will probably have to just happen a little more organically (i.e. this is what we’re listening to in the car, damn it, I don’t care if it’s for old people).

I’m probably going to avoid the old-school cartoons we grew up with. When you watch He-Man or Thundercats again, well, they’re terrible and clearly commercials for toys.

So here’s the plan. With 3 just around the corner, I know I still have time on some of these items, but I think right now is as good a time as any to plan it all out:

Indoctrination Plan:

Age 3

  • Looney Tunes/Tex Avery/MGM Cartoons
    • Keep it to the early stuff. Anything produced post 1960 is terrible.
  • Star Wars
    • He’s already watched one or two of them, but now is the time to really push Return of The Jedi (hey, teddy bear warriors are pretty appealing to a 3-year old.) 
  •  National Geographic/Wild America (if I can actually find them)
    • I’ve been mulling this over. As a kid I was really into nature documentaries, and I think it’s probably a good time to throw a few of these on every so often to get the kid interested in something more than pop culture.
  • Kids Comic Books
    • There are actually some really cool looking all-ages books from Marvel and DC I’m thinking of snatching from Amazon on the cheap. This is probably a better avenue to get the kid introduced to the characters since most of the mainstream stuff contains gore and brutality far and away more graphic than anything on the stands back in the day.
  • More Football
    • Sure, he’s vaguely interested in it, and has at times completely melt down because of his boredom – whatever. I figure the more we watch it, sooner or later he’ll sit down and start asking questions. It’s foolproof!
  •  More Kid’s educational shows
    • We watch plenty of Sesame Street, but I think we’re in need of some Pee Wee’s Playhouse and more Fraggle Rock (he used to watch it, but I think it’s forgotten at this point). Thank the flying spaghetti monster for Netflix Instant…seriously.

So that’s the plan for 3, I’ve got a lot more on my mind, but I think he needs a year or two before we get to the classic comic book movies like Superman or some of the more wacky stuff like Kaiju movies (Godzilla and Gamera) or the best flicks of the 80’s (Back to the Future, Bill and Ted, Life of Brian) or deeper educational programs like 3,2,1 Contact or Carl Sagan’s stuff.

Any suggestions out there from parents with little ones? Is there anything you feel that your kids NEED to be exposed to by principle or because it had an awesome affect on you?

Feel free to comment!