Obsession

Hello,

I want to watch every movie that stars Nicolas Cage.

No, that’s not really what I want to talk about tonight.

It’s just the latest obsession.

I get…hooked onto things.

Not just actors, but movies, or tv shows or comics or genres or foods.

I will eat gummy bears every day, multiple times a day for weeks at a time. And then stop eating them and move on to something else.

I will watch one or two horror movies a night, every night, for weeks on end, and then….it fades and I replace it with baseball. Or Doctor Who.

And all I can do is ride out the wave until it ends and then I can pick myself up and start all over again.

It’s a cycle I cannot explain (why does one obsession start and why is THIS my next obsession?), but it is exhausting. Thousands of dollars in comic books, hundreds of hours of my life watching Doctor Who episodes. The amount of brain space I’ve devoted to facts about Transformers and dinosaurs, neither of which has proven useful in my day-to-day life, is upsetting.

Sometimes, I wish I could just PICK a thing, if only so my office didn’t look like some weird, elaborate shrine to a childhood I didn’t have.

Instead, I’m about to start watching every Nicolas Cage movie from the beginning.

I’ll let you know how Valley Girl is on Twitter.

-D-

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Movie Review: Vengeance: A Love Story

Hello Again,

I just finished watching this movie and I have thoughts.

It is not a great movie. It is, at its best, an average movie. There are small moments here and there that make it interesting and there are some very large plot arcs that also make it interesting, at least to me.

****Just as a warning, the movie deals pretty heavily with sexual assault, so I’ll be talking about that as well.****

Let’s get the synopsis out of the way:

Based on Joyce Carol Oate’s Rape: A Love Story, Vengeance: A Love Story is about a young single mother, Teena (Ann Hutchinson) who is brutally gang-raped in front of her twelve-year-old daughter, Bethie (Talitha Eliana Bateman). Because the justice system caters to jagoffs and rapists, it’s up to Detective John Something (Nicolas Cage) to put away the trash….for good.

This is not going to be a typical review. I’m not doing a blow-by-blow of the cinematography or the acting or whatever you want. I do want to talk about the rape scene, which is brutal and awful and involves a child actor being present for a fair amount of it, to the point that the daughter covers her own brutalized mother’s nudity with the discarded and torn clothing.

This is…unnecessary. Whenever I see children in this type of movie, I think about Danielle Harris. She’s an actress who played the ten-year-old niece of Michael Meyers in the Halloween movies (IV and V?). Because the production team did such a lousy job of protecting her and screening her from the worst of it, she suffered nightmares and eventually did the Rob Zombie Halloween movies as a form of therapy, which is…the most mindbogglingly sentence I’ve had to type.

So there’s that. Additionally, I’m extremely over scenes of extreme sexual violence in movies because usually they’re just used as a catalyst to propel the male character to do some violence.

Ann Hutchinson as Teena.

However….this movie did something right. Nicolas Cage’s character is the over-the-hill cop who has seen it all and is tired of the system and the revolving door in our criminal justice system….except he’s very low key and he’s not really in the movie that much. He appears here and there and then shows up toward the end in a big way, but for large chunks of the movie, it’s about Teena and Bethie dealing with what happened and the emotional ramifications of that.

There’s an especially affecting scene when Teena is about to swallow a handful of pills in a suicide attempt and then throws them away in an angry fit. In a lot of movies, that would be the end of it. She conquered her suicidal depression in one angry act! But the movie continues to show that she is not okay, that she is still having trouble emotionally processing the attack and what happened to her and that’s she’s still suffering from suicidal ideation.

And Nicolas Cage is Sleepy Cage in this movie. He’s not grandstanding. He’s not taking over the movie when he’s around. He’s mostly silent, mostly in the background and mostly just waiting to act. And when he does act (yes it’s to murder the rapists) it’s thoughtful, careful, planned violence that removes the problem with no collateral damage.

This movie is still problematical in that in robs Teena and Bethie of dealing with the resolution themselves, but it does something right in that it actually highlights their journey after the assault. It highlights the women that were attacked, the women around them who are trying to help.

This is not a good movie. It has some great moments, Ann Hutchinson and Talitha Batemen work well together and have great chemistry and don’t pull any punches with their performances. And Cage makes the right choice in this movie and minimizes his impact.

I’m not recommending you see this movie, unless you, for some reason, think we need another movie in which a woman is brutally raped and her male whatever needs to avenge her. Vengeance takes a step in the right direction. Focus on her story. How she deals with it and copes with it.

It’s not his story.

-D-

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Filed under Pop Culturing: Movies, Books, Comic Books and Other Arts

Care About Other People

Hello Again,

Today, there was a news report about a woman who has the measles and who apparently decided to travel through every major population center in Eastern Massachusetts.

Now, ten years ago, I don’t think she would have hit the news, much less having articles tracking her progress through Massachusetts like new anchors tracking Santa’s sled during Christmas.

The thing that’s changed, of course, is that a surprisingly large number of people have decided that, just because they don’t understand the basic science behind how something works means they no longer have faith in it working.

Which is surprising to me, because I’m sure a large number of those same people drive cars, use computers and talk on telephones without batting an eye. They do not let the fact that have a profound ignorance in these devices and how they work to deter them from using them.

However, the moment vaccines come up, suddenly they become experts who feel the need to shout down the actual scientists and researchers who know how vaccines work. Let’s be frank here: you do not know how the science behind vaccines work, so stop pretending you do. You did not try to educate yourself on how they work, you just shoved your head into the echo chamber and heard your own ignorant rants repeated back at you.

And then, here’s the kicker here, you let your ignorance kill people because you did not want to vaccinate your child.

If you’re an anti-vaxxer, you contributed to the deaths of human beings.

That’s it. That’s all you’ve done.

There are people who would be alive today if you had just done the sane thing and protected your own children from disease.

That’s all.

-D-

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Ideas

Hello Again,

I’ve never been someone that believes in writer’s block.

There’s always something you can be working  on, always something you can be making.

Granted, I say that as someone that has never needed to survive by writing on a deadline.

I can always flit back and forth from one story to another and that’s  large part of why I never get anything done.

See? I’m already losing the thread of this blog post and it’s been less than a hundred words.

Writer’s block, to me, is not so much about “can’t” and more “don’t know how”.

I don’t know how to tackle this dialogue. I don’t know how to tackle this scene. I don’t know how to move the story forward.

And every attack point is an exercise in frustration.

Moving forward isn’t an option because it feels incomplete and wrong.

So instead, I’d move on to another story or a blog entry and then maybe eventually come back to the story and try and finish the damn thing.

But most likely not.

That’s something else I’m trying to learn while I’m doing this. To continue to barrel through a story when it doesn’t feel right. To just get on with it and see where I can go and then when I have something completed, I’ll be far more likely to fix what went wrong.

Like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap.

-D-

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Beer Review: Wormtown Brewery’s Sweet Tats

Hello Again,

So I have a weird relationship with porters and stouts.

A lot of the time, I’ll try, say, one of the many variations of Guinness and it’s…empty. There’s some flavor at the front and some bitterness at the back and there’s just nothing holding up in the middle.

But! With Imperial Stouts, there is something in the middle. There’s a little more oomph. Now, a lot of that is probably the higher alcohol content, but usually they’re richer, fuller and more flavorful and you’re drunker much faster.

And Wormtown Brewery‘s Sweet Tats is no exception.

Unlike a lot of imperial stouts I’ve had, which can be almost viscous and overpowering, Sweet Tats is less dense, less heavy, but still flavorful with a bit of a punch.

I will say that the label says it’s been flavored with coffee beans, cacao nibs and vanilla beans, but I’m not really picking any of those out. Sometimes I’ll hit a glimmer of coffee or maybe a hint of vanilla, but that’s about it.

However, if the alternative is aggressive vanilla flavor hitting me in the face like a wet sock soaked in vanilla extract, I think I’d rather have this. I swear to god, there are some brewery’s that don’t think people can taste something unless the beer is saturated with spice. I’m looking at you, Shipyard and your cinnamon obsession.

Anyway, if you want a lighter Imperial Stout that’s not too aggressive, but also isn’t like drinking bitter air, Sweet Tats is the way to go. It’s smooth, nice and doesn’t reek of vanilla beans.

I give it five out of five dinosaur pepper shakers.

Also, they have really nice glassware, so if you’re ever in Worcester go buy some. I think I’m using the “wrong” glass, but my one rule for glassware is: does it hold a pint of beer?

I don’t need to be told that I should use tulip glasses for IPAs or shot glasses for stouts or martini glasses for Coors Light.

-D-

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An Update

Hello Again,

Whenever I do one of these insane writing challenges, I feel the need to beat myself up about not meeting the self imposed rules that are, often, brutally unfair.

That being said, I am going to say that as a result of this challenge (one blog entry, one five hundred word story per day) I do feel that I’m finally rebuilding writing muscles I used to have, but I’ve now let atrophy.

Atrophy.

That word seems pretty goddamn pretentious.

I think it’s important to challenge yourself as a writer, but I also think it’s important not to let the failure of those challenges discourage you. Things like NANOWRIMO are meant to be hard, meant to be tough and are meant to push you passed limits. The only way you grow stronger is to test yourself, constantly. If you just do the same thing, in and out, day in and day out, you will never get better, you’ll just plateau.

If you fail, keep going and try and do better next time. You won’t win every race, won’t win every match. The most important thing is that you pick yourself up and you keep going.

The people who persist are the people who are more likely to succeed, even in light of failure.

Persistence is what matters, even over basic talent. If you have basic talent, but don’t have the ability to persevere, you will not succeed. Always keep battering against the wall, always keep fighting. And learn from the people who have broken through.

I have a story to write.

And I know you do too.

-D-

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Be Superman

Hello Again,

One of the most important lessons that we can learn from superhero comics is the idea that we should be like Superman.

Superman is the purest distillation of what a superhero is: someone with abilities decides to use those abilities to help others.

Its not just about fighting crime, because Superman does a lot more than that. He saves towns from floods. He puts out fires. He catches airplanes. He destroys tenement housing to force the government to build brand new housing in its place. He destroys automobile factories in an attempt to promote auto safety.

Sometimes his methods aren’t the best way to tackle the situation, but he does try.

The point is that Superman uses his abilities to help everyone around him. He does not question whether they deserve it or if he should. He has an innate understanding that because he can, he should.

We are all capable of being Superman in some way or another. Because the point isn’t that he’s almost godlike in his strength and speed. The point is that he is able to do something that others cannot. And we all find ourselves in situations where we are stronger, more knowledgeable, have access to more resources, where we can DO something.

If we can help, we should help.

Because that’s how society gets better. That’s how everything gets better. Because we all say that when we see someone in pain, or in need, or struggling, we help.

And this does not diminish when the problem scales upward, if anything our responsibilities grow more when we stop thinking ourselves as individuals and we start thinking of ourselves as a country, a society.

We have so much money.

We have so much power.

We have so much to give.

And our initial response to refugees at our doorstep appears to label as them as enemies, to call them an army, to say they’re diseased, to say they’re rapists, to say they’re killers.

And those are the arguments of the villains. Those are the arguments of cowards. Those are the arguments of people so blinded by their own hate that they refuse to see anyone else’s pain.

We should be better than that. We are better than that. We should be stepping up and opening our doors and leading the way to a better, kinder, stronger world.

What we need to be is Superman.

-D-

 

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Scary Fear

Hello Again,

I think about horror a lot. I think about horror movies, horror short fiction, horror novels, about the things that terrify us day-to-day.

Horror is a vital thing, an important thing and a thing worth studying.

I’ve had a project in the back of my mind, something I’ve been thinking about working but it’s a daunting project.

I think that I’ve finally reached the point where I don’t care about how daunting it is. I think it’s an important thing to work on.

I want you to watch this space because I think I’ll be announcing something in the next few months and it will be pretty intense.

At least, if you’re me.

-D-

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An Education in Cruelty

Hello Again,

I am pretty angry about Betsy DeVos and her decision to cut federal funding to the Special Olympics.

I believe that the responsibility of the government is to take care of its citizens. That is its sole function. It takes care of the citizens. We may disagree on the best way to do that or the focus of how to do that, but in the end, that is the government’s job.

It builds roads. It builds hospitals. It supports a police force. It provides schools. All in the service of the public good, because that is the primary goal of the government.

It also funds programs that, while they may be privately run, continue the government’s mission to protect and support its citizens.

The Special Olympics does this. Our society used to be such that the mentally disabled were locked away, shunned, hidden, locked up in institutions and forgotten. We have grown and progressed as a people to the point where we realize that this is unacceptable. You cannot lock up a human being just because they make you uncomfortable.

The Special Olympics provides a way for people with mental disabilities to be seen, to be heard and to be out there excelling.

Here’s their Mission Statement:

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

These are good works. They are doing good works. They are continuing to provide what our government should be providing: support for all of its citizens.

Secretary DeVos is showing that, once again, the Trump Administration does not support good works. The Trump Administration is not interested in supporting all of its citizens and given that President Trump mocked a disabled reporter while on the campaign trail, this is not surprising.

Once again, the Trump Administration proves it is an administration of cruelty and indifference. There is no argument that either the Administration or its supporters can put forward that will not convince me that they genuinely do not care about other people. To allow this, to put this forward as a valid way to save a few dollars, is vile and indefensible.

To agree with Secretary DeVos and the Administration is to agree that people who are disabled do not deserve a place in our society. It is saying that they should go back into the dark place, the secret places where they can be easily forgotten. Because this is just one more step backward, one more step away from the progress we have made to being a better society.

One more step in a continued march backward into history.

-D-

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Filed under Thinking and Pondering: Science, History, Analysis and Over-Think

Writing On Writing About Writing for a Writer

Hello Again,

I’ve been going back and forth on what I want this blog to be and that’s just given me plenty of great excuses to not write anything.

And, if there’s anything I excel at, it’s creating excuses.

In an attempt to make sure that I write something, anything, in this space, I’m freeing myself from any and all restraints. I’m not going to try and make this some politically intense blog or  a blog about just horror or pop culture or dinosaurs or whatever else I happen to be interested in. I’m going to come here, once a day and just write whatever I feel like. I spend so much time, so much energy, in just finding the best possible way to limit myself that it’s time to loosen up and see what happens.

In that vein, I’m also bringing back an old writing exercise I used to do on a now defunct blog. During the month of October, I used to write one complete story a day, no shorter than 500 words in length. One of the biggest problems I have as a writer is just finishing a story. I’m going to go back to basics and relearn some skills I know I’ve forgotten.

I won’t be publishing those stories here. I’ve learned from other mistakes in the past when I just had stories published on websites and they’ve now migrated all over the internet. But maybe one or two of these new stories will see the light of day.

I’ll see you here again tomorrow. Not sure what we’ll be talking about then, but I’ll be here.

-D-

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