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Well well well.  If there is one thing that can shake me out of my blogging snooze, maybe it is the tried and true End of the Year meme.  I am inspired enough to continue the tradition so – Hello!  Sorry for the prolonged absence.  Let’s see if 2011 allows for a little more blogging time. 

 

Without further ado:

 

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Is it too early in the meme to mention buying a house?  I bought a house.

 

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I once made a New Year’s resolution to not worry about New Year’s resolutions.  Yeah.  I kept that one. 

 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes.

 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Define “close.”  Close enough to go to his funeral?  Yes.  Drat.  I came very close to having ONE year with no funerals. 

 

5. What countries did you visit?

U.S.A.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

A very warm pair of slippers.  I got a pair for Christmas but they need to be exchanged for a larger size.  California is COLD!

 

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I don’t do numbers.  Numbers do not etch themselves upon my memory.

 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I think getting three different job offers was fairly reassuring. 

 

9. What was your biggest failure?

No big failures.  Just some disappointments.  Like my crappy poker stats at the end of the year.  *sigh* I would like to be in the top 25% out of almost 2 million players.  Which is still dismal compared to my 96% rating out of over one million players a couple of years ago.  But oh well.  72% this year.  Nothing I can do about it now. Stupid full-time job getting in the way of my poker playing.  *grumble*

 

Also, I and the medical establishment in Maui failed completely to alleviate any of my chronic issues this year.  Medical establishment – you suck (except maybe for that rather handsome ENT doc who actually figured one thing out).

 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

No major illness, but yes indeedy – more body parts broke down again this year.  Arthritis diagnosed.  Inflamed larynx (I have pictures!).  Undiagnosed hip issue. Potentially uncooperative reproductive system.   It’s the joy of aging, folks.

 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

That would be the aforementioned HOUSE.

 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I gotta give a shout-out to my former co-workers this year.  I spent almost six months at my old workplace this year before I left again for another job.  The office has been a sinking ship and it’s been a weekly drama of people leaving, both voluntarily and involuntarily.  It’s been stressful, sad, frustrating, and just downright wrong to see a once very-highly-regarded office of professionals fade away.  But through it all, most of these folks have been supportive of each other while maintaining a (sometimes gallows-like) sense of humor. 

 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Some people at the old company who do not warrant celebration.   

 

14. Where did most of your money go?

See #s 1 & 11.

 

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Moving back to California.  Hello family and friends.  We’re baaaack!!!!

 

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

Hmmm….need to think about that a bit.

 

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

1. Happier or sadder?  About the same, I think. 

 

2. Thinner or fatter?  Congrats to me.  This is one year I can say, without a doubt – fatter. 

Wait. 

No congrats to me.  Frak.

3. Richer or poorer?  About a hundred times poorer.  In cash. 

 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Surfing.

 

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Working. 

 

20. How will you be spending Christmas/Hanukkah?

Sweetie and I spent it with family in the various places that our families are located.

 

21. How many one-night stands?

None.  We sold most of our furniture in Maui. 

 

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Leverage

AND – I rediscovered The Young Riders!  Yup.  That’s right – 1980s television goodness right there.

 

 

 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No hate in the 808 (or 916) brah. 

 

24. What was the best book you read?

Hmmm……the latest releases of the Fables trade paperbacks.  And, I have to say – I’m almost done with Atlas Shrugged and I’m glad I (almost) read it.  That’s probably a whole other blog.  

Fables.png

 

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Can I just change this to musical moments?  This year, I said good-bye to two of my all-time favorite bands, as both declared they are retiring. Sweetie just got me A-ha’s final album.  And Big Sis and I saw Scorpions live in concert.  Farewell, dear dudes.  That’s a lotta music between them (yes, A-ha produced more than one song in the 1980s….sheesh).

 

26. What did you want and get?

More time with family and friends.  A job with health insurance.  A house.

 

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

Toy Story 3

 

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was, and still am today, 39.  Spent it with family and my former roomie and her family at mom’s house where she/we hosted a Chinese-fondue/hot pot dinner of awesomeness and yum.

 

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Winning a few more poker games to bring my stats up.

 

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Oh-my-lord-I-do-not-have-a-proper-wardrobe-for-cold-weather-ACKKKKKKK!

 

31. What kept you sane?

Who you callin’ “sane” Willis?

 

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I do not.

 

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

The on-going legal sideshow surrounding Prop 8 here in California.  Never should have passed in the first place, and this whole debacle is embarrassing.  The midterm elections were also kind of amusing for the amount of people who honestly think anyone seeking higher office in this country is capable of steering Congress in some productive direction.  Oh, and Christine O’Donnell, for comedic relief. 

 

34. Who did you miss?

 A-ha.  I missed seeing them in concert.  Never did get to see them.  Boo hoo. 

 

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Well, it was significant that I met the five principals of the firm that I am now working for.  Good group of folks.

 

36. Did you fall in love in 2010?

All the time.

 

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:

There’s always a better house somewhere down the road. 

 

37.  Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

 

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I’m watching the news tonight and there are ads for “Slum Dog Millionaire” that tout is as a “feel good movie.”   La la la.  Happy sunshine. 

Errrr…..what?!

I saw this movie in California with Sweetie and some friends a couple of weeks ago.  Was I sitting in the wrong theater?  Because what I watched was about as far away from “feel good” as the bubonic plague.  It wasn’t a horrible movie.  It was just one of the most depressing movies I’ve had to sit through in a long time.  I didn’t “feel good” when I walked away.  I felt like the world is such a nasty mean place that maybe planet Earth needs some sort of disaster to wipe off two-thirds of the population so the remaining humans have to occupy themselves with securing food and shelter to live and therefore won’t have so much time to make other people’s lives so very very shitty.  That’s how I felt. 

Sweetie asked me if I liked it.  I said no.  He said he looked over at me during the movie and he thought I was having a bad reaction to my dinner.  No, I informed him.  I was having a bad reaction to the movie.  The movie which could not pass the “Stone Girl Eye-roll Test.”  Meaning, there were parts of the movie that were so over the top, I thought my eyeballs would be permanently stuck to the back of mu skull, I was rolling my eyes so hard.  This is considered a very bad “popcorn man” or “stars” or “thumbs down” review in my world. 

It’s probably not all the fault of the movie.  I was feeling a bit sad before it started and I just didn’t need to see sadness and violence at the beginning of the film.  But really, I have to ask – what goal was the directors trying to reach?  Were they trying to show a stark reality of abject poverty and hopelessness?  Because they seemed to be hitting me over the head with that.  Or were they trying to tell a tale of overcoming pain and rising above one’s circumstances?  Which showed up at the end of the film and was, I guess, supposed to wipe away all the previous horrors.

Anyway, I wouldn’t say don’t go see this film.  I would just say – “Know what you are getting into.”  If you want to see a feel good movie with some serious subjects and a slight Bollywood feel, go watch Monsoon Wedding.  Now THAT is a fantastic film.  Love it.  Felt good after watching it.  Not at all like Slum Dog.  I think it’s nominated tonight for some Golden Globes.  Maybe it will win.  Fine.  Good for it.  I don’t think there is a “Best Feel Good Movie” category. 

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Milk

Big Sis, Mom, and I went and saw the movie “Milk” together last night.

Before last night, I thought Heath Ledger might be a good pick for Best Actor Oscar this year. Now, I think it would be a shame if the award went to anyone other than Sean Penn.  Nice job Mr. Penn. 

My father spent most of his life in San Francisco.  We lived briefly in the Bay Area before settling into the Central Valley.  I spent my childhood (and adulthood) visiting my family in San Francisco.  I knew about Harvey Milk.  But of course, I didn’t really know Harvey Milk.  Just the public story of (really, I guess I’m giving away a spoiler here but I suspect that anyone who knows Harvey Milk knows what happened to him and people who would never go see this movie may not give a damn)…….

anyway—- the public story of the openly gay man who was elected to public office in San Francisco and then assassinated by a former fellow Supervisor.  Assassinated along with San Francisco Mayor Moscone.  Ever been to the Moscone Center in San Francisco?  That is who is it named after.

I want to write a thoughtful, coherent blog.  I thought and wrote and tried to write a coherent piece.  But really, why do I need to?  Why can’t I just express the things I am thinking?  This means I am going to spend more time blabbing about how I feel about the issue of gay rights in this country than blabbing about the movie or Harvey Milk.  Sorry to people who want to know about the movie or Harvey Milk.  I do support and suggest reading up a little – it is a pretty significant piece of history. 

Why not?  Can I just freewrite a little, of a sort?

I guess they had to start with Milk in his 40s (oops – 39) if they were going to use Sean Penn for the whole movie.  I’ll have to rent the documentary to learn more about his earlier years. 

What a tragedy.

What a loss.

How hard was it for gay men to come out of the closet in 1978?  Bold for Milk to ask that, but probably too much to expect. 

Why doesn’t someone in France pass a stronger law (do they even have one?) against dog shit on the streets?  I know – totally random thought.  But there it is. 

Why is a consensual relationship between two people who love each other wrong?  Even withstanding every word in the Bible. 

Why can’t people who never ever ever go to church but who have argued with me using quotes from the Bible just admit “I don’t like homosexuality.  It wigs me out.  I think it’s wrong.”  Why do non-Christians suddenly start to lecture me about what God wants? It was bad enough coming from my southern Baptist ex-boyfriend.  It’s worse coming from an atheist. 

Speaking of the Bible, what about the 10 Commandments?  I went to Catholic cathecism for a few years.  We were required to learn the 10 Commandments.  It requires that the Sabbath day be kept holy.  How many Christians work any day of the week when they need to?  Don’t priests and pastors get paid for preaching on Sunday?  Isn’t that working?  (ok- technically, the Sabbath is not Sunday, but many priests and pastors I know work 7 days a week sometimes).  How many Christians are disrespectful of their parents?  They may honor them in some ways but disrespect them in others.  Isn’t that God’s law?   Why aren’t there campaigns and initiatives on the ballot to make disrespecting a parent against the law?  Why don’t we outlaw work on the Sabbath?  Shouldn’t Christians get these laws to be obeyed universally before picking and picking and picking and picking and picking and attacking and attacking and attacking homosexuality?  I don’t get it.  Why don’t we tell people who are jealous of other people that they are breaking God’s law about coveting? 

Have you ever held and hugged a man who tried to commit suicide, mostly because of massive internal conflict and struggle due to his sexuality?  Someone who tried to live a life as a heterosexual?  Someone who had enough self-inflicted agony that he doesn’t ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever need someone else in this world to tell him his way of life is Wrong?  You go stand next to that man and try to tell him you can “cure” him.  That his homosexuality is a bad choice.  That he can be fixed.  Easy as pie.  1, 2, 3.  Should I have said “yes” to him when he suggested that he just marry me and maybe it would all be ok?  Hell no (and he knew it).  He deserves an ecstatically happy life with a partner of his choosing in a world that accepts him the way he is.

What a bizarre parallel that this movie was released the year that California voters approved Proposition 8.  The movie depicts the battle in California against Proposition 6 – which would have required the mandatory firing in California of any teacher who was gay AND any public school employee who supported gay rights.  The whole “they will teach my children to grow up gay” argument which I think was a last-minute tactic that the supporters of Prop 8 used in 2008 to help it pass and rescind the right of same-sex couples to marry.  Which just makes me ask – ????????….uhhhhhh…..where did all the gay people come from if we’ve been living in a man-woman-marriage world for so many years?  Could it be because it is natural and not because it was taught to young people by conspiring, sneaky gay people??

I’d hate for viewers of this movie to walk away and think that all Christians are like Anita Bryant.  Look her up if you need to.  We are not all like Anita Bryant.  I could explain and explain the theology and the reasons why many Christians don’t oppose same-sex marriage and why we try to focus on things like not killing other people and not sleeping with someone else’s spouse.  But I don’t think it should be that hard to understand.  Not all Christians oppose the fundamental right of two human beings to love each other if they want to.   Those of you who think all Christians are like this – KNOCK IT OFF.  It hurts my feelings. 

Rhetoric is powerful.  Many people who oppose gay rights honestly think they are doing what is right and best.  But the rhetoric of the argument can incite vicious people who are filled with such bigotry and hate that they will advocate violence.  The motives behind Milk’s and Moscone’s assassinations were more complex.  There was a job at stake – the provision of family – obvious serious mental collapse.  But how many gay men in San Francisco were beaten in the 70s?  The 80s?  How many Matthew Shepards are there across the country in this century?  Harvey Milk was shot five times, including twice in the head.  Does any human being deserve to die like that? 

Did ANYONE who saw the movie hear a piece of music that was exactly from the movie “And the Band Played On?”  There was a scene – Harvey was talking to Scott and we only see Scott and there is music in the background.  And I swear – with the cello part and all – it was exactly from “And the Band Played On.”  Coincidence?  Or Danny Elfman’s homage to that great movie?  My sister was amazed I recognized it.  I told her I re-watch that movie almost every year.  And not just because Phil Collins is in it. 

I’ve written before about miscegenation laws in the United States.  All these people who oppose same-sex marriage.  Do they understand that it wasn’t until 1967 and the Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia that the Supreme Court finally said – oh yeah – all you states that have laws against interracial marriage – those are unconstitutional.  You can’t do that.  I know that people who make the religious argument don’t understand or agree with the comparison.  But what if you wanted to marry someone of another race – with no qualms or worries – and a bunch of people told you “You are wrong.”  And then the laws of your state said “We won’t recognize your marriage.”  Whether or not you agree with the reasons – what if it was against the law?  You have no say.  You love someone of a different race.  You can’t get married.  1967 – just TWO YEARS before my parents of two different races were married.  Granted, they didn’t plan their wedding in a state with a miscegenation law on the books.  But what if they wanted to a couple years earlier?  They could have been arrested. 

As a happily married heterosexual, I sometimes think – well, in another generation this battle will be won and we’ll be looking back at anti-same-sex-marriage laws with the same sense of history.  But that is not good enough for good people who want to be married now – or who want their existing marriages to be legally recognized.  For that reason, I think, I cannot stop myself from going on and on about the subject.  Again I ask – why aren’t we passing tougher laws against real crime?  Why aren’t we focusing on real issues?  Why are people afraid for the future of America because two people who love each other want to live their lives in peace?  If we have to change everyone to be a certain way or live a certain life, why don’t we spend more time focused on our own shortcomings and sins? 

We all deserve better.   All people deserve the same basic civil rights.  We all should have come much farther (should that be further?) by now. 

It’s late and suddenly it is Christmas Eve.  I’ve been absent from blogging and now I write about something not related to Christmas.  Or maybe it is.  Maybe it is about the spirit of hope and love.  Harvey Milk spoke of hope.  What better time to look forward in hope?

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Sweetie and I watched the movie “Into the Wild” a little bit ago.  It got me thinking about a lot of things.  Then, someone commented on an old blog of mine, and it stirred up the thoughts even more.  I wrote this observation:

“I think some people want to be understood. In that case, they may need a good, non-judgmental ear. I have found, in my life, once I stopped focusing so hard on myself and feeling so isolated and incomprehensible, it was ok to let people understand who I really am.”

I felt I wanted to follow up my own thoughts on the movie and expound on these thoughts.  I’m trying to write without rambling for 26 pages.  Let’s see if I can do it.

Spoiler Alert:

If you want to see the movie and want no spoilers whatsoever, you should stop reading.  I don’t think I can write what I want to write without talking about important parts of the movie.  Consider this your spoiler alert.

Basically, this kid leaves home to wander the country for a couple of years with little to no money.  He lives off of odd jobs, the kindness of strangers, and (in the wilds of Alaska) off his own hunting and gathering skills.  This is what the IMDB summary says:

Based on a true story. After graduating from Emory University in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters who shape his life.

That sounded intriguing to me.  Of course, that is not the full story.  What you learn while watching the movie is – –  he was estranged from his family and never told them where he was during his travels. He lied to the people he met about his identity and his background.  And ultimately (end-of-movie spoiler here), he dies in the wilderness in Alaska.  Unknown and disputed is how exactly he died – did he eat a poisonous plant or just starve to death?  Also unknown were his motivations at the end – did he go to Alaska to die purposefully, or was he really ready to go back home/into civilization?  How bad was his upbringing?  Don’t know.

This is not a commentary on this kid’s life.  There has been a lot of comments made about his own motivations and behavior.  Was he selfish? Was he arrogant?  I don’t know.  I just watched a movie.  I didn’t know the kid.  What I am commenting on are very universal human behaviors that this movie made me think about. 

I started thinking about things like emotional pain, self-absorption, truth, alienation, and communication.  And I thought of a couple of universal behaviors:

People don’t see what they don’t want to see. 

And. 

Too often, people tragically become what they dislike.

This kid said he was looking for truth.  Truth was the highest ideal, the most important thing to him.  His parents had lied to him and that was bad.   But, apparently, truth is all relative.  He wanted truth because his father lied to him.  But what does he do?  He lies.  He lies about his name.  About his family.  About why he ran away from home.  He met people along the way who cared about him and felt somewhat responsible for him (by helping him out).  And he lied to them.  But he never seemed to realize that one particular truth about himself. Or maybe, he saw things in such degrees of gray that his lies were ok. 

His parents inflicted emotional harm on him.  The film never shows him being physically beaten, so let’s just stick with emotional harm.  Which, as most of us know can be as, or more damaging, than physical.  I had a friend who was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder as an adult due to the abuse she suffered from her mother as a child, and it wasn’t physical abuse.  The wounds of the psyche take a long time to heal.  You would think that the children of abusers would be the last people on earth who would abuse another.  But, sadly, human experience shows this is not true.  Some learn to equate abuse with love and, in some warped sense of logic, abuse their own children.  This kid inflicted all sorts of emotional pain on the people around him in the name of “truth.”  Was he being true to himself?  Yes.  But, did he even take the time to acknowledge other people’s pain?  No.  And that is what bugged me.  He didn’t have to stay in Slab City with Jan and Rainey.  He didn’t have to agree to be adopted by Franz  (especially since his parents were still quite alive).  But he didn’t even look hard enough to recognize the pain that his actions caused on these people.  To say “I’m sorry I have to do this for myself, but I do care for you.”  Maybe he did in real life.  But again, I think this behavior is universal.  I was thinking, after I watched, this is universal in young people who are so tuned into their own selves.

He didn’t listen well enough to recognize the pain that Jan was sharing with him about her own son.  I don’t think she was trying to use Chris as a surrogate for her own son.  But, as a young kid who was doing the same thing, would it have killed him to say one encouraging thing to her?  And would it have destroyed him if he had shared his own tale of pain and abuse with others?  Did he just like giving the impression that he was a Zen-like, totally together, relaxed dude to other people? I don’t think so.  I think he honestly felt like his pain was too great and too embarrassing to share.  Though I don’t understand how, in the year 1992, being an illegitimate offspring can be that devastating.  Hello?  Was it 1882?  No.  It was 1992.  Not a nice thing to find out, but not something that would destroy your future in this country.

And that leads to the other universal behavior this kid displayed:

Self-absorption is a black hole

Ultimately, self-absorption can lead to your own destruction, and that is one of the most selfish things a person can do (which is what self-absorption is all about…….I know…..duh).  Does every human have that right to destroy him/herself?  Notwithstanding the will of God, yes (But there is a reason that suicide is classified as a mortal sin. And if you think that isn’t a grave matter for Christians, consider the fact that I may not have survived my teenage years if the idea of that mortal sin didn’t scare the beejeebies out of me.  Which, yes,  goes a long way towards proving Umberto Eco’s point of the church exerting control over its parishioners, but that is a long discussion for another day).

I’m not saying people are not entitled to some self-pitying moments.  Of course that will happen.  I’m not even saying that most people don’t recognize this behavior in themselves.  Including me.  We see it.  We know it.  We are not stupid. 

So, what are some solutions to these problems??  I came up with four ideas (Just ideas.  As the saying goes in Dogma: “It’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier”): 

Experience.  Brain chemistry.  Discipline.  Communication. 

How am I qualified to share this with you? I’m not.  Too bad.  I’m writing anyway.  That’s what we writers do. 

#1. Experience:  I think, the more you experience life and learn about other people’s experiences, the more you can put your own troubles in perspective.  Unfortunately, the only way that can happen is if you live long enough to learn about other people, other places, other experiences.  Whether by choice or not, Chris didn’t have enough time to learn perspective.  And he wasn’t listening enough to the people around him who were trying to offer him some.  But I think most of us, if we look, will find there are people in our lives who can offer perspective.  My father was vital at this for me after I went away to college and learned to appreciate his long, often rambling lectures.

Because, #2.  I think brain chemistry plays a huge part.  Perhaps the biggest part.  My buddy years ago (oops – I moved that story to the end.  Sorry) went through a lot of shit, yes.  But it was shit that other people have been able to get through.  It was stuff he was already in counseling for and was trying to work through.  But, for all his self-discipline and attempts to help himself, I don’t think he could overcome some basic short-circuiting in his brain.  For that, he needed some medical help, and I don’t think it was a cop out for him to submit to it.  Sometimes, those misfires in our brain can overwhelm everything else.  Never underestimate that, or think that you know yourself well enough to know what all the neurons and chemicals in your body are telling each other.  I don’t see it as a weakness.  It is a simple physiological fact of life.

#s 3 and 4.  Discipline and communication. 

I think of the scene in “Moonlight and Valentino” when Sylvie yells at Rebecca”  “Your time of self-absorption is up!!”

Wow.  That was tough.  Did Rebecca have an incredibly tragic reason to be self-absorbed?  Yes.  Was Sylvie correct though?  Probably, yes.  This is not to say that people don’t have reasons to be tragic.  But what was the harsh truth that Sylvie was pointing out?

There comes a time when we need to stop being dominated by those little and big tragedies in our lives.  Not forget them all.  As I pointed out, Tears for Fears has one of the best lines ever in “I believe there are wounds time can’t heal”.  But, the way the movie showed it, this kid could not stop dwelling on the bad things in his family life.  Forget about the fact he said he loved his sister, but then left her alone with the parents he despised. 

I think there comes a point you have to learn how to make friends with your ghosts (I hate to point out another movie reference, but this reminds me of a powerful scene in Uncommon Valor).  It’s easier to deal with your own demons when you learn to recognize that your human existence is not unique in the world.  We have many wonderful things that make each of us special.  We don’t need our tragedies and foibles to define how others see us.  Because, as you also learn as you get older, most people have seen similar things, and it’s not really a big deal.  Not to them anyway.  Wow.  That was a tough one for me at first.  But after the shock, it was the best realization of my life.  I’ve said it before.  Initially, this is a harsh reality.  But once I finally got used to the idea, it offered a refreshing release from my own demons.  I’m not so damaged that anyone would be shocked to know about me!

Unfortunately, just like treatment for substance abuse, working to heal oneself doesn’t succeed until the person in pain recognizes the problems and……seeks help.  Vital point.  For me, it was as simple as learning some basic skills.  I was great for years at recognizing and self-analyzing my own problems.  Was I good at overcoming them?  No.  Not until I learned how to communicate with others.  Not until I learned to stop despising simple things like crying and talking honestly to other people.  Wow.  What a realization.  It was hard to come by.  It was hard to overcome them.  I had to – sometimes still have to – exert a lot of effort and discipline to overcome my old tendencies and to let myself cry (though my husband would be surprised to hear this).  To reach out to other people for help.  To offer up my own open ears and heart to other people.  You would think that would be easy.  Sometimes, it’s the hardest thing in the world.  But, if you are the kind of person who relies on others, as Rebecca relied on Sylvie’s friendship, you owe it to other people to sometimes be a giver instead of a taker. 

Using that logic (back to the movie), did Chris need to snap out of it since he made a decision for himself to be on his own and not rely on anyone else?  Of course he did.  He needed to snap out of it for the sake of his own life, which was promising and which he could have used for many things…..to promote wilderness issues, or to write a book to share the truths he worked so hard to learn.  The movie did make it seem like this is exactly what happened.  That he had an awakening moment.  He dried his tears and he set out to leave the wild.  He was stymied by a raging river and he didn’t know that he needed to walk just a little ways down the river to find a path out.  Then, it was too late. 

And maybe that is the point of the movie.  Figure it out before it is too late.  Or, figure it out in slightly less isolated surroundings. ??  With a telephone and food around.  I wish that kid had the opportunity to take what he learned in the wilderness and leave more than just a few scribblings in book margins and boards and old paper. 

Why do I get so worked up about it?  Maybe because of a bad experience I had years ago being smack dab in the middle of a good friend’s suicide attempt.  I can tell you that brought a lot of esoteric, philosophical, high-falutin’ concepts into stark harsh reality for me.  It was real.  It was scary.  It was something I was completely not qualified to deal with.  And it left me knowing that I never wanted to see someone fall that far over the edge again.  Maybe I get worked up because I have spent so much of my own time working my ass off to try and improve my own emotional outlook.  Or maybe because, cynical old cuss that I am, I just want people to be more happy.  I know I’ve probably set a record for rambling but, of course, writing things out helps me process my own thoughts.  And since I started sharing them a little, I thought I might as well finish the thought.  I can offer no other justification than that.  Thank you for indulging me.  And to paraphrase Saturn, you get a big cookie if you managed to read through this whole thing.

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No real spoilers here. Especially since I have NOT read the last book yet.

A friend of mine asked me last night how I liked the newest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I hemmed and hawed a little. I said I thought that, similar to the book, the movie was more of a transition story than a great stand-alone story. There really was not a lot of *story* in this story. Period. I mentioned how my favorite movie is still The Prisoner of Azkaban. I really think the director took his time during that movie – some of the shots are slow and great. The more I think about The Order of the Phoenix, the less impressed I feel with this director. Who……I notice on IMDB……is the director of the next movie. Uck. Any chance that will change? But then…The Order of the Phoenix appears to be the only one not written (screenplay) by Steve Kloves. Maybe I can blame the screenwriter. Who, thankfully, is not listed on the next movie.

So, given that all the books are written by the same person, my question for the day is:

Who is your favorite Harry Potter movie director? There was one director for the first two movies, and one director for each of the last three. Do you have a favorite?

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n case you don’t know yet, I am a HUGE fan of Neil Gaiman. HUGE. Ever since 1990 when my then-boyfriend introduced me to Gaiman’s Sandman comic books. These books are not just a bunch of caped crusaders jumping from rooftops to help damsels in distress (although some of those are good to read). Gaiman’s Sandman series are filled with complex characters, intricate story lines, and fantastic artwork. Sandman is the only comic book to ever win the World Fantasy Award.

You know I love good character development, and the Endless of the Sandman world are a crazy cast of characters. They include Dream himself, as well as one of my favorite characters ever written – his older sister Death. Awesome character.

I can literally point to books on my shelves I bought after my curiosity was piqued by a good Sandman issue – American History (ever heard of the Emperor of the United States?), mythology (lots of folks from myth in there), 50 Great Philosophers, and on and on. Not to mention, Sandman kicked off my own comic book collecting habit.

Anyway, besides Sandman, Gaiman has written many novels – American Gods, Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), Neverwhere, and Anansi Boys. He wrote the 2005 movie Mirrormask, a visual trip directed by Dave McKean.

And, he wrote the book Stardust. Which has been made into a movie. Which is coming out in August. Which looks FANTASTIC! Really good. Like, possibly – the director didn’t destroy Gaiman’s work (except……Claire Danes as Yvaine???…..erg?). Oh well. I think it helped that they allowed Neil to consult during the movie-making (I think). He’s written on his blog about how he was joking about who his dream cast would be for the movie. Thinking “That’s impossible.” Little did Neil know that the movie would attract the likes of Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ian McKellen, Rupert Everett, and Peter O’Toole. And, again – they look FANTASTIC! Movie website is: http://www.stardustmovie.com/

So, check this out. Then check the movie out in August. It’s mostly a big fairy tale. But, like all of Gaiman’s work, it can be both thought-provoking and fairly dark at times. Consider that fair warning.


Photo Credit: www.stardustmovie.com

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