Rated: 18+ · Book · Biographical · #1399999
My primary Writing.com blog.
Logocentric (adj). Regarding words and language as a fundamental expression of an external reality (especially applied as a negative term to traditional Western thought by postmodernist critics).|
Sometimes I just write whatever I feel like. Other times I respond to prompts, many taken from the following places:
"The Soundtrackers Group"
"Blogging Circle of Friends "
"Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise"
"Take up Your Cross"
Thanks for stopping by!
The Bad Guys
Abbott Elementary (Season 2)
Insecure (Season 1) - DNF
Reboot (Season 1)
There was a lot of good stuff that I watched this month. Abbott Elementary is great again this season, and Andor was a welcome surprise in a Star Wars franchise piece that isn't about the same usual Skywalker lineage. The Bad Guys was a surprisingly good family heist movie that I will definitely be watching again, and I'm slowly making my way through The Punisher, the last of the Marvel/Netflix shows that I never really got around to watching when it originally aired.
I tried to get into Insecure because I'd heard great things about it, but after two episodes I just don't see myself finishing it anytime soon. Lately I've been really avoiding shows that require a huge investment of time to get into. The same goes for Schitt's Creek and Parks & Recreation which people rave about but most admit it takes a couple of seasons to hit its stride... and I just haven't been feeling like investing the time to watch literal seasons of television before getting to the good stuff. Maybe sometime in the future, but I'm labeling Insecure as a "DNF" because I don't see myself going back to it anytime in the next several months.
Reboot was really funny. It's very "inside baseball" about the entertainment industry, but the performances and the writing are good enough that I think most people would enjoy this behind the scenes look at rebooting a classic sitcom (the show centers on a modern-day remake of a Step by Step / Full House type show from decades ago with the original cast who have all changed since then).
TOP PICK: Reboot (Season 1)
|"Resurrection Jukebox" | Day 2 | Prompt ▼
by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
While this song isn't my favorite by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, I'm including it because it's the very last song he played at his very last concert. This is from the Hollywood Bowl on September 25, 2017, a stop on their 40th Anniversary tour of the United States. I actually considered trying to get tickets to this concert because I'd always wanted to see Tom Petty live, and the Hollywood Bowl is by far my favorite concert venue. I ended up not going, and to my and everyone else's surprise, this wound up being Tom Petty's last live performance because he died of accidental overdose just about a week later, on October 2, 2017.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were never my favorite band, but they were a band that was consistently very good. Especially later in their career, they had so many hits to draw from, every concert, every greatest hits album, etc. was just packed with great songs. Tom Petty is one of those artists that I can call up on Spotify and just randomize a playlist of all his tracks and listen to it for hours before I get into the lesser known stuff. And so many of his songs are just laid back, toe-tapping songs that I bet his concerts were really fun to go to. Not all spectacle and high energy and cranked up volume, but something you could take a picnic basket and some drinks to and enjoy listening to in the open fall air of an afternoon at the Hollywood Bowl.
I'd love for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to come back for one last performance or, maybe, for me to be able to go back in time to enjoy this last performance when it happened in 2017.
|"Resurrection Jukebox" | Day 1 | Prompt ▼
"Shadow of the Day"
by Linkin Park
This is a band that double-checks the "Resurrection Jukebox" criteria as they'e been on hiatus since the death of lead singer Chester Bennington in July of 2017. And this is definitely a band I'd love some new music from. Each of their first three albums (Hybrid Theory, Meteora, and Minutes to Midnight) were incredibly influential for me, and each one gave us something new in terms of their sound. I will admit that I'm somewhat partial to songs like "Faint" and "Bleed It Out" which heavily feature Mike Shinoda's hip-hop input, but it's songs like "Shadow of the Day" that really highlight the band's versatility.
I've always loved Linkin Park's story. Mike Shinoda started the band and initially called it Xero, people came and went from the band as they struggled to catch on. Chester Bennington joined the group and brought a rock aesthetic to contrast with the electronic and hip-hop stylings of Shinoda. They changed their name to Hybrid Theory, later changing it again to avoid name confusion with an existing band called Hybrid. Originally called Lincoln Park (after the Santa Monica park), they modified the name to Linkin Park in order to secure a domain name. As they developed their first album (titled Hybrid Theory, as an homage to their former band name), record execs encouraged Chester to fire Mike and make a more straightforward rock album. Chester refused and they released the album they wanted to make... which went on to sell 4.8 million copies its first year, became the bestselling album of 2001, netted them three Grammy nominations (and one win) and were invited to tour with some of the biggest names in rock music. Over a 12-month span of time, they performed at more than 320 concerts. That pretty much catapulted them into the stratosphere, and their unique sound that they refused to compromise on and always pushed forward with new ideas resulted in the band being one of the most successful bands of the 21st Century, with over 100 million albums sold and nearly two dozen major awards.
As someone who quickly tires of "same old, same old," bands like Linkin Park are exciting to me because you never know what they're going to come up with. New albums don't just have new songs, but also new sounds. New instruments and arrangements and styles and influences. Not everything is a winner, but I can point to at least a couple songs on every single Linkin Park album and either say, "I've never heard anything like that before," or, "That song is amazing."
"Shadow of the Day" is a bit in both camps, as it's an emotionally-charged song that doesn't rely on any of their usual industrial beats or calling-card rap-rock mix of lyrics and styles. It's pared back, simple, and effective. So, yeah, if I could get a new album out of any former band, I think I'd love to see what Linkin Park could come up with these days.
Jurassic World: Dominion
Werewolf By Night
Never Have I Ever (Season 3)
The Terminal List
I didn't watch a lot this past month, and there wasn't a lot that I found particularly compelling. All three films were kinda fun but mostly mindless entertainment, and The Terminal List on the television side was pretty dull despite being based on a book that I enjoyed reading. The only real bright spot this month was the third season of Never Have I Ever which has quickly become one of my all-time favorite Netflix shows. There's so much humor and heart in each season, and they're really growing their characters in exciting ways.
TOP PICK: Never Have I Ever (Season 3)
|WDC 48-Hour Challenge: Media Prompt | Prompt ▼
Imagine Dragons is one of those bands that I don't really understand how they got so famous. A lot of their songs are catchy, sure, and I have a quite a few playlists with their tracks on it, but these guys put up monster numbers in terms of earnings, concert attendance, etc. They're one of the most commercially successful bands of all time and I really scratch my head and wonder why. Are they as bad as some people say? No. Some people act like they're the new Nickelback, and I don't think that's the case. Although, to be fair, I do see a lot of similarities between Imagine Dragons and Nickelback in terms of them probably not deserving all the hate they get, but probably don't deserve the massive fandom that they have either.
Imagine Dragons has claimed sales of 75 million albums worldwide, which puts them in the same territory as Christina Aguilera, Alabama, Nirvana, Kenny G, Bob Marley, The Police, Gloria Estefan, Barry Manilow, KISS, and Aretha Franklin. And just short of artists like Tom Petty, Van Halen, The Black Eyed Peas, Shakira, Tim McGraw, and R.E.M. Considering many of these musical acts started years or even decades before Imagine Dragons formed in 2008, it's a pretty impressive accomplishment how many albums they've sold.
This isn't one of my favorite songs the band has. I'm partial to "It's Time" and "Demons" and "Thunder." Their song "Zero" for the Ralph Breaks The Internet soundtrack is pretty good too. Are they more enduring songs than some of the other people listed above? Can't say that they are.
Someone once made the observation that a lot of pop songs these days (and alternative songs could be included in this) are disposable; they're massive hits when they're playing, but no one remembers them by the time the next song comes around. How many of us still listen to J-Lo's early songs? Or Britney's old albums once the new one drops? But other artists like Taylor Swift or Michael Jackson or Ed Sheeran have this quality to their songs where someone's just as likely to be listening to their earlier stuff as their most recent stuff. It's something I often think about when it comes to modern pop music, and I think - at least for me - Imagine Dragons fits into the former category where the songs are very catchy and popular in the moment, but years later an older song will come on and everyone goes, "Oh yeah, I totally forgot about this song!"
I have a feeling "Natural" is headed in that direction. It was released in 2018 and it's already getting hard to find on playlists now that the band has released half a dozen other singles since then.
I generally don't have regrets about the course of my life because it's very possible that the things in my life I have now that I love wouldn't exist if I had done things differently. If I said I would go back and get out of or pursue a different relationship, I wouldn't have our kids, or the great experiences I've had with my wife. If I said I would go back and avoid a particular mistake, I wouldn't have the wisdom I gained from going through that particular trial. So with the caveat that I'm not really sure I'd turn back time at all, if I had to, I would probably change one or all of the following things:
1. Unhealthy Habits
I spent a lot of years not exercising and eating like calories didn't count. And I've spent a lot of years overweight and out of shape as a result. If I could change the course of my life so that I could have spent the past 10-20 years making better choices in order to feel better physically (and not have to go through the current struggle to lose the extra weight!), that'd be pretty nice.
2. More Risks At Work
I was admittedly very timid with my career choices. My parents really pressured me to prioritize being able to support myself and I took a lot of jobs (and turned down quite a few) because of the financial component. I sometimes wonder if I'd be in a different and better place professionally if I took risks like stepping off the corporate track and steady paycheck in order to get a job in a writers room, or if I'd said yes to opportunities that might have required me to travel more, or step outside my comfort zone. My career has been largely comfortable, but I often wonder how it would have been different if I had taken more risks instead.
If I ended up going back in time, I would have taken my writing more seriously. At the time, I always believed I was too tired or too busy to write and now in retrospect I recognize that it was instead closer to laziness and fear of failure. Had I the ability to do it all over again, I would love to be able to teach myself that lesson earlier on, so I didn't have to spend so many years being so afraid of living up to my potential as a writer that I ended up not really writing very much at all.
4. Live Somewhere Else For A While
Being born and having lived my entire life in California, I wish I would have taken the opportunity to live somewhere else for a while. Maybe a semester abroad, or a gap year, or more mission trips, or just more leisure travel in general. I've been fortunate enough to have taken some amazing vacations in different spots around the world, but I do always wonder what it would be like to have lived for a season in a place completely different from California. Maybe somewhere on the East Coast or an international city somewhere.
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|"Take up Your Cross" | Prompt ▼
At my weekly Bible study (which is reading through the entire Bible in a year), we finally reached the New Testament and just finished the Book of Matthew. The conversation this morning brought up a couple of things I hadn't considered before, the most interesting among them - at least for me - being a conversation about the questions Jesus was asked and answered. By many accounts, the other characters in the Bible asked Jesus 183 questions. Jesus only definitively answered three of them, and asked 307 questions of others, often by answering their question with a question or two. I hadn't really thought about that before.
One of the things I've always struggled with as a Christian is my fellow Christians who treat the Bible as prescriptive rather than descriptive . So many Christians look to specific passages of the Bible to tell them how to act, or to make an argument in support of what they already believe. But looking at the stories of Jesus as told in the Bible, it's remarkable how often he didn't have an explicit and direct answer for someone's question.
What that's taught me is that the Bible isn't a how-to instruction book as much as it is a book that's meant to be studied, learned from, and applied to our own lives and contexts. In terms of my own life, it means that I need to spend less time reading the Bible looking for answers and more time reading the Bible to figure out what the right questions to ask are.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show
The Wish Dragon
Schitt's Creek (Season 1)
Selling the OC (Season 1)
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Stranger Things (Season 2)
Stranger Things (Season 3)
After watching an early cut of BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER, I'm really excited about it. I think audiences are really going to respond to the story, which had to be completely reworked after the passing of Chadwick Boseman. But my favorite thing I watched on the movie side last month was the SHOWRUNNERS documentary about what it's like to be the head writer/producer on a television show. It's basically my dream job, and the documentary featured interviews with several prominent showrunners about what their job is like.
I'm finally getting caught up on STRANGER THINGS on the television side, which I'm really enjoying. I didn't think Season 3 was as good as Season 2, but I'm really excited for the most recently fourth season. SELLING THE OC is pretty dull because the personalities aren't nearly as interesting as the original SELLING SUNSET show, but I enjoy seeing the real estate being sold closer to my neck of the woods.
TOP PICK: Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show
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I was initially tempted to say that my worst job interview was the time I was up for a job with a very, very well-known production company, studied up on their films extensively, and when asked what my favorite movie of theirs was, promptly forget everything and had to admit that I literally could not think of a single movie they had produced. And then I blurted out a movie that wasn't even theirs. Needless to say, that recruiter did not end up calling me back for a second interview.
But, no. That was just an embarrassing interview. My worst one? That would be the time that I interviewed over the phone for a job with an independent producer and the assistant that I would have been replacing. Everything seemed to be going well until they found out I lived in Long Beach at the time. This producer worked out of his home in Westwood which, for the non-Angelenos reading this is almost exactly 30 miles... which means it could be anywhere up to two and a half hours away, depending on traffic.
The producer and the assistant were incredulous that I would actually be able to make it to the job on time. I assured them I would make it to work on time, every day without fail. I prided myself on my punctuality. The producer put me on hold to confer with his assistant, came back on the line and said, "Okay, here's the deal. I'll bring you in for a second interview in person at my home office. If you're even a minute late, you're not getting the job. Oh and let's set the interview for 9:00am right in the heart of rush hour to see how committed you are."
In retrospect, I should have taken that as a warning sign. But I got up the morning of the interview at 5:00am and got ready. I left for the interview at 6:00am and got there by 7:15am. I parked down the street from his house and literally waited there in my car for an hour and a half. At 8:45am, I was just about to get out of my car and walk up to the house to be a few minutes early when the producer called me.
"Are you here?" he asked me.
"Of course," I replied. "I actually just parked on your street."
"Goddamnit," the producer muttered.
I was a little perplexed.
"I'm sorry?" I asked.
"I just lost 20 bucks to my assistant. I was sure you weren't gonna make it and he bet me you'd be on time. Anyway, look... I'm not going to hire you. I was never going to hire you. I was just hoping to make 20 bucks off my assistant to teach him a lesson. Anyway, sorry you drove all the way up here. Good luck, kid." And then he hung up.
Most of you are probably reading this and thinking that's pretty messed up... but don't worry, because this was also one of my very first lessons in this industry about how you're supposed to treat everyone with respect because you never know when you're going to run into someone again. "Be nice to those you meet on the way up because you'll meet them again on the way down" is how that adage often goes.
Cut to a few years later and the job I ended up getting instead of that one was for a pretty high-level senior executive at a much better-known and well-funded production company. This producer was a decent name at the time I interviewed with him but had struggled in the years since. As it happened, he was kind of desperate to meet with my boss to see if he could get our company to invest in his latest movie. When he called to ask for the meeting I told him the only time I could fit him in was at 4:00pm on a Friday.
Producer: "But I'll get stuck in traffic both ways. It'll take me hours to get across town and back."
It was the only time I offered, so he took it.
That Friday, I called him ten minutes before the meeting. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Producer... my boss actually had a last-minute conflict and he'll have to reschedule this meeting."
Producer: "I... just drove... all the way here. For nothing..."
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"Take up Your Cross" | Prompt ▼
Do I think churches should have been included in the stay-at-home orders at the beginning of the pandemic when nobody was sure of anything about COVID-19 and many of us were worried that ourselves our our loved ones could die of a new virus of unknown lethality? Nah, we should have totally let churches stay open right alongside other essential services like hospitals and grocery stores. They're basically the same thing, right?
While religious freedom is certainly a freedom we here in the United States and many other places around the world enjoy, it's not an absolute right. And despite what conservative politicians and the majority on the Supreme Court may say, that freedom is not under fundamental attack. The public good supersedes personal preference, so just like freedom of speech has its limits (you can't yell "fire" in a public place and cause a panic, for example), so does the freedom of religion (like, oh, maybe having to stay home along with the rest of your neighbors when there's a public health emergency going on).
As a Christian who regularly attends church, the pandemic was hard on me (as I know it was for many, many others). I missed my church family. Doing church remotely was not even close to an ideal substitute, and yet it was something that I did gladly because part of the whole "love thy neighbor" thing is, you know, keeping them safe from a raging pandemic. And sure, with the benefit of hindsight, we could argue about what the actual lethal risk of this virus was, what mitigating factors were necessary and which were less effective, and when the right time to open different types of activities back up again would have been. But this question doesn't contemplate having any of that hindsight; it asks about the beginning of the pandemic, when things were uncertain. And during those times I just don't think the Christian faith supports a position of, "Who cares about the risk to other people, my religious freedom demands that I be allowed to attend church in person when 80% of other establishments are shut down!"
The larger issue I think this question speaks to, though, is a pervasive attitude of Christian exceptionalism combined with a massive persecution complex. Christianity is, admittedly, a religion based on the the idea of evangelizing the "good news" and bringing others to the "true" faith, so it's somewhat understandable that feelings of superiority that often come with the exceptionalist beliefs present in the Christian worldview. But many Christians have also convinced themselves that they're an oppressed group, even in countries where they represent the overwhelmingly dominant religion (and in many cases the majority of the total population). Church attendance and the number of citizens who consider themselves Christians may currently be down from their record highs from a few decades ago, but that's not the same thing as being persecuted.
You want to see people being persecuted for their religious beliefs? Spend some with the underground Christian churches in China. Do some missionary work in Africa. Talk to any of a number of Muslim communities in America about how they've been treated since 9/11. With approximately 65% of all Americans still identifying as Christian, we are not an oppressed class in this country. The fact that we couldn't gather in a physical location to worship during the same time where people had to close their business and shelter in place does not mean our religious freedom is being infringed upon.
In case you haven't noticed, I have a real problem with this question. I have a problem with it because its phrasing at the very outset ("Do you think it was right...") implies that there is a value judgement to be made and I don't think that should be the case here. Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, we were all focused on keeping ourselves and others safe and that should be doubly important for Christians whom Jesus commands to radically love and sacrifice for others. If this question had asked whether the pandemic measures were necessary, or what churches could have done different in hindsight or something like that, it would have been an actual conversation piece with differing opinions and perspectives on what could have been done.
But this question instead basically presumes that Christians were persecuted for not being allowed to attend church early in the pandemic and asks if the respondent agrees with that. For the record I don't, and I don't even believe that churches being closed during the early stages of a pandemic is an indication of religious persecution. We were still free to worship, we just couldn't gather publicly during a period of time where community spread of a lethal virus was a major worldwide concern. Those aren't the same things.
I think the world would be a better place if a lot of Christians spent less time being aggrieved about how they're being perceived or treated and what they want, and instead spent that time focusing on the mission of Jesus and following the commandments he gave us.
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