|This port contains my musings on writing and life in general. And yes, it is one hundred percent real. I pull no punches, and I co-sign no one. Enjoy.|
|It goes without saying that I needed a minute to get over losing my grandfather, so I haven't blogged in over a month. A few days before Thanksgiving, I had the displeasure of burying my stepfather's seventeen year-old black labrador retreiver. So, two old timers are gone. It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about the two of them.
On the bright side, Thanksgiving went off without a hitch. I enjoyed my mother's sweet potato pie and the company of friends and family. Thanksgivings usually involve some kind of petty argument, but this year, I actually enjoyed myself. I ended up watching the Blind Side at the end of the night and was pleasantly surprised by the all around good acting.
On Black Friday, I decided to go back to my gaming roots and bought a PS3 gaming bundle. I've spent so much time working on my novel, and my job-that-pays-the-bills that I've forgotten about having fun. Now, I just have to make sure I'm not gaming for eight hours a day like I did when I was a teenager.
When I'm not working on Visionary, I'm working on an untitled novella involving a Disneyland-esque world of performers, set in the not-to-distant future. It's a guilty pleasure working on it.
As for Visionary, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I get inspiration for certain scenes out of order, so the hard part is to assemble the right ones in order, and fill in the blanks without losing any momentum. It's a lot harder than it looks, but it's rewarding work.
I've also been thinking about writing a parallel with Natrea's sister, Phyllis "Fee" as a main character. Fee just seems too extraordinary too leave as a secondary character. If I can write about Natrea's gift of seeing into the past, and seeing into herself, then writing about Fee's gift of seeing other people as they truely are shouldn't be too much of a stretch.
I think a new title for Visionary is in order. Visionary: Ghost Music would be an apropriate title for the first novel, and Visionary: Photo Paint would be an excellent title for the second.
|This year has been extremelly bumpy for my family. Two of my aunts were diagnosed with cancer, and one passed away this summer sooner than expected. My grandpa was also diagnosed with cancer, and he passed away Tuesday afternoon.
To top off this suckfest, this has often brought me into the awkward field of associating with people I wouldn't normally associate with. Namely, distant family.
I know, I know. Everyone who has a big family knows there are certain cousins(or whatever) that you don't talk to on a regular basis, usually due to difference of opinion, or the need to maintain your sanity. I just think that the unspoken estrangement should just continue on for special occasions.
This may sound harsh, but I'm a pretty straight-forward person. If you haven't talked to someone in over twenty years, no postcard, not even a generic Christmas card...then why fake your deep emotional connection to this person at their funeral?
I say this because I've watched my grandfather deteriorate over the years, and very few people from his side of the family called to check up on him, let alone visit. And now these people, these strangers are going to be at the funeral. What am I supposed to do? Pretend to be happy that they're there for moral support? The argument has been made that I won't have to see these people again once the funeral is over with, but I wonder why I should have to put up with seeing them at all. They didn't think it was important enough to communicate with my grandfather when he was healthy and alive, why is it important for them to see his remains?
|I hate writing negative blog posts. The world has enough bullshit it in it. Like scripted reality tv, for example.
But today I am really pissed off. A friend(now former friend) invited me to a bbq which was supposed to happen between 4 and 5 pm today. I hadn't heard anything from him since he invited me, so I assumed the time was still around four thirty or so, and sane person would.
This afternoon, I got a text message from him at around twelve thirty to see if I was still coming. I texted him that I was still going to come, and asked if the time it was going to start was still going to be around 5 or so. I didn't recieve a text back, but I figured what the hell, he had just arrived out of town, he was probably entertaining guests and was probably away from his home.
I get to his house at about 4:30, and no one is there except his dad, who gives me a funny look. Apparently everyone had already eaten hours before, and everyone was partying downtown without me. I had a serious WTF moment. The dad offered to call my friend, but at that point, I was done with the whole thing. I mean, seriously, who invites someone to the party, changes the time with no phone call or text, and then expects things to be hunky dory?
On my way home, guess who decided to call me? My former friend who apparently couldn't text me or call me before. I didn't answer because I was driving, but when I got home, I texted him that I had been to his house already, and that I wasn't driving back, so he could have a good evening. I still haven't gotten a text message back, but I don't care. I'm not going to tolerate his bullshit.
|I judge a good action movie on different standards than regular feel-good movies. Believability? Out the window. Plot? Pointless. The only things that really matter in an action movie is...well the action. What else?
I've been a fan of Resident Evil ever since I watched the first zombie savagely attack the legendary S.T.A.R.S. team in the first video game. The first four movies were a mixed bag of fan service a random new shit that often fell a little flat.
But I think the director finally got things right. Here's my review of Resident Evil Retribution.
The coherence of the movie was well done. Since this was the fifth film, it was neccessary that there was some history given at the beginning of the movie. Even the objectives of Alice and her allies were clearly stated, and they stayed on task. No one did anything particularly stupid, which is what makes most movie goers like me groan and scream for their money back.
The fight scenes were well done, as usual. Milla Jovavich is an old pro in action movies at this point, but I was surprised to see Sienna Guillory(Jill Valentine) give her a run for her money. The monsters were well-rendered.The graphics have definitely come a long way since the first Resident Evil movie.
Now for the mediocre parts of the movie. The entire film felt like an around the world rehash of the first five movies, complete with old faces. I just wish they introduced new monsters that were unexpected. The zombie russians were a nice touch, but if you've seen one zombie, you've seen them all. I also didn't like the fact that certain people were introduced in this movie just to be killed off. That definitely made my inner fan girl weep a little.
If you've seen one Resident Evil movie, you've seen them all at this point. If you're a fan, it's worth the moneyto see it in 3-D like I did. If not, wait a few months for the Blu-Ray version.
I give this movie a 75%. At this point, I need something groundbreaking in this series to keep me interested.
|I've given up on regular tv. I hate searching through one hundred or so channels without finding something interesting to watch. So I've been watching Smart Tv for the past two years. I get to watch things I really want to see at any time I want to them. And everything unavailable on Smart Tv, I can usually watch on the internet.
I have a built in apps on my Vizio tv, and the ones I usually use are Netflix, Hulu Plus, Web Videos, and Amazon Instant Video. Here's a list of my current favorite tv shows and movies.
1. The Booth At The End(On Hulu Plus): A mysterious man in a booth towards the back of a non-descript diner has the power to grant any wish. His customers come from all walks of life, and all have different desires. His price? Following specific tasks and telling him about them. The problem is, these tasks range from criminal acts to unusually creepy. To what lengths will a man go through to save his sick son? To what lengths will an elderly woman go to bring back her husband's sanity? All of these questions are answered with startling results.
2. Shotgun Love(Netflix): A Korean romantic comedy about a man in love with his(unbeknownst to him) pregnant co-worker.
3. Exam(Netflix): Eight applicants in an enclosed room compete for a job in the future. Trust me, it's more thrilling than it sounds. This movie has all the complexity of the original 'Saw' without the gore, and really shows what acting is all about. One of the few movies I can give 5 stars to without any reservations.
4. Goth(Netflix): Two high school classmates bond over extremely creepy things, making American goths look like whiny wannabes. But can these two young people get into the mind of a serial killer who displays his victims like works of art? This movie is yet another reason to like movies from Japan.
5. Mercy(Netflix): A shallow writer gains depth by falling in love with a woman he can't hold on to. I saw this right after watching "The Booth At The End", and was surprised by how two seperate writers could have the exact same underlying message in their bodies of work.
6. Zombies Anonymous(Netflix): Putting a spin on the wildly popular zombie subset of horror movies, this movie is about people who die and wake up as zombies...but with their memories and self-control intact. Satire and hilarity insues. Although this is by no means a perfect movie, the interesting questions it rises make it worth watching.
7. Romantics Anonymous(Netflix): This is a gem of a French movie. Two socially awkward people slowly turn their small chocolate company into a success while falling for each other.
|This is my list of useless things arranged in no particular order:
1. Gift card holders. Ranging anywhere from $2.50 to $10.00 these useless pieces of aluminum or colorful paper are yet another way to part you from your pocket change. Ways around using a gift card holder? Just put the gift card in the birthday/wedding/christmas/whatever holiday/ card and hand it to the person you're giving it to. Problem solved.
2. Over the top packing from specialty stores It's one thing if a purchase is fragile. It's quite another if you buy two air fresheners from Bath and Body Works and they get wrapped up in paper and handed to you in a huge gift bag.
3. Scheduling to have a package delivered I'm surprised UPS and FedEx even have this option on their site, because they never follow instructions.
4. The little flag on the mail box Apparently postal workers can't take misdirected mail back anymore. Go figure.
5. Customer Support For Any Microsoft Program From Microsoft Corporation
|Sparkle, the 2012 theatrical version starring Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks is a remake of the 1976 moive. Several liberties have been taken with the orginal script, to the point where the remake has little resemblence to the first. Without giving away any spoilers, here's my review.
I didn't have to suspend my disbelief at all setting-wise. All the buildings were authentic, from the old school microphones used onstage to the record listening rooms at record stores. I really liked the look of the Columbia Records headquarters. 5/5 here.
The character costumes were simply gorgeous! Carmen Ejogo playing the part of "Sister" Tammy, got the best wardrobe, especially the navy and see-through number she was wearing during the "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" performance. That dress was simply to die for! Jordin Sparks's transition from wobbly church girl to self-confident rising star is definitely shown through her outfits. First, drab and proper, then bright go-go festive, and finally low-cut screen siren floor length dresses. Tika Sumpter's character, "Dee" didn't have as many eye-catching costumes, but the different hairstyles she sported during the movie were equally interesting. Starting off with a traditional bob before getting an asymetrical 'do, and finally settling on an afro was an interesting way of revealing more about her character. 5/5 here as well.
The script, even after the heavy editing from the original version still seemed too similar to other movies like Dreamgirls to give this area 5/5 for freshness. However, what the other movies failed to do is give insight into what truely motivates the downward spiral of rising and popular celebrities. This movie actually has bits and pieces of family history giving insight into what motivates Sister and Mother Anderson. Otherwise, they would have come across more as punchlines rather than people. However, I wish this would have been done across the board, especially with the character Satin Struthers. Another thing I'm happy about is that everything wasn't completely melodramatic. There seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel for everyone involved(with one exception). I give the script a 4/5 rating.
The acting ability of the cast was believable, if not Oscar-worthy. Whitney Houston did a fine job of being a strict mother, without crossing over into a campy dictatorship. Carmen Ejogo definitely stole the show as Sister. Her desperation wasn't obvious, but it was there in her actions. Jordin Sparks as the title character Sparkle, didn't carry her weight. I'm very familiar with her from her stint on American Idol, and several other musical projects she's been apart of, and it seemed like she just played herself. I didn't feel she was acting, or getting into her character. This would have been acceptable if she was a supporting character, but totally unacceptable since she was the film's star. Tika Sumpter was a breath of fresh air. I really wish she would have gotten more screentime considering she was the backbone of the group, and she played a believable backbone. As for the men, they came off as two-demensional. Stix and Levi were the good guys, Satin Struthers was the bad guy. That's all I remember from their performances. This part gets a 3/5.
Altogether, this movie was pretty to look at, had a decent script, and hope for the future for mostof the characters. I give this an 80, a B. Not a bad way to go out, Ms. Houston!
|I have the tendency to be incredibly hard on myself. I set standards for myself, and when I don't meet those standards, I tend to blame my lack of discipline, or my inability to think as quickly as I would like.
Sometimes I forget to just pause where I am, and be thankful that I've made it to this point. That I'm financially independant of friends and family. That my mind is good enough to write an entertaining story. I forget the struggle that's made me a strong, mentally sound person of discerning intellect.
By this time next year, I will have a new job, so I'm narrowing my focus, and digging my heels in where it counts. But I have to keep in my mind that whatever happens, I am not defined by my achievements, but by my purpose.
|...so little time.
First off, I'd like to discuss wisdom. I first started thinking about what defines true wisdom when I started writing "Visionary". The assumption is often made that once people reach a certain age, they are automatically wise. This is not the case. There are too many 60-year old crack addicts, lawyers, greedy politicians and people that love all of the above for this sentiment to be true. And even the textbook definition of wisdom is faulty. Take King Solomon in the bible for example. He seemed to be a good judge of human character, a gifted poet, and had a good eye for building. But somehow he forgot the Source of his gifts, and basically started the world's biggest harem. The so-called "wisdom" ascribed to Solomon would be better described as intelligence.
But intelligence is not the same as wisdom, so what makes someone truely wise? In my opinon, it takes foresight, courage, and a self-knowing that is unaffected by one's surroundings, company, and opponents. Here's an example of a man with true wisdom:
John Quincy Adams: The sixth president of the United States was unpopular back in his day for raising taxes. But what did he raise taxes for? The building of roads, canals and a national bank, essential parts that helped lift our nation up towards greatness. Not only that, he infuriated many in the nation by his fairness towards Native Americans, and represented African slaves in the famous Amistad case. He was also responsible for the Smithsonian Institution, and The United States Naval Observatory.
On to topic number two.
I've ended a lot of relationships in the past six months or so, mostly because they weren't working for me. To avoid re-hashing everything, feel free to re-read the blog entry entitled "Spring Cleaning". Thankfully, a few people have appeared out of nowhere to take the place of former friends and associates, so I'm feeling kind of good about that. There's my stepbrother who moved literally next door to me. He's got a good attitude, not to mention a very informed outlook on people places and things. I feel like I'm on equal footing with him, every time we talk, and believe me that's a relieving feeling. At work, there's a woman around my age who reads "The Art Of War". She's not a permanant employee, since she comes and goes on assignment, and we rarely work with each other, but I think she's cool. At this point, I'm glad all those past relationships ended for me earlier. Everyone who's walking into my life now seems to be a lot better for me.
In Jacksonville, FL a major non-discrimination bill was defeated. Basically, people from the LGBT community can be discriminated against on the job, and can be restricted from renting or buying property in the area. I cannot go into Jacksonville without running into "family". Whether it's at the movie theatre or the mall, or the day spa. It is ridiculous that the Jacksonville LGBT community is not a big deal, because even though they are all over the place, they are not visible unless you're "family" yourself, and your gaydar is working. No movement has ever accomplished it's goals by hiding when the going gets tough. I'm not suggesting that all LGBT paint rainbows on their cars, but a little visibilty would go along way, starting with coming out. You simply cannot be visible during PRIDE, and then go back to the closet and expect things to change. I'm not blaming the LGBT community for the state of affairs, obviously the more conservative-minded people in Jax are to blame for the bill's defeat, but the community's complacency isn't helping things either.
|Loud=outgoing and quiet=shy to the majority of the population.
I can't speak for everyone, but I am definitely not shy. Real shyness is social anxiety, or a fear of being one's self in public. I don't have any of that.
I'm quiet because I find most interactions to be time-consuming and basic. I don't really care about how much money someone makes,or the lastest serial killer, or what celebrity cheated on their spouse. I honestly don't care about whatever blurb someone managed to half-memorize before running out of the door for work that morning. 99% of "news" isn't news. It's a way to keep people distracted from their unfinished business in their own lives.
I'm not saying every conversation needs to be a soul-searching psychology session, but I find myself alarmed every time someone is more concerned with "Dancing With The Stars" rather than keeping their daughters from being pregnant. Most people remind me of zombies. Eat, Sleep, Have Sex, Watch Tv/web device, Work, and then repeat all five, as if that's all there is too life. If I had a conversation with someone dealing with an issue that wasn't on CNN or Fox News, they probably wouldn't know what I was talking about.
What I'm saying is that I have several passions, including but not limited to: Writing, oil paintings, wildlife, music(of all genres), photography, etc. etc. I have little patience for people who discuss headline news as if they are experts on current events, or whine about personal problems they are either too complacent or unwilling to change.
So, around the vast majority of people I encounter, I am quiet. Not because I am shy, but because prolonging a frivolous, shallow conversation is a waste of my time.