Weighty Revelations

The eclipse yesterday seems to have thrown off my internal clock, as I sit here hours after I’d normally have written a piece, scrambling to get one out just a bit past my deadline rather than a day after it. Fortunately I know exactly what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about a turning point I’ve recently had in my life dealing with my weight. I’m heavy, but I’ve always done a decent job hiding it. It helps that I’m also tall, so I look lighter because it is all distributed more evenly. I used to be fine with this. I used to be okay just looking like I was fit, and then like I was just a bit chubby, then just lightly fatty.

Then I realized, I don’t want to just not look my weight. It wasn’t that I knew I would eventually look my weight no matter what kind of fancy dressing I did. It was that I wanted to feel lighter. I no longer wanted to feel full to bursting at every meal. I don’t want to have trouble breathing after walking up a slight incline.

It’s such a strange feeling to realize that you feel awful most every day, and that one of the biggest reasons for not doing anything about it is appearances. I didn’t want to be the fat guy running on a treadmill, with sweat pouring down his body in a waterfall. Now I am, not because I want to be, but because that’s how I get from fat guy running to fit guy running. No, I’m not going to look strong or impressive at the gym, or even outside while I make my life more active for a long while. I might even look humorously to some people as I eat portions smaller than people half my weight. I’ve come to realize that I don’t have anything to gain by gaining pounds. I have my life to gain by losing it.

I came to a second realization, one that will make it harder to accomplish my goals, but I love food. I love new flavors. I love new textures. I love the adventure a dish can take you on. And I’ve begun to learn that I can have all of that and get to my ideal weight. To start, I figured out that a lot of what I eat isn’t good. I don’t truly enjoy it, and yet I eat it constantly. Second, I realized how often I try to push down as many veggies as I can to meet a sort of quota, instead of enjoying them. So now I make sure to spice and season them in ways I know I will enjoy without overwhelming them with anything, like fat, carbs, or sugars. I realized that when I eat a delicious dessert, I don’t enjoy that dessert as much as I do an apple. Third, I realized that after I’ve eaten very little I actually feel contentedly full.

I’m starting to feel more content.

Bad or Mediocre?

Last night’s post has had me thinking about bad movies again. I’m a huge fan. Films like The Room, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and Manos: Hands of Fate have been formative in my life. Heckling movies like this has always been fun for me ever since I first watched Mystery Science Theater 3000. Every Halloween I go to a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and do all the heckling bits. I’ve even dressed up for it, which is not something I do often. I dislike clothes. I adore things like Cinematic Titanic and Rifftrax. I used to hold weekly bad movie parties at my house. I’m a bad movie fanatic.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard isn’t a bad movie. It’s a well budgeted, decently acted, dumb film. Dumb doesn’t equal bad. Dumb equals dumb. There’s little to no thought in this movie. There is little to no thought required from the audience or put into the plot. It’s just a dumb action flick. I enjoyed it immensely. I will admit to myself fully that it’s a dumb action flick that is mostly meritless. It’s a mediocre film and not worth a rewatch, I don’t think. So, why isn’t it bad?

That’s really the question that’s been puzzling me, but I think I’ve come up with an answer. I can’t make fun of it. It’s not the kind of movie I can just improvise a bunch of jokes while watching. It doesn’t take intentional leave of its senses for any reason. It doesn’t try to shoehorn in a scene they want beyond reason. These aren’t Oscar worthy performances, but they’re passable for the most part. The movie never feels like it plods along. The movie isn’t bad, just bland.

A good bad movie will be something you can find jokes to make about it. It will lack both good writing and charm. It will plod along and make you wonder why you’re watching it. It will present a cast of people embarrassing themselves on screen, and at least one person in the credits will be using a fake name to hide their shame. Most importantly, it will open the door to a plethora of possible jokes.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard made me laugh without me ever having to open my mouth.

A Return To Dumb Fun

I hope everyone will forgive this posts lateness as I’ve had long missed company over the weekend. An old friend came to town for a visit and I saw him off this afternoon. As soon as he left, my girlfriend and I left to go have a lovely date night at the movies and it inspired this post.

The Hitman's Bodyguard poster

My girlfriend and I saw The Hitman’s Bodyguard starring Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds. As I look at other reviews of this film, I’m fairly unsurprised by the low scores most critics have given it. It’s hardly on par with Citizen Kane and no one should have expected it to be. Nor should anyone have expected it to be on par with a movie like Deadpool, which has already gained a sort of legendary status among fans. No, The Hitman’s Bodyguard doesn’t take its cues from modern movies. It takes its cues from 80’s films.

If you enjoyed the movie Commando starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, then you’ll probably enjoy this movie. If you enjoyed films like The Expendables franchise, starring a ridiculously long list of action stars but most vocally Sylvester Stallone, then you’ll enjoy this movie. If you enjoyed Tom Hanks in Turner & Hooch, then you might enjoy this movie. If you go into this movie expecting a thought provoking blend of action and comedy like Snatch or Pulp Fiction then you’ll be disappointed.

This is good old fashioned dumb fun. The kind of dumb fun that every generation has had since movies were invented, and frankly since before even then. It’s wish fulfillment of a very modern kind, seeing two people who are hardly phased by the extreme disaster their lives have become. Even as we see Ryan Reynolds character seemingly destroyed by the biggest mess up of his career, we also see him perform flawlessly in that same career. The movie, lead by highly successful people, in a major summer blockbuster, at the height of their careers, is trying to say “Shit happens.” Fair enough.

If you’re interested in this then, go in expecting some fun banter between the two leads which leads to the solving of unrelated drama as the action takes care of itself. Go in ready to forgive the occasional error. Go in expecting some charm and not a lot of thinking. Go in expecting a limited understanding of international courts of law. Go in expecting that it’s a movie where thinking about it will be more of a hindrance than an enhancement of enjoyment. Go in to laugh and not be challenged for two hours. This movie is good at that. If you want a thinking action film, then go check out Atomic Blonde. If you just want a good fun distraction from the world and life, then definitely check out The Hitman’s Bodyguard.

Though, it may ruin the word “motherfucker.”

Deathly Remembrance

Yesterday, I wWe as driving a lunch over to my girlfriend at her work when I received a call from her, asking where I was. We were joking back and forth when I told her that I wasn’t coming because I was dead. I was smiling at my own joke, perhaps my first mistake, when from the other end of my phone came a garbled burbling sound. It was as if the other phone had been shoved into a lake of electricity. Immediately I envisioned my girlfriends face replaced by a terrible screaming electric blue blob with gaping, black eyes on the other end of the phone behind the counter at her work. Her manager behind her turning to show the exact same face. A sudden terror strikes through me. Am I dead?

Quickly, I think about my life. Novels I’ve loved, characters in all sorts of fiction, death has pervaded. Sometimes as an embodiment, sometimes as a creeping concept. I feel a sudden numbness on the side of my face. A sense of deja vu most horrible strikes me. Gray asphalt and gray metal screech briefly through my mind’s eye. Was I in a car accident? Has this been my life flashing before my eyes? Reliving everything in my life up until the moment that I died to give me a moment to prepare for an eternity of afterlife, good or bad, or nothing.

I think back on my life. There has certainly been a definite subtext of death. I think again about movies about death. Books I’ve read and adored about the afterlife. Things I’ve thought about and looked over. I realize a subconscious fascination with death. I think about the idea that as we die our brain gives us a grand fantasy to make going just that much easier, and I think, well, it wasn’t bad but seriously, is this the best I could come up with? It’s a bit annoying and I look at what has happened to me. I feel cold. I start to sweat. Why couldn’t my end life fantasy had some dragons and magic? Or maybe exploring the universe? All of this seemed mundane.

I pulled into my girlfriend’s work, and she wasn’t an electric blue blob with gaping, black eyes and mouth, so I guess I’m alive.

Practice is such a frustrating thing to do for me. I attribute it to being a creative person. I don’t want to wait to pump out the creations of my mind’s eye, but I’m limited by ability. How do I increase my ability to the level of my imagination? That old, time consuming, tried and true method known as practice. What a terrible utterance is that word. It denotes time I would much rather spend day dreaming forcibly pushing myself through uninteresting repetitions of the same thing, over and over again. It always seized myself as an exercise in inefficiency.

Perhaps that is why I love writing so much. Everything I do is a new expression of what I’m doing. My practice is creating. My exercise is for my intellect and imagination. I do little else but day dream when I’m working. Sometimes I get stuck in a day dream, which is, I’m sure, not a problem many people have. That would, I imagine, be the time most other professions get to work where as that is where I have to take a break and get a cup of tea and stare out unthinkingly for a good long while. And as I do I realize I’ve started writing in my head again. A sweet little stanza about the delicate, tiny pink flowers growing from the waxy plant in the adobe pot. I’m imagining it’s interactions with the world, the way it views and senses things.

I think practicing art is close to that same sensation of being free from practice. I know that I draw what I want, and that I’ve gotten better because of that freedom. I suspect that there is a bit of a line that must be crossed into drawing something I would consider dull or uninteresting to be truly good. I don’t consider myself a great artist, nor a great writer for that matter, but I do consider myself passable. And the only reason I consider myself passable is because of the non-traditional practice I’ve had in the past. So get to creating something that you want to create, because it will be practice to make it perfect.

I think, tomorrow, I’ll post a drawing as something different for this blog.

Ode to a Friend

An old friend of mine is coming down to visit. I haven’t seen him in a couple years. He’s a good sort of friend. The best kind you might say. I’ve known him since we were both wee teenage lads. That makes him my next to oldest friend. He’s an odd sort of fellow, as all those closest to me tend to be. He’s likely my oddest friend indeed. One of my earliest memories of him was a bad day. He and I barely knew each other at that time. I was angry, upset at something that had happened that day in Junior High. Like most things in Junior High, it seemed like a terrible, upsetting, world-ending event then, but now I can’t even remember what it was. My friend stood next to me and told me to punch him in the gut. It would make me feel better. I looked at him long and hard. I didn’t punch him, in spite of his insistence. Rather, I was comforted by the fact that he’d be my proverbial whipping boy. Knowing him better now, it’s entirely possible that he was simply trying to seize the opportunity to try out the Houdini stomach punching trick. Still, I like to think it was a lovely gesture.

My friend lived nearby for a number of years, well, across town at least. Yet for most of our youth we never hung out exclusively together. We hung out when we both went over to mutual friends houses. It was always odd because we were nearly always the only two guys to show up. Most of our friends were girls. I remember being fifteen out on the lawn of one of these girls and talking about how great it was to be a kid, and reliving nostalgic idiocies when my friend makes a suggestion to the group. Why be grown-ups, why let ourselves be convicted by the social norms of others instead of defining social norms by people we like? That wasn’t anything groundbreaking for the group, we were all pretty free-spirited, but we were sucked up by his passion. And that’s when he told us we should play power-rangers. so a bunch of wanna be jaded teenagers started pretending to be power rangers in the middle of one of our friend’s front lawns.

Years later, my friend would move away, first to Missouri, then to Portland, to be with his family. He’d come and visit every once in a while, whenever he found himself back in the area. We’ve long since stopped just hanging out when we both wind up someplace, if that’s not obvious. We’ve had movie nights, played games, gone to fairs, done all the things we could think to do together, and most importantly just hung out. Even now that he’s moved away, we’ve stuck together, talking on the phone at every occasional reminder of the others existence or temporary sensation of loneliness. Even with this, I wonder, how has he changed? How have I?

And will we still play power rangers in front of our other friend’s house.

End Game

I don’t beat a lot of video games. It’s not that I don’t play a lot of video games, I do, there’s just some things about video games that keep me from finishing them. For the most part, I think it’s probably just having too much to do. I have the OCD impulse of a completionist, but none of the follow through. Honestly, though, who among us has completed Skyrim? And what about all the other games you own? There is one genre I seem to finish without fail: Point-and-Click adventure games. For whatever reason, they speak to me in a way that pushes me forward. Part of it is that it feels like getting into a book and having to guess how the characters will act. My first real introduction to the genre was the Playstation One classic Blazing Dragons which utilized the talents of Monty Python’s Terry Jones and Cheech and Chong’s Cheech Marin.

More recently I’ve been playing the Telltale Sam & Max: Season 2 series. But I’ve put it down and haven’t picked it back up for about two weeks, because there just seems to be a lot of pressure in the game. It’s an odd thing to say about a pastime activity that most people associate with relaxation. Sometimes the story feels overwhelming, sometimes the choices you have to make and their consequences get me, sometimes just the sheer scope of what I can do freezes me up. When I enter a game like The Witcher 3, I get a bit giddy because I can do anything. Then I get a bit neurotic because I can do ANYTHING, and I want to do everything.

There has been one game I’ve been playing recently in the face of all of this. A game I’m very close to completing. It’s called Slime Rancher and you may have heard about it. It’s not a game with a lot of agency. The most agency you have is choosing which door to open to a new area that you’ll get to eventually. There’s no split choice decisions, there’s even hardly any danger. Thoughts largely go by the way side as I explore. Story is there but so light that I spend most of my time listening to audio books or podcasts. I’m at the point that there isn’t much left in the game for me to do. I’ve seen and caught all the slimes. I’m almost to the point that I’ve purchased all the in game items that exist. I’ve unlocked all the areas and nearly discovered all the various secrets that surround the island. My only question is, after this, what next? What will I be able to replace this experience with? Maybe I’ll go back and finish a game I’ve been putting off up until now.

Probably, I’ll just go start a new game on some game in which I’ve forgotten what I’m supposed to be doing.

Resetting the Track

Today is a good day to get back on track. I’m up early thanks to my body’s internal alarm. It’s a little known fact that the body’s alarm resides in the left calf muscle. When that sucker goes off, there’s just no staying asleep after that. Not for you or anyone sharing a bed, a room, a house with you. So, perhaps not the best way to wake up on a lovely sunshiny morning, but severe morning ouchies don’t change the loveliness. Today is a day that will see me getting back on track on many things.

The first thing to be getting back on track is this blog. I originally envisioned it to be a noir-esque sci-fi thriller about a man alone on an alien planet. As he tries to hunt down the alien monster that killed his wife as they slept together on their honey moon so many millions of lightyears from where his journey has taken him, he has to navigate the ins and outs of the seedy underworld of the intergalactic hub known only as Leviathan. For a human out of his depth, danger lurks around every corner. No place is safe, no friend trustworthy, not so long as the monster is still alive. No, you know what? That is so overplayed and cliche? I think I’ll stick to my more original idea of talking about whatever random thing is going on in my life at the moment. I’ll be sure to keep it completely devoid of sarcasm as well. More importantly, it will be back to the regular noon release time on a daily schedule.

What else could there be to talk about getting back on track? Well, exercise. I’ve really let myself down by not going as often as I should. I haven’t gone in over a week and I feel awful. The thing is, I haven’t felt really good in a long time. I was surprised by this revelation not too long ago. I’m most certainly fat, there’s no words to be minced over facts. There are aches and pains I shouldn’t have, and I’ve likely done some damage to my body. As such a typical American, I have a tendency to overeat. It’s not that I “just love food” even though I do, but I do in a way that makes it feel like I’m going to throw up after too many meals. I don’t like being stagnant, there’s too much to do to while my days away with self-inflicted infirmity. There’s too many people with genuine infirmity that I feel disgraced for not taking good enough care of myself to help make their lives better. I’m tired of being fat. So, I’m going back to the gym, and I’m going back on my diet.

If anyone wants to read the sci-fi thriller on here, leave a like and a comment and I might make it a weekly thing on this blog.

Ever since vacation, I’ve been fighting a sense of creative ennui. It’s as though what I did wasn’t rejuvenating, but rather exhausting. I’ve said as much before, and will again. Vacations are a lot of work. Yet, I feel as though something deeper is wrong with me. It isn’t as though I haven’t got any ideas to explore. I have, if anything, a plethora of ideas. In particular, during vacation I was reminded of three separate ideas that have been floating around my head seeking something to connect to for years. Finally, they found each other and a connection was made.

So, I have that to work on, but I have been struggling to put pen to paper. Perhaps there is some anxiety that is interfering with my ability to put pen to paper. Yet, most things that are anxiety causing are behind me. Vacation? Over. Work? Going fine. I’m not stuck on some plot point in a story, nor has that ever stopped me from writing before. You can’t simply let things lie, you have to push through, or at least that’s what I believe. Throw a bunch of solutions to your problem at the board and see what sticks, then choose from those options. I don’t have any real problems, or even any fake problems that I’m fixating on currently.

It all comes back to the word ennui. I simply have that sensation of struggling with life. It’s not depression, there is no sense of sadness, no muting of emotion. The only thing there is a lack of motivation. Even that only extends further. I know some may think this depression, perhaps it is even defined as such in current psychology. I would argue that diminishes other people’s plights as well as obfuscates the things I need to focus on to get through my own. I can’t simply follow the same paths as those with different, and possibly worse, problems than my own. I don’t desire any sort of cheer, nor do I think there is a pharmaceutical remedy for my creative lackadaisical overcast beyond those that I take for ADD. There is only one thing to do for this, get excited about my work once again.

Calling it quits is never truly an option for your lifelong dreams.

 

A Call to Shop

Today, I went to the store to pick up some essentials for my pantry. I made a fairly short list that included some bread, milk, bagels, buttermilk powder, and chips for my girlfriend’s lunches. While there, I realized that I hadn’t asked my girlfriend about dinner, so I went to call her. I’ve been, for perhaps too long, using the Straight Talk wireless provider for my phone service. A service provided by my local Wal-Mart. There’s a few issues with my plan, such as hidden limits on my data services, but frankly they haven’t ever been a big deal. No, the only big deal is the fact that whenever I go into a Wal-Mart my phone service goes out. Curiously, this only happens if I’m not currently on the phone at the time of my entry. If I already have a connection to another phone then my phone conversation will go on uninterrupted. Well, normally.

Today was different. I personally blame the rainy weather. That is, I went outside and shook my fist at the weather a few times to show it I was displeased. Every time I got my girlfriend on the phone to discuss dinner and went inside to get my shopping done at the same time, the call dropped. I’d go back out, she’d answer, I’d re-enter, the call dropped. Lather, rinse, repeat. This was made worse with the addition of the misty rain that was pushing it’s agenda on to me at the time. It wasn’t hot out, so it wasn’t a refreshing cool mist that might be welcome. Nor was it cold out, which would have given the mist a bracing and intriguing aspect. Instead, the temperature could best be described as lukewarm, and the mist was simply annoying. It was like speaking to someone who spluttered out every single one of their words as they pointed their moist lips directly at your eyes no matter where you moved to prevent this assault. The person isn’t to blame, the seem interested and interesting, the conversation isn’t unpleasant, and you don’t want to embarrass them by pointing out something likely beyond their control.

Eventually, through this rigmarole, we decided on Chili. I went through and purchased everything I would need that wasn’t already at home. This consisted of beef, because beef chili was requested, and corn chips, as those were also requested. In spite of having just woken up an hour earlier, I felt exhausted. I went through the checkout and made my way home. I felt successful. I felt ready. I felt like I had accomplished everything I needed to accomplish on that trip. I felt good.

I completely forgot the buttermilk powder.