Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Random Anecdote #2 (July 3rd, 2018)

      I remember telling a friend that I don’t remember much from my childhood which prompted him to ask, “were you a gamer?”
     That’s my roundabout way of introducing that I don’t remember much from my childhood. I spent most of my time playing video games and watching early YouTube (By the way, rewatching Freeman’s Mind, and it still holds up).
    The few memories I have from my childhood were either really embarrassing or physically painful. A random example from both categories would be when I got hit by a Frisbee in front of a girl I thought was cute. I don't usually find girls cute, so the timing of the Frisbee couldn't have been better. 
    A lot of the embarrassing moments stemmed from the fact that I was a nerd during the days when being a nerd wasn’t cool. I mean it’s still not cool. But the cool people were able to appropriate it, so it’s a little more acceptable now which could be an entire essay if I wanted it to be.
    Anyway, I wasn’t just a nerd, I reached borderline autism levels of nerd. I can vividly remember my second-grade teacher asking us what “elder” meant to which I answered. The way I answered though was using Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg as an example and how there is a present of chicken elders in the game (Yes, I said this out loud as a child). The response was a collective laugh from everyone including the teacher. It’s telling why I didn’t get a decent self-esteem until I graduated college.
    Anyway, it wasn’t all embarrassment and getting hit by Frisbees. Recently, I remembered an incident in 3rd grade where my autism paid off.
    It was an English lesson. I don’t honestly remember what the lesson was, so let’s assume it was about dangling modifiers.
    So we were learning about dangling modifiers, when the teacher asked the class to come up with a premise to make a story off of. The class thought for a second, but they didn’t think fast enough. I, however, instinctively shot my hand up, because I had an idea.
    The teacher called my name, and I suggested we do something about Sonic the Hedgehog.
     Before anyone could react, another seconded the idea. I guess it was another like-minded nerdy kid. And before you know it, we were coming up with a fan fiction about how Sonic the freaking Hedgehog defeated Dr. Eggman and his dangling modifiers.
    That’s all I could remember from that day. Looking back, in a 2018 world, I find that memory utterly hilarious.
    It’s stories like these that keep me from being insecure by how nerdy my brain can be. Nowadays I am sometimes self-conscious by my overly analytical answers and my constant references to slightly obscure video games or cartoons. I’d still be laughed out of a room if I referenced fucking Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg today. But stories like that remind me that even that has power in some way. It’s how I am, and sometimes I need to be reminded of that.
I may not be regularly bullied or knocked by Frisbees, but life is still hard, harder in fact. It’s the reality of adult life, so any encouragement of our quirks is appreciated. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Roseanne Reboot is the Go Set a Watchman of American Television


             So I am a little late to the party, or maybe on time with the recent cancellation, but I finally saw the Roseanne reboot. What did I think of it??? Well it’s…well…

            So I am a big fan of the original show. In fact, in terms of American Television, I think it should be put up there with the greats like Breaking Bad, Seinfeld, and Twin Peaks.

            Roseanne was and still is funny, dark, and extremely well written except Season 9 which didn’t exist in the same way that The Last Airbender movie didn’t exist nor X-Men Origins: The Wolverine. The show nails an atmosphere and identity that is completely its own. The soundtrack still rings in my ears to this day. And Roseanne Barr gave such an underrated performance. I don’t think people really appreciate just how funny she was in the original Roseanne.

            Despite the annoying voice, she brought about a relatability and realism to the show in both the writing and acting. Although in order not to deify Roseanne Barr, I will say a lot of it was helped by a strong creative team. We are talking about a dream team of comedic writers. We are talking about early Joss Whedon, Norm Macdonald, Amy Sherman-Palladino (of Gilmore Girls fame), and many others.

            So Roseanne is a fantastic show. I hope this two-paragraph blurb will suffice for now and will hopefully push you into checking the show out. It still holds up in my humble opinion.

            But now we got this new show. And I will admit, it has some compelling components. Mark is a likable addition to the cast and John Goodman’s performance as Dan is somehow even better that it was 20+ years ago. There were some little nods to the old show that weren’t obnoxious and were actually quite clever. Some of the nonpolitical story arcs are fine to say the least and play well into the 20-year gap the show is trying to do. All in all, it had some potential to be just as great as the old show. But there is one thing that hurts the show for me and it’s the same person that made original great in the first place, and that is Roseanne herself.

            Do you guys remember the book Go Set a Watchman? It is a sequel to the almost universally critical acclaimed book To Kill A Mockingbird.

            If you are unfamiliar in what I am about to talk about. All I will say to catch you up is that the iconic lawyer, Atticus Finch, went from the pedestal of morality by defending a black man in 1930s “racist” America to becoming a product of the 1950s “racist” America.

            That being said, I find that idea rather fascinating (in theory). I do find that drastic shift in political ideologies could make for some interesting characterization. But in practice, it leads to a jarring shift that I haven’t really seen until I watch fucking Roseanne of all things.

            Roseanne Connor, especially at the time, was a very forward-thinking character. She wasn’t Bernie Sanders, but she promoted a tremendous step towards LGBT+ acceptance, women’s rights, and women’s independence.

            Yet this Roseanne Connor, the one we see today, is now a product of 2010s “everything that is wrong with” America, A character that is afraid of Muslims and voted for Trump. It is not as extreme as Go Set a Watchman, but it’s disorientating nonetheless.

            This shattered my immersion for me. I couldn’t buy that Rosanne, the character, would shift into these xenophobic tendencies or that she would believe one iota of a politician’s promise to create more jobs, especially when that politician is Donald Trump.  

            It doesn’t help how on the nose the writing is. I felt like I was watching a PSA half the time. Mediocre on a regular scale but completely shameful when compared to the original show. 

             Much like Go Set a Watchman, the problem is that there is not really an in-between stage that could really make a person understand why Roseanne shifted so drastically. All we get is a razor thin motivation that we are expected to accept by the end of the pilot episode. What was a rather realistic show about a middle-class family in Illinois now feels like an almost surrealist show because the drastic shift of one character.             

            It’s a shame too, because there is some good in there. It may not be as funny as the original, but it is trying something culturally different than most sitcoms by capturing some of the grounded nature of the original show. At least it has some freaking enthusiasm compared to the Big Bang Theory and the later seasons of Modern Family.

            So to close my thoughts in a quick summary, the show is fine. It is a bit sloppier and a bit jarring, but it wasn’t a waste of time. I may be the only millennial that actually cares about this show since my generation is probably watching let’s see *checks google* ‘13 Reasons Why Season 2, ewww.’

            But I think Roseanne reboot operates better as a case study more than a satisfying watch. I don’t think it retains the same power as the original, and Roseanne’s political shift is too disorientating for me. I’d rather have people watched the original over this reboot.

             It will never reach the epic dumpster fire that is Season 9 which is oddly comforting.

            Like I said before, it had potential which is why the recent cancellation is a bit tragic. It’s understandable don’t get me wrong, but it’s disappointing nonetheless.  

Friday, December 22, 2017

Random Anecdote #1 (December 22nd, 2017)

       Do you have those random little stories that you just think about once in a while? Simple stories, but have a personal set of layers to them?
        I have this story that I think about at least once a year, and yet I never really told anyone about it. I always just think about it, giggle, and continue on my merry way.
        This is the story.
         So back in Middle School, there was the annual talent show. I am sure this is not uncommon in most public Middle Schools. It was an event that had the sole purpose of letting kids get out class for an hour while they watched their peers embarrassed themselves. This does not apply to the popular kids who will get applauded even if they were failing to masturbate.

        I surprisingly remembered a lot of the acts of these talent shows. I remember a girl I hated did nothing but cartwheels for five minutes. A girl who sang Halo by BeyoncĂ© while swinging her arms in the air, in an attempt to coerce the audience to do the same, during every chorus, and I mean EVERY chorus. A guy who parodied Souja Boy with Bacon Boy. A short Latino and a tall black guy hip hop dancing which ends with them throwing their hats to the crowd. Of course, they asked for their hats back. 
        This is just to name a few to illustrate the brilliant talent oozing out of Smylie Wilson Middle School from 2007 to 2009.
         Anyway, I am sitting there in the middle of the auditorium. I don't remember if I was analyzing the auditorium's architecture, daydreaming, or something, but I was at least sitting there. Then they announced this next kid, and he comes out. He was a skinny white kid. He would look like a fourth grader if his pained face caused by Middle School trauma wasn't etched on his face. He stood stilted on the center stage, and the music began to play.
        Now at the time, I wasn't too familiar with Michael Jackson, so I paid no mind to his single glove and his Smooth Criminal get up.
           I wasn't until the music started to kick in that I noticed what he was trying to do. And I noticed, with a gaping mouth so wide my soul could crawl out.
          This kid was performing a Michael Jackson song, not just singing or dancing, but performing. Yes, he did both, and it was awful.
           Part of it was stage fright. There was absolute terror in his eyes as he tried to sing some Michael Jackson, while doing, to my knowledge, only two dance moves (it was a spin and a pose).


I frankly don’t even remember if he finished the act or ran out in embarrassment. All I could take from the performance was pure secondhand embarrassment and the assurance that at least I wasn’t the only one suffering through the worst Middle School has to offer. 
But the story isn't over. 
No the reason I remember this performance so well was this black kid sitting a few rows down from me watching the same thing I was. As the poor kid left the stage, the black kid turned to his friends behind him where I could see his depressed face. Without one shred of hesitation, he dispiritedly said "I hate white people." 

I honestly don't know what to get from this story. It personally cracks me up every time I think about it for how surreal that whole experience was. I just needed to archive this story in some fashion, and so here I am. I guess I think about it on occasion because despite every horrible thing my anxiety makes me remember, it cannot convince me that any of those things are worse than trying to perform Michael Jackson in a Middle School talent show. 


Friday, September 8, 2017

"So I am a Writer..." (September 8th, 2017)

    Whenever people ask me what I am, my canned answer tends to be writer. It’s short, it’s a good conversation starter, and ladies start thinking of Hemingway, and he was a sexy fella.

    The problem with being called a writer though is that the word writer has a sort of gravitas to it. There are some heavy connotations to something that is very pedestrian in meaning.

    A writer, at its core, is a person who expresses their ideas into an oral or written format. That’s it. To me, that is all it will ever be. However, scanning around the English department, talking to other writers, and listening to readers read their work at art events, I get uncomfortable about what it is to be a writer.

    Here is a thing about me, I hate when people compliment my work, even when they are being genuine. Part of it, in fact probably all of it, is that I’m insecure. I hate when people use the same vocabulary to describe my work as they would a George Carlin joke or a Tupac lyric. I don’t see myself in that league. I don’t see my ideas as sacred or a movable feast (that’s a Hemingway reference).

    Like for example, I was talking to these two girls from my Creative writing class, and they started discussing some of the work I presented in class. They analyze the form, my deliberate word choice, and creative premises. I should have been flattered, but I was left disconcerted. 
  
    This lead me to think of my Creative Writing professor. I remember her, after hearing a piece I wrote, delving into terminology I didn’t even consider when writing. Like what the fuck is form dividing into structure or something? I honestly don’t even remember what she said I was so taken aback.

    There is also the running trend that my most praised work is also the work I worked the least amount of time on, admittedly some of my favorite pieces I’ve written tend to have had a short turnout.

    I think of the writers and lyricists who spent years on a piece, and here I am getting praise from a piece I wrote from a writing exercise. I feel like I don’t deserve it.

    I say this with the firm knowledge of how hypocritical this sounds to people that know me as a writer. I hate being praised, but whenever I get criticized I get defensive. I hated being praised but I hate seeing my work being dragged through of the mud of constructive, and sometimes nonconstructive, criticism. At least I have the self-awareness to know that it will benefit me as a writer in the long run, even after a twenty-minute argument with a colleague.

     I think when it all comes down to it, I have an indifferent opinion of art.

    The way I define art is any form of expression. An absolute definition, and I usually don’t describe anything with absolutes. The reason being is that absolutes either make something too grand, too horrific, or too insignificant. When everything is special, nothing is. And when everything is art, nothing is art.  

    I am a person! A normal person. I like word search puzzles and flavored chap stick. I develop crushes on girls, I get bitter when I am hungry, and sleeping is my favorite part of the day.

    Do you want to know how I write? I pour a glass of sweet tea or soda, put some words on a document that I think are interesting, walk around my house when my legs start cramping, and go back to my desk to start the process all over again. There is no profound ritual when I write. I don’t write in a hipster coffee shop or in a bustling location. I don’t pour a glass of my personal vice to drown my sorrows away. I have porn for that!

    I guess that’s the lesson. I mention Hemingway, Carlin, and Tupac, but they were normal too. Yet I deify these people for their excellent work, because I personally connect with their specific expressions.

    In other words, art can also be defined as your subjective and personal blah blah blah I don’t even know what I am saying anymore. This paragraph totally contradicted what I said earlier.

    This entry is getting rambly. I am going nowhere, and I don’t think I need a simile to visualize it.

    I might as well sit in bed, listen to the beauty of Storms of Life, and maybe watch some new episodes of Bo Jack Horseman. That reminds me, I need to do an entry revolving around Todd. That should be fun. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Pretentious Post About a Pretentious Past Time (September 1st, 2017)

       “This entry is brought to you by Paul Hunton. Paul Hunton will give you the creative knowledge you need, as well as the extra credit if you go to the First Friday Art Trail. Go to Texas Tech University and enter the promo code, whyme, and you too might sound like a Pixar character that is Paul Hunton.”

       But in all seriousness, I had an interesting time at the First Friday art festival, or else I wouldn’t be writing about it.

    Full disclosure before I actually begin, I ultimately find festivals like these to be really important. Art festivals, at their core, are culturally necessary for a strong community and for strong forms of expression. Lubbock, or any city, would lose a part of their soul without them. You would be ignorant to say they have no part in our society, regardless if you like them or not. But enough of that, on with the trashing.

    If I were to give advice for people thinking about going to an art festival such as the FFAT, it would be go before it gets mainstream. I spent about ten minutes finding a parking, and ended up parked by a railroad track. I parked in front of a no trespassing sign and wondered if it was worth it. I was also wondering if I was breaking the law. I got out of the car and looked at a guy not parked but waiting in his car. He wasn’t moving but occasionally checked his phone, so I was assuming he was waiting for a drug deal. First Friday Blaze Trail, am I right?

    I walked to LHUCA to attend a screening of Ken Burn’s new documentary of Vietnam. I sat for a few minutes, enjoying it, and then realized it was only an excerpt. Once the excerpt to episode one ended, it jumped straight into an excerpt of episode three. My OCD ass couldn’t take that shit, so I walked out.

    At that point, I figure I do what I love most and explore a little.

    This leads me to my two-part second piece of advice, if you want to really learn about yourself, go to an art festival alone.

    I’ll tell you what I learned, I have a contentious opinion when it comes to art. I walked into a room with only paintings of squares and dots and immediately walked out. I walked into another room and saw “my artistic statement” followed by a lengthy paragraph and immediately turned around. If you have to preface your art gallery with a statement explaining your point, you already failed as an artist.

    The only one that I liked, and I regret not remembering the name of the work or the artist, is a painting of two men sitting on a couch while one is holding a narwhal. It caught the eyes. It makes you ask yourself questions. It’s the only thing that came to mind when I am writing this entry. Actually, one other thing that comes to mind was the cover band singing CCR while a girl exclaimed to the guy next to her, “it’s supposed to be symbolic.”

    “Why do people come to art festivals?” I ask myself, as I watch a group of teenage girls take a basic picture in front of a red door. I started going through the cynical answers. They are pseudo intellects, they have an excuse to get drunk outside, or they are here for the extra credit like me. My brain and anxiety started seeing the fakeness. It was the first time where I disliked people-watching. I started seeing them as squares and dots instead of people. I started to get bored, only the beauty of the Texas sunset mixed with the Lubbock modesty kept me from leaving.

    I slowly stopped approaching people I knew from my past and present, which I almost never do. People from Tech, SPC, and even people before then. I a guy from high school, a girl I had a crush on in third grade, and a kid from my high school film analysis class who smoked too much pot and didn’t have the intelligence to pull off a decent academic career.

    Long story short, after meandering for thirty minutes, I learned that diminishing returns comes quick to me when it comes to socializing, that I don’t like art forced onto me, and I am not a fan of crowds.

    I asked myself if there was optimistic answer to my proposed question, and I could only think of one besides the obvious you genuinely like the art. But in that case, you're as weird as the guys who watch volleyball for the action.

    The reason you like going to art festivals is because you are with someone else.

    This leads me to my second part of my second piece of advice, if you want to really enjoy an art festival, don’t go alone.

    I saw families laughing and bantering. I saw lovely couples and friends. I eventually ran into two buddies I knew from SPC who made the experience a lot more palatable. They really helped ease my mind since they had almost the exact same opinion I had of the festival. It was also nice catching up with familiar faces. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay long with them.  

    Later in the evening, I ran into another group of friends. Well I was friends with three of them, the other three I just met. If I had to describe them, it would be like if the cast of Zoey 101 came to life and decided to go to an art festival. This idea was cemented when I brought up this comparison which lead them to have a ten-minute argument on which character from Zoey 101 they would be.

    But whatever, they were charming, wonderful people and it was great meeting them.

    I ended up leaving around 9 o’clock for two reasons. One, because I wanted to write. And two, because I was horrifically thirsty and personal principles keep me from buying $2 water.

    This leads me to my final piece of advice… bring a water bottle.

    But I had fun. I know I did because I spent more than 1000 words talking about it. I experienced, I laughed, and most of all learned that everyone are squares and dots, but you learn not to care.  Nah I'm just kidding. I learned the Zoey 101 character I would be is Lola. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November 9th, 2016

             Last night I did my usual pace across my house. I was staring at my phone to what would be Donald Trump as the next president. I felt hopeless. I was trying to find a silver lining, but just couldn’t.

It was at this point that I went into introspection, because ironically the dark recesses of my mind felt a lot safer than reality.

    What I found was something I never thought I find. It wasn’t terror. It wasn’t anger. It was…relief.
    Not to the kind of relief that you get from your candidate winning but a relief you get when you are in a Zen-like state. 

    I started thinking about the time I drove to Levelland during a heavy rain. At one point the rain started to get so heavy that I couldn’t see for a couple minutes. I was also driving at high speeds, so there was a possibility that I may crash. I felt my mortality thinking about that. I truly thought I was going to die. But after enduring a very scaring two minutes, I was okay. The rain stopped and I got to my destination.

    I felt the same feelings today. Despite Trump winning, I am still walking and talking, which made me realize a very important lesson. Something I was aware of, but now has a newfound meaning thanks to today. This story will not overshadow the day when the sun engulfs the Earth.

    People will claim the end of the world if a certain thing happens. I’ve been seeing this a lot with this election. “If Trump wins it will be the end of 21st century society.” “If Clinton wins it will be the end of honesty or whatever.”

    But history has dealt with a lot worst. We had genocides, Civil Wars, religious schisms. We had tyrants, diseases, and extinctions. Yet all of that is but a scar, not the killing blow to humanity. And that’s what Trump is; a scar. He will come and go, and life will move on. He might do some damage, some horrible damage, but we will heal.

    For the first time, I felt the true beauty of being insignificant. That I am nothing but a micro speck in the universe.

    It was this thinking that I accidentally found a sort of semi-remedy for my anxiety. Here I am worried about the scars and the wounds. I'm worried that they might kill me. Now, having faced a horrible scar, I am okay. I am still me; nothing has changed. I still crack jokes. I still try to give my friends as much attention as I possibly can. I still think like a demisexual and as a Catholic. I still have an urge to tell stories. What am I so worried about?

    Now again this remedy might be temporary. It can still easily take one thing to bring back the insecurities that I have been dealing with since Middle School. But as of right now, my anxiety is almost nonexistent, and I am trying to make the most of it.

     Like today after class I applied for a job. I was sheepish at first, considering I have a lot on my plate as is, but I did it. I am just waiting for the website to bloody submit the application.
  
  I met with Obi for a brief moment and met his pre-med friends. They seem like nice people. After the TASEM meeting I went to see Hand Maiden for the College Cinephile and experience the Alamo Drafthouse for the first time! I never thought I’d say that I got to see an Asian erotica while eating a burger with bacon in it.

    I come home feeling alright, albeit a little bloated from the aforementioned meal.  I found new meaning in “the Lord moves in mysterious ways.” I found a new approach to calming my anxiety, or shall we say, scars. I found a hint of meaning in life even with it being obvious in retrospect.

    I am a little more complete than I was yesterday. I hope people get something similar.