Memorial Day Memorandum.

I used to think that I understood what Memorial Day was actually about. Not grilling, or shopping sales, but about remembering those who have fought for our country. We have parades to celebrate them and everything.

Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day”, it was created after the end of the Civil War, as a desire to honor the dead on both sides. You can read more about the history of Memorial Day here.

I thought I understood Memorial Day.

Until I spent Memorial Day with a WWII veteran in France.

At the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach

At the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach

My Grandfather was a pilot in WWII, he flew on D-Day. He’s been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, he’s received awards from France for his efforts in WWII, he’s been inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things (Yes, my grandpa is cooler than your grandpa). He’s also a Lieutenant Colonel (retired). Did I mention he still runs two and a half miles every morning at 93 years old?

So there we were, our first stop was Utah Beach, where there is a WWII museum, that has the same plane that my Grandpa flew in WWII. You can learn more about the museum here.

Barbed wire, still standing  at Utah Beach.

Barbed wire, still standing at Utah Beach. The museum is in the background.

Utah Beach

Utah Beach

 

A WWII vet, and an original B26 Bomber. (Not the same plane he flew, but the same kind)

A WWII vet, and an original B26 Bomber. (Not the same plane he flew, but the same kind)

Myself, Uncle, Aunt, Grandfather and I went to the museum because of the plane pictured above. It’s a B26 bomber, and it’s the same kind of plane that my Grandpa flew in WWII. My Grandpa, and the rest of us, got into the museum for free because of him. He was wearing his B26 pilot hat, and his B26 polo. A museum attendant immediately went up to him and gave him, and us) the grand tour of the museum. Grandpa of course even got to get into the B26, I however, still had to stay outside the velvet rope.

Here’s where things got a little more real:

The airfield my Grandpa flew out of after D-Day.

The airfield my Grandpa flew out of after D-Day.

We drove around Normandy for a while and found the airfield my Grandpa flew missions out of after D-Day. It’s just an empty field now.

And then there was Omaha.

Omaha Beach. Now the US cemetery.

Omaha Beach. Now the US cemetery.

United States Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France.

United States Cemetery at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France.

Acres and acres of white crosses dot what was once a battle field. None of the pictures I took really did it justice.Normally, cemeteries don’t bother me at all. But not this place. It was an overwhelmingly eerie, haunting place.

Memorial Day is a great day. We get to spend time with family, eat a meal together. But more importantly, it’s about those who sacrificed everything for us.  So in between stuffing your face with a burger or hot-dog today, thank a veteran.

image

U.S. airfield in France.

 

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Avengers: Age of Ultron (spoilers)(duh)

This will be coming at you in parts. Because that’s just how my brain is right now.

1. Overall: 9/10.
Superhero movies are Joss Whedon’s super power (also being the ruler of the geek-world). The beginning of the film was gorgeous. The whole thing was gorgeous. The effects, the sound, CGI, it just worked.
The movie is 2:20, and I didnt even notice. I knew that it was long, but sitting in the theater watching, it doesnt feel like it. Why? Because of damn good writing. The overall flow of the movie is because of an almost flawless superhero story. Whedon even takes the time to take about Pepper and Jane, even though they aren’t physically in the movie. So the audience knows that yes, they’re still present in the story. Also, it seemed at the end of Ultron that Stark and Hawkeye were retiring from the Avengers. Only time will tell I guess. Especially with the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, in which we already know that Stark and Cap are gonna go at it.

2. Hawkeye.
Joss Whedon has this beautiful ability to make superheroes less super, and more human without taking away any of their powers. Whedon takes the time to focus on characters that havent gotten a lot of screen time, Hawkeye, and Black Widow (also Bruce Banner, because we are ignoring the two hulk movies that came before).

When Hawkeye takes the Avengers to a “safehouse”, and it turns out to be his house, it’s great. Clint has a family, and the only one who knew about it was Natasha (and Fury, but he knows everything).  Someone asked him in the movie if he had a girlfriend, and he says no. Because he doesn’t, he has a wife and three children!
Clint doesn’t have any “super” powers like Thor or Cap, or a suit like Tony. But that doesnt mean he isnt important. It’s more like, that’s why he’s more important. He doesnt need a suit, or norse-god powers, or science-experiment-gone-right powers. He’s human. In Ultron, Whedon takes time to show us that yes, Hawkeye is lovable and snarky (I love it), he also provides a support to the group that no one else can proide. Yes Cap is the leader, the science bros are the brains, Thor and Hulk are the muscle, and Natasha is, well, Natasha is a badass. Clint is the opportunity to show the Avengers that there’s more to life than just avenging.

3. Hulk & Black Widow.
I was skeptical of this. But it totally worked. We see that there’s something between them when Cap (I think, it couldve been Hawkeye), said “It’s time for a lullaby”. In which Natasha goes up to the Hulk, puts her hand out and waits for the green rage monster to come to her. It basically gets the Hulk to calm down enough become Bruce again.
It works so well because the Hulk is a reflection of the monster that Natasha sees herself as. You will recall that in the first Avengers, Natasha kept repeating “I’ve got red in my ledger”. We also learn that as a part of her graduation from assassin school, she was sterilized. “One less thing to worry about”.
Well, the Hulk has green in his ledger. Err, veins. And skin. He is a big green rage monster. But he’s also a very quiet, brilliant scientist. He doesnt know how to flirt, and has no idea when when Natasha flirts with him. Because she doesn’t, she talks to him. Natasha trusts Bruce, even though Bruce doesn’t trust himself.
“You’re adorable, but I need the big guy”
I loved that line. Bruce is there to rescue Natasha and she’s all nope, we have things to do first. But then Bruce runs away and now I am sad.

4. Science Bros.
The most interesting part about Ultron is that Ultron himself is basically Stark’s creation. Tony’s idea is for an Artificial Intelligence first line of defense. So that the Avengers don’t have to deal with everything themselves. Which is a nice theory, but clearly not in practice.  So, inside of Loki’s staff they find the vision stone. Tony, with Banner’s help, reverse engineer it and download it, trying to create this line of defense.
Anyways, there’s this great montage of Tony and Bruce working together, trying to get this thing to work. Which of course it doesn’t. But, the more interesting part is that Stark still won’t listen to Banner. He wants Banner’s assistance, just not his opinion. Obviously because of the plot Tony has to succeed in downloading Ultron. but come on Tony, quit being such a nark.

5. Ultron.
Leave it to Whedon to create such an unsettling, crazy, android, jewel-powered villain. His introduction is most unsettling. He stumbles into the room where the Avengers have been playing grab-the-hammer, with fluids dripping from his half-torn off arm. Also Ultron appears to have murdered Jarvis upon is awakening.  Which begs the question, is it murder if it’s artificial intelligence? The Avengers certainly seem to think so.
James Spader as Ultron is pretty brilliant. Spader has this rumble in his voice when he speaks, it’s slightly unsettling. And awesome.
Spader’s interpretation of Ultron is fun. He’s a villain that we love, but hate. He is a creation of Starks, but he hates him. And in turn, hates the entire human race because of him. He is an excellent villain.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ultron. It was also a very nice tough to have a bunch of WWII and Vietnam Vets at the Avengers party. I think that may have been my favorite part. (Well, one of my favorite parts).

Currently Whedon is not slated to directed either of the sequels that follow UltronCaptain America: The Winter Soldier co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo will direct the two-part Avengers: Infinity War. Although Whedon has stated that he wants to work on something that’s entirely his own, which I would be immensely excited for. However, could this mean that Whedon will direct an upcoming Star Wars movie?

We can only hope.

Peace, Love, & watch your language,

-C

P.S. How many more days till Christmas?

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Jupiter Ascending & Why We Need Better Heroines. (Spoilers)

Dear Hollywood.

I demand better.

But I think this may be a turning point

Jupiter Ascending:

 .

I was pleasantly surprised by Jupiter Ascending as a whole. Mila Kunis does a nice job with the character Jupiter, and Channing Tatum lived up to expectations. (Even if he was a little too broody) Sean Bean doesn’t die (woo!), and the captain of the ship that rescues them, Nikki Amuka-Bird, is excellent. And holy crow, is Eddie Redmayne creepy and awesome as Balem Abrasax.(So so good). I loved the music, of course I did, because my favorite composer Michael Giacchino, wrote the score.

Channin Tatum’s character,, Caine Wise, was an interesting one. He was a human-wolf splice, and by the end of the movie he had wings. So he’s a wolf-eagle-man? Whatever. He had cool moon-boot-speed-skates that made for some interesting action scenes. Also he lost his shirt for about five minutes of the movie. Which, for some people, is enough to get them to see the movie. I however, was concerned that he was going to get a boo-boo by being shirtless. No really, he was running around in a swarm of bees, he was going to get stung. However, I can see how a shirtless Channing Tatum would make more people go see a movie.

I just read iMDb’s description of the movie, describing the title character of Jupiter as “destitute”. The last time I checked, someone who lived in a house, and had a job, and had food, was not destitute. While I can appreciate that being a maid is not what Jupiter wants, the audience has no vision of what it is she wants at all. Except that she wants a telescope. To me, to show that Jupiter is unhappy, but to give her no drive to change her situation, even though “I hate my life”, is incredibly exasperating.

I would also like to point out that when Caine essentially  kidnaps her, she’s basically like yeah ok, this is cool. And goes with him. And she doesn’t demand answers, like one would, if one was kidnapped and told that one’s planet was not the only one that was inhabited.

I do like Jupiter. I do. What is frustrating to me is that time after time we have to wait the ENTIRE movie for the heroine to find her mojo. Seriously? Jupiter is tough, and she doesn’t believe in fairy tales. And it takes her an hour and a half to realize she can beat up the SOB that’s trying to murder the population of earth? I find her gullibility to be unbelievable. Like she didn’t know that Titus was going to pull a fast one when he said that marriage was just a political contract. A guy who wanted to marry someone who looked exactly like his mother wasn’t a tad creepy to her?

I did like this movie, I did. I love that it is an original story in Hollywood. I love it. However. There are plot holes that I do not appreciate. Even in A New Hope, the audience say the power of the Death Star. But in Jupiter, even though the Abraxas family harvests planets, we don’t see how they do it. So, where does their power stem from? How did they get it? The film tried to make a connection with your everyday movie goers, and because of plot-holes, it did not succeed. There is also some super campy dialogue between Caine and Jupiter that was just not as cute as it was intended to be.

Jupiter Ascending had the ability to be the next great Sci-Fi franchise, and it didn’t quite make it there. It seemed like the visual effects were meant to distract us from the plot holes (Including, but not limited to Channing Tatum’s abs). I can see that the Wachowski’s want to set up a sequel. Which, hopefully, exceed my expectations (which are set too high, according to some people…)

We need better heroines. We already have good heroes. We need better heroines because the damsel-in-distress is boring. How many times will Mario save Peach before he realizes that she’s just having an affair with Bowser? How long before Rapunzel cuts her own hair and climbs down herself? How much longer until Sleeping Beauty wakes up by her own damn self and realizes that she is more powerful than her curse?

What we need are more Hermione’s, more Zoe’s, more Scout’s, and Princess’ who don’t take sh*t from scruffy looking nerf-herders.

Dear Hollywood.

I DEMAND A HEROINE WORTHY OF HER AUDIENCE

I am tired of waiting.

Peace, Love, and Impatience,

-C

P.S. Brown dog thinks there needs to be more canine sidekicks. Where is the dog representation here?!

P.P.S. I have very high expectations for Avengers 2. We won’t even discuss Episode VII.

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Fired

I’ve been pretty radio silent on this. But I think I’m ready to talk about it now without getting too angry.

Caution: Sarcasm ahead. (If you don’t know that by now, you shouldn’t be reading this)

It’s a really surreal feeling, getting fired.

How are you supposed to move on, when you aren’t sure why? How are future employers going to look at you now that you’ve been fired? What if they ask you about it? What are you supposed to say? Deep. Breath. Breathe. Ok, I’m good. I’m fine. We’re all fine here, how are you?

My sick twisted brain immediately thought of this while I was actually getting fired: 

Except, Yzma was crazy and had a secret lab. Man, I wish I had a secret lab.

But enough of that

I allowed myself two days of mourning. After that, get over it. There is life to live and it does not include sulking over a job that was unfulfilling both spiritually and mentally.

I still have trouble comprehending how I worked in an office for the last 2.4 years. It’s like a rat maze in there. It felt like we were part of some kind of science experiment. Like, how many days can a person say inside, staring at a computer screen, before they go postal? How many times will you staple paper packets together until you start stapling yourself just to feel alive? Fortunately, I don’t have to find out.

What I learned the most about working in an office, is that I hated working in an office.  There are forms after forms after forms. And then, there were more forms. I guess you would say we were in the business of killing trees. It’s nice outside? Too bad, there are forms to be filled out! Working 40 hours a week, regardless of whether or not there were things for you to do? Horse hockey.

There were two things I liked, working in an office: the friends I made, and the steady paycheck

Now that I am unemployed, for the first time since I was seventeen, I’m  not sure where my next paycheck will come from. But I do know that there is no point in worrying about it. Worrying solves nothing. It does no good to your mind or body to worry or stress. It happens though, I come from a long line of worriers. Fortunately, I also come from a long line of badasses.

The people in my life who love and care about me, haven’t been asking me questions like “What are you going to do?”, or  “Aren’t you concerned?”. They’re saying things like “It’s going to work out”, and “good riddance”.

I think the line people tend to feed you that  “God never gives you anything you can’t handle” is a load of crap. Because God knows the desires of your heart. And he knows how to get you there. Even if you don’t.  The path isn’t straight, or without it’s obstacles. But the problems that come before you, aren’t always because God has something he wants you to do. Christians forget that our battle is not against flesh and blood. What I do know, is that even though I don’t have a steady income anymore, I do have this freakish sense of peace. And even thought I’ve cried a few more times than I’d care to admit over the past week, and I’ve had anxiety, loads of anxiety, my soul is peaceful.

Bad things happen to good people. But good things happen to good people too.

I’ll leave you with the immortal words of Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Life finds a way”

-C

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Finding the End

I’ve been working on a manuscript on and off for the last oh, six years. Most of my college career this draft and I had a torrid love affair. I’ve finally felt like I’ve been making leeway on this immense document sitting on my computer. I’ve written. And erased. And been frustrated. And Laughed. And written. And erased. So it goes.

But I can’t find the end.

I thought, I naively thought, that I knew where I wanted it to end. But now, the characters have taken on a life of their own. They became a lot different than I had originally intended for them to be. The heroine and I have had so many arguments. I want it to go this way, but clearly, the character should go another way. I’m basically arguing with myself. That’s not weird is it?

Where is the closure that I owe these characters?

Last night, instead of looking at the pages I’ve read so many times, I started another project. An idea for another story popped into my head and wouldn’t shut up so I had to write it down.

What most people fail to understand about those who love the written word is that we think about it 80-90% of our day. Words consume us. Words sustain us.

On my run last night, I wrote in my head. I caught myself making faces as I did it. Trying to find the ending is a like like my four-mile run last night. The first two miles are ok. The third one, I start feeling pretty good. The last mile, is almost agony. I’m so close to being done that I just want it to be over with. I just want to stop running. But I keep going. I might be sweating through my shorts, but I keep going.

“Write drunk, edit sober” is a quote usually attributed to Hemingway. I’m not sure who said it exactly, but there’s something to it. Write when the idea is fresh and new in your brain. It’s not going to make a helluva lot of sense, but it’s still there. It’s still on paper. Edit sober, when the idea has sat around for a few days, or weeks, and the pieces start to come together.

But how to find the end. I feel like my brain is depleted  and it simply cannot regain it’s momentum. But I’ve felt like this before, and gotten through it. Its just one more mile that I have to run.

Maybe a glass of wine will help.

Peace, Love, Words,

-C.

P.S. Brown dog doesn’t like reading. Unless he can eat it. Then he’d probably like it.

P.P.S. Nanu nanu.

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Life, Death, and the pursuit of Puppies.

A terrible awful thing happened today. But a terribly wonderful thing happened today too. So I’ll just write, and maybe my heart won’t hurt as much.

Today I witnessed the birth of 6 puppies, the death of four, and the life of two.

The first puppy that came out was stillborn, and my hear sank all the way to the floor.

The next five came out in a blur, all I really know is that three puppies kept getting passed back and forth between people trying to catch a glimpse of life.

I held this small body in my hands, breathing into its mouth, rubbing its sides.

I worked relentlessly on this body that refused to live.

It became apparent that I could not project my will of life into this small body that I held in my hands.

I tried.

I touched the pale gums inside this small body, searching for hope.

To no avail.

But I cannot mourn the loss of the four when I must rejoice in the life of the two.

And be thankful for the gift that their mother has given me, and rejoice in her life as well.

Nature really sucks sometimes.

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Why I didn’t like Frozen/We are the Trolls

Most of you aren’t going to be like WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT FROZEN WAS THE BEST MOVIE EVER.

Well, no, it wasn’t. It may have won an Oscar for best animated feature, and best original song, because hello Idina Menzel (Or Adele Dazeem).

BUT FROZEN IS SUCH A GOOD INFLUENCE ON YOUNG GIRLS.

Yeah no. It’s really not.

1. Female lead does not equal strong female character.
Not even a little bit. For whatever reason, America has decided that Elsa is Disney’s gift to feminism. Elsa is the antithesis of a feminist. She FLEES from her problems. When her sister comes to talk to her in the mountains, she sends a snow monster after her. Not a cute monster, a scary one. That almost kills Anna/Kristoff.
Elsa was told by the creepy troll-man-wizard-thing that she needs to avoid fear. Effectively scaring the crap out of her in the process. (Way to go idiot) Does the troll-man-wizard tell Elsa how to control her powers? Does he help her at all? I mean really help her, not Anna? No. He doesn’t. And for whatever reason, Elsa’s parents accept this. (And lock her in a tower!)
“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.. conceal, don’t feel”
Are you serious? Yeah do this. Especially when you have X-Men like powers. That ALWAYS works.
Anna doesn’t even make sense to me. Clearly she wants to find “the one”. Way to be noble Anna. The character of Anna is adorable, and awkward and we all like her. I like her. But, what does Anna accomplish at the end of the film? Yeah she’s with Kristoff, and we assume that they’ll be together forever, but there’s no evidence to support that (no engagement). She shows her sister love, and that heals her and her sister.
Just once, just once, can we have two sisters that show each other love for the whole movie? Frozen could have been done that way. The two sisters could have been together the whole time, helping each other, even if Elsa had to be by herself. Elsa could have freaked out and left, but then she could have found her own Mr. Miyagi to help her. Come on Disney.

2. “Let it Go”
Let’s discuss.
“Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyways”
Elsa is effectively saying, I don’t give a damn about controlling myself. I don’t need to be responsible, someone else will figure out.
“And the fears that once controlled me, can’t get to me at all”
Oh really? So why exactly did you run away to an ice cold mountain to live by yourself so no one could provoke you and guard it with a snow monster? Yeah you’re real confident in yourself Elsa.

3. Where are all the other girls?
The author of this article points out, where are all the supporting women? Pocahontas had Mother Willow and Nakoma. Merida had her mother, and the witch. Belle had Mrs. Potts and her wardrobe. Aurora was raised by three fairies. Tiana had her mother. Even Mulan had a strong bond with her grandmother. Hey Disney, strong women don’t necessarily just happen; they have a support group/person. It’s like no one else was looking out for Anna/Elsa at all. Where are their teachers? Their role models?Did they just live in the castle by themselves?

4. The door metaphor.
The most overused thing in the movie. Did you notice? Love is an open door? The window is open so’s that door? The entire “Do you want to build a snowman” scene is in front of a door. Disney, we get it. There’s a door between Elsa and Anna that they aren’t sure how to open up (Just turn the#$%$@& handle already)

5. Elsa’s transformation.
All she’s doing is running away and changing her clothes. Nothing else is happening here. Other than her ridiculous heels. She designs an outfit for herself that has heels? Heels are uncomfortable and invented by a man to make a woman’s butt look smaller. Let’s be real here.

6. We are the Trolls.
The song “Fixer Upper” is adorable. (“He only likes to tinkle in the woods!”) But clearly, the Trolls, and the audience, has decided that Anna and Kristoff need to be together. At first they’re all Kristoff needs some fixing, then they’re all wait, no, Anna. But what kind of bugs me is that maybe Anna wont be with Kirstoff. Maybe they’ll just be friends. There is no resolution at the end of the film pertaining to Anna/Kristoff.

Wait, is there resolution at all? I don’t think so. Clearly Anna, and Elsa are going to have a better relationship. With each other and the people of Arendelle. Other than that, there’s really not much to go on. And all of a sudden Elsa is in total control of herself? Really? In 24 hours she found her zen zone? Also, where does Elsa get her powers from? This really bugs me. Like, is it a family trait? The troll-man-wizard asked is she was born with it or cursed with it? So what gives?

Frozen won the Oscar because the music is amazing. And the animation was fantastic. However, I would’ve put Despicable Me 2 over Frozen on story. And the plot of DM2 isn’t that fantastic (But minions). At least with DM2 there is clear resolution and end.

I liked Frozen because it’s cute, and the music is fun, and catchy. But to call it feminist is like saying Game of Thrones is a kids show. It just isn’t.

Peace, Love, and Reindeer,

-C

P.S. Brown dog does not want to build a snowman. Snow is gross.

P.P.S. Andy Serkis is going to be in Episode VII. I am so excited I don’t even know what to do.

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