I have worked, in the past, reviewing books, music, and movies, I have focused primarily on literature but I have always enjoyed talking about music and film, because I enjoy the humanities and the arts and I can appreciate them in an array of layers. I maintained three different blogs here, on my website, when it first went live that focused on music, film, and literature reviews but they went cold, because I bit off more than I could chew, it’s a lot to keep going, especially when the site started doing so much better than expected, and so much more quickly.
I also have a tendency, especially with movies, to rarely offer a poor review, and, ultimately, that doesn’t work. Reviewing everything favorably doesn’t establish the “bell curve” that people expect in order to respect the reviewers reviews. Although I did always include the good with the bad but, I mean, I tend to like most movies that I watch. If I think I might not enjoy a movie I just don’t watch it and that, too, makes for a poor film reviewer. I walk out of a lot less movies, though—I went and saw Eight Crazy Nights with Adam Sandler in the theatre years ago, when it first came out, I’m not sure why I went to see it in the first place, at the time I was going to a lot of movies and I would, often, drive to the theatre without a clue what was showing or when and just pick a movie that was starting around the time that I would show up, it’s entirely possible—probable—that Eight Crazy Nights was the fate of such an occasion—I walked out of it. It was horrible. I may have walked out of a movie, in the theatre, one or two other times. I remember I had a date one evening, and she wanted to see either Angel’s & Demons or the Da Vinci Code, one of those Dan Brown adaptations, and I fell asleep during the movie, I don’t think that I have ever done that before, or again. I have done other things in movie theatres but such occasions were entirely unrelated to the movie.
I went and saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker yesterday, with my mom, and I had very high hopes. In part, because it was the conclusion of the saga and, in part, because J. J. Abrams had co-written and directed it. He was responsible for, kind of, the reboot of the saga with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I’ve liked pretty much everything the guy has done. He did the Star Trek reboot with Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock and it was awesome. Abrams co-created Felicity, Alias, Lost, and Fringe as well as having written Regarding Henry, Forever Young, and Armageddon, so what I’m saying is the guy has his shit together. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was, in my opinion, one of the three best Star Wars films.
With that said, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was a bit disappointing, even for me, the script was decent but mediocre in comparison to, like, pretty much everything he’s every written, and I understand that he was building from the travesty that was Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Rian Johnson—now, Rian Johnson is a great filmmaker, he is responsible for Brick with Joseph Gordan Levitt (Awesome mystery neo-noir film), The Brothers Bloom (another great, kind of, noir comedy with Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, and Mark Ruffalo), and the recent Knives Out with Daniel Craig (I’m waiting until it comes out to Redbox), the one thing that the three of those movies has in common is also the same thing that makes him, quite possible, the worse person to direct any Star Wars film. So, I understand that Abrams was having to re-calibrate a bit, he didn’t handle the pressure well.
The story-line was fantastic, but the script was clearly written by multiple people, it did not harmonize, at all—it was messy. It was rushed. And it was, by the far, the worse direction of any Abrams film I had ever seen. When he did the Star Trek reboot everything was crisp, it was clean it was like he knew how he wanted to tell the story and he just told it. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, however, it felt like he couldn’t commit to a vision and he was just trying different things, like, he would film a scene and think, “Well, that didn’t work,” and then say, “What if we tried this...” and nothing really came together. The two redeeming qualities, other than the foundation that it was built on, was the fact that Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac have great chemistry (and Adam Driver is a great actor), and the story. It had the potential to be so much better, and it was so close but, it just didn’t quite capture it for me.
I’m not a zealot of anything, that I know of, I enjoy Star Wars inasmuch as I enjoy Star Trek and When Harry Met Sally and Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting, I’m not team Star Wars or team Star Trek or team Edward, I simply enjoy a good story, which Star Wars is.
Although I did feel a lot closer to these last three Star Wars films. In a similar way to my parents generation who saw A New Hope, the Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi in theatres. I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the IMAX at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C., and for whatever reason, ever since then I have had a different appreciation, and I really wanted to see them outperform the BIG THREE.
It’s a really difficult thing to accept when someone comes so close to doing something so good and then they just, don’t.
And J. J. Abrams just didn’t.
I’m sure, when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker makes it to Redbox, I’ll watch it again and I’ll enjoy it more the second time because, by then, I will have accepted it for what it is but, after yesterday, at the very least, I really will not be so eager to see the next J. J. Abrams film.
(*Anything that I will feel assured enough to review, especially online, is something that I would have tried myself at some point in my history. I have written a novel, I have written professionally for many years, I have played music professionally in some capacity at some point in my life, and yes, I have directed, very small stage shows, such as Rocky Horror Picture Show, etc.)
The holidays are an exceptionally interesting time of year. There are remarkably mixed attitudes, and heaps of stress and fabricated feelings and we put ourselves through it, in effect, in order to feel closer to one another and to spend time with our families; and then it comes, and then it goes and it’s exceptionally unremarkable. Most people are just glad that it’s over, and then we start the new year and fool ourselves into believing that with the coming of a new year there will be a new, ‘us.’ Until we forget about that new us for several months while we try to keep our heads above water throughout the course of the year and then the holiday season comes again and we remember what we didn’t accomplish throughout the year, and try to prepare ourselves for the upcoming strain. We bicker about political correctness and look for new ways to distance ourselves from one another, and then we all hope that the next year will actually see some degree of hope.
Personally, I enjoy this time of year. In part, because my birthday falls on and around Thanksgiving, and I feel more balanced and in tune with the world and everyone, and it’s just a beautiful time of year. I think that another part of it, for me, is the fact that, regardless of our attitudes, we all tend to come out of a complacence coma, and we become real people again, for a little while. We wake up, we’re conscious, and although that often looks and transpires with a sense of discomfort, it is, nevertheless, authentic.
Because underneath the layers of preservation there endures a glimmer of raw, ardent love and that vulnerability is captivating, and it seems that, for a while, we might allow ourselves to be open and to be honest with one another and it is only through that discomfort that we might all actually, finally—after a short reset period of uneasiness and turmoil—discover a sense of harmony and equanimity...
...and we get gifts for no reason whatsoever, like, none, we just get gifts, the best part about it, though, is the journey of finding the right gift for someone we love, and hearing things like, “Thank you,” and “I can’t stop smiling,” because it’s not about today, and the exceptionally un-remarkableness of it, it’s the constant belief that many of us maintain that everything is leading up to something that denies us the gratification of the adventure, today is an opportunity—not a destination—to be conscious and to be grateful and to, hopefully, remind ourselves how to recognize that throughout the year, until we no longer need the reminder and we're living it, and we eventually just genuinely enjoy that essence of Christmas and the time of year that we too often forget...
So, Merry Christmas & Happy Chanukah, and be sure to drink your Ovaltine
Do you remember that gorilla? I can’t remember his name, he dragged a toddler throughout his enclosure after the boy crawled or climbed or fell into it, and then he was shot and killed, the gorilla I mean, not the boy, that would have been a real tragedy...actually, in the world today, I’m not sure which would have created more of an outcry. Harambe, yeah...Harambe. So, here’s the thing, those of you that threw a fit about the “murder” of Harambe, he, um, well, he’s a gorilla, and you might think that you care about gorilla's but, you don’t. And, I’ll prove it to you, right now: if all the gorilla's in the world just disappeared, overnight, in some freak gorilla pandemic, that only affected gorilla's, and it didn’t go viral, if Twitter didn’t talk about it, how long before you notice?
That’s what I thought…
That’s kind of how I feel about the impeachment of Donald Trump. I was reading about it this morning, and I didn’t feel anything. Nothing in favor of-, nothing contrary to… I just, don’t care. I mean, other than the conversational aspects of American politics it has become so poignantly impassable that it doesn’t affect me in the way that it used to; granted, I may be a bit miffed by how millennial’s are affected by EVERYTHING, because you have to have an opinion about absolutely everything, and it almost always has to be in contention of the general belief but, I mean, you’re opinion, especially if you’re an archetypical millennial, because I’m not so sure that you really understand the substructure of your attitude, you’re just consumed by the notion that you are the first generation whose voice was, kind of, more overweeningly louder than those before you.
I’ve been avoiding talking about the impeachment process, and now with the impeachment, and then the senate trials coming up, which, I mean, they are not going to convict him on either count, for those of my readers that have a strong distaste for the man I get it, I don’t like the character of the man either, he’s vulgar, and if that’s something that you see, in his character, for the half of the population that actually sees it, it’s difficult to get past it, I know but, regardless, he is not going to be removed from office, and he’s not going to resign, although I’m pretty confident he will not see a reelection, still, with that said, there really isn’t anyone running against him that might win, maybe Joe Biden, maybe, although Biden is just too delicate.
Anyway…I told myself I was going to write about this when I woke up this morning so I did, however, with the morning that I had—my morning was unspeakably astounding—it didn’t really feel important enough to write about, although, with that said, the OG point of the column was founded on the basis that the impeachment itself doesn’t really matter, at least to me; I suppose, it just matters that much less…
There is so much happening right in front of us, everyday that we take for granted. The people we see every day, the conversations that we have every day, the choices we make that affect us every single day we downplay, we reduce it to the unexceptional. And that’s a choice that we’re all making every single day. I get to be astounded with my life every day that I choose to be, which is every day because of the people that I get to share it with. I sat across from someone this morning who is unfathomably important to me and I am reduced to awe, I mean, literal awe; imagine trying to express how you feel about your life simply because someone is in it, and you just can’t.
Have you seen Liar, Liar, with Jim Carrey? It’s a great movie. Throughout the movie he tries so hard to lie, there is one scene in particular when he is in his office alone, and he is trying to lie to himself about the color of a pen, and he can’t and the process that he suffers to get from point A to point B is hilarious, the same thing happens later in the courtroom when he’s trying to say something, and that’s exactly how I feel, except I’m struggling to express the truth, because there is nothing that compares to how overwhelming I feel, I have never felt it, I have never imagined it, it is unfathomable to me the love that I feel, but I keep trying to express it, and regardless of where or how I begin I always end up making a fool of myself; and I love it!
We are capable, in our humanity, of discovering and rediscovering these little meaningful truths in our day-to-day lives, but we choose instead to bicker about a broken system of phony smoke-filled political malarky, and it’s just so exhausting; how often does any of it really affect our lives? I dated a girl after high school whose father would pace behind the couch in their living room watching FOX news yelling at the TV that we should just nuke the Middle East, but the rage that fueled him was…I mean he lived in two story house with a little picket fence, in a suburban Hill Country town, the biggest issue that he faced every day was the traffic on I-10, and back then traffic between San Antonio and Boerne on I-10 meant you saw another car in your immediate vicinity, it was awful; I couldn’t even imagine the unbearable provocation of observing the existence of another human being from just far enough away to almost make out the figures on their license plate, and they were, most likely, not even terrorists, just another figurehead on his way home to yell at the TV and have a scotch on the rocks before bed.
Donald Trump might be a conversation piece but, people, pay attention to the people in your lives, you’re lucky to have them, some of you take so much for granted, and I couldn’t even express how grateful I am just to know her, let alone if I were to go to sleep next to, and wake up with the following day, to hold her when you watch TV, and to dance around our living room, all those moments that you let slip away because Donald Trump...shot a gorilla...while you stewed over presumed affluent terrorists driving a Jeep...Bandersnatch indignantly too close to you on your commute home compelling you to ignore the most beautiful sunset you might have seen since the last time you looked.
I wrote an article for the Hill Country Weekly a few years ago that sold out more printings than the paper had in quite a while, at the very least, maybe ever, it was titled Boerne, Texas Gone Forever in response to those bumper stickers that had been popping up on peoples cars throughout the last few years. The following is not that article, but something else that spilled out of me while I was sitting in town this afternoon.
I haven’t done a lot of writing ‘on location’ in a while, it used to be pretty common for me to spend my late mornings to mid afternoons at a coffeehouse or in a comfortable bar setting: writing, working, and talking to people; for many months, however, it’s been the comfort of my couch, the ambient noises of short episode situational comedies or various Pandora stations where I have been drawing my inspiration (among other more cognitive places); I think, when Electric Coffee (my coffeehouse of choice for a good long while) closed, and I started bouncing around to a few places: Dienger Trading Co., Local Coffee (in Leon Springs), Boerne’s Daily Grind, and Bear Moon Bakery and nothing really felt as comfortable as Electric, I just, kind of, stopped going out.
And, even less so since I started working in Fredericksburg, a year ago. I haven’t really explored Boerne like I used to on a semi-regular basis, so, a couple of weeks ago, on my birthday, I walked along Main Street a bit, and, quite accidentally, I discovered Black Rifle Coffee Co., on the opposite corner of Dienger Trading Co., across from Main Street from the Square. Black Rifle feels, very much, out of place, it’s got a remarkably corporate aesthetic although it’s locally owned, and in the short time I’ve been sitting here I’ve already seen a handful of people that I haven’t seen since spending my days at Electric. The people watching here is fantastic. Adjacent to the coffeehouse, a sort of portmanteau of two businesses, is a gun shop; there’s an older gentleman with a gray handlebar mustache standing at the gun counter with a cup of coffee in his hands, because I know every time I’m about to buy a gun I’m thinking, “...if only I had more caffeine in my system. There’s nothing quite like a strung-out jittery trigger finger.”
“Here, a free box of bullets w/ the purchase of your gun.”
“I don’t need the box...I only need one…
...half of a poppy seed muffin, but only if they can take out the poppy seeds and heat it up; if they can’t heat it up, and this is important, then leave half the poppy seeds in, and sprinkle the other half of the poppy seeds on half of a blueberry muffin, and then cut both halves in half and throw them both away, and a small black coffee.”
. . . . . . . . . . .
There’s a bookstore in Boerne, again. I grew up going into Read All About It, here, in Boerne. It wasn’t the best bookstore, they catered mostly to the schools, with the books from school reading lists lining the shelves, and a section of Texas history books. It closed while I was living in Idaho, and there hadn’t been a store until I opened mine in the winter of 2015, Wardrobe Books represent whoop, whoop!
I had to close Wardrobe in the summer of 2016 (my building sold), and Boerne hasn’t had a brick-and-mortar until a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately Dale, the store’s owner, is only selling New books, and it’s too big a location to focus entirely on new releases but too small to have a decent selection of new books, and, quite frankly, the Boerne Bookshop will not succeed in today’s climate without selling used books, especially in a small Texas Hill Country town; if for no other reason than that the sales margins are way too low. Nevertheless Dale can rely on my support, inasmuch as I might be able to offer.
The point that I’m slowly making is that I’m intrigued by the transition Boerne is undergoing, I’ve known for some years now that our rapidly growing little town has been transitioning through an identity crises, and it seems we may soon be coming out of that (I’m excited to see how the rooftop bar and grille affects the dynamic when he opens sometime this summer), the changes that began with Bill Bird buying the Ye Kendall Inn and the Mazour’s opening The Cibolo Creek Brewing Co., are becoming more and more apparent; I never thought I’d be living in Boerne—in Texas—again, and yet I couldn’t be happier with my life, right now, and with the direction that Boerne is headed; although I am somewhat disappointed with how Ron Bowman, our city manager’s, attempts to increase city tax revenues by appealing to corporate syndicates and car dealerships is playing out, he is—unwittingly, maybe—creating two very distinct coteries which are pulling Boerne in very different directions. It’s somewhat how I picture Santa Fe, New Mexico a few decades ago, if you’re unfamiliar with Santa Fe it is made up of two, maybe three very distinctive cities: the obvious Northern and Southern echelons, and possibly a North Eastern collocation…
...unfortunately Boerne will not develop with such recognizable demarcations, there will be pockets of us, the favored elite surrounded by, you know, everybody else (whispers* “the little people” *cough, *cough): those that make it possible for me to live such a complacently serene, and lavish lifestyle with very minimal effort, but in order to do so, and to help support my unreasonably snug way of life, I am going to have to actually see them! Everywhere! Imagine, if you will, I know, it’s difficult and painful, abysmal and eerie, outlandish and crabbed, bothersome and difficult...where was I going with this again?
...ah, that’s right, imagine, if you will, a number of lost amiable zombies wandering around playing Pokemon Go!, only, your—I’m—the Pokemon! Have you read (or seen) the Hunger Games? Yeah, just like that, with those pesky districts rousing trouble for the devoted, hard-working, elite.
Black Rifle Coffee Co., had the good sense of installing iris scanners at the entrances, everybody in Boerne is marked with your tax bracket behind the Anterior Chamber of your eye between the Cornea and the Iris, the best idea since an expanding middle class establishing a clear and present boundary between the upper class and, well, you know…
...so, what I’m really trying to say is that Boerne is a very pleasant, and dynamic town, and I’m both excited to be a part of it’s development, and fortunate to be here right now, and to be happy. And it is, in now way, "Gone Forever," it's just different, and, in a great many ways, the changes have been for the better, it's just, you know, people are afraid of change, because people are afraid of what they cannot imagine, the unknown, so much so that they forget that change is inevitable, and you can either actively participate and influence it or you can sit idly by, and watch it happen beyond the purview, and context of your impact.
“Yes, you are the center of the universe, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here, so, as the middle of space, and everything floating in it, it is your job to know, that the emptiness is just emptiness, that the stars are stars, and that flying rocks hurt.”
I was driving home from San Antonio the other day, I live in a rapidly growing Texas Hill Country town just outside of SA, and I was cruising in relatively light traffic on a stretch of I-10 that’s been under heavy construction for a good while now, and will continue to be under heavy construction for a good while longer—I’ve read comments, on Facebook, from people whom have presented themselves as having driven in some of the worse roads in the country, and that this particular stretch of I-10 is the--now I’m quoting—“single most dangerous stretch of highway they have ever confronted,” although, really, that’s neither here nor there—I started thinking about the way people drive, and the way people live their lives—I suppose that’s a relatively heavy musing while cruising home one afternoon after a lighthearted conversation over coffee—everybody has so, very sharply concluded that they are the only veritable soul existing in the immediate reality, which, ‘of course,’ is the only relevant presence, at this particular moment in time: the one that you presently exist within...
Because, you are the center of the universe; there has never been an experience an incident that you have not been at the absolute center of...
You have, of course, played witness to experiences: Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, 9/11, Robert Redford’s light shattering home run, Facebook is introduced to college campuses in 2004, etc...
still even witnessing each, as it was experienced by you, has occurred, and will continue to occur, only, within the compass of your experience. And, respectively, it is inherently impassable to understand or relate to the experience of another human being without the partiality of the world through your eyes.
With that said, you can, however, know, without a shadow of a doubt, that each person does, inherently, have their own experiences (your individual experience is, if nothing else, proof of that), and that, although it may differ by how you were raised, where you were raised, whether you’re conscious of how your experiences affect and change you, etc., we are all living by the same sets of guidelines, and within the same template as those that are immediately surrounding us, in our western society.
So, how is it so simple for so many people to behave as if their experience is more important than the experiences of another? The unsettling default setting of behaving as if everybody else was just in our way, whether literally or metaphorically. When, in actuality, the routines, the motions, the “day-in, day-out,” of our unspoken contract of conduct is, essentially, exactly the same for each and every one of us.
I don’t notice all this as glaringly obvious more so than when driving, and most specifically on Texas highways, because, for the sake of this particular example, every couple of miles there are signs posted that read,
"LEFT LANE FOR PASSING ONLY"
...and, yet, every couple of miles I will, inevitably, find myself passing some idiot on the right because they are, apathetically, cruising in the left lane (Why this bothers me on a pragmatic scale is, of course, baffling and negligible; I’m not particularly acetic about complying to aimless tenets, still there is something to be said about decorum, right? Or did that wane with the subtle, yet amiable history of a time when sexual innuendos were still jovially enigmatic? Yes, cruising in the left lane has been a reoccurring theme for me, I drive a lot, and it's the most promising repetitive metaphor for life that I regularly encounter).
But, and even more so, people behind the wheel of a car, conduct ones self as if they are collaborating with a thingamabob and not a person, in another vehicle. Once we’ve set foot behind the wheel of a thingamabob we, quite agreeably, slip on the most overworked of our guises’ and whisk about as if we are unaffected by even our own cordial of experiences.
(Not everybody is out to get you; do you want to know how I know this?
...are you out to get everybody?
...my guess, is that you said something along the lines of, “Not, really. No.” There you have it...
...the most glaringly obvious truth about whether everyone is bound to certain behaviors is whether or not you are; and, argumentatively, the fact that you can name people like Ted Bundy, Ed Gains, Edward Snowden, Kermit the Frog, Michael Scott, and a small handful of others in a world of 8 billion people is proof only that there are exceptions, and you’re probably not one of them).
What I have learned to be equally as glaringly obvious and true as the above statement is that if you don’t want to live your life in the same default setting as just about everybody else, treating people like they are obstacles simply to maneuver, then you’re going to have to become aware that you’re behaving that way, you have to learn how to catch yourself in the moment, and it’s not hard there are people out there who are indirectly helping you: when you’re cruising in the left lane and someone passes you on the right (literally and metaphorically, speaking), just switch on your blinker, and change lanes..
I have written both music, and advice columns that covered a wide variety of topics, such as: relationships, communication, lifestyle, business, and life (coaching)