Free Write Week 8 (Feb 19-Feb 25)

My vacation ended a lot like it started with a whimper and I found myself back in the thick of things on Monday. I feel very indifferent about my time off. I was excited to have a week off, but then my plans changed and in some ways I was relieved. I’ve been tired the last couple of months and the time off with no pending plans seemed to be just what I needed. I had dreams of cleaning out my closet, watching a ton of movies, running errands, and just getting caught up on everything. Instead, I found myself sitting and struggling to decide on what to do. I didn’t actually get much done at all outside of my taxes.

Sonic the Hedgehog was added to Hulu and I decided to throw it on for a few minutes after hearing such good things. I must say, I agree with the assessment that it is the best video game movie ever and it’s probably the best family film I’ve watched since I was a kid. The graphics are great, Jim Carrey chews up the scenery, Sonic is charming, and the whole movie was just a joy to watch.

Wow, so was anyone not super impressed by that Mortal Kombat trailer? I mean, it’s everything fans have ever wanted on screen. Of course, there are a lot of unknowns, including the director, which could be a good or bad thing.

WandaVision continues to impress and I may dare say it’s my favorite Marvel project yet. I love Winter Solider but I love WandaVision a little more. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are simply stunning in their performances. Between this and The Mandalorian Disney has really impressed me. They’ve shown they can break their cookie cutter mold and tell interesting stories. I look forward to more Disney+ originals.

I don’t spend much time reading blogs or surfing the net when I’m off on the weekends or like last week while I was on vacation. My RSS feeder grew quite large since I didn’t check it for a week and I was able to see a few sites I could easily remove by skimming the content posted during my week off. It makes me wonder how we allow things to slip into our lives that we really don’t care for and yet continue to tolerate them out of laziness or our inability to recognize they no longer serve us.

Speaking of allowing things into our lives that we don’t really enjoy or serve us anymore, I found myself watching bits and piece of the various NASCAR races this past weekend yet again. I’m reminded of a time in my wrestling fandom where I “hate watched” the WWE because it was a habit. One of my goals this year is to eliminate wasted time and I really need to just forget about NASCAR. I’m interested in seeing what happens at the Bristol dirt race but other than that I know I’ll just grow irritated. The sport and I have just moved in different directions. I’d much rather spend that 2.5 – 3 hours watching a good movie than a race that will ultimately just irk me.

Life is too short to do things you don’t enjoy. I’ve always believed that, yet I still force myself to finish bad books, TV series, and things out of obligation or sunk cost fallacy. This is something I need to correct in my life and reclaim some of that wasted time.

I ran across one of my favorite pages from Preacher online. I thought I’d share it.

It was announced that Star Wars Republic Commandos is coming to PS4 and Switch in April. This excites me because this was one of thr Star Wars games that I really wanted to play but missed out on. I recall it didnt really ever drop in price and I just never had an opening to buy it. Fifteen years later that $15 price tag looks nice.

A new Beavis and Butthead movie is coming to Paramount+ and I’m totally cool with that. I thought they were great in the MTV reboot making fun of Teen Mom and Jersey Shore. I think their style of humor would be a welcomed addition to today’s comedy landscape.

Mix Tapes and Playlists

This post is inspired by The Perfect Album from The Pastor Abides blog. More on that further down the post.

A few weeks back, I discussed starting off 2021 with a clean slate. I attempted to wipe clean and reboot just about everything that I had digital. It was an impossible task that never quite accomplished that ground floor mentality, but it was better than allowing things to continue to pile up. It allowed me to rebuild some of my digital life by only including that which I find important to me in 2021 and hopefully created enough space to discover new things.

One of my unspeakable actions was deleting all my Spotify playlists. I don’t even think I mentioned that in my blog because I knew that was the one that most people would say was a bit too far. I mean, how can you completely wipe out your entire music library? All that hard work accumulating massive playlists and finding rare songs. Why would you just start all over? Well, for the same reason I stated above, I wanted the opportunity to find new music and I thought there had to be a better way at organizing all these songs.

My playlists were a combination of genres, decades, and a few niche categories (Halloween, music from movie franchises, etc.) My default list was my 90’s list followed by the 80’s list and the several hundred songs just played on a loop.

If I wanted to listen to a specific song, I had to search for it. It was just too buried in my massive playlists. I never liked that and I remember how much pride I had in creating my mix-tapes back in the day. How meticulously I put everything together and how even today, I’ll hear a certain song end and think of a completely unrelated song because that was what I put next on the CD. I knew where to find every song and back then, my CDs were labeled for moods. I had Happy Mixes, Sad Mixes, Angry Mixes, Depressed Mixes, etc. It was my own curated musical therapy and I think it actually worked.

One of my thoughts for 2021 was to create shorter playlists. Create sixty-seventy minute lists that mimicked the mix-tapes of old. I wanted to put some passion and effort into these the way I used to, not just randomly add them to a list of hundreds of songs. I wanted to be intentional with music and I wanted to appreciate it a bit more.

That brings me to Jimmy’s post, The Perfect Album. When I read Jimmy’s post this morning, I was inspired. I recommend you read it for yourself, but basically he did what I have been thinking about doing. He sat down and put together a mix-tape. He kept it short like an old school tape/CD and put a little of his heart and soul into it. I absolutely love it. I quickly assembled his mix tape on my Spotify to listen to on my way home.

My initial goal was to assemble my own Perfect Album, but I quickly realized that it was going to take several days to probably put that together. So, I decided to start several Mix-Tape style playlists: Happy Mix-Tape 1, Depressed Mix-Tape 1, The Perfect Album, and Chill Mix-Tape 1. Slowly I started working on each playlist and my Happy Mix-Tape was the first one that I finished. So, that is the one I’m sharing first.

I decided to take up Jimmy’s challenge of only allowing one song per artist and I’m limiting each playlist to twelve songs.

  1. Blinding Light by The Weekend
  2. Middle of Nowhere by Hot Hot Heat
  3. Did I Say That Out Loud? By The Barenaked Ladies
  4. Africa by Weezer
  5. Scotty Doesn’t Know by Lustra
  6. The Middle by Jimmy Eat World
  7. The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats
  8. Somebody Told Me by The Killers
  9. Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger
  10. Superman by Goldfinger
  11. The Impression That I Get by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  12. I Really Like You by Carly Rae Jepsen

I gotta say, I had a lot of time working on this playlist. I spent way more time than I thought I would trying to balance the songs and make sure it flowed like I wanted it to. I dug through my mind and some lists to try and assemble the best possible collection of songs to truly accomplish the mood and vibe I was going for. I put way more effort into this than I put into any playlist arguably ever.

It definitely brought out a feeling of nostalgia for me and I’m thrilled to continue working on my other playlists. You can check out this one on Spotify by clicking this link.

While on the topic of music, last May I finished a blog post that was over ten years in the making. It was titled The Soundtrack of My Life. I spent a long time assembling songs that provided the background music for my life over the years. It wasn’t my best written post, but a lot of effort was put into it and I figure if you are reading this, you might be interested in reading a little more about music. I’ve put up a copy you can read here: The Soundtrack of My Life.

My Lawn

I sometimes joke that I was raised by television, but in all honesty, it’s not that far from the truth. I feel as if my morals were developed by watching how certain characters reacted when confronted with a problem. Was this the wisest way to learn about the world? Definitely not, but my alternatives were worse.

I mentioned this because ever as an adult, I’m always on the lookout for a good message. I like a good quote or situation that I can remember to help keep me motivated to be better as mentioned in my Be A Goldfish post. Television today isn’t geared towards doing the right thing or sliding moral messages into the plot, but it doesn’t always need to be. Sometimes it’s just the way a couple of characters approach a situation that can have an effect on me.

One of the stranger places I found a message that resonated with me was in a recent episode of King of the Hill titled Movin’ On Up. In this episode, Luanne decides to move out of The Hill’s house and into another house within the neighborhood. She gets three roommates in order to cover the bills and quickly learns about the harsh reality of paying bills and living with miserable people.

Throughout the episode, Luanne is constantly at odds with her roommates and she is forced into being the adult of the house. She establishes rules and slowly turns into Hank, the man she was attempting to escape because she didn’t agree to follow his rules. The irony is not lost on her but her pride prevents her from admitting she made a mistake.

Luanne finds herself in a miserable position. She’s living in a house she’s unhappy in. She’s forced to be someone she isn’t ready to be and like a lot of adults she finds she’s rather powerless to deal with it. Hank decides to give her a little piece of advice.

“You know, Luanne, you and I both wanted a little place of our own. I thought my den would be my oasis but now the only place I can get away from the various annoyances in my life is my lawn. When I’m out there mowing, edging, watering, even fertilizing nothing else matters. Yep, that’s what you got to do, Luanne. Find yourself a project. Find your own lawn.”

Luanne didn’t rush out and find a project, but she did stumble up on a bit of serenity when cleaning the pool. She found peace in perfecting the pH and she took pride in one small thing she could control.

I thought it was a wise piece of life advice. I know when I get overwhelmed I find myself feeling hopeless and out of control. It’s so easy to blame other people or life circumstances, but ultimately my happiness is up to me. We all need a little place to escape to, a place where we can get away from the world’s problems and just be at peace.

This blog is my digital lawn. It’s a place that I love to work on, take pride in, and am happy to share with other people. It’s my own little digital oasis. I would love to have something in the physical world that brings me the same sense of peace and calm as this blog, but I haven’t quite found it yet. I’m still looking though. I’m sure my lawn’s out there.

Free Write – Week 7 (Feb 12 – Feb 18)

This week was scheduled to be my first vacation in quite some time. The original plan was to travel to Memphis, Tennessee for a few days to visit some family and friends. However, this winter storm hit Memphis pretty hard and just as we geared up to leave last weekend, we made the choice to cancel. Our vacation morphed into a staycation that was not too rough since our area of North Carolina largely avoided the terrible winter weather pounding the rest of the Southern United States.

I watched segments of the Daytona 500 on Sunday. It was a lackluster race that featured an underdog winner. I was quite happy to see Front Row Motorsports get the big win and Michael McDowell score his first Cup Victory.

I purchased Super Mario 3D World for the Switch over the weekend. I played the game back on the Wii U several years ago, but was excited to revisit it with Brandy playing alongside me. She’s doesn’t have a lot of experience with 2D style Mario games, so it’s been a lot of fun showing her the ropes. The level design on 3D World impresses me still after all these years. It’s a great game.

DC announced a Batman 89 comic series alongside a Superman 78. I remember a few years back when Marvel began X-Men 92 and DC created Batman 66, the Batman 89 was considered but never put into production. I’m excited to see it come into fruition since Michael Keaton is still my favorite Batman.

I’m all about finding peaceful, fun websites to read and Hedgehog Moss Farm is one of them. It’s a Tumblr page created by a young woman in France who runs a little farm. Every post is wholesome, simple, and a delight to read.

I’ve suffered from lower back for the past ten years now. I suffered for well over a year before some co-workers finally convinced me to seek out a chiropractor. After five visits, I was fixed, and I spent the next year relatively pain-free before the process repeated itself. Now, going on ten years, I still deal with nagging back pain thanks in part to sitting for ten hours in poor quality office chairs.

I found a decent routine to help me combat the back pain which consisted of several yoga stretches before bed and once I woke up. This seemed to cut back on the stiffness to a degree and allowed me to prolong the time between visiting the chiropractor by a few months.

I’ve noticed, however, that my lower back has become increasingly tight when I wake up. I stumbled upon some research that stated some lower back tightness upon waking up is usually a hip flexibility issue. So, I modified my stretches to focus on my hips and WOW what a difference it has made. I spend most days almost completely pain-free and have very little tightness throughout the day. I almost wonder if all this time I’ve spent so much time and money onto fixing my back when I should have been focusing more on my hips.

Causes of Death in America (Reality/Google/Media)

I ran across this infographic back in December and found it interesting. It’s a breakdown of what Americans die from, what Americans search on Google, and what the news reports on. You can quickly see how America’s biggest killer heart disease, is not exciting and thus gets little to no coverage in the media nor do Americans feel compelled to research it. The flashy, exciting, and scary stuff like homicide and terrorism get a lot more love, especially from the media.

This is just another example of how the media and internet skew data for profit. I feel like I’ve lived my world through various screens over the years and because of this, my outlook has been quite skewed from reality. There is actually a term for this: mean world syndrome.

Sometimes understanding these biases and seeing some hard data can make a real impact on how I interpret things. I just thought someone else might find it interesting as well.

Free Write – Week 6 (Feb 5 – Feb 11)

Last week, a friend of mine surprised me with a copy of The Last Blockbuster, a documentary about Blockbuster Video and the final remaining store in Bend, Oregon. This film had been on my wishlist and was just recently released on blu-ray. It was a great documentary that took an interesting look into Blockbuster and what went wrong. I highly recommend it for any former video store clerks and/or folks nostalgia for video stores.

I finished reading Nitro by Guy Evans over the weekend. This massive book takes a look at the creation and demise of WCW Nitro. Not too unlike the story of Blockbuster, WCW dealt with all sorts of questionable bookkeeping, corporate buyouts, and a few bad decisions. This has got to be the most definitive book on WCW I’ve ever read with interviews with just about anyone involved with the show. It’s so detailed I found myself skimming blocks of legal documents and/or press releases that are quoted in the book. Still, it was a great read and one I’m glad I took the time to finally get through.

I ended up down a rabbit hole and ran across this article about Infomania. I found this section particularly interesting:

The Problem of Recency

Then, there’s the issue with new articles. We tend towards neomania: overly focusing on the new and shiny, when new and shiny things tend to be the quickest to go and the least likely to be valuable.

A safer bet is to see what content has stood the test of time, following the Lindy Rule. Anything that has been around for 50 years will probably be around for another 50 years, but something that’s been around a few days has no proof of staying power.

Will people be reading Aristotle in another 2,000 years? Probably. Will they be reading this week’s pop-business book in another 10 years? Probably not.

Google suspended the account of the developer of Terraria for unknown reasons. After three weeks of getting nowhere, the developer has officially cancelled the port they were working on for Stadia. This is a good reminder of how much control Google/Apple has over your various accounts and how on any given day it can all be taken away with no way to get it back.

I experienced this problem back around ten years ago with Apple. My account became locked (not by me) and there was no way for me to unlock it or reset it. Granted, the various options and two-factor authorization were rather limited at the time, but I lost everything tied to my Apple account and I’ve never owned an Apple product since. This could have just as easily been a story about Android, as the above article details.

“When our minds are bathed in chatter, we display a strong bias toward satisfying our emotional needs over our cognitive ones. In other words, when we’re upset, we tend to overfocus on receiving empathy rather than finding practical solutions.”

-Ethan Kross, Chatter The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters and How to Harnes It

This was an interesting article about the Star Trek megos that wer e announced but never made.

Mego’s Lost Star Trek Toys

I added my blog to this list of personal websites. These sorts of lists work almost like a modern web ring and can lead to some great finds.

The Big List of Personal Websites

A Year in Star Trek Movies: The Wrath of Khan

My History with the Film:
The Wrath of Khan is widely considered the best Star Trek movie. I remember renting it while I worked at Blockbuster and I was blown away by how much better it was compared to the first film. The first film is almost psychedelic and is a slow burn in comparison to Wrath of Khan which is arguably an action film with likeable characters and a heightened pace. I fondly remember it being called the Star Trek film even non-Star Trek fans can enjoy.

So, what led me to giving Star Trek another shot after my debacle with the first film? Well, I met a guy named Eric while working at Blockbuster. Eric became sort of my nerd mentor. He took me beyond my casual fandom and introduced me to the inner workings of all things nerdy. He took me to get my first box at a comic book store. He taught me about Terry Gilliam films and anime. But most importantly, he taught me about Star Trek.

He explained the movies, how they were set up with the casts, and what to expect. He explained the different series and really gave me that baseline knowledge that I needed to wade into the Star Trek universe. And so with his encouragement, I took home a copy of the Wrath of Khan and couldn’t wait till our next shift to discuss it.

What the Film is About:
Admiral Kirk along with the crew of the Enterprise rush to stop a madman who has stolen a weapon of mass destruction.

What I Liked About It:
-The tonal shift is impressive. Where The Motion Picture was a slow, slog of a movie that never seems to really go anywhere, The Wrath of Khan starts off with action in the first scene and rarely lets up. This is a huge improvement and made for a much better film.

-The characters are actually likeable in this film and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Ricardo Montalban (Khan) and Kristie Alley (Saavik) were both great in their roles.

-The film has a great scene that reminds you a lot of a World War II submarine battle. It’s slow, calculating, and suspenseful.

-The film has almost horror aspects at times which I really enjoyed. Stuff like the creatures they put into the ears. It really created tension and heighten the stakes early on. It made Khan a villain you knew you couldn’t side with.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I struggled to buy the whole Kirk has a son storyline. I mean, character wise it doesn’t seem to be that much of a stretch but it really didn’t seem to serve any purpose in the script.

The differences between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan are immense. It’s hard to even compare the two films because they seemingly have so little in common. Outside of the characters, actors, and the ship there isn’t much that links the two films.

The Wrath of Khan is fun. It’s a superior film in every way over its predecessor. It might lean a bit on the action side but it really works for this film. You get to see everyone at their best and Kirk has a true nemesis to battle.

I enjoyed Wrath of Khan a lot. While I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit the film again, I can say that this film firmly made me excited to continue this little project I’ve begun.

Free Write – Week 5 (Jan 29-Feb 4)

I began this week with a four day weekend that was one of the stranger weekends that I’ve had a in a while. Everything I planned got cancelled for a variety of reasons: doctor’s appointment, movie night, dinner with parents, shopping, etc. The mental space I left for all these activities was left unfulfilled and outside of cleaning the house and one trip to Walmart, I spent the rest of the time indoors watching TV. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching TV, but it was strange since I watched with no real agenda. I didn’t binge a bunch of movies or watch one particular show. I just kinda hung out and flipped around. It was relaxing, but also strange for me. I’m usually very intentional with my television watching. By the end of the weekend I felt like I accomplished very little and I believe I was disappointed in myself. I’m not really sure how to feel about that.

“There is no productivity score assigned to you at death.”

While catching up with my RSS Feeds from over the weekend, I saw a post of Colin’s that mentioned a book called Chatter by Ethan Kross. Colin mentioned that the podcast featuring Ethan was interesting, so I decided to research the book some and discovered it to be something that interested me. The book deals with self-talk, especially in regards to negative self-talk and how this running commentary in your head can affect many aspects of your life.

Monday was a particularly bad day for me. Sunday night had some issues and I didn’t sleep well and woke up in funk. I had fallen into some sort of shame cyclone and I guess you could say the negative self-talk was doing some damage on me. The book suggestion came right at the right time and within a couple of chapters, I began to feel myself calming down and feeling a bit better. I’m excited to finish up this book over the next week or so.

I re-discovered Battlebots on Discovery+ recently. I used to watch the series back in the early 2000’s and even had the Gameboy Advance game, but my time watching robots fighting has been rather limited ever since. Discovery+ has an exclusive Battlebots Bounty Hunter series that I decided to give a shot and the next thing I know I’ve watched all four episodes and began the most recent season of Battlebots. I gotta say, the robots are super impressive these days and the presentation and commentary is on point. The show doesn’t waste your time and seems to have a fantastic balance of knowledge and entertainment. I feel like other sports could learn from the leanness that Battlebots operates within.

While on the topic of Discovery+, I am a bit disappointed that not every new show is added to the app upon airing. I really can’t figure out why certain shows get added and others don’t. So, the wife and I get to watch Worst Cooks with no commercials, but still have to refer back to the Food Network app to watch Supermarket Stakeout and Beat Bobby Flay which has commercials. That definitely hurts the value for me, but since I didn’t pay for this first year I’m not complaining… too loudly.

I’ve been wanting to begin journaling by hand again this year, but I had it in my mind that I didn’t want to start journaling and immediately begin complaining about life. So, I just kept putting it off until I realized it was February 1st and I had written nothing. I decided it’s better to write and complain than not write at all.

I remember standing in front of a huge banner advertising the first Avengers movie and just smiling. I remember thinking about what an amazing world we lived in where I’d get to see all of these fantastic characters in a huge live action spectacle. Having grown up with cartoons and low budget Marvel movies, a live action Avengers film was something that really spoke to the inner geek child within me.

Just a few short years later, I’d find myself burned out on the Marvel machine and the series of movies that it cranked out. The films varied in quality and outside of the two Captain America sequels were rather forgettable.

I attempted to watch Captain Marvel last weekend but turned it off about thirty minutes into it. I still haven’t seen the most recent Spiderman flick and to be honest, the upcoming slate of films doesn’t really interest me. However, I have been watching Wanda Vision on Disney+ and it’s utterly fantastic. It’s different and brave and doesn’t fall into the cookie cutter Marvel experience that we’ve been conditioned to expect. I really hope Disney branches out with the Marvel Universe with fun little side projects like this more because it’s slowly reigniting my excitement for the MCU.

I read an interesting article about Midway’s attempt at a baseball version of NBA Jam called Power-Up Baseball. The game was never released and recently discovered and it’s a strange bit of video history. Turns out Midway was working with the folks who made Golden Tee to make an arcade cabinet that would utilize two trackballs to control the plays. It didn’t work and the game looks really rough, but an interesting little article nonetheless.

A few weeks back, one of the blogs I followed (sadly, I forget which one – Edit: it was Colin Devroe) shared a post from Seth’s blog titled The most important blog post. I’ve kept it bookmarked since that day as reminder that what I’m doing matters.

The most important blog post

It is on the most important blog.


if no one but you reads it. The blog you write each day is the blog you
need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in
the ground and refine your thoughts.

And the most important post? The one you’ll write tomorrow.

I found this fascinating article about two researchers attempting to solve the reasoning for Pan Am crash in 1957. This article was written in 2004.

Upon doing a little more research, I found a follow up article written in 2017.

I was so fascinated by what I was reading, I ended up doing a deep dive into the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. I was hoping to find a museum or at least some sort of look inside of the plane that didn’t originate from 1950’s promotional photos, but it doesn’t look like those exist.

“Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.”

I ran across this article called 15 Minute Rule that I enjoyed. It discusses looking at time in more of fifteen minute increments instead of hours. The idea is by minimizing the time you commit to a task you’re less likely to put it off.

“This is a problem we all face. Much of it falls into the “I must do things that are productive to my financial well-being” or “Must do productive things to show off” etc..

Not everything in our lives must be quantified and qualified to the point where it gives us a rank up.”

Movies Watched in January

I began 2021 by watching a handful of movies and to be honest, not that many good ones.

News of the World – This is an above average Western starring Tom Hanks and is directed by Paul Greengrass (Bourne Identity, Green Zone). It was my first time watching a Western on the big screen since seeing Open Range in theaters back in 2003. News of the World is a nice story that was only sullied by some questionable uses of CGI. Definitely worth a look for Western fans, but don’t go in expecting Unforgiven or even Open Range.

Brittany Runs a Marathon – Arguably the biggest surprise this month was Brittany Runs a Marathon on Amazon Prime. I’m a fan of Jillian Bell and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this film. It’s a little oddly plotted out, which allowed it to retain that independent vibe while still telling a top notch story.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – It took me three times to get through this movie, but I finally did it. One of the most recommended inspirational movies online, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was not my cup of tea. I didn’t find it inspirational nor did I find it all that interesting.

Wolfman’s Got Nards – Now this film, I loved. It’s an excellent documentary looking back on the 80’s cult classic The Monster Squad. You can read my full review at Brandon’s Horror.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Slow and dull. Read my review for more thoughts.

Chef – This movie has been on my watch list for years! I finally turned it on and found myself smiling throughout the entire movie. It’s laid back, doesn’t have any crazy drama, and is just a love letter to food. It was a fantastic movie that I could see myself revisiting in the near future.

Ghosts of War – This horror film has been on my mind since I first saw the trailer last year. It’s marketed as a World War II ghost story, although it’s really not. The first half of the film is great and the second half is pretty terrible.

In Search of Darkness II – The follow up to one of my favorite horror documentaries that focuses on 80’s horror. I loved the first film, and I found the second to be quite enjoyable. The movies chosen were not nearly as good, nor were the talking heads. Also, I felt like there was too much of a focus on foreign horror which just doesn’t interest me.

Camp Cold Brook – Wow… what a terrible film. The film stars Chad Michael Murry and Danielle Harris and was produced by Joe Dante. I went in with low expectations but the film failed to even reach those. Despite having an interesting setup the movie just never gets going and the jump scares seem to be off by a second or two.


Over the past year, I’ve thought about my grandmother a lot. She died in late 2018 after a slow decline in health and by the time she passed, I was ready for her to go. She was a frail shell of who she used to be and death seemed like a better alternative to the existence she was living in the nursing home. I wasn’t upset with her passing, because I felt like I had mourned her death a year or two prior when she began going downhill, but it took a year or so for her to take up residence in my mind. Today, I want to talk about that.

My grandmother, whom I affectionately called Nanny, was a simple country woman. Raised in the foothills of North Carolina, she grew up in a family of farmers in a small cinderblock house that her parents built by hand in 1940. She was a small, skinny woman who would take hours to get ready to leave the house, even if it was just a quick trip to the Dollar General. 

After my parents’ divorce, my dad quickly remarried and that marriage didn’t last but a few months. Being a military man on the road two weeks out of every month, he needed someone to watch my brother and I, so Nanny and her mother (Granny) moved down to Orlando to join us. It was the first time either one of them had lived outside of North Carolina and the first time in the city. There wasn’t as much of a culture shock as Nanny embraced the change and loved Orlando. The unlimited shopping opportunities, good weather, and the opportunity to take care of my brother and I enriched her life. She would remind me a lot as an adult that she had no better time in her life than those couple of years in Orlando.

Nanny was my saving grace in Orlando. My dad was devastated still from my parents’ divorce and the detour with a second wife had only made things worse. He didn’t have the skills or capabilities to raise two boys and quite a bit of the adult responsibilities fell onto me at the age of ten. For a few months, I acted as arguably the primary parent until we were able to make it to North Carolina and move Nanny down.

Once Nanny arrived, she took over like she’d lived there forever. For the first time (and only time in my life) I had three home cooked meals a day. The house was spotless and organized. And on the weekends, I found myself dropped off at the movies often while she went shopping for the day. It was a great time in my life and the only time I truly felt like I had the opportunity to just be a kid.

Nanny wasn’t what you’d describe as nurturing, I guess. I never thought of it until a recent conversation with my wife, but she was more of a strong, Southern woman. She loved you, had no problem saying that or hugging you, but she was not the type of person to get down on the floor and play with you. Instead, she was the type of woman who you’d want to be around so you’d volunteer to stand on a chair and rinse off the dishes just to be next to her. 

I believe Nanny first took up residence in my head around the time COVID hit. Being a poor, country woman, I’d once asked her about the hardships of our family during The Great Depression. Her response was, “We didn’t really notice. There’s always someone who needs a ditch dug.” In a strange way that was comforting to me.

Nanny didn’t live a life of luxury. After my Dad remarried and we were transferred to Dallas, Nanny and Granny moved back into the same old cinderblock house she grew up. I’ll never forget spending that summer cleaning it out. The floor had to be jacked up and canned foods from the 1960’s had to be removed from the closet. It was a mess, but a fun time. Granny had suffered from Alzheimer’s for years, which is why she lived with Nanny. Everyone thought that maybe moving Granny back into the house she lived in most of her life would help her feel more at ease.

Granny would die in that house eight or nine years later and Nanny would live in it until somewhere around 2015-2016 before being moved into a nursing home. 

I have dozens of great memories with Nanny and could write all day about her, but I wanted to hone in on what has really been stuck in my head lately:

Nanny led a very simple life. The type of life that some might call boring. She got up at the same time every day and went to bed at the same time. She watched the Today show, the 12 o’clock news, Days of Our Lives, and 5 o’clock news. In between those programs, she cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When she wasn’t in the kitchen making drop biscuits or cooking her delicious green beans, she was cleaning the floors, dusting, or bleaching something. That woman used so much bleach she’d take the paint and finish right off of stuff. 

She enjoyed mowing her yard, working in the garden, and snapping green beans. She liked her Diet Coke, coffee, and loved a Wendy’s Frosty. But never once did I see her go on a rant. I never saw her get extremely upset about politics or throw a fit about her favorite show being delayed. She didn’t panic when her car wouldn’t start or the air conditioner went out. She was always so calm and in control. In fact, she rarely would ever raise her voice. I’m guessing that is why it was so peaceful to be around her.

I even remember the first hurricane that we encountered while living in Orlando. I was terrified and I stayed up all night and recorded the wind and trees on her video camera. Nanny, like Granny, went to bed right after the news with not a care in the world.

I’m not saying Nanny was perfect, because no one is. She had her flaws like everyone, but she had some fantastic attributes I hope to implement in my life. I’d love to find the calmness that she had when facing adversity, but most important, I’d love to find the peace and comfort she had with the ebbs and flow of daily life. Nanny was content with her boring life. She enjoyed cooking, cleaning, and just living. She didn’t complain about not being able to travel the world nor did she hang her self-worth on having some grandiose job title. She just lived each day to the fullest by taking care of herself and those around her. When she was needed, she was always there.

Nanny didn’t read self-help books and I don’t think the idea of improving yourself had ever crossed her mind. In fact, the only thing she really ever read was Star or The National Inquirer, her little “trash magazines” as she liked to call them. But Nanny lived in the moment and maybe she didn’t need a self-improvement book to teach her that.