Free Write Week 13 (Mar 26 – Apr 1)

Well, I almost missed this week’s entry and I was okay with it. It’s been one hell of a week, but I feel like I have some things worth sharing.

Normally, I update this post throughout the week whenever I run across something interesting or have something to say. It sorta serves a less instant Twitter account for me. But after Friday, I didn’t feel like writing and I definitely didn’t feel like sharing anything that was going on.

I mentioned last week we had some life changing stuff on the horizon, and well… it came. On Friday, my wife was laid off due to a lack of work prompted by the pandemic. Being laid off is never a fun ordeal, but her previous employer made it especially difficult by handling it with the care and organization of a three year on a sugar high. It was downright distasteful at times and that only made the situation that much worse.

I won’t go into all of the details, but the information was relayed that a meeting was coming on Monday of last week, scheduled for Wednesday, then rescheduled for Friday, then the time changed on Friday, but the layoff didn’t occur to Monday. So there was a lot of time to stew, worry, ponder, and just stress the hell out.

Once we managed to handle the event in itself, my father happened to come into town which is not a good thing for my stress level. My dad and I do not have the best relationship and he’s the only person who my mood changes almost instantly when I’m around. I had given him a heads up that the weekend was probably not going to be the best due to the pending layoff, but he still came and I felt the need to see him since it had been almost a year since I last saw him.

The visits with my father weren’t terrible, but with my work going so terrible the last few weeks, dealing with the layoff, and then him, it was just a lot. I was mentally wiped and exhausted. So my normal watching fun movies, doing nerdy stuff, and enjoying pop culture all had to take a back seat to me just trying to keep my sanity.

Thing began to boil over Wednesday, which was my day off. My father was still in town, I had a job interview to do, and I hadn’t felt like I had more than five minutes to just breathe since last week. So, I woke up at 10 AM and decided I should clear my schedule. Cancel this job interview (I had just done one the day before on my lunch break at work), tell my father I couldn’t meet him again, and just sit at home and relax. You can only scrap the bottom of the barrel so much before the barrel starts to break down.

As I sat on the couch with my wife, sipping my Coke Zero and wondering why the hell life had to suck so bad, my phone rang. I answered it and was delighted to hear the lady whom I interviewed with the previous day on the other line. Long story short: she offered me almost $10,000 more than I was expecting and almost $10,000 than I make now. Benefits are completely paid for and the job is about 1.5 miles from my home. The hours are good, the people were nice, and it was a dream come true. And honestly, most importantly, it gets me out of the hospital which has slowly turned into one of the most toxic and dysfunctional places I’ve ever worked.

So, after a very long week, my week ended on a high note. I don’t have any quirky pop culture references or opinions on any new movies, but I do have a little light at the end of this tunnel which is really all I need.

Movies Watched in March 

The Mummy (1999) – It’s been many years since I’ve watched The Mummy and I gotta say, it held up way better than I expected. The Mummy was one of my first DVDs and I watched it a lot when it was first released, but I never really felt compelled to since. Over the past six months, it’s been on my mind and I finally sat down and was blown away by how entertained I was. I was worried that the CGI would be too terrible, but surprisingly there is so many practical effects it’s easier to accept some dated CGI.

Beverly Hills Cop – Another film I haven’t seen in a very long time. I purchased a DVD set of all three films in the franchise on Black Friday last year and decided on a whim to watch this one. Wow, another movie that holds up quite well and was a blast to watch. I forgot how funny this film was and I had no idea that Jonthan Banks, best known for his work on Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul, played one of the main villains!

Hooking Up – This film has sat on my Hulu Watchlist for quite some time and I decided to give it a shot late one night. It was a surprisingly good road trip film that could arguably be called a rom com. The two leads were fantastic and this is one of those movies that went under the radar but is totally worth a watch.

Kid90 – This is one of the most disappointing films I’ve watched in a while. It’s a documentary about Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) and her friends in the 90’s. She took a video camera everywhere with her and has hours of voicemails and video footage of celebrity kids behind the scenes.

The problem with this film is it really doesn’t say anything. Its sorta glamorizes the drugs and partying that went on, but never correlates that with the death of so many of her peers. I couldn’t help but watch this documentary and think to myself, “This is a documentary made a by an out of touch celebrity with nothing to say.”

There is no reason for this movie to exist and I’d love to have my 112 minutes back. I should have trusted my gut and turned it off after the first twenty minutes.

Palm Springs – I finally watch this movie! I’ve been waiting for six months and I gotta say, it lived up to my expectations. It’s a fun, simple movie with a lot to say about the minutia of life.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) – I’ve loved this movie since I was a kid and I still love it. It was great to see it on the big screen.

House Arrest – This was one of those films I watched a ton as a kid. It seemed to always be on some movie channel and every time I ran across it I’d watch it. Surprisingly, it held up quite well. I found myself smiling and enjoying the hijinks of these kids as they lock their parents in the basement.

Ladybugs – After enjoying House Arrest, I decided I wanted to seek out some other films I tended to watch as a kid whenever they were on TV. Ladybugs was one of them. This simple, cute film isn’t a great film by any means but it was entertaining. I’m glad I got a chance to revisit it.

Keeping the Faith – I remember this film coming out while I was working at Blockbuster, but I never got a chance to watch it. It’s been on my list of movies to watch for years now and when I finally ran across a copy of it on DVD at Goodwill I snatched it up, brought it home, and watched it.

It’s a fun, cute movie with three great leads and a brave script that discusses religion in a three dimensional way.

Unhinged – This was the surprise of the month. I enjoyed the heck out of this thriller/horror film. It’s a simple concept and the cinematography was quite impressive at times.

Burn – This was the biggest disappointment of the month. I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for years now and after I finally got a chance to sit down and watch it I found it to be quite lacking. The first thirty-five minutes are great and reminded me a bit of May, but then it loses its focus and there just wasn’t enough substance to justify the run-time.

Tammy and the T-Rex – I’m not a fan of really bad films, but I had an urge to watch some Joe Bob Briggs so I started with his most recent special which began with this film. It was enjoyable for a terrible, low budget film.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – See my upcoming review.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – This was the second Harry Potter film in our quest to watch them all this year. I enjoyed this film more than the first, despite a couple of plot holes, and a scene or two that just didn’t make much sense. I have a feeling the book fills in all these holes.

Free Write Week 12 (Mar 19 – Mar 25)

It’s not the name they call you that’s important, but the name you answer to.

-Madison Cowan

Last week, Syfy announced that it had renewed Resident Alien for a second season. The trailers look great and I’m a huge fan of Alan Tudyk, so it seemed natural that I’d watch this show right off the bat. But I was skeptical. The quality of entertainment Syfy puts out varies quite a bit, and they are quick to cancel a show just as it really seems to be hitting its stride. Nonethelesss, after a great recommendation by Michael and the second season renewal, I decided to dive in right and I’m so happy I did. I have a feeling that this will end up being my favorite show of the year. It’s quirky, fun, positive, and really speaks to my sense of humor. With that being said, it’s definitely not for everybody.

This weekend marks the first time that the NASCAR Cup teams have run a race on dirt since 1970 in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m quite excited about it. It’s going to be quite unpredictable, plus they took Bristol, one of the better short tracks, and just covered it in dirt. The Trucks race on Saturday night and Cup on Sunday. I’ll definitely be tuning in for a bit of both time permitting.

In anticipation of my PS5 arriving, I bought an extra controller and picked up a copy of Overcooked: All You Can Eat. It’s funny, but that game is the reason I even bought a PS5. When I first started dating my wife, I bought her a copy of Overcooked 2 for her birthday. She wasn’t sure what to expect, but several hundred hours later (and total Overcooked exhaustion on my part) we had destroyed and four starred most of the game.

Overcooked: All You Can Eat is a remastered version of both Overcooked games in 4K with lots of bonuses. So, we will once again, be chopping, dicing, throwing, and cooking in and attempt to beat the clock and get out orders. This time with the new Playstation controllers which supposed are quite impressive.

There aren’t any PS5 exclusives that I’m really excited about right now. I am excited about faster loading times and hopefully a quieter system since my PS4 Pro sounds like a jet engine at times. I do have a few games that have free PS5 updates such as: Maneater, Control, Tony Hawk 1+2, and Mortal Kombat 11. I held off on playing Control since I heard it really pushed the limits of PS4, so it’ll be nice to dive into that on the PS5.

Until last year, I never really thought much about the mail service. It was just one of those silent operations that never affected me unless things went wrong. Now, every day is a struggle with USPS. Packages aren’t even close to delivered on time (despite being marked delivered), mails ending up in the wrong places, nothing is handled with care… it’s frustrating. Then when you add the good old porch pirates, it makes things worse. I’ve had to resort to sending any important packages not delivered by Amazon to my mom’s house.

I had a very rough work week. It seems that things are continuously getting worse and worse at work and I realize the writing is on the wall. I’ve upped my job hunting and am hopeful something will come up soon.

I re-subscribed to Shudder this week when I got an inkling to watch some Joe Bob Briggs. I decided to start with the most recent movie which was the R rated version of Tammy and the T-Rex starring Denise Richards and Paul Walker. Boy is it terrible. I’m not a huge fan of absolute trash movies, but Joe Bob makes them go down easier.

I gotta say, I am thankful that Shudder exists and they gave Joe Bob a platform to perform once again. There is just something so familiar and nostalgic about listening to his random rants and musings while watching a movie. I’m hoping to be a little better this year at watching his streams live. It’s just one of those little “event” sort of things that I know I would enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I love that everything is on demand, but nothing feels special when it’s on demand.

I’m still struggling to get into a single book. I’m not sure why I can’t focus. I got halfway through my Nathan Lowell book and I hit a wall. I tried to start a couple other books and just couldn’t get going. I’m not sure if its stress or a lack of focus or what, but I really wish something would hold my attention.

I have a three day weekend starting today. There is going to be a pretty big life changing hurdle we are going to have to overcome sometime today, but maybe I’ll discuss that more next week. My only other plans this weekend are to watch a horror film called Burn that I bought on DVD. I heard about this film a few years ago and after waiting for what seemed like forever, I forgot it existed. Then six months ago I remembered and went hunting for it, and instead found a movie called Open 24 Hours which also features a quirky girl working overnight in a gas station. I assumed it was the same movie, but it wasn’t.

A few weeks ago, I ran across a DVD cover for Burn and realized I had watched the wrong movie. So I ordered a copy from Amazon and this weekend I’m finally going to close the book on my several yearlong quest to see this low budget thriller that probably wasn’t worth the trouble.

Also, I may try to finish up Resident Alien and maybe watch Star Trek III since I’m running out of time to get that in since next week is the end of the month.

Balance in Blogging

Last year, I started a blog called Dark Thoughts. It’s not one I share and it’s the closest thing I have to a true free write journal. It’s a place for me to write about whatever anonymously. 

I haven’t updated the site since December when I focused in on putting all my attention into re-booting this blog. Since then, my dark little spot on the web has been left to collect cobwebs. On it are various rants, complaints, and frustrations that seemed important at the time, but now looking back I realize they were mostly trivial.

Last night, I had trouble sleeping and I woke up not in the best of moods.  I let in a little negativity before bed and that led to an onslaught of negative emotions. I had so many thoughts frustrating me that I wanted to let them all out. So, this morning I started writing and I began to feel better. I purged some of that negativity and intended on posting it here, but I ultimately decided against it. It just doesn’t fit with the vibe of this site. There was nothing productive or all that interesting about what I wrote. It was just a man dealing with getting older and the frustrations and self-doubt that comes with that.

I decided it would fit better on my dark site, where all my negative thoughts and emotions go to exist. I don’t disregard them or pretend like they don’t exist, I just put them somewhere that has less of a spotlight than say here. It’s my way of processing them and something I need to use more.

I realized that I get frustrated at times when I journal because so much of it comes off negative. I really want balance in my writing. But today, I realized that I have that. I have two blogs that represent the good and the bad. I tend to share more of the good with the people I like and I keep the bad to myself, because let’s be honest, no one wants to read someone ranting. Nonetheless, I have an outlet for writing that fits either category and it’s nice that I spend more time and energy here on the good instead of the bad.

I didn’t set out to do it this way, but this is just what happened. I makes me think about the harmony of good and bad (or positive and negative) co-existing and how addressing it each one is necessary in order to feel whole. 

A Paralysis of Choice

Recently, I’ve been stuck. I’ve found myself struggling to get interested in just about anything. Movies, TV shows, video games, books, comics… you name it, I’m not enjoying it. I’ve started and stopped so many things the past few weeks it’s startling. It’s almost as if I’ve lost my focus and my drive to consume entertainment.

For some, this would not be a big deal, but for a guy like me who has always loved movies, books, and games, it brings up a lot of questions: When did I lose my love for the things that I enjoy and how did that happen? Is there something wrong with me? Did I grow out of all of these things? What do I replace them with?

I was discussing my frustration with my wife the other week and I told her I thought I might be suffering from a paralysis of choice. There are just so many things vying for my attention I think I just found myself struggling to fully commit to anything. Whenever I’d start a movie that I’ve already seen, I’d think about a movie I haven’t seen yet but would like. I think about the TV shows I want to catch up on so I can chat with my friends. I think about the games I want to revisit and the games I want to finally try out. I browse through hundreds of movies, over a hundred games and books and I just don’t know what to pick. I have way too choices at my fingertips. There is no friction between me and the entertainment and because of that it’s become almost valueless. I don’t hold it in my hands and it’s almost as if it doesn’t exist. It has no weight and is not tangible.

In contrast, when I think back to the early 2000’s, I think about how this was never a problem but boredom would sometimes creep in. I can’t not remember the last time I was bored. It’s been years.

Back then, I’d come home from work and maybe flip on the TV. If I didn’t find anything interesting, I’d browse my DVD shelf for a movie that I like. I’d re-watch one of these movies, or I’d explore the special features. I’d find new things to love about the film after hearing the director gush about the production on the commentary track. I’d find new actors that I liked based on their interviews and behind the scenes antics. I’d squeeze every DVD for every drop of entertainment and I’d enjoy every second of it.

If I didn’t want to watch something I already owned, I’d have to travel to the store to buy or rent something which was an adventure in itself. I’d be limited to the selection of a specific Blockbuster or Best Buy, but that was okay. I could always find something interesting to watch. I’d pay for a specific movie and by doing so enter a contract with myself to get value out of my dollar. I’d go home and give the movie and honest attempt at watching since this was all that I had. I’d give some movies more time to get going and sometimes I’d discover a hidden gem that just started out slow. Nowadays, I’ll turn a movie off in a heartbeat and just pick something else streaming. I always have a list of things to watch that I’m never going to catch up on.

You can substitute video game, book, magazine, etc. for the movie reference above. The point I’m trying to make is with limited choices I felt more empowered and the action seemed to have more value. I found myself getting excited about movies/games/books and really wanting to enjoy them. I didn’t look for the quick hit of entertainment because I wanted my enjoyment to last as long as possible. Nowadays I feel like I spend time rushing through things just so I can attack the next item on this never ending list of entertainment.

Part of my reasoning for wanting to have a clean slate to work from this year was to eliminate choices and streamline my thinking. I wanted to eliminate some of the noise and clutter. Being subscribed to several streaming services, having every song available on Spotify, having over 100 games available on my Playstation, and pretty much any book ever written a few clicks away has created a lot of noise. I don’t think the answer is to eliminate all my choices, but to really hone in on what I want to enjoy and focus solely on that. Take a sort of Hell Yes or Hell No approach to the media I consume. If I’m not super excited and would say Hell Yes to it, then I just need to let it go.

I’m going to try and utilize some self-control to help eliminate some of my choices. I’m going to attempt to focus on one video game at a time and play it until I’m completely done with it before moving onto something else. I’m going to remove all the ebooks from my Kobo and phone, except for the one book that I’m reading at any given point in time. I’m also going to try an embrace watching more movies. I enjoy TV but it feels very disposable to me. I find that I enjoy movies the most. It makes sense, that was what I always leaned towards growing up. I want to embrace my love of movies a bit more and really put some effort into finding that love and appreciation that I once had. I’m a movie guy, I just don’t think of myself as one. It’s time that I start embracing that and see movie watching as what it really is to me: a hobby.

I decided to start a new book from Nathan Lowell’s Smuggler Tales series since he’s arguably my favorite author. I’m working on my Spotify playlists. I’ve decided to focus on finishing up Super Mario World 3D with Brandy and I’m going to begin Mudrunner as the game I play on my own. I’m going to focus on writing a bit more and as my depression wavers, getting out of the house a bit more, even if it’s just to hit up thrift stores in search of movies. I’m also going to keep an eye open for a new hobby should I come across something interesting.

Simple Joy

Growing up, one of my favorite activities was renting movies. I loved walking into the video store and being able to touch the boxes. I loved the excitement that built as I looked for that perfect movie and the exhilaration I experienced from the anticipation of watching my selection.

There was something real and organic about the whole experience. My selections weren’t overly researched, trailers weren’t watched in advance, and review scores weren’t considered. It was just me, alone, using my reason to pick the best choice for myself.

I made good choices the majority of the time. There were always those few bad movies with great box art or a fantastic cast that were just deceiving, but rarely did I ever turn a movie off. After all, I had paid for this experience, good or bad.

I also remember feeling excited when I’d go to pick up photos. The pictures had been taken days ago and I had no idea how they turned out. I had no control on changing the photos or taking additional pictures. What was done was done and I had to accept the results. Similar to renting a movie, I almost always found the good in whatever I ended up with.

I don’t feel this level of excitement or anticipation anymore. I’m not sure if the algorithms have ruined it for me or if I have way too many options just a click away, but I miss it.

Movies Watched in February

The Big Lebowski – The first time I watched The Big Lebowski I hated it. Then a few years later I gave it another shot and I found it okay. Then I watched it again and I liked it. Then again and I loved it. Now I watch it about once a year.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – See full review on A Year in Star Trek Movies.

The Last Blockbuster – Being a former Blockbuster employee, I loved this film. It was well made and did a great job balancing the story of what happened to Blockbuster and how this one Blockbuster survives. Seeing the old POS system that was being utilized when I worked there back in 2001 still in action brought a joy to my heart. Great documentary and a must see for those nostalgic for video stores.

Ripper Letter from Hell – I saw this movie back when it was released in 2001. I loved it. It’s been on my re-watch list for years and after I picked up a copy of the sequel that I didn’t know existed, I went ahead and ordered a copy off of eBay. It took me a few months to watch it and wow… what a disappointment. This movie does not hold up well at all. There is nothing inheritably charming or memorable about it. Such a bummer.

Amityville Dollhouse – This was one of those horror films I caught on Encore at 3 AM back in the 90’s and loved it. It’s been a good twenty years since I last saw it and around Halloween I bought a copy on VHS because the DVD was extremely out of print. A month later, Vinegar Syndrome released a remastered blu-ray and a few months after that those prints hit Amazon Prime. I watched the remastered version on Amazon and it looks great. The movie itself is not too bad. It’s nothing fantastic and has some really bad acting, but I enjoy the isolated location and the special effects are quite impressive at times. Nostalgia definitely factors into my enjoyment of this flick.

New Mutants – My wife wanted to see this film so we rented it. It was okay. Not as bad as I had heard, but it’s a bit of a mess and totally lacks personality.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone – This year we have made a goal to watch all of the Harry Potter films. I’ve only seen them once and I wasn’t sure if I needed to see them again. I enjoyed the first movie quite a bit and it holds up quite well.

Lars and the Real Girl – This film surprised me. Ryan Gosling is terrific and I think it’s a wonderful look at loneliness. It’s also a very positive film which I loved. I miss quirky little independent films like this and I need to seek out more of them. You will notice that a lot of the films that I watched after this fall into that quirky independent category.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home – Another fantastic, positive film that was much better than expected. Jason Segal, Susan Sarandon, and Judy Greer steal the show in this movie about finding your purpose in the oddest of places.

Stranger Than Fiction – I’m not the biggest Will Ferrell fan but I wanted to give his more dramatic roles a shot. I liked this film better than Everything Must Go (see below) but it still wasn’t anything I’d sit through again. The premises was interesting: a man realizes that an author is narrating his entire life and the movie gets surreal and then it sort of just ends. Maggie Gyllenhaal stole the show, but then again, when doesn’t she?

Everything Must Go – Another Will Ferrell dramedy with character who has a bit more substance. Will plays an alcoholic who loses everything all in one day. It’s one of those films that has some good depth when it comes to exploring addiction but doesn’t really tell that great of a story. It’s a very forgettable film.

Save Yourselves – Ugh… Save Yourself and don’t waste your time. Another hipster style indy film that has a decent set up but has no ending.

Captain America: Winter Solider – My favorite MCU movie, I was inspired to revisit Winter Solider after watching WandaVision. The movie holds up well and is still a great action packed political thriller.

Sonic The Hedgehog – I can’t say enough good things about Sonic the Hedgehog. I never in a million years would have thought it could be so good. The acting, graphics, music, and even script are all top notch. It’s got heart, it’s charming, and it feels connected to the source material. Kudos to all involved for making the best family/kid movie I’ve seen in many, many years.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Another indie film that has been on my radar for a while. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about a sixteen year old kid’s time in a psych ward in a hospital. It’s cute and does have some good things to say about mental health but ultimately the film just doesn’t do anything to move it from the average category to good. A very average film that isn’t a waste of time but probably won’t be remembered the next day.

The Pool Boys – A late 2000’s teen comedy by the director of American Pie 2 and Say it Isn’t So starring Matthew Lillard. The plot is one we’ve seen a dozen times before and surprisingly they are quite disciplined with the nudity. It’s good for a few laughs, but not really worth the time to watch it. There are much better movies in this sub-genre.

Nomadland – This is a beautiful movie that takes an interesting look at loneliness and poverty. I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t watch it again.

Dredd – Its been a few years since I watched Dredd and I loved rewatching it. Its a simple movie that doesn’t shy away from the gore and is masterfully put together. Some of the CGI is a bit iffy but Karl Urban is at his best alongside Lena Headey.

Amityville 1992 – I’m a fan of the low budget horror I grew up on and after watching Amityville Dolllhouse I decided to take a look at another 90s Amityville film, this one was one I hadn’t seen before. I really loved the vibe of the movie. It screamed cheesy 90s and the plot wasn’t half bad. The dad from The Monster Squad was in it alongside Megan Ward, an actress I forgot about and one of my teenage crushes.

Skin: A History of Nudity in Hollywood – This was a very good documentary that documents the use of nudity in Hollywood since the late 1800s. It’s done tastefully from a historical perspective and goes decade by decade. You hear from a lot of Hollywood names and various social commentators and listen to a variety of different opinions and experiences in getting nude for the movies.

The Craft: Legacy – I’m a huge fan of the original film and hoped this would be a decent sequel/reboot. It’s not terrible, but definitely not made for man in his late thirties. I could see teenage girls loving this film and creating a whole new fanbase for this franchise for the future.

Becky – I rented this solely to see Kevin James as a bad guy. He didn’t disappoint. In fact, I was impressed by how easily he transitioned into the role and how convincing he was. The movie itself is a fun mix of Home Alone and First Blood with Nazis.

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.