Review: Argo

Dear Argo,

Oh, where to begin…overall, I enjoyed you. I wouldn’t exactly call you Best Picture material, but you held my interest fairly well. The real problem, however, stems from the line that opens the film: “based on a true story.”

It’s always nice to do a movie based on some weird occurrence from a few years back, but it also limits your storytelling ability – at least, if you actually plan to follow the real-life story, which is frighteningly uncommon these days. Thankfully it appears Mr. Affleck had every intention of sticking true to the facts as much as possible, but this was sadly his biggest challenge. There was no climax, there was very little actual plot development after the first ten minutes or so, and I never even learned the names of the six people that were the focus of the entire movie. How can I possibly care about their well-being if I don’t feel connected to them in any way?

In summation, not a bad movie. The acting was superb (Affleck’s character at the airport front desk was memorably jarring, despite it being a very fleeting moment), the script stayed true to form, and Alan Alda was hilarious as usual. I just have a hard time seeing past the complete lack of any ups and downs for the characters whose names I still don’t remember.

Sincerely,
Call each other by name more often so I can feel bad for you later.

Congress and Me (second draft)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about politics. Those of you that know me are aware of my disdain for the whole process. I am not Republican, I am not a Democrat, I am not affiliated with the Greens or Libertarians. These parties, I feel, do more to separate Americans into bickering groups than they do to actually benefit the country in any way. To be honest, there’s a lot I don’t know about this whole politics thing. I know my own views on certain issues while having absolutely no idea which party I would align with in each given situation; it just isn’t important to me.

I am aware, however, that “Congressman” is a bit of a blanket term, covering both Senators and state Representatives, and that the number of representatives each state has is a direct correlation to the state’s populace and number of electoral votes. This makes sense to me: more people means more issues to work out, which leads to a greater need for public servants.

Having said that, they hardly seem like “public servants” to me. I’m constantly reading stories about Congress passing legislation from which they exempt themselves, forcing laws on the American people that are somehow deemed unworthy for their own use(more on that later). Now I don’t disagree with the fact that we need people to represent the majority’s interests. It would be far too anarchic having individuals represent themselves; nothing would ever get done.

But that leads me to my next point: what exactly does Congress do? I’m aware of their general purpose, but I’m wholly unfamiliar with a more down to earth, day-to-day routine. When I write to my Congressman, I’m not writing to an address in my home state, but rather to an address in Washington, D.C. Why is that? If my state representatives are all living in a different part of the country, how can they possibly be familiar with the specific needs of their people? Now yes I am aware that they take three or four (I think) trips per month to their home state in a mandatory (yes, mandatory) effort to stay connected, just as I’m aware of the idea that we, as citizens, are supposed to make our voices heard and let our individual representatives know what it is we need. I am also aware that the United States government only provides funds to cover the cost of 12 trips each year, thus leaving the remaining travel expenses to the Congressman his or herself. What I’m asking is, why do representatives need to live in Washington when they could just be used as middlemen between the Senators and the people?

This could help explain the high salaries received by members of Congress. Not only are they saddled with these additional expenses, but they are now also forced to maintain their lives in two separate homes in accordance with two different costs of living, one of which (Washington) has one of the highest costs of living in the entire country. I understand the “need” for it, as explained earlier: they must be able to meet and vote in Congress while maintaining a stable relationship with the populace they represent. A populace, I might add, that a majority voted for in an effort to align their interests with ours. Alright, so we have the people we want in the offices we want them in, representing our needs to the best of their ability. What’s the problem, then?

The problem is the idea that these members of Congress are NOT representing us to the best of their abilities, but instead only looking out for themselves and leaving “we the people” to feast on the crumbs. This is best shown in the aforementioned ability they have to exclude themselves from any laws they pass. Take Obamacare, for instance. I for one don’t know a whole lot about it; I never read it, and everything I see is just propoganda made in an effort to make one party look bad (another issue I’ll get more in-depth with later). What I do know is Congress has voted themselves exempt from Obamacare, opting instead to keep their already existent health benefits. Why? Because we’re getting the crumbs once again, the morsels that have fallen to our collective mouths from the edges of their gold-rimmed china. If it’s not good enough for the person representing us, why is it good enough for us? I don’t mind dining on kraft macaroni and cheese every once in a while, so long as you don’t treat yourself to a porterhouse every night while we’re at the same table. And don’t kid yourselves, we are at the same table. We are all citizens of the same country no matter what views you hold or how much money you make.

Money. That’s another one. I took the liberty of checking out some charts detailing the per capita income (PCI) of each state over the last ten years, and was not the least bit surprised to find that the citizens of Washington made an average of about $15,000 more in 2010 (the most recent year on the graph) than citizens of any other state, with members of Congress averaging about $174,000 per year and members of the Senate making over $193,000. Not only that, but even after retirement, these same people are still making anywhere from $36,000 to $64,000 per year. Now let’s say these men and women were actually working for us like they’re elected to. It goes without saying that they should be paid for their work, and they do work hard. However, making triple or quadruple the national average seems totally unacceptable to me. Why not have the Senators live in Washington and the representatives live in their home state, with their salaries adjusted to the PCI of that state? This would not only serve to eliminate the need to constantly fly back and forth, but it would greatly improve the impact people can and will have on their local Congressmen. And do they really need the constant meetings and travelling? Let’s face it, the advent of the technological age makes all of that a thing of the past. I see no need why we still need these hundreds of men and women to continue meeting in person for voting purposes. Establish meetings among the local representatives, determine what is in the best interests of the people, and have those members contact the Senators, who are still in Washington. Create a Skype account if you want to talk face-to-face; it’s not that hard.

As for the issue of party affiliations, I just don’t get it. Maybe you can help me to understand. How does it benefit the country to split each and every issue into an attack, making one side black and the other white? There is always a middle ground, a gray area, and whether we choose to find it is up to us. Sadly, it seems nobody wants to hear that. It’s all “my way or the highway” with all this party nonsense, each with their own petty squabbles and constant conflicts. Think for yourself, not how a group of others tells you to think. For example, let’s say you’re pro-gay marriage but anti-abortion. Do you have to sacrifice one ideal for the other, just because your party of choice doesn’t agree with your personal feelings? Absolutely not, but it astounds me how commonplace this kind of behavior is. Personally I tend to see things as more of a democrat (so I’m told). However, if the Democratic party were to tell me something is wrong or unamerican, as politicians so often do, am I just going to take their word for it? No! I can make my own decisions. And when that decision is made, I can vote on it how I see fit and contact my Congressional Representative with my concerns. At least, I wish it was that simple. Instead we are split into factions, constantly warring with one another over power and dominance, all while getting bent over by those that are supposed to be helping bring us together.

The government is partly to blame, yes, but so am I. And so are you. If we want something from our government, we have to let our voices be heard. Not as individuals, but as a unified front that cannot be stopped. The only problem is these unified fronts always end up becoming a new political party, and that is the LAST thing we need. We need a party without an agenda, composed of citizens that are willing to both talk and listen without getting blinded by their own beliefs.

Silly Shit

I posted something on the ol’ Facebook the other day that generated a lot of amusement for me. Feel free to click the link if you want to see the original post, it’s in there somewhere.
Til then, I’m going to waste a huge chunk of my time today writing some more of these.

My favorite thing is Metal Gear
To me it is immensely dear
I love the wealth of such necessary stealth
But I also love murdering the ever-loving shit out of every enemy I see, because screw those guys

Pearls are just oyster shit
Formed slowly, bit by bit
Then we throw them onto some stupid girl who
Doesn’t realize we just gave her a ball of shit for her birthday

There once was a dog named Cat
He barked at the drop of a hat
Until one day when the snow plow came
And he got ran over while he was frolicking in the snow like a jackass.

Puberty is a man’s best friend
Not dogs, as your mom may contend
It makes you grow hair in a place way down there
Until you realize bitches don’t like that, so it’s just one more place to shave after that.

The dinner I made was great
My girlfriend left a nice, empty plate
She doesn’t do the dishes, despite my gentle wishes
That woman seriously treats me like shit, I’m done cooking for her.

A crow once flew into my room
Sure that he would not meet his doom
He stood proudly above the bed I so love
So I beat him to death with a shoe before he shat on my pillows.

The clouds above were gray
It was sure to rain this day
I quickly ran home and remained all alone
And then it never rained because weather is stupid like that.

I used to play baseball
Until I took a big fall
The sound was well heard as I slid into third
And promptly shattered both of my wrists because the coach never taught me how to slide properly.

I’ll probably write more of these at some point in my life. I’ve started thinking them up with nearly every word I see or hear. Feel free to join in, or hell, give me a word to work from.

Til next time.

Effects of Pointless Video Gaming

A lot of attention is paid to violent movies and video games when it comes to finding a scapegoat. I do not wholly approve of this, but at the same time I wonder if it’s a possibility. Not to say they’re truly responsible; after all, there is no single reason behind a vast majority of actions, but rather a large collective of past events, thoughts, and life choices fueling even the smallest decisions.

No, I am instead wondering if they can at least play a part in inducing desires for an impossible, unattainable future. I grew up playing these games and I’ve always wanted my own adventure. Who hasn’t? Establish yourself as a force to be reckoned with, condemn and single-handedly dismantle a corrupt, sinister villain’s evil scheme, save the princess. These are exciting fantasies which I have lived through vicariously hundreds of times, so much so that it makes the real world seem a little less…preferable, I suppose is the best word.

Granted, I don’t only play the fantasy stories. I’m also known to engage in the straightforward military shooters, blowing the heads off my enemies without a second thought as to who they were. Does that mean I’ve been desensitized? No, absolutely not. There’s an innate difference between seeing the red polygons splashing around my TV screen and witnessing an act of violence first-hand, one which I don’t think the human mind will ever fail to differentiate.

But at the same time, maybe it makes me less hesitant. Maybe, given the right circumstances, I would be a little quicker to pull the trigger.

This post really has no point. I’m not showing any sympathy for the despicable shooters we’ve seen over the years, nor am I advocating any of the media’s blame game that always follows. I’m just saying I want to save the princess, be the hero, and maybe wipe out an alien planet full of exploding creatures in the process.

The Hotel – Potential Intro

I will begin with my story.

My name is Jonathan Michael Walsh. I am currently fifty-seven years of age, which has become more evident as of late with the sudden appearance of gray hairs. My wife, Cheryl, has gotten endless amusement from their growth, constantly reminding me of my newfound status as an “elderly man” by today’s standards.

I am the owner of the Fleur de Champagne Hotel in Riverside, Massachusetts. It came to me through my inheritance seventeen years ago when my parents took their leave of this world in an unfortunate accident, which I will not go into detail about just yet. Since their untimely departure, I have maintained this facility to the best of my abilities, always keeping the place exactly as they had left it. It was entrusted to me for a reason; I dare not shame their memories by running their home into the ground through reckless negligence.

The hotel itself is a marvelous place, built somewhat precariously on the bluffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason alone our business thrives, attracting all sorts of beach goers, water athletes, and your run-of-the-mill vacationers or honeymooners. As grateful as I am for this fortunate life, it can be rather repetitious. Each day my alarm sounds at precisely 6:05 am and is greeted with my waiting palm. Over the years I had grown an immunity to sleep, more often than not finding myself awakening from my nightly slumber before the terrible clock can work its magic. Nevertheless, I refuse to rise before it plays its vile tune, choosing instead to wait for the scheduled time to begin my day.

My day starts how I imagine it does for millions of others. I stand up, stretch, brush my teeth, take a shower, and get dressed. My wardrobe consists entirely of monochromatic clothing as is necessary for the job that awaits me downstairs. As I straighten my tie and fasten my watch, I always make sure to give my sleeping beauty a soft peck on the forehead. Cheryl, unlike me, has absolutely no trouble sleeping.

I make my way through the kitchen to retrieve my daily dose of black caffeine, greeting the few employees I see as I go. My Executive Chef, Ms. Melanie Chance, had been working with my family for twelve years now and I could not be happier with her performance. She was masterful in the kitchen, a skill which I always silently envied, never having learned for myself how to make anything more than buttered toast. She was also a dear friend of Cheryl’s, the two of them frequently coordinating to take their lunches and dinners simultaneously to share the daily gossip with one another. Ms. Chance was a remarkably bright woman for her age, if I may say so myself, and I often wondered where she had come to obtain such otherworldly wisdom.

My shoes clicked and clacked against the tiled floors as I progressed to the front desk. It was one of my favorite sounds in the world, making this ten second walk one of my favorite parts of the day.

“Hello my dear!”

“Mister Walsh, good morning!” Emily replied, her perfectly white teeth beaming at me. She sat at the front desk with a book discretely hidden from any passing guests, much to my delight.

“How are you, sweetie?” I set my mug atop the wood and began cleaning my glasses, yet another tiny fragment of my daily routine.

“I’m just wonderful, Mister Walsh. I just got to chapter twelve here, and I think Lucy’s about to shoot her husband!”

“Yes, well, ah, suppose you’ll just have to pick it up tomorrow,” I said with a nod. She rose from her chair and returned the book to my waiting hands before politely saying her farewell for the day. As sweet as she was, her naivety often mirrored that of the dumb blonde stereotype. Perhaps she was the reason such stereotypes endure, I mused. Regardless of my feelings towards her level of intelligence, it was still admirable that she was managing to work her way through college here as opposed to some seedy gentlemen’s club, and I was glad to have her as a member of my team.

The Hotel

“Hello there, friends! My name is John, I’m the hotel manager. What can I do for you today?”

This is how I began every meeting in my life for the last seventeen years, the only variation being whether or not I pluralize ‘friend.’ The guests always come shambling in with their bags in tow, each of them drowning in their miseries. Sure, some came with families and were nothing but smiles, but I knew the truth. It was all a facade, a mask. Their true faces would be revealed in time, of that I was certain. How could I be so sure, you ask? Well, the answer is simple.

Because I’m going to rip that mask from their faces and tear it to shreds.

Cruel? Perhaps. I’ve heard that word before and it may be applicable. But if that is cruel, then that is the kind of man I am. The only mask I wear is this one, right here in the lobby. I meet and greet with an absurb amount of politeness, all in the name of good manners and sociability. These men and women, however, never seem to show their true selves, constantly hiding in plain sight, long-since overcome with the fear or rejection.

I am here to remedy that. I will tear down that wall and let the world see the real you. Your fear will become evident, palpable. Your vulnerabilities will burst forth and control you. And when it’s all over, the world will judge you for it.

And you know what? They’ll love you for it. Every person that meets the real you will be caught in a trance, amazed at your level of openness, wishing they could be more like you.

“I wasn’t always like this,” you’ll say. “No, it was the Hotel Champaign de Fleur. Something happened there…”

They’ll come to me then. They’ll come in droves, flocking to my humble abode and filling my rooms with their expectations, all without knowing what it is they’re even waiting for. But I will show them, in time. I will give them everything they never knew they wanted and more.

And though the world may love you for it after I’m done, you will undoubtedly, undeniably, unequivocally hate me.

Bullycide, Suicidal Reflections, and the Ever-Present Loneliness

I spent a vast majority of my day today reading about what is commonly referred to now as “bullycide,” or the act of a child taking his or her own life as a result of constant bullying and general torture. It is incredibly depressing, browsing through these stories, and it is also incredibly thought-provoking. Of course, in true self-absorbed fashion, this has made me reflect a bit on my own childhood.

I have stated in a previous post here that upon looking back I realized I had it easy. That comment, while true, is only applicable in comparison to those less fortunate (i.e., the people I’ve been reading about). I too had a difficult time in school, though not to such a degree as some of these poor souls. I was often picked on, referred to as an outcast or a freak, almost solely due to two things: first, that I dressed like an idiot and wore giant pants covered in chains and zippers (those pants were really comfortable though), and second because I actively choose not to meet new people. The first is rather self-explanatory. The second, I think, requires some elaboration.

To me, the average person is not worth knowing. People have a tendency to be untrustworthy, deceitful, and easily swayed by the masses, trends, and various environmental factors, the most dominant of which is peer pressure. I never conformed to most forms of peer pressure, but rather actively stood up against them. I became somewhat of a hero in high school, typically surrounded by many of the so-called “losers” as I went about my day. Why? Because I was big for my age and didn’t take any shit. I was in countless fights, often instigating them upon hearing of someone doing something to the unfortunately branded losers. This did not bother me in the slightest. The “losers” were always the kids I liked and had the most in common with, though I can’t be sure why. Maybe because we shared a sense of dread, fear, and rejection, and could find some semblance of security in each other’s company.

When it comes to the topic of bullycide (for the record, I think that’s a really stupid term), it upsets me greatly that more couldn’t be done for each of these victims. The deaths are all different, but still the same. Most are hangings or overdoses, but some still are children getting hit by a car in a desperate attempt to flee their bullies, or being forced into extremely dangerous situations against their will. I wish they could’ve been in school with me, or with someone like me. I can relate to these kids more than I care to admit, and I feel I would have been able to help them through the worst of it. Maybe.

Granted, that’s not to say I possess some extraordinary strength that they did not. No, I was incredibly fragile, and I still am quite sensitive to this day, despite how much I try to hide or deny it. My strength, my will to go on, was only solidified by my chosen set of friends. Out of the four thousand kids in my high school, I had maybe four friends. There were a lot of others I talked to, sure, but they were all simply acquaintances, those who seemed nice enough to say hi to me as we crossed paths but were far superior to me in every way, and thus would never actually want to hang out or be seen with me. I realize now that wasn’t true at all; I simply failed to make the effort to get to know them better. More than that, I failed to let them get to know me.

High school was very difficult, as I’m sure it was for most people. I often thought of suicide. An instant of regret, a flash of pain, and then eternal peace. I planned out scenario after scenario, devising ways to go through with it, scheming what the best way would be, thinking about the mess I would potentially leave behind and who would have to clean it up. It seemed a small price to pay. But soon I would reach the phase that always made me change my mind: the suicide note.

I opted to leave each person their own individual note, full of the things I’d never gotten the chance or the courage to say. One for my mother (who I’m sure is absolutely LOVING this entry – I promise I’m not suicidal, mom), expressing how much I appreciated her, despite how often we may argue about trivialities. One for my father, telling him how much I enjoyed spending time with him and how he motivated me to do whatever I wanted to do. One for my brother, wishing him the best and apologizing for leaving so abruptly. Strangely, the planning for the family notes came easily. It was full of things they already knew but I simply hadn’t spoken aloud. The friends, however, were a different story entirely.

The top two were always set in stone. One for Ian, who has been my best friend for 15 years now. I would try to rationalize and explain, make everything sound okay and hope that he would understand. It was a great fear of mine that he may call me a coward and hate me from that moment on. And the second for Alexis, my other best friend, with whom I spent nearly every waking moment when I wasn’t in school. I will not begin to explain what I wanted to say to her; that would take far too much time.

And that was my saving grace. I had so much to say and I would be depriving myself of any opportunity to say it. It seemed unfair that I should let these bullies take away my voice with their harsh words and actions. They were my feelings, and I have every right to express them. This is my life, and I have every right to live it, no matter what those bastards said or did to me.

I have many regrets, but choosing to live is not one of them. It upsets me to think where these kids would be today if they had just stayed alive and pushed forward. They would be just like me, because they were just like me. And I could have easily been just like them.

Hopefully society as a whole will learn from all the bullshit someday. Then we won’t have any more of these stories like Amanda Todd, Kristina Calco, Ryan Halligan, Phoebe Prince, or the hundreds of others.

I know this isn’t the most pressing matter in the world today, but it’s something we can fix, or at least try to. I know all too well what it’s like to crave acceptance and never get it; it is one of the worst feelings in the world. If we as human beings were less concerned with elevating ourselves and more respectful to those around us, this whole bullycide thing would vanish completely. But I’m surely asking for too much, aren’t I?

Good Morning

Just as I came into the bare streets at last
I saw before me a shadow, a whisper, a fleeting of the light
It flickered as it moved, dancing in the rain
Gracefully shimmering through each lonely drop as they fell from the heavens
I was enraptured, ensnared, my being somehow enhanced
It felt as though it spoke to me, told me its secrets
We were one, together, existing only for that single moment
As it taught me the meaning of my own life, my purpose
It left abruptly and I felt empty, a void growing deep inside me
What once was mine was now a memory
Already distant as each second ticked away
The thought of the end approaching at last
Should I be happy? Sad? Perhaps something more
The love of my life is over again
Rewind, move forward, it is all the same
Powerless over its grasp, I know it to be futile to fight
I cherish our brief tango, short as it may have been, until my dying breath
Until life begins anew as the sun brightens the horizon

Writing Room

My perfect literary room. I’ve envisioned it a thousand times. There would be vaulted ceilings, impossibly high, made of a dark, smooth wood. Above the ceiling contains silver windows to allow the sun to stream in and illuminate my space. The walls would be covered in bookshelves, all filled with hundreds of volumes that I’ve either read or have every intention of reading. The floors are also hardwood, save for one area in the center of the room. There lies a rug, deep red with black fringes, the plush fabric always slightly warm to the touch. Atop the carpet rests a simple desk, though somewhat large. The desktop has enough space to comfortable house a computer, an array of pens, stacks of unmarked lined paper, and a quill pen standing at attention on the corner nearest the door.

Why a quill pen? I don’t know. I’ve used one before and they’re terribly inconvenient. But regardless, it is always in my writing room.

Random Stream of Consciousness

I haven’t been writing lately. I’ve only added maybe a thousand words in the last two weeks. I have been conflicted about the whole idea, my hopes dashed from within by multiple factors. I am concerned nobody would ever want to read it, and I have good reason to think so.  I can’t even get people to read what I have so far for free, aside from one of my cousins. Not to mention that whole “From the Hollow” self-publishing bullshit I did three weeks ago. There hasn’t been a single sale since I put it up for free for two days. That was…what, two weeks ago? About that. Not one! You know what this means? Simply put, it is generating absolutely NO INTEREST. Plug away as I might, I’m consistently met with remarkable such as “Oh, that sounds interesting, I’ll buy it now!” or “Hey, it’s only a dollar, I support you!”
How about, instead of saying things you think will make me feel better, you can just tell the truth. “No, fuck off, I’m busy.” “I don’t want to read it, I’m not a big reader, I prefer just chilling out with a movie.” “Sorry Nick, but you’re a douchebag and I hate you.” That’s fine! Just stop lying! It’s not like I won’t notice, either. The sales reports are literally at the tip of my finger, I can check them anytime, day or night.
Ugh. The saddest part is I still enjoy writing. I enjoy the challenge brought forth by the creation, fixing the inconsistencies, making it a perfect, harmonic, living world, full of easy-to-believe characters and an impressionable background. I’m just losing faith in the process. What’s the point of going on if nobody gives a single, solitary shit? I want people to read it. I want to be told it sucks, or it’s good, or I have potential. I don’t care what the feedback is, as long as the feedback exists. It serves as proof that someone cared enough to read my work and then discuss it with me. Is that too much to ask?
Yes, apparently, it is.

I’m done ranting. I’m sure I offended some people with this. If they had the spare time to read it. Ha!