Some lessons in life come too late
The root of all evil may be money, but it took an adorable twig named Groot to spell it out in 3-D, and across the big screen. So, needless to say, after watching an early screening of the film, I was probably disappointed more than my fellow, 1973 Study Hall, Audio Visual Nerds.
For most people, Guardians of the Galaxy came out of nowhere, and made us laugh, while allowing us to feel connected to something more, sending it straight to the bank, and into $equels yet to come. Those of us from Marvel Nerdville, who did have a comic map, followed the inked journey, intrigued and curious at how the darkness in that Galaxy could translate to film. Happily, the results were high five nods to The Outsiders, The Waltons, Star Wars, Buck Rogers, and even a hint of The Addams Family. These unexpected souls captured our hearts, and let us love them.
The success of the first film goes without saying, because something was done right. We found a family in the odd mix of characters, and Groot, the selfless Yoda of tree growth, became an overnight sensation, marketed in everything from action figures to baby blankets. We couldn’t wait to see the team reunited for a new adventure, wondering how they had picked up the pieces, no Groot joke intended.
However, one time or another, we’ve all seen someone say the wrong thing, do something hysterical, or witness a pet or child do what no one thought possible. YouTube and television have made such moments forever memorable, with millions of views, and in some cases, lifelong fame. Tragically though, when you try and make such a moment, it is forced, obvious and often uncomfortable for the viewer when it falls flat…with that in mind, go see Volume 2 of the Galaxy.
If you look at the media today, you might ask yourself, why can’t a young girl just be herself? Why does she have to add make-up, bad behavior, implants and selfie overload on social media to be considered acceptable? Taking that same formula, turn to entertainment and ask why do we need overdone characters, that detract from what once made them memorable. Maybe it is because we have become a society that demands over the top in everything we experience, which is sad, because Mom’s Apple Pie still feeds the soul and the body, and if anyone took the time to notice…it is nothing more than simple ingredients that work great together.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few moments, which I won’t spoil, that do reaffirm humanity in three of the characters, and you will shed a tear, or feel your heart beating, all because of these last minute developments, which in fact, do save the film. Notice that I said last minute, because yes, it all happens towards the end. The rest of the movie gives fraternity one-liners to the characters, playing only to the audience for cheap laughs, that have nothing to do with the story line, along with a couple WTF visuals, and beating a dead music lyric to death.
Imagine the sweet boy next door, becoming an ego-driven salesman, too full of himself to notice no one is laughing at his bathroom humor, and you get the idea of almost the entire film. Even Groot is overdone, and a visual $ell out, which was the saddest of all. Long gone is any Yoda styled companionship, he is now there only for $how. If you have seen any of the trailers, then you have basically seen him in the movie, and frankly, stop there…because as loving and selfless as he was in Vol. 1, those trailers make you want to hug him even more, not so much after the film.
Stephen King likes to sneak into his movies for a cameo, and until it is pointed out, some people don’t realize who it was. His character actually becomes a part of the film you remember, like in The Stand, when he calls out to the community, after sighting their weary survivors returning. Stan Lee however, does not get such a forever moment in Volume 2. Instead, he is almost an afterthought, in a laughable attempt of where to put the big guy. If anyone in the audience isn’t a knowledgeable fan, they will wonder who and why, there was a man with a fishbowl on his head, pretending to be Mr. Rogers…even if he does get an additional moment in the credits.
Basically, this film does what society, and all forms of entertainment consistently try to accomplish…if less worked, you must now push more and more, to get attention, and be the new flavor of the week. Guardians 2 leaves you with a story, that had potential, and a new cast of characters, although basically unexplained, but just thrown into the mix, ready for Volume 3, and a new $tory.
Sorry Marvel, but this Nerd likes apple pie, basic characters I can imagine and watch develop, as well as being wrapped up in a story, that leaves me wanting more. So, keeping that in mind, I have turned down the volume on the characters I dearly loved, but will still watch Volume 1…for about the 20th time, remembering what once worked.
I am Sad.
A million years ago in junior high, we cracked ourselves up with word play by touching the edge of off color and almost “dirty” humor, something kids delighted in back then – just ask Prince Albert, he is after all still in the can. Along with the Prince there was a certain Seymour Butts who had a life under the bleachers and an IP Freely who swam laps in the pool. Yes, life was simple and such jokes and comments were a way to pass time between classes and growing up. My how things have changed and sadly not for the better – there aren’t even words to explain what we have lost.
Today students are texting and sexting more than innocence, and the cost in what they will lose will never be fully recognized – unlike the naked images on a cell phone sent through a cell tower or…
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The average straight person looks forward to Halloween, a time when they dance and prance, crawl or howl, all effectively disguised from the person they know waits in the mirror. There are usually celebrations, a lack of inhibition and a general feeling of good will, since all of the fears and emotions normally keeping us at bay, are finally set ashore, allowing a true acceptance of who we are. It’s a drag it can’t last for more than a day.
Drag on the other hand, is a time honored, and yes, respected, form of exactly the same thing for the gay community. For years, it was the only window allowing a peek into a culture and world most of us would never know, but were curious about. However, Drag is so much more than just a few feathers and a blast of lip syncing music, honoring the true birth of…
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1990 was the year that put me on the map. I may not have had a lot of direction, and made more than a few wrong turns, but I was on my way! The Internet was also coming of age, no more than a telex jumble of Nexus bulletin boards and elementary codes, which like me, would in time, end up on the right page. I had a laptop, a 286 pony brick, about 2” thick, that had less memory than a $.99 thumb drive does today, but it was still a status symbol, along with my matching cell phone, weighing about a pound, with a monthly bill of close to $1,000. All in all, I was at the top of my game, and it was confirmed the day I laid down several hundred dollar bills to buy a leather Atlas briefcase, one that could carry everything.
Growing up, my father also had a briefcase, but it was old, and only stored papers he needed to work on the Police Department budget. I remember that time of year vividly, since he would set up an additional TV Tray next to his chair. There was also a huge, antiquated adding machine balanced precariously in the center, and like the briefcase, only used for this purpose…returned to his office as soon as possible.
It was best to avoid the living room during those days, because between broken pencils, groans and looks over his Walter Cronkite style glasses, the mood was a ring of gray frustration, and needed no verbal explanation as to the power he possessed. Be that as it may, it was still business, because even as a Police Chief, my Dad was powerful and in control, and it fascinated me. You see, I grew up in a world where woman didn’t work outside the home and corporations had yet to expand into the New World Order.
However, much to my chagrin I wasn’t cop material, I was a girl after all, and only men were cops. But, as I neared graduation, I still had thoughts of traveling to Boston and becoming a lawyer. The law will forever be in my blood, so along with Perry Mason, Ironside and Hawaii 5-O, that was a possible port in my future storm of adulthood. Nevertheless, before such dreams could happen, life gave me my first turn, and instead of becoming a cop, I married one. The year after graduation I became a professional wife, and mother, with diaper bag in lieu of briefcase.
Many years later, after a few jobs, several marital separations and a divorce, I was like the Internet, on the verge of a new frontier, unsure where life was pointing me. Looking back, I still see my three young daughters, reflecting the woman I was becoming. They dressed up and walked in my high heels, used plastic cell phones and sticky note pads, and carried pink briefcases with their names in the corner. I may not have given them pretend stoves and kitchen sets like I loved at their age, but I taught them the same values, along with a reality check, which adulthood could deposit at any bank.
My Atlas briefcase was a treasure chest to me. It held my secrets and my work, and holding onto the handle when I walked into the office, it held the future. I was a professional, I was taken seriously, and even if it was only in my little world, I was in control and knew what I was doing. There is no greater feeling, and it beamed from my face, reflected in my daughters and took me to places I never saw coming. If you ask me, a case will forever be made for self-esteem and appreciation, because regardless what you do, they are the only tools needed for true potential.
The world has since settled around me, like confetti from a party I once attended, and instead of a sleek black sports car, it is memories that drive me. Still, along with a desire to do my best, that is what colors the writing I offer into the world, upwards of four hundred pages a book, sprinkled with characters I’ve created, encountered or might have been. Now, the Atlas holds my notes and manuscripts, as they wait to develop into something bigger, and more professional, bound for the future… a far cry from business briefs, budgets or spreadsheets. In many ways though, it still has a lock on my daily life, keeping together who I am, and all that might be.
In the back of comic books I read as a child, there was an ad for Charles Atlas, showing strength and power, similar to the statue balancing the world. I think it was also a subliminal message, causing me to reach for the stars as an adult…a lot like a hotdog you crave at the drive-in, once the cartoon condiments dance across the coming attractions screen. Life may be called a buffet, but it is actually the snack bar that ultimately drives us into who we will be. Simply put, we’ll all experience small bite employment positions, only later developing an acquired taste for a profession, and if we’re lucky, we’ll be allowed to sit at the big corporate table, breaking and making bread.
As with my own life, briefcases evolved, and became a Filofax, Date Runner, Palm Pilot or Blackberry. However, their contents never changed, because authority and knowledge are aphrodisiacs of power, and once tasted are forever craved, regardless how brief we experienced the moment, or how many notes we forgot to take.
Funny how life eventually comes to an edge…and jumping is usually the least of our concern, at least for me, because after all, I had children.
Edges are a unique, but very literal descriptions of what happens when life throws you a curve. To prove it, next time you find yourself at the end of your rope, due to work or a relationship, take a minute and you catch yourself between glass, pill or puff, as you say no worries, I’m just taking off the edge…and, in such a moment, everything will become crystal clear. For me especially, it is also unwanted crusts, cut from the edges of countless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the mother, patiently telling her child’s story, prior to any judgment…taking off the edge with dad. She also regularly sits on the edge of her chair, waiting, praying, hoping and loving those same offspring, whenever they are out of earshot or view.
I never thought much about it, until one night in my not so distant and single past, after waking in the night, because either the timer on my playlist had clicked off, or I needed a drink of water. Regardless of the reason, it forced me to notice, that after 36 years, I was still sleeping on the same side of the bed, the same ten inches from the edge, on my right side, and nearest to the door. Ironic, since it has been years since anyone has shared that king-size space. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried going to bed on the opposite side, even tried getting comfortable dead center. However, before dozing off, I’ve inevitably moved to the edge, and to my place, where security, duty and memories live.
When my children were little, it was that edge allowing me immediate reaction time, especially after hearing a thud, cry, or groan of unexpected vomit (dog or child). Reaction time occurred in nanoseconds, while my husband and dog snored, oblivious to everything, and ever so comfortable in their 90% stake of the bed. It was also along that same edge, where I listened for car doors; make out giggles and keys opening a lock. In addition, although invisible to the naked eye, I also emotionally waited for them on the edge of another fearful abyss, until I knew they were inside, safe and secure. Occasionally as they grew, a bad dream, bad decision, or just a needed connection also placed them on the floor by my bed, where I would reach down from the edge to hold a hand or stroke their hair, until we fell asleep…along the edge of the bed, where they grew up and I grew old.
In later years the edge sharpened, as I worried with aging parents in hospice, and my children now out on their own, but I still jumped into action when the phone rang, ready for the worst, and praying for the best. This maternal world has remained now that I am alone, still no more than an edge to the floor, which more often than not disappears under my feet, as I prepare for what needs to be done. Living on the edge isn’t just something wild and carefree people do, it is also a mental obligation…one that changes you forever, and you never see coming.
As I write this draft, it is 3 am; I am snug on that worn ten inches of customary space, along the edge, and I couldn’t be happier. Tonight, there is also a grandchild sleeping horizontally next to me, her feet are pressed into the small of my back, and straddled across a large snoring dog, completing a layout that resembles the letter “H.” Yes, for years, I’ve slept this edge, and often warm bodies moaned in dreams, rearranged covers, and occasionally made contact against my skin in an unknowing act of security. That being said, like tonight, that edge of my reality has always been clear and satisfying.
Tomorrow, I will go bed alone, somewhere south of 2 am, and without thinking I’ll lean over to put my glasses on the nightstand before returning to the edge. In society, some people find their edge of greatness after years of hard work, in a profession, after struggle and sacrifice, and others just teeter on the edge of success, never getting there. However, for me, I’ve lived on an edge of much more, because through care and concern, discipline and punishment I have been the unbroken circle, allowing everyone else to color their hopes and dreams inside my lines, reassured that I was only inches from the edge if they needed anything. Maybe my life never achieved a level of financial or public success, but it never fell short of what mattered in life, which is why I sleep very well these days and might just have an edge when my life is done.