Charlottesville and Depression

This world is weighing me down a lot lately. Ya boy been getting the blues lately. I feel like society and the popular social discourse has fundamental flaws and that things are spiralling out of control and this really depresses me. It sort of all blew up with what happened this weekend in Charlottesville.

If you don’t know, there was a “UniteTheRight” rally in Charlottesville Virginia. Some reports made it sound like just a right wing rally protesting the removal of a Confederate statue, but when photos started coming out it seemed to be some kind of crazy white power rally. Different white nationalist groups with tiki torches doing Roman salutes (nazi salute) and shouting stuff about Jews and minorities not being able to replace the whites. Antifa came to counter protest and there were lots of videos of the two sides brawling with each other. Finally on Saturday it all came to a head when a car was driven very fast into a big crowd of people which injured a bunch of people and killed one.

The response since has been what has really hurt for me.

Trump wouldn’t actively condemn the white nationalists until he was called out for it. And then later came out again and put the blame 50/50 on the “alt-left”. It’s insane to me that the guy can’t say the right thing even with something which should be an easy call. The KKK is bad. Domestic terrorism is bad. By not cracking down on them from the top, it kind of gives them a license. I understand that not everyone at that rally were KKK or neo-nazis and I understand that white nationalism is a much more complicated issue than most liberals would have you believe, but still, this violence needed to be condemned.

A lot of white liberals doubled down on their white guilt and publicly lashed themselves to prove they aren’t racist. I have such a problem with this. Listen, I’ll be honest. I hate myself. Not totally, but I hate a lot of things about myself. But I try to use it as motivation to change the things about myself I don’t like. When I read stuff about how “all white people are the problem” I hate myself even more, and for something that I can’t and shouldn’t have to change. I’m not racist, I’m not part of the KKK or enabling white supremacy or something. But these huge blanket generalizations about “whiteness” do make me feel bad for stuff that I have never and would never do. If that’s the effect it has on me (a rather self-aware and level headed person), then what kind of effect does it have on someone kind of on the fence. I feel like this is how the “alt-right” or whatever was created. People who resented these blanket statements and fought back and were eventually pushed further and further right.

I’m a liberal in most of my beliefs. I believe in equal rights for everyone (even when it goes against my religion, I still feel everyone should have rights). I believe that a liberal economy can work and that ideas like “trickle down economics” don’t work. I tend to agree with liberal foreign policies, sanctions rather than wars. I took one of those political spectrum quizzes and I was 3/4s of the way to the left and slightly on the libertarian side (the same as Gandhi actually!). That’s why I criticize the left more often, because I see myself as part of it.

The thing that depresses me the most is how shallow and ineffective the left is. When something bad happens, the left has 3 standard moves.

1) Start hashtags/write hyperbolic articles about how this is the absolute worst thing that has ever happened and how everyone involved are literal nazis/fascists/demons. Even if the people involved are moderate conservatives who are by no means nazis.

2) Make a bunch of smug jokes and “witty” comments. I call it the Jon Stewart effect. Smugly mock how stupid the right is, act like you know everything, and make no real effort to understand the real issues.

3) Protest. Just get out there and march everyday. Maybe punch a nazi.

What are the strategies behind these methods? How do any of these things change anything? All of these make leftists feel self-righteous and further alienate/radicalize people on the right/fringes. It makes bad people more defensive. It makes normal people with a couple of “dangerous” ideas afraid to vocalize them and thus never addressing them. Then they find other people who share some of their ideas and are willing to talk about them openly… oh but this person also happens to have some pretty out there views on race. Before they know it, a person with an easily dispellable opinion that could’ve been discussed and addressed on the left, is now driven to the position that the left was preaching against.

I don’t know. Charlottesville was an absolutely horrible situation and the way it is being handled just makes me really sad. I want to see the “good conservatives” step up and actually condemn it (like John Mccain did). I want to see the leftists think about ways to convert their enemies, and to educate them, rather than to smugly push them away and mock them, or completely villainize them and witch hunt them. I want to see Western society move forward and right now I feel like both sides are only dragging society down.

Very Specific Pet Peeves: The Weaponization of Nostalgia

I came up with an idea for a new series I’d like to run on here, which I call “Very Specific Pet Peeves” (as you may have guessed from the big letters above this). You know those little things that really bug you but they are too unimportant to really make a big deal about so you just kinda grit your teeth and get quietly mad whenever it happens? This is going to be mostly for things like that. Also for the things that are generally accepted/popular in society, but which I find kinda awful that I want to express why.

My first target is going to be our pop culture’s current obsession with nostalgia.

The “celebration of nostalgia” is this thing in movies/tv/comics/whatever where they embrace the things of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s and remind us all of our childhoods (provided you were a child during those times). Sometimes this celebration of nostalgia is used for creating new takes on these beloved old properties (reboots, remakes, adaptations). Other times different elements of a specific time period/sub-culture are used to create something entirely new that feels very familiar (Stranger Things is a good example). When it is done well, the celebration of nostalgia is a lot of fun. It’s sweet, like candy.

The problem with candy, is that if you have too much of it, you feel sick… and the current pop culture is almost pure nostalgic candy. At the start of this year when the major studios announced their major releases of the year, something like 80% of all the movies announced were sequels, reboots, or adaptations of some kind. Hollywood realized that they could make an easy buck by saying “Hey guys, remember ____? Well we’re making it into a new movie!” and even if the movie looked awful, it would still get some attention. The problem that I have is that with 80% of everything being a reworking of an old idea (i.e. not a new idea) that leaves only 20% of what’s coming out as an original intellectual property. What are they gonna do in 5-10 years when all of their supply of nostalgia fuel is exhausted? They aren’t producing enough new stuff to have more nostalgia fuel in the future. The current nostalgic climate is not sustainable.

Not only that, but the use of nostalgia is becoming so lazy. It’s like instead of telling any jokes or creating anything fun or original, they just show you something old. It’s ok to make actual jokes based off the 80’s, but what I’ve been seeing more and more recently is that the nostalgia IS the joke. So instead of making a joke about Madonna (for example) they’ll just show a picture of Madonna wearing some of her wacky 80’s styles and… that’s it, that’s the whole joke. Shows like Big Bang Theory do this all the time. I used to like that show, but as it went on, I noticed more and more moments when the only joke was like “haha these guys like Star Trek”. There is no setup, no punchline. Just Sheldon saying something about Spock.

There’s nothing wrong with referencing something from the past to make a bigger joke or trying to parody the past. The problem comes when the reference of the past is the entire joke. There’s nothing wrong when the film industry does a few remakes or comic book adaptations. The problem comes when seemingly the whole film industry is just remakes and adaptations.

Why Do You Have to Go Make Things So Complicated?

Things in my life aren’t… going… smoothly lately. Things aren’t bad. I mean, some stuff is real bad but some stuff is also good and I feel like for the most part I’m netting a positive. Things just aren’t easy. They are complicated.

It becomes hard to just sit here and write about pointless stuff when each day is riddled with some new problems that I have to deal with. There is literally something new coming up every single week this summer and I’m just starting to feel really tired of it all. And I feel like every week is a cycle for me, where on Monday and Tuesday I have the energy and willpower to fight back and then things usually end up getting worse on Wednesday/Thursday and I’m left feeling kinda crushed and drained for the rest of the week.

I can’t even go into detail because I’m paranoid of putting anything personal online, having the wrong person read it, and then having them adding to my troubles. It makes it really hard to engage on social media or update a blog regularly.

I’m going to be fine. Probably. I mean I might end up financially screwed and so stressed all my hair goes grey at 30, but I’m going to be fine. So don’t send me a bunch of “Hey man… I read your post” messages, because I’m not really looking for that kind of help. The purpose of this post is more just a “Hey, here’s a cryptic reason why I haven’t been posting regularly.”

I promise that once my life gets less dumb/bad/complicated I’m going to start writing more. But that might take years so in the meantime, I’ll try to post whenever I’m in the mood to write, but that might not be very often. Peace out for now pals.

Review of Netflix’s Luke Cage

Well pals, I watched a comic book related thing and I got mad about it, so I figure the coolest thing to do would be to publish it online so that the entire world could know that I’m a joyless nerd!

The truth is that I want to write about this because I feel like Marvel studios gets a lot of undeserved praise for moderate to subpar movies and television and I want to share why it isn’t as great as people say.

Luke Cage is one of Marvel’s Netflix series that I heard a lot of positive things about but my superhero fatigue made me less than interested in it when it came out. But people said some good stuff and plus with the Defenders series coming up, I figured I should finally watch it. I was utterly bored for the whole series.

The plot is pretty simple. A gangster runs Harlem and then a superpowered dude stands up to him and helps take back the streets. The gangster dies and someone else takes his place. There are corrupt politicians. The police are investigating the gangsters and the vigilante hero. By the end of the second episode I just kept thinking “they should’ve just made this a movie.” Do you remember that movie “Walking Tall” from 2004 with the Rock? Well this whole series is basically just that movie dragged out for 13 hours.

The characters are okay. I found Luke to be a bit boring. The cops were boring. The politician lady sucked. I liked Pops but he died. I liked Cottonmouth a lot and once he disappears from the show I lost interest completely. Rosario Dawson is great but she doesn’t show up until halfway through.

The big problem though is that the show is just so boring. Everything is so blandly done. I mean, okay they try for a Blacksploitation vibe in a few places but they never carry that far enough which makes it seem more like African-American movie stereotypes than an actual style. Besides Luke is too serious a character to pull it off.

Then there are the whole social issues which really had the potential to be extremely interesting but again they didn’t go far enough. At a certain point the police are patrolling the streets with automatics that have explosive ammo to take down Luke and I thought they were going to play up the BLM theme but… they didn’t. In fact they are so wishy-washy on that theme that it fails utterly. So the politician lady is holding a rally for a young black teen who was beat up by police for no real reason. Then she starts accusing Luke of killing a cop, so he needs to be brought to justice. Then she advocates for Luke to be shot down on the streets with the exploding bullets. Like imagine going to a rally about police brutality and having the speaker go on about how police lives matter and how the police should be allowed to shoot a local hero no questions asked with automatic weapons.

They should’ve stuck with a theme and laid into it fully. So say Luke rises to fame as a hero for stopping a big local gangster (Cottonmouth) then a power hungry Crime and Punishment type politician tries to use that conflict to rise to power and turns the police force into militarized stormtroopers all in the interest of stopping Cottonmouth and Luke Cage. The community rallies around Luke more and maybe even him and Cottonmouth are able to unite against the common enemy. Or maybe Cottonmouth is calling for the community to rise up and kill the cops, but Luke is trying to find a more peaceful solution by working with the good cops. I don’t know. It’s just off the top of my head but it feels so much more focused and driven than the series was.

Next up is Iron Fist and I am extremely not looking forward to that. I’ll write about it for sure. Peace out pals.

New Social Media Strategy: Working on the BRAND

Hey pals.

It’s your bff Sheldon here to discuss everyone’s favourite topic… My personal social media strategy. Lately I’ve been feeling good, losing weight, and experiencing a surge of confidence when it comes to the ladies. There have been numerous comments from ladies at work about me having the potential to be a ladies man or even serious questions wondering why I’m still single despite being such a catch. Rather than actually pursuing answers to those questions or dealing with any actual deep-seated issues which prevent me from ever asking a woman on a date, I’ve decided instead that the problem is my social media presence.

Before I start, I need to explain my online rules that I try to always follow.

1) Avoid online drama at all cost (it’s pointless, stupid, and weirdly stressful for me).
2) My posts are first and foremost for me. If I want to be funny, or serious, or just vent, then I’ll use my social media for that -BUT- in a way that is wise and doesn’t compromise Rule #1.
3) Social media should serve as a way to flirt with girls, connect with loved ones, and to make new friends. This is my end goal to any post and I want to keep this strategy in mind.

I’m going to discuss each major platform that I use. Here goes:

Facebook

Facebook is a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, it helps me stay in contact with people I don’t see regularly and I have a pretty decent sized friend base who interact with my posts regularly. Unfortunately, it’s not the ideal place for me to create good content. First off, I have ultra-conservative friends from high school I haven’t seen in years, ultra-liberal friends I haven’t seen in years, family who comment on everything, family who read everything and grill me about it whenever they see me, pals from church, pals from not church, girls that I like, and girls that I used to like. This variety makes it really hard to make content that will be universally appreciated and won’t cause drama. So I either risk drama or post really blandly positive stuff. Also, I have several people that I love who I won’t block that decide to comment inappropriately on posts in ways that violate my three rules (Ex. a flirty post turned embarrassing by a rogue family member). For all of those reasons, my facebook is taking a backseat.

Twitter

I have two twitter accounts. One has my real name and follows a bunch of random friends and like local news/radio stations. My other account does not use my real name, is not something I tell my real life friends about, and I follow mainly humour accounts. One account has a very boring timeline and the other one has an incredibly frustrating timeline that seems to be 95% focused on American politics. I really don’t have much fun on twitter any more.

Tumblr

I used to have mild success on Tumblr. I posted a lot of funny personal stories that got a lot of reblogs and stuff. But that was years ago and now I barely use the platform. I liked my Tumblr being anonymous because I could share secret stories without fear of judgment/real life consequences, but it really doesn’t help my personal brand.

Instagram

Instagram is tricky. I don’t have a ton of followers but like have an okay number. I just feel a lot of pressure for instagram. Coming up with a funny/interesting/flirty photo is more challenging for me than a decent tweet or text post. Plus I have this thing where I don’t want to seem like I live a boring life, but also when I’m out having fun, I don’t like to be glued to my phone or awkwardly taking pictures of everything.

Snapchat

In some ways I like Snapchat a lot better than Instagram. I have less followers on there, but the followers I do have are all mostly people that I really like and are like good demographics for me to come up with content. Snapchat also has a lot less pressure because pictures on my story are gone in 24 hours and any pics I send directly to a person is gone in 10 seconds. I love the impermanent nature of it, but sometimes that lulls me into a false sense of security and I post something dumb and get screenshotted. I actually find it very flattering getting screenshotted if it was a funny picture or if I looked super handsome, but if it is something embarrassing or if I was making a poor decision, I end up deleting posts and blocking people who did the screenshotting.

Letterboxd/Goodreads

I like books and I like movies and both sites are cool ways to find out people’s tastes, read reviews on stuff, and to write reviews. I like both sites a lot but because of the specific nature of the sites, I have much less friends on them and find very few opportunities to flirt.

This Blog

I like blogging and I always have. Writing long form comes so naturally to me and it’s nothing for me to ramble on a thousand words (I’m at 844 right now). Unfortunately, this blog doesn’t accomplish much other than just a fun pastime for me. I would love to post more and some nights I think of like 10 things I could write about, but other times I stare at a blank screen for hours and come up with nothing.

Conclusion

I think what I’m going to start doing is trying a little harder with certain social medias and let others fall to the wayside. I want to start snapchatting more (add me, I’m sheldoman) and try to come up with interesting stories to post (just realized I should start up with the classic movie moments again! I got good feedback on those). Instagram is for photos that I want a permanent online record of. Facebook is going to be restricted to just funny little anecdotes in my life and nothing more than that. I’m happier when I’m not on twitter so will probably try to stick to that. I do want to start sharing more stories on here and writing more solid posts and less rambly nonsense (such as this).

So I guess, stay tuned! I have an idea for another post I might try to do later this week, and if not I plan to resume my weekly Tuesday posts! If you have any thoughts on upping my social media game, let me know in the comments. Otherwise, thanks for reading and peace out!

Movie Month: Marvel Marathon May *also June

Hey y’all.

I haven’t felt much like blogging lately but I decided tonight would be a good night to finally talk about the movie marathon I forced myself to do for the past two months. I watched every Marvel live action movie.

I don’t feel like going into a lot of detail on each individual movie so I’m just going to give general impressions.

  • I think my favourite of all the Marvel movies, is a tie between Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. Both movies are really strong with tone, characters, action, soundtrack, and well almost everything. I also really liked X-Men: Days of Future Past, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Blade II, the first Tobey Maguire Spider-man, and Deadpool was better than I expected.
  • My least favourites would have to be Elektra, Fantastic Four 2, Ang Lee’s Hulk, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Spider-man 3, X-men Last Stand, Iron Man 2, Howard the Duck, the 1990 Captain America, and the 2015 Fantastic Four. Some of those movies legit broke my brain while I was watching them. They are just horrible.
  • There are some movies that I didn’t like when I first saw them, but liked them a lot on second viewing. I’m talking mostly about the first two Blade movies and the Avengers. I think the writing in the Avengers really bugged me the first time because it’s just sooo Joss Whedon-y, but rewatching it, I really enjoyed it.
  • Some movies I used to love but kinda didn’t like on second viewing are Spider-man 2, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Daredevil, and Captain America: The First Avenger. Spider-man 2 is way cheesier than I remembered and the others annoyed me in other ways.

In general, I noticed some trends.

  • Almost all Marvel movies struggled with making an interesting villain. They rarely have motivation. They are all kind of the same personality. When they do try something unique, they often don’t give the villain enough screen time to develop it further.
  • Almost all of the movies have romance aspects and it is always the weakest subplot. Bruce and Natasha’s little romance in Age of ultron might be the best they have, and that’s only because they made both of them into real characters instead of one being a hero and one just being a girl. Ooh I also really liked Ant-Man’s romance because their kiss at the end seems like they had a secret relationship going on for a while.
  • I hate “the army” or “the government” plotlines in these movies. The SHIELD and the Hydra stuff is okay (or NOVA in Guardians) but like the generic army general who shows up and threatens to kill them or tries to weaponize the whatever. It is so lazy and so many of these movies have that stupid moment of the government trying really half-heartedly to thwart the hero from being a hero.

My thoughts for the future of Marvel:

  • They need to start trying new things. As the movies go on, they become more and more a formula. Every story they do follows the same beats. The same rhythm. I can pretty much call what’s going to happen exactly half-way through any of the more recent Marvel movies. Ant-Man tries to be a little different but ultimately it was not enough. Guardians succeeded in being different because it was a space adventure movie and not a superhero movie, but all of the rest of them are superhero movies that follow the same basic plot and it’s getting boring.
  • I really want to see more of the X-men universe. I haven’t been really crazy about most of the X-men movies, but that world with the mutants and the school and the humans hating the mutants, is sooo good and interesting. And there are so many good villains beside Magneto, they really gotta try to expand that universe a little bit. Make a New Mutants movie. Make a real Age of Apocalypse movie. Make a movie at the school that focuses on the human/mutant conflicts.
  • Make Spider-man villains right. Spider-man has some of the coolest villains and they always miss the point of them and instead focus on some big grand scheme by the Osborns. Nooo do Mysterio, or Kraven the Hunter, or the Shocker, or the Black Cat! I would love a Spider-man movie that properly did Felicia Hardy.

Well, I’m getting sleepy and I’m running out of Marvel steam. I think for my nerdier friends this is a fun little marathon to try. It changed my perspective on the Marvel movies in general and also opened up my eyes and a few of the great ones that I kinda ignored or forgot about! Peace out!

The Big Update

Hey everyone! I haven’t written anything on here in almost a month but I’m finally back and thought I would do a life update for anyone who cares.

  • First off, I found a new apartment! I was living with some friends, it was a great arrangement while I was in school, but they are having a baby and needed my room for the nursery (also I definitely did not want to live with a crying baby). So it was time for me to find something new.
  • The process of finding a new place was horrible. I’ve apartment hunted before, and it has never been as bad as it was this year. Places were disappearing so quick. I was viewing at least one place a week for several months and trying to set up more viewings, but the places were going so incredibly fast. My income was low (because of school) and was working on a limited budget and any decent place at a lower price was gone like minutes after ads were posted. Seriously, a lot of people weren’t believing me when I was saying it was bad as bad as it was. But I’ve moved 9 times in the past 7 years and this time was way more competitive than ever before. I also had a lot of different possible places lined up that ended up falling through for one reason or another (not bashing any friends that tried to help me out, I definitely appreciated it even if it didn’t work out).
  • My new place is rather small and in a not great area of town and a little higher than I wanted to pay. But I am so happy to be here. I love living on my own and in an area of town that is more centralized so it is quicker to drive places.
  • I’ve been reading lots lately! I read Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” and Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”. I loved Farewell to Arms thoroughly. And for the Alchemist, I loved the first half, but was disappointed with the ending. Currently I’ve started reading “Sense and Sensibility” and just borrowed “Memoirs of a Geisha” so I know what is next.
  • I’ve watched almost all of the live action Marvel movies ever made in the past couple of months (pre-Marvel studios as well as current Disney Marvel stuff). All I have left to finish is Thor 2, Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man. But holy crap I need a break. My brain is just turning into comic book mush.
  • Things with my health have been going well lately. I’ve been trying to be a little healthier lately. I will occasionally eat poorly if I don’t have time to cook something, but mostly I’m eating lots of protein and raw fruits and veggies. Drinking so much water too.
  • I’ve also been doing really good socially too. I’m rocking a pretty strong crush these days, but also like meeting a lot of nice girls who seem to be feeling my vibe. I’ve been crushing it lately in social settings at work and in the community. Random strangers being friendly with me. Meeting new people all the time who want to sit down and tell me their life stories. I went to a first aid class on the weekend and had numerous people ask for my number so they could text me to hang out sometime (platonically). Then I hit that sweet spot where I could walk down a hallway at work and have everybody I run into say hi and laugh at my dumb jokes and stuff. I don’t know what’s going on but I haven’t felt this good in like… 8 years.
  • Part of this might be from a decision I made a couple of weeks ago. For a while not finding an apartment as well as financial and other stuff in my life had been making me feel depressed and anxious and then I got into a cycle of complaining and constantly feeling bad about everything. So I decided I wanted to start actively trying to be more positive. Actually my only rule was that I wouldn’t complain about anything unless it was bugging me for longer than a day. I don’t think it is healthy to keep things bottled up, so if I can’t let it go after 24 hours, then I’ll vent to someone I trust. But all of those little things, I just don’t vocalize them, and sure enough I start to feel less complain-y. And now I’m feeling happier.

Well folks. I feel like I started to ramble a little bit towards the end. I would love to go back and edit this down but it’s late and my bed is calling me. Peace out friends!