Sunday, December 24, 2017

My Secular Christmas

It's the season of grace coming out of the void
Where a man is saved by a voice in the distance

It has been a long while since I've enjoyed a holiday, especially Christmas. I was as much a lover of it, of the magic of it, as any child until one day I just wasn't. One year I woke up and the magic was gone, the joy was gone, the happiness was gone. I stopped seeing the beauty and was stuck on the darkness. Christmas brought stress for my family and everyone fought and was Christmas really worth it?

The Christmas story wasn't worth the hassle nor was it motivation enough to encourage any deal of love for the day it represented. So what did I care that we were representing or memorializing the birth of Christ? Everyone knows that he was not actually born on Christmas. Besides, Easter always seemed more appropriate a time to talk about Christ what with the whole resurrection thing going on. Christmas was just another excuse for gifts and the like. Just another day trying to set itself apart from the others with no actual claim, rhyme, or reason.

It's the season of possible miracle cures
Where hope is currency and death is not the last unknown

These antagonistic antipathies toward the winter holidays (and really all holidays in general) made me more than a bit of a scrooge. I wanted nothing to do with anything Christmas; parties, presents, decorations, or family. Yet I had little choice in the matter as the world at large cared little for my emotions. Still, my misunderstood anger and hatred at all things festive effected my outlook in life and my relations with my family.

Where time begins to fade
And age is welcome home

I began to see that, even as the holidays became less magical and less joyous for me, I seemed to be dragging everyone else down with me. Traditions became less important, celebrations more forced, and the whole event became more materialistic holding little depth or meaning. I didn't see it at the time, as it appears impossible to see clearly that in which you are immersed. I think my first real reckoning of this shallow and depressing twist was after my first semester of college.

It's the season on eyes meeting over the noise
And holding fast with a sharp realization

It had been a rough few weeks (surgery and finals and packing up my apartment and a 14-hour drive home just a week after surgery...) and Christmas that year was much like any other that I had experienced. But, in a sense, I wasn't the same person who had experienced Christmas in the past. I was still me but slightly changed. I was growing up but, for once, "growing up" did not mean that I was growing callous or spiteful or antagonistic. I was growing a sense of awareness of despair and a yearning for hope. I now wanted the connection and the depth of the holiday that I remembered from my childhood, unfortunately that depth is hard to find when everyone around you has gone the other way, savoring the materialistic elements.

It's the season of cold making warmth a divine intervention
You are safe here you know now

And thus the tide changed and my desire for Christmas was reignited for the first time in years. However it wasn't an easy journey. If joy is a difficult emotion to find amidst despair and uncertainty, hope is even worse.  

Don't forget 
Don't forget I love 
I love
I love you

Then I realized why Christmas is when it is (or rather why winter festivals were before they were brought into Christianity to reduce the validity of existing "pagan" religions). Winter is a time of despair. It is a time of uncertainty. It is a time when the world (most of the Northern Hemisphere at least) needs hope and restoration and faith that everything can be alright, that there is something more than the darkness and the cold and the isolation. 

It's the season of scars and of wounds of the heart
Of feeling the full weight of our burdens

Even still with this need, I don't use the nativity story around Christmas, I use it during Easter. Christ's biblical life was about second chances and acceptance and inclusion. Spring seems a more meaningful and poignant time to celebrate such a man as it is the time when the world awakens and life begins again. I do not mind remembering the stories of Christ at any time of the year but I do not focus on them during Christmas (even if it is named after the Mass of Christ). It is truly hard to explain my Christmas celebration because in a way it is quite nontraditional. I don't tell the story of Christ  or gather for Christmas services or even mention Christ as a contributor to the festivities. In an equal way it is rooted in tradition. I gather with family around a fir/pine tree (who cares if it is artificial?), watch Christmas movies, make cookies, open presents, have our traditional Christmas Eve dinner (pizza), and occasionally have more traditional Christmas Day meals. That is Christmas today for most people. It isn't as much a religious celebration as a secular one.

It's the season of bowing our heads in the wind
And knowing we are not alone in fear
Not alone in the dark

Christmas is a holiday of hope and connection. It isn't a connection that comes from some otherworldly deity but rather a connection formed from necessity and built into a tradition of companionship and gift giving. It is a holiday reminding us that the world isn't over, even in the darkest time of the year, and that it is through our relationships with others that we can continue. The Christmas season is a time where we give to others and support everyone, where divisions become less important and we are brought together in love and companionship. It is an ideal of how the world should be, opposing how it is. It is hope that there is the chance for change, the chance for love, the chance for understanding, the chance for something better.

Nowadays I do celebrate Christmas, wholeheartedly, but I don't celebrate the Mass of Christ. I celebrate my own secular Holiday Season that just happens to be called Christmas. It is a season where people come together and help each other, support each other, act like people. My Christmas is not religious but it is spiritual. It has faith and love and companionship. My Christmas might not be yours and that's alright because mine respects all people of all faiths and designs. My Christmas is a time, not day, in which I live my life how I wish to live every day, doing for others, helping others, supporting and being supported by others. 

My Christmas is not religious but it is special and it is meaningful and it is beautiful and, most of all, it is a happy time of love and hope when it was not always.

Don't forget
Don't forget I love 
I love
I love you.

Atheist Christmas Carol by Vienna Teng

Happy Christmas!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Orville: First impressions

Well, it has now been a little over three weeks since Orville came out and I finally got around to watching it. It wasn't that I was hesitant to watch the show but rather that I desired to see more of the show before I made my first opinion. I like the show, honestly more than I expected to (ever the pessimist), but it might not be exactly what I was expecting. And that's alright. The unexpected is good.

The first two episodes were just about what I expected the show to be, a semi-serious spoof of Star Trek and other science fiction shows filled with fun aliens and weird relations. It was enjoyable enough to bring me back for more, although it will never be a show that I can binge (it just doesn't take itself seriously enough for that), it is one that I will be able to enjoy after a stressful day when I just need to watch something good.

The third episode is where the show really got me. I went into it expecting good fun and a bit of science fiction. Instead I got inter-species politics, life-correlations, gender-commentary, and philosophy/politics/life. I had to pause several times in the episode to express my opinions on the politics and my opinions of inter-species relations and its correlations to reality (many of which were echoed later nearly verbatim in the episode itself). Now, anyone who has read my other posts knows that I love correlations between my media and life (generally) so I actually enjoyed these arguments. The big twist about the writer was predictable (still want to see an entire community of secret Moclan females) but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the character reactions. The ending was, after the trial, also predictable but that didn't detract from the emotional unjust-ness that I felt.

To be honest, that is when I knew the show had me. (Even if it had been a reality before, this was when I realized it.)

Critical reviews, I noticed, have sightly bashed the show as being off-target or heavy-handed in the approach to the third episode (and some even say the second) or just disapprove of it in general and I strongly disagree with their assessments. Yes, the ideas and allegories were heavy-handed but that doesn't make them, or the show as a whole, bad. The show never claimed it was going to be subtle (quite the opposite actually). Besides, it was nice to have something that had such obvious overtones that I could point to and say, "This is their point, there is no hidden meaning." It is honestly a refreshing feeling.

Basically, I have learned, once more, that critics rarely know what I will or will not like and enjoy and, more importantly, that even fun-stupid semi-serious science fiction can make me sit down, think, and cry.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Wonder Woman: the loss of innocence and importance of belief

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Well, I finally saw Wonder Woman only a month after it came out. I'd been wanting to for a while but never had time with work and school taking priority. It had a different feel from the Marvel movies I am used to but that isn't the focus of this review as it would take an essay to examine my feelings about it (outside of the basics that will be covered here). All that I will say is that it was a great sight darker (for the reasons analyzed in this review). Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and the many aspects of thought it brought up. It was a delicate balance between wide eyed innocence and the horrors of war that ultimately was executed quite well. I actually feel that it was Diana's innocence that truly tied the plotline together.

Diana was truly the only innocent in the movie, thanks to her mother's careful sheltering. Growing up as the only child on an island of warriors and scholars, Diana was technically skilled in everything she did but completely lacking in personal experience. All that drove her achievement as a warrior at first was a desire to become better and to prove herself. She had no knowledge of war or violence or death. She learned and experienced out of pure curiosity but had no driving force outside of herself (and her aunt/general). This curiosity is what led her to Steve's downed plane, curiosity. It was out of the goodness of her being that she saved him.

And there her innocence began to falter, experiencing its very first cracks that exposure will bring.

In her first real battle she was distracted by the fighting and death and the harsh reality of war. She lost her training in the reality of destruction. This led to the death of her aunt/general. Her innocence combined with the goodness that her mother had instilled within her also led to her determination to go out and destroy Ares and save the world. The scene in the boat was solely there to orchestrate Diana's technical knowledge and complete innocence. The kind of innocence that a child might have. Well, that, and to show that Steve is a good and honorable person (although the scene with him naked was a LOT more enjoyable).

Once Diana enters London we are shown a mixture of her innocence and culture shock. Everything appears dark and deadly compared to Themyscira, I honestly don't think they could have found a more extreme dichotomy to portray. While there was a great deal of comedy in Diana's outfitting and her crashing a war meeting, we were also introduced to some of the realities of our callous world through a new lens. We are led to truly see the General's callous compartmentalization, the flirting of a man with broken dreams, and the man haunted by his dreams. The liar, the coward, and later the denier. All led by a good man, definitely above average for a human.

Leaving London we are again assaulted by the images of despair as seen by one who has never experienced it. Diana's innocence and compassion lead the audience to absorb the pain that she witnesses more acutely than we would had she been well versed in war and destruction. This devastation finally gave Diana a purpose, a reason for those skills that she had honed through the years of training. It only makes sense that her other powers would begin to develop faster as well. For the very first time we see Diana experiencing and not just learning. As her innocence falters more, her drive increases. Her ability increases. But still the innocence remained.

While not the most devastating moment of the film, the destruction of the town and Diana's heartbroken denial of Steve and her final call for vengeance against Ares was as hard to watch as it was wonderful. Watching her walk out of the gas and the feeling the burn of her anger was magnificently done. Her battle with Ludendorff was appreciatively anti-climactic, leading to a wonderful confrontation between Diana and Steve as we see the final remnants of her previous worldview fade. As far as she knew, she had just killed Ares and nothing had changed. Mankind was corrupt and they truly were undeserving monsters, to be capable of such destruction. It couldn't however end there as there was still a final showdown to be had.

The revelation of Ares was well done and Diana's conflict over her true identity was masterful (even if it was extremely predictable within the movie plot as a base, ignoring any knowledge of Diana beforehand). Her fight was filled with her skill and her passion but was still lacking that last piece. She was still fighting based on her childish ideology, even if it was colored with her own recent experience of death and destruction. It was this ideology that led her to deny Ares' plan for the destruction of mankind, not some deeper belief in their virtues. This ideology had been her entire life and it was truly all she had left at that moment.

But ideology cannot stand experience and Steve's death was one experience too many for Diana's already overloaded system and she had a bit of an over reaction... combined with god-like powers... At that moment that final childlike innocence was shattered and, as during most instances of world-ending revelations, she had a bit of an over reaction, nearly falling into Ares' rhetoric about the vile nature of mankind (even when it was, you know, Ares, who led to the direct events that put her in this situation. Manipulation much?).

But, in the end, love saved the day. Somehow (my one major issue with the movie, especially thrown in during such an otherwise solid final showdown), Diana suddenly remembers what she couldn't hear Steve say to her and remembered something else that he'd said to her earlier about how believing was enough (I actually didn't take noted during this one so I don't remember exactly). And Diana believes in Love. From there, Diana fights Ares and kills him, having fully embraced her godly powers and gotten a new purpose. (No, it doesn't happen that fast for us mere mortals and I am sure it took her a while to fully integrate into a worldview as well.)

The premise of the movie as a flashback was nice, kind of showing us where Diana was now (not in relation to Batman or others) as well as allowing her to give us her new philosophy in a beautiful and final monologue that sums up the flashback and tells us why she continued to be a hero as well as explaining her current occupation at the Louvre

"I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind; but then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learnt that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves — something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know... that only Love can truly save the world. So now I stay, I fight, and I give — for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever."

Sunday, April 16, 2017

DC Post: Battling Negativity

Lately I have, unfortunately, had to distance myself from parts of the Donor Conceived community. It is a sad separation but I feel that it is also a necessary one. I am relatively new to the process of opening up about myself, my struggles, my successes, and my identity. It is only in the last year or two that I have truly become vocal about my identity as donor conceived and I am still not the best at describing what that means, or even understanding it fully myself.

Perhaps, that being said, I am simply uninformed about the reality of donor conceived life, maybe I should be more bitter or more angry or more negative toward the industry that led to my conception and my birth. Let me backtrack.

I have been assailed of late by a slew of negative articles and comments about the donor conceived industry and same sex couples who use reproductive technology (such as gamete "donation" or surrogacy) in particular. While I realize that there are great improvements to be made and changes that need to be made for the well-being of the DC (access to genetic connections being the least of them), I have become increasingly distanced by the open hostility displayed toward parents. Maybe these parents could have used a different method for fertility (although unless the children are born through "normal" sex and raised by at least one of their biological parents someone is going to complain). Maybe I am being too lenient in understanding the parents and it is tempering my "righteous anger".

Who knows.

The end result is the same: I am not bitter or angry about being donor conceived. Am I upset that I do not know half of my biology? Yes. Do I wish that the laws were not so very convoluted and backwards, essentially giving those donor conceived fewer rights than normally conceived and (in some places) adopted individuals? Yes. Will I work to change those laws? Yes. But I will not rear up against parents who have chosen donor conception with righteous anger because it solves nothing. Instead I will work to educate these parents on the importance of honesty and the value of biology. I will encourage them to accept and foster their child's emotions about their identities so that, perhaps, the next generation of donor conceived have the answers that previous generations have been denied.

I am not saying that there are not times when I wish I had more answers or that I am always as happy as can be with my situation but I am who I am, I cannot change that and all anger would do is make me bitter and lessen my effectiveness in making change. I will fight with determination and passion to change the process of donor conception and surrogacy for the next generation but I will do so without anger at the parents who have given birth to us. I will condemn the corrupt policies and processes that have led to the system we have without alienating those who decided to use that system in ignorance. I can still feel betrayed by my ignorance of my biology without letting it define my life or turn me against who I am, because even if I am ignorant of it, it is a part of me and I refuse to betray myself.

I will fight my battles with kindness and understanding, battling myself as much as the system, to enact true change. It is impossible to stop the process that has begun but we can change how it proceeds if we are just willing to rise above ourselves and look to best future for all involved because stubborn anger and negativity can only get us so far. True positive change can only come from compromise and understanding.

*I previously had an image from We are Donor Conceived here but it was brought to my attention that it was sending the wrong impression about the community (which I genuinely love) so I decided to change it.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Welcome to the New World Order

Anyone who knows me (or has read my previous post about AoS) knows that I love Marvel. Absolutely LOVE it. It is one of the few genres of anything that I follow consistently in every medium (comics, movies, television shows, webcasts, fan videos, etc). When Captain America: the Winter soldier came out I saw it 3 times on the opening weekend and I took detailed notes the second time (this was back before I had a blog). Yes, this makes me a nerd. Who cares? 

With this fair warning given, I am in love with this season of AoS. Insanely in love with it. I was afraid that it was going to be odd with multiple "main plots" but it works. Besides, those were simply overt sub-plots while the main plot chugged along in the background. Also, AoS is known for having multiple plots going on at the same time (does no one remember season 2?). I will admit that this season has been a lot more convoluted than the past but the consistent themes have made it flow together beautifully, twisting into a complex creation with the main cast at its center.

Two of the themes that we've seen develop throughout the season have been the development and progression of Aida, the now evil AI, and the growing intolerance towards and fear of the Inhumans (and Daisy's attempts at a self sacrificial redemption but we are hopefully past that now). These two warring themes have finally come to a head (as of 2 weeks ago, officially) through the Framework where everything is muted and dark and Nazis rule the world. Alright, so it isn't really Nazis, it is Hydra, but the comparison was intended (especially since Hydra came from Nazis, as Jemma so beautifully reminded us). And behind the Nazis is Aida (now going by Ophelia or Madame Hydra). She was built to learn how to be human and she had a good teacher... the Russian Neo-Nazi Watchdog, the Superior (and yes, the italics do indicate sarcasm). Anyway, the Framework is a dark and twisted "what if" world where Shield fell and Hydra is in charge; some key differences are that there are no smartphones, drones watch our every move, government check points are usual to check IDs, they test for Inhuman DNA, and then they round up all potential Inhumans and experiment on them to death. 

Yes, I feel justified in calling them Nazis. As my brother pointed out, that is what they were going for, the just replace the Inhumans with the Jews and there isn't even a stretch for the imagination. (Oh, and all you people claiming that it is the "left wing agenda" portraying anti-right sentiment, maybe take a look at what they are actually portraying and ask yourself why you see a connection between the two.)

My fear is what could come after (and, yes, I am too emotionally involved in these characters; bite me). Once they get out of the Framework so many things could happen. Either Daisy and Jemma will find a way out and then track down everyone else and then bust them out (with Daisy getting another massive showdown with the now android Superior) or everyone disconnects at the same time, rendezvous and then kick some serious android butt. Either way, good guys will win (with damages and sorrows and so forth as with every season but the first). The characters getting out of the framework isn't a concern, the concern is what will they remember? Obviously Daisy and Jemma will remember everything (good thing they had Daisy hopped upon Hive to practice forgiveness when teammates go to the dark side) but what will the others remember? Will their lives in the Framework be like a bad dream that they eventually forget or will it feel as real to them in the real world as it does inside? And if it does feel just as real, how damaged will they be? (Heck, even if it's all just a dream, dreams can really mess up your mind sometimes.)

If it is remembered as real, think of all the guilt and regret and anger and sorrow these people are going to feel. If Daisy's depression and guilt was bad, wait until we have every member of the main cast going through a redemption period! Phil wouldn't be too bad, kind of nerdy jokes, the crazy guy who makes soap and lives alone. but he was an innocuous teacher (brainwashing teenagers but still, innocuous). Mack is going to remember this life that he never had with his daughter and experience it as if it were real and will have the guilt of his betrayal of Daisy (although he did forgive her for nearly killing him so they will probably be fine). Mace... meh. He could easily become the person that he is in the Framework (minus the whole Inhuman bit). May's result of righting her greatest regret led to Hydra taking control. She will still feel those deaths, she will feel the horrors that she acted against people. She will feel her betrayal of Daisy (the girl that she could save, the girl that is practically her daughter). On the other hand, it might help her to stop beating herself up over Bahrain. Then we have Fitz. I don't even know where to begin with Fitz. He is the Eduard Wirths to Aida's Hitler. His regret was his father leaving (I believe) and so in this new world he didn't. Instead the man transformed our sweet innocent little Fitz into a psychopath, perverting his genius and destroying his innocent outlook (or maybe that was the freaking NAZI regime). If Fitz remembers these things (especially if the torture of Daisy actually happens) I am not sure hot he will survive. We were JUST getting our happier Fitz back, why must he be destroyed again?

And since where there is Fitz there is Simmons, how will Simmons look at Fitz now? Not only has she had to brutally murder the android version of the love of her life after he stabbed her and hit her over the head with a paint can (and you just know that any mention of marriage will forever be tainted by that incident), she has also just witnessed Fitz turned into a soulless Nazi who murdered an innocent woman (not to mention the fact that he is about to torture Daisy; even if it isn't real its not going to be easy to get over). Will my lovely Fitzsimmons ever get a break? Can't they just be happy for once?

I can't wait for the rest of this season, each episode keeps me on the edge of my seat and is an emotional roller coaster (I'm the sort of fan you want, the overly invested emotional kind) that has me squealing in a way that explains why I'm still single (only slightly joking there, I am sure that there are other reasons). On that same note, I am very happy that I am not trying to watch all these episodes at once for the first time because I would probably end up in hospital (and not just for work).

Unrelated, and maybe this is just because I take people's vitals so often, I am REALLY curious what Jemma and Daisy's vitals have been doing in the real world. What are the few living Agents (and Yo-Yo) thinking? I can only imagine that Jemma's heart rate spiked big time when Fitz killed Agnes. And I don't even want to consider what Daisy's vitals will do if she is actually tortured/experimented on... 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A magical world come to life

I have read many reviews of the new Beauty and the Beast that claim that it is less because it is simply a live action version of the same story with the same feel and music as the original Disney adaption. I acknowledge that some may feel that way about it. My own sister mentioned that they didn't need to make a new movie because the old one was "exactly the same" only animated and some critically acclaimed reviews have mentioned the same thing, especially after the 2015 Cinderella film. Cinderella changed the story just enough to fit in with modern times whilst also keeping true to the original Disney adaptation. Beauty and the Beast had no need for these modifications. The original Disney movie and character of Belle needed no "update" to the modern day as there was already a strength to Belle beyond her beauty and her placement in life that fits well with the modern ideology. What they managed to do with this new adaptation is to make the movie of my childhood come to life.

Belle was always the Disney princess to which I was the most connected- an intelligent, slightly spacey bookworm with her heart of gold- and probably impacted me the most of any of the princesses. While I loved Mulan and her tough grit and determination (she will always be a princess to me), it was Belle whom I most resembled and still do resemble most. As a child, being able to see this odd girl who didn't quite fit in but always had her head in a book while everyone else shook their heads in wonder gave me confidence for the times when I had people remark on how odd I was (these remarks were not always malicious but often very prevalent). The legacy of Belle (among other odd and intelligent characters such as Fred Burkle, Willow Rosenburg, and Hermoine Granger) played a driving force in the attainment of my Bachelor's degree and in supporting the drive I have to obtain my Master's degree. Having Belle as a recognized princess allowed me to be comfortable in my own skin, watching the live action version helped remind me why.

While it is true that many of the Disney princesses were oddities compared to the other people in the worlds they lived in- Cinderella compared to her stepsisters and Mulan compared the other young women her age being prime examples- Belle's oddity is one that impacts so many young women today still where it is not always accepted for them to have high educational goals or to stand out too much or to be "peculiar". There are boxes built around the "acceptable" activities and attitudes of young women and girls that they encouraged to fall into and those who don't can face everything from ridicule to physical threats (both of which Belle experienced). There is still the idea, supported by many aspects of the media and popular culture, that physical appearance is the most important aspect of a woman's life and her goals should be to find a man, settle down, and have children (basically Gaston dramatised  the role of society's expectations). Belle is beautiful but it isn't her beauty that she relies on nor puts stock in but her imaginative mind thirst for knowledge, attributes which the Beast admires about Belle in both adaptions of the movie but related to her more in this most recent adaption (I do love the commentary how the Beast is only other person we are shown who really understands and potentially shares Belle's love for books).

Beauty and the Beast gave way to a heartwarming reminder of why the previous adaption proved successful for its audience, there is a warmth and soul to it that reminds those of us in our 20s and 30s (and I am sure 40s and 50s as well) of the original movie's characterization as well as invigorating acting that will endear the film to children for generations to come (an option to play alongside the original instead of replacing it). Some of the lessons shown are applicable in all walks of life, such as the encouragement to be yourself despite the judgement of others and the encouragement to always be a bookworm (that squeal in the library was the best part of the movie next to the Beast's reaction to Romeo and Juliet being Belle's favorite Shakespeare play). Other lessons are less obvious to the young but no less important or applicable and done better in the new version than in the original. The first lesson (simply by chronology not importance) is shifting duty/role of protection between parents and children as shown by Maurice and Belle. Maurice spent his life protecting his daughter from the dangers of the world (although he is unable to protect her from the small-mindedness of the townspeople) and, when the moment presented itself, Belle chose to protect her father because there comes a time in every child's life when they try to shield their parents from the world Belle simply got to do so literally. The second lesson is one that we learn from LeFou by his inaction instead of his actions (for the most part), of staying true to what you believe and standing up for yourself. LeFou was willing to withstand any amount of ridicule and participate in any action because of his affection (take that as you will) for Gaston, even to the point of ignoring his own conscience, bowing easily to the other's will. It is only in the end of the film (after LeFou has been used by Gaston as a shield several times) when LeFou finally has a moment of clarity and switches sides (not so much because he agrees with the furniture servants but because they are on the opposite side of Gaston). LeFou's journey is one that many people face when in a relationship (of any kind) with someone whom they wish to please. More often than not that person will, as LeFou did, simply act as an enabler and slowly lose their voice and freedom (perhaps not literally) because keeping the other person happy, like Gaston, will become the most important aspect of their lives (just look at the song "Gaston" and how LeFou was paying everyone in the bar to participate).

This hasn't exactly been a review (or followed any intelligent design whatsoever), it is more of a rambling expression of my pleasure in watching Beauty and the Beast. My only question now: How does this all relate to the French Revolution? The disdain for literacy, attack/curse on a royal prince during an elaborate ball (to cause him to humble himself to the lowliest beggar), and an almost nobleman living in the attic with his wife and small daughter before fleeing to a small town after his wife's death certainly mirrors the attitudes and actions during the period (although perhaps we are a few decades early still). But, seriously, who else got French Revolution type flashes as they stormed the castle? Only me? Alright.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

'Tis the Season

I hate holidays... all holidays... regardless of what holiday it is. That being the case, the Christmas season is the bane of my entire year made worse by the seaming expectation that everything is beautiful and magical and perfect and bright. It's not. It can be, I suppose, for some, but that has not been my experience of the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" for many years now. Every year the Christmas decorations are put out earlier and the music begins to play sooner and every year I find myself hating the holidays a little bit more, as if the constant exposure was there just to chip away at my calm, happy, holiday-loving facade.

If I were a Scrooge this would be fine, I could go about on holidays and just live my life, complaining that nothing is ever open. Problem is I'm not. I hate the all holidays by in my heart I still want to love them. Especially Christmas

The problem is that the magic is gone. When I was young there was the magic of Santa and the Elves or there was the Christmas Story of Christ's birth. When the former lost its meaning I had the latter for comfort. Eventually, the latter began to lose its potency as well, there are only so many ways that the same story can be repeated and only so many times one can hear it until it becomes rote.

I miss that magic.

I try my best to find meaning in the simple things: the beauty of the first snow, the ghost-like quality of the flurries as they twist along the road, the random acts of kindness, etc. Unfortunately, that isn't enough to carry me through the nearly 3 months of holidays and "cheer" that dominate the end of every year. I don't need anything so receiving presents is unnecessary and giving presents just feels cheap, as the materialistic views slowly consume the society and the presents have to be bigger and more extensive every year.

It is tiresome.

I do listen to Christmas music after thanksgiving and even enjoy the songs (normally). I was listening to some of the less traditional songs and I just couldn't feel anything. I suppose the song "Where Are You Christmas?" (from the Grinch) describes how I feel although I fear that it is more likely "What is Christmas" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.


Despite all of this, as I head out to work on Christmas morning, I hope you all have a very Happy and Merry Christmas and manage to find some joy in the day, no matter what it may be.