When a Father Creeps like a Spider on a Chessboard

spiderwebs.jpg

“You overstepped.”

These simple two words sent me back to the past.  The words I often heard.  His voice always thunderous above my head, even if I was standing level to him.  He made me look up to him, always.  He made me come to him when he moved, the most annoying.  A father shouldn’t change positions so much, but mine did, constantly.

There were times he crept around like a spider, feeling the vibrations on his legs.  I fooled myself many times thinking he was something to not be afraid of.  Other times he hopped around, out of control, like a child on a pogo stick, leaving impressionable dents to the floor and my pride.  No one ever felt safe around my father.  My friends didn’t understand him.

This wasn’t even the worst part.  It was when he questioned your existence that made you feel tiny, as if your right to breathe the same air as he did was a tragedy.  The constant taunting about how he wanted to drain my blood and refill it with someone else so we had one thing less in common.

“Did you hear me?  You overstepped your boundaries again.” 

He put enough emphasis on the word, again, that I thought he was done.  He was not. 

“Did I raise a daughter so stupid?  Is this my last reward for being your father?  You blessing me with utter senselessness!  I don’t even know how you live with your pitiful self.”

I glanced at his wrinkled face.  He seemed to have aged a few years in the past ten minutes.  I could tell he was at a breaking point.  The point when he felt when his personal welfare was threatened.  Whatever left was inside him unhinged more, making his half empty heart, emptier.  His face twisted into a disturbing expression.  This was a record for him.  I believe he had reached a personal best.

You must keep screaming inside so your lungs don’t give out.  You must picture your flailing arms calm when they are anxious.  This was what my brother told me in order to deal with him.  How easy for him to say.  He stayed in his little bubble until the day he turned 18, and never turned back when he left home. 

I had worn my game face before, and because this was definitely a game, I made sure I had additional layers this time.  I wasn’t willing to be a pawn anymore on this family chessboard.  As I knocked every demand and threat he said to me from the board, I faced the realism of it all.  As I tossed every shameful thing he did into the burning garbage can below, I was up for the challenge.  As I was no longer willing to have him spit such hatred at me, I was prepared.

Eventually, the king will be knocked off his pedestal, and I intended to do just that.  His tall shadow wouldn’t belong to him much longer, but first I said some words.

“Yes, father, I heard you, and no, you didn’t raise me to be stupid.  I’m actually quite smart if you cared to notice.” 

The past twenty years came up in my throat like a bad case of indigestion.  I was ready to get rid of it.  I was ready to move forward. 

“Now, I believe it is my turn to ask you some questions.”

He looked at me, holding surprise at the corners of his mouth, and I knew.  If you take away a spider’s legs before a fight has begun, there isn’t much to stand on but false hope and flawed expectations.

c2017pc

 

Book Recommendation: Patton’s Drive

pattonsdrive

I’m finally done with this book to give it a proper recommendation and review.  This book has gotten mixed reviews, as do most things, but I’d say it is worthy enough.  The content isn’t so much about Patton’s military accomplishments or failures, but about how Patton himself viewed himself during them.  It’s about the psychological make up of Patton.  It’s not surprising he was a proponent of bathing in as many turbulent waters as possible.  The short time he lived on this planet might have been a blessing, as he wasn’t very in tune to the inner working of himself, in particular his emotions.  His abrasive personality and tough bravado was partly due to his belief system: you must be ready for war at any time. 

He took pride in training his men as much as when he led them into battle.  He found his courage and reason for living in war.  Where many ran away from it, he jumped feet first into the dangerous areas, and only retreated when he felt that he was still not afraid of dying.  One might say he lived his life recklessly.  He believed he was born great and was the reincarnation of many past men involved in battle.  He kept a journal religiously or as the writer, Alan Axelrod, a diary.  In it you see the other side of him, someone who was fragile and sensitive to criticism. 

The author does some jumping with Patton’s timeline.  It might be seen as jarring.  For example, at one point he is talking about him alive, and then soon after he’s talking about him dead.  He believes Patton to be the greatest general ever to have lived, which some might argue.  I don’t have that much knowledge with comparing generals to say if he was or wasn’t, but the fact he had such a hard time controlling his temper, it would be logical to think others would come before him.  This doesn’t diminish his natural ability to see fresh solutions and make difficult decisions during stressful times.  

This book basically focuses on his Army path to stardom, ultimately landing at Lieutenant General, and then ultimately dying in a freak accident in 1945 although some speculate it was deliberate.  He was 60 years old and buried at Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial in Luxembourg City.

*******

A Soldier’s Burial

by George S. Patton

Not midst the chanting of the Requiem Hymn,

Nor with the solemn ritual of prayer,

Neath misty shadows from the oriel glass,

And dreamy perfume of the incensed air,

Was he interred;

But the subtle stillness after fight,

And the half light between the night and the day,

We dragged his body all besmeared with mud,

And dropped if, clod-like back into the clay.

Yet who shall say that he was not content,

Or missed the prayers, or drone of chanting choir,

He who had heard all day the Battle Hymn

Sung on all sides by a thousand throats of fire.

What painted glass can lovelier shadows cost

Than those the evening skies shall ever shed,

While mingled with their light, Red Battle’s Sun

Completes in magic colors o’er our dead

The flag for which they died.

Explore Patton’s Drive on Amazon

c2017pc

Book Recommendation: Animal Ingredients

animalingredients

If you want to read what happens to roughly the other 50% of an animal after it dies, then this is the book for you.   It’s a short book of only 99 pages, but there’s a lot of information in it.  I’m not going to go on an environmental rant about how you should not eat meat and get up in your space for not recycling.  It’s up to you to decide what your contributions will or will not be in your lifetime. We’re not built to think the same way for a reason.

It includes a comprehensive list of animal ingredients and possibly derived animal ingredients.  These are the words you can’t pronounce and spell by heart.  It discusses vegan nutrients and alternatives, as well highlights basic nutrition and origins of vegetarianism.  It goes into moderate depth of alcoholic beverages.  German beers seem to take the top prize as most are vegan.  It offers animal organization contact information, cruelty free products,  and recommended literature. 

Bottom line, this book is a reference manual.  It goes beyond the act of killing an animal.  It isn’t even a book about animal rights, not outright, and don’t think it’s preachy.  I definitely don’t abide by completely vegan standards in what I eat or use.  Some of the information can be mind boggling.  Vegan jewelry?  Labeled non-dairy when it is?  Animal blood found in items you wouldn’t think?  If you want to a book to browse when you have a little bit of free time here and there, this is the one for you.  It jogs your brain and educating yourself is half the battle.  Do what you can with what you have, and enjoy if you get a copy of it.

Explore and/or Buy on Amazon

c2017pc

Genre Recommendations #1

afifour

Here’s a list of the major genres recognized by AFI.  There are many to choose from, old and new, and my examples are ones I’ve recently watched the first time or again because I could and did. 

AFI Major Genres and Definitions

1. Animated

Animated includes images primarily created by computer or hand and the characters are voiced by actors and actresses. 

 Zootopia from 2016, a 3D computer-animated comedy, is a movie I thoroughly enjoyed.  It involves a rabbit named Judy, striking out on her own in a city called Zootopia, to be part of its police force.  She finds herself having to work with her enemy, the fox, in order to solve a crime, while also proving herself to the police chief.  The humor is on point, and is a movie for almost all ages.

zootopia

2. Fantasy

Fantasy is when live-action characters inhabit imagined settings and/or experience situations that transcend the rules of the natural world.

The NeverEnding Story (Die unendiliche Geschichte) from 1984, a fantasy, is a movie that keeps on giving.  It involves Bastian, a child who is routinely picked on, and finds refuge in a book.  He becomes entranced in the story, and specifically the characters of Falcor (flying dragon) and Atreyu (warrior child).  The movie has gotten flack for its special effects and ending, but back in the day it completely captured my attention and heart.  It still does.  The nostalgia of the 80s.

theneverendingstory

3. Gangster

Gangster centers on organized crime or maverick criminals in a twentieth century setting.

Black Mass from 2015, a gangster movie, is a book adaptation.  It’s about the relationship between James Bulger, known as Whitey, and the FBI, in particular with agent John Connolly.  It is one of the best acting performances by Johnny Depp.  The other one that comes to mind is when he played John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester in Libertine.  It’s a movie I didn’t have a hard time watching because the FBI and gang activity are personal interests, but even if they weren’t, it had enough dramatic tension to fill a large table of beer mugs.

blackmass

4. Science Fiction

Science Fiction marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation.

Snowpiercer from 2013, a science fiction movie, is based on a graphic novel.   It’s about different economic classes that live on a train where the distinction between the poor and rich is a very clear line.  It only takes one person to rally the crowd, and when Curtis gains foothold outside his living quarters, there’s nothing that will stop him.  It’s quite serious from start to finish, as many science fiction films are, because usually something is in peril.  There’s no falling asleep in this movie.

snowpiercer

5. Western

Western is set in the American West that embodies the spirit, the struggle, and the demise of the new frontier.

Unforgiven from 1992, a western, is one of my favorite Clint Eastwood movies.  He plays  Bill Munny, a man who wants to be left alone to live out the rest of his life in peace.  Yet, life often gives you what you don’t want.  It has great acting and the premise of less is more is part of why this movie plays so well on the screen.  Known as an efficient director, there is a purpose for everything you see and don’t see in this movie.

unforgiven

6. Sports

Sports has protagonists who play athletics or other games of competition.

Battle of the Sexes from 2017, focusing on the sport of tennis, tackles serious matters with the right amount of humor interspersed throughout.  We’ve heard about the tennis match in 1973 between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.  Seeing this movie is the closest I’ll get to the whole experience and events leading up to it.  The fact I had a better understanding of the hardships women faced in sports is a testament to the movie.  Emma Stone’s performance is Oscar worthy, and of course, Steve Carrell did well playing an unlikable character.

battleofthesexes

7. Mystery

Mystery revolves around the solution of a crime.

Se7en from 1995, a mystery, is about the seven deadly sins.  It makes you wonder who the hell is responsible for this murder streak.  For what it is worth, it’s a little ironic given the bad guy is now being portrayed in Hollywood as a bad guy.  It has cost him two roles now, which I’m not too happy about him leaving, but karma comes to mind.  Getting back to the movie, it goes into the darkness of what people can be and do if you aren’t paying attention.  So pay attention to it all and maybe see how you stack up with the deadly sins.

seven.jpg

8. Romantic Comedy

Romantic Comedy includes development of a romance leading to comic situations.

Midnight in Paris from 2011, a romantic comedy, is a movie I enjoyed because you hardly go wrong with Woody Allen.  It involves a couple vacationing in Paris.  Gil is a screenwriter who finds his inspiration while being transported back to the 1920s at midnight.  It has a dreamy quality to it and worth seeing.  You also can’t go wrong with watching the recreating of 1920s Paris.

midnightinparis

9. Courtroom Drama

Courtroom Drama has a system of justice playing a critical role in the film’s narrative.

Primal Fear from 1996, a courtroom drama, is a movie that involves religion and murder.  It can’t get any better than this, but wait, there’s a lawyer hiding the shadows ready to take on this case.  Okay, it does get better.  The need to control the situation, by both the lawyer and defendant, makes it tense.  Sometimes you watch movies to be appalled by human action and this is one of them.

primalfear

10. Epic

Epic is large-scale, set in a cinematic interpretation of the past.  Their scope defies and demands, either in the mode in which they are presented or their range across time.

Lawrence of Arabia from 1962, an epic historical drama, is a movie that kept my attention.  As with many epic movies, it’s a long one of around 3 hours and 40 minutes.  It’s about a British Lieutenant, T.E. Lawrence, following his own path during WWI.  He disobeys commands, and rallies warring Arab tribes together for the sake of attacking a Turkish port.  It’s worth seeing.  It won best picture of the year and six other Oscars.

lawrenceofarabia.jpg

c2017pc

 

 

Documentary Recommendation: Waltz with Bashir (Vals Im Bashir)

waltzwithbashir

Produced: Ari Folman, Serge Lalou, Verona Meier, Gerhard Meixner, Yael Nahlieli, and  Roman Paul

Directed: Ari Folman

Written: Ari Folman

Cast: Ari Folman, Ori Sivan, Ronny Dayag, Shmuel Frenkel, Zahava Solomon, Ron Ben-Yishai, Dror Harazi, Mikey Leon, and Yehezkel Lazarov

*******

Waltz with Bashir (Vals Im Bashir) is unlike the traditional animation.  It is also a documentary with the focus of war.  It was released in very limited theaters in 2008.  Five to be exact.  Therefore, I saw it when it came out on DVD.  This documentary is highly engaging.  The story seeks to uncover the reasons why the protagonist, Ari Folman, is having nightmares long after 1982 has passed when he served in the IDF.  He finds his answers through speaking to those around him during the first Lebanon War in the 1980s, and not necessarily soldiers.  Ari’s desire to fill in the blank spots during this time is to give him resolution, and to confront what he might have done during this fragile time.

*******

The first time an animated film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

*******

c2017pc