Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's time. No, no, no...it's time...


I’m not necessarily anti-gun, although in my perfect world guns would not exist at all (neither would war, hate, discrimination, etc.). However, there is a statistical reality that exists, and in this statistical reality guns, while they may make individuals feel safer in an isolated anecdotal situation, “up-the-ante” so they say, and turn a bad situation into a potentially (or almost assuredly) a deadly situation.
I think the phrase I’ve heard from politicians regarding the response of the NRA to the Newton shootings has been “tone deaf”. I couldn’t say it better myself. First of all, let me say that both the president of the NRA, David Keene, and the Executive Vice President of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, saying that the only thing that will NOT have an effect on gun violence is stricter gun laws is absolutely insane. These two gentlemen will not even admit that the type of gun or size of magazine have any effect whatsoever on the types of shootings (mass shootings) that have taken place over the last few decades. I guess I don’t understand this perspective. If you limit the size of magazine and limit the rapidity with which guns can fire, you obviously limit the amount of damage that can be done in a specific amount of time. That is a statistical fact. If someone uses a hunting rifle with a five round clip, the person would have to chamber the bullet after every shot, and reload the magazine after about 5 shots. This is going to take significantly longer than a gun with a thirty round clip that fires with every pull of the trigger until the clip is done. Tone deaf, indeed.
The tone-deafness doesn’t stop with whether or not guns have to do with shootings, the ridiculous (and incredibly insensitive) suggestion that we should put armed guards in every school is outrageous. Adding more guns to schools, no matter who has them, makes children unsafe. How do we know when the gun-toting security guard is going to go crazy and not only have access to the school, but have access to the school carrying a gun. This puts the children in immediate danger. The best way to protect our children in schools is to continue to make it difficult for people not affiliated with the schools out, keep children (and all others) from bringing weapons into schools, give more funding toward mental health treatment, and limit the size of magazine, rapidity of fire, and number of guns that an individual can own. More guns in school’s is such a poor idea that I can’t figure out how the NRA, typically an organization that is so strictly on message, that it scares me it has either become a scary organization or completely political.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

An Unexpected[ly long] Journey...


I saw The Hobbit last night, and I have to say I was underwhelmed. Now, I should preface my review here by saying that I missed the last 30 minutes of the movie, because the lights came on and movie shut off, and we were forced to evacuate due to a fire alarm. However, I can honestly say that I wasn’t that disappointed about having to head home.
I guess I should start by saying that the movie is not bad. It just lacked something; something that made the Lord of the Rings so exciting to watch. It might have been a mistake for Peter Jackson to try and stretch a small adventure book (smaller than any of the Lord of the Rings books) into three movies. I’m not sure what his motivation for doing so was, but if the goal was to include every last detail of the book (even the minutiae), then he accomplished that. There were just too many scenes where we watched the characters running, or looking out over the scenery. Some of that stuff is good, but too is much is, well…too much.
There were some exciting parts, and the actors for the most part did a good job. However, the development of the dwarves was a bit thin, even for Thorin, the main character. The first 20 minutes of the movie is spent telling the back story; most of which seemed superfluous to the story. We needed the main points, and then wanted to jump into the movie. The Lord of the Rings did a great job of this with the Galadriel voiceover, and explained everything in about 3 minutes.
It’s possible that the final 20 minutes of the movie really brought everything together for the first movie. Or, it’s possible that once the three movies have been released that the whole story will be a cinematic masterpiece. But, as of now, it seems that this movie was incredibly overwrought, like Jackson was simply trying to rehash his success in making Lord of the Rings, by remaking the movie with a different plot. And to the plot specifically; The Hobbit was a much lighter romp than the Lord of the Rings, but Jackson brought none of the light adventure that was possible, and instead tried to make the dwarves quest as being similar in significance and scope to that of the characters in the Lord of the Rings – which is isn’t.
Overall score: B-

Friday, December 14, 2012

How....


I don’t get it. I can’t comprehend what would make someone come into a mall, or into a school and just start randomly shooting people. Obviously these people have mental health issues that are not dealt with. But you know what, fuck the shooters; everyone spends all of their time talking about them, and forgets about the victims – both dead and alive.
We mourn for those who died, because it is so tragic for someone to die when they’re just going about their everyday lives. A child in a classroom. A person doing holiday shopping. A college student walk to class. A private at a recruitment depot. These people didn't deserve to die (not that anyone ever “deserves” to die, necessarily), they were in what they considered a safe situation. But it seems that nowhere is safe anymore. We live in a world where fear has become constant, even if kept at a hush. Maybe it’s like this in a lot of place in the world, and the United States is finally starting to be privy to it. Maybe not, I don’t know.
What I can’t stop thinking about is those children that were in the school in CT, or at Columbine in CO, or at any of the other school shootings that have taken place in the country, and how the situation will define them. Probably more so for younger kids, but this situation will define them for the rest of their lives. To have someone come into your school and kill 18 of your classmates - classmates who you sat with, and played with, and ate lunch with, but will never do so again – will unfortunately define them for the rest of their lives. It isn't fair. I guess a lot of things happen to a lot of people who don’t deserve it, and it ends up defining them; but this shooting happened on this day, and I couldn't help but think of how awful that is not only to take someone’s life by killing them, but to control someone’s life by defining them.
Sorry if this was disjointed, I’m just at a loss for how someone could do this. Mass murder is mass murder, and it’s always awful; but somehow it just becomes unfathomable when it happens to kids.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's the magic number...


Having a conversation with a friend of mine, Crystal Marie over at A Word or Three, got me to thinking about something that I’m not sure why I never thought of before. I've thought a lot about relationships. I've thought a lot about love and lust. I've thought a lot about married couples and how in the hell people are able to stand each other for 20, 30, 40, 50+ years. And I've also thought about what causes marriages to fail. But in all that time about thinking of relationships, I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to actually put the question in front of people who have not only been married for a long time, but have been happily married for a long time. I didn't do this (although I would like to at some point).
I don’t want to create a matrix, or do some empirical study, per se, but rather get real answers from couples to open-ended questions about how they've stayed true and happy with one another for so long (I suppose this doesn't have to include married couples, because that would preclude gay and lesbian couples that have been together for a long time, prior to the “turning of the tide” we’re seeing finally happening in this country).
However, I digress.
While I haven’t done this study yet, I’m going to make a conjecture about what I think are the strongest factors that determine not only a lasting, but a happy marriage as well. I’m no expert – hell, I’m not even married – but here goes:
HONESTY. Honestly is the single most important thing in a relationship. And while brutal honestly can at times be hurtful, I think that people develop and understanding of their partner, and therefore know how to deal with them in an honest, and yet unhurtful way. Honestly can be as simple as letting your partner know where you are going, whether you’re upset about something (important one), or especially if you’re beginning to feel as though you’re drifting apart. While honestly won’t save every marriage, it’ll make the relationships that do last a lot closer.
MUTUAL ENJOYMENT. This should be a no-brainer, but it doesn't seem to be so these days. I’m not saying that people have to marry (or date long-term) someone that excites them like no one else, but in order to stay interested in one another you should have both independent and shared interests. Independent interests (and friends, for that matter) allows for each person to continue developing outside of the relationship, and keeps the conversation fresh when they come back together. Shared interests are important, because it gives a couple something to do together, and it’s those shared interests that can also help to break through those tough times when things might have become distant.
INTIMACY. This might have been more of what people were thinking when I said “mutual enjoyment”, but I think intimacy is separate. While sex and intimacy is certainly part of “shared interests” (I guess it works as an “independent interest” for some couples, as well), I think it deserves its own category. I’m not so na├»ve to believe that a couple is going to have passion throughout their relationship; however, they should have intimacy. Intimacy includes a whole range of things; sex, talking together, taking a walk together, enjoying just sitting with one another, and sharing information with your partner that you wouldn't share with anyone else. I guess for me, it would be assumed that I would know my partner better than anyone else does – I think the term is warts and all.
ALLOWING EACH OTHER TO CHANGE. Next to honestly, this is probably the most important thing to maintaining a happy, healthy, long-lasting relationship. The reality is that we as people are going to change throughout our lives. The way we look is going to change, the way we act is going to change, and the way we interact is going to change. So expecting that the person you married today is going to be the same person in 50 years is absurd. However, there should be an expectation that as each of you change, you will be open and honest about the way you’re feeling, and don’t change apart, but grow together. This allows you develop the relationship instead of doom it. I've heard it said that people wake up after 25 years of marriage and say they don’t know the person they’re married to anymore. Well where the hell were you during all that time when they were changing? If you don’t know them, then chances are they probably don’t know you. Couldn't you have, at any point along the way, stopped and asked the person how they were feeling about their lives, about your relationship, about whether they thought they were changing? It’s better to grow together than to grow separate; because while growing together makes you stronger, growing separate makes you grow apart.
Alright, that is all from me, the relationship expert (who’s not in a relationship). I don’t know everything, and you probably shouldn't listen to me, but these are just things I've come up with from watching relationships and listening to intelligent people I know.