Resistance

Every time I’ve tried to get my stuff together, I’ve always faced resistance. 

When I started exercising,  I would soon get sick or hurt. 

When I started trying to go to bed earlier, 1,000 things would come up to keep me up (a student distraction each night,  it seems).

And when I do get to bed earlier, I always feel worse at first, moody, as if sleep deprivation were an emotional anesthetic. 

When I started writing consistently,  life seemed to explode with physically and/or emotionally draining mini-crises, until I was so ragged I could hardly even think straight. 

Resistance.

It’s why we don’t succeed, why we let our dreams remain dreams instead of bringing them to life. 

Resistance. If I am really going to get my act together before this year is out, I’m going to have to learn to resist back. 

Steven Pressman literally wrote the book on overcoming resistance – two books,  actually: The War of Art and Do the Work.

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Kicking Darkness, Bleeding Light  


I have been feeling a little depressed lately,  for a number of reasons. 

It’s nothing clinical or health –  threatening,  but is unpleasant,  and it makes me just not want to talk to anyone.

As a part of getting my stuff together (In case you haven’t heard, 2016 is The Year Tim Gets His Stuff Together), I’ve been going through the houses in our storage room, or at least my boxes. 

And tonight, I found a scrap of paper, probably a decade old or more, a scrawled note from a novel that never really came to fruition.

And it was just what I needed to hear. 

“Sorrow lasts for the night,  but the dawn will break.  You can choose to live under the night,  become a part of it, turn your back on the hope the sunrise brings.  And then when the dawn comes, where are you?”

“I’m sure you’ll tell me,” Ashe said, glancing over his shoulder at Jack. 

“If you don’t fight the darkness,  don’t allow yourself to suffer,  you can lose your love for the light.  And then dawn finds you crawling deeper into the shadows,  huddled I’m fear of the joy you once longed for.”

Okay,  so it’s a bit unsubtle,  but I think i needed to hear it. 

This has been a rough summer,  all around. I need to admit that,  and not start resenting a job I genuinely like 90% of the time. 

Time has been right, but mostly, I just haven’t felt up to calling and starting better touch with my friends.  This is a vicious circle,  because it is a symptom of feeling down and a major cause of it.

I have gotten hurt and sick a couple of times this summer, and that has put me off of exercise,  which is always a struggle for me. It is so much easier to just let it slide.

And with the later hours and earlier mornings, of course I haven’t been getting enough sleep.

But as I said yesterday, I am drawing the line on that.  

The only way out of anything like this is through.

As Bruce Cockburn sang, you’ve “got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.”

Sleep Deprivation Is a Moral Issue


Well, mine is at least. 

Some people are sleep deprived because they have to work multiple jobs, maybe 80 hours a week, just to survive. In a nation as rich as America,  that’s a moral issue of an entirely different sort, a matter of basic decency and justice. 

That is not why I get sleep deprived. I get sleep deprived because I stay up too late. 

Doing what?  You might ask. Well,  that it’s the thing… It always seems to be something different.

I may not watch one bit of tv or play one minute of a videogame,  but  something will come up,  something I forgot to do,  something I need to look up,  something I want to talk about, an idea I want to write down …SOMETHING.

It is not any one thing. It’s a million different things. Which means it’s me. 

And I am going to fight back, starting today. 

Starting tonight,  it’s no excuses.  If I miss a night on the blog,  you will know why. 

If I fall short of another July goal,  that’s okay.  This matters more. 

Sleep deprivation dulls my wit and clouds my creativity.  It is damp wood for my creative spark,  producing far more smoke than fire. 

It makes me less effective at work,  shortchanging my department and the students we serve.

Sleep  deprivation takes me  away from my loved ones now by making me drowsy and grouchy.  

It will take me away from them permanently if I let it, maybe not this year,  but far sooner than I want to go. 

So starting tonight, I will fight back. I will start getting ready for bed by  10, and close my eyes by 11.

I am drawing a line.  Please pray that I will be able to hold it. 

Meat- Free Monday:  Eating Out Vegan Style

So I’ve had some experience eating out now as a vegan, and it has honestly been a mixed bag.

Whoever said eating out as a vegan was cheaper must have been eating expensive places as an omnivore. I  haven’t found it to be true.

Fast food is right out.

Small towns present very limited options for vegan dining, but you can sometimes get them to make exceptions. 

Our local pizza buffet, Deb’s, takes requests from customers, as many buffets do. So I asked them if they could make a veggie pizza with no cheese.  They did, and it was delicious. I know: I ate the whole thing.

Fast fresh places like Qdoba are pretty easy, and good. Even Subway has vegan options, but as my father said, their veggie delight is all veggie, no delight. I think it’s better than being hungry, but that’s as far as I’ll go to praise it.

Chain delis  like Newk’s can offer good options. Newk’s veggie club is amazing, with Portobello mushrooms, red and yellow peppers, and crusty  bread. Just hold the cheese and pesto and you’re golden.

Sushi is easy, since it is all handmade, and many Japanese restaurant menus have multiple vegan options built in. It was fun having so many options I actually had to CHOOSE. 

Italian restaurants, even big box chains like Olive Garden, are easy. The menu will have several easily- altered starting points, and they often are on the cheaper side.

Chinese buffets usually have a few veggies, plus lo mein. Many have hibachi or “Mongolian grills”  whet you can build you own stir fry as part of the buffet.

Hey, I live in rural Mississippi. Did you expect a review of five star,  $200 a plate restaurants? 🙂 

I tell you what, when I eat at one, I’ll tell you all about it.

Audio-Visual Comfort Food

There is something comforting about going back to the old familiar.
Walking among the trees you climbed as a child
Holding a favorite childhood stuffed animal
Smelling a blanket or quilt your grandmother made
Tasting a favorite food from long ago

And so it is no wonder that so much of what we watch is old
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, Sherlock, Elementary
Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles, and Superheroes by the score
Jane Austin remade, remixed, even reimagined with zombies
Ponies and Transformers and Jedi, oh my!

This is an appalling display of unoriginality
This is also what we want. It’s what I want.
I don’t want the stories I grew up with to lie in their graves
Even if some of them were so bad that’s all they deserve
Even if their remakes are nothing short of abysmal.
Would I rather have Zach Snyder’s Randian pukestorm,
Or have Superman be forgotten?
If those are my choices, I’d rather see the red S fly.
Even if I don’t bother seeing the movie
Of course, I’d rather the remake be good.

Jane Austen fans usually get their wish on that front
Not just quality film adaptations
But expansions and reimaginings
Austenland, Lost in Austen, Death Comes to Pemberly
Even Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
But their day is coming, too
Just wait til they unleash Michael Bay on the Austenverse
Then they’ll know how the rest of us feel:
Persuasion will be the name of the gun
Emma uses to blow up Mansfield Park
Okay, maybe Dannie’s right.
Maybe these are “horrific money-grabs”
A lot of them are definitely “weaksauce storytelling”
And maybe I’ll never see good versions of my childhood favorites
On the big screen.
But we 80’s kids can hope, can’t we?

 

Ruining My Childhood! Updating White Male “Franchises,” Part 3

Friday’s post about updating all-white, all-male franchises left one major, legitimate question unaddressed:

Why change existing franchises? Why not just make some new characters?

The answer is pretty simple:

These are the cornerstones of our popular culture, and right now they are all white or all male or both.

Think about it: Superman, The Avengers, James Bond, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and many others are white male territory. To be sure, there are exceptions, but they tend to either be niche products or come from the mind and estate of Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek, Andromeda, etc.).

Any new, diverse properties will be competing against these titans for a spot in the pop cultural pantheon.

And we’ve seen how that turns out for the “comic girls.” They’re seen as lesser, also-ran versions or sidekicks. As good as the new Supergirl tv series is, there’s no question that she’s a knock-off of Superman. And Batgirl is in many ways a sidekick character, at least in mass media (comics, alas, are no longer truly “mass” in the sense that tv and movies are).

And look at She-Hulk, as awesome a character as she is (civil rights lawyer, cosmopolitan fun-loving single woman, Avenger, Fantastic Four member, and fourth-wall breaker long before Deadpool was a twinkle in Deathstroke’s eye patch). She’s never seen on tv or movies, and on the rare occasion she ends up in so much as a cartoon, she gets demoted to a disgruntled “living greenscreen” stunt double.

But if the baton is passed in some way in a major mass media production, the popular culture is changed to better reflect the reality of the world it both represents and influences.

Star Wars: the Force Awakens added a new generation of leads: Rey, a woman, Poe, a Latino man, and Finn, a black man. It expanded the franchise, and certainly served as a refreshing counterpart to the tin-eared racism of the prequels.

For ensembles or teams like the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers, this is easy. As the original (white, male) actors rotate off, bring a more diverse group of characters to the forefront. Marvel’s already starting to do this, with Black Panther and Captain Marvel movies already in various stages of pre-production, and with the addition of Scarlet Witch and Black Panther to the cast of Captain America: Civil War.

James Bond replaces its lead actor every decade or so anyway. Give Idris Elba a turn and see how it goes. If you want someone younger, try  It can’t be worse than the last half of Pierce Brosnan’s run.

Doctor Who has the same situation, with the Doctor’s regenerations. It’s easy enough to cast a woman, and/or a person of color.It isn’t hard to do. Some franchises are already doing it. It just requires the will to make it happen. And maybe if enough of us ask, it will start to happen. It’s already starting. The momentum might be unstoppable. I surely hope it is.Or we could just watch another 10,000 shows about white male antiheroes. Blech.

Old Friends with New Faces. Updating White Male “Franchises,” Part 2

A lot of people are floating the idea of Idris Elba being offered the job as the new James Bond (including current James Bond, Daniel Craig), though it appears at this moment that Tom Hiddleston is the first pick.

I think it could be a good idea. Sure, James Bond is a white guy, so far. A lot of the legacy characters, the franchise characters, are white men because when they were created 50+ years ago, that’s who the heroes/protagonists were.

These franchises have formed the bedrock of our popular culture for three generations. Nothing created today will have that kind of reach anytime soon. That takes time to build.

We get into the same thing with Doctor Who and most of the superhero franchises. Heck, even most of the Transformers are “male” (male voices and male-ish builds).

I think there’s a lot of room for adjusting some of the ongoing franchises so they don’t blindly stick to the mores of our grandparents’ and great grandparents’ generations.

I’m not saying you have to make Superman black, but when you decide to make a Green Lantern movie, think about John Stewart instead of Hal Jordan (it couldn’t be worse than the Green Lantern movie we got a few years back).

It means building a Justice League movie franchise that includes Wonder Woman, Cyborg (a black man), and Aquaman as portrayed by Jason Momoa (who is of Native Hawaiian descent). DC is getting that right, and doing it earlier than Marvel.

When Robert Downey Junior leaves the Marvel movies, put more focus on Rhodes (Iron Patriot/War Machine), or better yet, Riri Williams.

Why not cast Idris Elba as James Bond? He can still be native-born Scottish. He can still do all the Bond things. Let’s face it, the previous guys who’ve played Bond are all radically different from each other. Nobody would think of Connery and Dalton and Brosnan as the same person. And besides, Idris Elba is an outstanding actor with more than enough gravitas, charisma, and intensity for the role.

And if you don’t want to cast him as Bond, how about making him a future regeneration of the Doctor? I know, Stephen Moffatt has said he wants a female Doctor, but I personally think he write female characters poorly, especially compared to Russell T. Davies (previous Doctor Who showrunner). I’d rather wait for a Doctor Who showrunner who’s proven he can handle female characters well before we have a female Doctor.

There’s a lot that can be done, and is being done. But there are a lot of missed opportunities, as well.