Sunday, April 21, 2013

Thoughts On... The Constitution

I am not a political junkie. I am not someone who follows all the news all the time, and I certainly do not have intimate knowledge of the finer points of the law. Therefore, I ask you to forgive me when I tell you that I just recently (within the last year or so) found out about an idea floating about that the Constitution of the United States needs, in writer's terminology, a "page one re-write". This means that there are those out there who think the Constitution needs to be re-written from scratch to meet the issues being brought up by modern day society. And, to be quite honest, I find this idea EXTREMELY provocative.

Think about the argument for this: The Constitution was written by people who lived over 200 years ago. Think about how life has changed in that time. There was no electricity, no cars, no internet, no phones, no regular running water, no supermarkets, etc. How could those men foresee issues like digital copyright laws? Or Nuclear weapons? Computer hacking? Privacy? At the time that the founding fathers wrote out the Constitution, the life we have now would have been seen as fairy tales and the height of science fiction. They weren't psychics. How could they write laws or even fathom the moral implications of stem cell research? Nano technology? Climate change? These concepts, while completely beyond the realm of their thinking at the time, are providing challenges to our society today. Do we really turn to laws written so long ago?

I mean, the founding fathers knew their limitations, and they built the system of the Constitution to be adaptable and changeable to needs of an evolving country. They had to, because at the time, they had NO IDEA where the United States would go. But there is a limit to how much the Constitution can change and adapt, right? At a certain point, one has to see the Constitution as just an old, outdated set of laws that should be updated for modern times, right?

I can sum up my opinion on this in two words: HELL NO!

The Constitution is MORE that just a set of rules. We all know that life is more complex than any simple set of rules can possibly cover. So, the founding fathers didn't just write a set of rules that this country has to follow to the point of dogma. They infused the laws they wrote with an underlying philosophy. What we now call the "spirit of the law" as opposed to the "letter of the law". A philosophy that is so pervasive the founding fathers could not conceive of the after-effects creating it would cause and also so subtle, they had no idea the areas in which they fell short of their own creation. That philosophy, that spirit is one of tolerance, freedom, openness to debate, and a recognition that societies MUST evolve and change to survive, but in doing so, in making those changes, CAN NOT forget the reasons for which they exist.

Over time, we have analyzed and researched and delved into that philosophy and gained a deeper understanding of it. Realizing the errors of claiming a free society and still having slaves. Understanding the conflict in being of, for, and by the people and not letting women partake in their own government. And we still have more challenges ahead of us: gay rights, gun control, being more intricately connected to other countries than EVER before are just SOME of those challenges. And yet, the traditions written by our forefathers still apply 200 years later. In this ever changing world, those rules, still work.

Now, I will grant you, my dear readers, that we have stepped far away from that underlying philosophy. In a sense, that leads to my second issue with this. I mean, our those traditions have been used as vulnerabilities against us, by forces outside AND INSIDE our nation. Think about that for a moment. If we do have a full rewrite of our constitution, who does the writing? In an era where we can't trust our politicians to do anything right, or on time; where we are in fear of losing the basic rights assigned to us by the Constitution, who do we trust to re-write the DNA of the United States?

Put it another way: who do we trust, as a nation, to re-write what is and isn't legally allowed in a country that has one of the  most FEARSOME NUCLEAR ARSENALS on the planet? A country that has a budget for defense greater than the next 20+ countries on the list (most of which are our friends)? Who do YOU want to rebuild the core, fundamental ideas that will define what the United State of America will stand for over the NEXT 200 years?

From a political perspective, the founding fathers, in creating the Constitution, gave the world the political Big Bang. They formed an entirely new universe of political thinking that has worked, with adaptation and amending, for 200+ years. And now, people want to essentially re-write the laws of political physics? I don't think that's a good idea. It's too dangerous for the global stage, and I don't trust any of the people who would be doing the re-writes.

What do you think, my dear readers? Sound off in the comments below!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Eternal Arguments... Televison Preferences

Once when I was in college, I told a classmate that I was a big fan of the X-Files. My classmate then asked me if it was just because the lead actress (Gillian Anderson) was hot. Boy, was asking THAT question a mistake! I went on a 45 minute rant on all the things I LOVED about the show that had absolutely NOTHING to do with Gillian Anderson's hotness. (Any one of my friends can tell you about being on the receiving end of those rants, my dear readers. While *I* enjoy them, it seems that NO ONE ELSE does.) Since then, that particular accusation has been levied at me dozens of times by friends, co-workers, even random strangers that get caught up in my conversations because we're stuck in line for a movie. Yes, that has happened to me. A LOT.

The most recent person to levy this accusation was my sister. (Granted, this was about a year ago, but still.) Despite my best interests, I couldn't make her understand that I don't care about the attractiveness of actresses. It's Hollywood, EVERYONE there is good looking. I bring this topic up because of a show I tested to see if I would enjoy watching the show enough to really invest in it. The show is called Rogue and stars a favorite actress of mine, Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible 2, Crash, Chronicles of Riddick). And before you ask, yes, I find Thandie Newton to be a very attractive woman.

Isn't she gorgeous?

In the show, Newton plays an undercover cop whose son is killed and becomes obsessed with finding his killer. It seemed like an interesting premise. Usually a concept like that gets one episode or maybe a two part ep on another series, not its own series, so I thought I'd check it out. In my pre-watch research, I found out that Thandie Newton was cast as the cop, Grace Travis. Given the movies I've seen her in, I was encouraged by her choosing to work on the show. An actress of this caliber doesn't choose second rate material. So, I decided to watch the two part pilot episode.

When I watched the show, I found out that the main villain of the show was played by Marton Csokas (xXx, LOTR, Bourne Supremacy) this was even MORE encouraging. But as I watched the show, I found myself not connecting with the characters; not empathizing with the mother who just lost her child. Since this is the main emotional point of the show, this was disheartening. By the middle of the show, I was getting bored. Now this being a non US based show, the producers threw in a curve ball: a nude scene with Ms. Newton. I was surprised since I had NEVER even heard of Ms. Newton doing any nudity in her work. But it was a quick overhead shot in the shower, so it wasn't really a big deal. I kept watching, hoping to find SOMETHING worthwhile to get me invested in the show.

But, by the three quarter mark, there was nothing. I didn't care that the mom spent a whole 4 months obsessing over her child's death while the father seemed to have gotten over it. I didn't care that the obsession isolated the mom from her daughter. I didn't care when the mom blew her cover and then told the truth to save her life. And when she went back home and started a rough sex scene with her husband (again with all the nudity that implies, remember this is a NON-U.S. show), I TURNED OFF THE SHOW.

Yes, you read that right.

In the middle of a sex scene with a woman I find very attractive, while she was doing nudity for what I think is the first time ever, I WAS BORED. There was no interest whatsoever. I stopped the show, erased it from my computer and watched the latest episode of Criminal Minds. A show about hunting down serial killers that has no nudity whatsoever, but a great deal of blood, violence, and death; THAT is what I chose over watching a hot actress getting topless and screwing. That is my proof.

 I don't care about the attractiveness of actresses. I care about their talent. Their ability to make me suspend my disbelief long enough to get me emotionally invested in the story they are trying to tell, or the philosophy a show presents, the world they offer me a glimpse into, or at the very least, the PEOPLE whose lives they offer me to watch. And if I don't care about any of that, I won't watch the show. I won't even finish an episode!

Please, my dear readers, tell me that at least ONE of you understands where I'm coming from on this. Sound off in the comments below.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thoughts On... Envy

One of the things I like about the bulk of the tv shows I watch is that they all spur some kind of meta thinking in me. Just a few days ago, I watched an episode of Big Bang Theory. In that episode, one of the main characters had a fit of envy that ended up ruining a romantic dinner with her boyfriend. I'm not going to get into the details of the event, but it did get me thinking about envy, both as a general concept and the last time I really felt envy.

Now, let's get something straight off the bat. I'm talking about envy, NOT jealousy. While everyone seems to think they are interchangeable, they aren't. Jealousy is the fear of losing something or someone that you're attached to or possess to someone else. Like losing a girlfriend to another guy. Envy is the resentment that you feel when someone has something that you want, but don't have. Understood? GOOD. There'll be a test afterwards. Now, getting back to the point.

The last time I felt real envy was a few months ago, and it lasted all of 45 seconds. See, a few months ago, I found out that a friend of mine has a very singular talent. When he sings, he has the ability to turn women to mush. I've seen it on multiple occasions. He'll start singing and every woman in the room, regardless of age, turns her focus directly on him. Within moments, they get the glassy eyes, start breathing shallowly and slowly, and lose all conscious recognition of anything else but him and his singing. You could bowl them over with a feather.

Watching this happen right before your eyes, the effect is frightening at first. But then you realize the power that has. You could sing your way into the heart of ANY girl you wanted. No chance of rejection of any kind. What a power! And it's WASTED on a guy who is already married!!! And here's where the envy started. I spent a good 30 seconds (which for ME is a long time) focused on the injustice of it all. Why should a married guy get the power to wilt all women? He already has one! With my bad luck with women, a power like that... and so on.. I spent the next ten seconds listing out all the women I could have had as girlfriends if I'd had this power. I went so far back as to my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Butler. (Yeah, she was hot!) At the 40 second mark, my rational side kicked in and stopped the whole mental rant with two questions.

"Isn't the point of music, according to you, to dance and party? Isn't that why you hate slow songs?" 

I then spent the last 5 seconds with the envy fading in my mind as my rational side brought up how BORING it would be to be up there singing the same slow songs over and over again. Not being able to do anything up tempo, to get the blood moving. And reliving all the times I performed with my bands and got that adrenaline rush when the crowd connects with the energy you throw out and the performance just intensifies taking you for a ride that no drug could EVER match.

And I came to the realization that I never really wanted the power my friend had. Getting women to melt over me, while sounding good, wasn't what I really wanted musically. I wanted the groove. I wanted the ability to start a song up and by the end have everyone on their feet dancing and moving to the music I was making. And that, I already have. After that, I enjoyed the rest of my friend's performance and rejoiced with him as all the women listening started fanning themselves and started taking deep breaths to calm down. Later on, I got up to sing. People danced. And all was right in the world!

See that's the sneaky thing about envy that they don't cover in Sunday school when they talk about Envy and the six other deadly sins. It has nothing to do with the person you're jealous of in any way. It has to do with a weakness or flaw you see in yourself. So you want the thing the other person has not because of the thing's inherent value, but because it will remove the flaw you see in yourself and restore you to the perfection you had before. A lot of people don't get over that and cause themselves, and others, a lot of pain. They never really understand that having flaws and not being perfect is a major component of what makes us human.

In the end, the only real way to get over envy is to truly understand what you want for yourself and enjoy those things with the knowledge that they are just things and not ways to fix flaws that no one else can see.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Must Post More....

A good friend of mine and an avid reader of this blog (I know! I was surprised to find I have avid readers, too!), has requested that I post more on here. Well, you have to give your audience a little of what they want or you'll lose them, so I shall endeavor to post more!

I think I have a couple of ideas on what I should do, so look for at least TWO more posts before end of day, Saturday of this week (4/13/2013).


If you have any ideas on what you think I should write about, please let me know in the comments below!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Walking Dead: Rick & Morgan...

So, thanks to my new job, I've been falling behind on some of my shows. One of these is The Walking Dead (TWD) . I'm still an episode behind. (I fell asleep before I could watch the season finale.) But I wanted to talk to you about one of my favorite episodes this season. The episode is called: "Clear", where the show finally answers the question that fans have been asking since the first episodes of the show: What happened to Morgan??

For those of you who don't know, TWD is a show about life after a zombie apocalypse. Based on a comic series of the same name, the story follows a band of people lead by former Sheriff Rick Grimes, who just go through from place to place trying to find some kind of life while surviving zombies. In the first episode, Rick wakes up in the hospital after being shot in the line of duty and finds himself in a zombie apocalypse. He stumbles around trying to figure out what is going on and what happened to his family and friends. He runs into a man named Morgan and his son, Duane. Morgan gives Rick the 411 on what went down, and some tips & tricks on how to survive. Rick goes on a quest to find his family but gives Morgan a radio and tells him every day at dawn, he'll turn it on and broadcast a message for them. And that was it... For awhile, they had Rick on the radio talking to Morgan, in that journal, or diary kind of way. But that was the last we saw of Morgan. Until now.


Okay, I want you to understand, I don't watch shows on TV. I download the shows or watch them online. So, no television promos, no "Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode"... nothing. So, I had no idea that this episode was coming until I saw the story re-cap at the beginning and they showed Rick on the radio warning Morgan to stay out of Atlanta. (Don't worry about why. That's not important.) I was COMPLETELY blindsided by this ep.

One of my favorite book series has a saying in it: "How do you hurt a man who's lost everything? Give him something broken." This episode is a PERFECT example of that. It has been three seasons, but in the show it's only been about a year since Rick woke up to a world full of zombies. But in that time, he's gone through enough crap to make any 3 people go crazy and he has been cracking. Auditory and visual hallucinations, depression, and paranoia are just the beginning of what he's been experiencing. So walking into this ep, Rick is not in a stable place mentally. A few minutes into the ep, he runs into Morgan and gets a glimpse of what's further down the road he is on.

When we last saw Morgan, he had refused to kill his zombie wife. He was too good a man, and too in love with his wife to accept the fact that she was dead. Weeks later, Morgan and his son were on a supply run and came across her. In a moment where the boy was distracted, she killed and began feeding on her own son. It was only at that moment, that Morgan was able to finally shoot her, but it was too late. His son was dead. Eaten by his own mother, a moment that was made possible because Morgan didn't shoot her previously. His son was dead because he was too weak to do what he knew he had to when the time came. That realization broke him.

And hearing Morgan tell that story to Rick's face, seeing the shame Morgan felt for being such a good person, knowing that Rick would not have made it past his first night without Morgan's kindness... it was like getting knifed in the throat while being kidney punched full force by Mike Tyson in his prime. And despite all his pain, and the despair that Rick felt, you could see that he was hurt seeing Morgan like this. To his credit, Rick did try to help Morgan, to give him something to live for again. But Morgan already had a purpose.

He wasn't going to let that moment play out again. So, his purpose now: To Clear; To get rid of all the zombies everywhere. He no longer wanted, or deserved (in his own mind, anyway) anyone's help. In order to make up for the one time he didn't pull the trigger, he has to now kill all the zombies. And as Rick drives away, you see Morgan piling up his latest kills and getting ready to burn them.

The funny thing is, you would think that seeing Morgan like this would be the final nail in Rick's sanity. That not being able to reach Morgan and get him to accept help would shatter Rick's fragile psyche, but it didn't. In fact, it had the opposite effect. It seemed to have brought Rick out of the comfortable shell his insanity was building for him and reignited some spark of hope. Or at the very least, the will to resist.

And that is true irony in this ep. In Morgan's refusal to be the good man he once was, and resigning himself to the penance he thinks he deserves, he commits one "final" act in the vein of the man he was. The same act, in fact, that he did in the beginning of the show:

 He saves Rick Grimes.