Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

Firsts

I find it hard to believe The Dark Knight came out nine years ago. I remember sitting in the audience thinking it was one of the most amazing movies I’ve ever seen.

Why so serious?
Why so serious?

I also find it difficult to comprehend how much time has passed since Titanic came out. Has it really been nineteen years? Incredible.

My wife tells me we’ve been married for over twenty years. Well, she doesn’t need to tell me, I already know. Yet, when I think about it, it doesn’t seem as if time has passed at all.

Where have I been since I first heard Katy Perry‘s massive pop album Teenage Dream hit the charts? That was five years ago.

Then there is the time Friends went off the air. That happened twelve years ago.

Everybody Loves Raymond
Everybody Loves Raymond

And let’s not forget about Everybody Loves Raymond. I remember lying on my couch eleven years ago watching the final episode.

Is this how I mark time, by the passing of entertainment units? It seems like it.

Although, I beg to differ. I remember the first time I told my wife I loved her. The next thing she did was hop on a train back to Nova Scotia. Was it something I said?

How can I forget the time when my first child came into the world? We were in tears. Nope, I wasn’t watching a TV show at the time, and I don’t remember a swelling soundtrack playing in the background.

My first car was a Honda Accord. The memory of that day, when I went into the bank to ask for a loan, is still in my head. The interest on the loan was eleven percent. I thought the bank at the time had given me a great deal.

The first time I landed my dream job was such a pleasure that my family and I went out celebrating. It was also the first time I could afford to pay for everyone’s meal.

I can’t forget the first guitar my dad had bought me when I was a teenager. It was an imitation Gibson Les Paul. I played that thing so much that I had worn the frets to a state of non-existence.

Whenever I think of summer, I think of the first time I had gone in the deep end on my own. It was also the first time when I had almost drowned. After that incident, I learned how to swim, and have never forgotten.

I read somewhere that a person’s greatest fear is speaking in front of an audience. My first experience addressing a large crowd was when I was fifteen years old in high school, running for Ninth Grade class president. I stood on stage behind a podium, pointed a finger at the entire student body, which was close to five hundred kids, and said, “I want you to want me.” The entire assembly erupted in laughter. That phrase was from a song made popular at the time by Cheap Trick. It was also the first time I had felt absolute embarrassment.

But you know what? I won that election. One of my teachers later said to me, aside from having moxie, that if I could get up there and make a fool of myself like that, I certainly belonged in politics.

I guess when it comes to memories my entire life is not a set of vignettes centered around entertainment, even if I sometimes think it to be that way. No, I enjoy reminiscing with family about our firsts, our seconds and thirds, what we’ve learned, and if we had the opportunity, what would we do over.

Come to think of it, I wouldn’t change a thing of my past. If I did, then I wouldn’t be who I am today.

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Do you remember any of your firsts? What do you like about those memories?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Why Do We Fall?

One of the tracks from the film The Dark Knight Rises composed by Hans Zimmer goes by the title Why Do We Fall? Not only does the title serve as a great prompt for this week’s Monday Mayhem article, but also provides a perfect lead-in to promoting the film. If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, what are you waiting for? I recommend it without a quibble.

The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises

Getting back to the question, why do we fall? I’ve watched many zombie movies while asking the same question, always scratching my head wondering why none of the film characters listens to that still small voice in each of them that tells them not to do something they shouldn’t.

Reason #1: Stupidity/Ignorance

A good example is in the film 28 Days Later. The audience wants the zombie apocalypse to happen, yet they cringe whenever they see it happen due to human frailty. The audience repeats the telltale phrases: Leave the monkeys alone. Don’t touch the cages. Don’t open them; you don’t know what you’re doing. In spite of common sense screaming at the characters to do the right thing, and the audience tossing verbal insults at them as well, they ignore the obvious and do the worst.

Reason #2: Accidents/Fear

Another example happens in countless other zombie movies, especially the ones where viruses are the focus and scientists are working in a lab. One of the workers always shatters a vial tainted with an unknown disease, breaks protocol and infects others by not reporting it. The other side of the spectrum happens when all the lab’s fail-safes collapse and releases the pathogen into the atmosphere unintentionally producing another undead abomination.

Reason #3: Malice/Rebellion

The last example is my favorite because it has nothing to do with humanity’s ignorance or accident-prone traits. It is the defeat of the heart.

The Walking Dead is great when it comes to showing this. Throughout the series, we meet leaders of groups who think society would be better off following their direction. Only, their direction is—most often than not—twisted. They serve themselves and judge others as rebels who do not follow their lead. One so-called leader kept trophies of his victims’ heads in glass tanks to view at his leisure.

Conclusion

Why do we fall? Can it be we humans have a proclivity to annihilate each other regardless of our incredible potential? Or is it we’re so daft in not realizing whatever action we take has an equal and opposite reaction? Or is the human heart so cunning as to even fool us into believing what we do, no matter how well-intentioned, will always result in good things?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
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Why do you think civilizations are prone to failing miserably?

Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Bruce Wayne

Bruce Wayne is a superhero. Big surprise there. He’s not your ordinary superhero, though. He’s what I call a natural superhero. Let me explain what I mean for my Wednesday Warriors series dedicated to guy fictional characters who rock the planet.

Bruce Wayne / Batman / Dark Knight
Bruce Wayne / Batman / Dark Knight

Unlike Superman who has the ability to see through things, fly like a bird and bend steel with his bare hands, Bruce Wayne doesn’t have any of that. In fact, behind Batman‘s mask, Bruce Wayne is quite normal. Spider-Man even has him beat with his acquired ability to climb walls. But Batman? Superpowers?

Born from DC Comics and part of the Justice League, Batman’s alter-ego Bruce Wayne possesses an extravagant lifestyle that is nothing more than a ruse for those curious enough to want to investigate the multi-billionaire. He can afford the toys. He can afford the equipment. No expense is too great for him. No cost is too grand. His parents were victims of a brutal mugging by a man named Jack Napier. In later years, Jack becomes the Joker, Batman’s archenemy and nemesis. It’s through Bruce’s dark past that Bruce gains his strength. Call it revenge. Call it payback. Whatever name it goes by, it’s Bruce’s impetus to fight crime on crime’s level.

Heath Ledger as the Joker
Heath Ledger as the Joker

Back to Bruce Wayne’s superhero status. He’s a natural. He doesn’t possess superpowers. He relies on equipment to fight the evils of this world. And he sports a wicked attitude against those who skirt justice at the hands of the law. Known also as The Dark Knight, the moniker provides an ominous message for anyone attempting to flee from their misdeeds. He will find them. And he will punish them.

Batman’s skill as a crime fighter resonates well with those weak of spirit. If an ordinary man without superpowers can overcome the demons of this world, who’s to say everyone else can’t? For in the depths of darkness lies truth awaiting discovery. That truth, no matter how simple an idea it is to swallow, sparks the fire within the souls of the just to bring the unjust to their knees.

Burdens may overtake Gotham City, but with Bruce Wayne around, archenemies bow before his presence. The idea of an ordinary man without superpowers having the ability to do this is astounding. And yet, it is so. Batman can’t see through things, can’t fly like a bird, and he can’t bend steel with his bare hands.

But what Bruce Wayne has living within his soul is what makes him a superhero. He has the willingness to sacrifice himself for those less fortunate. He has the willingness to live a selfless life as a way to bring justice where darkness lives. What’s more important?

Bruce Wayne as a natural superhero is willing to die so that others can live. That is what makes him a superhero worth admiring.

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Are you a Batman fan? What do you like most about the character Bruce Wayne?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Going to the Movies

Today is the day. Today is World War Z day. If you don’t know by now, this weekend will either make or break the zombie genre with the film’s take at the box office. I haven’t been this excited for a film premier since the first Transformers came out. When I think about it, I’ve had some interesting movie going experiences in my life. I might as well share them with you for my Freedom Friday series.

Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park—I wrote about Dr. Ellie Sattler for my Women Who Wow Wednesday this week, and I think it fitting if you knew what it took to see this movie in the theater. Mind you, 1993 was not that long ago, and we were pretty modern back then. We had the big 70mm screens with THX certified sound systems. Toronto, especially, had a handful of awesome theaters this size to fit capacity crowds. It was at this time my wife and I wanted to see it. Well, I wanted to see it bad and she tagged along, although ultimately she enjoyed it too.

Opening weekend, we decided on the theater we wanted to go, you know, big screen, big sound, and it sold out. Also, during those days, there was no such thing as advanced ticket buying, at least not for that theater. Second week, sold out again. Unbelievable. Everyone was talking about this movie and I couldn’t even get in to see it. Third week, you got it, sold out. And when I say sold out, I mean all shows for that day, gone. Forth week, I decided to be aggressive and went in on my lunch hour to see if I could get tickets for a late evening show. The woman said she couldn’t do it. No advance sales. I pleaded with her almost to the point of getting on my knees. Nope, couldn’t do it. I was about to leave sporting downtrodden shoulders. Well, I guess I was tenacious enough. She gave in. Two tickets for the five o’clock showing. I took them without so much as a quibble. A question gnawed at my brain. I asked her what the big deal was with the movie. She simply said, “Once you see it, you’ll have your answer.”

The Dark Knight's Joker
The Dark Knight’s Joker

The Dark Knight—When Heath Ledger passed away five years ago last January, an aura of solemnity and secrecy surrounded the final preparations of this film’s release. In the months following, seeing the first images of The Joker on the posters and trailers made the film’s anticipated premier eerie. I know I had all I could do but wonder what happened. My wife had made it clear, she did not want any part of it. I understood. It was somewhat creepy seeing Ledger on the big screen knowing he wasn’t with us anymore.

Opening weekend, I hopped into my car, headed to the theater, parked and headed inside. Our town’s theater is one of those big twelve-theater complexes with the latest and greatest technology. We currently have this UltraAVX addition with reserved seating, giant wall-to-wall screen, immersive sound, digital projection, rocker chairs, you know, the works. Five years ago, although we had the big screen, it was hard getting in to see these juggernaut movies. So, unless I got there real early, and bought a ticket in advance, I would have to rely on God’s good graces to finding a seat in the theater. It didn’t help that I arrived late. Anyway, I end up at the ticket booth, and I asked for a seat for the seven o’clock showing of The Dark Knight. I remember this because I still have the stub. The woman looked at me, looked at her computer screen and said, “Honey, there are only two seats available. You’ll be lucky if you find one right at the very front.” I told her I’d take my chances.

By this time, I’m having all this stuff go through my head of being stuck in the front, which will later result in a neck injury ‘cause I wanted to see a popular movie I didn’t adequately plan for. Whatever happens, I thought, I’ll take it like a man. I walk in. Packed. Oh, gosh, now what? The ticket agent said there were two seats available. I begin my search in the front rows, to the evil stares of those who got there early. I know, I know. I should I have gotten here earlier. Relax already. I’ll be out of your way in a minute. I then scan the entire theater from the side. I can’t believe I can’t find the seats. I felt like an idiot. The trailers were about to start and I can hear the thoughts of the audience saying, goof, standing in the aisle, you’re outta luck.

The first trailer started and there, right in the center of the audience, right in the middle of the theater, the seat appeared. Is that free? Really? I walk to the aisle where the seat rested and motioned to those next to it if it was really free. I don’t quite remember how I did it. All I remember is a lady nodding at me. I made my way through the crowded aisle and took my seat. If the woman next to me didn’t know better, my grin from one ear to ear almost freakishly made me look like The Joker. And there I sat, the best seat in the house, smack-dab in the heart of the theater watching The Joker get into the van, and that eerie single note hanging there, introducing the film.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen—Still with me? I’ll make this story short. I had wanted to see this movie for a while in the theater, but didn’t feel like paying full price for it. Yeah, I caught some of the reviews indicating it lacked a little something the original had. So the most I’d pay is for a matinee performance, which I did catch. The funny part about this story is what happened during the movie while it played. As a preamble to this recounting, the skies were dark and it was just right for a good ol’ fashioned thunderstorm.

Well, here I sat in the theater enjoying the movie when all of a sudden, in between the explosions on the screen, a massive rumbling rattled all of us from our seats. That did not come from the screen. Then another rumbling accompanied by a crack from up high startled us. We were only a few, but during some of the screen’s massive explosions, a low murmur went through the audience. Right then, the film stopped and the auxiliary emergency lights turned on. Another earthquake-like tremor echoed just above my ears. We all looked at each other. The rain started. It pounded hard on the roof. We heard the whole thing as if it were THX audio. The whole thing lasted fifteen minutes, but it was entertaining talking with the folks in the theater while all this chaos happened outside. It felt like a camaraderie had come of the event.

Once the storm settled, the emergency lights turned off, and the movie whirred back into existence.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you had any weird things happen to you when you were in the theater?