Moving Thoughts

So I’m in the middle of a move.  And moving sucks.  Everybody knows this.  Nobody likes moving.  It’s universal, like waiting in line.  It’s a pox.  A plague.  An affliction.

And yet, I enjoy it.

You have to distinguish between Moving the Activity and Moving the Event.  Moving the Event is a nightmarish gauntlet of too many loose ends that cost too much money.  Nobody’s ever said ‘this move is going according to plan’ or ‘wow, I was perfectly able to afford everything in that move’.  Nobody’s said that.  Or if they have, they were promptly burned at the stake lest they have the chance to take on other forms.

The big thing for me with moving, is the packing.  I hate packing.  There are never enough boxes, and there’s always little stuff left over that you forgot, didn’t notice, or couldn’t otherwise pack up.  That’s what sucks.

But the actual move itself, the actual loading the truck and taking stuff from Point A to Point B?  I actually like that.  It’s fun.  It’s like a sporting event.  Three, four hours of lifting semi-heavy stuff and carrying fifty yards?  That’s not a chore; that’s a strong-man competition!  Hell, if you think about it, all you have to do is put an ad in the local paper and give out a cheap statue and you could have a bunch of lugnuts from the local gym clambering to do it the fastest.

My athletic love of lifting heavy stuff aside, there’s something very cerebral about moving that I also love.  By moving into a new place, you have a fresh start that you can remake your life and your lifestyle.  Hate how your life revolves around the TV?  Put it in a corner, or in another room, or flatout don’t set it up at all.  Hate your wardrobe? As you unpack (or pack, if you have the forethought), weed through everything you don’t like.  There is a great purge and rebirth that goes on in a move that is wonderful.

And during the move, in the interim, you’re able to streamline your life.  You’re able to discover just how little do you need to get by.  And then you look at those boxes of all that stuff and you realize how much, or how little, it really means to you.

Look at moving as a chance to recreate yourself, not from outside in but from the inside.  A move is a wonderful thing; not a curse to be dreaded but an opportunity of rare proportions.

Wooden Dummy

When I was sixteen years old, my father had a local carpenter make for me a Wing Chun Doll.  It’s used in training of trapping and striking, sort of a bridge between forms and actual sparring, not unlike a punch bag but for more complex technical work.  The doll cost a small fortune, but it was custom made, most notably to accomodate my six feet of height.  Most kids, if they’re lucky, get a car for their sixteenth birthday.  I got a sparring partner.  In the grand scheme of things, I think I came out better.

The problem is that, over a decade later, carting that dummy around has become cumbersome.  It’s big, it’s heavy, it takes up more space than it seems like it should.  It doesn’t collapse easily.  And worst of all, it’s not very well made.  Most traditional dummies are wooden posts with multiple supports built into the actual design.  The carpenter in this case elected to essentially screw half a telephone pole into a wooden platform and covered said platform with carpeting.  This means the dummy can’t sustain particularly severe blows, lest it rip away from the screws, and thus the purpose of the dummy is partially negated.

Despite most wing chun dummies costing hundreds, even thousands, of dollars and a fervent desire to have better equipment to train with, I know I’ll never replace this dummy and will likely hand it down to a nephew or niece.
For while it isn’t a well-made tool, it was made specifically for me.  And nothing could make me give that up.

Tangible Goods

I own all of Robotech on DVD.

The whole collection, I own in the Legacy Collection that was released in 2001.  It’s a great set; I like it a lot.

I also have Netflix which has had Robotech every time I’ve checked.  And even if they take it off Netflix, it’s also on Youtube in its entirety.  And I’m sure if it were to disappear from Netflix, Hulu or Crunchyroll would snatch that up in a heartbeat.  Bottom line, not being able to find it streaming isn’t exactly a strong fear.

So the question kind of becomes, should I keep the box sets?  I like having them, but I find myself with precious little time these days to watch much of anything, much less something as long and as sweeping as Robotech.  And the bonus material is pretty much out of the question.  I’ve still yet to get around to watching the commentary tracks on the Extended Edition Lord of the Rings sets.  Yeah, the ones that came out a decade ago.

As I prepare to move to a new apartment, I find myself wondering about taking these sets with me.  It’s not necessarily that they take up that much space on their own, but when you factor in all the DVDs I own (yes, DVDs; don’t get me started on Blu-ray), it all starts to add up.  And since the vast majority of what I own is available streaming, I find myself wondering why I keep the tangible, hard copies?
Charles Dunbar once talked about how anime fans (and many traditional sci-fi/fantasy fans) see box sets differently than mainstream audiences.  He asserted that fans buy discs and box sets as a sort of investment in a series they love, rather than purchasing something with the express and sole plan to watch it.

That makes sense, and I think I agree with it.  But at the same time, I find myself looking at several hundred DVDs of movies and shows that are all available on Netflix, and I wonder about their role in the coming move.

I am not a Metallica fan (which is news to me)

I am a firm believer that fandom does not come with a uniform to wear, or even a uniform look.  While there may be trappings of a fandom, one’s enjoying/love of something is not defined by a narrow margin of attributes and attitudes.

I say this because this past weekend, I went to see Metallica, Through The Never.  And while there, I was treated to a variety of derisive sneers and scoffs of disapproval by fellow fans who went to the same showing.

I’ve loved Metallica since high school.  I can still remember the exact spot on Interstate 440 when I heard the opening sitar notes of Wherever I May Roam, pretty much kicking off my love of the Boys in Black.  From there, it was pretty much down hill.  I saw Metallica live in Louisville Kentucky in 2004.  Metallica’s inspired a great deal of my writing.  So I feel confident in saying I am a Metallica fan.

But from the moment I got in line for the movie, a pair of long-haired, denim & leather-clad metal heads disapproved of my presence.  I found this especially amusing since the movie was showing a predominantly…how shall I say, urban theater.  Through The Never was showing on a screen nestled between showings of Battle of the Year and Baggage Claim, so there were already more than enough ‘what are you doing here’ looks going around.

We go into the theater and it’s just the three of us.  The two of them are jazzed and whispering louder than most humans are capable of while I’m sitting alone.  At one point, they call back to me, asking if I’m ‘here to see Metallica’, as though I might be lost.  When I answered in the affirmative, I was asked what was my favorite album.  Citing ReLoad as my favorite, they both laughed derisively and whispered (once again far louder than speaking normally) ‘Poser’.
It’s always weird to be reminded that you aren’t a card-carrying stereotype.

Learning Good Things From Bad Guys

Note: Links are not offered in the following blog because Cracked.com is currently experiencing technically difficulties involving malware issues.

I’m a big fan of Cracked.com.  Love it.  Read it daily.  I especially like the After Hours video segments and most of the work by John Cheese and Daniel O’Brien.  David Wong is also a wonderful contributor, but I’ve recently had some issue with his article ‘6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person’.

Now, I take a lot of issue with the mistaken belief that brutal honesty is somehow a good thing.  It isn’t.  Being blunt isn’t an admirable trait.  I won’t deny that there’s a time and a place for it, but it’s far more rare than most people think, especially those who extol the virtues of being blunt.  Being blunt or harsh is like punching someone in the mouth; if you find you absolutely must do it more than five times in your life, you really need to reconsider some of your life choices.

I’ll expound on that topic at another time.  I want to return to the issue of this article, ‘6 Harsh Truths’.  The article fixates primarily on a segment from a play-turned-movie called ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’, a famous segment in which Alec Baldwin plays a motivational speaker who essentially shames the cast of real estate salesmen into productivity.  If you even Google Gleangarry Glen Ross, this speech comes up at the top of the list.  If you want to watch it, feel free but I won’t link to it because I think it’s deplorable.

It’s a brilliant speech, make no mistake.  It is easily Alec Baldwin’s finest performance and – his Capital One commercials not withstanding – that’s saying something.  And it’s written by a masterful playwright, David Mamet.  And it is very motivating, in a negative you’re-worthless-unless-you-get-off-your-ass sort of way.  But what I take issue with is that few people seem to realize that Alec Baldwin’s character is, essentially, the bad guy.

Glengarry Glen Ross isn’t a happy play (or movie).  It isn’t uplifting and no one comes out of it unscathed.  In many ways, it’s a terribly ugly film in which even the characters who come out best are the ones who quit and leave the real estate business entirely.  The whole script is one big warning against being like these people.  And the chief among ‘these people’, the very essence of ‘these people’ distilled, is Alec Baldwin’s character.

People point to the character’s tirade as an amazing motivational speech, not seeming to realize that’s like idolizing Gordon Gekko from Wall Street, or Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, or even Tony Montana from Scarface.  They may be compelling, they may be interesting and even entertaining, they may even have some good and admirable traits.  But none of that diminishes the fact that the primary point of these assorted films is to NOT be like them!  It blows my mind when people talk about Baldwin’s speech like it’s a good thing.  That’s akin to saying taking cocaine is a great way to be more productive.

I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t occasionally take an objective look at their lives and themselves.  I’m not saying we all don’t occasionally need a good kick in the pants to get us moving in the right direction.  And I’m definitely not saying this scene/speech isn’t one of the finest performances in cinema history.  What I am saying is that to look at this speech and say ‘He’s right’ is to severely miss the point the entire movie is trying to make.