The Results Show

I hate reboots. I think they’re the downfall of creativity. “Hmm, that Hulk movie didn’t hit very well….let’s just pretend it didn’t exist.” “Spider-Man? Sure, there are plenty of interesting stories that have been written about him post-1963, but we know this one sells…let’s just change a couple bits and do it again.” Particularly prevalent as of late in hero films, the reboot is the film industry’s crutch. The implied ability to reboot a franchise seems to have deadened film writers, allowed them to toss slop like Spider-Man 3 out into the streets.

Then again, maybe I can’t give Hollywood too much shit. Maybe Marvel was just crunched for time when they put the movie together, or maybe things just didn’t fall in line the way they’d hoped. Maybe they felt like people stopped expecting greatness from themmaybe they stopped expecting greatness from themselves. It was going to sell tickets regardless, it’d be a box-office hit…then they released Iron Man and people thought, “Hey, that was actually really good! I’d love to see more QUALITY films from Marvel.” Now we have Captain America: The First Avenger…that movie was, in my humble opinion, SUPERB.

Cap, to put it bluntly: A BADASS.

Lately, my life has felt very Spider-Man 3. People had high expectations, and I’ve lazily blundered my way into irrelevance and mediocrity. I’d high hopes but haven’t done anything about it. I’ve taken things that have fallen into my lap. And if you ask me what I’ve been up to or what I’ve been doing, even though I’ve been going through plenty of changes, I don’t sound like I have anything to be proud of as of late. Often, I don’t really feel like I have much to be proud as of late. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got a job (going on two) and that’s all well and good, but what am I really doing that I ever set out to do? How am I reaching for my goals?

I took this break to seriously consider whether or not I can actually accomplish any of the goals I’ve set to do. It’s a real question, one that didn’t feel very comfortable to ask. Sometimes I don’t think I really can do anything great, that maybe I just really want to and don’t have what it takes. I’ve thought about many things lately: moving to Wisconsin or Oregon and starting over, settling down here in Rockford and just forgetting about the dreams, quitting my jobs and going back to California. I talked to a good friend of mine, and she told me that the grass is always greener on the other side; inspiration isn’t sitting out there waiting for me to find it. She’s right.

I like to imagine that I’ve lost my inspiration, but I realize now that it’s my self I’ve lost. And I mean for that to be two separate words; almost as if it’s an entity or a possession I can grasp and put in my pocket, I’ve misplaced my sense of self. Hell, look at the endeavors I’ve undertaken lately. This is not the person I set out to be. This is not the person I want to be. This is not the person I’m going to be.

I’m going to continue the blog, with a new challenge to better myself. I’ve killed my old blog, Weekly Resolution, instead trying to fit the spirit of it into this one. Each week I’ll take on a new task, giving myself a week to accomplish a specific task oriented towards accomplishing my goals. Additionally, I’m going to make each day into a game. Here are the rules:

  • The objective is to win. Simple, right?
  • To win, each day I must fulfill six objectives:
    1. Write one letter to an important person.
    2. Exercise the mind, body, or soul.
    3. Spend an hour seriously writing.
    4. Read for at least half an hour.
    5. Journal.
    6. Drink less than 3 drinks a day.

Each goal is an investment in my future. I want to focus on accomplishing work and holding myself accountable for my successes and failures. So I’m going to keep a calendar above my work desk, and every day I accomplish all my tasks, I’ll write a W on the calendar. Each time I fail even just one task, I’ll write an L. The idea: to treat life like it counts, like there are no reboots. Just wins, and losses.

I plan to have winning on my mind instead of money, though. It’s still catchy if you say it in your head.

I have realized, though, that I can’t do this alone. Honestly, I need support, and I need to be held accountable for when I succeed and fail. I’m learning that I’m not as good at accomplishing tasks when I’m solely trying to motivate myself…you all have kept me motivated and accountable through your comments and posts, and I appreciate that. I like to imagine that I’m like a little kid learning how to ride a bike: I need a push and some cheering on before I can really work this bike without the training wheels.

So thanks for watching me grow up, all. I’ll keep doing it, and I’ll make you proud. I’ll make me proud.

-Josh

A Quest to Fix Inconsistency

Character Flaw: I’m not very consistent. Without some very serious attention to what I’m doing, I can be a very hot and cold kind of person. One second I’m blogging daily, posting pictures and opinions and all sorts of stuff, then for the next two weeks I’m out in the depths of cyber-nothingness, floating around seemingly aimlessly. I’m really not a big fan of that part of myself.

I’d really like to change that, but sometimes I’m just not sure that I know how. I often feel like my procrastination and hither-thither mentalities are a sort of hard-coded trait, and my attempts to fix them are a sort of war of nature versus nurture that I can’t win. But I don’t believe that.

The blog is taking an official 8-day hiatus for a couple of reasons: A) So I can see if I can really get my things in order and come up with a workable schedule for myself, and B) to give myself a concrete deadline. I want to come  up with a plan that consolidated this blog with my attempt at a second blog, Weekly Resolution. I also have some small business plans that I want to start working on, and I’d like to put that stuff in here as well. So, if I don’t post on the 31st, or don’t feel like I can really keep anything up regularly at that point, then I’m going to call it quits. I’ve done a lot of things half-assed in my day; I don’t want my life to continue being one of them.

See you next Sunday, all.

-Josh

Hate of the Day: Planking

Planking. Fucking planking.

I drove to Arlington Heights today for the first day of Illinois State Insurance Exam pre-test class. I drove back and got stuck in rush hour traffic. Because car purchase plans fell through, I drove a 1995 Ford Explorer to and from Chicago. A 1995 Ford Explorer with no muffler. I’m quite sure I’ve lost 20% of my hearing today. So I’ll admit that I was unhappy BEFORE I pulled off of I-90 and decided to stop for a bite to eat. And then I saw them, first in the Subway receiving bay, then out on the tire store front lawn before I left.

The secondary Hate of the Day is Android OS for deciding that I need a fucking babysitter and deciding that I’m unable to take pictures or voice recordings when my battery is under 15% health, as if somehow I don’t know that my damned battery is low. Without that piece of coding dumbassery, I could have shown you first hand exactly the same damned thing every other planking picture is.

Planking.
A picture like this.


More dumbshit planking.
Or this.

 

Yes, the world has entrenched itself with the newest batch of shitwittage to come flying out of the Idiot’s Internet Inner Sanctum: people lying face down doing nothing. Thousands and thousands of photos of people doing absolutely nothing. I used to get pissed off when girls would post 3000 photos on Facebook of the party they went to over the weekend, all 3,000 of which were with the same friends as every other weekend, taking the same damned poses as every other weekend. Planking makes those girls look like Monets and Rembrandts.

I just don’t get it. And I think there’s something right with me because I don’t get it. Now given, I’ve participated in my fair share of dumb fads: POGS, Tamagotchis, and practically all of the multiple brands of trading cards I delved into are transgressions on my list. But all of those were done while I was a child. And at least all of them actually involved me DOING SOMETHING. Oh, wait, maybe that’s it…we as a society keep talking about how we’re all becoming lazier, so counter-culture’s answer is to take gobs of dumb photos that glorify laziness…RIGHT?

Does anyone else remember when there was this thing called “art” where people would create images and other mediums that took effort? Anyone else remember going to museums and being struck dumb by paintings? And now, with the ability to expose artistic culture and deep, free expression through the realms of technology like the internet, we squander huge parts of it with stuff like this:

This is a completely different kind of “struck dumb.”

 

“Josh, you’re getting all bent out of shape over nothing! It’s just people out having a good time; at least they’re not out using drugs or something.”

Last I checked, the 60s and 70s were full of drugs. And though I’m not advocating drug usage here, I’ll certainly point out that the 60s and 70s also had Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Andy Warhol, The Beatles, and a host of other art we still love and value today.  Now it seems that our society revels in poor, empty substitutes for art. It feels like every day we celebrate  the newest iteration of Springtime for Hitler, whether it’s Rebecca Black’s Friday, or this:

Another one.

I know we’ve all got guilty pleasures. “You are so dumb, you are really dumb, ‘fo real,” is about a regular part of my vocabulary as any article in the English language. But guilty pleasures involve a sense of understanding that there are better things out there. I know that every time I hear that auto-tune warbled word “rape” I’m laughing at something inherently wrong. I’m lowering my standards. Hence the GUILT. But each time another one of these dumb meme fads shows up, I think, “Is there any guilt left, or is this just the best we can do?”

Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m overreacting. I see it in “My Super Sweet Sixteen,” “Teen Mom,” “The Real Housewives of _________:” a continual lowering of standards. And though I could write an entire series on the reasons I hate Twilight (without having read them fully or watched them, mind you) I would gladly read the entire Twilight series before I saw another planker. At least the Twilight books encourage people to read.

But not planking. Planking says, “Hey, you don’t have to really work to be valued. We’ll all love you if you just lie on your face and take it.”

Celebrating Dependence on Independence Day

July 4th is like the Casmir Pulaski Day of America. For those of you who live outside of Illinois and never got that first Monday in March off, Casmir Pulaski was a Polish general who trained military troops during the Revolutionary War. Dude actually saved George Washington’s life (at least, that’s what Wikipedia says). Since Chicago has a pretty large Polish population, politicians decided that IL should celebrate the day and take some time off. Today, nationwide, we’ve all decided to take the day off, even though the rest of the world has manned their cubicles. We’re celebrating our independence, our resolve, our legacy as Americans. Light up the fuckin’ sparklers, it’s Independence Day.


By the way, you’ve officially been un-Americaned if you haven’t seen ID4.

If I were to take a second to be completely honest though, this day’s never really been about Independence for me. Hell, I’ve always wanted to go to England, and I think we could all use a little more BBC in our lives. Separation from England is a bit of an abstraction for me, seeing as I’ve never had to deal with them acting as a strong-armed international superpower like they were back in the 1700s. And though the 4th of July is a great day to celebrate the troops, that’s something we should be doing every day. So when it comes down to it, July 4 tends to stick out from the other 364 days in one particular way: fireworks.

My first memory of fireworks is almost petrifying. I don’t know how old I was, I just remember being up on my Dad’s shoulders, worried as hell that I’d fall off (I had an issue with heights even at that age, it seems), and then it happened. A bright green flash, and a huge explosion of color that I thought was going to rain down from the sky and ignite me in flames. I screamed. The whole time, I think. But that’s not my point, just a funny story I thought I’d share. 🙂

Since then, I’ve become much more comfortable with fireworks. Partly because I’m not as sensitive to the booming explosions, but mainly because fireworks have always brought the people I care about together. Some of my best memories involve fireworks: listening to the SkyConcert while sitting in the family minivan with Mom, Dad, and Little Sister, sitting on the Jefferson St. bridge with my high school friends before the big show, standing outside of Cinderella’s castle with my great friends back in California. Fireworks have an uncanny power to bring us together as one united, awe-struck audience.

Fireworks remind me that, even as I embark further into my own independence, I’m still dependent on my family, my friends to keep me strong. Our country, regardless of how much it tries to stand alone, is dependent on the rest of the world to keep it strong.  I think we’re all the same way. So today, as you grill your burgers, eat corn-on-the-cob, and watch the fireworks across the country, remember that we not only stand for independence, but that our strength lies in dependence. (See what I did there?)

Happy 4th of July, everyone.

-Josh

P.S. If you want to grin from ear to ear, watch a few seconds of this awesome Rockford firework vid.