There’s a saying that we, in the collective sense of the word, have forgotten about. “If someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I know it’s hard to imagine that in 2018 abhorrent people we thought we’d gotten rid of, whether by teaching or by generations dying off, are still among us. But they keep showing their faces and we, again in the collective sense, don’t believe them.
We’ve never been more aware of the affects of bullying yet we continue to let people do it and call it freedom. Our President is the leader of this movement. And his followers are everywhere. Not just in the red states or the Deep South. They are in Hollywood, in other parts of Washington (DC) that aren’t the executive branch. They’re online hiding behind fake avatars and they’re walking around with AR-15s in the middle of your kid’s school.
All of them, in some way or another, are also in the spotlight. We can’t get away from news of the White House bully in chief. Every day another senator, congress member, staff member, has to resign over some sort of allegation. There’s a school shooting every day. That’s not even an exaggeration. And today’s latest show off told you all along who she was, and yet, you gave her a TV show anyway. And were in shock and awe that she’s still a bully.
She didn’t make a mistake. We did. We forgot to believe her. Just like we forgot to believe every other bully we’ve been putting in positions of power – and don’t get it twisted, having your own TV show is a form of power. Excuses were made from day one. The other members of the cast and crew aren’t her.
We can’t keep the child in charge of our country from being a bigoted bully using social media to spew hate, why did we ever think giving a woman who’s never not been one her own show?
It’s time to start believing people when they show us who they are the first time.
A few weeks ago I floated the idea of going back to school. I put it into the universe by saying it out loud to a few people, I looked into options, and found a program that would both suit me and excite me. There were two choices in the beginning. University of Phoenix’s program centering on the psychology of social media and technology, and National University’s program for sport psychology. In the end I decided a general psychology degree would be best, with the option to take two sport psychology related courses as electives. So I applied to National University. And the universe said “Slow your roll, player.”
A Brief Walk Down Memory Lane
It wasn’t my goal to be a career student. I didn’t really want to be a student at all, ever. I hated high school and was shocked to learn I graduated with a 3.8 GPA when all was said and done. I’d started working summer jobs at 15 and by 18 I had a steady job that I thought could be my career path. Of course, I did my time taking courses at a community college, without a single clue of what kind of degree I was going for. The only thing I knew was I wanted to study psychology. That was the first class I signed up for and the only one I attended without feeling obligated.
When my steady job turned itself into a full-time job I quit college and settled in to be an accounts payable clerk forever. Over time I did some dumb ass things, which resulted in me getting fired. A few things I learned from that experience: I was stupid when it came to trusting men, when I wasn’t calling in sick with bogus illnesses to hang out with one I was doing stupid things to impress one I worked with. Young and dumb I was, yes. (Should be read in a Yoda voice); I don’t panic in stressful situations; I always turn to going back to school when I don’t have any better ideas.
For 18-months I went to ICT College, a trade school, and studied business management. I was lucky enough to spend those years focusing on my classes and nothing else. I graduated with an Associates degree in Business Management and told the universe I needed work at a company whose focus was sports. It wasn’t long before I was an accounts payable clerk at Fox Sports and life was grand. Especially when they promoted me to a higher position a few short months into my tenure. Fox had a rash of issues with stolen and forged checks, and they created a new position, mine, to catch the bogus checks as they cleared their bank accounts. I missed three checks, getting too settled and taking too much advantage of my cushy job and they had no choice but to let me go.
As you can guess I did what I do in these situations. I went right back to school. But this time I had the plan to go at night and work during the day. So I went back to ICT to finish out my Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and started my search for a part time job. This time I turned to entertainment, and within a few months I was working as a paid intern in a business department at Paramount Pictures.
The entire time I attended ICT (18 months) and worked at Paramount, I held a 4.0 GPA and missed one day of school. 9/11. I graduated valedictorian. And I turned my internship in the corporate accounting department into a full-time job in the marketing department in the motion picture division. Once again I was set. And then DreamWorks and Paramount merged, I was “laid off” and of course…I went back to school. In a total 180, this time for graphic design. Just to be clear, it wasn’t out of the blue. I was surrounded by graphic design at work and I had been running a Web site for an entertainment magazine in the midst of all this. When I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communications I found it hard to find a job and that has been my life for several years.
Why Does Any of That Matter?
Both colleges I attended for my degrees are no longer in business. ICT changed hands twice, and Westwood just flat out closed down. And that matters. Because in order to go back to school and not start at square one, I need my transcripts. Westwood was kind enough to set up an online record keeping company for such things. So I have those. Which would be great, if I hadn’t fought with them to allow me to transfer credits for courses I took at ICT. Who’s new company in charge has informed me they cannot locate my records.
First they asked me if I attended under a different name. Nope. Then they asked for my social security number. When that yielded no results I got a short, snippy email that said “I don’t have your records,” and was promptly ghosted.
Eighteen months of hard work, a 4.0 GPA, Valedictorian. Gone. Poof. “I don’t have your records.” Period, end of sentence, I’m not even going to try helping you further.
Where Does That Leave Me?
So I had to ask myself several questions. The main one, truthfully, is how much energy I have to go through all this again. I’m 46 now. I’m not 19, 25, 30. Do I really want to fight this hard to become a student again? And how much debt do I want to be in to get a degree that to be honest, means dick all to anyone I actually want to work for? If I want to do any sort of counseling I need a master’s degree. So my cost has now skyrocketed from $30K (if I can somehow prove I don’t need the basic courses for the 7th time) to $75K to continue on to a useful degree. And is it a useful degree, really, if I don’t intend on using it in the end?
I still have social anxiety. And despite great strides in my health and strength, I’m still disabled. I’m not working now for many reasons. When I couldn’t find work I had to fight with the government to stop asking me for money to pay back loans I couldn’t afford, which meant for 5 years I had to continue to prove I was too disabled to work (that time has passed, but so has my relevancy). I’m 15 years removed from any kind of accounting job and my graphic design training is already outdated. It would actually cost me more money to make money at any kind of design firm.
And that brings me to the bottom line: when I really take a long hard look at things, I just want to write. I want to write about sports and people who have issues and things that mean something.
Would having a psychology degree help that? Certainly. But so might a $400 writing course. Or maybe I should read several (or all) of the books on writing that have been collecting dust on my shelves, or in my Kindle library.
That’s a misleading title, this isn’t about the Brad Pitt movie, and I’m not screaming “what’s in the box!” But It’s almost Halloween and almost NaNoWriMo and that’s all scary. So it fits.
First, something terrible. We’ll get it out of the way. This morning when I checked out my usual social media spots Facebook suggested I use their fundraise for your birthday function. When I searched through the list of non-profits I could choose to have my friends and family donate to it occurred to me that too many of the organizations hit home. Like, way, too, many. Cancer. Animal safety. Fire recovery. LGBT issues of every kind. Bullying. And those are just the close to home ones. Then there’s wanting to help Houston, Puerto Rico and Florida who have been hit by hurricanes in recent weeks. It was overwhelming.
Ultimately I went with Planned Parenthood, because women’s health has been under fire for far too long and despite all the devastation I have mentioned previously it seems the current administration is hell bent on reminding us it’s a man’s world and women should just be happy we’re allowed to live in it. I also chose this organization because it helps millions of men and women with cancer screening and pregnancy prevention, and prenatal care for those who have no other place to go. Because when they’re not focusing on saving all the babies and persecuting women for having a choice, our government is tearing apart our healthcare system piece by piece. The organization is also a safe place for HIV screening and STD prevention across the spectrum.
Anyway that’s where I’ll leave that. Donate. Don’t. Whatever you choose. I’m all about being pro-choice. And pro-life. You can be both. I promise.
Holy hell it’s the end of October. My kitchen renovation is complete and I couldn’t be happier. I have cooked twice in the new set up and it’s working great. I have access to the things I need and I feel comfortable cooking and cleaning in this new environment. If it weren’t 100 degrees in October I’d be itching to cook more complicated meals, but as it stands right now, the simpler the better in this god awful heat.
The end of October also means panic time for me because NaNoWrimo starts November 1. That’s when I’ll be tasked with writing 1,667 words a day for 30 days. Despite having my story idea ready to go, I’m always nervous about stalling out midway through the process. This week I plan out my background music, remind everyone in my life that I am doing this thing that requires me to be absent more than usual, and try to tell my brain to shut up about how bad I suck at writing, and finishing things.
This is also when I let you all know that this blog will turn into a writing update center for me for a month. In the past I’ve done daily check ins. This year I’m hoping to do it weekly instead. If you follow my social media accounts you’ll see my daily word counts there.
W.O.W. moment of the week (for last week): I survived 3 weeks of kitchen renovations.
I have this pinned on my Pinterest board I’ve named “Truthiness” to remind myself to keep things in perspective. With the way things are going in the world it is tough to remember to be grateful for thing things we have and not take them for granted. It’s hard, in my situation, to stay focused on this. It has been especially hard these past few weeks, as we’ve been renovating my kitchen and my wishlist items have been quashed one by one. Not checked off, quashed. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s fate, it’s life, it’s how I’ve had to live since whatever age it was this disability decided to pick me to live in.
That’s why the serenity prayer speaks to me. Or at least I try to make it resonate in these times. Focus on the things you cannot change and always know the difference. I had a conversation with a friend at my mom’s birthday slash I kicked cancer’s ass party and her perspective on her own situation was a gentle reminder that someone else is always dealing with something worse. I may not get the spice rack I asked for, but there are people in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and Northern California who would really like to just have their houses back. Perspective.
It’s hard not to take things personally when they’re going wrong. It’s also hard to take credit when they’re going right, or more accurately, it’s hard not to wonder where the catch is when things go well. You can have that new SUV but you’re gonna have to deal with the death of your dog, and your mom’s gonna get breast cancer. Deep down I know that these events have zero to do with each other, but in a world where everything is going wrong, it’s easy to jump to terrible conclusions. Stay on target, keep yourself grounded, do not lose perspective.
As I’m being introspective, the universe reminds me how big it is, and reminds me how connected I am to it. I feel earthquakes before they happen. I think of people and they appear as if to tell me they heard my thoughts. It happens a lot when I start getting to far into my own head. When my anxiety level is at an all time high. The bigger picture shows up and taps me on the shoulder. Perspective.
I forgot to add a W.O.W. moment last week so I’ll just say that for the past 2 weeks my WOW moments have been strength, wisdom, serenity and courage. The spices don’t need their own rack.
The world is still in disarray. But it will continue to be tomorrow, and the next day, so I’m gonna take a break from ranting about the state of things in the big world and talk about my own little world.
October is a crazy month for me, and for the last 2 years I’ve been making it even crazier by having renovations done to my house. These are necessary evils, renovations, but still chaos and disorder nonetheless.
So this is the month where hockey starts, baseball playoffs begin, and football is in full swing. It’s also when the Fall TV season gets up and running and that whole summer of “I’ll catch up soon” turns into “oh shit that starts tomorrow? I’m still 13 episodes behind!” It’s also the month where I’m gearing up to write every day in November.
A small sidestep back into the political fray – hockey had its first player protest during the anthem. JT Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning raised his fist in solidarity with the NFL and others who have knelt or done the same. And I feel slightly better about supporting sports for now. I’ve come to the conclusion that just like in everyday life the sports world has its good people and its bad ones, and if I stopped enjoying all the things I do because of assholes I’d have nothing left.
This year’s renovation is taking place in my kitchen. Like last year’s bathroom project, my little house needed to be better set up for wheelchair me. When I moved in I was still standing up me. What I need now is lower counters, spaces under things like the sink and the cooktop for me to roll under, and places where I can plug things in without having to run an extension cord from my bedroom and cause fire hazards. So we took out the entire kitchen and started over. Or will be starting over next week. And then that’s it. We’re done with making my house suitable for me.
While we’re here, let’s talk about why I found myself needing a new kitchen in the first place, other than the accessible part of it all. A short story. In April of 2016 I went to check out the new accessible SUV Ford and Braunability co-created as an alternative to the mini-van. At that time the test went really well. I got up the ramp without issue and although the seat wasn’t accessible yet, I was assured it would all be set up to my needs. So you can imagine that when I actually got the SUV in July I was shocked to find myself unable to get into it. The ramp was too steep and the seat was a challenge. The search for a solution began and I was able to find wheels that can assist in the pushing of my chair. Ramp problem solved. But that wasn’t really enough, I was still struggling to get into the seat. And I finally decided it was time to do something about my weight, and my strength.
I had been cooking meals for myself and my mom for a few months leading up to this, but I wasn’t as serious about what I made. So I started to cut out a lot of things. Mainly carbs. And I added more healthy choices of meats, along with making sure I made some sort of vegetable as a side. I use a lot of recipes to achieve this. On Pinterest, on recipe sites. And my love for food turned into a love for cooking food. Healthy food.
As soon as the eating was on the right track I moved on to the strength. And in July I started working out with a trainer once a week. A year later I was up to 2x a week. I am stronger, healthier and feeling better than I have, probably my whole life.
I have no idea how much weight I’ve lost, I only know I went down 4 sizes in about 18 months. For me, it’s a slow process, because I’m not always active, and because I refuse to give up everything I love. There’s gonna be some carbs. There’s gonna be some sugar. There may be days where I don’t eat a single fruit or vegetable for any meal. But I’m on my way to better living.
If you’re interested in what kinds of foods I make and where I find recipes you can follow the new tumblr page I created with the Lycon – who’s food journey is different than mine, but also changed her whole diet this past year (spoiler: she went vegan, I didn’t). https://onaspecialdiet.tumblr.com/
In preparation for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which starts November first my plan was to write a blog entry every day in October. Because I missed day one, and because nothing truly happens in my life, I wavered. But I woke up with a whole lot to talk about.
Whenever there is tragedy anywhere in the world social media feeds become one long “pray for [insert city, country, continent name here]” series of posts. I have questions.
I know that social media does not present a 24 hour look into people’s lives. There are exceptions to this but for the most part you’re not getting to see what people do every second of their lives. I get this 100%. But why pray to whatever deity you believe in after a tragedy instead of asking for help preventing one? And if you are praying for things like peace and love all the time, do you ever ask yourself why no one is listening?
The same narrative comes up every time something like the terror attack in Las Vegas happens. First and foremost it’s the prayers for families and loved ones affected. Then there’s the question of when the right time to talk about gun control is. Followed by whether or not his or her race makes them a terrorist or a disturbed individual. As if there’s a difference.
So today, although my thoughts are with those affected by the most recent tragedy in Vegas, my thoughts are also with those that turn to some sort of religious figure for answers. Especially politicians who have the power to make a change. Posting tweets about your thoughts and prayers doesn’t change gun control policy. You will notice I used the word control here. Nobody needs assault rifles. Scratch that, nobody but the military needs assault rifles.
Thoughts and prayers are never going to stop gun violence. And not one average everyday American needs 19 guns and enough ammo to mow down a nation of people let alone an unsuspecting crowd at a concert.
If you’re going to get on your knees and put your hands together do it in front of your state representative and ask them why they’re comfortable with this much violence. Instead of praying to an invisible being beg a real one to stop this madness.
Write like no one is reading.
That’s not how the saying goes but it’s how I’m approaching this entry.
In my last entry I briefly touched on the moment I became a hockey fan. It was easy to transition into the sport because I have been watching them my whole life. Baseball, basketball, racing, tennis. Yeah, I get that racing isn’t necessarily a sport. There are some that argue baseball isn’t either. Whatever. The point is, my life has been filled with rooting for a team or individual athlete in some capacity as far back as I can remember.
I’m sure somewhere along the way the fact that my brother watched sports helped me find them. But where he casually watched whatever sport was on TV at the moment, I fell into categories. College basketball became my obsession. For years if you approached me in March I could tell you all the teams and their rankings in the NCAA basketball tournament. My team was Duke. The Lakers were my NBA team. And the Dodgers have always been a part of my life – my grandparents had season tickets and even after they stopped going my friends and I would go to games on our own. The NFL came and went for me, probably because the LA teams left the city. But I do like Tom Brady despite himself. And before him it was Peyton Manning. Quarterbacks and goaltenders. Those are my dudes. Tennis became my way to stay connected to my grandmother. And even though she no longer remembers, I follow it.
Being an LA native I naturally gravitated toward the teams here. Although, in 1993 I found myself enamored with the Pittsburgh Penguins because they had Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr (among others, I can name them, seriously, ask me who the core of the 90s Penguins team was and I can tell you).
In recent years my watching habits have changed. The NCAA isn’t so much a thing for me until the finals, and sometimes even then I just catch up on highlights and scores. In fact basketball in general has become more of a “I’ll watch it when the finals start” habit. These days I’ve found baseball soothing and it doesn’t matter what team is playing, I’ll have it on. Until recently, when my favorite driver retired, and the political climate changed in this country, Sundays were reserved for NASCAR, when I remembered. The only constant is hockey. From October to June hockey is where my priorities lie. “Want to hang out tonight?” “Depends on if the Kings are playing.”
What does that all mean and why am I telling you (myself) all this?
Sports and politics have always been a thing. Don’t let anyone tell you this started with the idiot in chief. He made it personal, but it’s always been there. Political protesting in the Olympic Games, the NFL, baseball, it was a thing before him and will be after him. And what just took place had nothing to do with him until he made it so.
The current situation in sports has always been about racism. Hell, if you look at the history of protest in sports it’s 98% about racism. If not 100%. It’s never been about the flag, or the anthem, or not respecting our armed forces. Colin Kaepernick didn’t take a knee to protest war, the flag, America. He started this movement to put eyes on one specific issue: police brutality against black people. Don’t let anyone get you twisted. It’s always been about racism.
In fact it’s still about racism. When you can stand in front of a crowd and call white supremacists “very fine people” one week and call protesting players (black men, in case that wasn’t clear) “sons of bitches” the next, it’s about racism.
And here’s where my personal sports journey comes into play. Hockey and NASCAR are becoming an issue. Let’s start simple. NASCAR has always been and it seems, will always be, made up of red state, right leaning drivers and fans. So it is not surprising that where NFL owners stood up for the players and their right to protest (despite being supporters of the current administration), many car owners explicitly forbid their drivers from doing the same, threatening firings if anyone defied them.
For a while I was able to look past the fact that NASCAR owners, and many drivers, young and old, had opinions different than mine. I justified my continuing support by remembering these teams are sponsored by companies who feel as I do, and the culture of the sport was trying to change. And while I am happy to say the driver I was rooting for this season has spoken in favor of protesting peacefully, NASCAR will no longer have my eyes on it.
Here’s the thing though. NASCAR couldn’t care less if I am watching or not. I’m not their audience.
And neither do the Penguins, who also disappointed me this week.
The NHL is steeped in tradition. They are also steeped in team mentality. There are no individuals. From the top tier players to the day to day skaters you ask them about the game and they fall over themselves to be all about team. That’s not to say they don’t have their share of individual awards and the like. But they are taught from day one that hockey is about us, not me. So to step up and say something about the current state of things…well that’s calling attention to yourself and that’s just, rude. But mostly, and this is the key here, the people that make up the NHL are white men. So it’s easy for a team like the Penguins to say things like “It’s a tradition to go to the White House so we’re going.” They don’t have a player in their locker room who is threatened by the administration’s policies and rhetoric. Even though they currently live in this country. And to say they’re taking politics out of the equation is utter bullshit.
So I’ve stopped following them on all social media, and unless they’re playing the Kings, I won’t watch their games. Again, though, they don’t care. I’m not their audience.
The NFL is still fucking over its players. This week team owners stood side by side, kneeled with, and spoke in favor of their teams as protests spread over the league. All while continuing to support the administration (after all, they’re the 1% benefiting from its policies) and keeping the catalyst of this particular movement off a professional team. That’s right, folks. Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the National Anthem and was conveniently unsigned by the team he was playing for at the time. And for some strange reason (she says sarcastically) remains unsigned by every team who participated in this weekend’s protests.
Sports is flawed. It will always be flawed. But as long as there are people willing to take a stand and speak out, I’ll continue to pay attention to them. Even when that means I have to put aside other bullshit to do so. Except NASCAR and the Penguins. I’m done with them.
A side note. This summer my team, the LA Kings, drafted a player with two moms. When asked about it, the pro scout who recommended the player to the team said: If anyone has a problem with that they can go fuck themselves. This week they singed the player to an entry level contract (this is normal procedure for a draftee not picked in the top 3-5 spots). Baby steps.
I will forever be conflicted by my choice to continue to watch sports despite what I know. I get the luxury of making that choice. I will continue to stay informed and do my best to make the right decisions based on that information.
W.O.W. Moment of the Week: Sticking with my responsibilities despite feeling like shit.
Yeah, so I missed a couple weeks of the planned weekly blog entries. I have a legit excuse – I had an out of town visitor staying in my house and we actually did stuff. None of it was what we talked about before her flight out, but that’s how it usually works with us.
For the months leading up to the British Lycon’s bi-annual trips we chat about what we want to do and which shows and movies we want to watch. And then we forget it all and do everything but what we talked about. This trip was no different. The plan was to watch a bunch of superheroes both in movie form and TV show form. I haven’t seen a lot of the current X-Men films, including Logan. Naturally, we watched none of those films and opted for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 and The Lego Batman Movie. And watched two Disney / animated movies – Moana and Zootopia. On the TV front we are both dangerously behind on Arrow, Flash and Supergirl. We watched 20 episodes of Teen Wolf. The out of the house plan was to finally get to the Tar Pits. We went to the California Science Center. You seeing the pattern?
It’s no big deal putting together a loose plan for something like a holiday trip but what happens when you have a plan for your future and you don’t follow through? How do you get yourself to be consistent when it matters? Those are the questions I ask myself constantly. My life plan was to be creative in some form, whether it be graphic design or writing. I’ve done neither. As technology advances and we become more reliant on video and audio to tell stories I though a podcast and Youtube channel would be cool. Haven’t done either. It’s not that I don’t want to do any of these things. It’s my brain asking that nagging question: where’s your audience?
Even here on this blog, I have very few readers. I get that people are less inclined to read these days. But I think it’s more than that. It comes down to whether or not I’m interesting enough. My inconsistency in posting here has much more to do with the fact that I have nothing new to say than the desire to say it. And although I love to tell stories about fictional characters I refuse to make shit up about my own life just to be more interesting.
So how do you keep moving forward when your core audience is made up of your mom, your best friend and yourself? I guess we’re going to find out!
This week’s W.O.W. moment is two weeks worth of getting out of bed and getting out of the house. Honorable mentions: a new tattoo, seeing Hamilton and being an adult about a museum display full of real dead bodies.
Stay tuned for next week’s entry which will be an explanation of the where’s and why’s of my tattoo collection.
It feels gross writing a personal blog about frivolous things when there’s so much devastation going on in Texas right now, but sometimes keeping a sense of normalcy helps not be overwhelmed. It’s these times when I feel most helpless. I can give small amounts of money, but I can’t just jump on a plane, helicopter, bus, whatever form of transportation can take me to an area where help is needed. If you haven’t yet and would like to donate, please consider donating to a local food bank, animal rescue or LGBTQ center. Do not donate to the Red Cross. They have been less than stellar in putting their efforts and our money into good use. You can Google it.
This entry was going to be about the phenomenon of hating things just because they’re too popular or not your thing. But I’ve done that already and just because there’s new hate for new things I don’t need to rehash my feelings on it. So this one’s going to be about my brain’s love for telling me lies. There are a lot of them but I’ll narrow it down to the big 3.
The first lie: Everyone is mad at you. This happens any time I write emails and private messages, my brain tells me I said everything wrong. And then I spend the next few days wondering if it’s right and I said something offensive because I haven’t gotten a response. On most days I push past this feeling but there are moments when I cannot get over the sinking feeling I’ve done something horribly wrong. This leads into…
The second lie: You will always be on the “if nothing better comes along” list. It’s something I’ve felt my entire life. You’d think at my advanced age and the fact that I’m perpetually a loner, anti-social, hermit it wouldn’t matter to me so much anymore. But it does. The feeling also comes in the form of being forgotten. Which ties all three lies together…
The third lie: the world doesn’t revolve around you. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t. But I am terrible at being strong enough to respond to that email or message when the person didn’t get back to me for days. Or make the calls that need to be made. Or texts that should be sent. This also comes from the desire to be a hermit, along with my constant fear that I’m a burden.
Depression and anxiety are no joke. I’m lucky enough to have a brain that fixes itself before I get too far out of control. But its lies are getting harder to recognize and that’s a scary thought.
Alright, these entries are getting way heavier than I mean to, so I’m going to attempt something new. At the end of each post I will talk about something that I’ll call “win of the week”— or W.O.W.
Thanks for reading, as always.
W.O.W: Tuesday night I got dressed, put on my makeup, and went to a concert at a small West Hollywood venue, alone. I accomplished this feat by asking one simple question: what’s the worst that can happen? When it couldn’t answer I shut my brain off and went on my way. And had fun. Imagine that?
I didn’t have anything to say here and was kind of panicking about that. And then Warner Bros. did me a favor and gave me a topic to rant about. Congratulations to anyone who’s tired of hearing about my family health nightmares and my deep depression. You get an expletive filled rant about fictional characters. Enjoy!
The thing about the Joker, forever and ever, is that he has no origin. The other thing about the Joker is that he isn’t in love with Harley Quinn. Warner Bros. has gone and forgotten both those things. Yesterday news broke that the studio has not only greenlit one Joker backstory, but two Joker backstories. One, get this, are you ready for it? An 80s noir look at the Joker before he became, the Joker. You read that right. Before anyone even had a chance to say WTF they greenlit a second film. This time about the Joker’s relationship with Harley Quinn. Directed by the guys that brought us Crazy, Stupid, Love. Crazy stupid is right. I said it after Suicide Squad and I will say it again. The Joker and Harley Quinn are not a couple of crazy kids in love. Harley might be but she’s so far on the crazy side I doubt it. And the Joker loves nothing more than being an annoyance to Batman. In fact that’s the purpose of both characters. To be a thorn in Batman’s side. The Joker has no reason for it. It’s just fun for him. Harley does it because she’s following the Joker’s lead. And let’s face it, lately the Batman has been hella annoying so he deserves it.
So about the Joker origin. I think Mark Hamill put it best when he said that the character’s backstory is sort of a multiple choice. There is no set in stone story of his beginnings and I like it that way. I like the idea of someone being a dick to a superhero just because he thinks it’s fun. He has no real ties to Batman other than being a menace to Gotham. In the 1989 version of Batman Tim Burton tried to infer that the Joker had killed Bruce’s parents. It was a passing line – the one we all remember, if we know the films in any way – “ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” In Bruce’s memory of the night of his parent’s murder the man who mugs them says it, and later in the film Jack Nicholson delivers the line in his Jack way. Thus bringing the battle between hero and villain to a head and giving Batman more reason to put on the suit and fight for his city. But the definitive Batman / Joker story (on film) has to be the one in The Dark Knight in Heath Ledger’s performance of a man who’s sole purpose is to fuck up Batman’s life forever, because he can.
Now, to be fair, there is a comic book on the origins of the Joker which has also been turned into an animated movie. Written by Alan Moore, The Killing Joke is told as part alternative to the Red Hood Gang origin and part “here’s why the Batman and the Joker fight.” We see a man down on his luck, desperate to feed his pregnant wife, who loses his job at the Acme Chemical Plant. The Red Hood Gang then enlists him to help with a heist of said plant, where they trick him into wearing the Red Hood (a long red helmet) thus implicating him as the leader of the gang. In being pursued by Batman in the depths of the plant, the Joker falls into a vat of acid and we get mad man Joker and, a reason for him to have hatred for the Bat.
And maybe I’d be okay with that as a live action film and it might even be possible to do this story as 80s noir, with down on their luck people and gangster crews. But they’ve already stated this will have nothing to do with Batman. So that’s out.
And that brings us to Harley Quinn and the Joker. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created her solely for the Batman Animated Series in the mid nineties to be a sort of foil / annoy the piss out of the Joker. They meet in Arkham Asylum where she falls for his games and he turns her into a madwoman. He uses her, abuses her and tosses her aside when he’s free and clear of the nut house (with her help). But Harley persists and is determined to make an impression. So in one full episode dedicated to Harley and the Joker (Mad Love), the creators of the character and their relationship make one thing clear – the Joker could care less about Harley Quinn. When she captures Batman and nearly kills him, to impress the Joker, he’s pissed off about it. He’s not impressed or doting or even the least bit interested. He’s angry. She took away his fun. Clever as the plot she devises is, he’s upset she got to the Batman first. And yet, when it came time to portray their story in film, whoever let Jared Leto get a hold of the Joker did a terrible job at giving him the right tools. I like Jared, a lot. I think he’s a great actor. But not for this role. And maybe it’s not his fault. Maybe it’s Zack Snyder. Who knows. Either way Suicide Squad fucked up their story beyond words and I’m still mad about it.
I try hard not to rail on films before they are released. I have rants right here on my blog about being kind to the people in charge and letting them show us first before getting angry and calling names. And I have no names to call anyone. I just wanted to say don’t. Don’t mess with the Joker or Harley Quinn any more than you have. I understand what you’re doing. Copying Marvel didn’t work so you’re going in a whole different direction. By all means, do your thing. But stop trying to shoehorn stories that aren’t there into stories that are.
“Why do you keep saying the name Martha?!”