Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Five Year Plan

No, I'm not really a communist. I just decided to put down my goals for the next five years of my life. Now that I have a steady job, and potentially a place to stay (waiting on a phone call from a dude who is renting out one of his bedrooms.), I am really looking forward to accomplishing some things in my life. So, I'll start from the more pressing, short-term goals, and work up to the long-term goals.

Next Week:

-Ask out the girl at the cafe I eat at every lunch time. (She's impossibly cute.)
-Get certified in Fire Arms training.
-Go to a Styx Concert.

Next Month:

-Find and move into an apartment.
-Get all of the necessary changes of address approved.
-Transfer funds into a new bank (My current one doesn't have a branch in the town I'm moving to.).
-Get off my parent's insurance and onto my own.

Next Six Months:

-Pay off my car.
-Possibly get a second part-time job to save up money for:
-Getting my own house, and

Next Year:

-Starting school in the fall of '09. Study Criminal psychology or something similar that I can apply to my job.
-Get on the tactical team at work.
-Try and get promoted to the next Officer Position.

By 2011:

-Own a BMW.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I am a Correctional Officer

I have a uniform, and various badges, and a utility belt! It pretty much kicks ass, in every way.

I'm in a class of 12 people during basic training. I've nicknamed them as follows (These are all in jest. I mean no disrespect to some very cool people I'm getting to work with):

Testosterone: Everything he says is either intended to puff himself up, or make himself look better to other people. He can never leave a joke without some kind of witty addition. Example:

"Man, the best way to gain weight fast is McDonalds. One time I had to gain 5 pounds for a match, and you can sure bet I made it!"

"Ha, dude, I bet you gained like, 10 pounds!"

"Yeah! Ha, like, 9.5!! HAR HAR HAR"

Also known as: Douche Bag.

Son Goku: Is about the size of Goku from Dragon Ball Z. He can bench 300 lbs and is Testosterone's best friend (since they started working together at least)

Also known as: Muscle Head.

FrankenElf: Looks like a mix of Frankenstein's Monster and any elf from your typical fantasy movie/book. He's 5'7" and 125 lbs, just barely smaller than I am, and has this fierce gaze. He looks older than he is, and has an unusual skin tone and some grey hair. He looks pretty odd, yes, but is a cool guy.

Also known as: Frankenstein.

Swanson Man: He looks like exactly who you'd expect to be delivering Swanson food, and interestingly, he actually WAS a Swanson man before this job. He's big and tall and looks like a total computer nerd. Completely out of place for a group of prison guards.

Also known as: Maytag Repairman Apprentice (The guy in the new Maytag Commercials).

Baby Face: He's twenty, but looks like a chubby sixteen year old.

Father Time: He's the oldest looking in the bunch, but isn't actually that old. Judging by his behavior though when he's around Testosterone, he really misses his youth. Every time he and Testosterone are near eachother, he tries really hard to fit in. Fun to watch.

Pizza Neck: He has an abundance of acne on his neck. However, he has the coolest real name ever, and I'll gladly salute him for it.

Also known as: Shy Kid.

Mole: Think "The Mole" from the movie "Goldmember". Yeah...

Also known as: Cussing tiger hidden mole-nose.

Nice Lady: I can't think of a name for her.

Anime Girl: Her eyes are like... round on the inside, and pointy on the outside, which is just amazing looking. They really remind me of some character's eyes from the Anime film "Spirited Away."

Also known as: Tramp Stamp.

Top Gun: He mentioned that he planned to go into the Air Force if this job doesn't pan out. Ironically, he has a very Tom Cruise from Top Gun haircut so maybe it'll work out well for him.

Also known as: Tom Cruise.

Me: I'm awesome, and everything I say is awesome and true, and I'm never wrong, because I'm a manly man.

Also known as: The most fricken humble person who ever existed, without a doubt.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Getting Ready to Roll

I have to leave for work in about seven minutes to get there on time for my first day. I'm running on about... oh, three hours of sleep. Trying to make the transition from sleeping in the mornings to sleeping at night is always a little rough at first, but I can handle it. Wouldn't be the first time I've had to do this.

It WILL, however, be the first time I've had to bring a writing tablet to work for training. Looks like I'll be taking lots of notes on protocol and such while I learn how to be awesome or something.

Muddling through fatigue
eyelids burning from the inside
One step forward, one step back
two steps forward, don't look. Attack.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Driving with Styx playing

Bright blue sky and smooth green grass
The fields a blur to me
its counterpart solid as stone
The sun shines brightly
Please show me the way.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bringing people up vs. Cutting them down

I'm the kind of person that likes to bring other people up, first and foremost. I like to be friendly, I like to flirt, a lot, and I like to give compliments at completely random and inappropriate times. I'm a rather absurd person in a way... I guess you could say I'm really raw? I don't sugar coat things, I'm just honest. I get this from my mom, mostly (the brutal honesty thing).

I also like to think of myself as able to see things from more points of view than my own. I can sympathize with people who disagree with me, because I often see where they are coming from, and I can explain to them, honestly, how our views differ and how we can compromise. At least, I can see how we differ, but getting the compromise to WORK is an issue.

I've known this girl, we'll call her Michelle, for that is her name, for a few months now. "Known" is a bit of a misnomer, for I haven't met her in real life. We chat it up daily. Anyway, we get along fairly well, or did until recently.

Part of who I am, like I said before, is someone who loves to flirt and get along well. My flirting is not often of the serious variety because I'm rather shy when it comes down to being forward and direct. Maybe that's why I flirt so innocently, anyway...

Michelle hates when people flirt with her. She hates it so much that she gets angry. When she gets angry, she proudly, and I stress the proud aspect, becomes a hatin'-beeotch. She says the most condescending and malevolent things to purposefully cut a man down. All because she hates to be flirted with.

This reminds me of a philosophical question I asked myself a year ago after reading the short story, "Is God a Taoist?"

What makes a sin, a sin? After some thought, it can pretty much be summed up as saying, "A sin is an action that causes harm to another." So with that definition, we come to some difficulty.

Let's take cursing for example. Some faiths believe that cursing is a sin. Does cursing harm anyone? Your first guess would most likely be, "No. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Seems pretty clear cut. However, there are different uses of curse words. You can curse AT someone, or you can just curse as part of your language. Cursing AT someone is what I would call a sin, because the intent and the following action are meant to hurt someone.

But what about just cursing when you regularly speak? What about when you are angry (but not pointing your cursings at any person)? If you are like me, sometimes when someone curses, you get a little uneasy. Now, I've been around cursing my whole life, so I can imagine that someone who hasn't gets even more uncomfortable when someone curses, perhaps even to the point of physical sickness.

Such was the case with my friend from high school and college. She claimed that hearing the "F" word literally made her nauseous.

So who is at fault? Does her mental block on swearing make her the sinner for belligerently condemning an innocent word? Or am I sinning because I knowingly swear around her with the knowledge of her apparent "condition"?

Now, this example is pretty clear cut because the premise of the situation revolves around only a handful of precepts. In this case I would be in the wrong, I believe, because I'm being disrespectful to her belief. But what if I didn't know she got sick when hearing curse words? What if she said it's okay? What if I was trying to help her see that she doesn't HAVE TO GET SICK?

Let's backtrack now. Michelle hates when I flirt, yet flirting is a core part of my personality. When I flirt, the intent is to bring her up. When she lashes out at me, her intent is to cut me down. Since I know that she hates when I flirt, and I still do it, am I at fault for trying to help her be happier? Is this a case of good intentions and poor implementation? Is she at fault for trying to teach me a lesson? Is she at fault for trying to make herself less uncomfortable?

Her and I are no longer on speaking terms because I told her that her intent to harm my emotions was unacceptable for a friendship and that I felt it was unfair that my intent to bring her up was always trodden upon. She took that as me calling her, "the problem."

I'm not sure who is right or wrong here. Since I'm biased and believe I always know what's right, of course my gut reaction is to be defensive and be angry that she is so ignorant of her behavior, but looking back, perhaps I could have cut back on my flirting.

Of course, that opens up a whole other can of philosophical worms. Questions like, "At what point in changing my personality for others am I making a sin against myself?" and, "Who am I, exactly, other than a few repeating patterns of behavior, some of them potentially destructive, anyway?"

That first question I had to ask myself during a Church musical concert where I was asked to cut my hair in order to perform. I'll tell that story another time perhaps.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

2 Thoughts from Bruce Lee

Most of anyone that hears "Bruce Lee" basically lets their mind jump immediately to "That karate guy" or "That actor." Bruce was actually much more than just a Martial Arts master and actor. He was quite the philosopher, and attended college, majoring in Philosophy. A good portion of his education after college was straight out of books that he would read, many of which were psychology books. Here are two quotes from his private notes that are good to think about.

"Maturation is the development from environmental support to self-support."

"I cannot teach you; only help you to explore yourself. Nothing more."

If you have the time, think about what those lines mean, both as separate entities, and how they relate to eachother. You might be so lucky as to realize something about yourself, as I did.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh, I forgot!

I got the job at the Correctional Facility. I begin training on the 25th of this month, as long as I pass my TB test, which unfortunately I can't really study for. I just have to not get Tuberculosis. I'm not at risk, but there is a miniscule possibility that I could test positive since I was around a person with Tuberculosis recently. A friend of mine got it in Peru and is being treated for it. It's not active, so already my chance of getting it from him is small (read: Nonexistant) and it's being treated so I'm good.

I hate needles, and they gave me this shot, a subcutaneous shot, which means they just barely stuck the needle in and then made a huge bubble of testing liquid under my skin. It look freaky until the liquid all spread out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My thought for the day

Now I must rest, for today has been a good day. The air is sweet, the sun is warm, and the grass is soft.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Les Miserables is a terrible thing... to abridge!

Let's analyze storytelling. Put on your thinking caps, kiddos. I will give three examples of poorly written stories, and I want you to figure out what is wrong with each one.

Sara was stunned. Without another word, she turned and left.

Richard was so awesome. He plunged to his death.

Mikey ate a delicious apple. He held the core in his hand.

Have you figured them out? There are three stories right there, concerning different characters. However, something is missing.

Every story needs a clear beginning, middle, and end, or else I'm afraid it just doesn't make much sense. There are methods to leaving them out temporarily over the course of the story, because those things build up suspense, or produce a hook for your audience. Story 1 lacks a beginning. Why was Sara so stunned and what was it that made her walk away from the situation? Story 2 lacks a middle. Why did Richard die? He was awesome! This shouldn't be! Story 3 lacks an end. What happened to the apple core? Here is how they should have read:

Jim slapped Sara across the face. Sara was stunned. Without another word, she turned and left.

Richard was so awesome. He felt like bungee-jumping, but his bungee snapped! He plunged to his death.

Mikey ate a delicious apple. He held the core in his hand. Later, he fed a delicate dove with the leftovers.

Now let's take a look at Les Miserables. The story was originally written by Victor Hugo. The book is massive. Like, seriously, it gives the bible a run for its money. It is broken down into sections. One section for Jean Valjean's life in prison and shortly thereafter until the Priest gives him the silver, then another section for Fantine, then a section for the revolution, then a section to finish up the story.

Looking at the story, in terms of the sections, there is a clear beginning, middle and end. The beginning is when Valjean leaves prison and his backstory is revealed. The middle is when he becomes a changed man, and adopts Cosette, and the end is when he dies and Cosette gets married. Simple enough right? Leaves plenty of room for detail and character and greatness.

Not with the musical, though. It is three hours long, and still doesn't feel like a complete story is told. The first problem, and I have this with alot of musicals, is that trying to time a character arc with the beat of music is very tricky. Trying to time falling in love to the beat of music is even harder. Trying to fit all of that into a play that has a billion other stories to tell is impossible, and Les Mis the musical does not shine from the rest. Just needed to get that out of the way for the REAL problem.

Les Mis the musical is a very abridged version of the novel. This wouldn't be a problem if the adaptation had a focal point, a piece of the story to make the main focus, but it simply doesn't. It tries to fit just about everything from the novel into the musical, and ends up taking away from them all. For instance, near the beginning, Valjean steals some silver from a kind Priest. When he is about to be arrested, the Priest comes to his aid and says, "Valjean! You forgot these pricey candlesticks I gave you, along with the other silver!" This dude lies for Valjean, hoping earnestly that Valjean will make a change in his life for good. It is an entire story on its own, and a good one to boot, however, the musical treats it as merely part of the introduction to Valjean, leaving out the rising and falling action. It just sweeps from one event to another.

Basically, by the end of the first Act, you've been treated to 90 minutes of introduction. All of the characters have been introduced (some killed, before we even had a chance to care about them.) and it looks like things are about to steady out into a story. Then maybe after an hour, we'll get a sweet climax, and then another 20 minutes to tidy things up and leave everyone with a tear in their eye.


When the curtain raises, the revolution has begun and is over-with in 30 minutes. Several people die (again, nobody cares because we can hardly remember their names) and then it just coasts for the last hour. There is no middle. The beginning blends right into the end. More specifically, the beginning goes until the intermission, then the end starts. Where is the rising action? Where is the building tension caused by a central conflict? By abridging the story and trying to make Jean Valjean the main focus, you end up with the entire story, and only 3 hours to tell it. Pick any incident from the novel, and you have a complete story. Pick the ENTIRE NOVEL, and you have too many stories to tell to make a coherent identifiable plot.

So that is my major gripe with Les Mis. I'm not saying it is bad, I'm not saying that the production I saw was in any way less than great. I'm just saying that the adaptation is fundamentally flawed at its very core.

A few minor gripes:

Singing the entire thing was a poor choice because no one can interpret lyrics perfectly the first time they are heard (Those that are classically trained to listen for vowel sounds and such do it better, still, no one is perfect). Everyone misses a line here and there. So when they try to condense so much plot into 3 hours, EVERY SINGLE LINE IS IMPORTANT TO THE STORY! And we only catch about 75% of what is sung, therefore, we miss a good portion of what is going on. This would not happen if some of it was spoken. This is not a problem if you buy the CD and listen to it 20 times. However, if you paid 20 bucks to see it live having never really heard the music, you really miss out.

Some songs are completely masturbatory. That is, they only exist to make the actors/writers feel better about themselves. Master of the House contributes to the plot in no way. Just prior to the song, we are introduced to the Thenardiers, some scum-bag tavern-owners that treat Cosette like a slave girl. Hearing them sing about ripping off customers and doing whatnot with the local prostitutes is time better spent informing the audience just what Eponine sees in Marius since WE ALREADY KNOW THEY ARE SCUM BAG TAVERN OWNERS!

Many of the songs put a grinding halt to the plot. Master of the House is a particular offender, but a good portion of the other songs are just there to describe something that could be furthering character development.

Valjean's character arc is over in the first 30 minutes, culminating as a result of his choices and experiences with himself becoming a successful businessman and Mayor, a true success story... Oh wait, now he's going to raise a daughter, now he's going to be in the military... now he's going to run from Javert... where is this going? Oh yeah! He dies. For a story about him, you'd think his character development would be spaced out a bit, eh? (Note: May be a flaw in the source material. I don't know. I never read the entire book.)

As far as things I liked, Valjean having super powers was a cool plot-twist. No one lived past 30 in early 19th century France, yet Valjean lives to nearly 60? Suspicious. And this crate thing (Wagon I guess in the original story) that he lifts off of a man in the street? Heavy verification. Though, whenever I direct Les Mis, that is, reimagine it, he will lift a water-tower off the dude, breathe life into him from 6 feet away and fly off into the sunset.

Les Miserables is a great story. However, it is my opinion that its current adaption to musical theater is flawed as a form of conveying the story. The music is just fine, and if you like that aspect, awesome, I like the music too. Just don't call it a masterpiece in terms of storytelling.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I don't update enough

I generally haven't even thought to update anymore, and a large part of that is the general lack of acknowledgment for writing anything these days. There are a whole four people who have ever left comments on my blog, and hey, that's fine. I don't need that kind of attention to validate my self-worth. However, it does take away the incentive for writing anything the public can see if you get the feeling nobody reads it.

Anyway, I got turned down for the job at the Correctional Facility. Two days ago I went to Pack N Ship, a FedEx/UPS delivery store that I applied at over a month ago (I'm fully qualified for the job. I know how to ring up sales, and I shipped packages nearly every day when I was at my last job.) and was helped by a girl who was just starting there. It was her first day. Wanna know what her experience was? Cashier at Gamestop. I was also never asked which company I wanted my package shipped by, so they picked FedEx, which is more expensive than standard UPS. Also, I don't make nearly enough money to support myself at my current job.

So, to sum up: The only people that will hire me, don't need me. The people that need me, hire people that won't help them. And the people that make me think I have a shot, send me rejection letters.

Also, my car's registration has expired, so I ride a bike five miles each way to work now. That's actually not a complaint. I need the exercise.

Tomorrow, I'll try to make a post to ruffle some feathers. I might call it, "Les Miserables is a fundamentally flawed musical that you should boycott."