Alone In The Dark

Chaos in Print

What do you see when you’re alone in the dark, and the demons come?
– John Malkovich’s taunt to Clint Eastwood in the film In The Line Of Fire

This is the situation that we are all presented with night after night. It’s time to go to bed, so you get into your pyjamas, crawl into bed, and stare at the ceiling waiting to fall asleep. It is at that time, the few moments before sleep, where we have our most profound thoughts. And I’ve been having a lot of those moments lately. Usually, the thoughts fade, and I go to sleep. But, for the past few days, they have been providing me with divine inspiration, causing me to jump out of bed, turn my computer back on, write down my latest column, turn my computer off, and go back to bed, only for the cycle to start all over again.

I think my earliest before-bed ponderance began when I was eight years old. The ending credits of The Flintstones greatly disturbed me. I would lie awake for hours wondering if Wilma heard Fred, or if Fred had to spend the night outside. Many TV shows inspired such thoughts. What did Titania say to Fox on that episode of Gargoyles? What exactly did happen to Dr. Sam Beckett after Quantum Leap? Why did they cancel Space: Above and Beyond? Soon, though, I graduated to pondering the great mysteries of the universe: why are we here? Are we alone in the universe? Is there a unified field theorem? Why exactly do men have nipples? Sometimes, my mind began to wander to the past.

For example, when I was in junior high, there was this girl. Jolene was her name. I had a huge crush on her. I think it may have even been love. Junior high was tough for me. The hormones started kicking in, and I was turning into the geek that you all know and love. Naturally, this made me the target of a lot of jokes and harassment. But Jolene was one of the few who showed me kindness. It were as though I were Quasimodo and she was the gypsy Esmeralda. As always, time marched on. We went to separate high schools and I never saw her again. Who knows? Maybe I’ve romanticized how she treated me into something it wasn’t and maybe my memories have become clouded over the years. But I do believe I loved her. My thoughts often turn to her and wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, I hope she’s happy.

And then, there was when summer ended and I returned for my third year at college. In my second year, I met these people who were living in my wing. Let’s call them Georgia, Ally, and Billy. Now when I first met them, Georgia and Billy were very much in love, and Ally was Georgia’s best friend. Then, summer came, and I worked night shifts in a gravel pit. As always, I blissfully thought that time stood still for my friends. But, when summer ended, I returned to discover that Georgia and Billy had broken up, and by the second semester, Billy was dating Ally. Of that trio, no one’s ever told me what happened that summer. All I know is it must have been a doozy, because Ally and Billy spoke Georgia’s name with such hatred, and Georgia spent all September and most of October trying to recover from the loss. It bugs me that they never trusted me to tell me what happened. I tried to ask Georgia about it one time, and all he’d say was “We broke up. That’s all you need to know.” Maybe it was just the old story: boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl have huge fight. Girl finds comfort in arms of boy’s best friend. Boy gets insanely jealous. Boy and best friend have big fight. Boy and best friend never speak to each other again. Girl and boy’s best friend live happily ever after. Boy spends rest of life alone and miserable. On the other hand, maybe it’s good that they never told me what happened. Since I was never forced to take sides, I remained friends with all three. But still….

A recent topic has been trying to figure out exactly where my life went wrong. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher hated me. She thought I had behavioral problems. She told my parents to take me to a psychiatrist to get help. The psychiatrist discovered I was gifted, and that I was just bored in class. (That’s how I remember it, anyway. My parents claim that my teacher discovered I was gifted and recommended I be taken to a specialist to have it confirmed. I still think my teacher hated me. So what if I was five and couldn’t tie my shoes yet? Was that any reason to emotionally scar me for life? But I digress.) So, I ended up spending my whole elementary years being branded gifted. At high school, I flourished in the competition-free environment, and graduated from “gifted” to “genius.” Then college began. In my first year, my average was 8.4 (out of 9). But, sometime in third year, something happened, and my marks started sliding. My graduating average was 7.2. I still try to figure out what happened in third year to make my squander my potential like I did. Maybe I started seeing there was something going on outside the classroom. Maybe my interests started to diverge. Maybe everyone was wrong all those years, and I’m just average. I’d still like to find out what my I.Q. is. For being branded “gifted” all those years ago, no one ever told me what it was.

Then I start thinking that maybe I should let go of the past, and start turning my attention towards the future. Ahh, but what future? Plotting out what to do after college would have been so much easier if I had a plan. For a while there, a lot of people were pretty adamant that I should go for my masters. But I don’t want to. Isn’t there more to life than a classroom? Let’s look at this career path: college -> masters program -> doctorate program -> professorship. See? I never leave the classroom. There’s got to be more! And that’s the problem. There’s so much more, that I don’t know what to do. Should I fulfil my boyhood dream of becoming an engineer (a person who drives trains, not a person who builds things)? Should I pursue my current dream of being a film-maker? Should I continue with writing, seeing as to how I do this every week? Should I shuck it all for the joyful simplicity of janitorial work? I just don’t know.

And then, as I stare at my ceiling, the answers begin to come to me. Like putting on my glasses, everything starts to come into focus. I reach the verge of having a life-altering, perception-changing epiphany. And then I fall asleep.

Why do we tease ourselves like this? We carefully analyze our past, looking for the patterns. We try to project those patterns into the future, to see where we are headed. All we end up doing is generating more questions. And the more questions we have, the longer we spend staring at our ceilings contemplating the answers. But, perhaps, we are not meant to come upon the answers. They are meant to be discovered, out there in the world. And that’s why we fall asleep at the crucial moment. To prepare us for the day of discovery.

I’ve Been Wondering

Chaos in Print

WARNING: What follows is one of my half-assed attempts at writing poetry. If you have any critiques, please be gentle.

I’ve been wondering lately….
What would it be like to have wings?
To carry that weight
To flex those muscles
Could I actually use them to fly?

I’ve been wondering lately….
What would it be like to be a gargoyle?
To have the heart of an angel,
yet the face of a demon
To protect those who hate me
simply because it’s my nature
Would I be up to the challenge?

I’ve been wondering lately….
What would it be like to be in love?
To have someone in my life
to laugh with me, to talk to me
Just be with me and love what I am.
Could I survive?

I’ve been wondering lately….
What would it be like if no one listened?
To send out the message
yet get no reply
To scream at the top of my lungs
only to be rewarded with silence
How have I survived?

I’ve been wondering lately….
What would it be like to fill this hole in my soul?
To be complete
To know my destiny

I’ve just been wondering.
That’s all….

Midnight Ramblings VI

Chaos in Print

Note: You know the premise. I’ve got this buddy, here called “Neelix,” and he’s the guy I dump all my worldly musings on. But, instead of actually writing him anymore, now I publish our correspondence as these columns. How about that?

Hey Neelix!

Woo! First ramblings of the millennium! I know what you’re thinking: the new millennium doesn’t start until 2001. But hey, everyone needs to succumb to mass hysteria every once in a while, right?

So anyway, I got the Indiana Jones trilogy for Christmas, and thanks to it I have been in the throws of re-discovering Indy. The more I watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, the more I love the theme that John Williams (big composer guy, also did the music for Star Wars) wrote for the Ark. How can I best describe it? It comes across as being a dark version of the Force theme that he wrote for the Star Wars films. Whenever someone talks about the Ark, that theme starts playing, and just makes you feel uneasy. What I like is how they worked it into Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The scene: Indy and his girlfriend of the movie are going through a tomb beneath a church in Venice looking for the remains of one of the knights of the Crusade. The girlfriend points to one of the markings on the wall, and the Ark theme begins to play. The theme continues to underscore this dialogue:

Girlfriend>> I don’t recognize this marking. What is it?

Indy>> It’s the Ark of the Covenant.

Girlfriend>> Are you sure?

Indy (quick to move on) >> Pretty sure.

It’s just a nice little reference to the first film. Oh, and the gift set also came with the final episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. What I find interesting is in George Lucas’ interview, he mentions how in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles he experimented with a lot of the technology that went into making Episode I. Then, reading my book The Making of Episode I, they talk about how Young Indiana Jones served as the template for making Episode I. Isn’t it amazing how these things come full circle? When Star Wars came out, George Lucas spent the day chillin’ on the beach with Steven Spielberg, where they came up with the idea for Indiana Jones. The movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade started with that young Indy segment that was so popular it spawned the TV show The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which served as the template for Episode I. This reminds me. Apparently, Indy is in the crowd during the podrace scene in Episode I.

Let’s switch gears now. Man, I am falling in love with Gargoyles all over again! Every night I tape it. That is one of the greatest cartoons ever made. They just showed an episode with one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the Gargoyles universe. The episode: The Gathering, Part II. As you may recall, in the episode we learn that Anastasia Renard, Fox’s mother, is actually Titania, queen of Avalon. Her husband, Oberon, wanted to abduct Alexander, Fox and Xanatos’ just-born son, to Avalon so he could be trained to use his magical gifts. At episode’s end, Oberon decides that Puck can remain behind, and train Alexander to use his skills in the human world. Now here’s the mystery: as Oberon and Titania go to leave, Titania asks to have a moment alone with her daughter. Fox says that because of all the misery Titania just caused, that she never wants her to return. Titania then says “What makes you think this isn’t the outcome I wanted?” and leans in close, and whispers something into Fox’s ear. Fox responds with a stunned look on her face, and Titania and Oberon leave. The mystery: what did Titania say to Fox? When the creator of Gargoyles was asked this question on a message board, he’d only say “It’s a secret to be shared between mother and daughter.”

Right now, as I write this, the Family Channel is the middle of showing the big three-part episode Hunter’s Moon, which was, for all intents and purposes, the final episode of Gargoyles. I just love the mask that the Hunter wears. A simple black, with three red scars across it. Oh, and those two white circles for eyes. I think you know the origin of the Hunter. Way back in 994, shortly after the clan was destroyed and Demona lived, she scarred a young farm boy named Gilcongaine. Gilcongaine swore revenge, and became the Hunter. He rose in the ranks of the army of Duncan, an evil man bent on becoming king of Scotland. When Demona finally become Gilcongaine, Duncan became the Hunter. Then, Demona killed Duncan (with the help of MacBeth). Then, Duncan’s son Canmore became the Hunter. And, from that point on, all of Canmore’s descendants have dedicated their lives to the death of Demona. Oh course, they have killed more than their fair share of gargoyles in the pursuit. The Family Channel disappoints me right now. They’re in the middle of the final episode, yet they still have to show four episodes to show every episode of Gargoyles. I’m hoping that they’re just showing them out of order.

Well, let’s see, you just got back from your big trip. I tell you, someday I’m going to travel. I’ve always wanted to see my homeland. So, here’s my plan. I’ll get a CanRail pass, and just ride the rails. I’ll get a Greyhound bus pass so I can take the bus where the train doesn’t go, and I’ll spend a whole summer just seeing my country. I would do that now, but I lack the funds. You should have heard my sister’s last attempt at “motivating” me to get a job last week. Her “motivational” speech ended with “And it’s not like you won’t be able to sit on your fat ass and watch TV anymore. That’s what days off are for!” But, the need for a job is becoming apparent. I’m sure I’m starting to get on my parents’ nerves. Oh well. As always, I’ll start looking for a job tomorrow. And, as the Riddler said, “Tomorrow never comes, for by the time it should arrive, it has turned into today.”

Mark

The Feminism Rant

Chaos in Print

I’m sure by now, you’ve all read my latest Christmas column, entitled Who Is This Woman? in which it occurs to me how little we know about Mrs. Claus. My friend L, who was the inspiration for it all, read it and decided to pass along to me her views and her involvement with feminism throughout the years. As I e-mailed her back, I said “Argh! I wish you didn’t bring this up. Feminism is one of those topics where it brings up so many conflicting viewpoints in me that I can’t help but go off on some kind of rant about it. But, this is Christmas, and you have better things to do than have my rantings forced upon you. Maybe this’ll be my column in two weeks.” Well, guess what? It’s two weeks later.

First, I guess, I should bring up my definition of “feminism.” It seems that feminism has become one of those much-maligned words that has a different meaning for different people. I believe it to be the ongoing movement to strive for equality among the genders. To me, it does not mean the act of men taking the back seat and allowing women to become dominant in all forms of society. It is not an excuse for reverse-sexism. It seems to me that a lot of feminism nowadays has become an excuse for male-bashing.
Continue reading The Feminism Rant

The Decade In Review

Chaos in Print

If you are reading this, my computer survived Y2K.

With that out of the way, let us now cast our eyes back on what just ended. Not the end of the last millennium. Not the end of the 20th Century. Not even the end of 1999. I’m talking about that decade called the 90’s. It was the decade where I was forced to grow up. Somewhat. It was the decade where I tried to come into my own. The 90’s was the decade of me. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to take a retrospective look at how I grew throughout the 90’s.
Continue reading The Decade In Review

Movie Review – Fantasia 2000

Fantasia 2000

Directed by Hendel Butoy, Eric Goldberg, Paul Brizzi, Gaetan Brizzi, Francis Glebas, and Pixote Hunt.

Starring the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Levine.

When I heard Disney was doing a sequel to Fantasia, I jumped for joy. When I heard it was going to be an IMAX film, I just about wet myself. How would a marriage between one of the greatest animation houses on the planet and the ultimate wide screen be pulled off? Would it be a monumental achievement, or a colossal failure? Well, since this is a segmented film, it’s best to do things segment by segment.
Beethoven’s Fifth/Floating Triangles – Nothing but triangles floating around like butterflies, and hovering over something that looks like a pond. And, all set to the classic “da-da-da-duh.” Just nifty.

The Pines Of Rome/Flying Whales – Set to a piece called the Pines Of Rome, we are treated to the pure surealness of flying humpback whales. Although the premise is a little bizarre, it is spellbinding.

Rhapsody In Blue/Al Hirshfeld Cartoons – We follow through the city of New York four people who are longing for something more from life. This is my favorite. It’s just so bright and vibrant.

Piano Concerto #2/The Steadfast Tin Soldier – The story is based on the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale. We are presented with a one-legged tin soldier, who falls in love with a ballerina doll. But, the path to true love is blocked by an evil jack-in-the-box. Just too darn cute!

Carnival of the Animals/Flamingos with Yo-Yos – A flamingo plays with a yo-yo, much to the annoyance of his peers. The shortest segment, but the funniest.

Micky Mouse as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – The only segment returning from the original. A classic.

Pomp and Circumstance/Donald Duck on Noah’s Ark – Well, in this sequel, Donald Duck gets his own segment! Donald is Noah’s assistant, ushering the animals onto the Ark, all to the sounds of the Graduation Song. Along the way, Donald is separated from Daisy. Will true love prevail? A great companion to Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Firebird Suite/Death and Rebirth in the Forest – This time around, we are presented with a forest spirit, who unwittingly becomes prey to a fire monster. A show-stopping finale.

This is one of those films that isn’t seen, but experienced. It works if you’re an animation buff, a classical music guy, or just along for the ride. This film is magnificent on all respects. It’ll only be in IMAX for the next 3 weeks or so, so you must see it! You’ll love it. A lot of other critics have complained about the big celebrities who introduce each segment, but I didn’t find it that bad. Steve Martin was actually kind of funny. In the end, all I can say is WOW. See it. I hope now we don’t have to wait 60 years for the next one.

5 Nibs