Friday, February 03, 2012

Random Thoughts

:: Well, first let's talk about Susan G. Komen for the Cure and their bout of terrible decision-making. Today they decided to remember that they're a charity and charity shouldn't be conditional on ideology and reversed their earlier decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood. What a spectacle they created of themselves this week when they decided to pull out of Planned Parenthood with a shitty excuse about it being under investigation and basically aligned themselves with one of American politics' dumbest ideological conflicts, basically marking themselves as pro-life because when you're pro-life you of course want to make it harder for poor women to get screened for breast cancer.

I think they've been disingenuous when they say it's not political, especially with Karen Handel, Palin-endorsed failed gubernatorial candidate, at the wheel. And especially considering the business Komen's been doing with George W. Bush and Merck. Saying you won't do business with Planned Parenthood because it's "under investigation" is a bullshit thing to say when you've made a financial partnership with George W. Bush, a man who recently canceled a trip to Switzerland because he was afraid he'd be arrested for war crimes.

If Komen really wants their apology to carry weight, they should make Handel resign. I see others have resigned already. Cancer doesn't discriminate, and neither should cancer charities.

And how about their earlier decision to stop giving grants to stem cell research? Can we reverse that, too?

Either way, Komen has stained their charity and it's going to stay stained when they inevitably cave in to right wing ideological demands again. I see people asking now about Komen head Nancy Brinker's half-million dollar salary. See what you get? The damage is done and you did it.

:: I also think it's worth noting that the public outcry managed to dismantle a PR machine that had been working on its defense since December in a matter of days. We got SOPA and PIPA delayed indefinitely, we got this decision reversed... I don't know, seems like America is better at protesting than I've given it credit for.

:: Also, a SOPA question: the FBI didn't need SOPA to take down Megaupload. So what is the point of SOPA? Other than, as usual, the desperate desire in Washington and the relatively (in terms of overall economic impact) small entertainment industry to control everything you do and how you do it.

:: I just want to recommend The Pictorial Arts Journal by Thomas Haller Buchanan. I'm late to this one, an outcropping of his Pictorial Arts blog, a daily stop of mine on the web. He started doing this in September, and it's fantastic. You all know I love illustration art, and I especially like to read about it from people who are passionate.

:: I don't look at the nu-52 as though they're really the DC Universe anymore (not since Emo Harry Potter Superman), so I'm not too terribly annoyed about what they're doing with Captain Marvel. Or Shazam, excuse me. The reasons Geoff Johns gave for not calling the character Captain Marvel anymore were pretty dopey; apparently we're all too dumb to understand that his name isn't Shazam, because DC has been branding him that way forever. Dude, it's okay to just come out and say that you don't want to call him Captain Marvel anymore because of the decades of legal hassles with Marvel Comics. I wonder if the wizard is still named Shazam or if they're both going to be Shazam or if there's even a wizard anymore and it won't all be aliens, since everything in the nu-DC seems to be aliens. Eh. I'm looking at this as a whole new character and just don't care about even reading it, so no skin off my nose. I do find the idea amusing, though, of Shazam trying to introduce himself and turning into Billy Batson (or whomever, because having it be a kid is going to be too passe for a company trying so aggressively to be cool) and falling to his death because he said the magic word...

:: The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act didn't do dick to close the income equity gap, so can you please stop throwing this in my face every time I'm a little critical of Obama?

:: Another very interesting post on the subject of "proper English" and African-Americans and the institutionalized racism of minor linguistic differences.

:: In an attempt to “even things up” while the Virginia senate debated a controversial and upsetting anti-choice bill that would require abortion providers to force women to undergo a vaginal sonogram (an invasive procedure) before going through with the procedure, State Senator Janet Howell proposed an amendment — before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs, men would be subject to rectal exams and stress tests. (Genius, especially for people who want to apparently force women to name the baby and paint the nursery before getting an abortion, yet consider boner pills a serious medical issue.)

:: A French court labeled scientology a fraud, not a church, that targets vulnerable people for financial gain. Jeez, why stop with just the scientologists?

:: Thank you, Jaquandor, for reminding me why I don't ever need to do an 80s Revisited on St. Elmo's Fire.

:: Anyone else see the Ferris Bueller commercial for Honda? Ouch. What a piece of garbage. It was just doughy, friendless Matthew Broderick, dead inside, reminding us he only made a couple of decent flicks, and here's the best one, so why not buy a minivan? I do always like to see Brian Stepanek working, because I love that guy, but this commercial... ugh. I kind of hate seeing my favorite line from one of my all-time favorite movies used to push shitty Hondas. Still... it's not like Matthew Broderick was really going to be able to re-create Ferris, was it? Pretty joyless.

Also, the Superbowl Volkswagen commercial does a shitty job of advertising Volkswagen, but a fantastic job of advertising Star Wars. And have you seen the Verizon commercial with Artoo Detoo? Love it.

:: Can we all just stop talking about Mitt Romney? He's gonna lose, he deserves to lose, and he's only running to protect his capital gains tax. Otherwise, he has nothing. Nothing to offer, nothing to say, except choice cliches like "This campaign is about more than replacing a president. It's about saving the soul of America." Which is just fucking creepy coming from a guy who is a member of a religion that retroactively baptizes dead people without the consent or knowledge of the families... Still, at least he's not a white supremacist asshole like Ron Paul. (I know, Paulites, I know: "educate yourself." He's not a white supremacist asshole, he just hangs out with white supremacist assholes and lets racist papers go out in his name and then denies culpability even though he's 100% for personal accountability. Ask him about it sometime when Congressman Government Spending Is Wrong is charging his state for his first class flights.)

:: "Accidentally" posting your tits on Twitter is the new version of newsjacking for attention. Not smart enough to make an ideological comment on a political issue? "Accidentally" show the world your nipples and then delete the picture everyone already saw. I'm waiting for Patricia Heaton to do both at once.

:: Who the fuck cares what David Furnish and Elton John have to say about Madonna? Neither of them have made a decent album this century, anyway.


:: Governor Jan Brewer of the fascist hell-pit that is Arizona said that after finger-wagging President Obama on the tarmac, she felt "threatened" and he was "arrogant." Did she just call the President uppity?

:: I've been seeing a lot of annoying stuff on the web this week about how ebooks are bad and Kindles are going to bring down the precious tactile sensation of reading a book. I am really, really sick of reading this bullshit. I really am. It amounts to a bunch of passionate screeds against the idea that people might have alternate means to access literature. What, reading on an e-reader doesn't count, or something? No one's forcing you to do it. But if someone wants to carry around a pad that allows them to access hundreds of free classics of literature, how is that a bad thing? It just seems like a stupid thing to be precious about. "What? People READING??? I shan't stand for it!"

Thanks to the intelligentsia once again proving that they don't actually want to share access but instead want to jealously guard their personal preference (as well as a generation who thinks that hanging out with a lot of books equals reading), I now have to sit and watch the bizarre phenomenon of people arguing that progress is wrong and technology is bad for America... on the internet.


:: And finally, it's Black History Month. So if you're one of those complete idiots going on Facebook and whining about how having a Black History Month is racism against white people, please pick up a history book. And hit yourself in the head with it. Repeatedly. Until you black out.

Wink, Wink Again, Cherie

Thursday, February 02, 2012

My Favorite Fanart For January 2012

So, I'm going to do this at the end of every month now, just because. My favorite fanart of the previous month, in no particular order:

Slave Leia Mudflap by castlepop

Lady Blackhawk by McGone

Bitter Robin by Farnell

Kirby's Adventure by Campbell Whyte

Muppets No. 1: Kermit by Jeremy Arambulo

Movie Car Racing Posters (series) - Kevin Henry
(click the title to go to the gallery, I liked too many to post them all here)

Mr. Freeze by archangelgabriel

Donald in Asia by allykitty

Video Game Posters 2.0 by Justin Russo
(I had to pick both of them)

The Wizard of Oz by Daniel Norris

Hugs for Peace (series) by Ingrid Aspock

USS Reliant Made Out of LEGOs by Christer Nyberg

Songs About Rainbows by spiritgreen

Monster Park by Tony Centeno

Leave It to Me by kit-kit-kit

Atari by Phil Noto

Jessica Rabbit in Red by Becca Whitaker

Mushroom Factory by Brother Brain

C-3PO Cybot Galactica Print by Jason Chalker

Mr. Beep by Mucky Clothing

Muppet Alphabet by Mike Boon


Breaking Things by Jay Ju

Pac-Cream by Steve Harris

Lakitu Evolution by Brother Brain
untitled drawing by Natasha Allegri

Cyclone and Stargirl by Becca Whitaker



C-3PO Custom Munny by Jason Chalker

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.


PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS (1996)
A pretty harrowing journey through the always-magical American justice system, here focusing on the West Memphis Three, three young men accused of the horrific murder of three children. Living in a heavily Christian community, the three are painted as Satanists involved in some kind of ritual sacrifice, and they're basically railroaded straight through the court and into prison. Though the movie never wavers from its belief that the Three are innocent, it also doesn't stack the deck in their favor. Even as a dilettante, I can see where the massive holes are in the prosecution's case, especially in what they think constitutes an expert. The really scary part here is the reaction of the god-fearing townspeople, who demand not justice, but vengeance for their kids. And I understand their feelings--how the hell is anyone supposed to be rational about the murder of their child?--but they're so caught up in their bizarre fears and fantasies of Satanists and Heaven that it's utterly terrifying. I think it's normal to want someone who may have killed your kid to be punished. But it takes a deeply religious person to say "I want to eat all of the skin off his face." This is the America I know... ****

PARADISE LOST 2: REVELATIONS (2000)
This second installment in the series of documentaries about the West Memphis Three focuses more on the national impact the first Paradise Lost had and on Mark Byers, stepfather of one of the murdered boys, who is facing a storm of gossip that he may have been the real murderer. This film gets lost a little too much in Byers, who is uncomfortable the whole way through--angry, fervent, religious, adamant, and possibly enjoying being on camera a little too much. What's important here is seeing that the fight for justice has gone on through public awareness generated by the first film. ***1/2

PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY (2011)
It's no secret this one ends with the West Memphis Three out of prison after two decades. But they still haven't received justice. They were merely able to plead guilty in return for time served so they could get out of prison. Interesting how this deal was suddenly offered just as the Arkansas Supreme Court was finally going to open up a new evidentary trial. That doesn't look suspicious at all, especially after watching a whole series of documentaries about the flimsy evidence, implacable judge, railroading community, motivated prosecution, circumstantial case, witness-leading and jury-tampering that went into the original trial proceedings... Mark Byers is back, too, and after proving his innocence in the previous installment, he is now convinced of the innocence of the West Memphis Three and is fervently after another father of the boys, one who--it comes out when this guy tries to sue Natalie Maines for defamation--has no alibi for the murder window (by his own admission) and was apparently seen with all three of the victims just before the murders took place, by a witness who was not questioned in a neighborhood that was not canvassed for information, because in America justice is blind and lazy. I really hope justice finally wins out after what's been done to these guys. ****

SECRETARIAT (2010)
Forgot I even watched this. All of the cliches of a sports movie combined with all of the cliches of a movie about a successful woman who has to choose between her career and her family (you know, like all of those men never have to in movies). Throw in some obvious caricaturing (including the Magical Negro) and shake for a bland, boring, forgettable time. *

GREEN LANTERN (2011)
Every bit as bad as I'd heard. What a waste. Good special effects, but ridiculous, badly directed, and quite poorly structured. Tomar Re is great; so are Abin Sur, Kilowog, and even Sinestro. But everything about the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps and the mythos of the rings comprise something along the lines of 15 minutes in a film that runs over two hours. Basically, the Green Lantern Corps makes a cameo. Wrong approach. Everyone is sorely miscast, and apparently they're being told to act more camp, or something. So what could have been a science fiction epic, or at least a fun action flick, comes down to two guys whining about their dads (one of whom is a fucking test pilot but who is also apparently a cowardly little scut until the plot deems it convenient for him not to be) and heavy-handed messages about fear and will. It's not even bad in that way you want to hate. It's just a waste. *1/2 Also, you can't make an impact at the end when Sinestro takes the yellow ring if you haven't actually built him into a character beforehand. You see this guy maybe five times in the whole movie.

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY (2011)
Second movie in a row of Mark Strong being totally underused. Excellent cast, beautiful production design, nice cinematography, but totally superficial and boring as shit. I really wanted to like this movie, but ended up feeling like the real accomplishment was staying awake. All of the details are on the surface, and everything is distraction until we find out who the traitor is (spoiler alert: it's the only character with any personality, obviously). I see people were confused by it, but the real confusion is why so many people thought this was deep in some way. Would've worked better as an episodic miniseries. (Yes, I know there was already an episodic miniseries.) Great cast, talented director... where did this go wrong? ** Ponderous Gray: The Motion Picture.

THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK (1972)
Ouch, what a shitty movie. Lame faux-documentary about the Fouke Monster, something I read about as a kid. There's probably a decent horror flick to come out of that particular cryptid, but this ain't it. And the narrator's weird pseudo-Dick Cavett accent doesn't sound like a guy who grew up in "Loozy-Anna." *

APOLLO 18 (2011)
Blair Witch-style skiffy thriller about an unofficial 18th Apollo mission that ends in disaster. Not a home run, but an enjoyable try at making a science fiction thriller. I found it a lot more satisfying than certain other pictures I saw this week that had the money to do more... ***

HOLIDAY (1938)
God damn it, Katharine Hepburn is grating sometimes. Also, I feel like I've seen this movie a dozen times already. *

THE STORY OF THE KELLY GANG (1906)
One of the earliest feature-length movies--definitely the earliest in Australia, and filmed only about 25 years after Ned Kelly was hanged. It doesn't all survive, but what's left is some great early filmmaking. It's still the "point and shoot" era of silent films. **1/2

FREAKED (1993)
Yeah, it's bad, but I thought it was bad in a funny and bizarre way. And I dug the makeup. **1/2 Randy Quaid is hilarious in this.

FIST OF FURY (1972)
Bruce Lee is amazing. That is all. ***1/2 You know, this is only the third of Bruce's five kung fu pictures I've ever seen. I meant to see them all when I was 20. How the hell does time run out on me like this? I'm going to see Way of the Dragon and Game of Death this week... Oh, and this was the movie called The Chinese Connection in the US, not the one called Fists of Fury that's really The Big Boss.

THE RED MAN'S VIEW (1909)
A movie about forced Native American relocation that's surprisingly sympathetic to Native Americans, considering it's a) made by DW Griffith and b) from 1909 and c) fucking called The Red Man's View. Good-looking movie, too; lots of great scenery. ***

DOUBLE DARE (2004)
Nice documentary focusing on legendary stuntwoman Jeannie Epper and (at the time) up-and-comer Zoe Bell. It's an interesting look at a part of the industry that you don't see very often, and what women stunt artists in particular are up against. And Zoe is absolutely darling. She's a force to be reckoned with, and also incredibly cute. ***1/2

BLINKY (TM) (2011)
Great short film about a robot toy who gets the revenge we always wish objects that little douche twat kids in movies (played here by Max Records, who was also the little douche twat kid in the awful Where the Wild Things Are) aren't grateful for would get. This is why you gotta program in Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, man. Fantastic special effects, some of the best I've ever seen. ****

THE DRAGON LIVES AGAIN (1977)
Easily the most bizarre kung fu flick I've ever seen. In it, Bruce Lee (played terribly by Bruce Leong, who looks like the dumpy lounge singer version of Bruce Lee) goes to purgatory, runs afoul of the King of the Underworld, starts a rivalry with Zatoichi, and then opens a gym where his students include the One-Armed Swordsman, Kwai-Chang Caine, and Popeye. (And yes, we do get to see him eats his spinach.) But the other forces of hell want to stop him, led by (here we go) Clint Eastwood, James Bond (the fat lounge singer version of James Bond), the Godfather (finally, time for all of that kung fu Coppola had to cut out of his movie), Emmanuelle (seriously), Dracula, and a bunch of naked chicks. Also at the end a guy who is apparently supposed to be Toshiro Mifune tries to fight Bruce Lee with an army of mummies. Not as fun as it sounds, but definitely as weird. You watch it the whole time kind of enjoying its demented audacity. When the Godfather takes off his shirt and reveals his physique to fight Bruce Leong, you're disappointed that they didn't switch roles, because the actor playing the Godfather is much more like Bruce than the other guy. *** for the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES (1912)
DW Griffith film about three women who are all hurt by the same man and who all turn on each other. Typically histrionic (this is a Griffith film), but I like the way the women all come together when they find an abandoned infant. Of course, even that has to be heavy-handed... **1/2

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1912)
We're still in the "point and shoot" era, so it's stagey, but I really like James Cruze's performance as Jekyll and Hyde. ***

THE MUSKETEERS OF PIG ALLEY (1912)
Griffith again, this one about gangsters and often called the first gangster movie. The plot (and the attention paid to it) is negligible--mostly it's a flick about people walking from one building to another. But the film looks fantastic. I love some of the shots Griffith creates here, where a lot of negative space is used and things are somewhat off-center to create an effect. On a technical level, it's very compelling. ***

THE NEW YORK HAT (1912)
It's like someone made a conscious decision to preserve only Griffith films from this time period... Here he's helped a lot by his actors, who are less histrionic than others. Mary Pickford plays a girl whose mother dies and whose father oppresses her; Lionel Barrymore is the family's priest who discovers a letter and some money left by the late mother. Under her instructions, he buys the girl a fashionable hat from New York and doesn't tell her why, which leads to a destructive amount of gossip and scandal. ***1/2

INDEPENDENTA ROMANIEI (1912)
A patriotic re-creation of the 1877 Romanian War of Independence. Epic for the time period: 120 minutes long and what really feels like hundreds of extras. But it's just long battle scene after long battle scene after long battle scene, and it starts to thunder past in a blur... **

AN UNSEEN ENEMY (1912)
Basically Panic Room minus an hour and a half of shittiness. Here we have Lillian and Dorothy Gish as sisters (a stretch, I know) who are waiting for their brother to open up their late father's safe, and who are then robbed by their "slattern maid" and her criminal boyfriend. The scenes with the two girls locked in a room while a hand holds a gun on them through a hole in the wall to keep them from calling for help are genuinely suspenseful. ***1/2 (By Griffith, natch.)

THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE (2011)
The first of the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short that I've managed to see. And I think it's trite, twee and shallow. Technically proficient, but self-consciously whimsical and even though it's trying to make a point about how special reading can be, it's really just more about hanging out with books. **

PISS (2011)
A woman tries to convince her feminist boyfriend to pee on her in bed. Kind of silly, but I do like how it sees pissing as a fetish and not a degradation. It doesn't really make a point, but it illustrates a point that a woman who gets off on being used is neither a slut or lacking in self-respect, and that sometimes men find it hard to indulge in that kind of sex play because they worry about crossing a line. ***

NIGHTMARES IN RED, WHITE & BLUE: THE EVOLUTION OF THE MODERN HORROR FILM (2009)
Most of this was covered more smartly and to better effect in The American Nightmare. While I do agree that horror films are representational of our national mood and national fears, I think they let too many movies off the hook with that argument. Sure, Hostel is obviously about our rampant xenophobia (and about our delusion that we're going to be safe everywhere we go because we're American), but what about the graphic, medically explicit level of violence? I would've liked to hear what John Carpenter had to say about that, too. This could have gone farther for me. This was more of a survey. **1/2

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Follow This

Someone on Tumblr hipped me to this Twitter today: TNG Season 8. They're plots for an unaired 8th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and they are hilariously perfect. Follow here.

Are They Retooling 2 Broke Girls?

Just wondering. It's been off for a couple of weeks, but they left it with Max and Caroline mulling (accepting?) a job offer from Jennifer Coolidge to become maids. So, are they giving up their waitressing jobs, then? When it comes back, will there be no more scenes at the restaurant?

I just wonder because, of course, ever since the show started, there have been a lot of (not unjustified) criticisms leveled at the show for the racist caricatures they work with at the diner. Han Lee in particular is a character a lot of people are pissed about; I don't blame them, the guy's a character from an 80s movie for chrissake. So I just wonder if they're ditching a) Peach, the woman Max nannies for, because Peach is a pointless and unfunny character, and b) the diner, because if they just ankled that whole thing, they lop off the three biggest offenders right there (although I quite enjoyed Garrett Morris, who is always cool in everything ever).

Here's the thing, though; not to defend racist stereotyping as some kind of storytelling shorthand, but it's a certain kind of sitcom. All the characters are broad. There are a lot of stereotypes. So what's the alternative? What are they going to leave behind, exactly? I know when sitcoms are single-camera and there's no laugh track that apparently makes stereotypes fresh and original storytelling. Trad sitcoms that play to a studio audience are generally louder and play bigger. I just wonder what they're going to do that's, basically, less racist?

Certainly leaving the cartoony diner with the cartoony black guy and the cartoony Asian caricature and the cartoony horny Eastern European swinger and the overplayed vapid rich girl behind in order to instead have the girls involved with Jennifer Coolidge and that one cartoony Polish accent that's the only accent she ever does in anything is really just a lateral move. Jennifer Coolidge's character had all the subtlety of Miss Piggy.

So, are they really countering cartoonish racism by replacing it with different cartoonish racism?

It's always car-wreck-fascinating when shows try to retool themselves.

LEGO Gollum

You can go here and check out what the minifigures look like for LEGO's new Lord of the Rings line. Please, please, please be the first step on the road to a video game, I am begging you...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Remember When Fox News Accused "The Muppets" of Pushing a Liberal Agenda?

Here Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy respond while at the press conference for the London premiere of their new film.

Happy Endings

I've just finished the first season of Happy Endings after a few recommendations. I don't have a ton to say about it, other than I really dig the show. It's consistently very funny and has a clear vision of its characters, both of which are way too rare on American sitcoms these days. I didn't like Community, The Office took a flying leap off of my radar, I haven't made it a point to watch The Simpsons in several years, and I can't believe anyone seriously thinks that Glee and New Girl are funny. So I have another current comedy that I actually quite enjoy. I think that brings the total up to six now. Seven if you count Sanford and Son reruns.

Another Post-Lexapro Note

I want to say thanks for the supportive comments I've gotten on my previous two posts about going through withdrawal and my decision to give up my antidepressants. It really does mean a lot. I won't fool myself into thinking, after my spending years blogging about my awful health, that anyone's really invested in it. I think it's more like a TV series that's been running so long that people just want to see how it comes out. But what you guys have been saying has been genuine and much appreciated, because it does make me feel supported.

One comment in particular stuck out, which was Jason telling me to trust that I'll be okay. I read that this morning and realized, I actually do trust that I'm going to be okay. Rather than letting the withdrawal symptoms destroy me, I'm looking at them as something I'm going to get through before I tackle the larger work of keeping control of my anger and my health. I've never believed I wouldn't get through this part. I'm just sort of waiting for it to be over: right now, even sitting here in front of my computer, I feel like I'm wearing a yoke with a large millstone hanging from either side of it, and I feel like I can barely move. But in my heart I know I won't feel this way for long.

I really hadn't thought about that before reading Jason's comment, but there it is, right there inside me: this part will be over soon. That's remarkably positive for me. And if I can be positive about this, I can be positive about the other stuff.

I will be positive about the other stuff.

I can't believe this is me saying this.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Song of the Week: "You're the Best Around"

Because for some reason this cheesy classic from The Karate Kid is stuck in my head.

Sunday Hottie 365

COLIN FIRTH

A Rambling Philosophical and Mental Health-Related Aside

At the core of life is simplicity. Everything else either works fluidly with it or adds complications which seem important, but are dramatic and unnecessary.

Something I've been thinking about as I examine some of the reasons why I went on Lexapro in the first place and whether or not those reasons still apply.

I have always had a terrible irritability, and when I was a kid it was seen as very troubling and abnormal but no one was willing to call it any kind of mental or emotional problem. To this day, I remember very vividly punching my plastic pencil case to pieces in the second grade, and then using a broken shard to stab another kid in the arm, simply because my teacher had yelled at me and that turned me into a live wire, and then Derek repeated the instructions and it made me feel stupid and annoyed (even though he was just being polite and didn't realize I already knew), so a sudden fury came over me and I hurt him. It wasn't even really a stab; I pulled myself back at the last second and just poked him really hard with the edge, but I'm sure it still terrified him, because it was sudden, unexpected, and seemingly out of character for me. At that point, people still liked me. It wasn't until the summer between fourth and fifth grade, when I began to put on a lot of weight, that people suddenly hated me. Back then, girls thought I was cute, guys thought I was funny, I was skinny and really good at soccer, and I was creative and people liked to play with me at recess because I made up games to play. This sudden moment seemed unexplainable and scary. I was immediately, deeply sorry for what I'd done, and terrified by it, and when the teacher asked me why I'd done it, I told her I didn't know, because I honestly didn't. I didn't know for a very, very long time, until that kind of problem started to be taken more seriously and I finally had the strength to accept that I needed help evening out.

I think I really became numb after Ellen died in 2006. That's sort of the moment it felt like everything broke. Even then, I was pretty much afraid to go out into the world, but I did it because I had to: classes, work, etc. There was no way I was going to miss Ellen's funeral. I was her big brother, her godfather, and that day, her pallbearer. An atheist ever since high school, I had prayed for her the whole year she had cancer. I begged to be taken in her place. Of course it didn't happen. If God is real (spoiler alert: he isn't), then he decided it was more important to take a teenage girl a week before her 14th birthday than it was to take a 30 year-old who was increasingly feeling like there was no direction in his life. What an asshole. And the people who told me that God works in mysterious ways... I thank you for trying to say something sympathetic at a time when I was inconsolable. But for me, it's not a statement that makes it better that the world is nonsensical and unfair.

A lot of things happened at that funeral and afterwards that I still have a hard time dealing with. The one thing that still, for some reason, sticks out at me is that my Dad told me later he wasn't speaking to one of my cousins anymore because she took the centerpieces without permission, and I thought, wow, your 13 year-old daughter just fucking died of debilitating bone cancer and even-more-debilitating chemotherapy, and the lesson you're going to take from that is that there's always time to hold a grudge against a loved one? Really? I mean, fucking really?

Life is meaningless. It's just existence. Although I fought vehemently against the notion, maybe people were right when they told me that free will is just a construct that doesn't actually exist. Maybe it's just like instinct, but we're self-aware enough to analyze our choices and their outcomes. The universe is unordered. It's a notion that doesn't scare me and never has. I believe people can be moral without a bible. Being good to people can make you feel good on its own. I'd rather my daughter did something for me because she loves me rather than do something for me because she thinks I'll punish her if she doesn't. I'm actually perfectly okay living a life that really has no meaning or point or divine moral order because curiosity, enjoyment, the love of others, and the Muppets are good enough for me. Life is fine. I can make do with what I have. Even the struggles don't get to me anymore, because I'm resigned to the struggle, so I might as well just enjoy my life as much as I can even with the struggle instead of spending so much time lamenting the struggle that I can't see past it.

Life is eating, sleeping, breathing, and moving your bowels. It's existing. And then you add the things that make it better, and you endure the things that make it worse. But at it's core, it's just existence, and I think it's a comfort. And I think feeling this more clearly and making peace with it is something I can do without an SSRI to keep me numb to it. I think I've learned not to panic because of it. Before I went on Lexapro, I said  to the doctor that I felt like I was living on a thin precipice above a giant, sucking whirlpool that I couldn't get past. I don't feel like that now, haven't in years, and maybe the drug helped me get past it and I need instead to focus on controlling my anger for myself, by myself, instead of just letting the drug numb me to it.

Next stage, I hope. Lexapro helped me stop getting wrapped up in my bad feelings. Now I need to keep that happening on my own, and with the help of people who love me. Next stage.