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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Hello again, everyone!

Welcome to the back to the MovieDruid, a day later than usual.  We got bumped yesterday due to a special programming change, but we are back and raring to go.  We at the MovieDruid are proud to have been a part of the march to 100 posts here at our home on the Jungle Gym.

But, I digress from the real issue at hand: this week’s national releases.  And, so, onward, I say, ONWARD!!!

“The Spy Next Door”

Trailer

Synopsis: Bob Ho is an undercover CIA super spy who decides to give up his career in espionage to settle down with his next-door neighbor and girlfriend, Gillian. But, Bob has one more mission to complete before Gillian agrees to marry him: winning over her three opinionated kids. When Gillian suddenly has to leave town, Bob volunteers to baby sit the children so he can earn their approval. But, when one of the kids mistakenly downloads a top-secret formula from his computer, Bob’s archenemy, a Russian terrorist, moves in for the attack, forcing Bob to juggle the roles of spy and prospective stepfather in the most challenging mission of his career!

MovieDruid’s Comments: I don’t really know when or why it happened, but Jackie Chan went from being a hardcore action star known for doing all his own stunts, to a comedian.  The problem is that most of the film’s he makes these days are like this.  How many times is Hollywood going to try to recreate the success of “Home Alone” in varying ways?  But, then again, I am not exactly the target demographic in this case.  The film is firmly aimed at kids with its ridiculous plot and physical antics.  If you have kids, this might manage to hold their attention for a bit, maybe even amuse them.  But, at the same time, Hollywood really needs to stop dumbing down the entertainment for families and kids.

“The Book of Eli”

Trailer

Synopsis: In the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man walks across the wasteland that was once America. There is no civilization here, no law. The roads belong to gangs that would murder a man for his shoes, an ounce of water — or for nothing at all. A warrior not by choice but necessity, Eli seeks only peace but, if challenged, will cut his attackers down before they realize their fatal mistake. It’s not his life he guards so fiercely but his hope for the future; a hope he has carried and protected for 30 years and is determined to realize. Driven by this commitment and guided by his belief in something greater than himself, Eli does what he must to survive–and continue. Only one other man in this ruined world understands the power Eli holds, he and is determined to make it his own: Carnegie, the self-appointed despot of a makeshift town of thieves and gunmen. Meanwhile, Carnegie’s adopted daughter Solara is fascinated by Eli for another reason: the glimpse he offers of what may exist beyond her stepfather’s domain. But, neither will find it easy to deter him. Eli must keep moving to fulfill his destiny and bring help to a ravaged humanity.

MovieDruid’s Comments: Post-apocalyptic films are some of my favorites.  When the tale is well told, they can be fascinating glimpses into the psyche of mankind, and interesting voyages into a bit of our collective fears and weaknesses.  With this film, we get to see the apocalypse through the eyes of the Hughes Brothers (“Dead Presidents” & “From Hell”).  Having seen every movie they have directed, I am quite interested to see what they do here.  Especially with an antagonist/protagonist matchup like Denzel Washington (“Training Day” & “The Pelican Brief”) and Gary Oldman (“The Professional” & “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”).  This ought to be one hell of a ride.

“The Lovely Bones” – MovieDruid Pick of the Week

Trailer

Synopsis: A young girl, who has been murdered, watches over her family — and her killer — from heaven. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.

MovieDruid’s Comments: First off, the story here is absolutely fascinating.  I read the first few chapters of Alice Sebold’s novel while I was still working for Waldenbooks and was truly enraptured.  So, from the get go I was interested in seeing this film.  Then, they hired Peter Jackson (The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy & “Shallow Grave”) to direct the movie.  OK, now you just need to tell me where to put my money so I can see it.  Jackson has consistently crafted quality work, but has over his last few projects proven his ability to mix the fantastic and the mundane on a visual canvas that never breaks the suspension of disbelief with jarring effects or transitions.  By the time the announced a cast that includes Mark Wahlberg (“The Happening” & “Rock Star”), Rachel Weisz (“The Mummy” & “Enemy at the Gates”), Susan Sarandon (“Thelma & Louise” & “Bull Durham”), Stanley Tucci (“Lucky Number Slevin” & “The Terminal”), and the young Saoirse Ronan (“City of Ember” & “Atonement”) I was begging to be allowed to give them money for a peek.  Everything about this film seems to be destined to fall into place, I can’t wait to experience it.

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For those of you coming to get your normal dose of the MovieDruid, I regret to inform you this week’s MovieDruid post is being postponed until tomorrow.  As a consolation to you until then, I will be posting my “Avatar” review this afternoon so keep your eyes open.  The reason for the postponement is that this post marks a milestone here at the Jungle Gym.

Today’s post is number 100.

Somehow I have managed to draw in at least a couple people on a daily basis to read about the absurdity which is my life and psyche, and that’s truly amazing to me.  I hope that over the course of 100 posts I have entertained, amused, and maybe even made you think a little bit.

To think that this all truly started as a joke between my wife and I makes me chuckle.  But, our weekly forays to the cinema gave birth to the MovieDruid and that led to the eventual founding of the Jungle Gym.  I’ve truly grown to love this place where I can vent my feelings, wax poetic, or simply purge some silliness without judgment.  My comments may not be numerous, but they are always supportive, funny, and thoughtful.

It’s actually a little funny. A person as socially awkward as I am in real life has no trouble being outgoing and direct in a forum like blogging.  In reality, I wish I had the confidence and forthrightness I have here out in my daily life. 

But, this post is really about two things. 

The first is saying thank you to the small band of loyal readers I have out there.  Your numbers may be small, and you may be a pack of lunatics for reading this tripe, but you’re my lunatics and I appreciate you taking some time out of your day to take a romp on the Jungle Gym with me.  I do truly value your readership and any and all comments that I give, no matter how few they are.

The second is to make a few announcements.  After visiting this playground 100 times, I think it may be time for a few renovations.  Some of the changes I am considering are still in a limbo existence and, thus, may never see the light of day.  However, two changes that I plan on implementing next week will definitely be kicking in.  They will be two new tabs at the top in addition to the “About” (which has gotten a disturbing amount of viewership in recent weeks) and te ever-popular “MovieDruid Reviews” you will see, at some point next week, “Victuals N’ Hootch” (wherein I will feature the various and sundry eateries and other food-related discoveries my wife and I have made, and will make, during our road trippin’) and “Mixed Media” (a place where I will discuss my passion for gadgets, comics, games, books, and other media).  I hope that these items can be as interesting as the rest of the blog.

I have had one hell of a ride on the Jungle Gym so far.  I hope you have all had as much fun as I have.  I always welcome any and all commentary here, even if critical.  I’ve never claimed to be a perfect anything, except a perfect fool.  And, I think more of us would benefit to realize that the only true perfection in the world is in a bit of foolishness.  I hope I have brought some smiles and even a few laughs along the first 100 steps of this path.  I hope perhaps we have together come a step closer to the ultimate goal. 

Penguin-Like Zen, Child-Like Joy.

As I was waxing philosophical a bit this morning I remembered back to when I was a kid and was told by a CCD (Sunday school for you non-Catholics) instructor that I was wrong when I thought I would have my dog with me in heaven.  According to this individual, animals do not have souls and thus will not be in heaven.  There was much crying and gnashing of teeth when she announced this.

After all, we were only seven at the time.

In the intervening time since then I have heard many other instructors, both lay and clergy, indicate that this is the case.  Never mind the cruelty of announcing to a room full of elementary school kids that their Spots and Fluffys will not be romping with them in heaven, I just don’t understand the thinking behind this belief.

I don’t recall a time that God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, or even the seven headed goat-god of the planet Heretian VI (don’t bother Googling that, it’s nonsense not a vague reference) ever coming out in the con column as far as the animals in heaven issue goes.  This is simple human interpretation of a book written by men and then translated over and over again by men.  And, while your chosen deity may be infallible, men certainly are not.  If they were, we would never have been subjected to New Coke, reality TV, or Perez Hilton.

As I have stated before, I don’t care what your faith is.  I certainly am not in any position to declare anyone wrong on that level.  But, what I do know is that no higher power would allow us to forge such tight bonds with animals just to deny them entry to the same eternal reward we ourselves are offered.  Animals often reflect the best of ourselves, they give us a perfection of emotion that we wish we could achieve.  If animals are denied access to heaven, I, for one, do not want to go there.  And anyone who claims they do not have souls has never looked into the eyes of any animal.

So, to those who are continuing to preach that animals have no place in heaven I have this to say.  You head on up to your animal-free heaven,  me and the zoo crew will stare and laugh while you hang with Perez Hilton.

I was sitting at a restaurant perusing the menu a few weeks ago when my wife commented how different the Kid’s Menu is from the adult menu.  Of course, the portions are smaller, but the food is much simpler fare without all the fancy sauces, cheeses, and words we can’t pronounce.  It got us talking about how things change as you grow up in regard to food.

I know that when I was a kid (and my wife would argue little has changed) I was an extremely picky eater.  But, isn’t that the hallmark of eating as a kid in most cases?  The fancier the meal appears the more it looks suspicious to us.  We regarded every meal as a possible poisoning by dreaded vegetables or something even healthier.  Those were the days of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pizza, and mac n’ cheese.

But, as I’ve grown up, and particularly in the last several years, my meals have become much more interesting.  Instead of the simple meals of my youth I seek out meals with strange concoctions of olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, or white wine reductions.  I’ve learned that prosciutto is not only very tasty ham, but is very tasty when paired with melon.  I have learned that the comination of potato, pasta, and meat sauce in gnocchi Bolognese is fantastic to the point where I’ll eat until I’m sick if I’m not careful.

It’s funny when you think about it.  We still enjoy those simple foods of our youth in many cases.  They become “guilty pleasures” or “comfort food.”  But, when we plan our meals they tend to gain in complexity as we mature.  We progress from menus where the only thing needed beyond the name of the meal is the type of bread and whether or not it has fries to tongue twisting, foreign-named dishes requiring several lines of description to tell us what they are.  And even then we have to ask the waitstaff half the time.

So, next time you’re cooking up a box of Kraft Mac n’ Cheese because your day sucked and you’re just too tired to cook a proper meal, revel in the comfort of it.  The simple things are with us from the beginning.  Indulging in them doesn’t mean your palette is unrefined.

Besides that chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio pairs fantastically with Mac N’ Cheese.

My love for the silver screen is well documented on this blog.  I am a true fan of the cinematic art form.  And, despite the dawning of the high-definition age (and the wonderful HDTV and Blu-Ray player I have at home), I have not forsaken the actual cinema as many have.  I understand the draw of watching your movies at home without anyone kicking your seat, no rude people talking, no overpriced concessions, or the like.  However, there is something about the lights darkening and the silver screen coming to life that pulls me in every time.

However, I have noticed a trend in some theaters recently that is just adding to the antagonism that people feel when confronted with seeing a movie at an actual theater.  As many films are coming out with longer run times, we’re beginning to see many theaters scheduling their film start times so close together that one showing is barely rolling its credits before the next is supposed to be beginning.

I experienced this first hand this weekend.  As I have said in previous posts, my wife and I indulge in a select few films each year in IMAX.  The experience is fantastic, but the cost premium is too prohibitive to see every IMAX film we have an interest in in the format.

“Avatar” was one that demanded IMAX for us.

Unfortunately, to our great chagrin, the local IMAX theater in Harrisburg did not get “Avatar,” necessitating a bit of a journey.  Thus, it took us some time to get to it.  But, we ventured to Reading this weekend to catch the show, unaware of the situation we were getting into.  We arrived for the 1:00 show which was sold out to a crowd that was insane in the lobby.  Luckily, we were able to procure tickets to a 4:10 show from a lobby machine and went to grab something to eat.  We returned to the theater around 2:40 to find a large line already forming for our show. 

No worries, as veterans of Star Wars lines and Lord of the Rings midnight shows, this was nothing new to us.

But, as I stood in the lobby in a crush of moviegoers, I began doing some math.  The theater had one IMAX screen.  The last IMAX showing: 1:00.  The length of the film: 2 hours 30 minutes, putting the ending of the previous show around 3:30.  Add on 15-20 minutes for previews and 10-15 minutes for cleanup, and you’re opening the theater for your now disgruntled 4:10 ticket holders between 3:55 and 4:05.

It was closer to the latter.

Thus, when the lights darkened in the steeply inclined IMAX theater many patrons were still struggling to find a seat among the quickly diminishing supply.  Tempers were already a bit raw from standing in a hot lobby made hotter by a mass of humanity for over an hour.  People’s feet hurt from shifting from foot to foot on hard tile.  People got snippy.

Now, once the movie finally began, everyone settled in, behaved, and enjoyed the experience.  But the truth of the matter is that the theater decided to jam the showings of this extremely popular film do close together for the simple reason of squeezing in an extra showing or two each day.  Like anything else these days, it’s all about the money.

I get it.  I really do.  In this economy you have to do whatever you can to maximize profits.  If you can fill that theater with $14-a-pop tickets one extra time each day, it certainly will help the bottom line.  But, what theaters, like so many other businesses, are failing to understand is that situations like this just alienate their customers.  Movie theaters should be particularly careful.  People don’t have the disposable income they once did for movies, and renting a DVD from Blockbuster, Netflix, or Red Box is a hell of a lot cheaper than going to the cinema.  And, as mentioned before, the quality of the experience has nearly equalled the theater for many of us without the downsides.

If they don’t watch out they could maximize their profits right out of business.

This weekend marks the beginning of a week-long, annual Pennsylvania tradition:  The Pennsylvania Farm Show.  For those unfamiliar, think of it as a big indoor state fair, on steroids.  It is truly an experience that I would recommend to anyone who has not witnessed it, and I would encourage everyone who has to continue their attendance at least once in the coming week.

The Farm Show is actually both the name of the building and the actual event.  The building was originally opened in 1966, and is used for everything from sporting events to computer shows during the rest of the year.  In fact, my first experience with the complex was a computer show.  I had headed out to pick up a few components I needed and when I walked into the building I was greeted by a room full of cows.  Not exactly what I had expected.  It seems that a local 4-H group was having a youth cattle show in one of the larger exhibition halls and I had to pass through it to get to the computer show.

An interesting experience for a suburban raised guy like myself.

My wife fought hard to get me to go to my first actual Farm Show.  But, now I am a regular attendee.  Why?  It can be summed up in one word: FOOD!  The Farm Show has a food court run by the various agricultural councils in the state that serve everything from chicken sandwiches to honey ice cream to potato doughnuts (yes, doughnuts, and they are spectacular).  The true pièce de résistance, though, is the milkshakes.  My mouth waters just thinking about our first trip to the food court this weekend.

But, if you haven’t gone beyond the food court, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  Granted, exhibition halls full of livestock of various and sundry types are not for everyone.  But there are countless vendors selling everything from emu products to state made wine (and there are some damn good PA wineries).  There is the annual sheep to shawl contest where teams shear a sheep, spin the wool to yarn, and knit a shawl faster than you can imagine.  There are the various equine events from carriage teams to draft horse pulling teams.  There is the yearly butter sculpture.  It is a veritable cornucopia of events, tastes, smells, and experiences that will make you dizzy with their variety.

I have become a true fan of the Farm Show, and I truly encourage anyone relatively local to Harrisburg to try to make a stop by at some point.  If you’re not local, you have my sympathies. 

I’ll drink your milkshake for you.

Hello, everyone.

Welcome to the MovieDruid: 2010 edition.  Not much is going to change around here, but it is a new year, and it sounds cool.   One thing to watch for is the speed of reviews may accelerate a bit (Oscar season and all that).  I plan on having the review for “Sherlock Holmes” up sometime today, and the review for “Up In The Air” up by Monday.  If you think you may have missed one, I have a complete list of past reviews and links to them at the bottom of the reviews page.

The beginning of the year is always a bit fun with many of the limited releases going national and the studios jockeying for Oscar position.  But, this year we also have a pretty strong crop of films that fall outside the normal early year Oscar race.  Hopefully the bountiful January and February will be a sign of a solid cinematic year.

Anyway, let’s get on with it, shall we…

“Crazy on the Outside”

Trailer

Synopsis: Tommy is fresh out of prison and ready for a second chance in life. But, he finds out that life outside his prison cell is much more complicated than he was expecting, thanks especially to his eccentric sister and the entourage of crazy people who seem to find him wherever he goes.

MovieDruid’s Comments: First off, there seems to be some disagreement among the major movie sites as to the release status on this one.  They seem to be split about half and half as to whether this is to be a national release or a limited release.  So, if this one looks like your cup of tea and it does not show up near you, my apologies.  This film marks the feature directorial debut of Tim Allen.  And, having seen the strange places the mind of the comedian can go, it should be an interesting ride.  However, Allen’s comedy generally doesn’t appeal to me, too often going for the cheap laugh or humor of the lowest common denominator.  But, Allen has managed to bring together an impressive array of stars to join him on this project including Kelsey Grammar (“Toy Story 2” & “Fame), Sigourney Weaver (“Ghostbusters” & “Alien”), J.K. Simmons (“Thank You For Smoking” & “Spider-Man”), and Ray Liotta (“Unlawful Entry” & “GoodFellas”).  But, this film will really come down to Allen, and I think that will day it all.  If you’re a fan, go check it out.  If not, stay away.

“Leap Year”

Trailer

Synopsis: “Leap Year” follows one woman’s determined quest to get married to the perfect guy, despite what fate has in store for her. When their four-year anniversary passes without a marriage proposal, Anna decides to take matters into her own hands. Investing in an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Feb. 29, Anna decides to follow her boyfriend Jeremy to Dublin and get down on one knee herself. But airplanes, weather and fate leave Anna stranded on the other side of Ireland, and she must enlist the help of handsome and surly Declan to get her across the country. As Anna and Declan bicker across the Emerald Isle, they discover that the road to love can take you to very unexpected places.

MovieDruid’s Comments: The first word that jumped to my mind when I saw the initial marketing for this film was “cute.”  And, I don’t mean that in a good way.  This film seems to have all the earmarks that created the term “chick flick.”  The premise is so cutesy and saccharin-sweet that it’s difficult to stomach.  The set-up pushes the limits of suspension of disbelief.  And, the outcome is so painfully obvious that we wonder why we should spend our money to find out what we already know.  In fact the only thing this seems to have going for it is cast with Amy Adams (“Julie & Julia” & “Enchanted”) seeming to be a solid choice for the lead in this sort of film.  The casting of Matthew Goode (“Watchmen” & “The Lookout”) seems a little for this sort of film, but he is a talented actor and should be able to carry the role.  But, even the talent of these two does not seem to be enough to save this film from itself, unfortunately.

“Youth in Revolt”

Trailer

Synopsis: “Youth in Revolt” is the irreverent story about the wild adventures of a teenage boy named Nick Twisp who meets the girl of his dreams while on a family vacation and has to turn his life and the lives of all those around him upside down in order to be with her.

MovieDruid’s Comments: This seems to be the week of the comedy.  And, no collection of comedies would be truly complete without the addition of the angtsy teen comedy.  And, thus we have “Youth in Revolt.”  Michael Cera (“Juno” & TV’s “Arrested Development”) is really the bright spot here.  Most of the rest of the cast is either very new to the screen, or in relatively minor roles.  However, Cera has shown in many cases that despite his youth he has the comedic chops to carry a film, and that he has the maturity and skill to easily play off his costars.  And, while the subject matter seems a little stale here, the fresh blood treading the old ground may find a way to revitalize things a bit.

“Daybreakers” – MovieDruid Pick of the Week

Trailer

Synopsis: The year is 2019. A mysterious plague has swept over the earth, transforming the majority of the world’s population into vampires. Humans are now an endangered, second-class species — forced into hiding as they are hunted and farmed for vampire consumption to the brink of extinction. It’s all up to Edward Dalton, a vampire researcher who refuses to feed on human blood, to perfect a blood substitute that might sustain vampires and spare the few remaining humans. But time and hope are running out — until Ed meets Audrey, a human survivor who leads him to a startling medical breakthrough. Armed with knowledge that both humans and vampires will kill for, Ed must battle his own kind in a deadly struggle that will decide the fate of the human race.

MovieDruid’s Comments: Thank God, we finally have a vampire film without sparkly, angst-ridden, vegetarian vampires.  Yes, the protagonist is named Edward, but this Edward is Ethan Hawke (“Taking Lives” & “Gattaca”).  This film appears to have gone out of its way to truly give us a unique look and feel to the vampire genre.  The visual feel of the film is an interesting blending of science-fiction and horror palettes to create a unified vision that should serve the story well.  Also, in addition to Hawke, they have brough in veterans like Sam Neill (“The Piano” & “The Hunt for Red October”) and Willem DaFoe (“American Psycho” & “Platoon”) on board.  “Daybreakers” looks ike a nice return to the classical image of the vampire after the relative foolishness of the Twilight Saga.

I have decided in recent days that one of the worst, most emasculating things we have to do in life is look for a job.  I’m lucky enough to be among the employed at present, but in a situation with no opportunities for advancement in position or pay.  I spent a fair amount of time and money educating myself and earning certifications which are currently going to waste.

And so, I job hunt.

But, job sites, recruitment forums, and the like are the stuff of nightmares.  Every time you think you find something promising either the requirements are off the charts or the pay is substandard.  It is definitely a bad job market out there, and for those of you who are going through this same process from the weaker position of having lost their job, you have my greatest sympathies.

The real problem I find is that this is a marketing game, and that is a game I’ve never excelled at.  To make matters worse, what you are marketing is yourself.  Should be easy right?  After all who knows you better than you, and who has your best interests at heart better.  The real problem is that I have a hard time talking myself up.

It’s not that I don’t think I have anything to offer.  I truly believe that I have a valuable skillset.  But, it’s hard to throw out all kinds of fluff about how great you are without seeming disingenuous.  Where do you draw the line?  Do I sound confident and assured or obnoxious and conceited?  It seems like such a fine line.  But, we all have to do this.  And, in this economy it is an even bigger struggle than before.  We just have to try not to get discouraged, I suppose.

So, to all my readers, friends, and family going through the job search: Good fortune to us all.

As I said yesterday, my wife and I trekked down to Charlotte this past weekend to visit family.  This is a trip fraught with peril, with adventure, and with strange natives.

And that’s just in the rest areas.

Now, I’m sure any of my loyal readers who have taken a long road trip have been to these places.  Tiny oases off the side of the highways where we can ostensibly refresh ourselves and answer nature’s call, all while stretching legs that have too long been contorted by the confines of our conveyances. (sorry, sometimes I take the alliteration too far)

But these supposed safe havens from the terror of dodging semis and trying to pass slow pokes are rife with danger of their own.  Within their seemingly inviting confines are many pitfalls waiting to snare the unwary.  Most are easily spotted and avoided, like that crazy group of college football fans, many of whom are half-lit without having even arrived at the stadium of their alma mater.  But, some….some, my friends, are insidious.

And most of these are in the restrooms, the one place we truly need at these shelters from the asphalt storm.

Now, many of the old dangers have disappeared or at least lessened over the years.  The days of the toxic bathroom, while not banished forever, are certainly on the wane.  Most rest area bathrooms are actually fairly well-maintained in this day and age.  But, there is one horror that continues to lurk in the stalls.

Substandard TP.

Yes, we have all experienced this whether young or old, male or female.  Granted the women among us are certainly the more victimized, but men are not exempt from this horror.  Nothing strikes despair into your heart like reaching for the TP to find it is so weak in nature that the merest tug to turn the roll results in a single square seeming to wilt in your hand.  So, we use any variety of stratagems to coax a reasonable length from the roll, but the result is never satisfactory….never sufficient for the true need.

I warn you, dear friends, the horror of bad TP awaits you all.  It lurks in bathroom stalls everywhere, but God help you should you fall into its clutches on the road, for here, in the supposedly serene rest area, you have nowhere else to turn for solace.

You have been warned!

This past weekend we witnessed the end of one year and the beginning of yet another.  I celebrate New Year’s with friends and loved ones every year, but in many ways the holiday feels a little empty.  In reality, all that happens is one day becomes another just like every other day.  It is only the concept of years that we have impressed upon the passage of time that makes the day significant.  And yet, somehow, despite its subjective nature, something does seem to change subtly at New Year’s.

As I experienced the first days of 2010 with my family in Charlotte, I couldn’t help but think about all that has happened over the past year, and many of the years before it.  Much has changed in my life over the last twelve months.  In many ways, the very foundations the comfortable rut I had been living in have been shaken, even shattered.  I have made new friends, reconnected with long missed loved ones, and fought an ongoing war to try to make something of myself.  A war that I, admittedly, have lost more battles in than I have won.

There has been much joy and pain in the last twelve months.  Even more in the last ten years.

It’s hard not to dwell on the past.  The pains and sorrows of the past always seem to stand out in sharp relief as you gaze backward, while the happiness and joy seem to be colored in much more subtle shades.  Perhaps this is how nature and memory help us to learn.  But, living in the past is not what we were meant for.

So, I have decided to approach the new year as a fresh canvas.  Unspoiled by the regrets and pains of the past, but uncolored by the joys and triumphs as well.  These things have already become a part of me.  They define me as I am today, and thus are present in the painter and need no place on the canvas.  So, I set out to paint these next steps I take along the road of my life, and I do it for the first time in many, many years without the one thing that has haunted my steps for so long.

Fear.

I will face this new year boldly.  I will believe that I can accomplish what I set out to do.  I will hold tight to the things I believe in and stand fast with the help of friends and family.  This shall be the year I defeat my demons and drive them back into Pandora’s Box.  I will allow myself to have the faith of a child, faith enough to put away my brushes and fingerpaint.  For in doing so I can lay claim once again to the reins of my life.

Let the masterpiece commence.

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