A Forgotten Song Bringing Up Old Memories

Music has the power to bring back memories that have long been forgotten, taking you back to the exact moment and bringing back feelings in an instant that were first experienced more than a decade before, which is why I found myself about to break down crying when a random song came on my car radio. The other day I was headed to the grocery store with my wife. it was after work and I was feeling good as we cruised down the road listening to the music playing on one of the local alternative stations, and then the song switched, a light strumming of a guitar and a rush of emotion coming back to me. Before any words were even sung I felt my eyes began to tear up. It had been more than ten years since I’d heard this song, but I was immediately taken back to that dark movie theater in Little Rock where I received the bad news. It was a Sunday afternoon and my dad was visiting me from Memphis. I was in the tenth grade, sixteen years old at the time and we were at a movie that I’d already seen, “Stranger than Fiction”, and I had enjoyed it so much the first time that I was more than happy to see it again. Truth be told, it might very well be in my top ten favorite movies of all time, but since that day I think I’ve only watched it on one or two other occasions, unable and unwilling to bring back the sad memories that this particular movie conjures up for me.

There’s a scene in the movie when Will Farrell first kisses Maggie Gyllenhaal on the couch in her apartment, a turning point, the optimistic beginning of a relationship between the lonely IRS agent and the local bakery owner. A song starts playing by Reckless Eric called “Whole Wide World” and it’s a beautiful moment set to the tune of a perfect song. It was in this moment, during the kiss while the song was playing that I felt my cell phone vibrate in my pocket and I pulled it out in the dark movie theater to check the message. It was from my mom and contained some of the most devastating news that I have received to this day; Coach Brady was dead.

Coach Brady was without question one of the greatest teachers that I ever had, teaching me math both my eighth and ninth grade years, a subject that was my least favorite throughout my entire scholarly career, but for those two years it was my favorite class, solely because of the teacher. He had a knack for storytelling and on those lucky days he would breeze through the lessons, imparting the necessary knowledge that the job required then for the rest of the class would tell us stories from his life that would oftentimes make me laugh so hard that it hurt. It didn’t matter what particular story he would tell us, he would make the classroom shake with laughter as naturally as another teacher might assign homework, which is why I relished the fact that I could make him laugh too and would do so as often as I got the chance. Coach Brady was the first teacher that I ever felt really thought I was funny and appreciated that fact, which gave me the confidence and courage to be more outspoken. He made me want to share my sense of humor with others, which is something to this day that I consider one of my best attributes, and for that I will be forever grateful. I wish things would have happened differently, that he would have gotten better and I never would have received that horrible news, but things don’t always turn out the way that we would like. Although I only knew him for a couple of short years, Coach Brady left me something that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life, and even though he is gone, he will never be forgotten.

4th of July: A Walk in the Park and a Great Movie

IMG_3983It’s the fourth of July, independence day, so it’s pretty common to go watch a fireworks show tonight, but it’s raining, I hate loud noises, and I don’t feel like fighting traffic downtown, so the thunder shaking the walls of my apartment will have to suffice. Growing up I always celebrated this holiday in the same way, having a big cook out at my grandparents house, with burgers, hot dogs, cheese dip, watermelon, and homemade ice cream, but over the past few years those traditions have fallen by the wayside so I really wasn’t sure how I was going to spend my day. Last year was great, my wife and I, along with my brothers, mom and grandmother were all in Minneapolis watching a Twins baseball game, which is really the most American way to celebrate America’s independence, but unfortunately, my vacation was last week so all hopes of starting a new tradition on the 4th, involving going to a baseball game, diminished rather quickly.

I woke up early this morning, about five, and after reading for a little while, decided to go to the park for an early walk before it got unbearably hot outside, as Memphis summers tend to do. It was a beautiful morning, a bright blue sky with the sunlight on my back as I walked along one of the trails at Shelby Farms. It was early enough so it wasn’t very crowded, which was nice, because after having passing just a few people, I was already growing tired of saying “good morning”, an insane ritual of having to speak with a complete stranger just because you are walking past them, but I nodded and mumbled the words anyway, lest I seem like a jerk for not responding. I walked for an hour, but it didn’t seem that long, walking past several lakes surrounded by trees and smelling the fresh honeysuckle along the way, sweeping me up in the spirit of summer.

This afternoon I went to the movies with my dad and watched “Baby Driver” a film I knew nothing about going in, but was a little skeptical of due to what struck me as an odd name. The movie focused on “Baby” a young man indebted to an apparent mobster, although I don’t believe an official organization is mentioned, pays him back by being the getaway driver for various heists and robberies. It’s a very compelling story of someone being forced into a bad situation, and his struggle to get out of it to save himself and the girl that he has fallen in love with. “Baby” has a strong connection to music which is apparent throughout the movie, bringing a completely new perspective to music in film. Overall I really enjoyed the movie, however there were a couple of things toward the end that struck me as pretty unbelievable, the director seeing how far he could stretch the reality to cram even more action into the last few minutes. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5 rating, and I definitely recommend you checking it out, but of course you don’t have to, because we live in America, and you’re independent to do as you please.

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Movie Review: The Circle

IMG_3551If you only have twenty-four hours left to live and you want to see one more movie here on this earth, I would highly recommend going to see “The Circle”…if you would like to die a very disappointed person. I considered typing this movie review all in emojis so I could give it the appropriate amount of thumbs down and poop symbols that it deserves. First words are pretty monumental in a person’s life, and upon the movie finishing, my first words were “that was terrible.” That’s really all you need to know about “The Circle” but if you want to continue reading I’ll gladly tell you all about its awfulness. The book by Dave Eggers was one that I really enjoyed, and when I saw the preview for the movie I thought it looked absolutely incredible. I love Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, and they were as good as they could be in such a terrible movie, and even Patton Oswalt played his role well, but some of the other actors cast were absolute train wrecks. The actor who played Mercer (I could easily look up his name, but don’t want to put any extra effort into finding out who this horrible actor is) was painful to watch. Each scene he was in, it felt like he was in the audition reading the lines for the first time, awkwardly stumbling through the dialogue like someone who shouldn’t have been in a high school play, let alone a major motion picture. The one upside about this horribly portrayed character is that (spoiler alert) he eventually dies by driving his truck off a bridge. To be honest if I was such a bad actor, I would probably consider doing the same thing.

There wasn’t much flow to the movie at all and it seemed like it was just a bunch of scenes pieced together in a poor effort to form a movie. “The Circle” had so much potential to be an edge of your seat type of thriller, but the only thrill I got was when the movie ended and I was no longer subjected to this massive waste of time. I literally sat through the movie hoping with every fiber of my being that it would end soon. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt this way because as soon as the opening credits started to roll, the theater emptied before the lights even came up. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible and was the last person to leave the theater. I haven’t seen Beauty and the Beast yet, but I hope for the sake of Emma Watson it was a much better movie than this one so she can continue to get starring roles, because she really is a good actress. The director really screwed over the respected actors who were in this movie by making it so terrible. I don’t know his name, but I should probably find that out so I don’t make the mistake of seeing another of his movies. On a scale of 1 to 5 I give “The Circle” a 1. Don’t go see the movie…that is unless of course you enjoy torturing yourself.

Movies to Watch

Since going to see “La La Land” in theaters a couple of weeks ago I have been watching quite a few more movies than I normally do. I’ve just been really in the mood to watch movies lately, so in the spirit of being the nice person that I am, I’m going to use today’s blog to let you know what I’ve been watching and also give you some recommendations. If you haven’t seen the movie “Zootopia” then you definitely need to add that to your to-do list, probably near the top right after “feed the kids” but before “take a shower.” It’s an animated film but one that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s actually pretty funny and I found myself laughing out loud at these intriguing cartoon characters. Keeping with the animation theme I then watched “Sausage Party”, and while it was funny, this is not one that should be viewed by the entire family unless everyone in said family is an adult. It’s a great concept about items in a grocery store who dream about being taken to the great beyond (outside the store). They think it’s a magical place but when an item is returned with tales of what he saw, horror ensues in a very hilarious fashion.

When my brothers were here over the weekend we watched a couple of oldies, the first being “Dumb & Dumber.” While I’m sure most of you reading have already seen this one, it is definitely one worth going back and watching again, especially if you, like me, haven’t seen it in a few years. The other older movie we watched was “Uncle Buck”, one my brothers had never seen before, and until a few years ago, neither had I. It’s a John Hughes film, starring John Candy and Macauley Culkin before “Home Alone”. It is very funny and if you haven’t seen it I’d highly recommend it. It’s good for the whole family and features Culkin’s trademark child wit that will have you laughing throughout.

Last night my wife and I rented “War Dogs”, a movie that came out last year. It is a story based on true events about these two guys in Miami that make millions of dollars selling supplies to the military in the Iraqi war. Jonah Hill and his co-star, who’s name I’m forgetting at the moment, are fantastic in their roles and will keep you captivated throughout the entirety of the movie. A lot of films seem to hit dull spots, but this one is interesting and funny all the way through. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend picking it up at Redbox and giving it a try. Although it’s about events that happen during the war, it’s not an action movie and can be enjoyed by all mature audiences. I really do enjoy movies and my hope is that I can have a blog post on the subject every once in awhile keeping you apprised of what I’m watching and what I think you’d enjoy, so be sure to come back next time you’re looking for a good movie to watch and I’ll give you my amateur opinions.

Best Movie I’ve Been to in 3 Years

Today I went to the movies for the first time in more than three years, and it was fantastic. First off, it only cost me eight dollars, about forty-two dollars less than I was expecting movies would cost in 2017, so I was pumped about that. I walked over to the food counter and ordered the triple combo, popcorn, a drink and candy. What would I like to drink? Pibb Xtra of course, I am human after all. What candy would I like? Chocolate covered raisins. For as long as I can remember, raisinets have been my go-to movie theater candy, although for reasons I can’t explain, I absolutely despise raisins when they aren’t coated in chocolate. The girl at the counter asked me if that was a medium or large candy item, as if I were the one working and knew into which classification the snacks fell into. I told her it was on the middle shelf, the best possible answer I could come up with, but apparently it was not the one she was looking for. Her coworker arrived behind her and said it was a medium candy. After it was all said and done I spent $13.75 on the triple combo, which has got to be one of the biggest markups on a product that is sold here in the United States, but I’m not going to sit in a dark room like an idiot without eating anything, so I reluctantly paid the ridiculously high price for the snacks.

The movie I saw was “La la Land” and if you haven’t seen it I’d highly recommend it, although it’s probably not for everybody. It’s a musical and a love story so if you aren’t into that type of movie then I would definitely advise you to skip this one. Personally I like musicals, and this one was absolutely incredible. The songs were great and the musical score throughout the film was perhaps one of the best I’ve ever seen. The story of a jazz musician with dreams of one day opening a club and a wannabe actress who hadn’t had her big break yet was told perfectly. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone played the roles perfectly and it was a joy to watch. Their singing was really good, and Gosling playing the piano was definitely a pleasure to hear. It was the kind of movie that made me want to go out to a jazz club and be swept up in the passion of the musicians. Leaving the theater I searched for a jazz station on the radio but had no luck finding one, so I’ll definitely be downloading some to my iPhone in the near future. I don’t buy a lot of movies now that I have Netflix, but I will definitely purchase “La la Land” once it comes out on DVD. If I were rating it, I’d give it a ten out of ten, and I can say with absolute certainty, that it’s the best movie that I’ve been to in three years.

My Wife Poisoned Me

This morning I woke up sick. The first thing I did, when I woke up at 6:08, thirty-seven minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, was go to the bathroom and empty the contents of my stomach into the toilet. Is that too vile of an image? At least I’m kind enough not to tell you the color or consistency of my vomit, so you’re welcome. I absolutely hate being sick, but I knew, in my condition it would be irresponsible to go to work and possibly inflict my coworkers with whatever I had so I began the process of letting someone at the bank know that I would not be coming in today. It was early in the morning and I didn’t want to risk waking up my boss with a phone call so I sent a text message explaining my absence while leaving out the more graphic parts of the whole ordeal. She didn’t text back so at 6:45 I went onto the company website and found the phone number listed for the assistant manager and sent her a similar message. By 7:45, fifteen minutes before I was supposed to be at work, I tried calling the bank, which was stupid on my part since nobody would be there yet, but I was desperate to let somebody know that I was sick, so as not to tarnish my reputation. When nobody answered I sent the assistant manager an email, the last resort, and went back to sleep after throwing up one more time.

About 8:15 I received a call from my supervisor who wanted to know if I was okay because nobody had heard from me. I would have called her earlier but she was taking the day off so I opted not to worry her with my problem out of respect for the almighty vacation day. I told her I was sick and she told gave me the phone number for the assistant manager. Apparently the number I found online earlier was outdated, a number that she no longer had, so I said I’d call the new number as soon as I got off the phone with my supervisor, which I did. I explained, once again, that I was sick and couldn’t come to work, and she wished me the best before hanging up. I scheduled a doctors appointment for 10:30, went in, and found out I had a mild case of food poisoning, probably from the meatball sub my wife made for me at the beginning of the week that I didn’t eat until yesterday at lunch. Apparently meat has an expiration date. Who knew? Probably every other person in the world except for me. Today was a miserable day that I spent on the couch, napping and watching a redox movie that I rented, “The Girl on the Train.” If I’m being completely honest I’d have to say that being sick was preferable to watching that movie. It was terrible. It had a great concept but the story wasn’t all that enthralling so if you haven’t subjected yourself to that abuse yet, I would strongly advise against it. Hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow so I can go see “La la Land” with my dad. I’d hate for “The Girl on the Train” to be the only movie I see this weekend.

My Confession

I have a confession to make. It’s something I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time on here, but haven’t built up the courage to do so until today. To be honest, I’m worried about the judgement I will face from the world once my secret is out in the open, but I suppose I will feel a bit relieved to share it. Okay, here it goes. I haven’t been to a movie in almost three years. I know, it’s shocking. I used to go to movies all the time when I was younger, like they were drugs and I was desperate for my next fix, but once I got married all of that changed. On our honeymoon, in Orange Beach, Alabama, Leticia and I went to see “The Wolf of Wall Street” and it was spectacular, but it was the last time I was ever in a movie theater.

I’m not exactly sure why we never went to the movies after that. It was a great movie, but I didn’t see it as so great that no other movie could live up to it. So I guess the question is, what happened? Thinking about it, the most obvious answer I can come up with is that I’m not really up to date on all of the movies that are being released. When I was younger I somehow just knew what was coming out and when, but now I have no idea. Sure there have been things over the years that I have heard about and thought “I think I would like to see that”, but ultimately I chose to spend my money on other things. I feel like a lot of upcoming movies are heard about through previews seen in other movies, and since I haven’t been in so long I’m completely out of the loop. When I do hear of something I think I’ll like and then decide not to go see it, I promise myself that I’ll rent it when it’s out on redbox, but that too rarely happens.

The last new film I saw was “Fruitvale Station” and that was at the end of last year when I watched it on Netflix. I genuinely like movies, but for some reason I mostly only watch sports or TV shows, but I think it’s time I make a change. I used to love going to movies, and it makes no sense that I would completely cut that joy out of my life, so I’m making myself a promise that sometime in the next month I will go to a theater and see a movie. I just hope that there is something worth spending money on. I don’t even know how much tickets cost these days. Three years ago I think I paid ten dollars for a ticket, so I’m guessing it’s quite a bit more now. I would appreciate any and all advice on what to go watch, because as I said, I have no idea what movies are out or are supposed to be good. I’m glad I finally got this off my chest and I hope that you don’t think too poorly of me for having neglected the wonderful art of film.