I thoroughly enjoyed Red Tails
, a film about the incomparable Tuskegee Airmen, last night.
It's an action film to rival any of its contemporaries, without being glitzy and over the top, which I know is usually the order of the day by many of today's audiences. Of course, I love my share of the Independence Day
, G.I. Joe
type of in-your-face fare, but that kind of zoom and boom would not have done this work its due justice. I think the way they did it was done just right.I'll admit that seeing the actors Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, and even Method Man (aka Cliff Smith), all closer to my age in real life, portraying the seasoned vets of the day among so many of the younger, lesser known cast made me feel old. Nate Parker, whom I loved in The Great Debaters, delivered a superbly flawed and vulnerable squadron leader, CPT "Easy" Julian, with the finesse and demeanor of a young Denzel Washington's PFC Melvin Peterson, ala A Soldier's Story. If I had a school girl's crush on Denzel, then I seem to have developed a cougar's crush on Nate. But, oh well.Well, this is no soldier's story. It is an airman's story. Or rather, the story of several airmen.It
was a well-directed and well-acted. The lead and supporting performances were all subtle, but strong. You will likely see several faces that you know you know from somewhere, even if you can't immediately place the names.
The script was powerful, but understated, in my opinion. Despite my emotional attachment to the story, I wish the script writing had been stronger. I think the dialogue fell flat in some places because the movie was so short and seemed cheated. Hopefully, the actors' delivery won't get the blame for that.
It felt like a very abbreviated film for it to have been 2 hours long; but maybe that's because I was enjoying it so much. I wanted to know more about and see more from all of the characters. I'd love to one day see the deleted scenes that landed on the cutting room floor. I've heard that there may be a prequel and/or a sequel coming out. That would be great.
Of course, like any movie "based on true events," I probably would label it historical fiction. Yes, based on true events, but obviously laced with many Hollywood touches. It is not without its flaws and historical inaccuracies, but that's no reason not to enjoy it.
It's a respectfully done and respectable effort. It would be nice to see it do well critically, if not financially. And it's great for starting and continuing a dialogue about these men and their stories. I remember that A Soldier's Story
, in its time, wasn't all that well received, but today, it's a classic to many, even with its flaws.Basically, watching Red Tails made me want to see more. I guess that's a good thing in Hollywood.
Maybe that's the way they set it up for the sequels and prequels, to make you want more. I hope that's the case; and hopefully, the story will be fleshed out more in future movies. Always leave 'em wanting more. I do hope there is more, and very soon! From what I've heard, it took over 20 years for this film to finally be made. Twenty more years would be way too long. Thanks, Mr. Lucas and Mr. Hemingway. Well done.
For those of you who missed it, today is the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Georgia native (my homeboy), an Alpha Phi Alpha man (swagger personified), and arguably the most prominent figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. He died before I was born. I'm older now than he was then.
History has taught me that while he lived, he was older than my grandfather, younger than my grandmother, and that he was more than the "I Have a Dream" speech, a superb piece of writing, by the way, and more than the March on Washington. And frankly, I find the descriptions "dream" and "dreamer" terribly cliche and overused in reference to who he was. People, especially writers, should find more words to use than those. Trite much?
He was one of many who fought and died for equal rights, opportunities, treatment, and trying to offer the world a perspective of what could be with a little momentum and dedication. Whatever else he was or wasn't, did or didn't do, it's because of him and many like him that I know many of you and can call you my family and friends, and can make the most of the opportunities that I have. That's pretty cool.
Welp. Just finished a lengthy Sunday afternoon conversation with my mom, who advised me that she's willing to wait about 3 more years for me to have a baby. That's right around the time the mortgage will be paid off, and she can sell the house and travel with me and the kid.
Never mind I don't have a husband. "So, get a sperm donor," she says. "I don't mind you having a baby when you're old. I want a grand baby." Thanks, mom. Yeah. Thanks for that.
Did we somehow forget that I'm forty-fucking-three years old, and I don't even have a boyfriend? What's that? No problem?
"...The Army is full of men...Just stop being so picky. You don't even have to marry him...You don't need child support...You can afford a baby."
And the best one, "Just gotta think about how happy that would make me before I die...Pretty, pretty grand babies..."
Yes, she played the death card.
So, on the chance that there are others, and I know there are others out there who go through this with the people who love us (moms, dads, well-meaning friends, etc.), I just want you to know you're not alone. I've had this topic thrown at me so many different ways, from so many different angles, I can just about tell you what to say back and how to say it. Guaranteed to shut them up about it for at least a month...unless you chat every Sunday.
Life is full of an abundance of fears. Most people have fears of something, and I suspect that most fearless people are those who have never fallen, failed or been felled.
Me? I've been falling down all my life, failed innumerably, been felled constantly; so fearlessness has never been a luxury of mine.
And the list is endless for many of us.
Fear of rejection, especially as a writer.
Fear of being laughed at, talked about, picked on, disliked, or excluded.
Fear of losing. A job, a loved one, an opportunity, a competition, a tooth.
Fear of being alone, dying alone, dying, period.
Fear of Armageddon. Not so much for me, but other folks really have an issue with it.
Fear of reality TV.
But at some point, while you're still living, you've got to say to hell with it. Shit. Put your fear in your fucking back pocket and move. Even just a little bit. What's the worst that can happen? You'll die? Sure. But you're gonna die if you stand still, too, so go already.
There will always be somebody out there who gets the guy, the girl, the job, the attention, or the money, when you feel more deserving, but so what? Get tired, but then get tired of getting tired and get to gettin'.
And here's a thought. Just maybe the reason you didn't get what you think you should have gotten is because you're not as good as you think you are. It happens. Trust me. So get better. Shucks.
That's not to say that everyone should and can learn to be fearless; but just because you're born in a barrel doesn't mean you have to stay there. Hell, the crabs who got out are probably the ones who lost a leg or two from being pulled back down. But isn't getting out worth taking the risk? What's holding you back? That fear again? Patooey!
Sure, I've seen the fearless fall in what I imagine it would be like to watch one of those giant, larger-than-life trees (redwoods, I believe), in a thunderous, unsettling crash, wreaking mayhem and havoc on its way down and in its wake. But even then, I can't help but admire they way they once stood up. Tall, straight, and always certain, even though their time on this earth is as uncertain as the rest of ours. Living and standing in spite of, or perhaps, in reverence of time. The way we all should live, despite our fears.
Yes, the mighty fall hard, but so do the rest of us. Who the hell cares who was closer to the ground at the time? Blah.
I'm not always certain, but I am certain that fear of dying is no reason not to live. I cannot, will not let fear cripple me. Immobilize me. It's madness. And I'm already crazy enough. I've come to believe that that whole thing about dying a thousand deaths is true. I live to die only once, if I can help it.
I originally wrote this post on 13 November 2011, three weeks after returning from deployment in Afghanistan.
I originally wrote and posted this on Facebook on 16 October 2011, the day before I left Afghanistan.
Now, harder than ever, I'll work the rest of my life to be more than the sum of my broken parts, recalling with reverence the days when only things that kept me from putting a bullet through my head is my genuine fear of God and a closed casket funeral. The nights I spent screaming inside with no sound coming out. The days when it was all I could do to stumble out of my tent and vomit out the word, “Fuuuuuuck!” at the top of my lungs to keep from suffocating. And piecing together the moments of sanity that I have left. Recognizing sounds and images for what they are and not what they represent.
My own episodes of experience are nothing in comparison to what many others could recount. Many people I know have done and seen things no man’s eyes should see, taken mental footage of atrocities no mind should capture or have to remember, and they deal with demons more vicious and vivid than mine will ever be. I don’t claim to have looked the devil in the face, but I know what it means to be in hell.
This is the kind of shit that makes you want to chuck 16 years of service and take it to the house. I'm tired of getting shot at. I'm tired of people I know getting shot at. Tired of people I know getting blown up and dying all around me.
How the hell did this happen? Oh yeah. I said that I was tired of not doing my part. Left the relative safety of The Pentagon for a rapid deployment unit at Fort Drum. But then again, where is really safe? Some fool just got arrested for plotting to bomb The Pentagon with C4 in model airplanes. Lord Jesus.
Now I'm sitting in the desert, feeling that whole fish in the barrel complex, like I'm just waiting for the next round to land. I'm tired of that obnoxious alarm, absolutely the most obscene noise I've ever heard in my life, going off all the time telling me, “Incoming! Incoming!” I'm tired of getting to know people by completing their casualty reports and preparing family notification documents.
How do people do these multiple deployments over and over? They are most certainly better men and women than I could ever hope to be. I will never regret counting myself among them, and when I am no longer among them, they will always be in my prayers. They will for the rest of my life be the people I most admire.
Lord knows, I love every one of them, and I pray for them constantly, wishing I could somehow protect them from all of that from which I cannot even protect myself; but I really want to catch and kick the asses of whoever the little nasty, inconsiderate bitches are who keep using up all the damn water in the shower, and then refuse to flush their own waste down the freakin' toilets.
I mean, my gracious! Everybody went to basic training. Why get to the desert and be a nasty ho? And I just want to kick the men's asses for thinking it's funny. Of course, if you have no problem bathing with a bottle of water and then pissing in the empty bottle to keep from going to the latrine, I guess a woman having a conniption about being out of water would amuse you.
Yes, thank God for baby wipes, but baby wipes were never meant to take the place of running water. Jesus, hold my tongue. Too many of the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart have not been acceptable in Thy sight. Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
I'm so not anymore the person I was when I came here. I don't mind hurting random feelings of anybody who wants to put on their big boy/big girl panties and come at me with a smart mouth. I guess it's somewhat unfair, as they haven't a clue that my words are my weapons, my venom is in my tone, and my inclination to get with them on a whim will leave them sliced to verbal pieces, left telling me how I don't need to get defensive, or how I need to watch my tone. Umm, nope. Tone of voice is everything. Don't start none, won't be none.
Offensive calls for defensive regularly out here. I'm dejected and much disenchanted by what I've been through, and the time to shrivel up and cry foul is not after they've pushed me over the point of pissed off just enough for me to let them know what's on my mind. One of my own monsters, with whom folks become acquainted more than even I'd like.
*This is an excerpt from a journal entry from Monsters Under the Bed, which I'm hoping to have the courage to publish when I get home.
Six days into the new year means I'm late with my gratuitous post of reflections and ponderings of the last year. Worse, I've tried to write this post 3 times over the last hour, and my connection keeps dropping. Worst, I'm too stubborn to rewrite it in a Word document so that I won't lose it again, just in case I run out of time before the NEXT inevitable dropped connection. This is some bullshit.
But, then, that's what I get for being late as hell and being stubborn. And have the nerve to be impatient. This is what happens to a writer with tons of ideas that she can't write down fast enough, and can't remember once those ideas have gotten tired of waiting to be put to good use and escaped her chaotic head space.
I've written some great stuff on here in the last three attempts, and lost it because of some fricken fracken computer glitchy nonsense, which, by the way, I pay way too much money to be going through. Now it's gone forever. Much like time itself. The gift that doesn't keep on giving.
It is a gift of opportunity and chances (like the chance I'm taking that this shit won't drop me again); of decisions and circumstances, often of my own making; of situations, often of my own choosing. It doesn't come wrapped in a nice shiny bow. And despite my best efforts, I cannot save it in a pretty little box or bottle for later.
As time passes, I'm passing right along with it. I get it. I got it years ago, but something about this time of year brings it back to the forefront of my mind. And I know I'm not the only one. I just posted my thoughts six days later. Time. Only less of it.
Time is borrowed, much like credit. Eventually it runs out.
I changed the name of this blog to "Write on Time" because all cliches about time are true. It slips into the future, waits for no man, heals all wounds...or so they tell me. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
That, and I think it's a pretty cool play on words.
Anyway, I plan to spend this year getting my publishing company, New Renaissance Ink, off the ground, and publishing at least two works this fall, one of which will be the Second Edition of The Other Side of 30; but gracious alive, it's a lot of work. I'm working with a few authors already, talking mostly, at this point; but I hope that one of their books will be among the two that I publish this year. I've also got two nonfiction pieces bouncing around in my head, and maybe even a YA novel, which is totally new territory for me. I believe I've got the ducks lined up (couldn't think of a time cliche for that one), and I'm trying to move deliberately, if a bit tentatively, just to increase my chances of producing the best possible work for my readers and for myself.
All that said, I'm still learning to build platforms, audiences, brand recognition and all of that stuff that only writers care about. From this point forward, I hope to deliver words on this screen that readers care about. I'm building it, readers. Please come.
One of my brain children is to create an experimental blog segment and discussion forum, through comments and/or messages, as a Subject Matter Expert on the Art of Being Single. After all, The Other Side of 30 is basically about the life of a single girl, Sebrina Cooper, that goes awry, to put it mildly.
Let's see. That makes the acronym SMEABS. Hmmmh. That needs work.
But if I don't know shit else, I know how to be single. And write. And having done both for so long, I've gotten better than pretty good at them.
Maybe I'm supposed to remind as many others as possible, that being single is a conscious choice, not a chronic condition. And that's it's not the end of the world. On the other side of 30, 40, or beyond. Well, I don't know anything much about beyond yet, but you get the point. Maybe this is how I build my platform and readership, but also help some people along the way. Sebrina Cooper should have had the benefit of a SMEABS.
I've pretty much mastered being single, and all without the benefit of heavy medication or restraining orders. I've kept my hair and most of my sanity. That takes finesse. Skill. Okay, less skill and more life experience. And a lot of perspective. A dash of good genes, sure. Of course, a good portion of grace and gummi bears.
I mean, there has to be a really good reason for my being over 40, never been married, no kids, well-educated, pretty, and having dropped into and avoided more than my fair share of emotional pitfalls. But on the other side of all that, I have built a pretty comfortable life, maintained a steady career, and I'm living the drama-free life to which we all (at least say that we) aspire.
Just maybe being a SMEABS (Trying to get the name to grow on me) is part of my purpose, sharing lessons and experiences.
Anyway, if you or someone you know may benefit from some perspective and life experience, please tune in here often. We'll see how this thing pans out.
Whatever I do with the time I have left in this year and the rest of my life, I want to contribute something to making someone else's situations or circumstances better, their decisions are little more informed, and maybe their chances a little less risky. *Sigh*
Opportunity, here I come knocking.
There is more to come. I will be more active on this blog. That's not a resolution. It's a lifestyle change. ;)