Eight Songs That Make Me Happy

This is a public service announcement… with guitar.

When I suffered from depression music was always my escape. When I was little it was silly songs. There was this Flintstones album in the public library that I wore out. When I was a teenager it was angry songs. Rock, Metal, Punk. Gangsta Rap. By High School and University I was wallowing in depression with dark songs, moody songs, or just some good old blues. But we’re not going to wallow in it today. Not getting angry. Or being silly. We’re going straight to happy.

woo-hoo

“Woo hoo!!”

We do this meditation in the Buddhist traditions where we wish for people to be happy. We think about people we know being happy. How everyone, all over the world, wants to be free from suffering. And why everyone has a desire to be happy. And then we form the resolution in our minds that we are going to make them all happy with our thoughts, with our actions, with our wishes, with our words

And with our blogs.

Yes Buddha does mention blogs in the Sutras. You just have to find the right translation.

snoopy-happy-dance

January 20th, 2017 is fast approaching and we all know what that means. President Donald Tr… I still can’t say it. So it’s easy to let it get you down. But I say screw that.

These songs are my surefire depression busters. I’m calling it my eight-fold path to dancing in your underwear before the world burns.

It’s a temporary fix. But it’ll help you take your mind off of it.

So these eight songs (lyrics included) are designed to put the happy back where it belongs. In your feet. In your butt. And in your face. And none of them are by Pharrell.

happy-minions

“Yebey!!”

Here we go…

First up… Crooning with a smile.

Feeling Good by Michael Buble

“It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life. It’s a new life for me…”

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Next… Some Attitude.

Troublemaker by Weezer

“I’m such a special guy.”

————————————-

And now a personal favorite… I love this guitar riff and this video and Morrissey’s dance moves alone make me very happy.

What Difference Does It Make by The Smith

All men have secrets and here is mine
So let it be known
For we have been through hell and high tide
I think I can rely on you…
And yet you start to recoil
Heavy words are so lightly thrown
But still I’d leap in front of a flying bullet for you

So, what difference does it make?
So, what difference does it make?
It makes none
But now you have gone
And you must be looking very old tonight

The devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole and I lied, and why?
Because you asked me to!
But now you make me feel so ashamed
Because I’ve only got two hands
Well, I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

So, what difference does it make?
Oh, what difference does it make?
Oh, it makes none
But now you have gone
And your prejudice won’t keep you warm tonight

Oh, the devil will find work for idle hands to do
I stole, and then I lied
Just because you asked me to
But now you know the truth about me
You won’t see me anymore
Well, I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

But no more apologies
No more, no more apologies
Oh, I’m too tired
I’m so sick and tired
And I’m feeling very sick and ill today
But I’m still fond of you, oh-ho-oh

Oh, my sacred one…
Oh…

—————————————–

Now here’s a song about self -love and just being a good neighbor.

Satellite Mind by Metric

Hold it I’m about to drop off
Let me tell you my last thought
Drift into a deep fog
Lost where I forgot to hold it
I can feel you most when I’m alone

Coming home cause I want to
Hang out with a starlet
Stare out at the ceiling
Preview of a screening
Flashback of a feeling
Sixth sense of the call and
I heard you fuck through the wall
I heard you fuck

When I’m bored
I send vibrations
In your direction
From the satellite mind

I’m not suicidal
I just can’t get out of bed
I drift into a deep fog
Lost where I forgot to hold it
I can feel you when I’m alone
I can fell your ghost when I’m alone

Coming home cause I want to
Hang out with a starlet
Stare out at the ceiling
Preview of a screening
Flashback of a feeling
Sixth sense of the call and
I heard you fuck through the wall
I heard you fuck

When I’m bored
I send vibrations
In your direction
From the satellite mind

When your voice
Became vibrations
From the satellite mind

It sounded like mine

——————————————–

Next… A happy tune about getting everything you could ever want for just one dollar. (make sure to read the fine print)

Step Right Up by Tom Waits

“Only a dollar. Step right up.”

—————————————-

Next… Denial (but with an infectious melody)

Everything’s Just Wonderful by Lily Allen

“Oh well I guess I mustn’t grumble. I suppose that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.”

———————————————-

Next up.. a little more self-love (of the less erotic kind)

i (love myself) by Kendrick Lamar

“The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs. But it can do what it want, whenever it want, I don’t mind.”

————————————————

And lastly… The happiest bass-line in the world.

Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz

City’s breaking down on a camel’s back.
They just have to go ’cause they don’t know whack
So all you fill the streets it’s appealing to see
You won’t get out the county, ’cause you’re bad and free
You’ve got a new horizon it’s ephemeral style.
A melancholy town where we never smile.
And all I want to hear is the message beep.
My dreams, they’ve got to kiss, because I don’t get sleep, no
Windmill, Windmill for the land.
Love forever hand in hand
Taking it all in on your stride
It is sticking, falling down
Love forever love is free
Let’s turn forever you and me
Windmill, windmill for the land
Is everybody in?

Laughing gas these hazmats, fast cats,
Lining them up like ass cracks,
Ladies, homies, at the track
Its my chocolate attack.
Shit, I’m stepping in the heart of this here
Care bear bumping in the heart of this here
Watch me as I gravitate
Hahahahahahaa.
Yo, we gonna go ghost town,
This motown,
With yo sound
You’re in the place
You gonna bite the dust
Can’t fight with us
With yo sound
You kill the INC.
So don’t stop, get it, get it
Until you’re cheddar header.
Yo, watch the way I navigate

Windmill, Windmill for the land.
Love forever hand in hand
Take it all in on your stride
It is sticking, falling down
Love forever love is free
Let’s turn forever you and me
Windmill, windmill for the land
Is everybody in?

Don’t stop, get it, get it
We are your captains in it
Steady, watch me navigate,
Ahahahahahhaa.
Don’t stop, get it, get it
We are your captains in it
Steady, watch me navigate

Hahahahaha


I love you guys.

Remember to smile even when you don’t feel like it because it will probably make someone else smile and then someone else… traveling from person to person and before you know it you’ll see your original smile on someone else’s face.

And then you’ll smile for real.

– Mel

To All My Friends (Who’ve Wondered Where I’ve Been)

I know I haven’t been around much lately. Too much anger. Didn’t really want to get it on you. I have a tendency to spew hate when I’m angry. I hate it when the bad guys win… I’ve been experiencing a what-the-fuck few weeks. The American election was hacked and I’m surrounded on all sides by people waiting for their chance to say “I told you so.”

“I told you so.” Among the bodies of the dead.

“I told you so.” Brought to you by the makers of Pepsi and Xanax.

“I told you so.” Translated from the original Russian. (actually, little known fact, it was in German before it was in Russian)

I’ve reached a point in my life where more people are younger than me than older. I’m surrounded on all sides by the children of the damned. Social media misfits more concerned with likes and dislikes. Trolls without bridges. History books unopened. But mouths that will not stay shut.

chinese-farmer

I haven’t been around much lately because I know me. The thoughts racing through my head should not be shared with anyone. My doctor doesn’t want to know. My lawyer doesn’t want to know. The fake twitter accounts of Russian trolls, who successfully influence the tired liberals into hopelessness and fits of screaming, don’t want to know.

For one misguided instant I considered self-immolation as a form of protest. Nothing else, it seems, can penetrate the walls of the corporate pay-to-play media and so-called social media’s cavernous, echo-amplifying, bottomless pits of ego and frustration. Setting myself on fire in front of some monument to our fallen democracy seemed like a good idea at the time… for like, literally, a second. For like one scary second.

So I’ve been away.

And I apologize. I figure there’s like 25 or 30 people who read my blog. And I love you guys. And I’m going to post some good stuff. Life goes on no matter how dire. I know my friend Alex misses my movie reviews. New shows, some of the best stuff I’ve seen on TV, came and went. Anybody watch Atlanta? That was amazing. Donald Glover is knocking it out of the park on the daily. Speaking of which, my list of the best albums from this year includes more genres than you can shake your rump at. Who knew I’d like Trap Music. OMG I like Trap Music.

Music, Movies, TV, the third chapter of my novel… but politics, fucking politics, pissed me off to such an extent that I couldn’t write but scream. I couldn’t think but scream. I could not talk because all the screaming made me lose my voice.

So I went away. Started meditating again. Got back to temple. Working out. Stopped doing the few remaining vices I’d allowed myself over the past decade. Pizza, Beer, Porn, Masturbation. It’s about time I stopped living like a 13 year boy without adult supervision. I’m gonna be 50 next year. And the US president is going to be Donald J. Tr… I can’t even say it.

The pounds flew off since I stopped eating garbage. It’s amazing how much more money I have in my budget since I stopped drinking. And the energy. The sexual energy. The mental energy. The spiritual energy… it’s through the roof. And now being channeled into less selfish endeavors.

thats-great-maybe

Doing yoga everyday. Getting to the temple at least three times a week. Working on my compassion and my mindfulness and my body. I will require these things to make it through the next few weeks. Let alone the next few years of protests and civil (and uncivil) disobedience. Gotta build my stamina for all the marching and demonstrating. Because, as you know, Donald J. Tr… I still can’t say it.

I’ll never be able to say it.

What is the true nature of reality? We see things as we want them or don’t want them to be. Sometimes a fantasy. And sometimes as our worst fears realized. We label situations and phenomena as good or bad. As helpful or unhelpful. As progress and advancement or… as the… the nightmarish, back-sliding, hateful, racist hell-scape that I can’t seem to wake up from. Somebody please wake me up.

WAKE ME UP!!!

I meditate to find love for the seemingly unlovable. I meditate to find focus amidst the din of unchecked voices (un-fact-checked and un-verified). I meditate to find the me that can help and not just criticize. That can pull his weight and not just pull his dick. That can be a calm in the storm and not just more destruction and distraction.

Because it’s looking more and more like we’re going to have to violently overthrow the US government. And I don’t say that lightly. People are going to die. People are going to die because they’ve lost their healthcare and can’t afford their treatments. Because they’ve lost their government jobs as the agencies that protect us, from emotionless and compassion-less corporations, are shuttered one after another. People are going to die because they’ve lost their minds after too many deployments in some foreign distraction called another war. People are going to die.

thats-awful-maybe

And we can’t just sit around waiting for a miracle. Like that one time that one guy resigned from being pope because he realized he was too evil and stuff to be pope so he let the cool guy be pope. We can’t wait for that. We can’t wait for lightning to strike his ostentatiously disgusting jet plane as it floats on a cloud of ego or one of his fucking hotels to collapse under the weight of his hubris. We can’t wait for that. And we can’t sit around watching our neighbors die from treatable diseases or complications from dangerous pregnancies or malnutrition. Fucking malnutrition in the 21st century.

So yeah. We need to violently overthrow the US government… but with love. Out of compassion for our fellow human beings these people have to go… on both sides. I will not be governed by hate. And also I will not be governed by hate. So that really no one has to die for idiotic and preventable reasons.

We’ve been hacked. Our election. Our government. Hacked.

And respectfully, the only course of action, after you’ve been hacked, after they infiltrated your system, installed their malware, their trojans, their porn, the only course of action is to unplug the damn computer, and reinstall the operating system.

I went away.

But I’m back.

I’m going to see Rogue One tomorrow. So I’ll let you guys know how I like it. I’m going to post all my reviews and stuff over the holiday season. There’s a lot. You know I didn’t even realize it was the holidays. This is usually my least favorite time of year (except for the Doctor Who special). Because I’m alone and everything about this time is geared toward family and friends and stuff. But ever since I’ve rediscovered my faith, going to temple and Dharma classes and meditation, I don’t feel so alone.

I feel great actually. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time. The healthiest I’ve been mentally, spiritually and physically. The best.

And to think, I owe it all to the rigged, hacked, fraudulent and fucked up election of Donald J. Tr… you know what, I still can’t say it.

You guys thank him for me.

See ya tomorrow after Rogue One (unless I’m too hyped to post anything but OMG OMG OMG OMG then I’ll post on Saturday after Dharma class)

Now watch this 2 minute video.

– Mel

Songs That Define Me: Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell is probably my favorite songwriter. He writes from a place where I spend a great deal of my time. Former addict. Former asshole. Talented fucker.

As part of my Songs That Define Me series, here are five of my favorite Chris Cornell songs. Two solo. Three from Soundgarden.

I love his Temple of the Dog stuff too. Reach Down is one of my favorite songs of all time and the song I want played at my funeral. But that song doesn’t really define me. It’s more of an aspiration.

And I like his stuff with Audioslave… musically. But he phones it in lyrically on every thing they do. Still great songwriting. Great poetry. Just light on substance.

chris cornell

But anyway these are songs that mean a lot to me. They make me feel good. They make me feel like I’m not alone in my experiences and they get me pumped. All five of these song have been known to pull me out of depression. I include the lyrics with each. And for each I chose an acoustic version just because without all the extra production value you can really hear the songs.

The first two are self-explanatory and need no introduction.

Fell On Black Days by Soundgarden (from Superunknown)

Whatsoever I’ve feared has come to life.
Whatsoever I’ve fought off became my life.
Just when everyday seemed to greet me with a smile.
Sunspots have faded and now I’m doing time. Now I’m doing time.

Cause I fell on black days. I fell on black days.

Whomsoever I’ve cured I’ve sickened now
Whomsoever I’ve cradled I’ve put you down
I’m a search light soul they say
But I can’t see it in the night
I’m only faking when I get it right. When I get it right.

Cause I fell on black days. I fell on black days.

How would I know that this could be my fate?

How would I know that this could be my fate?

So what you wanted to see good has made you blind
And what you wanted to be yours has made it mine
So don’t you lock up something that you wanted to see fly
Hands are for shaking
Not tying, no not tying

I sure won’t mind a change.

I sure won’t mind a change.

I sure won’t mind a change.

I sure won’t mind. I sure don’t mind a change.

But I fell on black days. I fell on black days.

How would I know that this could be my fate?

But I sure won’t mind a change.

———————————————————————

Blow Up The Outside World by Soundgarden (from Down on the Upside)

Nothing seems to kill me no matter how hard I try.
Nothing is closing my eyes
Nothing can bring me down for your pain or delight. No.
And nothing seems to break me
No matter how far I fall nothing can break me at all
Not one for giving up though not invincible.

I know.

I’d give you everything I need
I’d give you everything I own
Then everything could at least be ours alone
I’d give you everything I could
To blow it to hell and gone
Burrow down in and
Blow up the outside. Blow up the outside. Blow up the outside world.

Someone tried to tell me something,
“Don’t let the world bring you down”
Nothing can do me in before I do myself
So save it for your own and the ones you can help.

I’d give you everything I need
I’d give you everything I own
I’d give in if it could at least be ours alone
I’d give you everything I could
To blow it to hell and gone
Burrow down in and
Blow up the outside. Blow up the outside. Blow up the outside world.

Want to make it understood
Wanting though I never would
Trying though I know it’s wrong
Blowing it to hell and gone
Wishing though I never could
Blow up the outside world.

Blow up the outside.

Blow up the outside world.

———————————————————-

This next one is probably my favorite of his songs. This is an acoustic version like all the others but the driving rock version of this song is exhilarating.

No Such Thing by Chris Cornell (from Carry On)

I saw the world, it was beautiful
But the rain got in and ruined it all
Then I tried to be invisible
It was impossible
Even for me

I laughed at love, it was a big mistake
In the absence of I filled it with hate

‘Cause there’s no such thing as nothing
Yeah There’s no such thing as nothing at all

I had the brains not to think at all
But the rain got in
And I thought too hard
On the world, and as usual
I saw too far into the void.

I tried to make everything meaningless
But the rain got in and made it a mess!

‘Cause there’s no such thing as nothing
Yeah there’s no such thing as nothing at all
Yeah there’s no such thing as nothing
But my finger’s on the trigger
And I’ll turn off the world

So what gives me the right
To think that I could throw away a life?
Even mine

And what makes you believe
That you could get away with getting old?
Overlapping me

Maybe to lose or to save your soul
Is a choice of how you fill the hole

But the rain got in…

‘Cause there’s no such thing as nothing
Yeah there’s no such thing as nothing at all
There’s no such thing as nothing
But my finger’s on the trigger
That’ll turn off the world.

—————————————————————–

This next song is political but very personal. It has a triple meaning for me (as an addict and as a schizophrenic). Doing something you know is wrong but doing it anyway. Doing something you know is killing you but doing it anyway. Silencing the voices that say no. At the beginning Chris explains the songs meaning. This is a terrible video but a great version of the song.

Silence The Voices by Chris Cornell (form Carry On)

There the soldiers, in the sunlight
Kill the center of a man in endless suicide.
By the night light, in forever sky
Is a holstered, bridled child spinning around the flame.
Each is loved now or remembered
By the mask they wore years before their future.
And the horse falls in the smoke filled riot
The center of a child grows a new disguise.

Where are the songs from the sane minds?
And where are words from the sound mouths?
I can’t understand how they silence the voices that say no.

It’s a new day, in the old life.
He looks healthy with a tan on the white sheet
Across the table, where the blood dries
Where infinity will greet these earthly confines.

Where are the songs from the sane minds?
And where are words from the sound mouths?
I can’t understand how they silence the voices.

That say no
That say no

It’s a new day, in the old life
In the silence of the absence.

Where are the songs from the sane minds?
And where are words from the sound mouths?
I can’t understand how they silence the voices.

That say no

I can’t understand how they silence the voices.

——————————————————————

This next song is one of those rare songs that make me angry-happy. Just an amazing anthem to the frustrations of banging your head against the wall of being alive.

The Day I Tried To Live by Soundgarden (from Superunknown)

I woke the same as any other day
Except a voice was in my head
It said, “Seize the day, pull the trigger,
Drop the blade
And watch the rolling heads.”

The day I tried to win
I dangled from the power lines
And let the martyrs stretch.

The day I tried to live
I stole a thousand beggar’s change
And gave it to the rich.

Singing one more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
(Might make it)
One more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
The day I tried to live

The words you say never seem
To live up to the ones
Inside your head.
The lives we make
Never seem to ever get us anywhere
But dead.

The day I tried to live
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs.

One more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
(Might make it)
One more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
The day I tried to live

I woke the same as any other day you know
I should have stayed in bed

The day I tried to win
I wallowed in the blood and mud with
All the other pigs.

And I learned that I was a liar

I learned that I was a liar

I learned that I was a liar

I learned that I was alive.

Singing one more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
(Might make it)
One more time around
(Might do it)
One more time around
On the day I tried to live

Just like you.

(singing one more time around)

– Mel

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoilers and other Galactic Funk

After a short one paragraph review, this is a SPOILER-FILLED (and rambling) appreciation of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

You have been warned.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Star Wars The Force Awakens Poster

Directed by J. J. Abrams

Written by  Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams & Michael Arndt  Based on Characters created by George Lucas

Starring Harrison FordMark HamillCarrie FisherAdam DriverDaisy RidleyJohn BoyegaOscar IsaacLupita Nyong’oAndy SerkisDomhnall GleesonAnthony DanielsPeter Mayhew & Max von Sydow

The Force Awakens makes me hate the prequels even more than I already did. It’s a movie that makes me want to melt every copy of the prequels into one sticky, smoking, smelly lump of plastic. (and if you know me, then you know I’m fucking serious and just might be doing that pretty soon). J.J. Abrams is very good here, with his writing and direction. The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars movie in the series (except for maybe The Empire Strikes Back). Lawrence Kasdan is great here too. He didn’t write the first Star Wars. He wrote Empire (and Empire’s dialogue is light years ahead of A New Hope) But still the dialogue in The Force Awakens is freaking fantastic compared to the prequels. It’s very funny and touching. And feels old while being very new. These two guys have created an authentic Star Wars movie. It feels, at times, like a tribute to the first film. A declaration of love. I’ll have to watch it again to be sure but I’d say it’s the best movie of the year (with Mad Max: Fury Road close behind burning up the guzzoline). I loved every minute of it. However as the title suggests, I’m going to spoil the shit out it. So you can stop reading now if you don’t want to be spoiled.

Verdict: SPOILED (with love)

The Force Awakens poster wide header

SPOILER ALERT

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a distorted reflection of A New Hope. This is a reflection from a rippling pond. Clear and beautiful with a natural fun house quality that changes genders, size, scope and running order. It is Star Wars reflected on the surface of the moving water. Cool and clean and more beautiful than the original. But even as it’s completely, and immediately, recognizable, at the same time it’s a different entity altogether. Like a child is a reflection of its parents. But different.

Rey The Scavenger

In both films, the classic and this fresh take; A father figure allows himself to be killed by his estranged son and former pupil. A planet killing weapon is destroyed by a frontal assault… a spectacular trench run and a small team infiltrating the base and turning off the shields. In The Force Awakens the weapon is tested on the Capital of the Republic and not Alderaan like in Hope but it’s very much the same, except here it destroys the star system and we also get to see the frightened faces of the victims. As well as having the added connotation of destroying a symbol of the prequels films. Blowing it up good.

BB8 and Rey

In both films, the original space opera and this adorable continuation; A hero is left on a desert planet by figure or figures unknown and SHE joins the fight against the dark side thanks to a cute little droid carrying a secret rebel/resistance blueprint. This time it’s a map. A map to a fallen star and they both get off the dead planet (This is not the droid you’re looking for) in an old garbage ship called The Millennium Falcon. But here it’s AFTER an important rebel is rescued from a painful interrogation inflicted by a helmet wearing, force wielding villain. Rescued by a reluctant anti-hero in a stormtrooper helmet. The same but different and the same but a distorted reflection but THE SAME.

The-Resistance-Star-Wars-7-Force-Awakens-X-Wing

All these things are out of their original order and turned inside out or folded in on themselves, where themes are out-of-place and everything’s out of whack and touching where they didn’t touch before. There’s even a cantina in this one. But this time it’s a Reggae band. And it’s familiarity is amazing. It’s fucking amazing.

Han and Chewie

I saw Star Wars Episode VII (Episode seven? It’s number FOUR to me goddamn it) on Friday afternoon at my favorite theater downtown. The place was packed. I purposely forewent any bells and whistle. Just a flat screen, no IMAX, no 3D, no glasses, no frills. A Star Wars film shouldn’t need any of that. And this one does not.

star-wars-the-force-awakens Daisy Ridley

The new cast is fantastic (and pretty). The old cast is, well just that, old. But it’s great to see them again. I grew up with these guys. I wanted to be these guys. First viewing, I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. I wanted to be the good guy hero. Squeaky clean and fearless to a fault. Then when I discovered girls and what was cool and un-cool, I wanted to be Han Solo because he was a bad-ass and he was definitely cool. And of course he got the girl and she too was a bad-ass. But in The Force Awakens, the amazing Daisy Ridley plays Rey, who is all three iconic characters at once. She really rocks the hell out of this role physically. She has an awesome screen presence.

Kylo Ren

Next there’s Adam Driver who is just as good if not better than Daisy. And he has to be the bad guy in a Star Wars film. He has to follow Darth Vader. And that’s a fairly heavy lift. But he too is a conglomeration of iconic characters. He’s a bit of Vader (not as much as you’d think). And he’s a bit of his father; Han Solo (the dead guy). He struggles with the good and the bad like his father does (Han shot first… of course, Han tries to swindle everyone he’s had dealings with, Han is a selfish bastard who couldn’t make his marriage work and was never a true part of the rebellion or his son’s life. He was just trying to get the girl and he did. Then he left and returned to smuggling, swindling his partners. (Lando was right. He is a no good swindler… but lovable. Now dead)

R2 and Luke

But Kylo Ren is the most like Luke Skywalker. He never really knew his parents. He’s a bit of whiny brat. Who never truly got the hang of the force (well not yet anyway) and yet he still tries to take over a galaxy with his master. Adam Driver brings all of this in spades. He is a very talented man. And I really liked that he doesn’t need the mask but still wears it to be like his grandfather. He’s a fan. But then my girl Rey gives him a big ass scar on the side of his face. (Put the damn mask back on, Junior. Cuz now you need that shit).

Kylo Ren using the force

Speaking of his failed master. Remember that picture of the first read-through? Why the fuck is Mark Hamill there? He isn’t even in the movie. He has zero lines. None. But how about that ending, setting up an Empire theme for the next film: Like the training on Dagobah. But this time Yoda is Luke and Luke is Rey. A distorted reflection. And like Old Ben says that he failed with Vader, Luke fails with Kylo. And like Ben trained Luke, Luke appears to have a new pupil. A bit of Ben. A bit of Yoda. A lot of Star Wars.

Rey and Finn running for The Falcon

And then there’s John Boyega. Yes there’s a black guy and he too is a distorted reflection of iconic characters in iconic situations. In the first movie Han and Luke pretend to be Stormtroopers to rescue Leia but they’re actually good guys in disguise. Here, my boy Finn, is a stormtrooper who turns out to be a good guy and rescues Poe, the insanely cocky but obnoxiously good pilot played by Oscar Isaac (you know like Luke was in the first movie) See what I mean?

Poe

They’re all here. They’re all Luke. They’re all Han. They’re all Leia. They’re all Vader. And they are all wonderful, three-dimensional characters in their own right but familiar like family. At one point (during my first viewing) I was sure that everyone in this movie was related. That they were all one huge extended family. They’re not. Only Kylo Ren is related to Han Solo like Luke is related to Darth Vader. But I was sure that Rey would turn out to be his sister. Like Leia is Luke’s. And it’s fucking Star Wars. It’s gonna be incestuous as fuck. (something the prequels were not. Somebody hand me a match).

Finn and The Resistance

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the genius offspring of the original trilogy. A child that honors his father. Surpasses her mother. That is a lot better than Return of The Jedi and demonstrably better than A New Hope (If just for the acting, pacing and the updated everything). And it only trails in my fondness for Empire. The Force Awakens is my new favorite Star Wars film. It carries the torch respectfully.

Luke's Lightsaber

But it’s not original. None of it’s original. If this post has said anything (and it really hasn’t), it’s said that every character, every theme, every scene, every tiny bit of The Force Awakens is familiar or exactly like something from the original trilogy. AND I LOVED THAT. I really loved that. Because it had to be. It had to be this way after three barely recognizable, barely watchable, barely canon, barely bearable, toxic smelling, slowly melting, so-called prequels. We the faithful, die-hard fans, who remember seeing the first films in their first runs and every re-release since, who have suffered through three star-studded, sorry excuses for Star Wars movies. We… fucking deserve this.

So thank you again, J.J. Abrams. First for Star Trek and now for this. From the bottom of my heart, that sci-fi loving kid that lives there, and smiled through the entire movie, thanks you very much.

– Mel

Photos From Around The Block: Times Square Today

I went to Times Square last weekend. Mostly to see Mockingjay part 2 but also to get some pics of the square. I used to live in the neighborhood when I was in college. It was cool to be able to roll out of bed on New Year’s Eve and step right out into the world’s biggest party. This was back before the Disney take over or the high security after 9/11. This was back when you could still go to sex shows in the neighborhood and to seedy movie theaters that showed martial arts films and bootlegged versions of blockbusters days before release.

When I was in High School I used to work on Times Square in one of the bigger movie theaters, The Embassy. But that was even further back. Way back in the days of drug dealers, hustlers and prostitutes on every side street. I put up an old picture I took from those days a while back. Here it is again.

Embassy Times Square

Yes. I’m old. And Times Square had completely changed by the time I was in college and it’s changed even more today. I hadn’t been back to my old neighborhood in well over a decade. There are fewer cars and more people. More lights. More ads and more vendors. A ton more cops and a lot more theaters. Just a lot more of everything I think.

And oh boy has it changed.

To the pics…

Chrysler

The Chrysler Building in the distance.

The Chrysler is a big ass building. So that’s pretty far away. You can also see the time. It’s 4:25. The sun will be setting soon. I was hoping to get the full Times Square light show.

Reflection and Jets on a screen

Reflection and Jets on a screen

You can see the window cleaners. Another clock in the distance. It’s 5:05. And fighter jets flying by on a big screen. I remember when Times Square had just one screen.

NYPD of Ads

NYPD of Ads

Today there are at least a hundred screens all over the place. All moving ads and TV and News. It’s overwhelmingly active.

Buildings

Old Buildings

The old buildings are still there but surrounded and suffocated by new ones.

Reflected Ads

Reflected Ads

The new ones are slick and sleek and ugly and piled one on top of the other. Hotel after hotel after hotel. And having lived there I get it. But still, you can’t go home again.

Heads Up

Heads Up

In my day, the streets were filled with characters. And they still are. Hustling and bustling. (What the hell is bustling anyway? I know a hustler when I see one. But a bustler?)

Lyric

Lyric Theater

But the old theaters are still there and they’re still as beautiful as ever. Timeless.

Shubert Majestic

Shubert Majestic

I used to go see lots of plays and musicals and concerts. It’s all about how early you get in line and since I lived there I was often first in line.

Planet Hollywood

Planet Hollywood

Booth Schoenfeld

Booth Schoenfeld

They used to have half-priced tickets to fill the houses. They’d go on sale right before curtain but the line would be miles long well before. I doubt they even need to do that anymore. I think every show sells out every night. (I could be wrong)

The Big Screen Helicopter and Plane

Helicopter and Plane passing overhead

Deep Grey Sky

Deep Grey Sky

Times Square Construction

Times Square Construction

Crosswalk

At the Crosswalk

Crazy Ex-girlfriend

Crazy Ex-girlfriend Billboards

Times Square Today

Times Square Today

Friedman Barrymore

Friedman Barrymore at dusk

I haven’t seen a Broadway show in over 20 years. I barely get out to the movies these days. So the theater is just wishful thinking. Maybe one day.

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall

My first movie was at Radio City Music Hall. Lawrence of Arabia on a giant screen. I was too young to know what was going on but it was still magical. Absolutely breathtaking.

Subway Station

Subway Radio City Fridays

The Lights of Times Square

The Lights of Times Square

It took me over an hour to walk the eight blocks through the massive crowd. But of course I kept stopping to take pictures. But since I’m a New Yorker, I knew to step out-of-the-way before I stopped. If only tourist knew to do the same.

I may feel nostalgic for the way it was but Times Square is still gorgeous. And it is truly a feast for each and every one of the senses.

And speaking of feasts…

Happy Thanksgiving,

– Mel