I don’t believe you

The Art of the Story

Last night I watched “Walk the Line” with Joaquin Phoenix for the first time. This movie is a biopic of the life of Johnny Cash from his younger years as a poor child of a sharecropper, through his dark years of addiction and a failing family life, to his eventual proposal to June Carter. I enjoyed it very much and several details of his younger life come into play in his later years. This is a movie that I would suggest you watch more than once and I suspect you’d pick up on more things as you watch it again.

One such pivotal event in his life was his audition for Sun Records, which is shared in this post. Johnny and his band are playing the gospel song they have been practicing together for just this moment and the producer cuts them off to tell them that he wouldn’t be interested in music that won’t sell. Their song was already well known and was a radio staple with other bands performing it and there was no angle for Johnny to approach it that would set it apart from the others. Or as the producer said, “I don’t believe you.”

This belief had nothing to do with the sincerity of Cash’s belief in God, but in the way that his belief was presented within the song. It had been rehearsed to the point where the genuineness, the emotion, of the song was stripped out. That, and the market saturation of such songs, was going to be the premature doom of Johnny Cash’s career and he needed something that was relatable right at that moment or his band would be wished a good day and he would either go back to selling items door to door or he would take a job at his father in law’s business.

He sang “Folsom Prison Blues” on his own, since his band wasn’t familiar with the song yet, and the rest is history. As the movie progresses, he understands the plight of prisoners more and more as his behavior takes him down a path where he can identify with outlaws and outcasts on a more personal level. And the ill-advised concert inside Folsom Prison marks the point in the story where he comes full circle, embracing his outlaw identity and reclaiming his status as one of the biggest stars in the history of these United States of America.

His success really developed when he stopped singing the same songs as everybody else and sang out of his own experience as a poor child raised during the Great Depression, acquainted with death and sorrow, and never quite being accepted by his own father. It was out of this underlying desperation that he was able to sing a song that caused the producer to believe him enough to sign him to a contract. And it was this desperation and the success that he chased that took him down many dark paths.

It struck me that much of the arts that we have enjoyed in the last few generations have been inspired by hardship. People tend to celebrate that which they identify with, and celebrations often take the form of song. Where is the next great blues act going to come from or will new examples of this expression fade into disingenuousness? How can you sing about the summer days of youth when your childhood was spent looking at a screen? What kind of believable artistic expression comes out of a culture of uninhibited hedonistic desires with internally rejected consequences?

I’m glad I watched this movie. It told a compelling story and did not sugar coat Johnny Cash. It did not overlook the fallout of his choices or place the blame for the outcomes elsewhere. It made me think. It made me feel. It made me care. The movie has been out a good decade now. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and look it up!

Hyper-Seasonal Clothing

Airing of Grievances

With the holiday season recently behind us, you probably think I’m referring to ugly Christmas sweaters here, but oh no. It goes far beyond that! Sure, Christmas clothing tends to be obnoxious, and poorly made. Why? Because you can only wear it for 2-4 weeks a year, that’s why. You can get away with that awful shirt and light-up pants combo from Black Friday to December 27 at the extremes, though it’s really a borderline faux pas to wear it before December 15 or after midnight Christmas day.

But 2-4 weeks is actually pretty good! Think about it. Would you wear hearts for more than a week before or a second after Valentine’s Day? What about clovers beyond St. Patrick’s Day? That ‘Merican Flag T-shirt looks great at the Independence Day carnival and fireworks, but it really starts to show it’s age by mid-July.

Your better plan is to dress for the weather or to just avoid going outside altogether. The clothing will be of better quality and much better taste. Plus you won’t have to have totes and bins holding all of the egregious clothing that you really can’t wear right now unless you want everyone to think that you just haven’t had a chance to catch up on your laundry.

I get it. I really do. I have a couple AWESOME Christmas sweaters. And my “Triple Dog Dare You” t-shirt is the shizzle! I have a few patriotic shirts and there are a couple pastel shirts tucked away for Easter in my closet, because nothing speaks to the resurrection of Jesus quite like a shirt that shows everyone just how confident I am in my masculinity. But really, why do I need these limited-use garments? If we can ship our “Detroit Lions NFC North Champions” shirts to third world countries, can’t we do the same for our kitschy clothing that we bought in last year’s after Christmas clearance sale anyway?

This whole “Complain More Often” resolution is kinda fun!

NFL Wild Card Weekend

Life

Just a few quick thoughts.

Oakland vs Houston should have been an easy win for the Raiders, but Derek Carr is out with a broken leg and their QB will actually be a third string guy. What a shame for such a great team in a great year. As it is now, I really can’t say who will win as both teams are in a QB funk. All things considered, I’m rooting for the Raiders.

Does anyone think that Miami has a chance to beat Pittsburgh? I mean really? You’ve had a great season, marine mammals. But it’s over after this weekend.

Seattle hosting Detroit is one that should be closer than some are saying. But ultimately I expect the home team to win this game, sending Detroit back… to Detroit. Which sounds really depressing to me.

And the highlight of the weekend for any football fan without a rooting interest in the previous three games is the New York Giants at Green Bay. Green Bay won in the regular season, in a lower scoring game. I expect the score to be higher for both teams and I expect to see Green Bay travelling to Dallas next week for the divisional round. #RunTheTable #GoPackGo

Home teams all around. That’s my prediction. To hedge my bet, historically the home teams win on wild card weekend 75% of the time, so one of these predictions will likely fall through. I hope the Packers win, so if I’m to be wrong in any of these predictions, I suspect the Texans could take advantage of a wounded Raiders team.

Well-Protected Yo-Yo Strings

Quick Thoughts

I got a yo-yo in my Christmas stocking, so I bought a 10-pack of yo-yo string from Amazon.com. I actually feel a little bit bad about not adding to that order. I really took advantage of my Prime account. One pack of ten strings!

Anyway, when I got the notification that it had shipped I wondered if it would arrive in a regular envelope or a padded one. Much to my surprise, it arrived yesterday. In a box about twice the size of a shoe box. Stuffed with those big bubble wrap balloons that sound like a shotgun when you stomp on them.

I’m very grateful that they took such care to ensure that my yo-yo strings didn’t get damaged en route to my home. Those FedEx guys have been known to drop packages on my doorstep a bit more forcefully than necessary!

When Escalator Steps Move at a Different Speed than the Handrail

Airing of Grievances

My New Year’s Resolution, decided upon just recently, is to complain more often. If you like, we can call it an “airing of grievances.” Before you correct my attitude or behavior, please know that I am doing this for comedic purposes, not serious ones. If you have read this before, maybe just a day ago, save it. Yes, I understand that the airing of grievances is associated with Festivus. No, I won’t include the unadorned aluminum pole or the feats of strength. Maybe, I will label easily explainable events as “Festivus miracles”. What, you demand an unadorned aluminum pole? Fine. I’ll include a picture of one. Good enough.

I was at the mall recently, against my will in case you’re wondering, and I had to change levels, or floors if you will. You’ve done it before. You know what it’s like. You get on the moving steps a little tentatively at first to make sure your Crocs aren’t anywhere close to the edge of the step, then you reach out with your free hand and grasp the safety rail next to you. As you go up (or down if that’s your trajectory) you notice that your hand is no longer right beside you. And by the time you reach the next level of the mall, you find yourself standing at a 45 degree angle, possibly with a dislocated shoulder.

This is completely unacceptable! Do they expect you to let go and reposition your hand as you look at all the next floor of the mall has to offer? Don’t they understand the annoyance of that? Isn’t the customer always right? The whole purpose of an escalator is to move customers from one store to another with minimal effort. The only rational response I have left is to buy a baby stroller so I can take the elevator without looking like I’m too lazy.

/rant