Monday, December 14, 2015

25 Down, 75 To Go. Plus, My "Best Of" List! O Joy!


Well, hello there!

Welcome to another episode of Which Dave Is Going To Show Up To The Blog Tonight?! I am your host, Dave the All-Over-The-Place, and have I got a KFC-Bucketful of nonsense for you tonight! Unless you're reading this in the daytime, in which case the, uh, "tonight" thing doesn't really apply... whatever, I don't know how timezone's work...

Where was I?

Ah, yes, which Dave has shown up tonight? Is it the morose, pensive Dave, prone to wax maudlin and self piteous? Or is it the goofy Dave, spouting nonsensities and randomness? Is it Dave the Overconfident, droning on about some artsy thing, or reviewing a book/movie/TV and pretending he knows what he's talking about? Or is it the pseudo-theological Dave, peppering you with empty Biblical theories and semi-relevant scripture verses? Or is it that version of Dave that just talks about all the acting/writing stuff he's been doing?

The answer?

I don't know! Let's find out!

So tomorrow (December 15) is my 25th anniversary. 25 years of marriage. Twenty Five Years. My entire adult life.

Honestly, as you probably can imagine, I have a wide variety of feelings about it. The question of the moment is: how open should I be about it? I suppose a related question could be: who cares how open I am, lol?

Don't worry; I'm not here to lament the hard stretches of road, or pat myself on the back, or fish for compliments/sympathy. It is what it is. I suppose the heart of what I'd like to say revolves around the idea of symbolism, I guess. The past several years, in my personal ruminations on various subjects, I seem to always come back to the themes of "fantasy v reality", or rather, "the idea of something" vs "the reality of something." An off-shoot of that topic is the idea the importance of symbols... it's funny the way things represent things to people - often wildly different things, depending on the person.

Did you ever see the movie The Pianist, with Adrien Brody? He's a Polish Jewish musician of some renown before the war, who has a harrowing time dodging the Nazis during the occupation. At the very end, emaciated, desperate, the Nazi's have fled and the Russians have arrived, he stumbles out of the home he's been hiding in, and he's bundled up in a big winter coat that a Nazi officer had left behind for him - with the German army markings all over it... he stumbles out to greet his liberators - and is promptly shot at. He dodges into a building, calling out that he's Polish and please don't shoot, etc. They call him out, guns pointing at him, and one guy says "Yeah, he's Polish..." Another guy says "Why are you wearing that &^%$&* coat?" And Brody says, "Because I'm cold."

It's a powerful scene, and popped to mind as I was contemplating symbolism today.

But, yeah, a 25th anniversary... it represents something multi-faceted and emotionally complex to me. I suppose it's like finally reaching the peak of a mountain I've been climbing. Trying to imagine the view from the top (the fantasy) for so long... and then actually seeing the view (the reality). It's odd... there's always been a sense of finality, or completion associated with the 25 anniversary in my case... like once I get there, I've accomplished something huge, epic, worthy of note. Like the world should stop and celebrate our accomplishment or something. And yet I know the day will pass like any other day for everyone else - as it should. The symbolism of my 25th anniversary doesn't mean anything to anyone not directly impacted by it: my spouse and I of course, but also our kids and my mother and sister... that's about it. It won't even register on anyone else's radar - and it shouldn't.

The power of symbolism. Why am I wearing this coat? Because I'm cold.

But of course, my marriage isn't ending - I'm not "finished"... We will continue to march forward together, my wife and I. It has its ups and downs, as it always has - as I'm sure it would also have ups and downs if I were single or married to someone else or whatever situation I find myself in... alone in a cave somewhere. Pluses and minuses. Accept them both or reject them both. In fact, if anyone were to ask me, "Dave, what relationship advice do you have for people who wonder how the heck you can stay married for 25 years?" I'd say that. Everyone has positives and negatives... which weighs more? If the positives outweigh the negatives, accept them both. Don't try to pick the positives and "fix" the negatives about the other person... accept them both. If a "negative" changes, it will be because the other person changes on his/her own. If they don't, then so what? You accept them, right? The price you pay to reap the positives. If the negs outweigh positives? Chuck them both. Weigh them both, accept them both or reject them both. Don't try to cherry-pick and micromanage.

There. Simple advice from Dave the Simpleton.

So the year draws to a close. I guess I could discuss some of my Favorites of the Year, in various forms of media...


This is a tough one for me! I read 25 books this year - most of them new, but a few re-reads. Once again, I read the Stormlight Archive (Brandon Sanderson), the Kingkiller Chronicles (Pat Rothfuss) and Tuf Voyaging (GRR Martin) all of which I enjoyed revisiting... not surprising, I suppose... I wouldn't re-read a book if I didn't really enjoy it previously. But as for the new books I read, as I review the list, there isn't really a title I loved without reservation. There were good ones, but they each had flaws of various kinds. City of Stairs (RJ Bennett) and Leviathan Wakes (JS Corey) were both great reads but had weak endings... Redshirts (Scalzi) and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (R Riggs) had great premises but mediocre execution. Daughter of Smoke and Bone (L. Taylor) and Half-A-King (Abercrombie) were watered down with too much Hollywood flavor... I suppose if I had to pick this years best book for me, it would be Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence - though that one was hamstrung by it's choice of first person perspective, which limited it's potential scope.


I saw some great television this year - as well as some turds (The Flash). And also some that started well and morphed into turds (Person of Interest)! I seemed to gravitate to superhero fare mostly. I loved the first season of GOTHAM - but the second season is flat-lining. The inconsistent writing is undoing the show, in my opinion. I had big problems with The Flash for this same reason - although I had other problems with The Flash beyond the writing -- basically top to bottom. The writing, directing, casting, acting, story choices - I honestly have no idea why this show is so popular...

But back to the good stuff! I loved the dark and gritty shows, like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Fantastic filmcraft on display - in fact, when it gets to the point where I'm ready to start directing films, I'm going to use Jessica Jones as my film school. I will break down scenes - shot for shot - to see the choices that the director made, and why. It is a visually sumptuous show - practically every shot like a painting. So good. I hesitate to say it's my Favorite of the Year, since the content is dark and disturbing - the villain (David Tennant as Kilgrave) was as unnerving as he was well-portrayed. Can't say I'd recommend the show to anyone who offends easily. But if you want to see absolutely fantastic filmcraft on display, you won't get any better...

But to pick a Favorite, I'll go with Daredevil. It had direction almost on par with Jessica Jones, terrific writing, great casting, wonderful long shots, and great performances - with two notable exceptions. Two of the main characters in the show - Eddie Henson as Foggy Nelson, and Deborah Woll as Karen Page - absolutely rubbed me the wrong way. I don't think it was just the way the characters were written (they were a couple of hard-drinking whiners, really, who never passed up a chance to cry), but the acting was consistently weak. However other actors (such as the fantastic Vincent D'onofrio as Wilson Fisk) more than made up for it, as well as cameos by the likes of Scott Glenn. All things considered, an outstanding show.


This one is an easy choice. As with the TV category, I saw films that ran the gamut this year. But Birdman was easily not only my Favorite of the Year, but one of my Favorites of All Time. The writing, the acting, the themes, and the incredible craft on display made it thoroughly memorable to me. I wrote a review of it last March, if you'd like more detail on why I loved the film as much as I did. The same director is about to release The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCapprio, which I *was* going to see - until I read reviews about how relentlessly brutal and unflinching it is... I may pass on that one for now.

Of course, the new Star Wars movie comes out in December - If it's as good as I hope it it, I may need to revise this list! I doubt it will unseat Birdman, but hey, you never know!

Other good movies I saw this year include: Spotlight, St. Vincent, John Wick and Captain America: Winter Soldier.


This one is a bit of a challenge - I heard some terrific music this year. It was hard to decide between Thank You (Sevendust), Hush (Hellyeah), Failure (Breaking Benjamin) and Big Bad Wolf (In This Moment)... but I decided my Favorite Song of the Year is the recently-released song The Light by Disturbed.

I would link to them, but honestly, they are all heavy rock songs - my listening has trended in that direction the past year or two - I love the energy level. I know not many other people who read this blog would be interested in listening to such music, but if you are, you likely already know the songs. If not and you're really curious, you can find them easily enough on YouTube.

I will embed The Light, though...


This one is also a pretty easy call. As much as I enjoyed the Dead Island Series, Grim Dawn, Minecraft and Wolfenstein Old Blood (fantastic art direction), I have to say Fallout 4 is proving to be every bit as awesome as I'd long hoped it would be. Roaming the wasteland has never been so fulfilling. I'm 70 hours in, and still only level 29...

A funny (to me) sidenote. I bought and played a bit of Grand Theft Auto 5, and I can safely say it's one of the most impressive games I've ever played (and likely one of the best games ever made), but as much as I enjoy the game when I'm playing it, when I'm *not* playing the game, I have absolutely no desire to play it. Does that make sense? It's a great game, but I rarely ever play it. I really have to talk myself into playing it - and when I do, I enjoy it completely. It's a weird dynamic.


Anyway, that's that for now.

We perform the Christmas Play next Sunday (12/20). The whole cast is miked this year, so we'll hopefully have good sound on the video. If it turns out good, I'll post it here.

Other projects I'm working on all seem to be on hold until after the holidays.

Wow, this post ended up being longer than I had anticipated. Looks like all of the Daves showed up to tonight's episode!  If you endured all of this nonsense without tipping over, you have my admiration and appreciation.

I hope your Christmas is a good one.

Dave the Rambling Smacktard


David Wagner said...

Hey, Dave, I was just wondering.... do you ever just leave yourself a comment in order to convince yourself that people still read your blog?


David Wagner said...

Actually, Dave, I will occasionally do just that.

Thanks for asking!

-- Dave

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave...does your mom ever leave a comment and embarrass you in front of your friends??...well if no one is here but us then I want to tell you that I saw a great play today...amazing on so many levels...just like you....a little bit of magic is a burden for some but you wear it very well....lots of love......