Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Lanny was a bastard.

A man in my hometown died this week and a lot of people are saying he was a legend and giving him high praise. The man's name was Lanny. His death makes me wonder if other people knew a different Lanny than me, because in my experience, Lanny was a bastard. I wanted to post this on Facebook, but I figured it was a bad idea, since his family members and friends (if he truly had any) might see it and find it offensive. But I've got to get it out of my system, because I'm genuinely a bit upset, thinking about it all.

Lanny used to stay at our hotel because he was allegedly friends with the General Manager at the time. He always expected our biggest suite for free because of that reason, and he was always a pain to deal with.

Eventually, I became the GM of the hotel, and sure enough, along came Lanny. But there was a new sheriff in town and this sheriff was NOT about to give him our executive suite for free. Lanny settled on a regular room with a discounted rate. During his time with us, he brought in a bunch of his horrid children, and they made the weekend a nightmare. Here are some of the things they did just off the top of my head. There may have been more that I've forgotten, since this was a couple years ago.

They made a mess in the pool room, (we even found a muffin in the filter,) they argued with other guests, we got multiple noise complaints about their room, there was puke on the bed, a cigarette hole burned through the bed sheets (in their non-smoking room), the room itself was trashed, they hoarded way too much breakfast food, left a mess in the breakfast room, Lanny himself stayed in there way after its closing time, and finally, when I'd had enough, I asked him to leave and he never paid his bill. I said this man may never stay in our hotel again, and I put him on the 86'd list. He was unquestionably one of the worst guests I ever had.

The text of his gofundme page to help support his family doesn't say much about him other than that he was a legend, he helped people, he had a lot of charisma, and he could "make anyone feel like [they] were his best friend." I want to say that making people FEEL like they're his best friend is not the same as being a best friend. That is just called shmoozing, or "how to win friends and influence people" (which he failed to do with me), in order to get stuff he wanted. It's not a quality, it's a weapon.

Maybe he did help people. And maybe there was a side to him that I never got to see. My question is why? Why didn't I get to see it? Why did I have to watch him be a bastard and take advantage of me and my staff? I suppose somehow I will have to forgive the man, even after his death. And to those who knew him and are giving him high praise, perhaps you knew him differently, I don't know. But my message is this. In your time on this Earth and in your interactions with other people: Don't be like Lanny. Don't be a bastard. Treat people with kindness and respect. And don't do it to gain something in return or to ask favors like a free executive suite that you can trash. Do it for real, expecting nothing in return. That is how you can make best friends. Not make people FEEL like they're your best friend.

My apologies to anyone who may happen to stumble upon this and disagree with me. But that was my experience and I am going to try to treat people better than Lanny treated me. When I die, I really don't want to be remembered the way I remember him, and it does honestly break my heart that he didn't leave a better impression for me while he was alive. It's a shame. If anyone has any better stories about the man, or any redemptive qualities, I would be happy to hear them. Surely he had a good side? I'm sad that I never got to see it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Grandpa Bob

I had a conversation with my Grandpa Bob, this evening, about his time in the Navy during World War II. He was a junior in high school at the time, and he got his A-1 draft notice, so he and his friends decided to join the Navy rather than get sent off to Germany or someplace.

He got through the various stages of training camps and ended up on the coast of Louisiana I believe? He said it was terribly hot with endless mosquitoes, and then every day around 4pm, there would be sheets of heavy rain like you wouldn't believe.

Eventually, he was shipped out to Perry Island, which I believe is now Sarushima, Japan? Their luggage, however, was accidentally sent somewhere else, so they were left with just their carry bags. The island stationed people who were fleet replacements, and some of the guys had been waiting there for a year and a half, hoping a boat would come by and take them somewhere. He said it was very boring. They walked around, looked for seashells, and went swimming a lot, because there just wasn't anything to do there. It was only 14 feet above sea level, so some of the guys made jokes about tidal waves coming in and wiping them all out.

After that, he happened to make it onto a ship and went to Okinawa, Japan. The place they landed was the aftermath of a battlefield. One of the first things he saw was a couple of dead bodies that were rotting and had ribs sticking out. He said the smell of the place was unbelievable. It reminded him of a time when he was a kid and he used to walk to school. There was a farmer whose cow had died and was left lying there. So every time they walked to school, they smelled that rotting cow along the way.

There was a place there that had several tombs where the Japanese buried people. They had opened some of them up and mounted some guns in there so they could look out and shoot at the enemy. Grandpa Bob's brother-in-law was one of the men on a ship that had to fire back at them, and he said when they would fire into the tomb and there was the explosion, you could see the bodies of the Japanese people flying through the air like tiny rag dolls. The other thing my grandpa noted about the place is that there was ammunition littered all over the ground. Even live grenades. He assumes gear got too heavy so soldiers began shedding it as they went.

At one point they found a shelter that was covered in rubble and he found a Japanese bayonet that was stuck in the ground. A vehicle had come down carrying some American soldiers who had stumbled upon a booby trap and they were injured. One of the guys had some string with him, so Granpda Bob tied it to the bayonet and used that to pull it out of the ground from a distance, just in case it, too, was booby trapped. It wasn't, so he got himself a nice souvenir. He carried it for a long time until, unfortunately, his bag got x-rayed later at a checking point, and they confiscated it from him. I guess they weren't supposed to bring weapons home.

After that, they were shipped to Manila, in the Philippines. When they arrived, the town had been destroyed. The Japanese had wiped them out. The civilians there had all moved up into the hills. He said they were so hungry and the kids were all skinny with distended stomachs. He was certain they had to have parents somewhere, but the kids were all running around like they didn't belong to anybody. He said there was a civilian man who picked one of them up and pleaded in poor English grammar, something to the effect of, "Joe, please help us, you see my kids is hungry." My Grandpa Bob believed it to be some random kid, but the people were so desperate they would try anything. He said there were pesos and paper money scattered all over the ground. The Japanese had flown over and dumped them by the bundles because the Filipino economy was ruined and all the money was worthless to them now. My grandpa picked some of it up as a souvenir as well, but it, too, was lost somewhere along the way.

After that, they traveled on a flat bottom ship to the Subic Bay. Along the way, they saw a lot of monkeys and exotic animals. They had several petrified potatoes on-board the ship, so they threw them at the monkeys because... Well, because that's what young guys do, they like to throw things.

My memory is a little hazy about this part, but I believe this is when they rescued some Chinese soldiers and took them aboard the ship. There were a whole bunch of them in a ship about as expansive as a football field. Unfortunately, with its flat bottom on the wavy sea, it was so rough, that all the Chinese men got seasick and they ended up having to hose them all down and the whole floor, because there was so much vomit in there.

Eventually, they ended up sailing back home through Pearl Harbor. There were 13 of their ships sailing together in the fleet, and he said the worst part was when the storms hit. It would be daytime, but when they entered into the storm, it would be as black as night. The waves were 30 feet high, and he said it was like riding up and down hills the whole way. The worst place to be was up in the conning tower. He said you knew you were entering a storm when the ship would rock so violently that all the pots and pans in the galley would come crashing to the floor and get strewn out into the hallway, and the cook would be so mad, trying to gather them all back up.

On the topic of the ship's cook, my grandpa said it was a lousy job. They would have to be up at 4am, preparing to feed all the men. They would eat beans in the morning. He said one time, the cook had made these beans the night before, and he woke up that morning and set them out for the men when they would come in. Unfortunately, the electrician on board had messed with the wiring and somehow managed to reverse the polarity of the fan in the range hood, so rather than sucking up air through the vent, it blew it out. The cook turned it on, and it blew all the dust and debris from the vents out onto the beans and all into the kitchen. Grandpa said the cook had a temper, and he was so angry that he began punching a metal screen until his knuckles were bleeding.

Funny thing about the mess deck is, for some reason, the tables were designed to slide with the rocking of the waves. They were hooked to a spring, so they would slide over and the spring would pull them back. So the sailors would be sitting on the benches, which were fastened down, but then their table would slide out and they would have to hold onto their trays until the table came back to its position.

Over all, the war was a terrible experience at times, but he says he was fortunate that he never had to get into the heat of it. Most of the places he visited had already seen their fighting, and he only witnessed the aftermath.

This isn't a super high quality photo, but this is my Grandpa at a reunion with his shipmates. He's on the right in the navy blue polo and my Grandma Trudy is in the pink behind him.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Divorce Is The Worst

It's easy to act like my marriage is in the past, but sometimes I wonder if it will ever stop haunting me. A recent relationship crash brought about an awareness that I am still highly affected by the loss of my wife. And since that time, I have been plagued by reminders, particularly in these last few weeks.

This year I had to move out of the house we lived in, with the hopes of escaping some of the depression that loomed there. Way too many memories. But the process of moving required me to dig through a lot of old stuff, which wasn't a fun time. Even though I live in a new city now, I still get super depressed if I stay in that house for too long, when I'm visiting or working.

More recently, Netflix announced that a new Gilmore Girls season was in the works and would be released this year. That, paired with stumbling upon every Gilmore Girls DVD set when I was packing up, unearthed a lot of memories, because Gerie was extremely into the GG show for the longest time. I've probably seen every episode 10 times, whether I wanted to or not, just because she liked to have it playing in the background while she worked around the house.

Then I was contacted by her for the first time in maybe a couple years, because her name was on my truck loan, and the payment deadline was coming up, so they notified her. It was weird hearing from her again. So I paid off my truck, only to remember her name is also on the title, so I had to make arrangements with her to sign away her half of the ownership.

Then I found out she had recently replied to an old email from my sister-in-law last month, out of the blue, because she'd been going through old emails apparently, and for some reason decided to reply after three years.

And then my dog got out, and she contacted me again because her phone number was still on his collar and somebody had called her about it.

Then last night I happened upon a movie I hadn't seen in ages, which had strong emotional ties to my marriage, and that brought back a lot of memories.

Also last night, I had a vivid dream about getting back together with Gerie, because apparently in the dream, she hadn't married somebody else. And I awoke rather distraught.

Then today I stumbled upon a short film that, when I watched it, reminded me of what my whole marriage had felt like with surprising accuracy. Maybe I was reading into it, but nevertheless...

That's a lot of stuff to get hit with this year, after thinking it was all behind me. It would feel good if I could say everything was with great purpose and all these chaotic memories were resurfacing for a reason. But it's frustrating to think it's more likely just several painful coincidences and none of it means anything.

I am still grateful we don't have to share custody of children. I don't know how people cope with that. It sounds like more than I could bear. Divorce is the worst, man.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Nothing New Under The Sun

I've never asked a girl out. Most everything I've done in my life, in regards to socializing, has been passive, reluctant, apathetic, or any other such adjectives that aren't synonymous with putting myself out there.

I dated a girl for a year when I was about twenty years old. But we met through a church event and the way we began hanging out together was through other friends of ours. I never directly asked her.

I had a couple long distance female friends with whom I talked online, but nothing came of it. It was just long distance conversing.

Eventually I got married, but even that girl was one with whom I worked, and I never actually "asked" her out. She bailed on me a couple years ago, which was very sad.

Afterwards, I was determined to be done with it all until I happened upon a girl who knocked all my walls down. It's not that I was opposed to the idea of another girl in my life, I just didn't see how it could be a good decision. But she thwarted all the arguments I'd made with myself. Everything I had feared about ever having a relationship again was put to rest.

So for the first time in my 28 years on this planet, I directly extended an invitation to her. I feel it's safe to say, it was one of the scariest things I have ever done. I mean, I knew I had insecurities, but they've never been so apparent as when I made this offer. It was terrifying.

I'm not so concerned about rejection. I've been shut down and had girls walk out on me enough times in my life that I've grown accustomed to it. It's mostly fear that she might not like me and be put in the tough spot of either politely telling me no or else saying yes and hating every moment of it. And I know how awkward it is to be in that spot. I've had girls ask me out when I really wasn't interested. It's an unpleasant position to be in and it pains me to think I may have put her there. But I have no idea how to let her know I would enjoy hanging out with her, other than to set the offer on the table.

Anyway, it's done now. No take-backsies. Yes, it could blow up in our faces. But it could also mean we'll have a lot of fun. Can't know unless we take the plunge.

And thus ends a post about the same experience all people have struggled with since the beginning of time. I'm just a people having a hard time with typical people things. But onward we march, regardless of the trials.

That's all.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Google Cam Cinema

What if you made an interactive short film with a Google Street View style camera, where the viewer could freely look around through the entire movie. It would be like one of the cut scenes from Metal Gear 4 where you can drive the little robot cam around as the guys in the station have a conversation. Except this would be live action.

You would have to have one man on camera, and all the mics would need to be internalized somehow, so no boom operators. No crew of any kind, really, since all angles need to be visible. The director would probably have to be the camera man.

Obviously the cinematography would be limited, and mostly left up to the viewer. You could cut between shots and scenes, and even camera placement, but angles would be in the audience' hands. For the sake of avoiding disorientation, it would probably be best to have one continuous camera shot per scene.

The camera, of course, would have to shoot video and link every angle in every frame together pretty seamlessly for looking around. It might take quite a bit of processing power to stream it all at once. And you would need some type of software to run it, with controls for looking around, for playing, pausing, stopping, rewinding, and fast-forwarding, etc. It would also probably need a pre-recorded auto-pilot mode that looks around for the audience, if nobody wants to control the camera.

It's likely too much work with too little reward right now, but maybe someday.

Edit: Wow, it's actually happened. Not a feature film, but the camera does exist!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Characters vs. Actors

Do you ever see characters in TV or movies that you really like, but when you see interviews of the actor or see them play other roles, it kind of ruins it for you?

For example, I really like Chris Hemsworth playing Thor. The beard, the hair, the voice, the mannerisms--but when I see him in other roles, I get rather bored with it. I can't take him as seriously. I think it's due, in part, to the fact that he looks like a college student. Thor looks like he wants to rule a kingdom. Hemsworth looks like he wants to attend a frat party.

This one is pretty obvious, but I found Ledger's characterization of The Joker to be much more fascinating than any of his other roles. The Joker had such a charm and twisted charisma that he made Ledger's other performances bland by comparison.

The role of the 10th Doctor gave David Tennant so much freedom to take what I think is his own natural personality, and magnify it to almost caricature-like levels of himself. He was allowed to switch fluidly between his goofball delightfulness and his doomed-Earth seriousness at any given moment. His hair had a mind of its own. His fashion style was silly yet debonair. To me, seeing Tennant in his other roles is like watching watered-down versions of the Doctor.

I don't actually mind Rainn Wilson as an actor or as himself--but it feels, to me, like Dwight Schrute has far more depth to his personality than Wilson has. There are so many absurd levels of Schrute, from his nerdiness, to his dedication to agriculture and tradition, to his delusions of grandeur with karate, police work, protocols and love-making, and even to his day-to-day cartoonish antics. Rainn Wilson is an intelligent level-headed guy, but Dwight Schrute is an entire complex and interesting world of personality.

This, I believe, is what actors should be about. Inventing characters that people want to watch. Even if a story is bland, solid characters really help to give it some life. But even an awesome story can be ruined by bad to mediocre characterization.

Monday, November 18, 2013

"Clouds" by As Cities Burn

Is your love really Love?
Is my love really Love?
I think our love isn't Love,
Unless it's Love to the end.

Is your god really God?
Is my god really God?
I think our god isn't God,
If he fits inside our heads.