Hey gang… As time continues its inevitable march toward the new year, I wanted to give you something to distract you from the holiday doldrums. I’m writing from my mother-in-law’s apartment in sunny Florida. Although, that isn’t much of a brag considering that most of the eastern seaboard currently resembles L.A. without most of the self-delusion. Why do I bother spending the holidays in Florida if I can’t shove it in the numb shivering faces of friends and family back home? Oh well. Enjoy frolicking in shorts and sun dresses in December. Mother Nature will balance the scales with a blizzard in March that will sock everyone in for a week and a half. The toilet paper aisle at Harris Teeter will make Black Friday at Best Buy look like Arbor Day at Radio Shack. It doesn’t make sense now, but trust me, the metaphor holds up.
I’m always amazed at the interesting lives led by other people. As the selfie-obsessed ego-maniacs our society has evolved into, we all think that our lives are in the top percentile of interesting. If you take the time to listen to other people and what they’ve done, you realize maybe that fifth picture of the linguini you had last night wasn’t the culinary game changer you thought it was. I attended the Christmas party in my mother-in-law’s building last night and met a couple people who might be the most interesting I’ve met all year, possibly in the last five years. The first guy worked for the Air Force. His job? Packing parachutes into pilot ejector seats. What was my first question upon hearing this? “So, how accurate was the ejector seat scene from Die Hard 2?”
His answer, unfortunately, was that it’s total bullshit. That type of plane had no canopy, and when pilots need to evacuate, they jump out of the side door. I then proved I knew what a canopy was by referencing Goose from Top Gun. Thank goodness movies provide us with a universal language for describing real life. I felt like I was in that episode of Star Trek:TNG telling him about Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. I love talking to people about stuff that I will never do. He has also flown a jet and worn a G-suit. Here’s something I never knew, the G-suit squeezes your body, so that your blood doesn’t all plummet to your feet while you are pulling multiple G’s. Anyway, I found it all fascinating. The second guy I talked to was in a motorized wheelchair. He wore a Harley Davidson t-shirt, a Harley Davidson necklace, and had Harley Davidson tattoos on both arms. The guy was brand loyal. As I got to talking to him, he told me that he rode a 1000 miles a day on his motorcycle, and his goal was to ride 1,000,000 miles. It was cut short at about 600,000 when he fell asleep at the wheel while riding in Alaska, paralyzing him from the chest down. He still rides, though. He’s having a trike built so he can pick up where he left off. He owns 14 motorcycles, including a Harley from 1912. He’s also a member of the oldest motorcycle club in Brazil. Think Sons of Anarchy, but with more plantains. He also told me about breaking one of his legs and not realizing it until someone pointed out that the bone was poking through. Two things about me: 1) I’ve never ridden a motorcycle. 2) I’ve never broken a bone. I was enthralled by his zest for life and was made very aware of the distinct lack of zest in my risk-averse life. When I asked him his name, he told me it was “Tomorrow”. It’s actually Tomauro, but he got tired of explaining the pronunciation to people. Anyway, I could’ve talked to him all night.
I should also share my thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, since that is now the dominant focus of popular culture. It’s mildly ironic that, until recently, Star Wars was just the culture of unpopular people. Well, I saw it, thoroughly enjoyed it, then thought about it, and realized it was pretty much just a retelling of the first movie. Oh, sorry, SPOILER ALERT. I’m legally obligated to put that in front of anything that might give you a hint of what might happen in the movie. It’s been out for a week, people. Don’t get me wrong, it was everything it needed to be. It felt like a Star Wars movie, it had heart, the new characters were engaging, the old characters weren’t just there for nostalgia’s sake, everything fit together nicely. But, it’s another droid with an important message for the rebellion dropped off on a desert planet, discovered by an unlikely hero who doesn’t realize they’re a part of something much bigger, being pursued by a draconian military force with a giant frickin’ laser that can destroy a planet. I liken it to the 2006 reintroduction of Superman to movie audiences. A beloved franchise that newer audiences might not be as familiar with because the last installment, which stunk, came out almost 20 years ago. Superman Returns was pretty much an exact retelling of the first Superman: The Movie from 1978. The folks at Disney wanted to ease the new audience that was raised by parents that grew up on this stuff into the basic story of the franchise. That’s being generous. It could also just be lazy storytelling on the part of J.J. Abrams, who wasn’t above milking original Star Trek nostalgia to make his reboot seem more palatable. Either way, I liked it, I plan on seeing it again to try and catch stuff my teary fanboy eyes might’ve missed the first time.
One last thing. I’m getting back on the comedy horse and I’ve been booked to play a show on New Year’s Eve. So, if you happen to be in the Harrisburg, PA area, I’ll be at the Harrisburg Comedy Zone on Dec. 31st and Jan. 2nd with none other than Dustin Diamond, Screech from Saved by the Bell. See you there.
Have a very merry and a holly jolly. I’ll see about getting one last installment up before year’s end.