The Santa Clarita Diet, A Breath of Freshly (Decaying) Air

img_7547You know, I don’t get tired of zombie stories. When it’s one I’ve seen before, then of course it’s less interesting. But when it brings something new and fun, I’m all in.

I’ve already binge-watched the entire 10 episodes of the Santa Clarita Diet, on Netflix. We intended to watch a couple episodes, but before we knew it, they were all gone. Like potato chips, I couldn’t have just one.

On the gore-o-meter, I suppose it’s pretty high. It didn’t even give me a twinge (I have a really strong stomach), but my husband got a little queasy after the fact. There is a lot of blood. And vomit. And dead bodies. And body parts. If you’re into horror movies and The Walking Dead, it probably won’t bother you. If not… maybe you don’t want to watch it while eating anything with tomato sauce.

I love anything with Drew Barrymore, and she brings her goofy brand of humor to this family sitcom. Timothy Olyphant pretty great too. In fact, I loved everyone on the show. I really thought that Skyler Gisondo as the geek next door stole the show. Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved geeks, and he’s awkward and lovable.

When she first becomes a zombie, Sheila (Drew Barrymore) is completely controlled by her id. Since she was so uptight when she was alive, everyone notices the difference. She went from stereotypical suburban mom to giving out advice on fulfilling your desires. And taking no crap from anyone. Yeah, she needs to eat, but the show doesn’t just focus on her quest for human flesh (though there is that), but also on her trying to navigate the world she lives in with very little impulse control.

The writers don’t tell us how Sheila contracted her zombie-ism. She quips that it might be because of bad clams, but there’s no “real” speculation. I’m hoping that we find out, but for right now, I’m just along for the ride.

It’s too early to tell if there’s going to be a Season 2, but I certainly hope so.

Have you seen it yet? What did you think?

The Walking Dead Knows How To Hurt Me

I’ll warn you when I’m going to post Season 7 spoilers… okay?  The first part of this will be fine for anyone who’s seen through the end of Season 6.

Every time an episode of the Walking Dead airs, people everywhere post how they’re going to stop watching.  I see it in my Facebook feed, and I see it in articles online.  When they pulled the thing in Season 6 where Glenn supposedly was eaten by zombies, but wasn’t, people everywhere got quite upset, vowing to stop watching.

Maybe some people even did quit.  I didn’t.  I’ve never even thought about quitting.

I didn’t want to start in the first place.  My husband watched the first few episodes, and insisted I had to watch.  I got all cranky about it because I hate getting addicted to TV shows.  But I begrudgingly watched the first episode and was hooked.  As soon as I found out about the graphic novels, I bought those too.

We don’t have cable, so we buy the season pass on iTunes, which means it’s not available until about 1 a.m.  So, we got up first thing this morning and watched this first episode with our morning coffee.  Then I went online to see what everyone was saying about it.

People said lots of things, mostly about how sick it made them feel, how difficult it was to watch.  A few people even said they had trouble sleeping.  We’ve all known a character we cared about was going to die.  We’ve known it for like the last 6 months.  Everyone lined up in the circle was someone who’d have some emotional impact.  The only question was… who was it going to be?

If you haven’t watched the first episode of Season 7, you should probably stop reading now.  I’ll start up again below the photo.

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*Spoilers*

It was hard to watch Abraham die, but I suspected it was going to be him, primarily because he was beginning to be hopeful and care about life last season.  That’s the kind of thing writers do, and it made sense.  I didn’t like it, but it made sense.

When Glenn died, I was shocked, but not as shocked as I might have been.  I mean, he dies in the graphic novels, so I knew he was on borrowed time.

What makes their deaths so shocking, in my opinion, is not how they were carried out.  People talk about how graphic the deaths were, but I don’t think they were more graphic than other things I’ve seen.  What made them so shocking and visceral is that they were so senseless.  I’m used to villains not necessarily following through, pulling punches, being full of hot air. Negan isn’t.  Plus, he’s cordial, joking around like none of it bothers him.

At this point, characters being killed by zombies is something we expect.  Even being killed by other characters isn’t all that surprising.  We’ve already figured out that human beings are the real monsters.  And last season showed us one huge moral dilemma when Rick and his group attacked Negan’s group without direct provocation.

We’re a society who sees blood and guts on TV all the time.  Modern audiences have become blasé about a lot of it.  I laugh at horror movies.  We know it’s not real, and most shows don’t kill off beloved characters.  When was the last time two main characters got killed in a show?  It doesn’t happen often.

I keep watching the Walking Dead because it emotionally impacts me.  I care about the characters and know that anything could happen to them at any time.  It makes me think. I was on the fence last season as to whether or not Rick and his group crossed a line.  I’m still on the fence.  Can we use the present to justify the past?

Negan is a worthy villain, a reflection of Rick.  He’s arrogant and affable, with a loyal following.  I doubt this is going to be the last difficult episode this season.

I may not like who got killed (I don’t), but

Like it or not, The Walking Dead experiments with ways of making the viewer feel something.  I would argue that even when people hate the way they do things, the experiments mostly pay off.  After all, I can find tons of articles discussing just about every episode.  Love it or hate it, that’s why they’re already signed on for Season 8.

So, what are your thoughts on all this?  Let’s discuss in the comments!

 

How to Win at Life

 

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Longhorn Cavern State Park, Marble Falls TX

There are no great stories that start without adversity. No one wants to hear about the rich man who got richer or the smart woman who got smarter.

We want to hear stories about people who beat odds. Who overcame obstacles.

Sometimes those obstacles are external. Life situations like poverty or bad parents. Racism. Oppression.

Sometimes the obstacles are internal. Like mental health issues. Perceived messages from others, like “You can’t do it” or “you’re not good enough.”

If Scrooge had been a philanthropist from the beginning, there wouldn’t have been a story. The narrator in Fight Club started off feeling powerless, and went on to make something bigger than himself. Abraham Lincoln was poor and mostly self-educated.

I know many successful people who beat themselves up for not being perfect. Of course, they know they’re not supposed to be perfect, will tell you that it’s impossible to be perfect, but then stress out over mistakes.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Maybe because we know we’re capable of being better than the mistakes we make? Maybe because we judge ourselves by our mistakes and worst behavior? Or we’re worried that others are judging us that way?

I’m sure that it’s all more complicated than just one or two reasons. Our brains are magnificent, frustrating, complex entities, capable of creating art and science, and capable of telling us that others have nothing better to do than remember when we say or do something we shouldn’t have.

Here’s the thing: your life is just a story. It’s a series of memories, and moments. You get to pick what you put int that story. You’re the narrator. Are you going to pick on your main character every time they screw up? Or are you going to treat them kindly, putting in only the learning from the mistakes?

Most of us don’t focus on all the times Harry Potter screwed up. He destroyed Voldemort in the end, so what does it matter that he drove a car into the Whomping Willow or that he didn’t learn occlumency? People still read Twilight, despite the fact that Edward was an emo sparkly vampire. (Maybe not the best example. And yes, as much as I make fun of it, I read and enjoyed Twilight. But please don’t tell anyone.) We still like Kevin Smith, even after Gigli.

Mistakes don’t define us. It’s how we deal with mistakes that counts.

Groundhog Day

On Motivational Mondays, I normally share something short to start the week.  I’m going to do that, but then you’ll get bonus content for Groundhog Day.

“Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.”

-Author Unknown

What I like about this quote is that it encourages us all to live today.  We’ve all made mistakes, and while we can’t undo those mistakes, we can move on with our lives.  Even if we’ve hurt someone, we can make the choice to take responsibility and move on.  So remember your past, but don’t live there.

th-1Speaking of living in the past, we went to see Groundhog Day in the Alamo on Sunday afternoon.  Now, that’s a great movie!   People gather annually on February 2 in Punxsutawney, PA to see Punxsutawney Phil.  If he sees his shadow, there’ll be six more weeks of winter weather. If he doesn’t see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

The 1993 movie Groundhog Day used this festive occasion as the backdrop for the story of another Phil, a TV weather reporter and modern day grinch.  Phil is one of those guys who nothing suits.  He mostly just wants to be miserable but have people admire him and look up to him.

Spoilers ahead!  You’ve been warned.  (The movie is from 1993; if you haven’t seen it by now, don’t you think it’s time?)

For some reason, Phil ends up living Groundhog Day over and over in an endless loop.  At first, he wastes his time, eating junk food, drinking a lot, and doing whatever he wants.  After awhile, he decides to start killing himself.  When that doesn’t work, he works on bettering himself through knowledge and hobbies.  In the final phase of his development, he works on being a better person, helping out people in the town and generally making himself loved.

I like this movie because it shows a transformation of the man from total jerk to really great guy.  I believe that in life, we’re all presented with the same lesson over and over until we learn something.  Of course, I’ve never lived the same day over and over, but that’s essentially the message I take away from this movie.  Phil had something important to learn, and it took him a long time, but he eventually did.

When life presents you with a challenging circumstance, you have options on how to handle it.  My favorite way is to ask myself: What am I supposed to learn from this?  When I turn a bad situation into a learning experience, it seems to make it easier and more manageable.  After all, the sooner I learn that lesson, the sooner I can move onto the next lesson.

Have you seen Groundhog Day?  What are your thoughts on the movie, or on life’s lessons?

 

It Really Is a Wonderful Life

IMG_2964It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) is one of my all time favorite movies, not just for Christmas, but in general.  Since I was a kid, I’ve watched this almost every year.

I recently got to see this movie in the theater, something I never thought I’d be able to do.  Alamo Drafthouse plays old movies, and we bought tickets as soon as we spotted it on the schedule.  I’ve seen the movie many, many times, and I cry every time.  I cry in the beginning, and then again in the end.  Oh, and I also cry with Mr. Gower is hitting George.  Okay, I pretty much cry during the whole movie.  Your heart must be made of stone if you don’t.  The end of the movie played along with background noises of sniffling and blowing noses.  To use a cliche, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

What I love about this movie is that George Bailey is an ordinary guy forced to be extraordinary because of his situation.  Sure, he could have made different choices.  He could have chosen to do what Mr. Gower told him to and deliver the pills.  He could have chosen to go off to college and say “To Hell with the building and loan!”  He could have taken Mr. Potter up on his job offer.  But he didn’t do any of these things.  To him, he lived an ordinary life.  He lived in a drafty old house with lots of kids, an older car, and struggled to make ends meet.  He didn’t get to travel, the way he wanted to.

What he couldn’t see, what none of us can see, is how many lives we’ve touched.  Sometimes it seems like we’re in this life alone, doesn’t it?  In some ways, I think social media reinforces this concept because we can all see other people’s lives, but we’re not directly involved in them.

But the fact is, each and every one of us affect others in ways that we can’t possibly understand.  We’re not likely to have a Clarence who can show us what the world would have been like if we weren’t in it.  Here’s a real life example: when I was doing therapy, I would say some wonderful, profound things.  But later, when clients told me what I said that most affected them or what they most remembered, it was things that I didn’t even remember saying, or things that I thought meant nothing.  My point is that sometimes, when we don’t know that we’re affecting others, when we’re just being ourselves, that’s when we’re doing the most for other people.

That’s why I try to spread positivity.  I try to smile at the cashier and leave an extra dollar for a tip when I can.  I try to let in that person who wants to merge in traffic.  I try to listen to the crazy cat lady at PetSmart, even when I really don’t need to hear about the protein content of wet cat food.  I try to like or comment on other people’s Facebook posts because I know how lonely it can be when it seems like no one’s listening.  I try to comment on other writer’s blogs and support them.  I try to say “please” and “thank you.”  I try to be the best version of myself I can, because I just don’t know how something I say or do might affect someone.

Maybe I’ve never saved anyone’s life, or anything that dramatic.  But what if helped someone have a better day, and they went out and saved someone’s life?  It’s the Butterfly Effect, and there’s no way of knowing what happens when you flutter your wings, or how far those air currents go.

Be the best version of yourself that you can be today, and every day.  Let go of competition and jealousy.  You’re wonderful and you’re you for a reason.

It really is a wonderful life.  🙂

If you’re curious, here’s my list of the Top 10 Christmas movies.

“Master Yoda, Is The Dark Side Stronger?”

*There are a ton of spoilers about Star Wars in this post.  If you haven’t seen Star Wars, you’ve got bigger problems than spoilers, but I thought I’d give you fair warning.  And if you haven’t seen them, watch them immediately.

th-1A friend of mine is being bullied.  Yes, adults can be bullied.

I’ve never met the bully, but from what my friend (who I’ll call Ash) tells me, the person is a really awful human being.  The therapist in me says the bully must have suffered terribly in their life.  The friend in me just wants to slap the crap out of them.

My husband and I recently decided to rewatch Star Wars.  We like to do this once a year because they’re awesome movies, but we were probably inspired by the trailer for Episode VII.  If you haven’t seen it, click here.

In any case, Luke asks a question in Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes back that has always bothered me.  He asks, “Master Yoda, is the dark side stronger?”  And Yoda answers, “No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.”  In my mind, Yoda never explains what makes the light side stronger, and it doesn’t seem stronger.  Yoda, the most powerful Jedi in the movies, is beaten by the Emperor in Episode III and forced into hiding.  The Emperor would have beaten Luke in the final showdown in Episode VI, had Darth Vader not intervened.

I’ve thought a lot about this as Ash talks about being bullied.  Ash has information that could really hurt the bully, but has hesitated to use it because Ash is a good person.  The bully has lied about Ash and turned some of Ash’s friends against him.  Now, we all know that friends who turn so easily with lies weren’t really friends to begin with, but it still hurts.  Ash has started to wonder if getting revenge would be a good thing.  After all, this bully seems powerful, and why not meet fire with fire?

I know revenge is a bad thing, and going down the same path as someone who hurts others is a bad thing, but there are times when it seems “right.”  Probably because it’s quicker and easier, and even more, it’s seductive.  Getting revenge on others seems “fair.”  Maybe it even is fair, but fair doesn’t make it right.

I asked myself why the dark side isn’t stronger.  It seems stronger; the Emperor won against everyone who went up against him.  He won against Yoda by sheer force, and he beat Anakin by seducing him into becoming Darth Vader.  To answer the question, I thought about why Luke “won” against the Emperor.  Darth Vader says that Luke can defeat the Emperor, that the Emperor had “foreseen it.”  But Luke is nowhere near powerful enough to beat him.  In fact, in Episode VI, it’s not even much of a fight.  But then the answer was so simple that when I saw it, I felt silly.

Luke won because of love and faith.

His faith in his father was so strong that he went up against the biggest bad guy of all time, knowing that he couldn’t win by force.  He had faith that there was still good in Darth Vader, and nothing shook him of that faith, not even the Emperor almost killing him in front of Vader.

But then I wondered about Anakin.  He turned to the Dark Side because of love, didn’t he?  Because of his fear for Padme.

Yes.  And no.

You see, Anakin’s love for Padme was a selfish love, possessive and consuming.  Not only that, but the Emperor was able to seduce him because Anakin was convinced that he wasn’t getting a fair deal, and he wanted more more more than he was being given by the other Jedi.  He got a seat on the council, the youngest council member ever, but was pissed that they wouldn’t give him the title of Master.  Nothing was enough for him, and he was willing to hurt anyone in order to get what he wanted.  So it wasn’t love that changed Anakin; it was power and a quicker and easier path to more of it.  Love was an excuse to do what he really wanted to do anyway.

Perhaps in brute force, the dark side is stronger, but the light side will always have a trump card, and that is love (in the form of selflessness) and faith.  That is why the Emperor lost.  And that’s why evil will always lose.

And that is why, in the face of bullies, we should never stoop to their level.  I’d rather lose friends than pieces of myself.

Because the dark side may win many battles, but if the light side stays true, it will always win the war.

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

Photo Credit: RJS Photography

Groundhog Day

Yes, I realize that this isn’t seasonally appropriate, but deal with it.  And anyway, I’m talking about the movie, not the actual holiday.

I always liked the movie Groundhog Day.  I know that it would be torture for some people, but I like the idea of doing a day over and over again until you get it right.  You’d have lots of times to do things like read every book in the library, explore everything in the town, and get to know everybody.  It would almost be like narrating a book because I could eventually see everything from different angles.

Every day could be the weekend until I tired of that, and then days could be productive, until I tired of that.  I’d know the rhythm of the days, so I’d never get an unexpected flat tire, or a spider in my shoe.

What do you think about living one day over and over?