Please remember that corporations and businesses are FOR PROFIT

I don’t like posting “hot button” topics on my blog, if I can help it. I’ve grown up with a parental figure that constantly reminded me “once something is in print, you can never take it back, no matter how much you want to” and in today’s world of Internet Trolls and people with an inability to empathize, I hesitate to really voice my opinions. But, the ruling in regards to Hobby Lobby really pissed me off. I was going to write about that…except that George Takei already made a blog post about it, which says everything I was going to say only in a much more articulate way.

So instead, I will point you to George Takei’s blog post, in which he says,

Hobby Lobby is not a church. It’s a business — and a big one at that. Businesses must and should be required to comply with neutrally crafted laws of general applicability. [...] Once the law starts permitting exceptions based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” there’s no end to the mischief and discrimination that will ensue.

And, really, that is what people need to remember. Putting aside all our beliefs about these “hot button” issues like birth control, we need to remember that a business does not have the right to suddenly have religious beliefs. It is either for profit or it is non-profit.

Can we stop taking two steps forward and three steps back, ‘Merica? Mmkay then.

Monday Music Madness: Chevelle’s “Take Out the Gunman”

OK, so a little harder than the stuff I usually listen to, but still a strangely catchy tune (and great for a workout). Not so keen on the music video, I always get uncomfortable about any type of violence being shown in a school setting. Granted, he just…locks himself into the gym (going so far as to use one of the locks on the outside door so the police can handily cut it later) and does some archery practice? Well, whatever, I’m taking “gun” as a metaphor. And it is good writing music and good workout music.

The waiting is the hardest part

I was going to add a line about waiting for a package here, but then I realized how it sounded and thought better of it.

“I want to tell my friends, especially the ones who have connections in Japan, where you’ll be placed,” my Dad said. “Don’t you know yet?”

“No,” I said, boiling water for peppermint tea. “Not yet.”

“But you’ll be leaving soon, you have to know before you get there, right?”

“I certainly hope so.”

The waiting really is the hardest part.

Business and Sight-Seeing in the City of the Angels

I love the beach so much. (Santa Monica, LA)

LA looks beautiful from the Getty Museum.

Getty Museum, LA

There was a startling number of Michael Jacksons in Hollywood. He was the best. Even tried to get the nose.

Beautiful sky, beautiful weather, beautiful day

Los Angeles from the plane. Goodbye until next time!

I visited Los Angeles last weekend for the JET Program’s pre-orientation informational seminar thing, which I consider the “business” part of my trip. But it was fun business (it’s always nice when that happens), which included mostly meeting my fellow JETs, all from the same USA region as myself. It also included a few seminars about life in Japan — which, despite going to as many as I could, I still feel like I’m not really going to know what it’s like to live in another country until I actually do it. But, I made a lot of new connections, put some faces to names, and generally had a good time.

Once the Saturday seminar was over, I had decided to stay Sunday and leave Monday. This was the “sight seeing” part of my trip. I hadn’t been to LA in about…six years, I think. I decided to make the most of this trip. Before I left, I knew the two things I wanted to do: the Getty Museum and the beach.

The Getty Museum has beautiful art, and lots of it, and perhaps even more spectacular is the Getty building itself and the surrounding area. The weather was so nice! Compared to the 110 degrees Fahrenheit I was coming from, 75 degrees seemed like paradise. I looked at art, I walked around the gardens, I stared at LA which was laid out before me like a carpet, and I enjoyed myself.

I visited Hollywood, too. Walked along the streets, looking at sights, watching the street performers (there were a surprising number of Michael Jacksons), placing my feet in the footprints of famous celebrities (lots of actresses had ridiculously tiny feet), and generally being a tourist.

But the beach…I love the beach. Anything that has a large body of water which disappears over the horizon, I love. I’ve lived near Lake Michigan, and I loved that too (but you couldn’t swim in it all the time. Brr). Something about standing on the shore, looking out at water that goes as far as the eye can see, fills me with a sense of peace and simple happiness.

So, of course, I live in a landlocked, desert state where I hesitate to go into any large body of water due to brain-eating amoebas.

Anyway, this was a real treat. I spent all of Monday afternoon at the beach — 2 hours in the ocean and another 1.5 hours on my towel lounging and watching the ocean. Then I had to get ready and hop on my plane back to my landlocked, desert state.

I hope that wherever I am in Japan, it’s near a beach…

3 Things I Learned About Writing While Watching the Movie IN FEAR

These are the things In Fear taught me about writing (you can read my movie review here). I will warn you: SPOILERS! OMG SPOILERS!

IN FEAR

If you don’t care, keep marching ahead…

  1. Backstory is important. In the movie, Max’s only backstory (and it’s not even true backstory, since he doesn’t name himself as the person he’s talking about) is the following anecdote he relates to Lucy and Tom in the car: “There’s this one guy…When he was a kid…took a notion to hide in the ditch and wait for a car to come, and just when it was approaching, he stepped out in front of it just to see what would happen. Now, the driver hardly had time to brake. I’m sure they tried. But to avoid hitting the kid, they swerved off the road…crashed the car. Driver was killed instantly.” Later, we assume this story was actually about Max. This is the only backstory we get regarding Max. Why the hell is Max luring random people into country roads and then messing with them? What in his life led him to this point? Without answers, the audience is forced to assume he is Just Evil or Just a Douchebag, and nobody wants a bad guy who is Just Evil or Just a Douchebag. A whole new trilogy of Star Wars was created just to explain Darth Vader. Even our Just Evil baddies have some explanatory backstory on why they’re Just Evil. Freddie Krueger is a vengeful spirit. Michael Myers may be possessed. Jason Voorhees and Norman Bates have Mother Issues. There has to be some hint for the way a baddie acts. The “for shits and giggles” explanation is boring.
  2. Setting can be a character. In the movie, the car is almost like its own character. It is the reason for a lot of the tension. Usually, a car means that you can get away, but in the movie, the car becomes a claustrophobic trap. The car can’t off-road, making it unable to get away, and it can run out of gas, making its abilities finite. Also, every time Max breaches their safety — by taking Lucy’s clothes, by becoming the Mysterious Hitchhiker, etc. — the car becomes less of a safety and more of a liability. If Max can so easily breach the car, then is it safe or is it a potential trap? Suddenly, the car isn’t the object that will provide escape, but perhaps will become the reason for harm. This, of course, increases the suspense and tension.
  3. An audience/reader will only go with you so far…like I mentioned in my review, I was willing to put aside the fact that in the movie, someone tugged on Lucy’s hair and then magically disappeared when she turned around — without making any noise on a dirt road and with the treeline being further away. But when this trick keeps happening? I started to get bored. Do you need to have everything explained? No. But is there such a thing as “pressing your luck too far”? Yes. Baddies are meant to scare us, but if they are one-trick ponies — and their trick is hard to believe — well, then, the audience stops paying attention.

So, there you have it. Three things that I learned after watching the movie In Fear and that I could put towards my writing.

What could that be?