If I only fixed my brain

I am convinced that every one of us has had, and has, some degree of mental illness. Honestly, I believe we all need a therapist, even if for only once in awhile. This week I was thinking about my own experiences with mental illness and found some strong correlations with the characters of The Wizard of Oz. Though *spoiler alert* there’s definitely one character I can’t relate to at all.

It’s easy to relate to Dorothy in times of mental stress. Being in a foreign land is intimidating—let alone a land with flying monkeys and a lollipop guild—and having that feeling that you’re lost with no idea how to get home is a debilitating experience. You know there’s something wrong, but what can you do? Who can you talk to? Who will understand? That’s when paranoia strikes and I feel like everyone sees me as the scarecrow: brainless, stupid, and helpless. All of this is intimidating and can strike fear into the bravest amoung us. That’s when I can relate to the lion. He puts up a good front, but he’s scared to death about what may happen to him.

The one I can’t relate to at all is the tin man, and that is because I can’t even imagine what it would be like not having a heart. That’s the one part of the body that I just can’t deny is there, because to someone fighting a mental or emotional battle, you feel it more than any other body part. It hurts. And hurts again. And still hurts. Oh, it’s there alright. Sometimes I envy the tin man. How great would it be to have any heart pain ever again?

But I will. And it’s what makes me human and not made of tin.

Mental illness, we’re making more sense of you as we get older. You remind us we are human. We won’t let you dominate nor define us. But make no mistake: we will overcome.

Congratulations The Wizard of Oz and the munchkins. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Best Actor: Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Best Quote:We’ve had one, yes. What about second breakfast?…What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn’t he?” — Pippin, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

Joy and I just started watching Atypical on Netflix. It centers on an autistic teenager and the people in his life. We’ve only seen the first episode, but I highly recommend it!

Pick your movie of the week: Little People! (Sept 29-Oct 5/17)

All three of these movies emphasize the importance of little people in their respective stories. Which one would you choose to be our movie of the week?

The Wizard of Oz

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(2001, HOBBITS)

He died… YAY!

No words can describe how good it felt to watch him die. For starters, he tortured people effortlessly; even seeming to enjoy it. Lying, cheating, even killing were as much a mindless routine to him as buttoning up a shirt is to the rest of us. He once killed a man right in front of his young son, then terrorized that poor kid as well. He was also an arrogant deuce. Self-absorbed with no regard for people, other than other brutes who served similar evil purposes. And it felt good that the guy who killed him, Indigo Montoya (the little boy who was orphaned by him and then terrorized), was so deserving of the vengeance he got over this six-fingered man.

I have to admit that at times in my life I felt the same way when I heard stories of similar individuals meeting a similar demise, only in real life. People like Josef Stalin or Saddam Hussein have inspired people to celebrate upon news of their death. Perhaps you heard of the block parties that took place in the western world when Osama Bid Laden was shot dead. But that feels a little weird, doesn’t it. Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t defend someone like Stalin or Bin Laden if my life depended on it. But to celebrate a human death outside of fiction just feels… inhuman?

Being glad that Voldemort, Warden Norton, or the Emperor dies is, in my eyes, fine. Heck, I get catharsis watching certain individuals getting punched, kicked, and/or bodyslammed on a weekly basis. But I think we all can agree that it’s very different when translating to real life. In this case, we separate reality from fiction, as we should.

We do, don’t we?

Remember when you first heard about people who would get so wrapped up in a TV show or a role-playing game that they would start to believe that it was all real? As a minister, I remember being told about a person who requested prayer for someone in a church service, that person being a character from their favourite soap opera. Well, we are just as delusional when we celebrate or anticipate with hope the death of real people.

I am infuriated with Kim Jong Un. I hate what he has done and is doing to his people, not to mention his attempted fear mongering on the people of the United States. I believe people like him are a threat to the world we live in. But, in discussions with my friends and colleagues about current events, I do not and will not suggest that the man needs to be “taken out.”

Like all of us, I want deliverance for the good people of North Korea. I want peace. I want justice. If in the process of attaining those things he ends up getting killed, well, those things happen when dictators dictate and when people and their allies fight back. I would even say it would be better for him to die in the process than for innocent people to, but I do not wish it on him. Hans Gruber, yes. A real fellow human being, no.

Does anyone die in Hell or High Water? If so, is it satisfying? You’ll have to watch it to find out. No spoilers on this blog.

Congratulations Hell or High Water. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross in True Grit.

Best Actor: John Goodman as Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski.

Best Quote:Yeah well…the Dude abides.” — Jeff Bridges as the Dude in The Big Lebowski.

My top 10 favourite Jeff Bridges movies:

10. The Fisher King (1991)

9. K-PAX (2001)

8. Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)

7. Starman (1984)

6. The Contender (2000)

5. True Grit (2010)

4. The Big Lebowski (1998)

3. Crazy Heart (2009)

2. Hell or High Water (2016)

1. Iron Man (2008)

My top 5 Jeff Bridges movies I hope to see someday:

5. Wild Bill (1995)

4. The Last Picture Show (1971)

3. Fat City (1972)

2. Thuderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

1. Bad Company (1972)


Favourite movie quotes for every year I’ve been alive

I ask you, what is better than movie quotes? Lots of things, but they are at least high on the list of funnest things in the world. Admittedly, members of my family and I take it to a ridiculous level, but sharing favourite lines from stories we love is always cool. And with that, here are my favourites of every year of the last 45.5…

1972 — “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” (The Godfather)

1973 — “Oh he’s so handsome, just like his reward posters.” (Robin Hood)

1974 — “I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart.” (The Godfather Part II)

1975 — “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” (Jaws)

1976 — “Adrian!” (Rocky)

1977 — “If you strike me down I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” (Star Wars: A New Hope)
*Again, Obi Wan, maybe you should’ve made good on this promise. Luke had to do freaking everything! His friends were even tortured and all he got from you was an inspirational sentence or two! Yes, I’m still a little disillusioned with you bro.

1978 — “I got chills, they’re multiplyin’. And I’m losing control.” (Grease)

1979 — “Ahh, a bear in his natural habitat—a Studebaker.” (The Muppet Movie)

1980 — “I know.” (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)

1981 — “I hate snakes…” (Raiders of the Lost Ark)

1982 — “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” (Gandhi)

1983 — “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.” (Outsiders)

1984 — “We came. We saw. We kicked its ass.” (Ghostbusters)

1985 — “Last night, Darth Vader came from the planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn’t take Lorraine out that he’d melt my brain.” (Back to the Future)

1986 — “Bueller?… Bueller?… Bueller?” (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

1987 — “What’s the matter, Colonel Sandurz? CHICKEN?” (Spaceballs)

1988 — “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.” (They Live)

1989 — “Oh captain, my captain.” (Dead Poets Society)

1990 — “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” (Goodfellas)

1991 — “Bangarang!” (Hook)

1992 — “I eat breakfast 300 yards away from 4000 Cubans who are trained to kill me” (A Few Good Men)

1993 — “You’re killing me Smalls!” (The Sandlot)

1994 — “Big gulps huh? Alright. Well, see ya.” (Dumb and Dumber)

1995 — “Mr. Lightyear, now I’m curious… what does a space ranger actually do?” (Toy Story)

1996 — “I like them French fried potaters.” (Slingblade)

1997 — “The colour of the pen that I hold in my hand is rrrrrrrrrrrrr…RRRROYAL BLUE!” (Liar Liar)

1998 — “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, your opinion, man.” (The Big Lebowski)

1999 — “Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler.” (Office Space)

2000 — “Are you not entertained?” (Gladiator)

2001 — “We can stay up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning, I’m making waffles!” (Shrek)

2002 — “And there I was killing them softly with my song. Or rather being killed. And not so softly either.” (About a Boy)

2003 — “It will test your head, and your mind, and your brain, too.” (School of Rock)

2004 — “I’m in a glass case of emotion!” (Anchorman)

2005 — “Oh man. This is my third oil change today. Something is wrong with me.” (Robots)

2006 — “High five!” (Borat: Cultural learnings of America for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan)

2007 — “I drink your milkshake!” (There Will Be Blood)

2008 — “How about a magic trick? I’m gonna make this pencil disappear. Ta-da! It’s… it’s gone.” (The Dark Knight)

2009 — “Donny! …We got a German here who wants to die for his country! Oblige him!” (Inglourious Basterds)

2010 — “Bread makes you fat?” (Scott Pilgrim vs the World)

2011 — “At first I did not know it was your diary, I thought it was a very sad handwritten book.” (Bridesmaids)

2012 — “I like the way you die, boy.” (Django Unchained)

2013 — “I’m the captain now.” (Captain Phillips)

2014 — “Not quite my tempo.” (Whiplash)

2015 — “What a lovely day!” (Mad Max: Fury Road)

2016 — “Hashtag drive-by.” (Deadpool)

2017 — Not sure yet. Maybe “Can’t you just be a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man?” (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

Congratulations Dead Poets Society. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Meg Ryan as Sally in When Harry Met Sally. I honestly think she’s a much better actress than we tend to give her credit for.

Best Actor: Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society. He was the obvious choice here, and both Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are in the mix!

Best Quote: “Nazis. I hate these guys.” — Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

One final note: this is one of the few movies that has made me cry. Or at least got me choked up. Others include Rocky, The Glass Castle, Life is Beautiful, Forrest Gump, Jerry Maguire, Planes Trains and Automobiles, and The Pursuit of Happyness.

Love vs Hate… RING THE BELL!

In Do the Right Thing, Radio Raheem wears what looks like brass knuckles on both of his hands. One spells “LOVE” and the other “HATE.” This is a throwback to another movie, The Night of the Hunter (1955) where a preacher does the same thing, only with letters tattooed on his fingers, not brass knuckles. Even the explanation Radio gives for the meaning behind these brass knuckles mirrors Rev. Powell’s explanation with slight differences in language. What they say is important for us to listen to today. The speech essentially says that these two hands war against each other, and just when you think hate is about to win, love digs down deep, gets a second wind, and wins the fight over hate.

I’m afraid that when we talk about hatred today, we tend to see it as a fight between people. Between the blacks and whites, the gays and the religious right, the Hutus and the Tutsis, the Muslims and the Christians, etc. But this is a mistake. Even though we see tension between all of these groups, it truly is hate being embodied in people that causes us to act out of hatred.

“But I don’t hate anybody!” None of us want to be known as hateful, and therefore, none of us believes that we actively hate others.

But make no mistake, hate is what it is. It’s easy to see hate only in its purest and most drastic form: yelling, hitting, lynching, throwing Molotov cocktails, and other such extreme behaviours. But it’s not like those behaviours were always a part of the lives of the people who do them. Hate begins small, as a seed, and grows. Or, as is stated in this movie’s IMDb plot description, hate smoulders.

It is in the small, subtle, and mundane situations of life that hate finds shelter and begins to grow in strength. When someone makes a negative comment or slur about a certain group of people and you don’t do anything to speak up for the people he’s slandering, that is hate sitting inside and smouldering. When you “wish those people would just…” hate is simmering, waiting for the cue to boil over.

I guess it takes all of us to take a painful and honest look at ourselves. Are we contributing to love or to hate. Which hand will win? My hope is that the story Rev. Powell and Radio Raheem tell is what happens in real life, for all of us.

“Mercy triumphs over judgment.” — James 2:13.

Congratulations Do The Right Thing. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actor: Denzel Washington in Malcolm X.

Best Actress: Teyonah Parris in Chi-Raq.

Best Quote:My people, my people, what can I say; say what I can. I saw it but didn’t believe it; I didn’t believe what I saw. Are we gonna live together? Together are we gonna live?” — Samuel L. Jackson as Mister Señor Love Daddy in Do The Right Thing.

I realize that I don’t have any “how to” application above, as in “How do I feed love in my life and starve hate?” But for me, it’s more important to ask the questions, make the challenges, and allow people to act on their own volition and convictions. But if any of you have any ideas to share, please do so.