You all know the story by now. In 2014, I set out to do 8 things I’ve never done before. A week after Thanksgiving, I put the cap on it by putting a tat on me. You can read all about it here.
But that’s yesterday’s news.
We’re currently threeÂ short days away from yet another new year. 2015 is right around the bend.
If ever a year sounded so far-flung and futuristic when I was a kid, it’s 2015. And yet, here we are with nary a flying car or hoverboard in sight. Although everyone ISÂ walking around staring into strange devices that do everything from pay your bills to book travel to occasionally take phone calls so that’s certainly something we never saw coming back when Ma Bell was calling us for dinner. All we had back then was aÂ huge desktop rotary phone that granted Sudden Onset Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to anyone who daredÂ dial someone with a “zero” in their number.
So, the future is now – or in three short days. Unlike last year, when I didn’t actually have a resolution chosen until 3 minutes before midnight, this year I come fully prepared. In fact, I have fourÂ ready to go. One is just practical common sense and proves I really should know better (and now I will). The second is completely silly, probably smacks of me being a dick and yet one that might actually teach me a little lesson about myself once I finish it. The third one will scratch my creative itch – always a good thing for those around me. The fourth one probably sounds more foolish than the second one to all of you but to me it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever set out to do.
And now without further adieu, I present my New Years Resolutions for 2015.
4. Â Text Ed
In 2015, I pledge to stop sexting… ummm errrrrr ahem… TEXTING! Stupid autocorrect. (Heh heh heh). All right – I need to clarify this. I’m not swearing off TEXTING – OR – SEXTING!!! I mean you have to start that to stop that and I have no intention of doing that. Either end of the equation.
And I’m not ceasing the text business. That would be ridiculous. That’s like trying to get me to stop talking. Not that I text like crazy… it’s just that we live in a world where texting has become a vital component to communication. Now – here’s the thing with me. I crave human-to-human conversation. It is to my general well being as important as food and water… and probably air. I’ve always claimed to be the greatest fan good conversation ever had and once I took to live on my own (half a week), I grew to crave that personal face-to-face connection on a molecular level. It ISÂ Me.
So, if given the chance – I’m choosing me & you in the same room sharing a heart-to-heart or doubled over in laughter or simply punctuating a silence with little asides (witty, pithy or otherwise) OVER a tweet or text EVERY FREAKIN’ DAY OF THE WEEK.
But I’m not down on Texting either. Like I said at the top, I feel it has finagled its way into the way we communicate. It’s important. It connects us. It bridges huge gaps and distances. I have no problem with it. I like it just fine. I may not love it so much that I wanna’ marry it BUT I’m not awkwardly hemming & hawing and scanning for a quick exit, either.
All that rambling preamble has a point. I’m a Dad. I’m supposed to hold myself to a higher standard (easier said than done. Good intentions gotta’ stand for something.) So, I’m not perfect but when I look at my kids, I remember my personal affirmation. They make me want to be a better person every single day. I don’t always get there but I always have that mission in mind.
So in 2015, I am not texting while driving ever again. Whatever it is can wait. Or I can pull over.
Yup, that’s my dirty little secret. If I hear that little ping (actually the “You Just Found a Treasure” chime from the Zelda games), my eyes will take a sneak peek. They’re not buried in the thing and I am always aware of what I’m doing (I’m a master multi-tasker) but all it takes is one errant twist of fate and suddenly this sweet life darkens considerably. I don’t want to live in that world.
So, in 2015 – I resolve to make one easy change that should hopefully make me a little bit better at being a role model. And Â lot better at being a Dad. Just staying alive is half the battle.
3. Â The Godfather – Parts 1 through 52
I’m a fan of the “running joke”. Those things meander all over the map and end up hitting some surprising destinations. It’s tricky business though. If you go to the well too often, you end up beating a dead horse.*
*Never met a clichÃ© I didn’t like, either.
I’ve got two “running jokes” in play right now. One is widely known – the other a little less.
So, anyone who has been Facebook Friends with me over the last few years is no doubt aware of my complete disdain for Anne Hathaway. Simply put, I love to hate her. The curious thing is, I don’t think I actually hate her. I’ve liked her in pretty much every movie I’ve ever seen her in. She’s easy on the eyes too – that’s for sure. She’s mega-talented and I completely applaud that. The more I talk like this, the more tongue-tied I get. If I don’t stop now, I’ll be completely smitten by the next paragraph.
Let’s face facts. I’m just that boy running around the playground pulling all the girls’ pigtails.
With Anne, it all began with the hype around Les MisÃ©rables. So many women on my Facebook Friends list were gushing over her performance as Fantine in that flick. It started to become a little overhyped so on a lark, I wrote some pithy little quip about her. I was out with friends and I bet them I would get hate mail (or hate comments) within the hour. I had fiveÂ in 4 minutes!!!Â Evil, vicious stuff!!! From there, it just took off and I kept baiting the hook.
The other “running joke” I’ve got involves the film The Godfather. A few years ago I wrote a post on these pages where I confessed that although I was a huge, lifelong movie fan and had been the co-film critic at the UMASS Daily Collegian for 3 years – I had NEVER seen The Godfather. Whenever I tell anyone that, more often-than-not they are outraged. The world stops. Faces are slapped with white gloves. Records scratch at the most awkward moment.
Times just stands still.
So, I have been using this as my little “badge of honor” and I flash it among the most passionate Godfather devotees – just a little funny thing to get their goat and cement myself as the world’s most ill-informed film critic. Yes, this is the same world that Ben Lyons lives in. Last year, when I announced my ‘8 New for 2014 Resolution’, I polledÂ my Facebook friends looking for suggestions of something new I could do in 2014.
“Watch the Godfather” was tied neck-and-neck with “Watch the Godfather – you dick!!!” for most votes.
Well I didn’t do it but I aim to remedy that in 2015.
Yes, my second resolution for 2015 is that I am going to watch The Godfather – only broken up in 52 miniature installments.
That’s right. I am not going to just watch the entire 175 minute film in one sitting. Who has that kind of time? Nope – I am going to devote the entire year to it; watching it in 52Â three-and-a-half minute segments; starting at the beginning in week one and working my way through the final credits by the time we reconvene here this time next year. Each week, I’ll watch the next segment and then Blog my little mini-review. If I’m in mid-scene, I stop.Â Once that stop watch chimes, the movie goes off – even if it’s in mid-sentence.
“I made him an offer he couldn…” (CLICK – SEE YOU NEXT WEEK)
I feel only by watching the film this way will I have a greater appreciation for its place in our cultural identity.
And I’ll know this thing on a more intimate level than any of its more passionate fans. In essence, over one long year – I will become The Godfather’s Godfather.
Oh -Â in 2016, I’m making Anne Hathaway an offer she couldn’t refuse. I’m marrying her.
2. Â Finding the Lost & Found
I wrote Lost & Found in the throes of my post-Lost World hangover a year ago this past Fall. A day or two after the first run of that show ended, I found myself just feeling so down. In these strange days post-divorce, I’ve found that throwing myself into something creative has been amazing therapy. It keeps my mind occupied. It’s my happy place.
I finished the script within a couple of weeks in the Fall of 2013 (just before Thanksgiving) then shot it out to a few people for feedback. Most of what came back was very positive and all of it constructive, allowing me to tweak some elements.
Then I did nothing. I just let it sit there and collect dust.
Last Spring, I was approached about staging another play locally – this time in partnership with the local restaurant Eighty-Ates. It would have been the perfect place to premier Lost & Found. A third world premiere in three short years is certainly something to write home about.
The only problem is – I found myself frozen. Reading and re-reading Lost & Found, I find that it’s story I wanted to tell BUT there was something missing and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. All of the big moments are there. The big laughs. The big cries. The structure is sound. Same goes for the characters.
That said, I figure this is probably it. This is the last thing I’ll write and try to produce (as far as stage plays go). Of course, I say that now knowing I have carte blanche to reverse course later. But all three plays (while completely fictional) spring from very real piece of me at different stages of my life and I don’t know that there’s much more to tell. I’m just not THAT interesting. Haven’t brokered any peace accords.
For this new one, I decided to finally grapple with the slippery notion of second chances. This is the “post-divorce” piece – even though nobody in the play is divorced or going through a divorce. But it’s not the actual act of divorce that I’m fixated on. Mine or anyone elses. It’s the notion of what comes next when a world is upended. It’s raging against that nagging thought that maybe I had my chance and blew it. That maybe all that remains afterwards is a long stretch of penance. You don’t even have to do anything wrong to achieve that. You just have to get far enough down the line and find yourself alone while all of your peers are fully established, to feel like life is leaving you behind.
That’s the glass half-empty view. That’s the loser-talk speech.
I try not to slide onto that path. It’s hard. Some days it takes a ton of energy but I think nothing good is gained without some trial and error.
That’s why I aim most daysÂ to be glass half-full. I’ve lived the majority of my life that way. But in the past 2 years – AFTER MY DIVORCE – I’ve found it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to pick myself back up again. Not for lack of trying or personality. I’m just further down the path and so at this stage and this age so many amazing women are already taken. Seriously, I am so reminded often of the fragility of right time & place. You meet amazing “What If” women from time-to-time in your travels andÂ it can be temptingÂ to harmlessly role-play and wonder what if the die had been cast differently or the road turned one way or the other and you came across each other at just the right time and place.
But that’s the stuff you dash from your head. Therein lies the road to madness. It ain’t never gonna’ happen so stop wishing on it.
So that brings me to the new play. It’s not about what’s impossible but what is actually out there within reach. It’s about waking up and realizing that the impossible dream remains just that BUT there are some pretty cool new realities worth opening your eyes to. It’s about feeling hopeless and then realizing that the good things aren’t just gonna’ happen for you – you actually have to stand up and achieve them yourself. You want more hope – you can’t just hope for it. You have to grab it for yourself.
I wrote two plays that end with two perfect people being kept completely at arm’s length by the time the curtain falls. Never meant to be, as much as I or the audience may want them together. Both plays end with a little bit of hope tempered byÂ wistful sadness.
When I wrote Lost & Found, I realized I was sick of telling that story so I set about starting at the saddest moment and then bringing these two to a moment of better happiness. That’s why I say this is my post-divorce piece. The play is about finding the lovely in that brave new world of life. Of mining the beauty from tragedy. And yes,Â there are dick jokes in there – too. Shakespeare knew – ya’ gotta’ play to the cheap seats too!!!
So, I resolve in 2015 to freshen this thing up (early) and then cobble together a team of actors and get this show on the road. My catch is that I don’t have to have the play produced in 2015 (as that puts me at the mercy of theater owners who may be booked) but I do have to find it a home. That’s the goal.
1. Â Trailer Parked
The last pure movie-going experience of my life was in 1981, when as a 9 year-old boy – I journeyed with my 12-year old next door neighbor to the local Hanover Mall Cinema 4 to see Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. First off, talk about a different age. We were dropped off there by our parents and picked up several hours later. Two kids left completely alone. I think they slapped a “$10.00 or Best Offer” sign on us before departing but my memory is hazy on that and anyway – the statute of limitations has long since expire.
I walked into that movie completely cold. I hadn’t seen a trailer nor a still photo of the film. I had not read oneÂ single snippet from a review. Heck, I barely knew what the words “Raiders“, “Lost“, “Ark” orÂ “The” meant. Strung together, it might as well have been written in ancient Aramaic.
So I sat down and proceeded to have my ass kicked by the single-best movie I had ever seen in my entire life. It seriously rewired me. Right then and there, I wanted to be an archaeologist. Those guys freakin’ ruled. They fight Nazis and get the girl – and look so completely cool doing it. It wouldn’t be until years later when I realized that most of them are just grumpy old men chasing crystal skulls that I finally let the dream die.
Since that fateful day, movies have been my daily bread. I see ’em. Read all about ’em (previews, reviews, you name it).Â The second a trailer is released for something I’m jonesing to see – I’ve screened it on YouTube and then shared the wealth on Facebook. It’s been this way since I was a kid and every technological leap has only given me more of a back-stage peek into the making of my favorite escape.
And in that time – in the decades since I first met Indiana – I’ve never had an experience where I’ve walked into a movie and not had one single second spoiled for me. RaidersÂ was the last great movie going experience.
So, in 2015 – I resolve to not watch Movie Trailers nor read previews or reviews of any movies until I actually see the damned thing. I can avoid it on TV. I DVR anything I watch and fly through commercials. With televised sports, I’ll just use the commercial interruptions for what they were intended for – i.e. pee breaks. When I go to a movie, I’ll just excuse myself until the previews are done. When the trailers are released to the web, well I’ll just skip on down to the methadone clinic and upÂ my daily dosage.
This is seriously the hardest thing I’ve ever done BUT if it results in me walking into one movie completely unspoiled – it will be totallyÂ worth it. There are some Big Movies coming in 2015 that I’ve already seen a few snippets of. I can’t erase my memory – so I have 30 seconds or so of Tomorrowland, The Avengers and Star Wars already in memory. That’s not nearly enough to break the bank though.
As for my most anticipated film of the year – the next Bond flick, Spectre – well, they just started filming it so I’m going into that one a complete virgin.
The best part about this resolution is it gets me excited about going to the movies again – and in turn – excited about writing about movies. That’s something I haven’t cared for in a long time. So, I plan to cover my first-blush reactions on this site. Stay tuned.
So, enough about me – what are you all resolving to do?