go postle.

pardon my dust. i'm turning it into glitter.

Hi, I'm Chris. If you subscribe to the MBTI, I'm an INFJ. I put myself through school for a seemingly useless English/Creative Writing degree, but writing is my passion and that's what I want to do when I grow up. Still figuring out what comes next, and pretty much everything else, so I'm feeling kinda adventurous. And yes, that's exactly how my OkCupid profile starts out. Why mess with a good thing, eh?

The site's a work in progress. I'll be adding content over time, and hopefully eventually it'll evolve into something halfway interesting. I'm glad you're still reading, though. Usually by this point I have to show a little skin to keep 'em interested.

Filtering by Category: timely

Mid-Life Crisis?

       So I've been doing math all day. Yeah, that's been fun. Those who know me at all will probably wonder what the heck is wrong, but before you dial 911, which would otherwise be the appropriate response to such an admission, please rest assured that this activity has been planned in accordance with rational and healthy brain function. Well, more or less. 

       No, I am torturing myself thusly in preparation for the GRE. I have decided to try to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program that I've been sitting on for the last two years and apply to UNC's online MPA program. While the idea has been brewing for ages, I made the final decision yesterday, at which time I discovered that I would have approximately one month to study for and take the GRE in time for scores to be available by the fall application deadline in June.

       While I think I'll have a pretty good handle on the verbal and analytical portions of the exam (but still won't make the mistake of not studying for them), my immediate focus has been, as stated, the maths. Yes, I'm doing my best not to make it the four-letter word that it deserves to be. As it has been six years since I've been in school and approximately ten years since I've had any math classes, the quantitative practice tests I've taken have thoroughly kicked my ass. As in, I couldn't even remember how to add fractions. Yeah. Fucking math. I have, however, found quite an amazing resource in The Khan Academy, which has already been a better math teacher than I've ever had.

       But yeah. An MPA. We'll see if that actually happens. I've always had my eye on not-for-profit work, though, and an MPA would create a whole host of opportunities there and in other public-sector gigs. Like I said -- we'll see. This may all be the product (fucking math) of a mid-life crisis, but for the moment at least it's giving me something to do... even if it is math... ok, maybe you should be a little worried.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller directs and stars in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

       So today I went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Along with The Desolation of Smaug (which I'll probably not talk about here because I'm too much of a fanboy), Mitty was one of my more highly anticipated movies of the season. I've always had a soft spot for characters who get lost in their own little fantasy worlds, notably Zach Braff's "J.D." on Scrubs or Calista Flockhart's titular Ally McBeal -- they're neurotic and sad and I very much identify.

       When leaving the theater after Mitty I overheard one little old lady comment to her two little old lady pals, "I didn't like the beginning much, but it got better" which strangely helped me organize my feelings about it. For about the first half you would have seen a look of horror on my face as my hopes and dreams for the film were slashed to bloody pieces: the writing was terrible. The jokes fell flat, the fantasies were utterly bizarre (the fantasies from the source material would have made much more sense, but apparently the film had to be stripped of anything at all resembling Thurber's original story), and there was a schizophrenic bleed of fantasy into reality (mountains crumbling to reveal text messages) that completely lacked any sort of charm.

       Even the cinematography, which briefly captured some truly stunning views of Iceland and Afghanistan, failed to let us linger in the beauty of those moments -- a central theme of the film. I remember very specifically one scene in Afghanistan where Mitty is hiking up the Himalayas and the music builds to this great crescendo a la The Return of the King when the beacons are lit, and we crest over one ridge to this gorgeous panoramic view of the mountains only to be drawn down with barely a glimpse of the beauty to Ben Stiller huffing and puffing up the trail.

       Some of the plot points -- like the sale of an old piano -- just don't make sense, and the oodles of product placements were annoying as hell (eHarmony probably financed half the damned film for an entirely pointless subplot, and the gushing over Cinnabon was laughable), but what did help to save the movie for me in the end was the adherence to and borderline overstatement of the fictional Life magazine motto about following your dreams and the purpose of life or some such sentimental bullshit, but it worked. It tied the film together and left us with a vague sense of having been inspired that lasted approximately until we reached the parking lot.

       Is it worth seeing? Sure, if you're bored, but don't have your hopes up too high. Netflix? Maybe, but the natural beauty that we're able to glimpse might make the cost of the big screen worth it. Better yet, let's take a trip to Iceland instead. I'll read you the short story on the way -- even it's not that great but it will only take about ten minutes.

A Secret Life.

       There's a strange feeling of elation and bitterness that comes with the revelation that a story idea that's been circling your head for a decade is about to be turned into a movie. Elation from, of course, seeing your thoughts and fantasies come to life, bitterness from the crushing realization that you had nothing to do with it and, inevitably, someone else had your idea first.

       I say "inevitably" because the concept that there are no original stories to tell is ever-present on the mind of a writer. The hope is to tell a story in as original a way as possible, adding your own experience and perspective to perhaps improve the old tale. Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet" is a favorite example, based on Ovid's "Pyramus & Thisbe". We modernize and adapt, hoping that something in it will pass for originality.

       The story that I was hoping to tell was about a librarian with a rather monotonous existence who entertains himself and satiates his need for something resembling a life through fantasy. It was inspired largely by experience (ha) and a favorite quote from Harry Potter: "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." While my story takes it a bit further, little did I know that something extremely similar had been written back in 1939 by James Thurber, now being turned into the Ben Stiller film "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which I desperately want to see.

       It's eternally frustrating because good ideas come so rarely to me, and it's kind of obvious that this was a very good idea. Mine might be different enough to avoid calling it dead on arrival, but obviously it's already being mourned, as my ideas often are. And it's not helping this developing feeling of being stuck.  So, for now, back to staring in The Mirror.

Fiscal Fisting; or, Another Way Republicans Are Ruining Everything

       I was mildly surprised the other day to read that if sequestration repeal is unsuccessful, Obama could be the first president since Reagan to not increase the minimum wage. Of course, with the GOP-controlled House, any sort of pay raise is unlikely, and thank you once again, America, for voting those fuckwits into office. Trickle-down economics doesn't work (seriously, read that article). We know this. Instead, your money lines the pockets of the CEOs, serving to widen the income gap, continuing the destruction of the middle class, and ensuring the lower classes have absolutely no chance of improvement. I learned as much in my conservative high school's social studies class. So why are they still trying it? Simple: either they're stupid and just do what they're told, or they don't care.

       Similarly incensing was the release of McDonald's suggested budget for its employees. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a look. Just appalling. You'll notice that a second full-time job is included to make ends meet, but things like heat and food are still obvious luxuries that you shouldn't waste any money on. Another sick thing about this? The website is built through a partnership with Visa, which supplies the pre-paid debit cards by which employees are paid. But guess who foots the bill for the cards? Yup -- the employees. Too bad they didn't include those fees in the budget. But what do they care? They have and endless supply of teenagers waiting in line for a job.

       And now that some fast-food workers are on strike, the response from the companies has been an emphatic "meh". Sure, their demands might be a little overzealous, but the food giants' claims that any sort of wage increase, government requirement or no, would cripple the businesses are likewise hyperbolic.

       Not that you should be eating fast food anyway. I mean, really... it's not the dryer.

Image by AlphaTangoBravo/Adam Baker. Some rights reserved.

Copyright © 2019 Christopher Postlethwait