Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Breaking Point

It is currently 1:57 a.m, and I just finished watching the movie Whiplash. It was one of the best movies that I have ever seen.

This is about to be a major spoiler alert, so if you feel like you would watch this movie in the future, I advise you to stop reading. However, if you have seen the movie or don't care if it is spoiled, please continue.

Whiplash is about a very talented drummer named Andrew who is enrolled at Schaffer Conservatory, a fictional school based off a Juliard or Berkley. Andrew's instructor is the abusive and sadistic Terrence Fletcher, who believes that the two worst words in the English language are "good job." Fletcher degrades Andrew in front of his peers, barraging him with profanity and physically abusing him. Initially, Andrew's goal is to become the very best- he will stop at nothing to earn each core drum part, especially to the double time song, Whiplash. When Andrew is late to a concert one day after being in a car accident, Fletcher demands that he still perform. Through swollen eyes and cracked fingers, Andrew attempts to play Whiplash. But he makes one mistake.  And Fletcher dismisses Andrew from Schaffer. Andrew's mental sanity has been ripped apart, and he quits drumming, trying to forget the pain he has endured under Fletcher's furry. Word gets around that one of Fletcher's trumpet players committed suicide, and Andrew reports Fletcher's inhumane teaching methods, getting him fired from Schaffer. However, a month later, Fletcher and Andrew run into each other at a jazz nightclub. Fletcher is conducting a jazz ensemble and asks Andrew to be his drummer for one concert. Andrew agrees, somewhat eager to resume playing the instrument that he committed his existence to. Andrew goes on stage the night of the concert to find that Fletcher has purposefully given him the wrong sheet music, hoping he will fail in front of thousands. Andrew disregards the entire song and begins a ten minute solo, unveiling his frustrated emotions in one of the most climactic endings I have ever experienced. The film ends with the two making eye contact. They both know that Andrew has become one of the best young drummers in the world, however he had to undergo the hell that Fletcher put him through to get there.

The movie forced me to ask this question- when does pushing someone's limits cross a line? The story of Andrew and Fletcher is obviously displayed in the extremes- a student would have spoken up well before Fletcher had the chance to make a boy commit suicide. Director Daimen Chazelle leaves the audience with the uneasy feeling that Fletcher's actions were justified. In my opinion, Fletcher deserved no pride after Andrew's inner talent was uncaged. Because the talent was forced out. In a very delusional manner. It isn't worth it to teach a protégé when you taught one who is six feet under. My question for you is this- How far are you willing to go before reaching your breaking point, and is it even smart to make it that far?

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Book That Puts Me To Sleep

I read Clavin and Hobbes books each night for about fifteen minutes before I go to bed. I am currently reading "The Lazy Sunday Book," which was published in 1989.

I know that comic strips aren't in my reading level. I know that Mrs. Nally, my AP Comp teacher, would not approve of the reading choice. But the simplicity of Calvin's innocent six year old mind puts me to sleep. Bill Watterson captured childhood perfectly- a balanced mix of the real world and the abyss of our young imaginations.

Maybe it is so comforting because I see myself in Calvin. I would jump around my house with a foam tennis ball telling myself stories about riding dinosaurs or fighting samurais in ancient China. Calvin can close his eyes and turn himself to Spaceman Spiff, a courageous hero of the universe. Calvin can close his eyes and turn into Stupendous Man, a masked mystery man that can get out of any tight situation. The only person he interacts with lives inside his head.

Hobbes is Calvin's compadre- his need for adventure isn't as prominent as Calvin's, but he never fails to accompany his friend on any mission. Calvin's world is so simple, he wakes up, goes to school, and returns home in a world of his own. I want to do this more often. Because my imagination is what keeps me sane in this world. I will continue reading Calvin and Hobbes until I can become Spaceman Spiff again myself.

This is my favorite Calvin and Hobbes Strip. The power of Calvin's imagination brings back memories of my own.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Trump's Pull Factor

Donald Trump never seems to be slowing down.

Sitting at the top of the polls, Trump currently has 20% of the Republican vote. We may ask ourselves- how did a narcissistic television host and business magnate become an actual contender in the 2016 election? 

We live in a time of political estrangement. According to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, only 26% of Americans believe that our country is heading in the right direction. Only 3 of 10 people think that their views are represented in the government, according to a CNN poll. The times are perfect for Donald Trump. Trump is an outsider in politics, which appeals to those individuals who feel alienated. Trump believes he literally can solve any problem, which appeals to those in challenging times who will follow anyone who drips his level of confidence. Trump is uncensored and unfiltered. People are motivated by the turbulent spectacle of his success. He standouts in a nation that fosters wishy-washy politicians who feel the need to please everyone. In politics, you can't please everyone. Donald Trump knows that he can't. And he won't try to.

I don't agree with Trump's views. Making the statement that all Mexicans are drug addicts and rapists is preposterous. Making the statement that stupid people negotiate our trade bills is stupid itself. Making the statement that climate change is a hoax can't be supported when organizations like NASA and the EPA have been fighting it for years.

But I do respect the man in some mysterious way. Hopefully he is bringing a new dawn of politicians- politicians who will have the courage to speak their mind without being afraid that their views won't please everyone.

I respect people who speak their mind. Trump never seems to stop doing just that.