How To Not Be A Villain

Sometimes, we have bad days. AWFUL days. Unrealistically proposterously poopyfart stink-ass days. And on said days, it’s hard to self motivate. Why do it? Is the operative question. WHY DOES IT EVEN MATTER?

Really, why?! Nobody else is trying. Nobody cares! Everything you’re fighting so hard to do means zilch to the greater population. How could it possibly be worth the headache?!

As you may have guessed, this past week presented such a dilemma. I hated everyone and everything. This then turned inward and nothing I could do was right. I’m very disappointed in you, spoke my inner Bowie voice. You’ve let me down.

davidbowie

This all became soul-crushingly unmanageable until, after about 3 hours of self-coaching, I talked myself away from the ledge. So what did it? What was the proverbial vaudeville hook pulling me off-stage?

It was my inner Gilbert Gottfried shouting “GET OUT OF YOUR FUCKING HEAD!!!”

Alright, I thought. I’m being an asshole. Do I really think I’m the only person who may be having a bad day? And would I be forgiving if someone else acted out on every testy impulse they had? No! Those people are jerks!

What? Yeah yeah, I know – this is a movie and food blog. I need to tie that in somehow. Hm.. Uhhhhhh…

Ok! Got it. So Ozymandias, from Watchmen – total dick right? He orchestrated a major distaster that killed, like, MILLIONS of people. No one with any regard for human life would ever let that slide, right?

Wrong! Well, sort of. Ozymandias’ intention was actually to save humanity. He found a scapegoat that could unite the people. Something otherworldly and foreign that didn’t really exist. So in the end, despite the casualities, he was sowing the seeds of a brighter future for all. It was an investment.

His character represented the modern dichotomy of hero and villain. What defines each? And how different are they really? With a lot of time and a good dose of skewed morality, one could actually deem Ozymandias heroic.

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Another example! This one a bit more of-the-moment and familiar to my readers: Walter White. We love him. We hate him. We love to hate him. But we know how committed he is to providing for his family. His INTENT, from the start, makes him a hero. His actions do not. Because for all the millions he throws at Junior, Skyler, and Baby, he still can’t undo the fact that he watched a woman choke to death on her own vomit.

The point is, any one of us can skirt the line. You are not wholly good just because you want to be. Nor am I. And somewhere inside of you, there’s a festering little a-hole who wants to step on kids’ sandcastles and push old ladies in front of double-deckers.

But, with the exception of a few, you KNOW better. You can practice restraint, because you have at least a slight sense of human decency. And just like everybody else, you are not forgiving when some one who isn’t you allows their insecurities to get the best of them. We may not always notice or appreciate gestures of kindness, but those lapses of propriety sting. Because believing I hate you is much easier to accept than believing we’re besties.

One slip is all you need to ruin the way society sees you. Remember that the next time you want to stab a guy for not saying “Thank you.”

Realize, like me, that your anger is fleeting. Better yet, let it hurt you. Wrestle with that pain. Channel it. Convert it into positive energy. Think Superman. Think Wonder Woman. Think, I dunno, Tiny Tim. Because really, who doesn’t love that guy?

It sucks, man, I know. I’ve been there many times. We all have. Which is why no one really has an excuse. So don’t act up. Treat people the way you want them to treat you. Because with your luck, 10 years down the line, you’re gonna need that d-bag you told to suck an egg that one time. Or, if you’ve conditioned yourself properly, you’ll just feel really guilty about it. And that’s almost as bad.

In the meantime, relax. Enjoy yourself. Unwind.

We’ll see you Monday!

Featured Image by Barbara Kruger

Bon Voyage! A Fantasy Travel Guide

So, as you may know, AJ tends to take charge as the travel and food guy. Not that he’s not great at it, but here’s the thing: He doesn’t think outside of the box! What about the elaborate cities, the picturesque landscapes, and the exotic wildlife? Why limit ourselves to places that ACTUALLY exist when we could venture into the ones that are FAKE? Amiright?

So let’s go for it: Here are 5 super-beautiful, super fabricated worlds that any real life traveler would die to see:

1. Kilika – Final Fantasy X

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These beautiful little island communities are already phenomenal in practice, but give ’em the fantasy treatment and they’re utterly breathtaking. You’d never want for that nature connection – it’s all around you. And you don’t need a beach when the clear-glass ocean water is just beneath your floorboards. Hell, even their funerals are awe-inspiring.

THE PRACTICAL SIDE:

So there’s just one thing. Every 10 years a collosal Godzilla-beast called Sin plows through the town, killing off like half of its population and destroying everyone’s homes. But, come on, every property has its drawbacks. Just look at that view!

Yeah, Tom! Could you retake the photo? A little less debris this time!

Hey, Tom! Could you retake the photo? A little less debris this time!

2. The Shire – Lord of the Rings

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The great thing about Hobbits is that, for them, everyday is a party. How far removed from real life is it that the littlest folk of Middle Earth are the most carefree? Historically, for humans, short guys are the ones with something to prove. And more often than not, they tend to be bitter little basterds. Hellbent on ruining our good days.

But the Shire is the ideal spot for simple living. It’s so simple, in fact, that it’s hardly detectable. The houses are literally a PART of the landscape. How cool is that? And with the lack of distractions, I could probably write, like, 40 novels in a year!

THE PRACTICAL SIDE:

Yeah, everything’s built a bit small. And if it’s fit to scale for Elijah Wood, things’ll definitely be weird. Dude’s gotta legit be like 4’3”.

This is the perfect excuse to get the leg reduction I keep talking about!

This is the perfect excuse to get the leg reduction I keep talking about!

3. Another World – The Dark Crystal

Steer clear of the Skeksis, and there’s not much to gripe about in this happenin’ little place. The thickly inhabited ecosystem is a marvel in itself, and the wildlife ranges from cuddly to crazy-complex. First order of business would be to train a Landstrider for travel. Then adopt a Podling for no reason other than the fact that they’re obscenely cute.

And if you get bored, I’m sure a Mystic could hook you up with something. Those guys are so chill. They must smoke gonge. Or at least know a guy.

THE PRACTICAL SIDE:

A romantic stroll through the woods wouldn’t exactly be a casual experience, seeing as literally everything that grows in this place is also mobile. Not to mention the constant chattering would deftly eliminate any sense of peace or privacy.

Someone please make the voices go away...

Someone please make the voices go away…

4. The Alternate Dreamland of Spirited Away

Few images get me quite like this:

spiritedaway_talkontraintracks

The thing that sets this world apart is that it merges a cool setting with a really great cast of characters. These people are freakin’ weird in the best way. And although some can be smelly or douchey (See: No-Face and Yubaba), even they have soft underbellies. If you’re lucky, you may even meet a Guardian man-dragon who also happens to be a River. No, really. It’s a super weird movie.

THE PRACTICAL SIDE:

Bath houses can get pretty gross. Especially with this clientele. And your parents can’t really visit, cuz they’d just turn into pigs.

Spence, could you pass the string beans?

Spence, could you pass the string beans?

5. The Emerald City – The Wizard of Oz

I’m a fan of any place that greets you with a musical number, but EC is so much more than that! It represents a progressive, environmentally-friendly industry (it’s GREEN, duh!) And it’s ironically the only part of Oz that a certain wart-faced biddy will never go.

Which may have something to do with all the witch-lynching going on. It’s so bad that, if you rob their corpse and present the evidence, you’ll get the royal treatment. Hm. Maybe it’s not so progressive after all.

THE PRACTICAL SIDE:

What do they do all day? Paint horses and sing? I mean, it’s cute at first, but I’m guessin’ that shit gets old fast. And this is coming from a loyal Friend of Judy. It’s also probably not a good sign that the guy in charge is a total scam artist.

Uh, Mr. Oz. We just lost another one to paint fume inhalation.

Uh, Mr. Oz. We just lost another one to paint fume inhalation.

Geez, even fake life sucks.

Ah well, it’s back to writing my script. 8 pages down, only 82 left to go. This’ll be cake.