With the awareness of death,
after the last comforting and terrifying word of scripture,
after counting all the stars,
after reading countless peer-reviewed studies
about the lack of human meaning
this dark room filled with stars and planets,
and after everything is said and done
after all the warnings ignored
and the future becoming increasingly finite,

only light
be found
the void.

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Can the Neighborhood Be Saved?

As a child I didn’t grow up with Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,
it was before my time and from another country.
Instead I grew up like most kids back then,
blinded by different collections of action figures,
they were all pretty much the same
but they were dressed in different ways.
I rewatched countless tapes of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,
I thought Shredder,
in his modified Samurai suit,
with blades sticking out from his palms and shins,
was the most bad-ass of all.
There was the Disney Palace,
the murmur of angels in the background,
the star that flew around it,
the jingle that will forever be stuck in my subconscious.
There were cartoons bashing each other’s heads in,
those who could never die,
there was always the victor
and the sufferer
and the game never got old.

But even if it aired in my time and in my country, it wouldn’t have caught on. The world had changed too much. No matter how inviting Mr. Rogers’ smile, the kids rather want to see something that sparkles or explodes. They rather want to watch a swashbuckling hero stab a series of nameless villains then hear the wise words of a sock-puppet.

The times have changed now. There’s too much available. The marketers know the game too well. The parents let it happens, the parents couldn’t have done anything about it even if they wanted to. The parents were too distracted themselves by the newest gadgets, building up their pension and Christmas bonuses. The marketers got them in their pockets too. It’s everything you stood against Mr. Rogers. But you see, in your day, television entertainment wasn’t as evolved as it is now. Now things can be created out of thin air, by computers. Now there’s so much money at stake. So much money. And you don’t fuck with the money Mr. Rogers.
They won’t let you fuck with the money. They’ll kick you out of the air if you do.

I’m sorry Mr. Rogers but the assholes of the world have won. Look no further in how little people care now about good morals, about being nice to each other. It’s too difficult to be empathetic, it’s much easier to dismiss people’s pain.
There’s so much pain and misery. There are people debating whether or not to give people medical assistance if they can’t afford it- they should have taken better care of themselves right?
There are the unfortunate people who lost their minds through either either neglect or genetic predisposition and the fortunate ones who pass them on the streets, telling the unfortunate ones that it’s their own fault.
Or at the very least, that their pain is not their problem.
There are people in charge of the government now who favor objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand- if anyone can play a witch without make-up, it’s her- which states that selfishness is a virtue.

But you were special Mr. Rogers.
You were all about love. All you wanted to do is tell the truth and make them understand. You understood that you didn’t have to patronize the kids, that you didn’t need to manipulate them. That there was a higher goal in having a broad children’s audience.
You could teach them to be good to each other.
You could tell about the horrors of this world,
how ugly people can be to each other,
how good people can be murdered for no good reason,
how people can fall out of love,
how people are scared for things that are different,
why sometimes we get a little sad because the world is a tough place
and we have to be alone sometimes
and we have figure things out for ourselves
and sometimes we love will leave us
and they can never come back
except in our hearts and minds.
And we have to accept things
even if we don’t want to,
because if we don’t
this world will be unbearable.
And it’s full of vultures waiting for desperate children who can’t handle this world
And sometimes we let the vultures eat our children
because we don’t know what to do,
we don’t know what to do…

And I wish I was more like you
Mr. Rogers,
I wish I was as pure as you
but I guess it’s too late for that.
I’ve done too many bad things,

I have too many bad habits,

patterns of thoughts I can’t seem to get rid of.
I feel uncomfortable with children,
I don’t know what to say,
I’m afraid to embarrass myself.
And I wished I lived in your neighborhood,
I wish you could tell me
that things are going to be alright
and that it’s okay to be me
and that I shouldn’t be like you,
cos nobody should be the same
because otherwise the neighborhood wouldn’t be so colorful.

You’d tell me these bad men
who are glorified by too many people,
people who should know better,
aren’t really winning.
And it’s because they don’t see it,
even though the right answer was always there.
The higher plain,
the game-changer,
some of us see it right at the end.
They will understand that they’ve wasted so much time
worrying too much
or hating each other.
Thinking too much of the past,
building a fantasy world inside their heads,
putting their names
on top of tall buildings
in plaques made of gold.

You’d tell me:
”I know you want to change the world
but now you gotta look out for yourself.
You gotta show the world
and all its misguided creatures,
what it means to be human.
You don’t let them change you,
you don’t let them away your light.
It’s what happens to so many of us,
and if we could keep that light inside us
and share that light,
cultivating it
by helping others,
collectivize it in one beautiful image
for the world to see.
And it might not change the world
but it might change
the mindset of some,
it might make them feel better
the less fortunate ones,
the ones who see no way out.
And wouldn’t that be nice?”

”Yes it would,” I’d say,
and then I’d smile and look away,
and I would wish I wasn’t so cynical,
that I was more like you. 

And you’d see that familiar glare of mine
and it wouldn’t dishearten you,
you would understand.
You’d finish by saying:

”Love is at the root of everything. love
or the lack of it.
And what we see and hear on the screen

is part of who we become.”
And I’d wipe away a tear
and tell you I need to go home

”but I’ll be back,” I’d say,
”because I like it here.
I really, really like it here.”

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The Dream That Nobody Sees but You: an Appreciation For Million Dollar Baby

There’s an authenticity to how Eddie ”Scrap-Iron” Dupris (Morgan Freeman), the narrator of “Million Dollar Baby,” speaks about the sport of boxing, and the physical and emotional torment that comes with it. That’s because many of his words come straight from F.X. Toole, the author of the original short-story collection “Rope Burns,” on which this film was based. Having been a boxing trainer himself, he understood more than anyone the psychology of the fighter.

The unnaturalness of moving into a fight instead of turning away from it. The madness that’s necessary to willingly get inside the ring and receive a vicious beating and then do it all over again. There is nothing pretty about the sport and the consequences can be devastating, as one can see early on, just by looking at the sole milky eye of Scrap.
Afbeeldingsresultaat voor morgan freeman million dollar baby
Morgan Freeman as Scrap, the broken-down boxer. 

Boxers are a bunch of dreamers and most of them don’t get the glory they dream about. Some of them, like Scrap himself, must live with the permanent damage the sports has caused them – in the case of Scrap, it’s the loss of sight in one of his eyes. But there’s magic too, as Scrap states so beautifully: ”The magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.”

Dupris is a broken down fighter and he speaks like one. He tells this story to the estranged daughter of his friend Frankie Dunn (Eastwood). Dunn sends a letter to his daughter every week, but she returns them every time. The film never clarifies why his daughter refuses to speak to him, but we know it must have been due to something terrible – and knowing Dunn’s profession, it probably had something to do with his fist. Dunn can be cocky, even cruel sometimes. But don’t be fooled by this – he cares about people even if he has trouble showing it.

It comes out the in the most peculiar of ways, such as how he keeps stopping his prize fighter, Willie (Mike Colton), from seizing the championship belt because he’s afraid that he’ll get hurt, despite the fact that Willie has been more than ready for some time now. He goes to Mass every week to make fun of the priest, but deep down inside, he wants forgiveness for something terrible. He’s a man of serious regret and who, by the end of the film, gives away his soul so to help the woman he loves.
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Clint Eastwood as Frankie Dunn, a man of serious regret. 

This woman is Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), a poor, trailer-trash waitress who insists that Dunn be his trainer. Since Dunn hates the idea of training girls, he refuses this without question. But Scrap sees something in her, and with Scrap’s help, Dunn eventually takes her on. In time he begins to see that she’s a real fighter, and in spite of her age and upbringing, that boxing was something she was made to do. Together with Scrap, the threesome becomes a family, with Maggie becoming Dunn’s surrogate daughter.
Afbeeldingsresultaat voor hilary swank million dollar baby
Hilary Swank as Maggie Fitzgerald, the woman who is willing to risk everything for a dream that nobody sees but her. 

The third act of the film is heartbreaking. You know something bad will happen, but when it does, it’s like getting hit by a prize fighter: you’re knocked down and it’s hard to get back up again, but you have to. But it will take time to pace your breath and get your act together. The wounds will hurt for a while but now you have to live with it.
This doesn’t mean the film is never fun; there’s great verbal and sometimes humorous dialog between the three perfectly cast leads. The subplot involving Scrap’s final fight as he’s defending a mentally slow boxer calling himself ‘Danger’ (Jay Baruchel) is especially crowd-pleasing.

Danger is the epitome of the hopeless dreamer. A fighter with nothing but heart, which, as Frank would say to Scrap, is a man ”waiting for a beating.”
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Jay Baruchel as Danger, a fighter with all heart. 

As Eastwood’s Charlie Parker biopic “Bird” is filled with dark scenes in smoky jazz clubs, so this film is mostly filmed in the dark training rooms or dressing rooms where the fighters prepare themselves for the arena. Eastwood enters this strange world, as he has done so with countless others in his previous films, seamlessly,  using great source material (perfectly adapted by Paul Haggis) to make this world so believable.

“Million Dollar Baby” is simply a perfect movie. While some might criticize the actions of Dunn as though Eastwood was making some sort of ethical statement regarding the value of paraplegics, it doesn’t take away the effectiveness of his drama.
The actions of Dunn’s character had nothing to do with making a political or ethical statement on the whole of this issue. These cases differ in their individual complexities and Eastwood was never interested in generalizing them in this film. Eastwood is not interesting in preaching to you, he’s interesting in telling a story. The story of Million Dollar Baby being the long and painful journey for the dream that nobody sees but you- the dream that might possibly never come to fruition- and the story of what people are willing to do for love.
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We must watch this in the context of Maggie and Dunn’s character instead of putting it in the context of our political bias. It’s hard for many people to distance Eastwood from his political statements, which is a shame because you would be missing out on some incredible works of art. Million Dollar Baby is one of his greatest films. It’s a film that will  stick with you like a deep internal wound, the kind we get from the greatest fights of our lives.
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Voices 02-10-2017

You don’t register it at first, you think it’s somebody goofing around or part of the show…

It sounded like firecrackers…

Suddenly everybody was running…

I used to be agnostic but now I believe in God…

I don’t think he made it…

We need to use your truck, we need to get this man in the hospital…

Was this act of terrorism?

Did he get the weapons illegally?

How can we decide on the line between ideology and insanity?

It’s harder to pass security, so he does it outside of the venue.

I think I’ve been hit…

There are no negotiations, he just wanted to kill as many people as possible…

I don’t think I’m going to make it….

How many more people have to die before they get it…

Congress is not going to do a damn thing…

How dare they push their agenda in a time like this!

I love you.

What the fuck is happening to our country?

This was something he must have been planning for a long time…

He didn’t fit the traditional profile…

Our country will prevail. This country was build on the foundations of unity, we won’t let this man tear us apart…

This country will prevail. Our country was build on beautiful foundations, it will never back down. We will be united. We are strong together…

You see the fear of death in their eyes, there were people trampled to death…

We could never see him do a thing like this…

I’m not leaving you, I’m staying right here.

It’s the biggest mass-shooting of American history…

I wish I was the one who got him…

There will be more casualties…

You don’t think it will happen to you and then it does…

Though there was chaos, there was hope. Everybody was helping each other…

Sometimes these incidents bring the best out of the people. They don’t even realize they’re doing it, they just run and do it…

It sounded just like in Iraq….

He’s tired, we should bring him home after the song is over…
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The Big Whopper

”There’s nothing special inside me. We need to learn this the hard way. The ones who learn it the easy way have even less value. I don’t care for the lucky ones. Being lucky makes you even less special. Being oppressed, whether from internal or external forces, makes you special. It’s adversity that gives us grit. The lucky ones have no bones. They crumble when it all comes crashing down. But us, the unlucky, the supremely fucked, we will stand amidst the rubble, smiling, despite having lost everything. We laugh when they tell us fairy tales; God, country, the love that conquers all. It’s all an excuse, a great whopper to make us feel special. And I used to think I was so special, let me tell you. I used to think that my soul was on the verge of something great transcendental plain. I would reach greatness, I used needed time, I just needed to fight for it. I imagined the place I would live, I would imagine my kingdom.
Well here it is, this is as good as it’s going to get. You came looking for me and hoped to find answers, hoped to find a happy ending for your story. You hoped to form a bond, to kindle an unrequited love. You hoped to find a home. I’m pleased to say you found it. This is your home, this is all there is. And when the forces of the nature come crashing down, when everything falls apart, this home too, will be destroyed. It’s all part of growing up. I’m just telling you this because I love you. Don’t ever say I didn’t warn you.”

Picture taken in Katowice, Poland

One Day

‘’Nobody wants to be alone at my age. I understand why people would feel sorry for me. This is not what I wanted, but it is what happened. I had someone who meant everything to me, I wanted him to be with me until I died or I wanted to die with him. Only the luckiest die together. But he died first, as men often do. Now I’m alone. We never had children, it was not in my nature to have them. It made him very sad, but we couldn’t live without each other. So we lived without children. We knew that one day, one of us will be alone. But even now, I think of him every day. I pray for him every day. I visit his grave every day. It’s a long way walking to his grave, it’s not good for my knees. This might sound odd, but every time I visit his grave, it almost feels like I’m meeting him again. I look forward to it. Just like when I would pick him up from work. Back when we were young, when there was such a long life ahead of us. I almost feel like one day he would be standing there, waiting for me. He would take me with him, wherever he was and I would never have to leave him again.’’

Picture taken in Katowice, Poland

Do You Understand?

‘’I just want her to come back to me. She’s the only person that can save my life. Whenever I say this, people tell me that my life shouldn’t hinge upon another person. That I should have enough confidence on my own, I should life for myself. Easy for them to say. They are with the one they love. They know who they are, they have purpose. They don’t have to be me. Everything is always easy for the other person, but if they knew what I’d lost, if they only knew how much she means to me, then they wouldn’t be saying that. They would understand that there is no way for me to move on.’’

Picture taken in Katowice, Poland