Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2015, A Year in Review. Everything it Shouldn't Not Have Been

As time continues its unending march into the black depths of the unknown, carrying us all
inexorably closer to our eventual destinies, it's important to take the time to reflect on the primordial mists from whence we emerged. Also getting high from time to time doesn't hurt either. As most years seem to, 2015 feels like it went by much faster than every single one that preceded it. More and more, I feel like I'm caught in a loop of simultaneously wanting to slow everything down to savour the good times and fend off the inevitable coldness of the grave and desperately wishing to speed everything up to see how the story unfolds.

I didn't climb Mount Everest or bake a record-breaking confection or anything, but I also didn't get cancer or inadvertently start a Twitter controversy, the very worst kind of social atrocity. I don't want to sell 2015 short, but it didn't leave the strongest of impressions. 2015 was the random blue sky puzzle piece of years. 2015 was like the Mark from accounting of years: everybody knows he exists and he's always kind of there in the background, but he's not getting invited to any office Christmas parties or included in any of those mass emails with the latest meme involving cats or some bullshit.

Without further ado, here's a rundown of a few of my own personal highlights from that lumbering behemoth known as 2015.

Small Screen Renaissance

After prime time television took a complete nosedive in the early years of the twenty-first century, I almost completely lost faith in the medium. Sure there were exceptions like the fine programming on HBO, but they were the exception that proved the rule. I turned my attention to the silver screen for answers, but recently, and 2015 in particular, TV started pulling me back in exactly how Michael Corleone was with organized crime. There was the oasis of Breaking Bad a few years ago, but I can't remember the last time I enjoyed the shit out of so many TV shows on a regular basis. Granted, some of that came from catching up on older programming that had been on the back burner for a while, so my earlier statement about the quality of TV in the early 2000s may not quite hold up, but my assertion about regular old shows from the old vanguard of old networks is still more than accurate.

The goodness started with Battlestar Galactica, then moved on to include Spartacus, Archer, Game of Thrones, Daredevil, Jessica JonesBand of Brothers, Star Wars: Clone Wars, and my annual watching of The Kids in the Hall. Maybe not a whole lot in retrospect, but considering the slate of movies, video games, hobo murdering, and spending quality time with the kids, it was a pretty full slate of completely great shit. 

Finding Primer the Holy Grail!

It's not every day you come across an object of extremely personal spiritual significance. In the height of garage sale season this past year, against all odds and hope, I came across an item I had been searching for for the better part of a decade. After watching Primer back when I was still bumming around university for the first time, I knew instantly that I was witnessing a particularly special moment in cinematic history. However, also being a starving student, I also didn't have the cash to lay down for the DVD, which was always priced very high. It was one of those things that I thought would be around forever and I'd catch in the five dollar bin one day. How wrong I was.

In complete ignorance of the context, I had played the standard game of consumerist chicken and lost. Primer was the brainchild of Shane Carruth, the mad genius who wrote, directed, starred in, and scored the movie after he had apparently had enough of poorly conceptualized time travel movies and decided to show the world how the fuck it was actually done. Very few movies can be so engaging and simultaneously so dense that one viewing simply isn't enough to comprehend what you just witnessed. In fact, having an advanced degree in astrophysics isn't even enough to guarantee comprehension of Primer. And that's why the movie is so great: it aspires to excellence, doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator, treats its audience with respect, and makes no apologies.

I was beyond stoked to find this baby in the wild, and now it sits in a place of honour in my collection. I'm still trying to comprehend the fact that after such a long search, I finally have it in my possession. And that I managed to pick it up in pristine condition for forty goddamned cents at a garage sale without having to perform any additional oral sex as part of the deal (I just did it because I was so pumped). Of course it does leave the problem of what my new grail will be, but for the moment, being able to masturbate under the shadow of my most sacred artefact will have to suffice until the next quest begins.        

Sir Camps-a-Lot

The old joke about camping involving spending a fortune to live like a hobo holds more than a nugget of truth. Especially with a family, camping out ain't cheap, especially "car camping" where being able to drive right to your site with a vehicle full of more food and booze than you'd likely be able to consume in a month under normal conditions is a temptation too great to be resisted. Part of it is a massive consumption of resources over a relatively short period of time, and another part of it now is keeping the kids from falling into the fire horribly disfiguring themselves to the point that their only career options would be either as a Bond henchman or a Sith lord.

But another part of camping, whether it's actual camping bare bones in the middle of the wilderness with a loin cloth and a spear or bumming around with a car jam packed with ten times the stuff you actually need, there's something relaxing about being out in the midst of nature. Maybe there's some primitive vibe that is lost in all the noise of modern life that I get a chance to tune in to out just left of the middle of nowhere. There's something to be said for the meditative properties of a sitting around a camp fire surrounded by darkness with nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. Of course, with the aid of the holy sacraments of alcohol and weed, it's easy to feel relaxed and contemplative. Even without the now-standard laundry list of chemical and herbal aids, though, I always feel my usual rhythms get much longer and lower out in the woods. Everything from my usual cognitive function to my digestive process seems to take place on a much wider wavelength, which is conducive to feelings of rejuvenation and general comfort in the bowels.

There's Been an Awakening... In My Pants!

While the movie itself didn't become my all-time favourite in the series, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens was a hell of an overall movie-going experience. I'm about a decade too young to have been able to see the original Star Wars movies in theatres (I suppose technically I could have physically witnessed Return of the Jedi in theatres, though I don't believe I was), but having grown up with a love of sci-fi and Star Wars in particular, any chance to see an instalment on the big screen is pretty fucking sweet. I remember going to see The Phantom Menace when it first came out in 1999 and just about shitting my pants when the lights dimmed and that classic John Williams theme started playing.

I'm still too hyped up on Star Wars at the moment to render any kind of definitive opinion about The Force Awakens after having only seen it once so far, but what it did do was to reinvigorate my passion for the series. Going to see The Force Awakens with my kids, it really felt like an Event. With Disney's plan to release a constant stream of Star Wars films from now until the eventual heat death of our universe, I'm not sure I'll ever get that same feeling again. There was a sixteen-year gap between the original and prequel trilogies and a ten-year gap between the prequels and the new trilogy, during which time anticipation was allowed to build. Now we get to have our cake, eat it too, and have another one again tomorrow. The real concern now is developing Star Wars diabetes.

Playing Doctor

Having children isn't easy. You have to change their food and water at least once a week and make sure their cage is lined with fresh newspapers. But in the end, if you train them correctly, you should end up with your own mini-army of highly trained murder bots ready to rain down carnage on whatever unsuspecting yet deserving target you seem fit. I think. I don't know, there's a lot to keep track of in between all of that TV.

But part of being a parent means protecting that investment, and so when my son had to go in for surgery this year, I was understandably stressed out, even though it was for something pretty minor. He had to have some tubes put in his ears to help them drain properly and have his adenoid removed, which is pretty routine surgery that lasts an average of ten minutes total. Still, whenever your five-year-old child has to be put under for any reason, no matter how routine the procedure, it's never easy. It also wasn't easy for my wife, whom my son declined in favour of me as his post-op parent in the recovery room, and then wasn't any easier for me having to deal with the fallout from that. 

I've never been good at the feeling of helplessness accompanying people to or visiting people at the hospital, but having the patient be one of my own offspring was that much more nerve-racking. But we made it through the process, became stronger after facing adversity, and blah, blah, blah, my army of ninja assassins is still a go.  

Nuptial Celebrations

Weddings are great so long as you're not the one getting married. And no, that's not me trying to out-Mark Twain Mark Twain (Still, suck it Mark Twain.), but after having gone through my own wedding and attended many others in my adult life, I have learned that it's way more fun to just attend than to have to worry about all of the bullshit that goes on behind the scenes to make it a reality. Or have to listen to the then-future Mrs. Morsen go on and on about those details and having to exert the energy to make it seem like I was fully involved in "the process." No word of a lie, I didn't drink a single drop of alcohol the day of my wedding because with my nerves the way they were I didn't want to risk any gastrointestinal anomalies.

Over the years, I have discovered the wedding sweet spot: being in the wedding party, but not as either the bride or groom. Being in the wedding party is great because everybody knows you're important, but you don't have all of the pressures and stress that come along with actually getting married.  

This year marked hopefully the last wedding I'll have to attend in a while. My youngest brother finally bit the marriage bullet, which marks the last of my three siblings to get married. This is good because, although weddings can degrade into worthwhile drunken debaucheries if nurtured correctly, they can get kind of expensive for those involved, and they can just as easily turn out to be just as boring as the church and/or secular service that preceded it. In this case, things worked out swimmingly. I served as a member of the wedding party and MC, got all of my drinks paid for, had some awesome midnight pizza, met a guy with a phenomenal beard, and appeared in enough incriminating photos to get me convicted of something should anybody have the time or inclination to investigate and prosecute. All in all, it turned out pretty well and we didn't lose anybody who wouldn't have been missed anyway.



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