Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Scary Times...

It certainly is a very scary time for girls growing up. But let's not pretend it isn't also a scary/hard time for boys growing up. It's a scary time for EVERYONE. Harassment and assault are very real for girls. But it also exists for boys. And FALSE accusations happen a lot more than people seem to want to think. I've written about it before, but just in my life alone, I have known MANY people, including close friends and my own father, who were falsely accused of SOME manner of abuse, and in at least two cases, yes rape.

Frankly, I'd be just as terrified to be raising a girl in this time, as I would a boy. It's equally dangerous for both. Acting as if ALL boys in our society have it easier because of in-born "privilege", simply because they ARE boys, is not only bigoted, it's intellectually and morally bankrupt. And while the threat of a girl being harassed or assaulted is VERY real, and horrible, that threat also exists, and is often diminished/dismissed for boys. In fact, even by many feminists and so-called victim advocates, boys are often derided or even shamed for coming forward about abuse or assault (often at the hands of girls/women).

Furthermore, this cute little trend of basically mocking the idea that "It's a scary time for boys", ignores the flat-out BLEAK reality that many boys do actually face growing up today in America. Yes, there are MANY awful threats and challenges that girls today face, INCLUDING the very real and very evil possibility of being assaulted. But when deciding to mock "This is a scary time for boys", you might try knowing a few very cold hard facts first, including but not limited to:

*Boys/men have a FAR lower rate of ever reporting abuse or assault, because they are often not only dismissed, but sometimes they are even mocked and humiliated further for doing so. Because "men don't get assaulted", etc.

*Even when many boys/men DO seek help, they are often turned away, either because facilities aren't set up to HELP males, or else the facilities that exist simply aren't INTERESTED in helping males. So they are left to face their problems on their own, in silence.

*Boys have a higher high school drop out rate today.

*Boys have a lower college attendance rate today.

*In conjunction with this, there are far more organizations and structures in place today, helping girls in education and even getting into certain work fields, that in many cases simply do not exist as options for boys.

*Boys/men have a FAR higher chance of being met with physical violence, and are far less likely to receive sympathy or care for being the victim of violence.

*Men have a higher unemployment rate.

*There is a FAR higher homelessness rate in men, it's not even close.

*There is also a FAR higher suicide rate in boys/men. Something like 80+% of suicides worldwide, across ALL cultures, are male.

*There is also a FAR higher incarceration rate for boys/men, even for lesser offenses. The vast majority of U.S./World prison populations, are men. The vast majority of kids in juvenile facilities, are boys. It is a statistical fact that girls/women often get lesser sentences or even no sentence for the same offenses. U.S. law tends to be more lenient on women, across the board.

*Boys are legally required, by penalty of SEVERE punishment (up to 5 years in prison or a huge cash sum), to sign up for "Selective Service" (essentially a precursor for any possible future military draft). If they do not sign up for SS, they cannot get things like Financial Aid for college, etc. Girls are not legally required to sign up for SS at all.

The list could honestly keep going, but these are all horrible realities, in today's America, that boys face growing up. Which flies directly in the face of these intellectually hollow "Privilege Theory" ideals, stating that someone has automatic "Privilege" if they are born a certain gender. Is there SOME piece of truth in that? Sure, in some cases. But the reality of "Privilege", is far more along economic lines, and kids being born into wealth, or even cushy Middle Class living, versus kids who are born into working class families, or relative poverty, as I was.

The truth is, YES, it IS a scary time for girls. But to act like it isn't ALSO a scary time for boys, and mocking or dismissing that fact, as if being born with a penis automatically gives you a "Golden Ticket" to life? That is just being an ignorant asshole, spitefully unaware of harsh life facts. The truth is, it's a scary time for EVERYONE, particularly children of EITHER gender, or ANY ethnicity. I very much want to have children some day, but I know that, regardless whether they are boys or girls, they are going to be born into a MUCH darker, scarier world than the one I was born into (and that's saying something). It's not a contest, as to "who has it worse, boys or girls, men or women". We're all human, and face HUMAN problems. 

How about we all focus on that, and try to make the future brighter and safer for ALL of them, instead of continuing to divide ourselves along these ignorant, childish, petty, manufactured lines?  

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Must See Halloween-Time Films

In the spirit of the season, I thought I'd share some of what I feel are "must-see" classics in the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy films. Remember, they're MY picks, for one, but for another, they're also all classics, mostly from the 30s-80s. You're not going to see anything like Friday the 13th on here. You already know about those anyway. So just sit back, relax, and let an old movie buff share what he thinks (and hopes) are some films that you'll take it upon yourself to see, because they're well worth it.

P.S. I highlighted some of my personal favorites (though I like all listed), in bold.


Frankenstein (1910) - Arguably the first horror film, and a once lost piece of film history. You can find it on YouTube.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) - German expressionism at it's creepy best.

Nosferatu (1922) - Max Shrek is DAMN creepy

The Phantom of the Opera (1925) - Lon Chaney Sr. at his best

Dracula (1931) - Bela Lugosi as THE classic Dracula

Frankenstein (1931) - Boris Karloff, ditto

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) - Fredric March gives the best performance of this tale 

The Old Dark House (1932) - The first, and best, "Creepy Mansion" style film.

The Mummy (1932) - Boris Karloff, again, shines as Imhotep, a very dramatic role.

White Zombie (1932) - The first zombie film, voodoo zombies, not "brains" zombies. Bela Lugosi shines again.

The Invisible Man (1933) - Claude Rains does an amazing job with his voice alone

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) - Amazing sequel, Ernest Thesiger is the best as "Dr. Pretorius"

The Wolf Man (1941) - Lon Chaney Jr., every bit as good as his father, in the first iconic werewolf film.

Cat People (1942) - Not quite what you'd think, but a great, and stylish early psychological horror film.

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) - One of A&C's best, along with being a great "Monster Mash"

The Thing From Another World (1951) - First adaptation of "Who Goes There?", great Howard Hawks film.

House of Wax (1953) - Vincent Price in one of his first iconic horror roles.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) - A different adaptation of the story, starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Night of the Demon (1957) - Another psychological, supernatural thriller, starring Dana Andrews. Great film.

The Blob (1958) - Steve McQueen's first film, and a classy, and classic horror film. The original, the best.

Horror of Dracula (1958) - Peter Cushing and Lee again share the screen, in another different, but classic, adaptation.

House on Haunted Hill (1959) - Another Vincent Price classic, a great, spooky tongue in cheek William Castle film.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) - The ONLY "bad" film on this entire list. It IS bad, but it's endearingly so.

House of Usher (1960) - The first of Roger Corman's "Poe Series", starring Vincent Price.

The Brides of Dracula (1960) - In spite of the title, Dracula himself doesn't actually feature in this movie. However, it DOES feature Peter Cushing's great Van Helsing, and that's enough reason to watch.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961) - Another William Castle classic, this is a more psychological film, but very creepy.

The Day of the Triffids (1962) - A classic British horror film, actually making the idea of "killer plants" creepy.

The Haunting (1963) - A Robert Wise film, and very well directed, one of the most well done "haunted house" films.

The Raven (1963) - Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and one of Jack Nicholson's first films. Nuff' said.

The Haunted Palace (1963) - Another Vincent Price starring entry in Roger Corman's Poe series, though this one is actually an adaptation of an HP Lovecraft story, "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward". One of the darker entries in the series, and classic Price.

Kwaidan (1964) - A VERY chilling, very artfully done collection of Japanese ghost stories, from Toho.

The Last Man on Earth (1964) - Another Vincent Price classic, a very dark first adaptation of "I Am Legend".

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) - A very oddball entry to be sure. The original creator of the Dalek concept, Terry Nation, briefly sold the idea to an outside movie studio, and the result was this delightfully weird (but accurate) re-imagining of the first Daleks story from the Doctor Who show. Now starring Peter Cushing as a (assumedly) very human Dr. Who, with his granddaughters in tow, accidentally visiting the alien planet Skaro, home of the evil Dalek race!

Die, Monster Die! (1965) - One of Karloff's last films, based on HP Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space".

It! (1966) - Underrated actor Roddy McDowell shines in this classic adaptation of the traditional Golem tale.

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) - A fantastic dark comedy/horror by Roman Polanski.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) - The first real "modern zombie" film, and in my opinion, George Romero's best.

The Legend of Seven Golden Vampires (1974) - Probably the weirdest movie Hammer Films ever produced, it's an oddball mash-up of 70s Hong Kong kung fu action, and Hammer vampire horror. But it stars Peter Cushing in his last go-round as Van Helsing, and it's pretty great.

Young Frankenstein (1974) - Just about my favorite movie of all time, a brilliant collaboration between Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, a loving send-up to the Universal classics, and one of the funniest, most well done, most well acted films ever made, period. Watch it, you'll be glad you did.

Jaws (1975) - Spielberg's classic, more of a drama film than horror, really, but still an excellent film.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978) - NOT a true horror film, but a fantastic and comical spoof that needs to be seen.

Halloween (1978) - The ONLY "slasher" flick on this list, but I'm including it because it put creepy over gore, period.

Alien (1979) - In some ways more Sci-Fi than horror, but a genuinely scary and well done Ridley Scott film.

The Shining (1980) - Out of all the films on this list, this one genuinely creeps me out the most. Jack Nicholson, nuff said.

Poltergeist (1982) - Arguably the best "ghost story" film ever made. Just great on every level.

The Thing (1982) - John Carpenter's take on "Who Goes There?", dread and creepiness pervade throughout. Excellent.

The Terminator (1984) - The original cult classic sci-fi thriller, about an unstoppable cyborg who comes to the past to terminate any hope for the future, starring Arnold Schwarzenneger.

Gremlins (1984) - A movie that transcends genres, Gremlins is a mash-up of horror, comedy, and holiday/Christmas film. And it works on all of those levels and more. Directed by the great Joe Dante, and one of the best movies ever made, in my humble opinion.

C.H.U.D. (1984) - A smaller budget horror film, about toxic creatures in the New York sewers, that are the result of negligent government waste management.

Ghostbusters (1984) - Much like Gremlins, Ghostbusters is a mash-up that transcends genres. Most people have seen this perennial 80s classic, but if you haven't, you NEED to see it. It's pure film gold.

Aliens (1986) - The more action-oriented sequel to the '79 thriller, Aliens finds Ellen Ripley, and a pack of goofball Space Marines, going back to planet LV426 to learn more about the alien threat.

Critters (1986) - Gremlins spawned many similar styled films, but of the "knocks offs", this is probably the best. A small mid-west town is terrorized when a pack of aliens with a voracious appetite crash land on a small farm.

The Monster Squad (1987) - A great and overlooked film, think "Goonies", but with classic monsters thrown in. Awesome.

The Gate (1987) - A movie about a boy and his best friend, who accidentally dig up a gateway to hell in their backyard. One of the best 80s horror films, in my opinion.

The 'Burbs (1989) - In my opinion Joe Dante's best film, and that's a tough call considering how good Gremlins is. A story featuring Tom Hanks, as a middle-class American everyman, who begins to grow suspicious of his creepy new neighbors.

Warlock (1989) - Something of a dark fantasy thriller, starring the great Julian Sands as the titular Warlock, "son of the devil", who seeks ultimate power to destroy God and remake the world as his own. A bit of a fantasy twist on Terminator as well, as a warrior from the past follows him to the future to stop him and save the world.

In the Mouth of Madness (1995) - The ONLY 90s film on this list, I just wanted to include it because it is the only example I can think of, of a film that truly portrays the kind of feel and spirit of H.P. Lovecraft's old stories. A psychological thriller, with a touch of supernatural, and a strong dose of questioned sanity. One of John Carpenter's best.


Science Fiction/Fantasy
A Trip to the Moon (1902) - One of the first films ever, and a piece of film history. You can find it on YouTube.

The Lost World (1925) - A cool adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story, and a landmark in special effects.

King Kong (1933) - It speaks for itself, the definition of classic. Some say Citizen Kane. I say King Kong.

She (1935) - A classic film about a lost city, and it's mysterious, immortal ruler.

The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936) - A great HG Wells story, and a really great film.  

The Thief of Bagdad (1940) - A great Arabian fantasy story, about a prince, Ahmad, and his thief friend, played by classic Hollywood star Sabu, of The Jungle Book fame.

The Man From Planet X (1951) - A really surreal "alien visitor" type of film, very well done.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - Science fiction, but more philosophy and human condition. One of the best ever.

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953) - One of the first Ray Harryhousen stop motion marvels, based on a short story by his lifelong best friend Ray Bradbury, this classic also served as inspiration for the king of "giant monsters", Godzilla.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) - Fantastic adaption of Verne's novel, starring James Mason and Kirk Douglas.

Gojira (1954) - The original Godzilla (American name) film, as dark and dramatic of a monster movie as you'll ever find. It really says something when many film historians consider this the second best Japanese film of all time, behind Seven Samurai. And beyond becoming THE undisputed king and icon of "giant monster" films, it was also a sobering (and purposeful) allegory as to the horrors suffered by the only country to ever experience a nuclear bomb attack.

Them! (1954) - Another great example of a film that takes a concept, giant ants, and makes it both creepy and a very fleshed out, dramatic affair.

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) - One of the few Hammer science fiction films, but expertly done.

This Island Earth (1955) - A film with some fantastic sets and cinematography, but also another philosophical one.

1984 (1956) - The rare original, but in my view superior adaptation of the George Orwell story.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) - Beyond the cheesy name, lies a great classic with a cool story and great effects.

Forbidden Planet (1956) - In my view, this, along with The Day the Earth Stood Still, is THE best science fiction film ever crafted. Groundbreaking for it's time in budget and special effects, it also set many standards for what future space-based Sci-Fi films would be, influencing everything from Doctor Who to Star Trek. It took science seriously, to the best of it's ability in 1956, and presented a captivating story full of questions about humanity and the human mind. It also happens to be an adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest", and stars a young Leslie Nielson in one of his early, serious leading roles, decades before his comedy career took off with Airplane! Amazing film, do yourself a favor and see it.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - Yet another Sci-Fi film that reaches beyond the "B movie" stigma, and presents something bigger, deeper, and better. A film that very much explored, in part, the paranoia of the Cold War, but also again took a deep look at society and the human mind, and what it is that makes us, us.

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) - In many ways more of a drama, this film explores how a man might react if he found himself in the incredible circumstance of gradually shrinking down to (eventually) atomic size. A great existential look at life and a man's place in it when everything changes around him, with great acting by Grant Williams.

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) - Another Harryhousen classic, this one focused on a strange alien lifeform, lost on a strange alien world: Earth.

The 27th Day (1957) - A largely unknown little film, about what would happen if aliens gave people from each major power on earth (American, Britain, China, Russia, etc.), a tiny capsule that was vastly more powerful than an nuclear bomb, with the option to either use the power for their countries to strike at their enemies, or to see if they could keep this from happening, thereby stopping the aliens themselves from invading and taking over Earth. A great character study, and a cool little film.

The Fly (1958) - A great film, co-starring Vincent Price, about a scientist messing with experimental technology that goes horribly wrong. One of the finer done, and classier Sci-Fi films ever made. And again, the original is by far the best.

It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) - Another somewhat unknown classic, this movie was the primary influence on the later, better known classic Alien. Similar premise: a space rescue expedition accidentally allows a hostile lifeform aboard on their return trip home.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) - My personal favorite of the Sinbad films, a Harryhausen masterpiece, full of magic, giant Cyclops', dragons, skeleton warriors and more. Kerwin Mathews is great as Sinbad, and Torin Thatcher is equally great as the villainous sorcerer, Sokurah. Plus, it has a bad ass musical score.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) - In my opinion, the best adaption of this great Jules Verne story, it's epic and classy all at the same time, with great visuals, and great acting by leading man James Mason, who plays Prof. Lindenbrook.

The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960) - Like most adaptations of this novel, it only really goes over the first couple parts, but it's very well done just the same, and Kerwin Mathews does a great job as Gulliver. An entertaining classic.

Mysterious Island (1961) - Another great Verne adaptation, this time with the stop motion wizardry of Ray Harryhausen.

Jack the Giant Killer (1962) - Another Kerwin Mathews film, based on the fairly tale, with stop-motion effects done by two of Harryhausen's assistants/students. A decent, entertaining fantasy flick.

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) - The first major "Monster Mash" feature, with the two biggest monster movie icons meeting up for the first (and only) time. Kong certainly looks cheesy in "suitmation" form, instead of stop-motion, but the film itself is very entertaining and fun to watch.

Captain Sindbad (1963) - No Harryhausen for this one, but still a classic and entertaining story of magic and swordplay.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963) - What is there NOT to say about this movie? It's one of Harryhausen's greatest masterpieces, many say his TOP work. It's a great, classic story, amazing special effects, even to this day, and honestly it's quite simply one of the best movies ever made. If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor and do so.

Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) - The next in the classic (best) 60s Godzilla films, this time pitting G against the earth guardian spirit, Mothra. Plus, this was the first film beyond the original to firmly establish Godzilla as a nearly unstoppable badass.

Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster (1964) - This film introduced Godzilla's greatest enemy, King Ghidorah, a three headed, enormous space-dragon that emits gravity ripping beams of lightning from it's mouths. It was also the first TRUE "Monster Mash" of the giant monster (Kaiju) films, as it had Ghidorah fighting Godzilla, Rodan, AND Mothra.

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) - A very unique take on the classic Robinson Crusoe story, about an astronaut stranded on Mars. Great dramatic and classy film.

The First Men in the Moon (1964) - Another great Harryhausen showcase, this film is a great adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic story, and it's highly entertaining besides.

Invasion of the Astro Monster aka Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965) - My personal all-time favorite Godzilla film, and the only one to really embody the Sci-Fi feel, as far as space travel and whatnot goes. It's the only Godzilla film where Godzilla leaves Earth at all, and overall, to me it's got the best overall plot and action, other than the original.

Gamera (1965) - Another company's attempt at creating their own Godzilla type franchise, Gamera is, as absurd as it sounds, a giant, flying, fire-breathing turtle. But the original is actually pretty good, and an entertaining film.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - While it's missing a few key elements of the book, this is still a great adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic dystopian science fiction novel.

Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966) - This was the first Godzilla movie I ever saw as a kid, and was what made me fall madly in love with the big monster in the first place. Not the greatest of the series, but a very fun romp just the same.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Arguably Stanley Kubrick's finest film, this was a very unique case in which the novel by Arthur C. Clark and this film were actually being created at the same time, with each the writer and the filmmaker collaborating, and creating their own final products. It was mainly based on Clark's ideas, but Kubrick's genius shines through. It was probably the first major Sci-Fi film, beyond Forbidden Planet, to both take a serious scientific approach, but also to have (for the genre) a fairly large budget. This film was groundbreaking in many ways, and it's an absolute classic, even IF the stupid "Starchild" at the end creeps me out to this day.

Planet of the Apes (1968) - A great film, and Charlton Heston's first real foray into science fiction. A great, serious, and well done film, with some of the most classic and iconic moments in film history. Roddy McDowall does a great job as ape scientist "Dr. Cornelius" as well.

Destroy All Monsters (1968) - One of the best "Monster Mash" movies, for the sheer fact that it features nearly a dozen of Toho's Kaiju creations in one film, and it's a nifty "alien invasion" flick besides. One of the last Godzilla classics.

Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster (1971) - Arguably the most bizarre of the original "Showa Era" Godzilla films, this movie has a distinct environmental message, but it also has one of the most creative and interesting monsters in the series' history. A fun ride, all around.

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
- I would be remiss not to mention this film, even though I'm sure many have seen it. The Tim Burton film doesn't hold a candle to this, and Gene Wilder IS Willy Wonka. End of story.

Silent Running (1972) - A sombre, serious, largely unknown film, starring Bruce Derne, about man's bleak future.

Soylent Green (1973) - A film that plays out much more like a film noir than science fiction, it stars Charlton Heston, and deals with a dystopian future in which overpopulation and exhaustion of resources have led to the most dire and sinister of circumstances. A very dark, and but very good film.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974) - The second of Ray Harryhausen's epic Sinbad adventures, this one features a young Tom Baker right before his role as the infamous Fourth Doctor in Doctor Who, as the villainous sorcerer Koura. It also features, as usual, some awesome monsters, including a six-armed Kali statue. A great fantasy film.

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) - Pretty much speaks for itself: Godzilla, Robot Godzilla, duke it out. The last exceptionally good entry in the classic "Showa" series, to me.

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) - A classic Disney production, about twin kids with psychic powers, on a quest to find their real family. Really a great film, and one of my favorites when I was a kid.

The Land That Time Forgot (1975) - A great adaptation of the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs story, about enemy sailors banding together after finding themselves stranded in a strange land in the arctic, full of prehistoric wonders.

Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) - The very last of the "Showa" era films, and also the very last film that the most famous, and best director/creator of the series, Ishiro Honda (a great director in his own right, along with Akira Kurosawa), ever directed. It's a decent wrap up to the series, but it also makes sense that chronologically speaking, Destroy All Monsters is supposed to be the last (classic) Godzilla film.

Logan's Run (1976) - Another great, dystopian future film, arguably the best, actually. Starring Michael York of Austin Powers fame, and Richard Jordan, who would later feature in the 1984 adaptation of Dune. I'd say this is easily one of the better science fiction films ever made. The show they made afterwards? Not so much. Watch the movie.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) - Naturally, I have to mention this. It's only one of the best Spielberg, and extra-terrestrial based films ever made. A genuine classic, and if you've never seen it....get to it already.

Star Wars (1977) - Again, naturally. When I was a kid, Return of the Jedi was my favorite one, but now the original is. It's just a great, classic, self-contained story, and no matter what people want to try and say about George Lucas now, he is and always will be a genius for this movie alone. One of the greatest sci-fi/fantasy stories ever told.

The Hobbit (1977) - My favorite film of all time, basically tied with Young Frankenstein. This made-for-TV animated movie by Rankin/Bass, is SO much better than the Peter Jackson films that it's not even funny. It features great animation and art, a great soundtrack, incredibly voice acting, you name it. And it's actually accurate to the book, with only a couple elements cut for time. If you want to experience Tolkien at its BEST, at least in my opinion, you MUST watch this film.

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) - The last of the three Harryhausen Sinbad films, this one deals with a prince who has been transformed into a baboon, and Sinbad's search for the mythical Greek alchemist Melanthius, who happens to be played by another Doctor, the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, in a great role.

The Lord of the Rings (1978) - A lesser known adaptation by cult animator Ralph Bakshi, it is a dark but very accurate take on the first more or less two and a half books in the trilogy. The story is sadly unfinished, as he never got to make the sequel, but what's there is bizarre and beautiful, a mix of rotoscoped animation and filtered live action. It's an odd take, but also pretty great.

The Cat From Outer Space (1978) - It's a comedy, but it's a cat, who talks, from space. What more could you want?

The Black Hole (1979) - Probably the darkest "Disney" film ever produced, a great, classic science fiction film, in my opinion one of the best ever made. Maximilian Schell plays a fantastic villain, and great performance by the likes of Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine, and Roddy McDowell as the robot "Vincent". As a matter of fact, another endearing robot character is played by none other than Slim Pickens, as "B.O.B.". Great movie!

Mad Max (1979) - The original and first of a trilogy starring Mel Gibson, this classic is set in a post-nuclear war Australia, where a cop tries to defend his family from a land overrun by gangs. Dark, but good.

The Return of the King (1980) - After Bakshi was unable to make the other half of his LOTR movie, Rankin/Bass swooped back in to more or less tell the rest of the story. There's a bit missing, but they again tell a very faithful version of the final book in the trilogy, minus (for whatever reason) Legolas and Gimli. In a perfect world, Bakshi would have been able to make his sequel, AND Rankin/Bass would have been able to make the entire trilogy themselves also.

Clash of the Titans (1981) - Ray Harryhausen's magnum opus, and the last full film he ever worked on, and in my mind, his finest work, even better than the amazing Sinbad and Jason movies. This is one of my top favorite films of all time, and if you've only ever seen the piss-poor "remake" that just recently came out, you're missing out big time. Do yourself a favor, see the original, and you'll see why it, like Jason and the Argonauts, is one of the best films ever made.

The Last Unicorn (1982) - Another Rankin/Bass film, one of their best works. It tells the (rather dark) story of a bumbling magician, who tries to help the last known Unicorn in existence.

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982) - Nearly everyone has seen this classic, but I would be remiss not to include it.

The Secret of NIMH (1982) - The first solo feature film by the great Don Bluth, and one of my all-time favorites. It tells the tale of a struggling single mother mouse, who to save her family has to get the help of a mysterious group of strangely intelligent rats.

The Dark Crystal (1982) - Another of my favorite all-time films, and in my opinion Jim Henson's masterpiece. A dark fairy tale about a totally alien world, fully realized in puppetry and animatronics. There was nothing like this before, and hasn't been anything like it since. It's a must see film that I think FAR more people need to see.

Space Raiders (1983) - A story about space pirates who accidentally kidnap the son of a corporate higher-up. A Roger Corman produced cult film, that is both endearing yet surprisingly dark.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (1984) - A very weird cult classic, bizarre to the max, starring a great collection of characters such as Peter Weller, Christopher Lloyd, John Lithgow, and Jeff Goldblum.

Starman (1984) - Another John Carpenter film, this one starring Jeff Bridges as an alien lifeform who has crash landed on earth, and takes the form of a woman's recently deceased husband to try and find his way to a pick-up point, so he can be rescued.

Conan the Destroyer (1984) - The sequel to Conan the Barbarian, and listed over that movie because I find this one more fun. It is a perfect "Sword and Sorcery" type fantasy/action film, starring Arnold in the titular role.

The Last Starfighter (1984) - A cult classic and childhood favorite, this is a story of a teenage boy from a small town, whose love for an arcade game literally takes him to the stars.

The Ice Pirates (1984) - A comedic take on Star Wars type action/sci fi, it follows the exploits of a crew of galactic outlaws, who deal in the galaxy's most precious commodity: water.

The Ewok Adventure (1984) - A made-for-TV spinoff of the Star Wars universe, about a family who crash-lands on the Endor moon. The children must save their parents, with the aid of a group of Ewoks, including young Wicket.

Red Sonja (1985) - Another movie starring Arnold as basically Conan (but with a different name), this movie focused on the adventures of a young warrior named Sonja, as she fights to avenger her family and save the world.

The Black Cauldron (1985) - Probably the darkest animated film Disney has ever produced, and also one of their least known films. In my opinion one of their greatest works, and an excellent fantasy adventure besides.

Explorers (1985) - A lesser-known Joe Dante film, about a trio of friends who, through telepathic dreams, discover how to build themselves a home-made spaceship, to visit the stars.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986) - A criminally underrated John Carpenter cult classic, this is one of my favorite movies of all time. A genre-bending mix of action, comedy, horror, fantasy, and martial arts, it is, in my humble opinion, one of the best movies ever made. A weird, awesome adventure.

Castle in the Sky (1986) - Directed by the great Hayao Miyazaki, this is a story about a young boy, Patzu, who encounters a girl who falls from the sky, as they both try to uncover the secrets of the lost floating city of Laputa.

Flight of the Navigator (1986) - Another childhood favorite, about a boy who gets abducted by a UFO and taken into the (near) future. Features the voice talent of Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman).

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) - I'll only list this Star Trek movie, even though I like all six of the original series, because in my opinion it's the best one, and my personal favorite. Captain Kirk and crew, have to travel back in time to the 1980s, to save future Earth.

The Princess Bride (1987) - Another film most people have seen, but a great fairy-tale type fantasy nonetheless, starring a great cast of characters, not the least of which is Andre the Giant!

Robocop (1987) - In the grim-dark near-future of dystopian Detroit (basically now Detroit), a good cop, Alex Murphy, meets a grisly fate at the hands of criminals. But modern technology can make him "reborn", as the first in a line of new cyborg super-police. He is now Robocop, and he is the law!

Willow (1988) - A fantasy classic, starring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer, about a small would-be sorcerer, who tries to protect a baby who can save the land.

They Live (1988) - Another John Carpenter classic, a paranoia thriller about the hidden world behind the world, starring Roddy Piper and Keith David.

Short Circuit 2 (1988) - People should definitely see the first film, but for my money, this is a rare case where the sequel is better. The sentient robot Johnny 5, winds up having some wacky adventures in New York City.

Back to the Future Part II (1989) - Another film where people should definitely see the first movie (in fact it's really kind of mandatory to understand what's going on), but I think again the sequel is even better, and this is my favorite entry in the series.


And THAT, my friends, is where I'm cutting it off. I only included films up through the 80s on purpose, as I consider that more of the "classic" era. As far as horror is concerned, I actually mostly consider the "classic" era to have ended in the 60s, but I digress. I've listed more than enough I think. That is one shitload of classic films for people to look at, and while I would personally recommend that you see MOST of the films on this list at some point, I would hope that at least a few catch your eye. I love these films, I love classic films like this in general, and the only thing better than enjoying these films to yourself, like most art, is sharing them with others. So there ya go folks! Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Cult of Superiority

First a disclaimer: I do not have anything personal against vegans who aren't obnoxious, belligerent, bullying assholes about their lifestyle choice. There ARE vegans are totally chill, reasonable, rational, respectful human beings. It just so happens that there are a LOT of vegans out there, who have absolutely earned their negative reputation as snotty, confrontational, entitled, self-righteous assholes. The following is addressed to THEM.

A few reasons why, even though not ALL vegans act/think this way, that veganism at large is a cult:

1. They truly believe that their dietary choice makes them better people, in fact, superior people, to those who choose to use animal products, especially those who eat meat.

IE They believe they have the One and Only Truth, and knowing it makes them the best people on the planet.

2. They genuinely believe that it is impossible to love animals, or care about Nature/The Planet, if you eat meat. They also believe that eating meat essentially makes you an ignorant, even bad/evil person.

IE People who do not follow their doctrines are "sinners" and "heathens", who either need to be condemned, or "saved".

3. They genuinely believe that veganism is THE only way to go, and THE only thing that is going to save the world. They believe this so much, that they constantly proselytize it, and actively desire to keep on spreading veganism until everyone on earth is vegan.

IE It isn't merely a dietary or lifestyle choice as far as they're concerned, they believe it is "The Way", and they wish to spring this "One and Only Truth" to the masses, to "save" us from our own ignorance and evil.

Even one of those things, let alone all three, are textbook examples of a cult. Many vegans literally worship at the altar of veganism, and consider everyone who is not part of their elite group, lesser beings. None of this is hyperbole or fabrication, because I've based it 100% off of vegan propaganda and sentiments I've seen expressed across various internet and social media forms.

Word to the wise: Your dietary or lifestyle choices do not make you "superior" to anyone. And while farming practices do absolutely need to change/improve, no, you don't need to spread your "superior" ways to anyone else. And yes, people can care VERY much about the planet, in fact likely far more than you claim to, while also choosing to eat meat. Keep your bullshit to yourself, and respect those who don't choose to live that way. Otherwise, you don't deserve an ounce of respect yourselves.  

Monday, September 10, 2018

Thoughts of Death

As someone who has dealt with depression, loneliness, misery, and yes, even suicidal thoughts, for over half my life, I've gotta say....a lot of the things that are said and proliferated about depression and suicide really bother me.

For one thing, NOT everyone who is depressed, or even deals with LONG-term depression as I have, is "mentally ill". NOT everyone who has ever wanted to die, or to kill themselves, felt so because they "couldn't help it", because they had some chemical imbalance or mental "disease".

YES, some people genuinely have that, and it's awful. But NOT everyone who suffers these things does. Sometimes? Sometimes life just fucking sucks. Sometimes, the world is a cold, harsh, lonely, and shitty place to live, and the experience if LIVING in it, makes you so miserable, that you see no other way out of the perpetual hell, than to die. That isn't ALWAYS just some psychological issue. Sometimes, you're just hurting that much, and you want it to stop.

NOT everyone who has ever found themselves teetering on the edge of suicide, found themselves there because of "mental illness", or because they "couldn't help it". Just because that is the case for SOME people, does not make it the case for ALL people. And this notion that "suicide is just the final symptom of the disease called depression", is such an absurd, condescending statement that it actually makes me want to punch someone in the face.

AS someone who has very much wanted to die, at times BADLY, countless times in my life, I find it dismissive, insulting, and diminishing of what I was feeling and what brought me there to that place, to claim that my depression and my pain were "mental illness", I just "couldn't help it", and thoughts of suicide were a "symptom". No, thoughts of suicide were me NOT wanting to be miserable, hurting, and alone anymore.

And yes, suicide was 100% a CHOICE. Want to know how I know that? Because ultimately, I CHOSE not to kill myself. Weather it was being too chicken shit to do it, or some deeper part of me simply realizing that "Hey, look, if you go out like this, then your death will mean exactly what your life has: nothing. If you take your own life, alone, for nothing, your life WILL have been a lonely, pointless failure, just as you fear it already is, and you will have proven yourself right, that your life is worthless and not worth living." I don't want that for myself. I HATE being alone, and miserable, and sad, and angry, and depressed. It's gross, and if you've never truly BEEN there, you have absolutely no idea just how dark, and cold, and scary a place that is to actually be.

I told a friend once, when talking to me about the concept of "Hell", that I know "Hell". I know what it's like, because I've lived it, in some ways STILL live it, every day of my life, for well over half my life. I know "Hell", because, as I put it, it's a state of being, not some mythical place you go. When you're lonely, and angry, and frustrated, and hurting, and depressed, and miserable in your life? That is "Hell". There is no better or more apt way to describe it. And these are things that I usually don't talk to most people about, because quite frankly, it's not any of anyone's business, unless I choose it to be. And frankly, most people don't deserve to hear it.

But I choose to talk about it today, just like I've CHOSEN, countless times in my life now, NOT to kill myself, even though I was right back there, teetering on the edge of the good ol', familiar gaping Abyss. I full well realize that for SOME people, depression IS something that is a mental illness, and for SOME people, perhaps, JUST perhaps, though I still don't agree with the idea, suicidal thoughts are indeed just some "symptom" they can't help. But that STILL doesn't change the fact that at the end of the day, suicide, like almost everything ELSE in life, is a Choice.

There is a hell of a lot to be said for the concept of "Mind Over Matter". The concept that the Power of your Will, is ultimately stronger than a lot of things life can dish out at you, yes even many illnesses. This pervading notion in modern psychiatry that people are essentially helpless victims of the things they suffer, and that they truly have no choice, unless of course they're paying for therapy or expensive medication. And while for SOME people, suicide may well be spurred on by some psychological malady that they have no control over, for a lot of OTHER people who have killed themselves in this world, or even simply HAD the feeling of "I want to die" ever in their life? You don't need to be mentally ill for that. You just have to be miserable, pushed that far, and see no other way out. It's not rocket science. It's just a shitty, dark reality of life for some people.

I know this, because I've lived it. And this notion that "Suicide ISN'T selfish", I'm sorry, is not only wrong in my view, it's also damn irresponsible. Why? Because even FOR those that are genuinely suffering from some kind of mental illness that is spurring on their depression, the reality, the TRUTH is, that yes, suicide is STILL a choice. 99% of the time in life, the tired cliche "I had no choice", is flat out wrong. You ALWAYS have a choice. The choices may not all be appealing or preferable, but you STILL always have a choice, in almost any situation you're facing.

And that includes killing yourself. So yes, I'm sorry, it may be a painful thing to hear, for those who have considered or even attempted suicide, as well as those who have suffered the suicidal death of someone close to them, but suicide IS a selfish CHOICE that people make. There is no two ways about it, as far as I'm concerned. I can't tell you how many times in my life I've told myself that "If I die or disappear tomorrow, no one I know will truly care, and my death would not really affect anyone I know, because no one I know honestly cares for me all that much." The bottom line was, I was trying to convince myself that if I killed myself, it wouldn't hurt anyone that I knew, that the only person I would be hurting was ME, except even THAT wasn't true, because I would be "Freeing myself from the pain of life". Which, you know, there IS some truth to that. But at the same time, how do I know that the few people in my life, WOULDN'T be hurt by my suicide? How do I know that there isn't at least even ONE person out there who knows me, who would not only be hurt, but permanently affected by my choosing to end my own life?

The truth is, I DON'T know that. Which means, that like ALL suicide, hell, like a LOT of depression, it is a very selfish head-space to be in. Why? Because you're not thinking about ANYONE else but you. You're focused on your pain, your loneliness, your misery, whatever. It's 100% about you. And trust me when I tell you, deep depression, the kind where you are SO low you actually think about wanting to die? That's some serious shit. And you can talk yourself into all kinds of stupid shit, whether it's actually true or not. Things like "my family wouldn't care if I died" or "the people in my life would be better off with me gone", etc. When you're in that head-space, you can and WILL tell yourself anything and everything you need to hear, to convince yourself that it would, essentially, be OKAY to kill yourself. That it's NOT going to really hurt anyone else, that it might even HELP them or be "better" for them somehow. THAT is what being in that head-space is like.

And this is not about shaming anyone. This is not about dismissing the seriousness and severity of depression and suicide. TRUST me on that. I don't personally know a single soul who knows living with pain and loneliness and anger, and just being trapped in your own headspace, wrapped up in your own misery, where ALL you want to see is that Darkness, than I have. There was a time, when I was on a home school field trip, at the age of 17, to go to Yosemite National Park. We climbed up Half Dome, to the top, and were hanging out, resting, and there I was, standing at the edge, looking over. And while the people around me, kids, families, even a couple of my own friends, were all just chilling out and having a good time, do you want to know what I was doing? I was thinking about jumping off. I was thinking about getting a running start, and leaping straight off to my death, because in my own words "I'll never have a better way to go, and I'll never be any closer to feeling like I'm flying".

I gave no real thought, in that moment where I was really considering it, to how it would ruin those families' day, or week, or month. I gave no thought to how it might scar those poor kids for life, even. I certainly gave no thought to how it might hurt my friends, because remember, they won't really miss me too bad, they'll get over it, and their lives will likely be better without me around. And all of that? That was SELFISH. It was me, wrapped up in my own pain and despair, which I usually kept all to myself, both because I didn't want to bother people with it, and because in many cases, people just didn't understand, or didn't want to hear it (because it's hard to hear, or deal with). But there it is. In that moment, I was only thinking of myself, and how I wanted to end MY pain, practically romanticizing Death, and seeing it as some grand release from all of this. I didn't think one bit, about all that it might do to the other people there, who would see someone kill themselves. Or to my friends who actually knew me. Or to the fun, innocent weekend everyone was having, that would be utterly destroyed because some teenager in pain thought it would be romantic, and ideal, to jump off of Half Dome.

There was a time that I actually considered killing myself in the kitchen of my first real job, with a knife. I gave no thought to how that would affect my co-workers, some of whom I got somewhat close with. How it would ruin their day, their week, perhaps the rest of their lives, to come in and find a dead body in a pool of blood in their work break-room. I gave no thought to how it might hurt or affect anyone but myself. Because, again, suicidal thoughts, and the act itself, ARE SELFISH.

There are so many other countless stories I could tell, of times I thought of dying, or trying to convince myself that no one really cares about me, and that my death would be just as unnoticed and meaningless as my life is. You try to convince yourself of the dumbest fucking horseshit when you're hurting and depressed. But like I said, anything and everything you have to tell yourself, to make it "ok" to do the deed. And for some people, is that the result of mental illness? Sure it is. But that doesn't mean that's the case for everyone. And that CERTAINLY doesn't mean that suicide is something that we, as survivors of it, or survivors of someone else who DID it, can't get mad at. Can't feel hurt by. Can't hate with all our hearts. Because guess what? Other people have that right too.

I KNOW only too well how horrible and awful living with pain and loneliness and depression really is. Because those things have been old friends of mine since I was at least 16 years old, perhaps in some respects even younger. I have not had, to be blunt, a very good or easy or happy life. It has been full of hardship, and pain, and many other very unpleasant things. I have more often than not felt isolated, alone, angry, and hurting, somewhere down deep. But in spite of all of that, I'm STILL here. Because I have made the CHOICE to be here, even in spite of how much it sucks.

And as I've said before, IF I had love in my life, IF I had the wife and children, the family, that I've craved and dreamed of since I was literally a little boy. Things that to this day I believe at my core, even in spite of how broken I am inside, how broken life has LEFT me inside, that they would make  me as close to happy as I am capable of being. And IF I had that love in my life, no matter HOW broken and hurting I might still BE inside, I would never desire, let alone CHOOSE suicide. Because here's the reality: perhaps on some level, I've been right in the past, up till now. I have "no one" in my life, I have no wife, no kids, no family. If I killed myself tomorrow, there is a VERY very small handful of people that would probably affect, and who knows how much. But they would, in all likelihood, even if it did hurt them, find a way to move on. It would STILL be selfish of me, but less so. But if I had a wife and kids? Or even JUST a wife? And to kill myself THEN? My God. How fucking self-involved, self-absorbed and how much of an outright colossal, callous DICK would I be, to hurt her THAT much? To do THAT to her?

Because THAT is the reality of suicide. For the person who killed themselves, it's over. It's done. It's sad, but they're gone now. And whatever comes after, IF anything comes after, well all of that is going to sort itself out whether you want it to or not. But just like ANY kind of death, what matters once the death has occurred is NOT the dead. They are gone. What matters are the LIVING, who are left behind. Period. And with respect to that, yes, when you have people who LOVE you, even NEED you, in your life, and you kill yourself? That was a selfish choice. The ULTIMATE selfish choice. Because you were only thinking of yourself. If I were to do that to my wife, my kids, were I to have them, it would destroy their whole world, it would flip everything upside down, and they would be permanently hurt and scarred from that, for the rest of their lives. How absolutely self-centered do you have to be, in THAT selfish of a state of mind, to willingly hurt people you claim to love and care about, THAT much?

Yes, there is something to be said for mental illness, and being in THAT much pain and "not being in your right mind". I know a bit about that too, whether I consider my depression "mental illness" or not. And as I said earlier, NO one should be shamed, while they're still alive and hurting, about feeling like they want to die. This isn't ABOUT shame. But it IS about being honest, and telling ourselves the Truth. The TRUTH about suicide. It is not some "final symptom" of depression. It is an ultimate and final act, that we DECIDE on, that we CHOOSE, no matter what frame of mind we're in.

Yes, people who are depressed and hurting DO need help. They absolutely need help, if nothing else just in the form of people who will stick with them, and stand by them no matter what, while they weather their own private storm, their own private hell. Depression and THAT kind of emotional pain, it's hard as FUCK to live with, especially for a very long time. And I have every bit of sympathy and empathy for people who are suffering with it, because I KNOW exactly what it's like. But even so, I'm sorry, but don't even TRY to tell me, that suicide isn't a choice. That it ISN'T selfish. Because it absolutely is.

It is entirely possible, to be sensitive and empathetic to someone's pain and despair, and the sensitive, very dark and very real nature of depression and suicide. And to STILL also not sugar coat shit, and not try to tip-toe around the unpleasantness, and outright EVIL of it, at its core. Let's be honest about what this shit is, and what it MEANS, not just for the people suffering it, but for those people in their LIVES as well.

Love, REAL love, is when you care about someone else, MORE than you care about yourself. And believe me when I tell you, I KNOW what it's like to feel like you aren't loved, that you've NEVER truly tasted love. I know what it's like to feel like you don't really have anyone. And that's a shitty, empty, scary place to be. I know, I live there, and have pretty much all of my life. So in that frame of mind especially, it's easy to convince yourself no one cares, and that your death will mean nothing, and hurt no one. But again, IF I finally had that love that I crave, that I NEED, in my life? I would never, COULD never do that to them, even if I hurt inside for the rest of my days. Why? Because they would matter far more to me than I would to myself. My love for THEM, would mean far more to me than my own selfish pain and brokenness. I would literally choose to live for them, because even if I'm somehow incapable of ever being TRULY happy, they damn sure would make me as close to that as I could possibly get. I would want to live as long as I could, as a matter of fact, to get as much time with them as I possibly could, and that means that much more coming from someone who has lived the better part of 40 years of life feeling utterly alone. And I CERTAINLY, would not ever make that selfish choice, to end my life, to hurt them and smash their lives apart like that. For what? So my pain can end? And I can leave them with the sadistic, selfish "gift" of lifelong pain because of what I chose to do instead?

I know this is a very touchy topic, and my blunt views on it seem to rub some people the wrong way. But I still feel like these are things that need to be said, that I have to say. Even if only a few people read them. Depression and thoughts of suicide are SUPER serious, and deserve to be treated and taken so. But that doesn't mean we coddle people who are in that space, or make suicide out to be some tragic, unavoidable thing some people just couldn't escape. Because that is incredibly untrue. AS someone who has dealt with depression and thoughts of death for over half my life, I refuse to believe that suicide is something some people "just can't help, that they had no choice". I'm sorry, but bullshit.

If you've made it this far, and find yourself disagreeing with what I've said, or let's say I've even upset you, well, I apologize. Not for my earnest, from the heart thoughts and feelings on the matter. But sorry you were upset, because that wasn't my intent, or for whatever reasons simply could not see my point of view. However, I do hope that the things I've said, harsh or not, blunt or not, have reached or spoken to SOMEONE. Because these are thoughts and feelings from a survivor, from one who knows exactly what it's like to be there, to feel that. These words are coming from a good place, at least to me. I am a firm believer in personal responsibility, and the power of choice and will. We are free agents, and life is a series of choices we make, moment to moment, day after day. And that doesn't change, whether you're miserable, or genuinely suffering mental illness. You still have a choice.

I think that should be an empowering message. I think people should realize that, embrace it, and spread it. Yes, we need to be there for people and try to help them out of their Darkness. But the truth is, NO one can fully pull you out of that Darkness for you. Everyone has to ultimately choose to lift themselves out of it. Depression is a valley that each of us navigates alone. It absolutely helps, and is perhaps even integral, to have people there to listen to us, to just be there, to be around, to lend their strength, or moral support, or whatever. But it's STILL a solo journey, and a very hard, shitty one. 

But I think the message of "Mind Over Matter" is important. Don't tell people they can't help it. Tell people they CAN help it. Tell them they always DO have a choice, and don't HAVE to die. There CAN, and SHOULD be a tomorrow for them, and they can CHOOSE to wake up tomorrow and greet it. The power of choice, personal choice in our moment to moment lives, is the ONLY power we as humans actually possess. And I think that should be an incredible source of inspiration. On the one hand, realize that by killing yourself, you are selfishly hurting those who care about you, perhaps permanently. Why would you want that? And on the OTHER hand, what could possibly be more powerful, more uplifting, than the knowledge that you always hold within you the power to CHOOSE for yourself. You don't have to let despair and pain and death beat you. Those things don't OWN you, and you owe them nothing. They are not your master, you are theirs, and you can defeat them, day after day, by CHOOSING to live, in spite of everything. You can give yourself the chance at a better tomorrow, by choosing tomorrow for yourself.

Just some food for thought....

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Tools of Destruction

Once again, another senseless, tragic (mass) shooting has occurred, and more people who should be alive right now, are dead, because someone had a bad day, or a bad life, etc.

My three cents on the issue:

 1. Yes, people with mental health and psychological/emotional issues DO need help, they DO need people to be there for them, and they DO need healthy outlets.

 2. Having said that, while we do need to understand and confront the PROBLEM, murderers do not deserve empathy or understanding. Even IF someone has a mental illness, and "isn't in their right mind", if they do something awful, if they rape, or kill, it IS still a choice that person is making. That kid CHOSE to bring a loaded gun to that event. He CHOSE to murder innocent people before he took his own pathetic life. That was a choice, whether it was "in his right mind" or not. Shooters like that deserve zero empathy, once they have made that choice. Once you cross that kind of line as a person, IMO, fuck you. Those people then deserve nothing but what's coming to them.

 3. The endless "pro gun/anti-gun" debate, and whether "the problem is guns", or "the problem is mental illness", is honestly incredibly tiresome and gross. All people want to do is argue, and virtue signal (people ACROSS the "political spectrum"), and literally get nothing of any value actually DONE to change things, to save lives. Yes, obviously anyone who would do this kind of thing, IS mentally ill. That's a fact. And if you take all the guns away, ALL of them, yes, mental illness and people being broken inside and committing heinous acts will still exist.

But, as I have been pointing out to people for decades, guns, by simply existing, ARE a problem, no matter how people try to rationalize or argue the issue. Guns have one function: to kill/destroy. They are not a tool, like a knife, or a baseball bat, or a shovel, or a chainsaw, or a CAR, or whatever the hell else that people could care to bring up, that crazies HAVE used, in recent times more than ever, to hurt and murder others, that have some other use. Guns' sole function is to destroy. To fire a projectile through something and damage or destroy it. Period. And yes, that CAN be used to defend your home, or your family, or yourself, in case of attack. But that does not change the fundamental nature of the gun, which is inarguable: that it is a tool to harm/kill.

People like to bandy about cute slogans like "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Which, on the most base technical level, IS true. But it's absurd and so far beyond the point. Because while PEOPLE kill people, they are doing it WITH guns. Those GUNS are killing people, by being utilized to do the only thing they were ever meant to do. And to reiterate, yes, that IS a massive problem in and of itself. If guns didn't exist, at all, yes, the world could be and likely would still be a totally mental and scary place. But it would STILL inarguably be a less immediately dangerous one. If someone comes at you with a knife, or a bat, or even a car, you have options. You can at least TRY to flee, you can try to get out of the way, or (excluding the car perhaps), you can even choose to fight for your life. With a gun, someone can hurt or kill you in the blink of an eye, before you can even react, without even trying. It takes zero real effort to squeeze a trigger, be it from point blank range, or from a great distance. There is little to no defense against a loaded gun, unless of course you yourself ALSO have a loaded gun. In which case, it becomes a "shootout" scenario, where you HOPE you're a better shot or a better wannabe commando than the other person, and meanwhile, innocent bystanders can STILL get hurt or killed, by either party.

The point being, that while the issue is FAR more complicated than "it's just guns", and mental illness, drugs, bad parenting, and societal failure/sickness in general, are ALL elements to this insanity. That doesn't change the FACT, that guns merely existing, makes it all so much worse, and so much more dangerous for everybody. Is there an easy answer? No, of course not. Because I can't just snap my fingers right this moment, and make all guns disappear. But, while ridding the world of guns at this point WOULD be hard, it is not impossible. It just would take serious work and concerted effort, and the actual will/desire to do so.

Guns are NOT the only problem, but people acting like they aren't even PART of the problem at all, are naive and ignoring simple, fundamental facts. Guns kill, they were MADE to kill, period. And they offer someone holding a loaded gun, a power over the life and death of ANYONE else around them, a power than can be exercised with, again, almost negligible effort. Mental illness DOES play a big part, as do all those other things. But that does not negate or alter the FACT, that so many shootings have happened, because someone was having a bad day, someone cut them off in traffic, someone said the wrong thing at the wrong time,  that was the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back", and they just so happened to have access to a loaded gun in that moment. And guess what? For a LOT of people, being presented that kind of power, ANY time, is dangerous, because most people with power, cannot handle it. They WILL abuse it, given the right motivations, the right circumstances. But people given that kind of power, to end someone else's life in the blink of an eye, without them being able to defend themselves, without you even having to really TRY to kill them, just squeeze a trigger, boom, they're hurt, or dead? In an irrational moment like that, that MOST of us have, where our day sucks, our week sucks, our LIFE sucks? Where you've had it, and you've just snapped, and here in your hand, in your power, is a thing that can kill people, BOOM, just like that? It's too much. 

There is, IMO, no such thing as a "responsible gun owner". There are people who have a high moral fiber and/or great self-discipline. And then there's most other people. A LOT of people, who are generally not "bad people", given the proper circumstances, and then presented a thing that can allow them to act out or vent in the most extreme or evil way possible? A lot of those people would pull the trigger. Why? Because that power is there, they aren't "in their right mind", and the most compelling reason: because they can. I know for a fact, even though I am a good and rational and moral person, that there have been many times in my life, when I've just fucking HAD it, I'm on the point of snapping, because of shitty neighbors, or a really bad day, or work being dogshit, or having a fight with someone, you name it. Where if I had a loaded gun anywhere NEAR me? Even though I am loathe at the thought of just MURDERING someone? I can't say that temptation wouldn't still be there, and be STRONG, that all I had to do was pick it up and pull that trigger. And even for the most "responsible gun owner" in the world, I don't care who you are, there ARE going to be a set of circumstances,  where that would COULD be true for them too.

 It is incredibly rare, almost impossible to find, to have a person who CAN'T be, in the most extreme scenarios, pushed too far, pushed THAT far. That isn't to say all those people are BAD people. But life can really suck, PEOPLE can really suck, and IMO, the existence of a tool that can SO easily kill, the existence of something that SO quickly and SO easily can give you the ultimate power over someone else, you getting to choose whether they live or die? That is not a power that most people should ever have. That isn't spoken from a PRO or ANTI gun "stance". That is just, at the end of the day, practical common sense.

 And yes, I have personally thought out the scenario: "What if my home was attacked by someone with a gun?/ What if I was out somewhere and attacked by someone with a gun?/ What if I HAD a wife and family, and they were threatened by someone with a gun?" And that's a tough, shitty question to ponder. I WOULD want to be able to defend myself, and CERTAINLY would want to be able to defend my family. In fact, if somewhere were threatening me with a gun, much LESS a prospective mate and children, I can tell you right now, if I ALSO had a loaded gun in that scenario? I'd be extremely tempted to empty the goddamn clip into them, not just to stop them, but for having the audacity to threaten MY life or the lives of people I love, in the first place. That is how I would feel, even though I am generally AGAINST guns and AGAINST killing, in that moment.

I DO get that mentality, for sure. But that still doesn't change the nature of the gun. And frankly, human society is NEVER going to progress, until we actually make the conscious CHOICE, to progress past our paranoia and obsession with weapons, with guns, and bombs, and vile, evil things like man-made viruses and chemical weapons, etc. Is that "pie in the sky"? Sure, you can say it is. But it's also the Truth. Humanity will NEVER experience meaningful progress as a race, until we are actively willing to let go of our tools of destruction, and move on from them. There is no other way about it. The "next step" in our evolution as a people, is impossible, without evolving BEYOND things like guns. And for us to survive, that moment in our history HAS to come about, sooner rather than later.

 No, it isn't easy, and there IS no easy answer, unfortunately. But it's either believe that it IS possible, and that it CAN happen, that it eventually HAS to happen and WILL happen. Or else you adopt the absurd (and far too common) attitude that "oh it'll never change", and succumb to the reality that eventually, humanity will just kill themselves off. Which is precisely what will happen if we never CHOOSE to evolve past tools of destruction. And personally, I choose to believe in a future where mankind actually grows the hell up, and that if I ever am lucky enough to get to HAVE children, that there IS a "Better Tomorrow" we can create, for them to inherit.