Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nostalgia - Your burden is heavy on my shoulders

Due to recent events in my life...ok, just one event actually that seems to stretch longer and longer as the anticipation of a notorious, yet evasive, letter to be received continues to build a virtual flood of maudlin euphoria, I find myself paddling along the river of reminiscence and wading through memories that had long been forgotten. I won't go into any more detail about said letter, as it has not yet arrived, but when I was alerted to its existence and its continuing journey westward, the floodgates were unleashed and experiences and emotion that have been rooted in the depths of my mental archives were swiftly yanked from their eternal slumber and blasted in full 80's Hi-Fi Stereo and full spectrum color across the widescreen that is my mind. It seems that many of them however, were originally filmed in standard NTCS television standard, so widescreen or not...they are square.

Because of this walk down memory lane, I have spent the better part of this week indulging myself in activities that foster and strengthen these remembrances. Here is a list of some of the things I have allowed myself to dabble in:

The Nightmare Before Christmas - This has to be the longest running money-making machine to ever come across the big screen with only a single movie title to its name. Most movie franchises that stretch for more than two or three years have multiple movies attached to them. Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas continues to make money for Disney over a decade after it was created. In fact, just yesterday I found a new version of the movie soundtrack re-done by contemporary artists such as Fiona Apple, Marilyn Manson, Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco!. It is an excellent rendition of Danny Elfman's original work of genius.

The Karate Kid - Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi still have it. On my day off last week, I watched all 3 of the original Karate Kid Movies in one stretch. A waste of time you say? Nay...I disagree. I found myself awash in memories not just of the movie, but of events of my life that revolved around each of these movies. Classic.

Super Mario 2 - With the advent of the Nintendo Wii, they have made it possible to resurrect old classics from the bygone days of video game lore. The original big names are making a return and they are doing it with style. Of the original Nintendo Mario Brother games, number 2 probably got overshadowed for the most part. There are only a handful of people I know of that can say they beat #2. I am proud to be a part of that elite group of Mario-enthusiasts.

Voltron - Obviously there is a lot of hype right now with the Transformers movie that has just been released. And it is awesome. However, there was another robot adventure that unfolded many thousands of light-years away from Earth wherein 5 robot lions combined to create the Defender of the Universe - Voltron. The cartoon has been available on DVD for a couple of months now, however, until recently they were priced exorbitantly too high. This week they cut the prices almost in half, so I picked up Volume 1. I had forgotten how cruddy the animation was...but at the same time I find myself waxing quite maudlin as I watch these episodes. It is surprising how much I remember of the story line.

Finally, this was an unexpected surprise of memory jarring. I don't know how many of you will remember this short lived series from 1982 - 1983 about a former pirate named Phineas Boggs and his sidekick Jeffery Johnson, an orphan who finds himself time traveling with Phineas to help make sure time and historic events happen as they are supposed to. They traveled with a hand held device that looks like a brass compass called the Omni. I was surfing the Net yesterday and found a reference that the entire series had been released on DVD. As soon as I got off work, I headed over to Best Buy and found: VOYAGERS!

It is amazing what one minor event, such as learning that there is a letter coming from someone whom you have not heard from in almost a decade, can do to turn your calm and routine world up on its ear. Especially when just the knowledge of that letter erupts long-forgotten feelings, emotions and memories that have been shackled out of the light of thought for oh so long. 9 years is not just a moment.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Family...Isn't it about time?

I just returned home from one of the greatest vacations that I have ever had. What made it so great? No...I didn't see any celebrities. I didn't get to eat anything too odd or weird. I didn't even get to meet any former Presidents of the United States like that time I jaunted down to Venezuela.

What made this trip so great was that I got to spend so much time with my family. Growing up, I thought it was completely normal to have three sets of Grandparents, three sets of Aunts and Uncles, and three sets of cousins. It wasn't until I was well into my teens that I finally realized that our family was an exception...and we had exceptional extended family.

See, my mother was married to a man named Doug. They had one daughter, (my older sister Monica). When she was still very young, Doug passed away. A short time later, (though I am sure at the time it probably seemed like a long time), my mother met and eventually married my father. Doug's family accepted my father as one of their own, and went out of their way to make sure that everyone always felt included.

None of us children ever felt that we were different in anyway. Sure, by pure genetics, there isn't any relation. However, that entire side of the family is Family, and nothing will ever change that. They are to this day, some of the most generous, sincere, giving, wonderful people that I have ever met. I feel as close to them and as a part of their family as I do with my cousin whom I have lived with as a roommate. I am grateful and thank my Heavenly Father every day that they are a part of my life.

So it was with them that I spent the majority of the 4th of July Holiday. My uncle has a cabin up in the mountains of Colorado that we go to each year. Even though the number of activities up there are endless, we typically end up doing two things: Sitting around and eating delicious food. But none of us ever complain about it.

One particular high point of this year was another uncle bringing out well over $1000 worth of fireworks, pulling me and my cousin aside and saying, "Now last year we dragged this out for the better part of two hours. This year, I want all of these fireworks gone in 10 minutes or less."

We obliged. I couldn't see or hear for several hours afterwards, but we let off every one of those things in a cacophony of festive spectacular. I didn't get to see much because I was scurrying around lighting fuses, but I heard later that it was pretty impressive. Side note: don't put your face too close to exploding can flash burn your face.

The last day of my vacation I was able to go to another uncle's cabin where we had a gathering for my father's side of the family. It was truly a wonderful time to see many of my relations, to hug them, talk to them and catch up. I tell you what...I have the greatest family, all three sides, that anyone could ever be blessed with.

I also want to give a shout out to Blue. I am starting to realize how important a part of my life she is.