Robin Williams

Robin

A legendarily talented man lost his battle with depression (among possible other ailments) this week, and regardless of the circumstances surrounding his death, it is certainly that: a loss.

I’ve been surprised at exactly how effected I was by his passing. A man I never met, yet (like may of you) felt like I knew very well. I shed tears for Robin Williams; for other talents I’ve seen pass I felt like I’d lost something precious (like a priceless painting or a family heirloom), for Robin, it felt like I lost a friend.

Robin Williams was every bit as influential for me (along with millions of others) as Bugs Bunny or The Muppets in forming my comedic sensibilities growing up; in later years I discovered his depth and gifts in the dramatic arts as well — the Yin to his own Yang. I wanted to wait a little bit to write this up — the “But daddy, I want it NOW” internet culture we live in means that there have been plenty of accolades and memoriams already uploaded if that’s what you’re looking for (and goodness knows he deserves all those and more) — but I wanted to offer a little personal perspective after the dust had time to settle.

We have lost many talented artists in recent years, and the part of me that enjoys romanticizing them wants to declare that the young artists we produce now can’t even come close to the level of accomplishment and ability of the legends we’ve seen pass this decade. While that remains to be proven or disproven, when we lose a Philip Seymour Hoffman or a Steve Jobs (or even someone as iconic as Don Pardo, whose voice’s absence will be felt more unmistakably than his name’s for most people), we are losing a distinct presence whose void will never be replicated…even if it is replaced by the next generation.

And of course there is the added sadness of knowing that Mr. Williams took his life. In the days immediately following his passing, there was a lot of debate about who as “at fault.” Whether it was truly his own doing or if it was the disease of depression that was to blame; whether it was a freeing act for him to finally find peace or a selfish act leaving his family and friends alone. And whether the fact that he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease made it any more acceptable. I’m neither qualified nor terribly interested in those debates, so I (as always) strive to share only what I know: that regardless of the true “cause,” that we have all suffered and lost as a result. The truth of the matter is that oftentimes (this being one of them) the cause is less important than the effect. He is gone now, which means that his family has lost out on extended time I’m sure they would’ve wanted with their father/brother/etc., his legions of supporters and admirers have selfishly lost out on being able to experience his gift in the public forum, and he himself has lost out on the joy that comes with experiencing God’s delightful details that permeate every new day (though some days admittedly more visibly than others). Without even realizing it I was mourning the loss of being able to show my kids the man who’d brought me such joy as a child and such reverence as an adult. I’ll still be able to thrill them with Jumanji and Aladdin or bond with them over Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society, but there’s always going to be an asterisk of sadness now when I think about the laughs we won’t share because a tremendous man was unable to see or tap into the love and respect that was literally waiting to burst forth from an entire world that wanted to tell him that he was appreciated, that he was wanted.

But of course that last bit is the selfishness of someone who will miss a man he never knew along with the simple joys and complex inspirations he cultivated. The bigger takeaway from this is what can we do for the next Robin? The one who isn’t a movie superstar or a comedy legend, maybe the Robin who’s your neighbor or work buddy or uncle that you don’t facetime quite as often as you mean to. Who is the person in your life that needs to hear that they’re wanted, respected, and loved? A concept that I don’t think I can claim credit for, but one that I stand behind more and more firmly as time goes on and tragedies I’ve witnessed pile higher, is to eulogize the living. The concept is simple, everything you need is right there in the name. Basically it’s what can I do to take all those nice thoughts, words, emotions, deeds, feelings, tributes, etc. and lavish them upon my loved ones in the here and now? It doesn’t have to be extravagant, it’s just finding someone who makes you laugh and letting them know they bring joy into your life. It’s being as appreciative for people in the present as we are after they’re gone. It might not have saved Robin from himself, but at least he would’ve been reminded that there were those willing to fight with him when he didn’t have the energy to fight for himself. It’s not a cure, but it’s a start. It might not have been a victory over his demons, but it wouldn’t have been a loss.

Play on, Robin.
Dustin

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A Man Who Knows Nothing About What It’s Like to be A Woman, But Has Opinions & Advice Anyway

Girls.

You prance around the party showing off pictures of you and your friends and you say “omg these girls are gorgeoussssss.” And you mean it. You’re not saying it to be unkind or ironic or whatever (not usually at least), you really think your girlfriends are beautiful in any way worth measuring and you want your other and you want everyone else to know it. You’re proud of them for who they are, and that makes them beautiful to you.

Then.

Later on in a different interaction you are fixated on a picture of yourself that you are contemplating deleting or having your friend delete due to the obvious litany of physical flaws that stick out to you like an adult male at a Taylor Swift concert. You look at yourself and go “blah i’m ugly and fat and awful what gives.” Your this is too that, your that is too ugh, and your ugh is the most ew that ever ew’d.

But.

The fact of the matter is that when you look at your female friends you are choosing to see beauty in all the ways that they are, truly, beautiful. But when you look at yourself, you are choosing to see ugliness…so much so that sometimes you’ll even invent ugliness where there is none. This is an unfair, unhelpful, and ultimately unhealthy way to look at yourself — at best it’s limiting your own potential, at worst it’s laying the groundwork for some pretty nasty psychological disorders.

Today.

Just today, give yourself the same benefit of the doubt and grace that you extend to those around you. See the picture of the four of you and when you get to you, choose to see the same type of beauty that you create for your friends. The gorgeous qualities they see in you, the unity and freedom that comes from not having to say “make me look skinny” before you ask a friend to take a picture of the group and hoping that people with think you’re just being funny when you say it. Choose to see a better you and a better you will emerge.

We.

All have flaws. No one is saying you have nothing to work on, or that one of life’s great (and most rewarding) challenges is self-betterment (whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or otherwise). But make your elimination of flaws a celebration and a focused journey, akin to successfully surmounting Everest, rather than just a struggle to trudge your way out of the swamp and eliminate the deficit between you and the “normal” people. Change what you can (healthily) change, accept what you cannot, and find joy in the moments in between. Use your friends for support, not comparison, and you will find yourself much improved as you face the true difficulties in store. And PLEASE don’t wear crocs. Ugh.

Play on,
Dustin

Girlfriends

Post script/disclaimer: This post was mildly directed toward women because they — both from societal and individual standpoints — tend to have to more pressure and focus put on their physical attractiveness than men and (at least in my experience) have echoed (or quoted directly) the statements above. HOWEVER, this obviously applies just as equally to men who might struggle with similar issues and/or any human that has ever had any self-doubts or self-esteem issues based on their own flaws (whether real or perceived) at any point in their lives or in the entirety of human history. So there.

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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Lamentations

people lament that their brokenness keeps them from finding/being capable of love; that they need to fix themselves or achieve perfection before they can love or be loved. but in reality, that’s nonsense. love is less about filing down your brokenness and imperfections and more about finding the right set of jagged brokenness with which yours most perfectly matches. one precisely square piece in a sea of jigsaw puzzle pieces would be utterly useless and alone. how much better to be a seemingly ridiculously shaped piece that, against all expectations, aligns completely with another, equally ridiculously shaped, broken piece.

stay jagged.

-Dustin

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…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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Things Superman and I Have in Common

With Comic-Con kicking off in San Diego this weekend, and anticipation continually snowballing for the forthcoming DC Comics movie — Superman v Batman: Dawn of a Paycheck — I once again find myself CONSTANTLY having to explain to people “No [sir or madam], I’m not action superstar and mega heartthrob Henry Cavill or any other Superman stud, I’m just a man trying to discreetly order from the Taco Bell dollar menu.” However, just to show that I’m not totally without empathy for the legions of people who can’t tell the difference between me and America’s most iconic superhero, here are a handful of ways in which Superman and I are the same.

Things Superman and I Have in Common:

1) We’re both solar powered.

2) We’re both older than we look.

3) We both love wearing spandex.

4) We are both dog people.

5) We share a love of primary colors.

6) We’re both overqualified for our day jobs.

7) Both of us regret how we dressed in the ‘90s.

8) Neither of us actually need to wear glasses, but sometimes we do anyway.

9) We both have a photographer friend named Jimmy.

10) We’re each always on the lookout for an excuse to take our clothes off in public.

11) We were both raised by loving families in the Midwest, despite not being from that area originally.

12) We both tend to get hung up on one girl for way too long.

13) Both of us love strong and consistent branding, and simple logos.

14) We’re both alien orphans from dying planets who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men — who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel with our bare hands, and who — disguised as mild mannered reporters for a great metropolitan newspaper — fight a never-ending battle for truth, justice and The American Way.

15) We’re both reaping the benefits of white privilege in society and the glass ceiling at the workplace.

Play on,
Dustin

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a...guy who is undressing for the camera.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…guy who is undressing for some reason. Honey, call the police.

 

 

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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Understanding Racism, the Easy Way

I was driving through the streets of Los Angeles in silence on Tuesday, processing the US Men’s National Soccer team World Cup loss that had just transpired literally moments beforehand. Dejected, but not distracted* (hop to the footnotes if you’d like my brief take on the USMNT’s campaign at this year’s cup).

 

And then, while working through the rotation at a four-way stop — much more effectively than Jürgen Klinsmann worked through his rotation in Brazil I might add (zing! hashtag topical) — some A-hole goes out of turn** and has the gall to stare me down while his charming female companion yells “Go back to Ohio!” out of the passenger window. I yelled back my own incredibly clever retort (something along the lines of “Where did you learn to fxxxing drive?!” …Sorry, mom***), and proceeded to my next destination. But for some reason, that interaction stuck with me and left me in a negative sort of funk for much longer than it should have. And I spent the better part of the evening on and off trying to figure out why. I don’t know that I fully understand why it effected me in such an unpleasant way, but there are a couple of obvious reasons that I thought I might share with you, by way of exorcism for myself and maybe a way to cope with your own life’s small unpleasantriesº.

 

Before we get to it, credit where credit is due, the fact that they identified my license plate as Ohioan (it’s a pretty basic plate — white with one red and blue stripe at top and bottom, I don’t even think it says Ohio on it large enough to read unless you’re quite close) and were able to use that as the basis for their easy insult in a matter of a second or two is passably impressive, and while it doesn’t make up for the dimwittedness of the rest of their actions, it’s only fair to give them a modicum of credit for being so quick on the draw with their idiocy.

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As anyone who moved to California from a flyover state can tell you, you become something of an apologist for your home turf sort of by default. I’ve spent something like half my life or more in Columbus, Ohio, and while I’m generally quick to point out that I’m a SoCal native, truth be told Columbus is a fine city (better than a lot of similarly sized towns I’ve been through in my touring days) that has plenty going for it, particularly in terms of art and commerce and other hip credentials that the millennial/hipster crowd loves. Frankly, if the weather didn’t suck a strong 80-90% of the time and if I were trying to pursue a different industry, I’d probably still be there (also a great place to raise kids if any of my actor friends are looking to ditch the dream for something more practical). However, none of this has quite made it in to the Ohio stereotype, wherein it is assumed that all Ohioans are cornfield-owning, animal husbandry-ing, slack-jawed country folk with nary a care in the world nor the sense to process it if they did have one. My biggest annoyance at being associated with the MidWest (aside from the MISERABLE Ohio State University Buckeyes, whom I dislike to a fairly extreme degree) is this perceived (albeit clearly unfounded) lack of mental capacity, and by extrapolation, lack of worth. In a heartbeat I had been judged, deemed of a lesser intelligence, and yelled at by these morons…all while they were the ones in the wrong. I’m not much of a guy for road rage (or any rage for that matter…who has the time/energy for that sort of nonsense?), but I found myself wanting to track the offending car down and either beat the crap out of them or explain to them in completely inarguable terms how incorrect and dense they were. Not a very Christian sentiment, I admit. Obviously none of that happened and by the time I was at my friend’s barcade (bar + arcade = barcade, maybe my favorite invention of the modern age) birthday party that night I had gotten over it and was mulling over far greater concerns (like how did pinball ever get so popular? I mean, even before video games were invented I can think of about a million things I’d do before I’d want to watch an oversized marble bounce around erratically in a game that, by definition, can only end when you lose. It’s like building a civilization: you never really win, you just do a little better each time until everything collapses and you start over…isn’t that right The Greeks?).

 

And that takes me to racism (what doesn’t these days, AM I RIGHT? [pauses for huge amounts of laughter, crying hilarity tears, slapping of all nearby knees, etc.] hashtag still topical). What those douchebags in their puce Ford Bronco did in a second is what we’ve been doing on and off to everyone else for hundreds (or even thousands) of years. Taking something arbitraryºº like a license plate (or where you’re from or clothes or gender or the color of one’s skin, etc.) and immediately making a negative snap judgement about the associated person isn’t just wrong, it isn’t just folly, it’s mean and dehumanizingººº. It’s something we all do every day, and it needs to stop if we’re ever going to overcome our own limitations as a species.

 

I’m not saying anything particularly new or revolutionary here, but the classics are classics for a reason, and just because a concept isn’t new or complex, doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be reminded to work on it (did I mention I don’t not love double negatives?). What will it take for you to be spurred into the action of seeing people as individuals this week, rather than just an amalgamation of their surface level traits? Hopefully it’ll be something silly or meaningless like this blog post or a douchey driver yelling at you, and it won’t take something more serious or intense for you to awaken from your prejudicial slumber. And hopefully with enough practice we won’t need these reminders at all, because we’ll just be living life as people among people, not statistics to be summed and totaled prior to any actual interaction.

 

…But in the meantime, eff Belgium, hooray USA! Set your alarm for 2018, the Yanks are coming for ya, World Cup!

 

Play on,
Dustin

 

 

*Before the World Cup started, I had expected/hoped that the USMNT would get a win, a draw, and a loss in the group stage, and either win or lose respectably to a good team in the first knockout match. All this happened, and we managed to convert a lot of US soccer supporters in the process — it was the first World Cup I can recall where even my non-sports friends knew what was going on more or less, and people were generally interested and excited about American futbol. Honestly I did not expect that, and so I’m even more stoked for 2018. I also thought our side performed well against some of the tougher opponents in the world, and while our weaknesses remained our weaknesses (glaring lack of offensive ability, painful inconsistency in quality of play, overall fitness and roster depth, etc.), we should that we are ready to compete with the proverbial big dogs, if not dominate. That said, it was still heartbreaking to lose in the fashion we did, with the promise and potential to do so much more. I believe Jürgen deserves a lot of the credit for getting us to where we were and a lot of the blame for our earlier-than-we-had-potential-for exit. Tim Howard deserved a win in that match, and we owed it to ourselves to win one for The Gipper in Goal, such as it were. Oh well, there’s always next year (…errr, four years from now).

 

**The basic layout was this: it was a four-way stop with two cars at the west end (me and the car in front of me) and two cars at the east end (one car and the A-holes in question behind him). There were no cars at the other sides of the intersection. The car in front of me arrived at the intersection first, then went straight, then the car across from him went straight, then I started to turn left, then the car across from me went straight (the douches), when they should’ve waited for me to turn left (since the right-of-way had passed back to me). Pretty straightforward, literally no idea how they misinterpreted the situation so badly.

 

***Speaking of stereotypes, it’s worth noting that this is the only time I’ve had an “altercation” (for lack of a better word) like this since I’ve lived in LA, I know Los Angeles sort of has this stigma of not being able to drive to your corner grocer without some maniac in an SUV threatening your life, but it’s really not like that. Usually.

 

ºIf your life has no unpleasantries, than by all means stop reading my blog and write a book on how you’re doing it and make a trillion dollars and continue to live out your amazing existence, you son of a bitch.

 

ººObviously in this instance I mean “arbitrary” in terms of being a valid criteria upon which to judge someone or something, not arbitrary in the sense of not having intrinsic value.

 

ºººIt should go without saying (but sadly, this is the internet, where someone out there will find a way to misunderstand everything) that I’m not comparing an afternoon’s annoyance with being disparaged as “Ohioan” with the countless millennia of legitimate and hateful prejudice that races, genders and other groups have had to endure, I’m merely trying to demonstrate that no one likes to be confined to one reductive trait about themselves, and that it is within all of us to empathize with the pain we’ve caused other people groups in our lives, even if we haven’t shared their experiences firsthand. I don’t need to be black to know that treating black men and women differently just because they’re black is hurtful and wrong, and I don’t need to be black to effect positive change around race relations (or acceptance of all sorts) in my own life and sphere. Duh.

 

 

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox. Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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