The Zombie Epidemic

I had a chance the other night to go see World War Z at the theater starring Brad Pitt. I thought the movie was pretty decent as it kept me on the edge of my seat for most of its running time. But let’s face it, doesn’t it seem like lately that zombies are popping up everywhere in television shows and movies? Why is it that everyone is so fascinated by them now?

A quick google search showed me that zombies have been around for much longer than I thought. Their first real appearance goes all the way back to a film called White Zombie that was released in 1932. But it really wasn’t until George Romero released a 1968 movie named Night of the Living Dead that they became infamous. Ever since then, zombies have become more and more popular and been simply known as “the living dead”.

Over the past few decades their notoriety has been gained through movies such as 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, I am Legend, and most recently Warm Bodies. And there’s even an extremely popular show about them now entitled The Walking Dead that has millions and millions of fans watching it.

After watching World War Z and many of the other movies and TV shows which portray zombies, I can see why people are drawn so much to them. The most obvious reason to me is that zombies are people too. They were someone’s friend, husband, wife, son, daughter, mother, father, etc. Placing myself in some of those situations I have seen in these movies and television shows, I really can’t imagine what I would do if my sister or my partner or one of my closest friends had become one. In the movies, when I have seen those situations, the people usually shot their loved ones in the head with terrible regret or they get bitten while trying to do the right thing and become one of them too. It’s a horrible dilemma to think about and I’m sure that’s one of the top reasons why people are so intrigued by watching a zombie invasion. I believe another big reason for zombies growing popularity is this end of the world concept that has been growing fear in so many people lately. In World War Z, most of the human population is decimated by this zombie plague. And that’s only one way that films and TV shows are showing how the end of the world might happen. Often it’s also shown as an asteroid about to hit the earth, or severe weather outbreaks from global warming, or some other deadly disease, or Revelations from the Bible. In all of them, the majority of the human race is lost and I’m sure most everyone who has ever watched any of these portrayals on the big or small screen has imagined themselves as one of the last survivors on Earth. And of course, a final reason why many people probably like zombies is just because they think they’re cool. Television and movies have become so realistic and graphic lately with blood and violence that zombies are a very good way now to shock audiences as they chase, jump on, and rip and tear the flesh off of someone. The truth is I really don’t like zombies that much because of all of this. I always get nightmares when I go to sleep after watching something they were in. When I watched the first two episodes of The Walking Dead in Season One, I got next to no sleep and that became the end of my tuning into that show. So you’re probably wondering now why I decided to go see World War Z given this fact. I don’t really have a good answer for you, except for the fact that I love movies especially those big budget flicks that come out during the summer like this one.

The bottom line I’m trying to make with all of this though is that with all the diseases that are running rampant these days, with many labs doing terrible animal testing, and governments secretly working on biological warfare, it’s extremely possible that something like a zombie epidemic could happen. And if it ever does, I just hope that a rapture will occur just before it’s outbreak, and that God will choose to take me during it. I really don’t want to see my nightmares become reality before my eyes. Regardless, I think I’m going to pray now that I don’t have a nightmare tonight and that zombies will always just remain something to frighten us in a theater or at home on a television screen.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A “Drive-In” To Good Memories

Spring is in the air and summer will be here shortly. With both comes the return of activities that the warmer weather can only bring. And one of those I was able to enjoy just the other night…the Drive-In.

There aren’t many of these left in existence today. Most will say it’s because of the rise of the multiplexes and their huge screens, digital surround sound systems, stadium seatings and plush recliner seats. While I love the movie theater experience, no matter how amazing it seems to get each and every year, I continue to be drawn to finding drive-in theaters and reliving one of the good moments I had in my childhood.

It’s true as they say, the older one gets, the more nostalgic one becomes with things of the past. While my childhood was filled with many unsettling moments, there are some that I am beginning to remember when I felt happy, the more that I heal. Going to the drive-in was one of them.

In my hometown, Poughkeepsie, NY, there were at least four drive-in’s in local proximity that my family would go to quite often throughout the summer. My family liked following the same habits a lot so that when we would attend the drive-in on a summer night, it would always be the same pattern. Dinner would be McDonalds take out where I usually had two cheeseburgers, an order of fries, and a diet soda. We would eat it after finding the spot to park the family station wagon which was faced backwards towards the movie screen. I can still remember sitting on the tailgate, eating that meal back then which I always found to be delicious. Today I’m not so sure but that’s because I’m a more health conscious person and McDonalds isn’t the first place I think of when it comes to eating healthy. Anyway, I usually devoured that meal so that I had a good half hour to hour on the playground that was situated right below the large movie screen. I spent most of my time riding on this contraption that doesn’t really exist anymore because of the danger it brought over the years. I can only describe it as a circle of interconnected benches that sat on top of a spindle, that someone would grab onto and run as fast as they could until at the last second, they would hop on it and enjoy a dizzying spin. Between that and the swings which I usually loved jumping off of once I got really high, I was always quite excited by the time the first movie was about to begin. My parents were pretty strict about the movie ratings with my sister and I. So for most of those drive-in experiences, I could only watch the first movie and not the second as it was beyond my age range they would tell me. With it, I was supposed to fall asleep but never really did. I remember one time I peaked over the seat without getting caught and watched a bit of Animal House that was “R” rated. I know today that wouldn’t be that big of a deal to many children who’s parents allow them to see just about anything at the movies but for me it was exhilarating.

Thankfully, there are others like me around today who are nostalgic and still enjoy going to a drive-in during the warm summer months. Poughkeepsie still has two in operation but I live no where close to there now. Unfortunately in the area of Massachusetts where I still live, there aren’t any close by. Where my partner lives though, there’s one still left behind in operation and that’s where I found myself with him this past Saturday night. There are some differences today from back then that I notice have evolved over time. Gone are the playgrounds where I once would have played. Gone are the bright colored poles with the small radios that would have gone on a car window to listen to the movie. And gone are the reel to reel devices the movies were brought in on, having been replaced by digital versions. Regardless of those changes, I still enjoyed my time there watching Oblivion and Identity Thief. Although I must say, what’s funny is that I really liked the first movie which my parents would have allowed me to see as a kid. The second movie, the “R” rated one, I didn’t like at all.

Thinking back to just a few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed going to any drive-inn because everything that I thought of with my family brought back the bad memories and not the good ones. As I have worked hard this past year in turning my entire will over to God, I have found more healing from all those not so happy childhood memories and begun to remember all the good ones. Going to the drive-in was just one of them and now today because of all that work I am doing on myself, I can enjoy this experience and think back to a time in my life where I knew my parents loved me and that being a kid was pretty cool.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Sneaking Into A Movie

I love the movies. Tuesdays seem to be a great day for me to go because many theaters now are offering Discount Tuesdays where the cost is almost half of the normal price no matter what time the movie starts. Yesterday I went to the movies at a local theater where the cost for the movie ticket was $7.50 which was about $6 less than it’s normal price. Because I had the time available, I paid for two movies (Snitch and Jack and the Beanstalk in 3D) that I could go from one to the other without missing any of either. A long time ago, when I was a misguided young adult, I thought it was cool to go from one movie to the next on a crowded Saturday at the theater. The difference then was that I wasn’t paying for each ticket, I was only paying for the first.

Lately, this seems to becoming an epidemic as the costs of anything seem to be rising, especially movie tickets. I’m not sure if more and more people are sneaking into movies after seeing another but I have definitely have observed it happening lately. Take for example yesterday, I had just finished seeing Snitch and had gotten a refill on my popcorn. Across the hallway from the entrance to the Jack and the Beanstalk showing that I was going to, was Die Hard 5. Two men emerged from that theater having just seen it and cautiously looked over their shoulders a few times and then headed into the theater I was going into. I watched them pull out an older pair of 3D glasses that was in their pockets and wipe them off and proceed to stay for the whole movie.

Movie ticket prices today are a reflection of not just a factor of inflation, they are also a factor of many other things as well such as the actors and actresses asking for more money, the cost to producing a film rising, people not going to the movies as much anymore, and then there are those like these two people who were sneaking in and seeing a movie for free.

I’m guilty of having once done this. I did this a long time ago when I wasn’t trying to be in integrity in my life, be God-centered, and honest with all that I do. There was a part of me back then that said it wasn’t fair how expensive ticket prices were and I justified that I didn’t have the money to pay for multiple movies. The truth is that I did have the money. I just wanted to get away with getting something for nothing. I told myself that no one was being harmed in me doing that. Today I realized that I was part of the reason why movie ticket prices continue to soar. I also realize that sneaking in is essentially stealing. It’s no different then going into a store and taking anything off of a shelf, putting it in one’s pocket, not paying for it, and leaving.

I have a friend in New York who is a lawyer and earning more than six figures every year. He has a nice home and a family, and on just about every weekend, he goes to at least three movies and pays for only the first one he sees. Can he afford the other movie tickets? Of course and he would openly admit it that he could. So why does he do it? Why does anyone steal anything if they do steal? When I did it, there was a thrill or a rush of getting away with something. In other words, I got a “high” in doing it. The funny thing is that the money that I “saved” was only spent on something else that I couldn’t get away with stealing. A thought to ponder is what if all of the world’s goods were done on the honor system? What if the price was posted everywhere for each good but it was on the honor system to pay? Would anyone pay? Or would everyone just take and take and take? Today I can honestly say I would pay the price that was being asked. I wonder how everyone else would handle an honor system based society?

While people may not look at sneaking into a movie as stealing, it is. I know that to live a spiritually centered life, I can’t do things like that which I once did. I don’t want to live that way and I am glad I’m not. Today I refer to this as my God consciousness. What people don’t realize when they sneak into a movie or steal anything for that matter, is that they are hurting everyone else with the rising prices, and even worse, they are hurting themselves by corrupting their souls.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Not So Beautiful Creatures

Normally I wouldn’t make a blog entry this late into the evening as it’s currently 1:00am here on the east coast, except I just came from a movie that I was extremely excited about seeing and instead left very disappointed. The movie I went and saw was Beautiful Creatures which is based on the book series by authors Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia.

A few months ago I saw a preview and read that this movie was similar to the whole Twilight series but instead of vampires and humans as the focus, it was witches and mortals. I thoroughly enjoyed the Twilight series on screen and while I didn’t read the books, I decided to do that with Beautiful Creatures. And I loved it immedately. While the books do draw some similarities to the way the Twilight series was set up with good versus evil concepts, they really are two completely different works of fiction. Within a matter of a few weeks I had already gone through the first book and the second book. By the time the movie arrived in the theaters a few days ago, I was buried deep into the middle of the third book with high hopes for the first movie to be as engrossing as the book series had been.

As the lights dimmed in the theater and the previews rolled out, I anxiously awaited the opening scene for the movie and then it finally arrived…in a different version, quite different from how the first book began. I shrugged it off and said oh well to myself and continued to watch with anticipation for many of the sequences that I was looking forward to seeing how they would translate onto the screen. Most of them never came. Scene after scene, storyline after storyline, change after change, the movie seemed like a completely different piece of work. While the foundation of the story was kept intact about a witch, referred as a Castor, and a mortal, with no special abilities, meeting and falling in love and finding their love to be taboo because of a curse, the things that made the book unique were missing. As I watched the credits start to roll after the last scene to this Romeo and Juliet tale, I noticed that there had been very few people there watching it. Was that because of all these changes that were made? I don’t know. What I do know is that on opening weekend of a Twilight movie or a Harry Potter movie, a person would be hard pressed to find an open seat.

All of this got me to thinking about my own life. When I was a young boy, I was quite original and unique in my own way. Sadly, when I got into high school, I began to change those parts of me, altering myself to ways I thought people would like better. By the time I left high school and college behind, most traces of that boy inside that was unique and different were gone. From the outside image of me, to the talents that I pursued, what the world saw in me now was a mere fragment of what I had originally been scripted as.

Luckily, I’ve woken up to the chameleon effect that I created and about a year ago, I began to strip away all the layers that were pasted on top of the original me. Ironically, now at the age of 40, I’m back to doing most, if not all, of those same things I did as a kid. The difference today is that I don’t want to change them, alter them, cover them up, or make them any different. I want to be me. And I believe that the new/old me that is emerging will be liked by many more people as compared to the life I had lived up until last year that was filled with sadness and loneliness.

Like Beautiful Creatures, I lived my life from high school to last year continuously adapting to meet what I thought others might like. And consistently, I lost the interest of those I met most likely because I wasn’t original and unique anymore. I had made myself a carbon copy of what I thought people might like. Except I’m not the way anymore and I’m thankful for that. My license plate is now “BURSLF” which means “BE YOURSELF”. And today I am. I’m back to being that boy again, living his life as original as I can be, beating to my own drum and I believe that people are going to love this original recipe much better as time goes forward.

I wish Beautiful Creatures had done the same and stuck to what was in print. I’m convinced that this was the reason why the theater had only a handful of people in it on opening weekend and why the box office numbers were showing it in a dismal sixth place in earnings. At least I can go back to the original me but this movie is already produced and forever on a reel in this version. But who knows, it’s Hollywood and remakes happen all the time. Beautiful Creatures, just be yourself, it’s the best way to be.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson