Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Sort of Prayer

My thumbs' knuckles fit into the corners of my eyes, the tips touch and fingered palms create parenthesis, or antlers, resting upon my nose's bridge. I think of The Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth, which makes me laugh despite myself. The first metacarpal bone on each side seems to cradle my eyelids like a puzzle of composure setting into place. 

Am I rubbing my eyes, dazed and waking? Is it a prayer, or meditation? Perhaps I attempt to hush, for moments at a time, the disquiet--the to-do lists and sorrows and failures in the lifelong quest for wisdom and betterment.

In elementary school I pressed the heel of each palm against my eyelids, keeping pressure to make vivid the clouds, bursts and shadowy geometrics dancing in the dark. I counted to thirty, at least, before releasing to see the shapes linger in light, infiltrating the waking world.
That is, until a teacher asked, "Are you okay?" In front of an entire class. 
"Yeah, fine," I said, as if confused by her concern. I doubt I knew the word hallucination at that point, unless some D.A.R.E. lecture brought it up. I was just playing a game with my imagination, like finding animals and dragons in sunny, afternoon clouds between recitations of multiplication tables. 

So I've been thinking about magic lately, and the very human need to believe. Maybe somewhere inside I know that nothing is ever as elegant as I'd like, that all those books and movies portraying worlds of adventure and import are fictions we use to hide the tedium of everyday. But is any of it real? Is Art giving us unrealistic expectations for Beauty, Love, Elegance, Truth, Or Meaning? All those capital-lettered keywords we chase about and map onto our lives. Because everyone should have their own romantic comedy, right? Joan Didion once wrote, "We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience."

I can't help but chase magic and call it nonfiction. I write down little stories and look for thematic import. Is Meaning there already, waiting for discovery? Or am I just watching shadows run from the light?

In any case, my knuckles fit well along the bones of my skull. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Is This Professional? Is it Supposed To Be?: The Gamification of the Intellect, or OhMyGod Who Cares?!

I am thinking about the idea of this online persona, the lines between author, narrator, and character that braid themselves and tangle inconveniently. The address to this site is on my resume. Should it be? I'd call some of the posts here articles, some essays, and some just the mess that happens when I open my mouth.

I open my mouth a lot. And, of course, the internet has intensified this problem by exponential degrees. I mean, luckily no one reads any of this. I'm sure most of the traffic on this site comes from either accidentally specific google searches or robots (why are robots looking at my writing? I don't get it). Well, nobody's commenting on anything either way. You should definitely not cite this site in any paper that requires credibility. I'd be flattered, but you'd lose points.

But back to my mouth, why it upsets me, and why it'll probably never change. It's been this way for as long as I can remember.

Back in middle school I wrote a lot of love notes. I cringe to think any of those little, folded bits of notebook paper still exist. I see a shoebox under some girl's bed that needs to be set on fire. Middle school also involved a whole lot of chatting on AIM after school and putting up ohh-so deep away messages that enlightened all those who came across the words that obviously held extra meaning for one person but purported to be for all my friends. That was the time of the orange iMac, and more of my penchant to play with words and deliver intent. There was a lot of telling people what I thought they wanted to hear.

Unlike those notes and chats saturated in embarrassment, my inane chatterings are now widely available for anyone interested. I mean, take a look at my Twitter and all 40 followers I keep and love and cherish. I blame this low number on the fact that I deleted my Facebook before the switch, thereby losing contact after contact. [Dear employers, I quit Facebook and you should too. It's not hip anymore and only speaks to how leading-edge I really am]. But so my Twitter. It is professional and personal which clouds the "Writer" brand I'm supposed to be cultivating. The brand that speaks in articulate metaphor and uses words like "ineffable" to show that I can lasso the ethereal majesty of all the universe and human condition into attention-grabbing prose. Just take me off the bench that is this dusty corner of the web with my name on it.

So this is me: a Twitter of literary retweets and curiosity that attempts personability; a private Instagram, and this blog, but there is one other thing I do and should probably stop. I text. Remember those AIM chats? Well this demonic iPhone in my pocket is like having the old AIM program open at all time. I'd like to take this moment to apologize to pretty much everyone who's number I have. I am sorry you are subjected to pretty much my ceaseless train of thought. I send you pictures of nothing and expect you to be enraptured, I send you tweet-like clips of anything and everything that reminds me of you. You do not respond, but that does not stop me. I just expect you to like engaging in a never-ending conversation with me because we can't hang out in real life. Is it noteworthy that I never get messages from anyone like those I send? See, I deleted my Facebook account, so all that useless junk that used to exist as status updates now gets sent directly to you. I like to share. Hey, at least it's all positive, right? I don't text to complain... right? I send only messages of joy?

But yeah, it's still Facebook, and if Facebook has taught us anything, it's that we're all the most important person in the universe, with the most unique and creative voice and perspective in all creation. And I majored in that belief. Creative Nonfiction: the idea that if I think hard enough about my little, unimportant life, themes will emerge for others to glean Truth and Meaning.

What schlock; majoring in Facebook. Maybe that's why I hate it so much. [Dear employers, I am so social-media savvy that it's postmodern. Why don't we delete your online presence... now that's leading edge]. We have gamified voice and intellect. The currency is likes and upvotes and retweets, and I am living below the poverty line.

In the end, the point is that a line exists. How much of yourself do you push onto others? You know that point in conversation where you stop caring about the other person? Well they no doubt have that line for you, too. How short is it?

I'm not very good with secrets and lying, but I am learning to keep my mouth shut.

I might see the new Captain America this afternoon, so maybe you'll see a post on that later (saying so is making me accountable), I've been watching too much Supernatural on Netflix, so I expect I could come up with some thesis on that (I'm sure that show's been written to death, but it's an interesting genre-show that knows exactly what it is, and calls our attention to it... it also seems to exist inside Neil Gaiman's universe, which is intriguing me). And Game of Thrones has started back up, so I could always join the many, many voices blathering on about what's going on there.

Friday, March 7, 2014

So I Read an EBook

There are many, many essays out there on this subject, I'm sure, but I thought I'd take a stab at my experience regardless. Not too long ago, my father gave me his iPad as he upgraded. I neither needed, nor desired the device, but there it was. Of course, the thing was old—1st Generation, even. The apps consistently quit on me and the battery drained quicker than the gas gauge in my Jeep (also a hand-me-down from my father). So, I upgraded to a new device for which I really couldn't articulate the need.

I love the history, weight, and culture that comes with writing. The old technology and smell of love and poignance found in old books. I write with a fountain pen. I try to find excuses for using my typewriter. But... but I just finished reading a Game of Thrones book on my iPad mini, and it was pretty fun. I read A Feast for Crows, the fourth book, in an attempt to get a jump on the upcoming season of the show. Little did I know that the previous season of Game of Thrones only covered about half of the third book... so I flung myself into a treacle-sweet pool of spoilers and mediocre, modifier-laden writing. I finished the 600+ page book in a couple short weeks. Now, any English major is capable of much more than this, especially on a deadline. After graduation, however, the pace slows considerably. I've been focusing on short stories and essays while averting my eyes from that blasted Infinite Jest glaring down from my bookshelf with condescension. I'll take you down one of these days, Mr. Wallace.

Back to Mr. Martin, and the writing that frustrates me more than his silly beard. Sure, it wasn't literature, but it's cold out and sometimes you just need something with swords in it. On the story itself, I will only say that Westeros should have much, much more magic. Mild spoilers find their way into the rest of this paragraph, so be warned. Hands should be regrown, or golden hands should be made to move. Broken backs should be realigned (if Batman can be fixed by a rope...). There's my two cents.

The other Kindle book I've purchased is a cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo. It's a great cookbook, but the author also has an app, which might be more friendly for digital consumption. The Ebook isn't the most user-friendly. I can't quite "flip through" the thing as I'd like. I have to open a menu, hit "contents," then "recipe index," and find what I want to cook. And, if some recipe piques my interest, the detour will make me start the process all over again. menu-->contents-->index-->recipe. I should have gotten the app—plus, most of the recipes are posted for free on the website already, so what exactly did I pay money for, a pithy introduction?

I'm not reading all crap. There are many book samples in my Kindle app, and I'm sure I'll get excited one night and just buy them all, but what is interesting me the most is my growing love for online literary journals. Brevity is an absolute favorite. And I just found Pank, Diagram, and Wag's Revue. I must say, reading these magazines online is immeasurably better via tablet than hunched over my laptop. I have an entire folder with shortcuts to endless new writing I can enjoy free and piecemeal. I pay more attention to my twitter feed—the calls for submissions and little writer's corner I follow.

Have you a tablet? Go look for me in Squalorly or Pithead Chapel... Then come back and say nice things to make me feel like a writer. What journals do you keep up with? I may still have a deep-seated need to hold my writing in hand, to feel the tangibility of ink and paper bound, bearing my name, my words. I cannot bestow sentiment upon this tablet like the books I've loved (...yet), but it does rank a close second for convenience, so long as I stay focused and avoid the Internet's many distractions.

The biggest surprise has found me just now, as I finish this post on the iPad. I think there must be some special level of hell for writers who compose by such means. Should that be the case, find me in an armchair somewhere. I'll have smuggled this thing past the guards.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

On Exercise

I've been trying to either go for a run or a swim every morning. With the swim, there's at least a sauna as my carrot-on-a-stick, dragging me to the gym. But when I run, I need to trick myself into getting out the door.

First, I'll direct you to a comic by The Oatmeal, here, titled "The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distance." Now, the two miles I slog through can hardly be classified as long distance (or "running"); I'm still working on making the whole thing in one solid go.  Here are a couple moments from early in the comic, and they will no doubt encourage you to read the rest:

"Let's go home! We've got gravy to eat and naps to conquer!"

I cannot defeat The Blerch in outright combat. He is too strong. He bludgeons me into submission with warm blankets, calm music, coffee and the idea of a hot shower...

I have to be sneaky.

I lie to myself, literally. I always thought of that phrase as an abstraction—something you say to others, like, "Ohh, stop lying to yourself." Meaning, You're annoying me with idiocy. You're fooling yourself. Who knew anyone could be so thick. The phrase meant a lack of self awareness. In my circle of friends, we sometimes call this "Danny-Logic," but you'd have to know Danny to understand that. You have stubborn friends, no doubt... you get the idea.

But I literally, almost audibly lie to myself. I think, "No, you're right Blerch, three cups of french-pressed dark roast and a few sesame bagels slathered in a stick of butter and half a tub of cream cheese is definitely the way to start today. I'm not going to run. Let me just throw on an old t-shirt and some gym shorts." 

It's like talking to this guy: 

Yes, yes, let the laziness flow through you
"I'm not going to run," I say, "I'm just going to put on my shoes."
"I'm not going to run. I'm just going to get some ice water ready."
"I'm not going to run. I'm just going to play really upbeat music and see what the front porch looks like."

And I'm off. After one block I have this moment, without fail, where I think, "Well shit! I actually made it out the door." Twenty minutes later I'm back, sitting on the porch listening to the morning sun dance with birds chirping applause my way, praising the Gods for turning water into an elixir of life and beauty. Of course mass texting comes next; who am I kidding. The birds can shut it, I need real live recognition that I've done something positive with my life.

It's nice, feeling showered and productive all before morning even starts. Plus, I usually prefer a grapefruit or yogurt after running, which feels good. Then again, giving up bread is proving to be far more difficult than cigarettes. You mean an entire baguette and block of brie isn't healthy? What madness is this!

After I'm clean and caffeinated, it's time to start over. "I'm not applying to jobs, just taking a peek at what work is out there..." 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Music, Take Me to Transience

Sure, I have a few gigabytes of music cluttering up my phone. But, over the last few years, it's done nothing but gather dust. The files are difficult to get rid of, though, even in those moments of anti-smartphone angst when I want to delete every stupid, superfluous app that adds nothing to my life and is, I'm sure, everything that's wrong with society today. I look through my library and try to decide what needs to go, where to make room. "Awhh, but I like this," I say. "I might be in the mood for it later."

No. No I will not.

The truth is, I've become a listener of radio. It started with Pandora, but those ads started making me want to throw heavy objects across the room. Then I found 8Tracks, and my life hasn't been the same since. Now, this is not a promotion for the site, but I will say that it runs through user-created mixes, and there are no pop-up ads or videos that take over my speakers. Sold. Make a mix, tag it, throw on some eye candy album-art and voilá, welcome to the most human level of interaction I've ever found on the web. I very much connect with and appreciate the strangers who bring music to my life. Sure, I can bookmark songs for download or purchase, but I just keep tabs on the mixes I enjoy.

Do I miss the songs once they're gone? Yes. Like listening to Philadelphia's public radio, WXPN, and wondering what I just heard, I want to hold on to those feelings evoked. I want to download and store and recall emotion at will, but life doesn't work that way. I'm learning to let go—live in the now—and all that cliché crap. There will be more great music, more poignance, and this type of loosely-guided yet sufficiently random radio keeps me on the edge of the unexpected.

* * *

I've moved four times in the past two years—by myself, because I have a thing about asking people to help me move, but that's another post—and very much of my life has been discarded in the process. At some point, moving becomes like thru-hiking. Every ounce you pack is one more you must carry, and God do they add up quickly. I carried my ex's box of photo albums through countless states from the east coast to the west and back again. I don't think she looked at a single one of those pictures in all that time, so what do we keep? The objects given life by sentiment? Lose the furniture. Take a long look at the clothes you've accumulated.

In the last move, from Montana to Delaware via SoCal, I lost a box containing all of my nicest clothes. My dress socks, my better belts, slacks, button-downs—gone. How could I lose an entire box? And why did it have to be everything I liked the most? I still have all those cruddy t-shirts that have shrunken to a nearly embarrassing point, but gone are the things I actually miss.

In moments like these, I imagine Rafiki blasting me over the head with his Gandalf staff, saying, It doesn't matter, it's in the past. I think sometimes we all need to be beaten by a mandrill, don't you?

In my next move, which I hope to happen soon, I'm already tempted to ditch my television and leave the PS3 behind. Good riddance. I will, however, be taking my boxes and boxes of books to every new place. Is that irony? Selective reasoning? Maybe, but I've deleted a few mp3 albums, so that balances the weight... right?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

These Are My People

Happy Post Labor Day, everyone. Some of us are back to school, others back to work. As you may not know, I spent yesterday driving my way into central Pennsylvania from the Delaware border to drop off my son with his mother. It's a long day; especially, I imagine, for little Hank, who is 12mo old and still coming to terms with the torture-device that is his carseat. He does as best as can possibly be expected, but seven hours is a long time for anyone to be in a car, and my soul was making the same noises in SE Pennsylvania as Hank's little lungs were as he finished his trip to NW Pennsylvania.

The upshot about this trip is that I get to catch up on my podcasts, chiefly "Pop Culture Happy Hour" with Linda Holms and her wonderful panel at NPR and "Improv For Humans" with Matt Besser, whom you will surely recognize after a moment. This particular trip was devoted to "PCHH," and so will this post, for the most part.

But before I get to that, I'd like to speak briefly on the wonderful medium of Podcast. I'm not sure why many of these people do them. Is Bill Burr's "Monday Morning Podcast" a type of publicity? Do they get paid? I know "Improv for Humans" has advertisers, but the time these people put into such elaborate productions baffles me. Granted, I'd do it in a second if anyone would listen to me, but (and I'm getting to the point here), I can barely keep up! I can't keep up, really. "PCHH" goes live every week. And so I put it to you, when do you keep up with your podcasts, if not in the car? Should I listen while I clean the house? Perhaps over coffee as a morning ritual, or... I don't know. I need to find the time. I suppose the answer is linked to this blog, in that I need to better organize the time I spend at the computer. If the "PCHH" crew can come up with an entire hour of material concerning the media-steeped world I inhabit. Not only that, but this crew is able to speak for an extended time without spoiling the movies about which they talk. Sure, having seen the show/movie in question helps, but I've been inspired to try, or give a second chance, to many things thanks to the discussions I've heard (and audibly responded to) here.

Every single week, a group of affable, quirky editors and writers at NPR sit around a table and speak in a educated, critical vernacular about things I know. I have studied literary criticism for many years, and absolutely love to hear that this voice can be used to speak on pop culture. Critical thought has a place in film and television.

Every week they end the program with a segment called "What's making us happy this week," and that's what I intend to do with this blog—amp up the things I find to make me happy.

What's making you happy these days?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Embracing Self-Deprecation With Mumford & Sons' "Hopeless Wanderer"

So I found what I'm going to write about today... and it is awesome.

I'm wrestling over whether to write before or after the video, but spoiling the cast of this video would just be cruel, so please, plug in your headphones and enter fullscreen. It will be well worth the time spent:

If you notice, the video takes a full minute to reveal who we're watching, and hiding beneath that glorious plethora of facial hair are Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Ed Helms, and Will Forte. Now, that's what I call comedic tension. With the arrival of this music video, and the stitches in which it had me, I am forced to see Mumford & Sons in a new light—a light of humility and humor, self-awareness and understanding.

I've enjoyed the music of Mumford & Sons despite myself, trying to keep them at arm's length. Maybe that's because my beard is more sad than suave, or because, while I dig the banjo, the sound takes over, and everything sounds about the same on the instrument... to this listener. But goodness is their music catchy, and yes I would dress like that if I could afford it, or pull it off. Bow ties are cool.

What I'm leading us towards here is that adjectival atrocity of the English language, the word "hipster," its vague connotations and elusive definition. Merriam-Webster defines the term as "A person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns," Which I guess works. I think in terms of ostentatious irony, or smug eccentricity. The creation of Self as parody is inherently pretentious, and mustaches are a dangerous affectation in that regard.

Again, jealousy may be a factor here, but this video, in all its homoerotic glory, smashes preconceived notions into a realm without "fashion glasses." I cannot get into Wilco, I think, because I pick up on a vibe that they're already enough into themselves for all of us. But Mumford & Sons put the issue to bed—I say, "Alright guys, I'm in." I can't even use the word "parody," because this video does not mock or deride, but exalt.

In self-deprecation we find common ground across differences. So what if your Nike High-Top sneakers are my Ariat Round-Toe boots, why be smug? The more entrenched your facade and persona in the mode to which you belong, the more important character and humility becomes. After all, laughing at yourself is always more fun than laughing at others.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I See You're Pulling at My Heartstrings, Mr. Stiller

Do we not all envision lives of such poignance? Of so vivid an imagination? In my own life, I wrestle with the validity of those capital-lettered ideals: Love, Adventure, Elegance, even Writer. All that which we translate from life into art, writing, and film is prone to hyperbole. I mean, we watch movies on larger and larger screens, turning homes into cinemas, paying obscene amounts for theater tickets. It's no wonder we create unrealistic expectations for ourselves.  I'm told I hold myself to unattainable standards, dooming myself to a slight sense of failure in every day. But creation is at the heart of Beauty; "essay" comes to us from the french as "to attempt," and that's the key.

James Thurber's short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" speaks to this power in creativity, as realized on screen by the incomparable Danny Kaye in 1947. Now it took me a moment to reconcile, but Ben Stiller is the man to pay Kaye tribute. They even have a similar jawline. Add "Dirty Paws" by the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men, and we have a trailer that has me misty-eyed five months away from the December 25th release date.

I want my imagination to block out the reality against which it works and allow me waking dreams. Instead, reality's unforgiving nature persists, however out of focus I let it blur; the actions of my imagination are overlaid upon rather than transposed with waking life.

I often get frustrated at magically real movies and engaging characters. I want the job at Time with Adam Scott flicking projectiles at my head grade-school style ("Are we having fun yet?"). This notion speaks to my chosen profession as nonfiction writer, my penchant for jumping into the movies and characters I see.

My favorite example of this idea involves the 2006 Stranger than Fiction with Will Ferrell in arguably his best role as Harold Crick. The main players of this film include Ferrell, an IRS auditor going through something of a (justifiable) crisis, Emma Thompson as a reclusive, chain-smoking writer-at-typewriter, Maggie Gyllenhaal, the tattooed, left-wing Harvard student turned indie baker, and Dennis Hoffman, the elbow-padded literature professor. And I want to be every one of them; they each speak to something within me—variant lives I can see myself living. Even Queen Latifa as a writer's assistant to Thompson. Given the day, I want to give it all up and make cookies all day, or hole myself up with my writing, teach what I love, or put on a suit and head to the office. As a writer of nonfiction, I will have all the archetypes!

There is power in the heights to which we strive, in language and art, even when the mundanity starts creeping in, keeping you from that Romantic Comedy you know your life should be.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back to Blogging

It's been a while, I know. I had this grand plan of morphing this page into something of a modern-parenting blog, with quirky, humorous accounts of all my son's antics. Really, what it meant to be a father and graduate student—revising essays, grading papers, and changing diaper after diaper after diaper. Well, as you can imagine, those things on which I expected to write kept me from doing just that.

Next week Hank turns one. August 9th is my one year anniversary of parenthood, and with that in mind, I return to this now years-old chronicle of semi-organized writing. I suppose I should revamp the layout, huh. I'll see what I can do.

As always, your comments, questions, and suggestions are more than welcome. I thoroughly enjoy feeling prompted into writing. What movies are stuck, rattling around your head? What is it about them that have you revisiting the themes and narratives? Are you interested in the happenings of a single father? This place will in no way resemble the Facebook newsfeed you roll your eyes at; you know, with all the baby pictures of your high school acquaintances. I wouldn't do that to you.

This is more a refuge for the times I can't bear to tackle my cover letter's 700th revision, or when yet another rejection slip finds its way into my inbox from the latest literary magazine. When I can't imagine writing one more query letter, I'll be here, telling you about my foray into rock climbing, or why I deleted Facebook, but still have Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn (not to mention this blog).

And so...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jurassic Park: Distilled and Amplified

Dinosaurs are awesome. If you've ever doubted the staying power of this historical recounting of wildlife reintroduction, look again. You will not be displeased. With rumors of a fourth installment in the works, I thought it a fine time to explore the island, Isla Nublar. Now I have my reservations on trying to revive the franchise. This really is the only movie to ever successfully pull off the genre, and even the second and third installments of JP seem to miss something vital. Perhaps its the sentimental, fatherly Dr. Ian Malcolm in The Lost World, or Téa Leoni screaming for her son on an island full of dinosaurs in #3 (not to mention the stretch of getting Alan Grant there in the first place). But that's a different essay. You'll just have to take my word that Jurassic Park is one of its kind. What follows is my 5-point tribute for the wonder that is this movie:

1.  "Dino-DNA!"
This talking strain of DNA must use the phrase "Dino-DNA" seven thousand times during its presentation on the foundations of Jurassic Park. It was a momentous occasion, the extraction of Dino-DNA from prehistoric mosquitos and filling the gaps with frog DNA (why not lizards? I have no clue... seems a better choice than hermaphroditic frogs, yes?). Anyways, Mr. DNA will surprise you with the number of times he can say Dino-DNA. I promise. It rivals John Hammond's refrain, "Spared no expense."

Yes, Jeff Goldblum, life does find a way
2.  Dr. Ian Malcolm and Chaos Theory.
Pretty much everything that comes out of this man's mouth is liquid gold, but you'll love it all the more when Chaos Theory enters the conversation. He could say, "The lack of humility before nature that's being displayed here staggers me." Or, "If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us, it's that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territories, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but—well, there it is." Dr. Malcolm gets it.

3.  The "failings," if they even are such.
Please, little girl, stop screaming and go get eaten
Good God do I hate those two kids. If I could change one thing, those little brats would have drowned in mud, entombed within a flipped Jeep. I could even pretend that they're a hallucination of Dr. Alan Grant—a metaphor for the island, if you will, for they are surely as evil as any reptilian carnivore. 

But those kids are there. I cannot edit them off the screen. That little boy will chase Dr. Alan Grant around with his dino-facts, refusing to jump off an electrified fence, and the girl will be all "veggie-saurus—I don't eat meat—blah blah blah." Spare me. Eat them, but spare me.

I get it, they are a vital and necessary part of the film. They are audience surrogates for every little boy and girl watching from behind the couch. I guess I've just never connected. I always wanted to be the paleontologist Indiana Jones over there, Dr. Grant. I want that hat.

This is what a hero looks like
4.  The Heroes
Just as no one could possibly out-snivel the true villain of this movie, the overweight hacker, Dennis Nedry ("Ah, ah, ah... you didn't say the magic word. Ah, ah, ah..."). It is high tragedy that the chain-smoking Ray Arnold (played by Sam Jackson) never got to punch him square in the face. In fact, I think Arnold gets the rawest deal out of anyone. He has to put up with Nedry every day, then clean up his mess, then go turn the power back on all by himself. He doesn't even get a proper sendoff, just a severed arm... poor guy.

"They should all be destroyed"

 Robert Muldoon. If only he had talked to Alan Grant for a few minutes longer, he might have understood the raptors' hunting techniques. They come from the sides, you fool. He could have had a chance, versus buying time for blondie. I've played enough video games to know the correct raptor-hunting technique. There are three elements: high-ground, open-spaces, and shotgun. Every time I watch, I think he'll wise up, or at least take-down one of those monsters.

5.  Respect the Raptors
Dr. Alan Grant knows how scared you should be of these beasts, so pay them some respect and acknowledge the many times they outsmart the humans. Yes, I am scared. It is time to give credit where credit is due.

Yeah, I'm smarter than you