My Watchmen Experience

You know those days where you can’t do anything wrong? Not like you’re all super righteous and above reproach or anything, but you’ve just woken up on the right side of the bed and things go right. So it may not exactly be a case of “can’t do anything wrong,” but days that are just born good. It doesn’t even have to be anything incredible or momentous, like winning the lottery or saving somebody’s life. No, you have all your homework done ahead of time. You have just enough cash on you for a donut with coffee and a sandwich for lunch. You find that thing you thought you lost. A ton of small, tiny, happy moments that make for a great day.

That’s the kind of day I was having one time as a senior in high school. I couldn’t miss. Woke up easy, had a good hair day so I was feelin’ pretty, got to school early, smoothly hit all green lights when I longboarded to that donut shop, finished the book I was reading that free fifth period, The Works.

“Hmm,” I sighed as I got off the bus that afternoon to walk home, “I think I’m gonna finish reading Watchmen today.”

If you somehow aren’t familiar, Watchmen was a graphic novel written by Alan Moore from the 1980’s. The short version is that it was set in a world wherein the caped-crusader, masked crime fighter phenomenon struck, but in a gritty, noir setting. And when I say gritty, I mean that sh*t was dark. One of the story’s most recognizable characters Rorschach’s – a vigilante type, so named for the psychiatric ink-blot test his mask is designed after – famous speeches goes as follows:

“The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown.

The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘SAVE US!’

And I will look down and whisper ‘No.”

No kidding, when it’s described as an edgy (like unto a razor), harsh take on the costumed heroes, it means it. Near the beginning, there’s a newspaper clipping describing a story wherein one hero catches his cape in a bank’s rotating door during a robbery, so the criminals, reasonably, brutally gun him down. It’s not long into it either when another of the main cast exposits his backstory to reveal his joy at raping his way through Vietnam.

Being an angsty, “edgy” (like unto a butterknife) teenager, it was right up my alley.

To that point, I’d read it in bits and pieces over the course of a couple of weeks, and was about halfway through with it. That speaks both to my traditional, savory reading speed, but also to just how freaking dense of a story Watchmen is. I’d sipped my way through the first half and, feeling full of myself that particularly happy day, decided to gulp down the rest of it that afternoon and evening.

So I got home, unloaded my backpack, sit on the couch with a coffee like a sophisticated individual, and got enthralled with the grimdark story until the sun had gone down…

…then I went to bed early and cried myself to sleep into my pillow.

Emotionally, I can be a bit of a tenderfoot, I admit that wholeheartedly. But Jesus Christ guys, that book did not f**k around, especially for my young, virgin mind (in a literary sense – mind out of the gutter, kids). Children are murdered, dogs get cleavers to the dome, throats get cut, loved ones are betrayed, people explode, heroes question meaning in and of reality – The Works.

I don’t remember clearly, but I may have been a bit out of it the next day, too. That thing took a toll. But if you’ve somehow made it this far into life without seeing either the movie or spin-off HBO show, do yourself a favor, steel yourself, and check it out. This is one of those rare exceptions where the film is perfectly just as good as it’s written counterpart.

Just grab some consolation cookies and a hanky beforehand.

Let’s Get Real #2: My Mental Coaches are Fictitious (Mostly)

Did you know there’s a kind of bamboo that only blossoms about once every 130 years, and when it does, every stalk blooms and then dies at the same time – no matter where on the planet the stalks are. Damn Nature…

Hey, happy Thursday, everybody.

I like to think I have a mind for quotes, but then again, I think most of us do. When you hear something that resonates with you either on a personal level or in a way that relates to the present moment you come across it, those words can be powerful. Very powerful.

Once upon a time, I resolved to consider wisdom that did that for me, no matter where I found it. When I decided to keep my ears open in that way, I started realizing that a lot of the places that my mantras and sayings came from were…unexpected. I also realized that I talk to my self – All. The. Time. And not always offering sayings in my own voice (if that makes sense).

Where those sayings come from is just as varied as the things they have to impart. Today, I’d like to go over my team of mental coaches, or at least, the top three I hear the most often. Maybe the next time you’re having a rough go, you’ll find a use for what they tell me – or realize you have some of your own!

Anyway, introducing first:

“Maximum Effort!”

Deadpool’s here because he’s likable, a crowd favorite, and his advice is incredibly straightforward. If you’ve seen his movie, it’s captured in those two dutiful words. I’ve used this for everything from finishing that hard trail run or getting through a tough emotional moment to just plain ol’ getting out of bed in the morning. It’s simple and to the point. It doesn’t scream “Do it!” quite like Shia LaBeouf or the cliche “You can do it!” All it asks is that you give your best, and not in that tired way kids hear their parents tell them.

Folded into those words isn’t a demand or expectation that you accomplish what you’re striving to do, it just expects you give it your genuine maximum. It doesn’t care about failure, just how much of you gets put into it. Often times, you’ll be surprised by what you can do with a lil’ of this.

#2 – Kratos
“Do not be sorry. Be better.”

Aaaah! I love this one! And even though we’re marking it number two, it might be my favorite just by Chill Factor (that’s level of goosebumps, not how cool you feel on a beanbag chair). It has a lot in common with Deadpool’s “Maximum Effort”, actually, in that it also accepts failure – in fact, the phrase is all about it.

For any who’ve played (or at least heard about) 2018’s “God of War” or its previous installments, chances are you’ve heard of Kratos. He’s the Greek…well, God of War. In last year’s game, his story continues and we find he has a son. During one of the scenes in the game [NO SPOILERS], Atreus, his son, sort of messes up on a hunt. He turns to Big Papa Kratos and says it: “Do not be sorry. Be better.” What’s so great about it is what it says by not saying it. In six little words, it says all of this:
“Don’t apologize, not because you’ve done nothing wrong, but because it’s alright to be wrong, make a mistake. In fact, you need to make mistakes to improve. Only, learn from them. Don’t wallow in guilt over a mistake or accident, because that does absolutely nothing. Not you, me, nor anyone else gains from your wallowing or regret. Do not be sorry, be better. I’m not mad. I don’t want your guilt, your sadness, or your reasons – I want you to grow. So do not apologize. Learn, be better.”

#3 – Kevin Hart
“Stop bein’ a bitch!”

Alright, so not all of them are fictional characters. Also, this one doesn’t need much explaining (I hope). Sometimes, it’s just a good thing to hear if Deadpool’s advice doesn’t quite get through. Besides, Hart has a good voice and comedic presence to take the bite out of a bit like this. To boot, in real life, the man himself is a part of a huge positivity movement (I encourage you to check out the events he’s done with Nike or his interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast).

#4 – Conor McGregor [Bonus]

He’s been more and more of a controversial character in recent years, and for good reason. Especially during his rise in the UFC before becoming champion (the first time), he was always a brash talker, but also had more than a fair share of motivational statements and this one’s no different:

“In the struggle, when things are going good and you visualize these good things happening and you visualize more good things happening – that’s easy, that’s easy. What’s not easy to do, is when things are going bad and you’re visualizing the good stuff.”

I don’t want to comment much on the man’s actions of late, but I also don’t want to understate the importance of this advice. When things are difficult, it can be easy to get lost in how poorly things look.

Anyway, that’s all for now. See ya Tuesday, y’all.

Interested in more? Like knee-slappers and chin-scratchers? Check out my first published work in the Third Flatiron’s “Hidden Histories” anthology here (and tell ’em Evan sent ya!):

Today’s FableFact source: