Personal Ramblings: Fear the Spider, Admire the Man

Fear the Spider, Admire the Man

Me and spiders have never gotten along. There is no sense for me to acknowledge their existence as they are merely a small part of my life. Unfortnately, for the purposes of storytelling, I must admit I have a strong case of arachnophobia.

Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. This can range from being terrified by the common Daddy Long Legs to the Goliath Bird Eating Spider and is no easy phobia to deal with. My case is not as severe as others as Daddy Long Legs I am okay with. That is the only form of “spider” I draw the line at.

My archnophobia stems from the cruel conincidence that is watching Arachnophobia as a child. The film dealt with spiders invading a town and killing people with Jeff Daniels as the hero and John Goodman as an exterminator. The climax of the film involves Daniels going to town on not only the little spiders, but a big motherfucker of a spider that is horrifying beyond belief. At one point, it jumps towards Daniels and Daniels lights it on fire. A big ass spider is horrifying enough, but attach flames to it and it is from the seventh layer of Nopeville.

This film terrified the utter hell out of me. Those arachnids with their beady eyes, their skinny legs and their frames unknown to man haunted my dreams. I necer wanted to see one spider ever again.

The Universe Decided Against Me

One to two weeks later at my elementary school in my Whittier White childhood, my teacher was out for the week and hired a sub. The sub was not only a teacher, but an expert of exotic animals. She was a small Asian woman who was very friendly and knew how to grab kids’ attention.

The first day she came to sub, she brough out a ball python. She made the class write in our Spartan journals about our experience and what they appraciated about each creature she brought in. Me and snakes are friends as I always loved how they moved without the need for arms or legs, so I wrote about that. It was a joy to see and hold, leaving me curious to see what was next.

The next day, we were getting ready to learn about the exciting new animal she was to bring for us to see and out came a Red Rose Hair tarantula. I remember seeing the hair of it with its red stripes and the slow unerving crawl it had going up the sub’s arm. I immediately started crying in front of my peers whike trying to ask politely to sit down because tears and snot were building inside of me. I was wrecked with fear and pure embarassment. The horror was real and I did not want to partake in seeing the face of that “thing.” A few of the kids laughed as I sat in my chair away from them to write about the tarantula in my journal. I was the only one.

I am 23 years old as of this writing and still a wuss about them. I cringed going through photos of spiders or tarantulas in books and turn away from them if they are on screen. I get anxious at pet stores in when I pass by their glass rooms fearing they can break fee. I cannot pass through the Animal Planet section at Toys R Us due to the giant remote control tarantulas and plastic giant spiders. It’s practically a sad curse. This has led to an interesting question from my friend Jerry.

“Wait, you hate spiders, but you love Spider-Man? How the hell does that work?”

My answer was persistence. The real answer is sort of odd. Smack in between X-Men and Power Rangers was your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man in Spider-Man: The Animated Series on Fox Kids. He was (and is) a hero I absolutely love. Raised in Queens, New York, Peter Parker was a teenager bitten by a radioactive spider, harnesses the amazing power of one while balancing great responsibility and considered by J. Jonah Jameson to be menace to the city. He gets around by crawling on walls or swinging via web shooter technology he built on his own. He has a sense of danger when something is by and superhuman strength. He is also witty, curious and intelligent on par with Tony Stark.

He is also human like the rest of us. He constantly deal with too many things at once while fighting the likes of the Sinister Six. Be it his relationship with Mary Jane Watson, his talks with Aunt May or dealing with his boss wanting pictures of Spider-Man, Peter is always trying to get his shit together. As a kid, being Spider-Man to fight crime and save the world is a dream. Being an adult, being Spider-Man would definitely suck to add to the work load in place.

I love seeing him come in to save the city from Mysterio. I loved his constant banter and comments toward the world around him just treating it as another day in New York. I enjoyed that he dealed with real issues from the death of his first love Gwen Stacy to his own struggles of his balancing act of his hero life and reality. He is a simple concept of a man with superhuman ability, but has the complexities a majority of us have.

Every iteration on has treated special attention tto getting that across. Tobey McGuire’s portrayal embracedd the role of his hero world while Andrew Garfield’s portrayal embraced the person behind the mask, yet they both remembered reality had to set in every now and then, for better or worse. I have yet to see Captain America: Civil War, so I do not know how Tom Holland pulls it off, but I have heard spectacular things.

Peter is relatable in many ways, but he is the exact same in ability as the thing I fear the most, so what gives? It comes down to the honest answer of cruel irony at face value, but there is another layer to it for it personally.

Comfortability

I took some time to really think about that question and realize the difference. The simple answer would be that one is fictional character that is human and the other is a real creature that I do not like. The more complex answer is I never built comfortablity with spiders, but I built a layer of comfort with Spider-Man.

Spider-Man always made me feel comfortable to be into or be surrounded by because he was a regular guy that happen to be a superhero. I embraced his character in countless TV shows, films. video games and in music (more so the Ramones cover of the 60’s TV theme and less Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark). I built that comfortability by relating to what the character is. Spiders are another matter.

I never built the comfortability with them as I would with a dog or a cat. I always pushed them aside or ran at everyminstance of their mention of image. I am still surprised I sat through Chamber of Secrets at this point. Lately, I have been thinking of giving them a chance since I already am comfortable with small plastic toys of them and images of their eight-legs on the internet and can stand next to smaller ones. I should probably start to build comfortablitiy, but in baby steps. I am not going to just waltz into a Petco and say “can I please put the tarantula on my hand?” as a stsrt, but just be closer to them.

It is an odd answer to come up with, but that is why I am able to embrace one over the other. I fear the spider, but I admire the man.

Now, Man-Spider is a different story.

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Well, damn.

Personal Ramblings + : The Last Starfighter!

In the last Personal Ramblings, “Me, You and Psychiatry Too,” I mentioned the date was to see The Last Starfighter at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA. The focus was more on the museum beforehand, but after a talk with Angel after she read it, she said it would be cool to write about the actual date part. Honestly, I agree as it was actual fun as hell. So without further ado, The Last Starfighter!

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I always wanted to go on a date to see a classic film on the big screen. I had seen re-releases with friends beforehand such as Titanic, The Lion King, Jurassic Park and Beauty and the Beast. I had even seen Mary Poppins at the El Capitan Theatre, but all these had been digital projection. I want the grit and dirt of film projection and I wanted to go to another revival theatre. One night while browsing the web, I stumbled upon The Last Starfighter playing at the Eygptian in 70 mm with a cast and crew Q & A on a rare Thursday night I had off of work.

The Last Starfighter, for those that do not know (and that’s many), is a cult science fiction classic from 1984. It stars Lance Guest as Alex Rogan, a down-on-his-luck teen who happens to be extremely good at the arcade game Starfighter. Little does he know is that it is actually a test creates by Centauri, an alien inventor played by Robert Preston, to find the best starfighter in the galaxy to help an alien war going on between the Rylan Star League and Ko-Dan Empire. Alex is picked as he obtained the highest score and it is now up to him to save the galaxy. The plot is ridiculous the humor is corny, but the action and the acting is surprisingly great. I asked Angel if she was up for seeing it with me.

“You mean Enemy Mine?,” she asked.
“No, what the hell is that?,” I asked back.
“OH! I know which one you are talking about! Yes, I would love it,” she said.

It was all set and ready to go. After the aformentioned experience beforehand, we headed to the Egyptian Theatre. It is quite the relic of time. It is designed as a Egyptian palace with its stone walls and hieroglyphics aboumd. It is grandiose and a reminder of the days of extravagant premieres nearly every day. Now, it is quiet and tame with film buffs and cult fanatics abound. We grab our tickets and head off into the theater.

It was practically home. In the confines of the black and red lobby was the smell of popcorn and hot dogs with the staff of beautiful manic pixie girls and Silverlake hipster men. Conversations of cinema off in the background and posters of Matthew McConaughey, the recipient of the 2014 American Cinematheque Award, aligned a section of the lobby. The fact a box of candy, a soda and large popcorn were less than $12 was just a bonus to the whole thing.

We sit down and get situated to see the film with other fans. They ranged from big burly men in 80’s pop culture shirts to skinny bearded men outside of a Cameron Crowe feature. Some women were dressed in their nightly best with their boyfriends while others were just rocking their casual badass geek clothes. The cast of the film where scattered throughout the audience leading to a fun game of “Where the hell is Lance Guest?”

One guy in particular that sat next to us was in a hurry to come in. He was a major fan coming in with a black leather jacket complete with a patch of the Starfighter arcade logo. He was quite handsome with the Julian Casablancas look going. He was in delight and glee, despite suffering a broken leg earlier in the week. He came in on crutches and practically forced himself to co.e and see it. It was admirable dedicstion. Even his girlfriend, who appeared later on, was impressed he managed to make it.

Then the theater darkened, the film started up and the sound was non-existent. The sound was silence as the titles flashed. Most of us were in a panic, but issue was quickly resolved. There is was with the pops of the film grain, the wear of the print and the sound as crisp as ever with Chris Safan’s score guding the audience through the stars. It was beautiful and charming to see.

We laughed at the robot decoy Beta as Alex on Earth causing a ruckus. We teared up as Centauri made his sacrifice to save Alex. We booed ehen the evil Xur, played by Norman Snow, appeared on screen. We cheered loudly when Alex unleashed the Death Blossom alongside under the gudience of his new found friend Grig, played by Dan O’herlihy. We swooned when Alex returned home to kiss his girlfriend Maggie, played by Catherine Mary Stewart, and bring her up to the stars with him. It was as if we all went to a movie house in the 80’s and experienced it for the first time again.

The Q & A was interesting with the stars happy to see fans of the film come out and support. We eventually found Lance Guest who told us he had not seen it in years.  Catherine Mary Stewart was still beyond gorgeous. They shared their memories about making the film, the long since passed friends they made on set and the possible crushed on set. The fun aspect was the facts as well from the director Nick Castle being the first Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween to the fact that the graphics and CGI used in the film can be easily store in the Samsung Galaxy smartphone I am writing this post with and it would still have tons of gigabytes left over. It was fascinating and everyone asked about a remake or a sequel, which I would not mind at all if any of those got made.

The night was perfect and the mood was just right. Me and Angel headed home after all of that on the Metro. As we were sitting in the Gold Line, she slept in my arms as I looked to the stars wondering “man, it would be something if that film was real. It would be.”