All posts by jarrodfinn

A Short Open Letter to Lin-Manuel Miranda

I have wracked my mind a thousand times over to find exactly what I want to say to you. Perhaps I still don’t, but I must write you to empty this swelling heart of my thoughts, my feelings, before they escape, dancing on the breeze until they fade out of existence.

I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but I need to write.

I will, however, let you know that is will not be a gushing love-letter to “Hamilton”–although there will be moments in which I fanboy because, let’s admit it, it is nearly impossible not to.

I mean how can one not fall in love with cabinet meetings depicted as rap battles? How can someone not enjoy bumping their car’s bass to intricate political rhetoric?

Anyway, that is not the point of this letter. The point is legacy.

I imagine you, as Alexander Hamilton did, have wrestled with the legacy you will leave behind. I apologize if this is an off-base presumption, but it is hard for me to ignore such a strong theme under-girding the story of “Hamilton”.

As a fellow writer, fellow creator even, I believe your legacy will be more than giving us one of the most important things to happen to the hip-hop medium in recent years. Your legacy will be more than bringing one of the most important and one of the greatest shows to ever grace the stages of Broadway.

Your legacy, Lin, will be that of inspiration.

You are an inspiration to fellow writers, musicians, artists, and all creative persons alike. Most of all, you are an inspiration.

In you I see the culmination of a story that had to be told; a story that could only be told by you. A story that consumes and that you must share with the world.

In you I see reassurance and hope that dreaming in such a manner will never be for naught. That determination and following what your heart carries you to is not foolish. That continuing to push toward what you feel you are on this planet to do will never be pointless.

In you I see that anything is possible and that I must continue remembering that much.

Okay. So, the letter ended up being a little longer than the salutation may have suggested but I need to put this out in the universe.

I hope you can understand my ramblings. In the end, all I can say is thank you.

Your newest fan,

Jarrod Finn

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Sound

I wrote this rough draft of a poem today. Hope you guys enjoy. -Jarrod

I love sound.

All sound.

Not just the laughter of a child,

laughter reaching down to your soul,

and embracing it.

Not just the soft rustle

of a book’s pages.

Or the crackle,

of the perfect crust,

formed by wrinkled, aged,

but loving hands.

Or the steady beat,

of the one

heart

chosen to love you.

I even,

no,

most especially of all

love the sound found in silence.

True silence.

Silence where not even

fear,

doubt,

memories,

melancholy,

or hate

can reach you.

Howard Thurman calls this the

“Sound of the Genuine”,

that when it crescendos from a faint whisper

to an unrelenting buzz

to finally a swelling symphony,

you have found yourself;

your true self.

I call this sound peace.

At long last,

peace.

290 or Bust

Ten years ago I was entering my senior year at the University of Illinois and I looked this:

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For those that have become part of my life within the last few years or so, this is seriously me. I was 245 pounds. I lost 70 pounds over a two year span and was nearly a 40 inch waist. I worked out nearly every day–granted the recreation center/gym was directly adjacent to my dorm room–and I felt the best I had my entire life.

Up until this first significant and successful weight loss, I had struggled with my weight since early in elementary school. I was certainly active in sports, but a poor relationship, an addiction even, with food and an affinity for video games began to add up.

I was the fat kid who lived the dissonance of being picked on, yet being the friendly person everyone knew. The main target of ridicule, and chief among the reasons for my insecurity, was my body’s wonderful decision to choose my chest as the best possible place to deposit fat. I had/have man boobs, breasticles, whatever the hell you want to call them.  While young, peers my age liked to ask me if I was actually a boy. In high school several guys decided it was fun to molest my chest while passing me in the hallway. I even began to crack fat jokes about myself which I justified as “preemptive strikes”. In my mind making fun of myself before anyone else would hurt far less. All of these struggles and insecurities came to a head during the Spring semester of my freshman year of college. At the end of a class I stood up to leave and the desk became needy, deciding that parting would indeed be such sweet sorrow. It chose to come with me.

But I digress. As I was saying, I finally had true success in my battle with food and my weight. Then on August 19, 2005, just a week before my senior year of college, my father passed away. Then just under three years later my maternal aunt passed. In 2009 I moved to Atlanta for grad school. By the way, this was the first time I ever lived more than three miles away from home. Then my maternal uncle passed in 2010. My paternal aunt passed in 2011 after a very short and brutal two-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Then my paternal grandfather in 2012 and my maternal grandmother in 2013.

Mix in never-ending stress from grad school and a rather serious battle with depression, and you get the perfect scenario for an emotional eater/food addict to put on weight. And put on weight I did.

After a physical in the beginning of January I found myself at 343 pounds, the heaviest I’ve ever been. My blood pressure was sky high.  I was on the brink of diabetes. And much like the clingy desk my freshman year of college, I was shaken awake from my deep denial and obliviousness to my poor health.

Most of all I had the realization, a realization that I still hold on to every single day, I wasn’t fully loving myself. I wasn’t leaning into life and treating myself the way I must treat myself.

To be honest I was/am tired of being surprised when the stranger staring back at me in the mirror does not reflect how I feel inside.

I am tired of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, still trying to break it in like a stubborn pair of new shoes.

I am tired of fearing that when I go out I’ll have to use my “Yes. I know I’m fat. Yes. I’m eating ice cream. No. I’m not disgusting. Yes. It’s okay that I’m eating this. You didn’t see the fucking Mustard Green and Sweet Potato Tacos, Kale and Quinoa Salad, Egg Whites, and the Smoothie I prepared/ate today. You didn’t see me do a session of yoga and walk at least two miles today. I deserve a fucking treat. Mind if I go back to eating it?” speech in response to fatshamers.

I’m tired of allowing the negative emotions and memories control me.

I’m tired of sweating excessively. Even in the winter. I’m tired of aching, losing my breath, picking up the belly fat to clean in the shower, needing a seat belt extender on an airplane, and people looking at me with disgust as I sit next to them on the bus.

I’m tired of staring down the same path my father took until his death at 54.

Most of all I’m tired of allowing food and my weight to hold me back from being my authentic self. So screw the insecurity, screw the past, screw dwelling on what I’ve done to myself. It’s time to become my authentic self.

I’ve made slow and important changes since January. I already eliminated soda from my diet. I’ve become active again by walking at least 30 minutes a day on a regular basis. I’ve slowly, albeit reluctantly, eliminated starches and processed carbs from my diet. I have progressed toward a more plant-based diet eating meat with only one meal a day. Trust me, it’s really not that hard when you find great recipes.

Most importantly, I’ve set goals; both huge, long-term goals and short, realistic goals. Eventually I want to train and audition for American Ninja Warrior. I want to take up kickboxing and boxing again. I want to be an athlete again. I want to look good in a fitted t-shirt. I want to get to 190 pounds. I want to be at peace with myself. I want to treat my body as the temple it is, and properly worship within it.

All of this has worked and for the first time in a while I know that my changes will continue to work. I have lost 23 pounds so far this year. That’s about one pound per week. So for now my immediate weight loss goal is 290 pounds and I want to reach that within the next five months.

The time has come for me to go through a personal transformation.

#290orbust

But Most of All

I wrote this piece as part of a poetry journal/final project for a class in seminary called, appropriately, Poetry and the Bible. It came out of a period of time–I believe it was at the middle point of my graduate studies–where I spent quite a bit of time contemplating what my late father would think of my life at that juncture, what it would be like to  discuss life and love with him as an adult, AND regret over not repairing our relationship sooner than we did. 

Feel free to let me know what you think. – Jarrod

 

If I could turn back time

I wouldn’t be Cher,

but I’d go back to Oct 2003 at Wrigley Field

and tackle Steve Bartman.

I’d cut off the first mullet,

steal the first pair of acid wash jeans.

I’d even destroy all the synthesizers.

Well, maybe not Van Halen’s.

I’d beg Wham! to PLEASE put on some pants.

I’d work on the set of Thriller.

I’d fly to San Francisco

and sip on a latte with Harvey Milk,

grab a scone with John Lennon,

even gnaw on some naan with Ghandi;

okay only when he wasn’t striking.

I’d be a Freedom Rider,

sit at Woolworth’s Lunch Counter,

shed tears while standing in awe

as he dreamt at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.

I’d teach the slaveowners Scripture.

Hell… I’d even try to saddle up on a dinosaur.

But most of all

I’d tell you I’m sorry.

That I forgive you.

That I wish I could take back

all the cruel things that slipped off my tongue.

That I’d do anything to destroy those walls

between us,

the walls we only began to tear down.

That I am here,

strong, brave, confident, able to love

because of you.

If I could turn back time

I would tell you one more time

that I love you.

Bullets

I wrote the below poem almost a decade ago for a creative writing class at my alma mater the University of Illinois. The Iraq War was still in its early stages and I felt the poem was rather apropos at the time I wrote it. I chose it as my first creative writing piece to share as I feel it is still apropos considering the events of this year. 

I hope you enjoy.

-Jarrod

Bullets helped to build this nation,
now they help to tear it apart.
They scream of hatred and anger,
sing a chorus of pain and fear.
The putrid smell of corruption,
lingers with the smoke they leave behind.
The path they take,
cuts through families and friends,
taking with them true love,
love that was never shown enough,
or unrequited love never declared,
and shattering hopes and dreams,
leaving them in fragments with flesh and bone,
reverberating a sad and melancholy tone,
of bitterness and regret.
And let’s not forget,
how they are, for some,
the last resort for a ticket,
from this place.
Created by those who make money
on death and destruction,
they stifle a mother’s cry,
or the conscience of the desperate.

The Renaissance Nerdcast, Episode Two: Teenagers with Attitude Interview

In this episode of The Renaissance Nerdcast I sit down with Cisco Davis, Jr., again–now that Teenagers with Attitude has been finished and released–along with the cast.

We talk about their experiences on set, the development of characters, various creative interpretations, and much more.

Give it a watch here:

 

And make sure to give Teenagers with Attitude a watch:

 

Cisco Davis, Jr.- Writer and Director

Kelvin Drama– Jason/Red Ranger

James R. Ling– Billy/Blue Ranger

Hayden Livesay– Zack/Black Ranger

Jennifer Ortiz– Trini/Yellow Ranger

Sophia Reaves– Kimberly/Pink Ranger

Fall Television Premiere Season: Week One (Part Two)

It’s been a great first week of the fall television premiere season. If you, like me, just can’t get enough here are the rest of my thoughts on week one.

Saturday Night Live (11:30 ET/ 10:30 CT, NBC)
Saturday_Night_Live_(Season_38_Titlecard)
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Headdesk. Headdesk. Headdesk.

I’m starting to wonder how SNL has not been canceled yet.

I really don’t have anything to say other than that apparently sketches approved by the head writers seem to be just a litany of crude and unfunny jokes.

This isn’t the SNL I grew up with (I’m also familiar with the seasons prior to the late 80s and 90s). Thankfully SNL is not indicative of modern comedy as a whole.

Once Upon a Time (Sundays, 8 ET/ 7 CT, ABC)
Photo courtesy of ABC.com
Photo courtesy of ABC.com

I will admit that this show is one of my guilty pleasures. The writing and acting can be a little melodramatic at times, but I am a sucker for fairy tales. Add to that the fact that the majority of my youth coincided with the “Disney Renaissance”–yes this is an actual term.

From the moment the first promo of the pilot was aired I was intrigued to see how they would bring in the multitude of Disney and  fairy tale characters. My initial concern of total over saturation of characters just to appease viewers was eventually alleviated by, in my opinion, a very interesting and well thought out interweaving of characters.

More than just the fairy tale world, I deeply connected to and have loved the show’s main underlying theme: No one is irredeemable. This theme is especially prevalent in season three as Regina battles with putting her past as the Evil Queen behind her. All of that came to a screeching halt in the season finale as Emma made a boneheaded, albeit unintentional, move. A move that also brought a certain icy character to Storybrooke.

Of the decisions the OUAT show runners have made and the manner in which certain characters were introduction throughout the first three seasons, the decision to bring in Frozen was the first and only to make me facepalm.

I found myself rather skeptical when they announced that Frozen characters would be introduced during this season’s premiere. The decision was probably just the producers jumping on the opportunity to make more money on Frozen‘s popularity.  After all, ABC is owned by Disney and we know Disney just loves milking as much as they can out of a franchise’s popularity.

I hoped the writers would go more in the direction of the The Snow Queen, but from very early on in the premiere it was obvious that was not the case–so far Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Sven, Pabbie/Grandpa, and even Marshmallow have shown up.

Outside of a little stylization, a less quirky Anna (my favorite part of Frozen), and a slight altering of the storyline, the integration of Frozen into OUAT has actually been rather interesting. I was especially happy to see a Fringe alum in another role– Georgina Haig, who played Henriette Bishop in Fringe, was cast as Elsa.

The premiere continues OUAT writers’ affinity for twists and cliffhangers. I am really looking forward to seeing where this season goes.  Hopefully it doesn’t get a chilly reception.

Shut up. I had to do it.

The Simpsons (Sundays, 8 ET/ 7 CT, FOX)
Photo courtesy of TheSimpsons.com
Photo courtesy of TheSimpsons.com

I am not of the type that thinks The Simpsons hasn’t been good since season ten, but I also don’t go out of my way to watch it these days.

After this season’s premiere,  that probably will not change. I watched because of the big death that was supposed to occur. This major death in the community the promos built up was, pardon the pun, dead on arrival. It was completely uneventful and incredibly disappointing.

Besides the uneventful death in the Springfield community, I found myself chuckling only a few times throughout the episode.

I won’t be yelling at clouds anytime soon, but there certainly is quite a bit to be angry about with The Simpsons so far this season.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sundays, 8:30 ET/ 7:30 CT, FOX)
Download-Brooklyn-Nine-Nine-Season-2-Full-Episodes
Photo courtesy of FOX.com

I stupidly ignored this show when it first premiered last season. Then about half way through the season (or was it a little later?) it was the belle of the ball at the Golden Globes. I immediately gave it a watch and I was hooked instantly.

Andre Braugher as Captain Ray Holt is genius. To single out only Braugher, though, would be a disservice to the entire cast. Everyone is genius. The chemistry and comedic timing is bar none. The writing and characters are brilliant.

For me to love and stay committed to a sitcom/comedy, I need said show to lure more than a few soft chuckles out of me. From the first few scenes of the pilot until the end of the second season premiere, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has consistently produced some of the loudest guffawing from me that any show has in a long time.

After only one episode, one episode, into the second season I am tending to stitches in my side from laughing so hard. I don’t expect the rest of season two to be any different.

Family Guy (Sundays, 9 ET/ 8 CT, FOX)
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

I have begun to feel the same about Family Guy as I do The Simpsons. I really don’t go out of my way to watch it anymore. I’ll watch old episodes on TBS every once in a while because they still make me laugh, but the show just doesn’t do it for me anymore. It just seems to be the same tired out and recycled jokes over and over again.

Since this season’s premiere was a crossover with The SimpsonI figured I’d give it a try. To be honest, it was one of the better episodes in a while. The subtle digs at each other’s shows and the opposing characters offered an entertaining hour. I definitely laughed a little harder than I did during The Simpsons premiere.

I’m not sure if I’ll continue watching Family Guy this season, but I may be more willing now.