Category Archives: General Musings

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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They told me I could be anything I wanted…

…so I became a blog contributor.

Michael “djplaeskool” Hamilton here. Mid-level IT professional and amateur music producer at your service. It’s my pleasure to share with you, o’ fairest denizens of yon internet, my random musings on gaming, music, and perhaps a few things in-between.  I may talk about how DJ Shadow’s 2006 album The Outsider is an underrated gem and provides an eclectic look at the Hyphy subculture. Perhaps I rant about how Sega’s insistence on bypassing the localization of key software is not only damaging their relationship with their wider fan base, but furthering the perception of an increasingly isolated Japanese development scene (Seriously though, I’m working on a draft of the latter as we speak).

Though I used to rap blog-like about this and that in my more formative years (re: four years ago), it’s nice to be able to again express myself in a format that allows more than 140 characters. Speaking of which, and in completely unironic fashion, feel free to follow me on Twitter @djplaeskool. Also, if you feel inclined to tune in for some random gaming and speed-running, you can follow my twitch channel at Twitch.tv. I’m currently in the process of shaving time off my run of Genesis classic, Gunstar Heroes.

I look forward to sharing more with you all in the near future.

Oh…
If you’re wondering about the nickname, I’ll spare you the details and say that it involves a pair of turntables, a party at a friend’s house, and a mid-afternoon trip to Wendy’s.

State of the Blog Address

Readers of Jarrodfinn.com,

I address you during a very important time in this blog’s history. It is….

Okay.. sorry. I can’t keep a straight face. And yes, I know. I’m a dork. Anyways I just wanted to briefly talk to everyone about my vision and plans for this blog.

First and foremost, I want the blog to be about you the readers. While most of the content will reflect my passions, I don’t want it to become self-indulgent. The most important thing to me is that you enjoy what you read. This means writing about the things you want to read about also. I have plenty of ideas, but I would love to hear from all of you.

Is there a video game I should check out? A movie or show I should watch? Maybe a band I have overlooked? Or a book I should read? Even a restaurant in Atlanta I should check out? Just let me know and I will write about it.

But this is just the beginning. I have a certain vision for this blog. My hopes, dreams even, is to build it into a website much like The Nerdist, or IGN, or Kotaku, etc. just with creative arts and theology added. Perhaps that is far-fetching, but I am willing to work hard towards that goal.

If any of you want to contribute, please let me know. If you have any ideas, please let me know. Most of all, keep reading and let your friends know about the blog.

Thanks!

LEGOs: Toys or Therapy?

I have always marveled at models. Well, the finished products.

No. I am not talking about supermodels after Photoshopping.

I’m talking about the intricate model cars, hand-sculpted and hand-painted figurines, or model towns or battlefields. Or those little ships in bottles that you have build inside the bottle itself.

I could honestly sit and stare at these models in awe of the meticulous detail and talent that went into creating them. But I never understood how one could actually sit down and painstakingly build or paint these things. I just never had the patience to sit down and do the work myself.

All of that changed recently when I bought LEGO’s Back to the Future DeLorean set. lego-delorean-jul13-m

Originally my only reason I bought the set was my undying love for the movies. After all, it is the perfect trilogy. One of the few trilogies where the second movie is actually a good movie. In fact, I would argue that the Back to the Future trilogy is a perfect template for making good trilogies. I digress though.

I also bought the set because I thought it would look cool on my desk; something fun to look at while perusing Facebook or trying to crank out pages of my screenplay. Sometimes I just need something simple to make me smile, and now that it is finished it definitely makes me smile.

I found a lot more than I expected while building the set, and began to understand why those that build and/or paint those intricate models take the time to work on them. There is something extremely cathartic about the process.

Now perhaps a small confession is in order. I took a lot longer to build the set than most people. Instead of just whizzing through the process, I was very intentional.

IMG_0621Good music was playing. Every other electronic was turned off. And I sat at my desk with a pile of small LEGO pieces in front of me. For some reason it did not occur to me that the set would have so many small pieces. Don’t ask me why.

Regardless of the reason, and because I have a penchant for misplacing or confusing parts when putting things together, the next step was to sort out every single piece based on color, type of piece, and the designated amount of each piece in the set. Call it overkill. Call it obsessive. Oh well. I needed it.

My anxiety and stress level was at a rather high level that day, and the sorting alone served as almost a meditative preparation for actually building the DeLorean. About half an hour into the sorting I began to notice myself calm down. The stress began to level out, and the anxiety started to fade. Even more interesting was how focusing on finding different pieces and grouping them with matching ones pulled me away from my worries.

The sorting, though, was only the beginning of that therapeutic session.

For those that do not know this about me, I suffer from moderate clinical depression. I am on medication, and for the most part have symptoms under control. Every now and then I’ll have an episode that, thanks to the medication, I am able to pull myself out of much easier than in the past. However, as I am wont to do, I can find myself incredibly lost in my own head. Most times navigating my way out of my head can be easy. But there are times when it can be really hard. My own mind becomes a labyrinth (thankfully David Bowie is not at the center) that can deceive me at every turn. My mind distorts the truth and convinces me that I’m inadequate, not liked, etc.

The times when it gets really bad, there a very few people and/or activities that can pull me out of that labyrinth. Building the DeLorean, much to my surprise, joined that short list. With every piece that snapped into place, it was as though wall after wall in the labyrinth fell away.

IMG_0622

By the time I was finished I felt a happiness that lasted for the rest of the day.

This experience may be unique to me. It may not be. Regardless, it was an important and rejuvenating experience. I finally understood why model makers love their hobby so much. There is something special about building something from the ground up. There is something so incredible about knowing that I made this.

Even if I had to follow instructions.

Well… Hello There

You ask whether your verses are any good. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots in the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple ‘I must’, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. 

– Rainer Maria Rilke, Poet

I would like to start this blog, and greet all of you, with a simple “Thank you”. Thank for you taking the time out of your day, or evening, to stop and read. Thank you finding enough value in my musings that you willingly spend time with my thoughts.

With that said, let me introduce myself. As the blog’s URL suggests, my name is Jarrod Finn.

I am a recent graduate from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA where I received a Master of Divinity. I entered the program with every intention of becoming an ordained minister, but as we all experience at certain points in our lives, the paths we intend to take can turn out to be the wrong ones. But that is not the sole focus of this blog.

More than a theology nerd, or an academic, I am simply a NERD. I am a life-long gamer. I geek out over Superman and other superheroes. I have recently learned to accept, in all of its glory, the extent to which I am a MMPR fanboy.

I am a movie fanatic, a sports freak, and, as anyone that knows me would tell you, I am an extreme food geek. Most of all, I am an aspiring writer/screenwriter. It has been my dream for as long as I can remember. But for some reason I have always pushed this dream aside. Whether it is because of a lack of confidence in myself or the thought that establishing a career and making money would be more realistic, I have no clue. For whatever reason, I never seriously pursued my own dream. Or I would start, and just give up.

Recent events in my life (re: being let go from what I expected to be the beginning of my career) have afforded me the opportunity to seriously consider this dream. So, once the initial shock of unemployment began to slowly wear off (it still stings), and I needed something to alleviate the weight of bill collectors and student loan companies calling, I returned to my writing.

I finally decided that I was tired of giving up. If there was ever a time, this was the time to become who I feel I am: a writer. Most of all, I couldn’t live with myself if I ignored the overwhelming desire to write movies, or the desire to just write. So, I gave the proverbial finger to my fears, asked a friend to mentor me, and since then have been pushing toward my dream.

Most importantly, finally writing again has reminded me of the one thing I forgot. Throughout the good days, and the bad days, there has always been one constant: writing. Writing is the one thing that keeps me afloat. Writing is what helps me feel when nothing else can cure the numbness. Most of all, writing defines who I am. Sure. I’d love to get discovered. Sure, I’d love to have a script made into a movie and make tons of money. But that is not why I write. I write because turning a phrase or building a plot or writing beautiful exposition is what keeps me sane. Writing is the ultimate salve.

So… that is what this blog is for: my writing. While I do not want the blog to be a random hodgepodge, you will definitely see a variety of topics. I write about what I love, whether that is a movie I just saw, a project I just finished, an amazing meal I ate, the Power Rangers, et cetera.

Through this blog I want to set out on a journey to discover both old and new things about myself as a writer. Hopefully it is a journey that leads me to my dream. And I ask you to embark on this journey with me.