The Grim Reaper harvested my grandpa recently

I watch a lot of horror movies that feature some of the most gruesome death sequences you can imagine. I work in a field surrounded by death almost daily. As a living, breathing human death is a natural part of the life cycle we all have to deal with at some point until such time as the Grim Reaper arrives to transport us to the afterlife.

As a Baptist-turned Catholic I have a lot of thoughts on the afterlife. The loss of a friend or family member usually brings much of this to the forefront of our minds. This happened today as I learned a life long addiction to tobacco resulted in the termination of my grandfathers life this morning. I had learned he was sick more than a week ago. I had gone through the grieving process at that time, expecting I would move on once it was finalized. You know the waiting around for death is sometimes harder than the news itself.

I sit and I ponder. Not this person I hardly knew who I never will know any deeper, but the reality that here is another person whose life I had a chance to become a part, I no longer have that opportunity. The sting, for me, is knowing I missed my opportunity to have a relationship with my grandfather.

Grandpa, pops, there is a wide array of nicknames given to the individual who fathers our own father. In some cultures, such as Gaelic, they take their fathers name or grandfathers name as a surname. This is where you get Mac or O’ from. MacDonald means Son of Donald. O’Reilly means decedent of Reilly. It is a popular trope in television, a sight in many families, a grandfather teaching his decedents the way things used to be. I never had that.

I remember a story of when I was around six or maybe even five years old. I was returning from a church event in tears. I had learned a friends grandfather had passed away and it hit me, both of my known grandpas had both died either before I was born, or when I was too young to remember them. I processed this then and spent the next few years knowing in the back of my mind my mother had a father I never met and her stepfather had died before I was born. I later learned that last one was not the case. Not only was her step-dad still alive, she actually had a new stepdad still married to her very much alive mother, whom I had also never met up to that point.

I was 14 years old the first time I met either grandparent. Okay technically I was seven when they stopped in for an overnight visit once but I had the stomach flu and they were gone before I had a chance to really spend any time with them or form a lasting memory. Does that event count? I say not. At age 14 we moved across the country, in another of many moves but this time further than ever before. We did so mostly on my own account. That’s a story for another day.

We arrived in Sand Point Idaho, technically Ponderay, where my grandparents lived. I slept in a tent in their backyard. Grandpa Jim, he would come home, crack open a beer, sit in his chair and watch TV until bedtime. We sat down and ate supper as a family but, from what I remember, I was very distant and reserved so I hardly spoke. I took the time to bond slightly with grandma, but not nearly as much as I could have I suppose. Grandpa, he drove long haul trucks for a living. Despite living there an entire summer, he was hardly around long enough to formulate a lasting image of his face in my mind, let alone any mannerisms or details that would leave a mark.

When I was 16 he had a heart attack. I had only been away for barely a year from living with them a summer so the sting of knowing I might lose the closest thing I ever had to a real grandpa kind of hurt, like a lot. Enough that I ran to the pay phone and called the Pastor of our church to pray for him and then called collect to try to reach him or his wife in the hospital. I don’t have any solid memories of what happened next so I can’t be sure if we spoke or not. All I know is, well I never saw him again. Not a single other day in my life did I occupy the same space as the man I was calling Grandpa Jim. I did, however, get rather close to my Great Uncle Ed. He was a character for another story but helped shape who I became in a lot of ways. I guess you could argue, if you were in such a mood, he filled the role a grandpa might have otherwise. However, as I referred to him simple as Uncle Ed, I figured he fit the uncle bill much better anyways.

A week ago we learned he was dying in the hospital. At the time I knew it was inevitable but I wasn’t able to muster the funds, time, or will power to get in the car and make the trip. I can’t say I didn’t have some desire but I figured it wouldn’t have made anything better. Still, there is always regret in life. I don’t do a very good job connecting with people to begin with. I don’t really have anyone to blame, it just is what it is I suppose.

It is now, as I grieve not for my lost family member, but more so for my mother and also for my lost memories I never got to have. I missed out on. That will haunt me I am sure than the memory of losing someone I cared about. I say this as someone who has lost loved ones. I don’t feel guilt for not being more sad. I feel the appropriate amount of sad considering the circumstances. There isn’t going to be a funeral or memorial right away that I know about. I heard they will cremate him and the family will grieve. I will do my own reflecting as I determine is necessary for my own well being. I will offer support for those I care about who were closer to him than I was and I will do my best to not let it get me down.

Disney+ has arrived, here is a quick overview and first impressions

I was skeptical at first when I heard Disney was getting into the streaming business. My first instinct was the company’s existing catalog would not contain enough content to keep me interested. Even with the prospect of all the LucasFilm and Marvel Studio’s stuff I felt it would have a hard time filling all the gaps. Things turned around slightly when I discovered Disney had finalized its purchase of 20th Century Fox and its vast back catalog of quality content. This had me optimistic the service would truly offer something for everyone. As of right now, sadly, that is not exactly the case.

First up is the interface. Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. It works quite well. Polished and new yet very familiar it sports the features you would expect, a watch list, search function and category browsing. They even do the courtesy of lumping certain things together by topic, such as Disney Princesses or By the Decade. This was fine yet it made the library seem thin as each highlighted topic only focused on the most popular stuff.

Next up is the library.

This is what people care about. In terms of catalog content, there’s a little bit of everything surely to provide a good starting ground for those looking to sink their teethe into the Disney Vault. Yet, there is notably a few genres entirely lacking from the service. Horror, Science Fiction and Anime are notably scares, if non existent. I have yet to locate a single r-rated film, even from the Fox library. I searched a few I was familiar with and nothing came up. I did some digging and discovered there aren’t many, if any at all, currently scheduled to arrive either. I didn’t look too deeply but as of right now there aren’t any horror movies to speak of. Not even something as relatively tame and Disney produced as Something Wicked This Way Comes. In fact I couldn’t even find any articles online saying if the film was potentially coming or not. It could be the plan to keep the “adult” stuff like horror, anime and hard science fiction over at Hulu for the time being, which could explain the absence of those products on Disney Plus.

Being bundled with Hulu not a great way to satisfy a customer base constantly being asked to choose from streaming services. Sure, a bundle will offer a truly robust offering of quality content ranging from old animated shorts from the 1920’s up to current stuff airing on network TV today. Yet on it’s own the target market is most likely families with children and die hard Disney fans. I am neither. I am satisfied with all the Marvel animated content. As for Star Wars there is one obvious omission I felt should be there in the future, no not that terrible Holiday Special, that needs to be forgotten. I am talking about Ewoks.

Originals

Not great, not bad. I don’t care for remaking old Disney movies especially if the original is not available. Luckily in most cases if there is a remake the original is available for comparison’s sake or just posterity, which I support. Yet there were a couple of originals I did browse that caught my eye. The first is The world According to Jeff Goldblum. I gave this all of five minutes, if that, before I realized there was nothing there but an offhanded joke in some board room that was taken way to literally. Oops. Mistakes are made.

Then there is the big one everyone is sure to be talking about. The Mandalorian. This is one of those things I will devote an entire review to so all I will say now is this is the real hook of the service at this time. If you have no interest in this show but love Star Wars, I would highly recommend giving the 7-day free trial a shot just to check this out. It might be worth it to wait a week or two for a couple more episodes to be out if this is the only thing you might be interested in. However, I believe it was a highly entertaining series with fantastic movie-quality production values and the kind of Star Wars story-telling a huge fan of the Legends Expanded Universe is fond of.

Overall I give the service a B+ for its current offerings, but only if you bundle it with Hulu. Otherwise on its own merit I drop it down to a still solid but not excellent B-. I hate giving things letter grades, I prefer the star grading system for movies and video games but this felt like the best way to really convey how I felt about it currently. It has great potential. If they open the library up to R-rated movies, even PG-13 horror movies would help, they need more horror movies either way you slice it. That being said if you don’t care for horror movies at all or if you can get your horror fix from Hulu it’s worth the price of entry. It has a nice interface, decent family-friendly catalog and is priced fair for what you get, especially if you bundle with Hulu. That bundle is the catch though, without it the service has less inherent value and this could be a sticking point for some in the future, especially those who despise commercials or things expiring all the time. I did have some fun revisiting old Simpson’s and DuckTales episodes so the product has a place, at least for now, in my world. Stay Cool.