Monday, May 15, 2017

Man-Made Mess Conflates Climate Change

There needs to be, or better yet circumstances absolutely implore, a complete re-evaluation and, ultimately, overhaul to levee systems that directly have caused flooding throughout the United States. This is particularly true for the Midwest. Over the last few years alone, there have been two 100-year floods in the St. Louis metropolitan area due to blockage of the creeks, rivers and streams natural flood plains that has unintentionally created artificial ones in both inhabited rural and developed urban areas. Each passing year, over the last several decades, it seemingly gets worse, the situation beyond ridiculous.

My own neighborhood offers a trifling small-scale, and albeit less destructive, example of the grander problem at-large. For many years, my patio was a semi-secluded refuge for barbecue, bourbon and brooding. A few years ago, they decided to develop the feral pond and woodlands behind it into something more upscale. Complete with a fountain, quarried rocks and a variety of small bushes encircling it, it is still a charming, although quite different, enclave. Yet, the innate ambiance is gone, and it is no longer a fixture for those, like me, who preferred the reclusive privacy. Fortunately, the abundant wildlife adapted to and rebounded from the changes after a brief period of time, highlighting the ability of nature to always find a way.


(Disclaimer: For illustrative purposes only; this is not my backyard)

However, storms and winds, even the most calm, no longer are buttressed and stifled by the trees…because they removed most of them. The pond itself, even in the least severe rain, now regularly floods…because no longer are there enough trees to naturally siphon the overflow. The rocks, so precisely placed, are washed over by the rising tide…because they failed to study the average water level before and after it rains to properly place them. All they had to do was ask, but they didn’t bother to consult me during the installation. Thus, typically after every heavy rain, along comes the grounds crew to pump water from the pond to uncover the rocks, rather than actually fixing the problem by adjusting them so that they don’t get flooded in the first place.

Occasionally, one must tear it all down in order to rebuild; beyond the aforementioned, and obvious, environmental concerns, this is true with numerous circumstances. This is neither irreversible natural or human-influenced climate change. With proper foresight, effort and leadership, this is quite reversible. Otherwise, nature yet again will shame humanity’s vain ego, and exhausted questions will arise anew concerning futile measures meant to prevent its unforgiving backlash.

©2017 Steve Sagarra

Friday, December 16, 2016

Unexpected Serendipity By Chance

Over an entire lifetime, you will lose things and stuff. Some, if not most, of it will not detrimentally matter beyond interim vexation over the loss. They are nothing more than dust-collecting knickknacks and other junk, absent for whatever reason. Other items, however, might be precious keepsakes, accidentally discarded or misplaced. At some point, an inconsequential candle, in the form of a witch, disappeared during my childhood. No one in my family knows the exact moment of the confounded absconding, but one would guess the occurrence happened around Halloween. Yep, solid detective work on our part. Did it, opportunely, return to a shadowy coven to congregate with other witch candles? Did it, literally, get burned for its waxy curses? Did one of the family dogs, plausibly, ingest it? Whatever course fate navigated for its demise, it has become a pointed joke whenever something goes missing. “Guess it’s with the witch candle,” we will say when an object is unaccounted for and cannot be located.

Pumpkins weren't letting the cat out of the bag on what they knew...

My maternal grandfather, having served during the First World War, received a purple heart and several other commemorative medals for his service. Like the candle, they vanished at some indeterminate date on the calendar. Unlike the former, this instance was not a joke; rather, it was devastating. An incomparable piece of family history was gone. Before my dad passed away, he occasionally scoured the house looking for them. We knew that they had moved with us from our previous residence. While moving out a few years later after his death, my mom, sisters and I again thoroughly searched as we emptied the house of its contents. Literally, we looked in every plausible and unfathomable nook and cranny before vacating the premises. No luck. They were distressingly lost, undoubtedly relegated to the witch candle’s realm. 

For someone who once had been a meticulous and well-kept secretary, my mom was not the most organized person at home. Although she occasionally attempted to maintain the surface illusion of orderliness, her dresser drawers and other storage areas in her bedroom oftentimes were cluttered and disarrayed. While dad had been a restrained “pack rat” - mainly of newspapers and magazines - mom was, in modern-day vernacular, a profuse “hoarder.” Not anything nearly disastrous or debilitating that warranted professional intervention, but still an appropriate label. Unworn clothing, aforementioned curios, craft supplies and, for good measure, greeting cards kept for posterity, to name a few. Due to an oppositely spartan tidiness, I volunteered one lazy weekend afternoon to organize a brass trunk chaotically filled with the latter. 

Combing through the trunk, about halfway down, I came across a large manila envelope. Having fairly substantial, yet odd weight to it, these were no greeting cards. Cautiously opening the envelope, mindful in drawing out its contents, my eyes immediately widened with overwhelming exuberance and recognition: my grandfather’s medals, pinned to a piece of cardboard wrapped in plastic, returned from the abyss. Stunned by their astonishing, if not miraculous, restoration, I could not move. Instead, I stared at them in shocked awe and excitement. When I eventually came out of my trance, I hastily ran to show them to mom. Understandably, she was overcome with disbelieving joy at the sight of her dad’s recovered medals. Obviously, they inadvertently had been tossed into the chest years before, buried underneath the miscellany and forgotten.

While some frivolous things and stuff may be forever irretrievable, the cherished ones that hold special meaning and matter the most eventually, and opportunely, will find their way back.


©2016 Steve Sagarra

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Inward Significance For Imagination’s Sake

Honestly, I do not understand what people are expecting when they attend a movie or tune into television. For me, while I want to be engaged and perhaps given thought-provoking material, I also want to be entertained. Criticisms of the latest Star Wars offering, The Force Awakens, center around its supposed similarity to A New Hope; I love South Park too, and understand their nostalgia-fueled critique. Is it not enough, though, simply to appreciate that Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker once again graced our screens played by the original actors - even more, as an integral part rather than in glorified cameos - in an age of reboots? In a few weeks, we even will get another highly-anticipated prequel, Rogue One, to the original movie, as well as a Han Solo prequel movie in the near future. Given, in my opinion, George Lucas’ previous prequel abominations, I never could have imagined any more movies in the franchise. Wrong.

Nowhere is this more relevant than with cinematic and televised comic book adaptations. When I was a kid, I never dreamed of seeing the Batman, Captain America or Iron Man whose adventures that I poured over on the colorful pages in any kind of live-action format. Guess what? That happened in our lifetime - first with Michael Keaton’s Batman, followed by Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America. Now, it is difficult to imagine any of those characters without thinking of their fantastic portrayals. And while we still need to see more of his version of Batman, Ben Affleck - full disclosure, of whom I have never been a fan - has won me over as quite possibly the most genuine portrayal of the iconic character. Agents of SHIELD, Avengers and Justice League live-action? Forget about it, never would happen. Wrong.


Granted, there have been some misses among the hits. Nicolas Cage’s Ghost Rider, Thomas Jane’s Punisher and Ryan Reynold's Green Lantern come to mind. But you know what? Even as maligned as they might be, each of those versions are still entertaining. While Ghost Rider and Punisher have found successful new life on the small screen, perhaps the same fate awaits Hal Jordan on the big one. Yes, Hal Jordan. The other Green Lanterns - namely, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner - easily could show up in part two of the Justice League movies...thus, perhaps initiating a spin-off Green Lantern Corps movie franchise? You listening DC Comics?

Then along comes Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. I mean, how could anyone replace Lynda Carter’s 1970s version? Not a chance, right? Yep, wrong again! As if the lasso of truth itself has wrangled around our collective minds, I have never been more excited for a movie. From her performance in the wrongly criticized Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to the trailers, this solo movie looks not only to be an epic comic book adaptation but also one of the period piece variety. Call it sexist if you want, but the majority sentiment that Gal is hot in the part is undeniable. You know what else? From the footage so far, she also embodies the very essence of Diana from Themyscira, aka “Diana Prince,” as envisioned in the comic books since her creation by William Moulton Marston in 1941:  god-like strength but compassionate warrior; preference for peace and love over war and violence; symbol of female empowerment and independence.


DC Comics and The CW Network just finished an epic and fun crossover among their television shows, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the much-anticipated Defenders and Punisher series are riding high. Yet, by all accounts, both companies have much more planned for future development. What, are you kidding???!! We are living in a golden age of live-action comic book adaptations...get over yourselves, stop complaining and enjoy the entertainment!

©2016 Steve Sagarra