Monday, May 11, 2009

The power of inspiration

Last week, I bought the CD soundtrack to the movie Tron and have been listening to it almost non-stop in my car ever since. I have two copies of Tron on DVD. The first is the standard edtion that was released in the 90's. The second is the platinum edition that was released for Tron's 20th anniversary. Down in the basement storage closet, I think I still have the betamax copy of Tron that my aunt Claire and uncle Jack recorded for me off of cable tv back in the 80's. Somewhere in storage, is my first copy of the novel 'Tron' (I haven't seen it for years, but I know it's there safe and sound packed away in a box for safekeeping*).

Last Thursday, after mowing the lawn, working on my KAFI presentation, and running a couple errands, I sat down with a pizza and a soda to watch my favorite movie of all time. To answer your question: yes, there are better movies out there--Ghost in the Shell, the Matrix trilogy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy--but Tron remains my favorite.

I grew up watching Godzilla movies and trying to make flipbooks of him fighting monsters. I remember Saturday morning cartoons fondly when I would wake up and watch t.v. from 7 a.m. until well past noon (usually bookended by a British horror film on channel 50, sanitized for an American audience, of course). So animation has always been a part of my life, whether it was cartoons, Disney movies, or video games (and yes, I remember fondly being on the forefront of the 'Japanese Animation invasion'--though to call it an invasion does a serious injustice to the great impact Japanimation has had on the art of animation, IMNSHO).

I don't have very many fond memories of my childhood where my father is concerned, story for another time**. But one of the fondest memories was when, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, my father took me to see Tron in the movie theatre at the Meridian Mall. We missed the first five minutes of the show, coming in when Clu was in his tank with Bit and they were getting ready to 'merge with this memory'. Well, I was hooked. I wanted to be an animator. And, more than that, I wanted to be a computer animator. When my aunt Claire asked us if there were any movies that we wanted her to tape off of cable tv, the four of us each picked one movie and Tron was mine. I watched that movie over and over and the tape miraculously never wore out. With the possible exception of Mirrormask, I have watched Tron more than any other movie during my life!***

Tron continues to be my inspiration today. I am now a computer animator (with my educational background and experiences, I can also lay claim to being a traditional animator) and I work in my field as a forensic animator. But sometimes, when I am being challenged by a particularly difficult issue or am down on how my life hasn't turned out 'exactly' the way I wanted it to, it's helpful to return to the thing that inspired me down the road I have taken. Over twenty years later, I still feel refreshed and energized by watching Tron and I still find something new and exciting about the movie every time I watch it.

If you need a boost of energy for when you're losing focus, remember your own inspiration, and if you can, revisit it often and be thankful for it.

In the words of Stan Lee: 'Excelsior!'

* The copy of Tron, the novel apparently written off of the script, was obtained when a book club came to Bath Middle school and offered us a table of free books that would inspire us kids to read. For a kid with no money to buy a book, finding this treasure was truly a gift from God.

** Dad and I work together at Investigative Mechanics (my day job), so our history is currently a story with a sort-of happy ending. Dad and I will never be 'pals' per se, but we have built a casual friendship and working relationship and with the Lord's help are working to forgive and forget the past. Let's be honest, he may not have been the best father, but I wasn't the best son, either.

*** After 50 viewings, I lost count of the times I watched Mirrormask on DVD. So Tron is easily past a hundred viewings when I add in the times I've watched it since purchasing both DVDs and estimate the time spent watching it as a child.