A beautiful set of people introduced me to Coursera.org and I enrolled in a handful of classes that sounded interesting. My first class from Yale University made me feel intellectual and brilliant. A second class on slavery reinforced the truth about how little I really know. And then I enrolled in a class with Wesleyan University, which I expected would be enjoyable and entertaining. As it turns out, I was underestimating the course entirely. The class (along with my old-school, Netflix DVD-shipped-to-my-home membership) guided me down a five-month journey towards an outstanding outing and a stepping off that transformed my life. Also, it completely pushed me out of my comfort zone and scared the shit out of me in a way that I needed to be scared.
The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color began with the silent film era when music told the story. The class transitioned into the auditory delights of the gangster films and the Marx Brothers. With each progressive lesson forward in time, a new set of DVDs would arrive in my mailbox allowing me to enjoy the full force of the cinematic lessons, not just the handful of clips included in the digital syllabus. I did not comprehend the full measure of truly dramatic ocean adventures created before The Poseidon Adventure and Das Boot, but clearly I had much to learn about the use of sound in film.
When we moved on to color, I discovered my failure having never appreciated all the romantic presumptions placed upon Rock Hudson until I viewed All That Heaven Allows (don’t get me wrong, I saw Giant but anyone starring opposite James Dean does not get my undivided attention). The one film from the course I’d seen – and more than once at that – starred another sweep-me-off-my-feet star in The Adventures of Robin Hood. The last film of the course, again drawing attention to the use of color, starred Adam Sandler, but I’m not what you’d call a fan, so I did not expect much of Punch-Drunk Love. Much like the ship, Rock, and the nuances of sound and color, the film rocked (pun intended) my world, but not in and of itself.
By the spring of 2015, I hover on the edge of greatness, just one state away from completing Project Fifty (see Forty-Nine from August 2012) with only the Aloha State awaiting me. But it’s been more than four years since my last addition, and I often think the jewel in my crown will be bestowed when I reach my mid-century mark. As I wrap up the last cinematic offering in my online film class, I am suddenly struck that Barry, an average person by all cultural measures, decides impetuously to travel to Hawai’i. I am floored by the lack of reality. No one just goes to Hawai’i. It is a destination that is planned and prepared and anticipated and…
But a kernel of movie popcorn gets stuck in my craw. How much does it even cost to go to Hawai’i? Barry is saving his bonus points from the pudding he has been eating (and truthfully, who doesn’t love pudding?), which he needs to cash in his points and what not, but even so, going to Hawai’i isn’t pocket change, right? Besides the cost, if I ever go to Hawai’i, I anticipate I will make it a full-throttle excursion leading up to the hop across the Pacific (see Jumping Off Point from January 2012). Maybe I will find my way to the west coast, whether by plane, or car, or who knows, maybe someday I will meet someone who wants to take me there (see Somewhere from March 2020). But I wonder, so I start searching for flights to Hawai’i just to see how much it will cost me, you know, someday.
$200. One way from San Jose to Honolulu costs $200. Just one week ago, I was still marveling at The Ghost Ship and today I am the owner of a one-way ticket to Hawai’i. Sure, my reservation is not until the end of my summer in the Bighorns (see Hills And Mountains from December 2021), and if I forego the experience entirely, I’m only out $200. Also, there’s the whole truth that I’ve always professed: when I finally go to Hawai’i, I might never return. And now I am in possession of a flight to the fiftieth state – my fiftieth state. You know, there’s a damn good chance I might go and never come back. I never thought of myself as impetuous, but then again, I never thought about Rock Hudson as a romantic lead. But here I am: leaving my car and all my belongings in a storage lot in California, wheels up, being served a Kona Longboard looking out the plane window. I am someone who just goes to Hawai’i.
Thank your for reading and enjoying blog post #400 on this amazing adventure through life and all fifty states, especially the fiftieth state.