The Crazy Daisy that Sprouted from Savannah

Daisy was always into something. Naturally curious and creative, and a bit a klutz, she had no shortage of interests and injuries as a child. She wasn’t exactly a troublemaker, yet trouble did arise throughout her life. As a little girl born in Savannah, Georgia right before the breakout of the American Civil War you could imagine what trouble could have found her. Fortunately, her uncle was buds with a certain Union general on a march to the sea, and when Sherman came calling in Savannah, the city’s hospitality – and more importantly, surrender without resistance – saved it and its residents from the infamous burned to the ground fate that places like Atlanta had suffered. Daisy’s family was permitted to take refuge from the rest of the war and some of the South’s recovery from it in Chicago, and as she grew, she expanded her interests throughout the Eastern seaboard and abroad.

Poetry, painting, horseback riding, hunting, and many, many more activities were mastered by Daisy in America and Europe, the latter of which she visited and traveled around to chase a boy. She and this young man, William Low, were married in Savannah in 1886, yet while he was Oxford-educated, Daisy was the one with a more extensive set of experience that she added to constantly. She could worked with her head and her hands in equal measure in numerous fields of art and skill, and she thirsted to learn more. Unfortunately, William only had a literal thirst and knack for accruing gambling debt and and other women.

The couple suffered through a loveless marriage in a tailspin. Divorce laws at the time favored men, and when William had a stroke, Daisy ceased the proceedings of their slow separation for the reason that he could not defend himself. She felt it was the fair and just thing to do to. William died in 1905, and the rotten jerk left her little in his will with most of his wealth going to the woman he blatantly cheated on Daisy with.

Daisy was let down, but don’t think for a moment that that stopped a woman of her fortitude from continuing to seek out new educational experiences. Her continued quest to better herself stretched once more across the pond, where she met a pair of people who had started something she was quite a fan of. Already a major player in charity, Daisy was hoping to give back to others, especially girls with expansive interests like her. In 1911, she met Sir Robert Baden Powell and his sister Agnes. Baden Powell was the founder of the Boy Scouts, and with Agnes had started a branch for females called the Girl Guides. Daisy loved it. She started up groups of Girl Guides near her home in Scotland and later in London, before bringing it all back home to Savannah and the States. As the program grew in size and offerings, it was renamed. Similar to how a girl born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon became Daisy, and later Juliette Gordon Low, the Girl Guides she founded in Savannah on March 12, 1912, became the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Like its formidable founder, the Girl Scouts grew into an organization that embodies eager learning of a variety of life skills. Today, almost 2 million girls participate in the program started by “Crazy Daisy”, and learn about stewardship, community, and self-improvement, and for 107 years, they’ve been doing a lot more than just selling cookies.

Thanks for reading! If you have young girls in your family, be sure to check out Girl Scouts to see if it’s a great experience for them!

Until next week,

Alex

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If We Make Earth Jealous of Other Planets Will it Become Green with Envy?

Hide your cars; hide your planes; hide your cows, cuz they be taking away everything out here!

Such is the ridiculous sentiment of much of the United States’ Republican leadership in opposition of the recently proposed Green New Deal. Certainly, many of the Republicans in the House and Senate, and especially the White House, are taking pieces of the resolution out of context or warping the words altogether to frighten us into thinking that the measure will be the end of our beloved freedoms and way of life.

While the Deal is restrictive of some aspects of our daily lives – especially in regards to greenhouse gas emissions – fortunately, it does not mean that you’ll never get to drive or fly again, or that the government will be coming for Bessie, your prized, blue-ribbon Holstein Friesian.

It can be difficult to figure out what any large piece of legislation is aiming to do, and the Green New Deal (GND) is no exception. So let’s take a closer glance at what its deal is.

The GND was put forth by instant all-star congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and less charismatic, yet more established senator Ed Markey. Yes, there is a bit of an age gap: she’s 29; he’s 72, but he still hits the club dance floor like its 1969. However, this does help to show that the issue the GND is addressing is not merely a young woman’s or old man’s problem; this is something that affects us all. This something that the GND resolution takes aim at is the most important and pressing emergency humanity is facing: global climate change.

I have written a lot on climate change in the past, and this is a trend that will continue. AOC and Senator Markey, along with the support of many within their Democratic Party, are attempting to get the United States of America to take drastic action to combat the effects of global warming, and have crafted their plan in the GND. It’s called the Green New Deal to parallel the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. That New Deal was put in place to restore employment opportunities to Americans whose lives were derailed by the Great Depression. This newer, meaner, greener New Deal is also set to usher in a bevy of new employment opportunities – called “jobs” by us non-politicians – with the emphasis being placed upon areas that will help the USA shift its reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy, and make outdated technology and infrastructure better and more streamlined. It’s essentially a necessary update that America has been pushing the snooze button on for too long, and clicking the Green button to enact it will not delete all of our preexisting data in the form of cars and cows, but will instead offer us better options for travel, farming, and more, and in order to make these switch-overs we will need to create a significant number of new jobs to tackle the challenge.

There is more to the GND as it is a hefty resolution, and like all hefty resolutions, not everything will be accepted and will probably be excised out of the final legislation. Trimming it down may be necessary to gain approval from enough of the more moderate Republicans (if those even exist anymore) to put the GND into effect. At their most down-to-Earth, Republicans attempt to cast the GND as too expensive, to which Democratic supporters highlight the humanitarian necessity of action. It makes addressing climate change a cost vs moral issue, and when such is the scale, issues too often are shooed away sadly because money talks, and people don’t like to part with it – even when you show them that the upfront cost will be offset in the long-term (as will be the case here). Some attempt to shoot the GND down for myopic concern that it is “impossible to afford”.

The Green New Deal, and any other climate change mitigation measure that will ever be made, is impossible to afford… if we do not adopt it.

The GND does have a lot of supporters though. Clearly I’m for it, and so are many others my age and younger. Many liberally-aligned politicians are onboard as well, but this does not mean that everyone blue is for the Green. Notably and ironically, two major Democratic figures from California – the state that leads the nation in climate change mitigation policy – have not only come out against it, but worse, have patronized it. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has pushed it aside presumably because she has better things to do, stating that it will not pass in today’s Congress. She is sadly probably right, but that’s no excuse to brush it off, especially when it has so much support from the young future voters she and many of her fellow long-term, experienced peers are so frequently horrendously out of touch with. Look no further for an egregious showcase of this in California senator Dianne Feinstein’s abysmal reaction to a group of schoolchildren who came to her office to ask for her support on the GND:

How utterly condescending. This is a prime example of how not to speak to children. Using terms like “million vote plurality” doesn’t often resonate with that audience too greatly. These are children who have done their research and are exercising their right as Americans to urge their political representatives to take their wishes into consideration. I understand the cynacism of Feinstein, Pelosi, and others skeptical of the realistic probability of the GND as is to pass, but that is no excuse to belittle your constituents.

Some have attempted to support Senator Feinstein by pointing to the full length video (which you can watch here). Feinstein does go on to explain more about her version of the GND and states that she will consider again the current resolution. She even offers an internship to the 16 year old she shrugged off earlier because she was too young to vote. Nice save Dianne… NOT! (I hope you read that in Borat’s voice). Ultimately, there is no way to salvage Feinstein’s behavior toward a group of children.

On the other side, I am really impressed by the passion of those children! I love the kid who reacts to the senator’s brush off of the 16 year old’s inability to have voted for her by shouting out, “It doesn’t matter! We’re the ones who are going to be impacted!”

I applaud all of these kids who rightfully demanded better out of Feinstein, especially when by reiterating the undeniable circumstance that they have a voice and it’s her job to amplify it in Washington: “We need your leadership.” Way to go, California youth!

If you want to learn a bit more about the Green New Deal and politics surrounding it, then check out this article and these videos:

Thanks for reading and watching! Remember to always make sure your voice is heard by your representatives in office, especially when the fate of the world is on the line!

Be sure to return here next week for more fun! And, be sure not to address people, kids most of all, in a condescending manner.

Environmentally yours,

Alex

The Princes of the Universe

In 1970, Brian, an aspiring astrophysicist was playing around on his acoustic guitar and crafted a killer riff. Bringing his electric guitar into the mix, he shredded off a solo in a style all his own. His friend Roger laid down a vivacious drum beat that demanded he also contribute a solo from the percussion side. They still didn’t have anyone to pick up a bass guitar, but they did have a singer – an shy, yet eager young man named Farrokh who had been born in Zanzibar. Brian now had the music, and set about writing lyrics for Farrokh to sing. What he put down on paper was something of a self-satire. He wrote about how even if he followed the advice of his parents, peers, and loved ones, and sought to improve himself through hard work, he’d probably still be in the same place, scrapping out a living. Ironic, for a man studying the movement of the stars to critique the idea of becoming one in his passion pursuit of rock and roll music.

The result was cynical lyrics from a smirking sometimes rock guitarist. I say smirking because he and the others had recently changed the name of the band from Smile. Brian offered up his verses to Farrokh’s vocals and something amazing happened: Brian suddenly felt that the song was uplifting. Sure, his guitar was rollicking, and Roger’s drums were thumping and bumping; all the music was moving uptempo, providing a high energy jam, but the lyrics had originally been almost depressing despite this… except when Farrokh belted them out. His emotion and ability to master the fast pace of the music made the words come alive as a sort of anthem of empowerment. Take a look at the lyrics of the first verse for yourself:

I was told a million times
Of all the troubles in my way
Mind you grow a little wiser
Little better every day
But if I crossed a million rivers
And I rode a million miles
Then I’d still be where I started
Bread and butter for a smile
Well I sold a million mirrors
In a shopping alley way
But I never saw my face
In any window any day
Now they say your folks are telling you
Be a super star
But I tell you just be satisfied
Stay right where you are

You can see how these lines could be construed as a bit of a downer unless the right vocal backing transforms them into the opposite. Of course, there is also the difficulty of getting the words out in time with the music. Try singing it. Now trying singing it all in less than 30 seconds. Kinda tough, right? Clearly, Farrokh had a gift.

Farrokh empowering the music through his energy, spirit, self-confidence, and amazing talent continued this trend on all the music to come. The trio found themselves a bassist, John Deacon, and they found a new identity. Farrokh became Freddie, Smile became Queen, and the band became one of the greatest musical acts of all time.

It may be all too fitting for a man who changed his surname from Bulsara to Mercury to fly too close to the sun, but the bombastic stage presence of Queen’s lead singer was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to his personality. I wish we could have seen a bit more of this in the Oscar-certified fresh biopic Bohemian Rhapsody for which actor Rami Malek just won an Academy Award for his awesome portrayal of Freddie Mercury (way to go Mr. Robot!), but for all its missed beats, historical inaccuracies, and cliches, I still loved the film for two reasons: 1) amazing music and performances that did the original songs and shows justice; and 2) showcasing how the bonds of the band were greater than anything. The fearsome foursome, and their friends like Freddie’s partners Mary Austin and Jim Hutton, were family who, like all families, could feel those bonds strained by hardship, yet never broken.

If you have not yet seen Bohemian Rhapsody, I recommend it. It was one of the most recent movies I have watched and definitely one of my 2018 film favorites. However, if you want to really experience Queen and the majesty of Freddie Mercury, there is no better way to do so then listen to the music they made together; it is a gift from the gods of rock and roll. Queen has always been one of my favorite bands and I’ve long loved their music, even if it hurts sometimes from all the ferocious headbanging. Nevertheless, I proclaim here and now, as unbiased as humanly possible, what I have known as fact from the first listen of the song “Bohemian Rhapsody”: Freddie Mercury is the greatest singer who ever lived. And live he did, from his meteoric rise with Queen to his tragic death from complications from AIDS at 45. Freddie’s indulgences are well documented in the movie, but they were always fairly well known because the man was always his true self on stage, where he was perhaps the greatest entertainer ever.

Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert are great singers and have done well to provide vocals for Queen in more recent tours, yet no one can ever match the majesty of Mercury. Listen to Freddie and the band in the demo for “Keep Yourself Alive”, the song from above:

Need further proof? Probably not as much as you need another dose of that rock and roll! Either way, consider the grandest rock concert this world has seen (which makes for an excellent film finale):

Thanks for reading and watching! Be sure to return next week for more fun!

Keep Yourself Alive,

Alex

We Want the D

Let’s get into one of the finest genre-bending films ever made, and I mean really get into it. I’ve been a fan of Quentin Tarantino for some time now, and I really like a lot of his movies. Reservoir DogsPulp Fiction, the Kill Bills, Inglorious Basterds – they’re all great and rank highly on my all-time favorites list. However, the most complete film in Tarantino’s repertoire just may be Django Unchained, a kinda western revenge flick, with some major depth to it. Check it out:

And here I thought I was hot shit just because I knew Franco Nero – the guy who played the original Django in 1966 – had a cameo in the movie:

Props to Tarantino for letting Nero get a moment to shine that is as smooth as melted butter.

Yet the grandest props for the director come in the finest sequence in the movie, when Django and Schultz track down the Brittle Brothers, the trio that Django used to suffer at the hands of, and the group that Schultz is seeking to kill and collect on. The Brittles, in an ironic way, help free Django; Shcultz needs someone to point them out before he kills them, after all. However, Django does perfectly fine on his own, taking out two Brittle brothers, all the while dressed in his brilliant blue freedom outfit. I particularly love how Django turns the tables on the Bible-spouting Brittles by surprise shooting and whipping the piss out of them. He dishes out a mere taste of the torment that they gave to him and so many others, and does it all with an audience of shocked slaves marveling at his freedom to audaciously annihilate violent men with violent means. Finally, when Schultz arrives to see what the commotion is, Django points him in the direction of the final Brittle brother, and after a brief bit of Tarantino quality banter, Schultz fires his rifle and strikes true on the last bounty of that search. The bloodspray on the cotton is beautiful from a technical, visual, cinematic standpoint, but it also serves an overt, but not unwelcome, allegory for the true price of the economic crop that is cotton.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to return next week for more fun!

Django!

Alex

Is Mayonnaise an Instrument?

We didn’t need much.

A simple opening verse that transitions into the preset medley of songs after one and a half minutes at most.

There’s no need to attempt to highlight the high points of each character’s struggle, such as our episode protagonist, Squidward Tentacles, foolishly attempting not to best his rival, Squilliam Fancyson, but to merely prove to him that Squiddy’s not a total fuckup. Squidward pushes past his prejudice and gives his all to train his fishy fellows in Bikini Bottom. He’s knows he’s too cultured for their barbaric manners, but he powers on in vain to make them the best damn band in the sea. And when all hope seems lost, and his total embarrassment seems assured, what does Squidward do? He bravely stands, raises one of his many arms, and moves to conduct his ragtag band who is dangerously inept with their instruments. And in a beautiful showing of validation for such a courageous act, Squid’s savage strings, brass, and percussion blow the roof off the sucker in such rockin’ fashion that Squilliam faints from disbelief, leaving Squidward to jump for joy in the happiest moment of his life, shared with coworkers and acquaintances who have shown him true love and friendship in mastering a piece of music.

It is heartwarming and funny, as SpongeBob SquarePants so frequently was. The “Band Geeks” episode aired in the show’s second season on Nickelodeon in 2001, and has endured as a classic from the show and network ever since. I loved SpongeBob from the start, and I love and miss the show’s creator, Stephen Hillenburg, who died last November at the age of 57. How many people get to call themselves a cartoonist and marine biologist? For this wonderful man and his wonderful show, this site will always give SpringBoob SquirePin and all his best buddies their due:

Thanks for reading and jamming along! Be sure to return next week for more artistic appreciation!

Way to go, Dallas Stars!

Alex

Rosa’s Ride

106 years ago, Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, the same city that has seen the torment of black Americans and their struggle for civil rights in the United States. The small city in Macon County has been the the site of horrors like the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and before that, of course, slavery; but also the birth of hope in the form of striking down racial gerrymandering in the verdict of Gomillion vs. Lightfoot, and the establishment of the Tuskegee Normal School, which would become the Tuskegee Institute and now Tuskegee University. Over its many years as an educational institution that has always been open to black Americans (something that sadly was not the case for every school), the school that would grow into Tuskegee University was co-founded and first helmed by Booker T. Washington, was the site where professor George Washington Carver conducted and and shared much of his agricultural research, and served as the training base for the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the first black pilots in the United States military.

Like her birthplace, Rosa Parks also bore a significant burden in the battle for civil rights, and she showcased hope for the future of all downtrodden Americans as she became an icon to rally around in the name of righteousness. As you have undoubtedly heard, Rosa Parks became well known for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, which in turn kicked off the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a major win for the civil rights movement as after a year it brought about a Supreme Court ruling that made bus segregation illegal. Rosa Parks was a secretary for the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter, and she continued to be an activist throughout her life. However, she was not the first black American to be arrested protesting the stupidity of segregation on Alabama transportation. Parks was one of an army of civil dissidents, and she happened to be the best story to broadcast to spread the message of the plight of black Americans in Montgomery. The message got out, for sure, proving that the NAACP and other civil rights organizations made the right call with Rosa, but we should also appreciate the sacrifices of all the others who suffered the same as her, and the others who were willing to do so and were fortunate enough to not be arrested.

In addition to remembering Rosa Parks on her birthday, we should also give due props to an entire nation that made a big governmental move on this same day back in 1794. In the midst of its Revolution, France abolished slavery throughout its homeland and colonies. Similar to the earlier American Revolution that established the United States of America, one of the revolutionary stars was a general who led the national army to numerous victories and eventually became the leader of the newly established government. Unfortunately, this military man-turned-leader in France was Napoleon Bonaparte, a far cry from George Washington indeed. Napoleon reinstated slavery in France’s colonies in 1802 as a means of holding power in places faraway from France. Nevertheless, Haiti, led by Toussaint Louverture and his army of former slaves, had made the most of their own revolution from France, and two years later, Haiti declared independence, having defeated Napoleon’s forces sent to reclaim the colony.

On the surface, Tuskegee may seem like any other city, and February 4th may seem like any other day, yet both have a rich history of good and bad that has shaped the world for the better, even if there have been bumps in the road along the way.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy the rest of your February 4th, and that you’ll return here again next week.

Warmest wishes on a winter’s day,

Alex

State of the Season 18: Politics, Philosophy, and Perigee

It’s been a wild three months, and I’ve blabbered on about a lot during that span, so let’s take a look back at what caught my interest enough to earn its place here over the last 12 weeks:

“Snakes and Flamethrowers” – On the eve of the United States’ Midterm Elections, I fleshed out my frustrations with the Republican party and demanded better from them by booting many of their members out of office. It seems that I was not the only one who felt this way.

“Forgive and Never Forget” – In the midst of so much dueling politics and anger following the election, a heartwarming moment poked through the gloom in the form of a funny apology made by Saturday Night Live‘s Pete Davidson to Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw.

“Excelsior!” – We lost a king of entertainment in Stan Lee last year, but fortunately, we’ve still got a few already filmed final cameos to look forward to.

“Hard Hitting Truth” – The harsh reality of a situation is not always the easiest to process and live with, especially when it pertains to our favorite football team and the sorry state of safety within the game.

“Hey, How Come My Dad Didn’t Give Me Any Mitochondrial DNA?” – Sometimes a scientific discovery offers a world of wondrous potential breakthroughs to provide us with greater insight into our origins and helpful health solutions that previously did not seem possible.

“Skin the Survivor: The Amazing Life of An American Icon” – The life of former President George H.W. Bush was an incredible story.

“Furry, Feathery Flyers” – Further new scientific findings, this time in regards to the early aviators of the Earth.

“Yes and… Merry Christmas!” – This holiday hodgepodge of short and often improvised comedy featured some of my favorite Christmas chuckles, chief among them, Superego. If you’re interested in more from Superego, check out this full episode which features my favorite sketch with Don Dimello.

“Play That Inspiring Music!” – My latest collection of must-hear songs for making the most of your life and enjoying your experiences.

“Still Super: 2018’s Stupendous and Not So Spectacular Silver Screen Selections” – My latest recap of the films I saw that were released in the last year. I have since seen Vice, and would place it on my top tier of films. Props to Black Panther on scoring a Best Picture Oscar nomination! Lastly, if you want more answers to the ouroboros of questions that is Annihilation, then look no further than the great source of Alt Shift X.

“The Emperor’s New Hemagglutinin Antibodies” – Promising research on a universal flu vaccine using llamas!

“Way Cool Awesome Neat Astronomy” – A concise explanation of what exactly a Super Wolf Blood Moon is. I took the cover picture in my own backyard! Which is why it’s not astounding. But hey! No worries, for I do have some amazing pictures to share….

As a customary bonus with the State of the Season, I encourage you to take a gander at these gorgeous photographs taken by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. The swirls of gas and dust on our solar system’s largest planet look like a natural Vincent van Gogh painting.

To anyone discovering this site for the first time, thanks for visiting! I hope you like what you see and will be back again. To those of you who have been here before, thanks for sticking around! I hope you all will enjoy what the future of this site has to offer. You won’t have to wait long either as, like always, I will have another post ready for reading next Monday. Until then, be safe, be good, and be excellent to each other!

Party on, dudes,

Alex

Making Mondays a little less Mondayish for all with words to educate, inspire, and try out my stand-up routine with.