Forgive and Never Forget

While I rarely watch the show live, and infrequently pay much attention to many of the skits beyond the opening and whatever gets buzz, I enjoy watching Saturday Night Live to see the news from the week be mocked as it is often a spot on skewering of something silly done by a world leader, news organization, or celebrity. My favorite part of the show is the Weekend Update segment with Michael Che and Colin Jost, and I am always enthusiastic to see them joined by Pete Davidson to give his hilarious and brutally honest observations on life’s happenings. A couple of weeks ago, in the wake of Kanye West’s bizarre end of show rant that was not aired live but went viral afterwards, Davidson made plenty of jokes, but also a poignant assessment of mental illness, bringing his own personal battle into the discussion as an example of how someone contending with such issues should not use them as “an excuse to act like a jackass”.

Last week, Davidson’s unfiltered take on political candidates in the midterm election was met with distaste from both sides of the aisle regarding his remarks of Texas congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw. Davidson described his surprise that Crenshaw, who has an eyepatch, is running for office and not working as “a hitman in a porno movie”. In truth, Crenshaw is a first time candidate for office and won his election seat to the 2nd Congressional District in Texas, which circles around the north and west of Houston. Crenshaw did this in spite of having been critical of Donald Trump’s rhetoric in the 2016 presidential election. However, Crenshaw is a military veteran, having served in the Navy as a SEAL from 2006-2016. He served on three tours, including in Afghanistan where he lost his eye in combat. He was moved to Bahrain and later South Korea, before finally retiring, but not before he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. Upon returning to the United States, Crenshaw attedning Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy.

Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw is an American hero who has served his country in its Armed Forces, and will soon serve it as a congressman, but what truly makes him heroic is his desire to unite Americans, not so politically as left and right, but in a manner too often ignored, in really connecting with veterans of the Armed Forces and the first responders in our communities. Not to mention, his ability to see past a joke, even one made in bad taste, to forgive and unite as we all should.

Yesterday was Veterans Day, but we should thank our veterans and first responders each day, and do more than offer a kind, yet simple “thanks for your service”. Where we can truly make a connection to those who give their all to keep us safe, we absolutely should offer back all that we can to do so.

Never forget,

Alex

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Snakes and Flamethrowers

Tomorrow is the most important day for citizens of the United States of America. If you have not already voted early or by absentee ballot, I strongly encourage you to do so tomorrow on Election Day. Check out your area’s ballot ahead of time on Ballotpedia and do the necessary research to determine who and what you want to vote for.

I have already studied up on mine, but determining which people I want in each position was easier for me this year because for the first time I have opted to vote completely based on party allegiance. I have always been more of a moderate, once leaning more conservatively and more recently more liberally, yet I am not seeking to vote for either party, but against one. I am not a fan of the two-party system, but it is what we have right now in the USA, and as much as I’d like for there to not even need to be a designation for my political figures as I would hope that they could work together to make my country and my world a better place, I realize that that is just not that realistic. It’s difficult for candidates to win without the backing of either the Democratic or Republican party,  so I’ve always looked more closely at the candidates themselves to determine if they are more in the middle like me and willing to work with others even if they do not agree with them on everything. In today’s political climate though, there is just no peace to be had if you sit on the right side of the aisle, and that has resonated with me to the tune of steering my votes definitively away from anyone with an “R” next to their name.

I hope that if you are a fellow citizen of the United States of America that you will vote tomorrow. I do not care if you vote the same as me; I just want you to exercise your most powerful right to choose who represents you and your needs. I am not attempting to sway anyone to vote similarly to me; rather I am seeking to explain how I came to my decisions in the hopes that you will also do your due diligence in vetting your candidates and issues, and I hope that you will factor everything into account to make the most informed decision you can.

As for my stance, I doubt that I will ever vote for a Republican candidate again. The Grand Old Party has lost itself in its urge to hold control, and I cannot abide its tactics and disgusting rhetoric.

I don’t appreciate the fear-mongering that this party stirs up in order to scare people into thinking that if they don’t vote for Republicans then bad things are going to happen. Look at this video from Vox about how this has been utilized in recent years to great effect:

Approaching immigrants are not the greatest threat to this country; our greatest threat is the same as everyone else’s: global climate change. That issue is constantly ignored or defamed by Republicans who often receive support from fossil fuel companies.

Republicans feed off of fear, as well as anger, and I am becoming increasingly angry… at them. I am fed up with the party who refuses to even bring the subject of gun reform to the table while continued shootings occur; who won’t denounce white nationalists and gets cozy with their support; who denounces science and facts and promotes falsehoods; who allows powerful men to get a pass for continued mistreatment of women; who turns a blind eye to foreign governments who commit atrocities as long as we profit from them; who attempts to distract from their own mishandling of health care with lies and fearful distractions; and most importantly of all, the party who absolutely refuses to work across the aisle with people with different ideologies from them.

Many of these same issues were pointed out by comedian Chelsea Peretti in a tweet urging voters to remember how distasteful Republicans have been:

Two of my favorite comedians who offer so much more insight than simple humor have also recently weighed in a recent interview you can see some of here:

I honestly would love to see Jon Stewart leading this nation in an elected or appointed role, but I know it is not his preference. I can certainly live with his continued sage wisdom offered to expose the hypocrisy of everyone. Furthermore, I would love to see more collaborations between him and Dave Chappelle, who remains my favorite stand-up comedian and the sharpest identifier and critic of racism and division among people.

Seth Myers spoke about the most recent news of the Republican push for his election while reiterating the same point of how the GOP is aiming to distract with fear to swindle voters:

Finally, I encourage you to take a look at another of my favorite comedians who regularly points out the problems in politics just like his old boss:

I am heartbroken by that. The separation of families is a greater crime than any perceived push across a border, and I am furious at the people who put this policy in place and seek to do it again. Besides comedians, I have liked the message sent by some politicians, such as this from Michael Bloomberg:

I am not a Democrat; I am an American who tries to keep a kind heart and an open mind. My views have changed and grown as I have, and I have always tried to maintain my path down the middle to ensure that I am not swayed by either extreme. I am not a fan of the Aristotlean bent stick remedy that calls for one to change his or her vices by shifting them to the opposite extreme, for this can become a shift back and forth between extremes that ignores the truly desired middleground. This is often observed in politics where the party in power gradually gives way to minority party. Republicans lose control to the Democrats who then lose control to the Republicans who then lose control to the Democrats and so on and so on and so on. We grow weary from watching the political ping pong. What’s the point if the shift is just going to happen again?

This time though, I urge the bent stick swing. Within Aristotle’s philosophy is a statement that is especially applicable to this American election. According to Aristotle, the reason why one with vices must work to shift to the opposite extreme is because people who are out of balance are usually unable to judge balance. In this case, Republicans as a whole do not realize how far they’ve gone because they have no sense of proper center anymore. They have shifted their ideology so far to the right that they are drifting dangerously closer to dictatorial fascism, and it is up to us, the American voters, to shift the center back to the center.

I included this video in my last post, but it is worth watching again here:

Thanks for reading and watching. Please vote tomorrow for what you believe in, not what someone tries to scare you into. Again, I do not care if you disagree with me, and I would rather have a full representation of the opinions of Americans provided in the best way it can be: your vote.

Alex

State of the Season 17 – The Fall of Autumn

Hello, and welcome to the seventeenth edition of looking back at the previous 12 posts on this site. Here is where I recap each of those posts and offer some additional information where applicable. Enjoy!

The first post in this most recent quarter is titled “Urban Decay” and provided some insight into the accusations that Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer withheld information regarding past assistant coach Zach Smith’s abuse of his wife Courtney Smith. After the investigation that was launched to look into this matter, Meyer was cleared, but suspended for the first three games of the season. The Buckeyes are now 7-1 and ranked in the Top 10 in the AP and Coaches Polls with an expected similarly high ranking in the first College Football Playoff rankings due out tomorrow. Nevertheless, I still believe that Meyer should have been held to higher scrutiny and feel it best if the school had fired the coach and athletic director Gene Smith. However, the cycle continues and in reaction to rumors of retirement, Meyer remarked recently that he intends to coach again next season.


“Let’s Get Hitched”, is not about marriage proposal, but about legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock and his amazing attention to detail.


“R-E-S-P-E-C-T the Queen of Soul” is my eulogy for another legend: Aretha Franklin.


“And the Winner is… Nobody” is my cynical reaction to the announcement of changes to the Oscars, with the addition of a Most Popular Film award being the most prominent… and problematic.

I wrote a bit about The Dark Knight is this post, and recently watched an interesting video that declared it a post-9/11 noir film. Check it out:


“Burnt Brazilian Bicentennial” is a first take of the fire that ravaged the National Museum of Brazil.

Here is a piece on what items are assumed to have been destroyed in the blaze.

This is not the last of Brazil’s problems unfortunately, as they once again face massive political corruption and have just elected an extremely far-right candidate to be their next president.


“Smokey Sausage and the Bundit” is my eulogy for Burt Reynolds, who had an interesting connection to my hometown.

Shortly after writing this, I saw Reynolds self-proclaimed greatest love, Sally Field, on her book tour for her autobiographical In Pieces. She is an amazing woman, and it is understandable that he loved her so much.


“Next Stop: Space!” is an early rendition of my annual Mach 1 Day post. This one came out about a month earlier, but there is a good reason for that. It’s also the fastest plane ever, so you can understand why it’s a little early.


I next put out an untitled post encouraging support for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance after complications from the disease claimed the vibrant life of a great woman I went to university with.


“Domestic Distrubance” is my reaction to a strange situation that I saw at the end of my work shift days before this post was published. It served as an unintentional reminder that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


I was, and still am, feeling downtrodden by continued news of powerful men pushing people around, especially through the mistreatment of women. My mind sought solace in cartoon humor, my favorite source of which is often Futurama, and there just happens to be a magnificent vessel of chauvinism in Zapp Brannigan. I though it best to title the post with one of his quotes; naturally I opted for:  “I Find the Most Erotic Part of a Woman is the Boobies”.


“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pubescent Teenager… Hahaha, ‘Hard'” is an appreciation for the great teen-focused comedy-dramas on Netflix that are Big Mouth and American Vandal. Watch them if you have not already.


“Spooktacular Songs to Haunt Your Halloween” is another round of 13 themes to have on hand for whatever you do Wednesday.

If you want more Halloween fun, then check out this video from the man who made it – not Halloween, but Halloween.

 

Thanks for reading! I hope that you will continue to occasionally look my direction on Mondays for more interesting tidbits, deep dives, subjective rankings, overlooked stories, and much more!

Furthermore, I hope that those of you living in the United States will exercise your greatest civic duty and power by voting next Tuesday, November 6.

As usual, I will end this State of the Season with a little extra, and as little as I like to push politics, this is important because we’ve got a problem here in America.

Spooktacular Songs to Haunt Your Halloween

Hello and happy early Halloween! We still have over a week until everyone’s favorite dress-up day, but considering I will be posting the State of the Season next week, and since many are celebrating Halloween more formally this weekend as it falls on a Wednesday, I am getting the jump on the jump scare festivities now.

I have composed a couple of lists in the past regarding both Halloween movies and songs, and discovered that they are many more than 13 frightening choices for each. Furthermore, I have since seen and heard more media that I feel merits inclusion, so it should come as no surprise that I am expanding my previous list of Halloween songs with a new set of 13 for you to add to your spooktacular Halloween party playlist.

“Abracadabra” – Steve Miller Band

The sizzling guitar in this great 1980s Steve Miller song is magical enouch to make it worth a listen, but I think it has a lot to offer to any Halloween atmosphere.


“Bad Moon Rising” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Popularized by preceding the famous transformation scene in An American Werewolf in London, this CCR classic is a surprisingly peppy take on the end of the world, and a welcome addition to any Halloween playlist.


“The Creep” – The Lonely Island

With an introduction and final words of instruction from the nicest creep around, John Waters, and a verse from the female creep perspective of Nicki Minaj, “The Creep” takes its place among The Lonely Island’s best, and in this case can serve as a fun addition that comes with its own dance!


“Devil Woman” – Cliff Richard

A soft-rock classic from the 1970s, there is plenty of the occult at play in references scattered throughout this tune to make it feel like more than just any “watch out for that lady” song.


“Feed My Frankenstein” – Alice Cooper

Just as Wayne’s World was greatly improved by the presence of Alice Cooper, so too will be your Frankenstein festivities, especially if you’re partying in Milwaukee!


“Halfsharkalligatorhalfman” – Dr. Octagon

Yes! You have met the dangerous 208 year old uncle of Dr. Octagon! The most “out there” offering on this list, but believe me, this bizarre buzz (and all that Kool Keith’s Dr. Octagon sends out over the spacey airwaves) is worth a listen and should be shared with friends. This song in particular is conducive for the eeriness of Hallow’s Eve thanks to its sharply silly lyrics and otherworldly tune.


“Hurdy Gurdy Man” – Donovan

This song also has a touch of the otherworldly, which is not unexpected from Donovan. It may be his most psychedelic song, and thanks to its excellent use in David Fincher’s Zodiac, it is one of the most creepy and unsettling songs forever associated for me now with the thought of a serial murderer who never was apprehended for his macabre misdeeds.


“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” – The Beatles

An even happier sounding song than CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising”, this tale of a deranged man with a shiny, silver hammer is even more disconcerting because of it’s light melody.


“Nature Trail to Hell” – Weird Al Yankovic

Nobody sets the atmosphere quite like Weird Al, who practically takes us into the movie theater where the trailer for the most hysterical sounding horror film is playing.


“The Number of the Beast” – Iron Maiden

A fantastic high-energy heavy rock jam that taps into the terror of the beginning of the end of the world at the hands of the worst Satan can muster.


“People Are Strange” – The Doors

This song is equal parts fancifully fun and unsettling, as only The Doors can do.


“Red Right Hand” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

There is no shortage of Halloween-worthy fanfare from this group, but Nick Cave’s best offering is this spectacular song that truly inspired me to write this list. Plus I love that resounding bell!


“Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” – From The Book of Mormon soundtrack

One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals, this incredible song is born of the guilt felt by one of the protagonists of the story after he has abandoned his mission partner because he wanted to go to Orlando. Initially he believes he has made it to the theme-park capital until he realizes that he never got on an airplane. This is when his surroundings turn to fire and brimstone and reveal the devil, his demons, and an intriguing quartet of evil souls.


Thanks for reading! Enjoy your favorite Halloween festivities with friends, family, and that demon that’s moving things around in your room, but only a few millimeters at a time. I hope you’ll all have a safe, fun time, and that you’ll return here next week for the State of the Season.

Stay spooky,

Alex

It’s Hard Out Here for a Pubescent Teenager… Hahaha, “Hard”

I have been hampered by sickness as of late, although it has allowed me to catch up on some shows in my Netflix queue. One such I binged through with relish was the recently released second season of Big Mouth. A brilliant, absurd animation spectacle from the collective comedic genius of Nick Kroll, John Mulaney, Andrew Goldberg, and Jennifer Flackett. If you have not watched it yet, I recommend it, for underneath the rich tapestry of colorful characters like the Hormone Monsters and Shame Wizard, as well as the hilarious quips about just about anything, is well detailed account of the troubles of teenagers and all that they deal with be it the sexual frustrations of an awkwardly growing and ever-horny body, the confusion of how to react to hormones and social pressures in a world filled technology able to document all that occurs, and the difficulty of dealing with the mistakes of one’s parents that are no fault of one’s own, but certainly feel that way. Big Mouth still has plenty of gross body humor with jabs at the frightening methods our bodies prepare for babymaking, but it’s how the show handles to pressure to keep your cool and love your friends through this all that makes it truly endearing to me, and for that, I thank the creators and writers for taking a look back at their own, undoubtedly embarrassing years, as turning them into one of the best shows to explore the hardships of children whose bodies are preparing for adulthood while their minds are drawn to the gutter.

But wait, there’s more! There is actually a show that I found to be even more introspective with its characters that features teenagers navigating a scary, tech-filled world that highlights their inadequacies, as well as the fallibility of the adults around them – and I found this show on the same streaming service! (I’m not paid for promoting Netflix here, but Netflix, if you wanna throw some dough my way, or take a bit off of my monthly subscription, that’d be tight!) American Vandal is grounded in more reality than Big Mouth, at least as far as it is live-action and there are no Hormone Monsters waddling around. It also serves as a great blend of comedy, mystery, and character study that ultimately takes a hard look at how we look at people. It serves as a lesson in passing judgement on someone until you really understand their situation, and encourages that deeper dive to discover how many layers there are to each person, no matter what you may originally assume.

I highly recommend you watch each of these magnificent shows and laugh and cry along with the excellent characters with each wild twist and turn. Need more convincing? How about a mashup trailer for both shows?

I also encourage you to return here next week for some more fun!

Toodles,

Alex

I Find the Most Erotic Part of a Woman is the Boobies

After losing a friend to cancer and faith in the American political framework to the same of a different variety, I have been fatigued in every way. My solution for such an ailment has always been to seek out the love of those I love, and work through our pain with humor. In a time when the uncaring dominance of privileged, sexist white men is apparent in all forms of media at all times of day, I find it cathartic to think back upon my favorite caricature of such a man, the space captain most afflicted by aa very sexy learning disability called sexlexia. I speak of course, of

ZAPP BRANNIGAN!

Hang in there, everybody,

Alex

Domestic Disturbance

I witnessed something disconcerting last week that I fear is not as unusual as I previously assumed. In my final hour of work of my final day of the work week, I was returning to my department’s building when I heard a great deal of shouting. At first I thought nothing of it; my building is on the edge of my institution’s campus and across the street is a particularly noisy neighbor who spends too much of his time yelling at his dog. I’m not a fan of that behavior, so I looked over to see what the poor golden retriever did this time to incur his wrath, only to discover that it was not the noisy neighbor and his dog, but a man and a woman exchanging words in a shouting match that also attracted the attention of a fellow employee. He and I looked on with concern as a young woman, probably around my age in her late 20s-early 30s, was walking quickly away, a bag in hand, on the sidewalk as this man, who looked to be slightly older, but not by much, was urging her to stop walking through “this neighborhood”. Now, our adjacent neighborhood is not always the nicest part of town, but this was in broad daylight, and it’s not an area known for constant crime as much as unruly residents (i.e. the aforementioned noisy neighbor who should be kinder to his dog). It was immediately apparent that he was not truly concerned for her well-being in the neighborhood though, as much as he was attempting to coerce her back into the van.

With continued shouting, it became apparent that they were husband and wife, and after one of his harsh pleas to get back in the car, she screamed back, “I’m done!” A brief series of similar exchanges occurred, and the woman started marching off. The man cursed, and frighteningly sped after her in the van. He pulled into the driveway of the next house (which my institution owns and staffs as an office) and they continued their shouting match. My coworker asked, “What’s that all about? Should we call somebody?” I resumed my pace back to my building to get to a phone, but stopped when I heard another voice: a child calling from the backseat of the van to the woman, saying, “Mom! Please get back in the car!” It sounded like one boy, but I cannot say for sure how many children were in the van. After a few more shouts, the woman returned to the van and got in. The man sped off and they were gone.

I went into the office and called security. Due to the angle, I was unable to get a license plate number, but I did get a basic color, make, and model of the van. Security had already been alerted to the shouting, but honestly I don’t know what they could do. It’s not like they could even pursue the van with their mobile unit for long – assuming it was even near the situation at the time. Even if security called the police (as I hope they at least did), what could they do? The woman got back in on her own volition. What I witnessed was a short domestic dispute, that hardly even merited a “disturbing the peace” charge, and certainly wouldn’t be followed up in a city with bigger problems at hand. There are extremely huge, real problems like armed robbery, gang violence, sex trafficking, and murder at play. A couple of young middle to upper class white people yelling at each other over nothing substantial is not making the six o’clock news, let alone the police blotter.

However, this does not mean that it should be overlooked. The police have little time or means to follow up on such a matter, yes; my work’s security is ill-equipped to actually handle such an interaction, and it didn’t take place on our property until the end, true; my random coworker and I do not have the authority or expertise to address such a situation, and even alerting one of the higher channels as I did is not a surefire bet to getting this situation looked into further. The cruel reality is that none of us have the ability to react to this situation in a helpful manner.

Nevertheless, prevention is the best medicine.

I don’t know that family. I ascertained that it was a married couple with one or more children, and it seemed apparent that the woman was unhappy that she was being mistreated in the relationship. I honestly do not know if she is physically abused, but given his tone, I can confidently say that she is emotionally mistreated. Maybe they married too early into establishing whether they were a good match and by the time she realized he was bad for her they had already had a child. She only returned to the van after the child spoke up. The need to care for the child exceeded her need to escape a toxic relationship. Whatever the reasoning for her getting together with the man, and whatever the reasoning for staying with him, it does not matter. What matters is that a woman is in a place she does not want to be, and a man is being aggressive toward her. Unfortunately, I can do nothing about it. My random coworker can do nothing about it. Our work security can do nothing about it. The police can do nothing about it.

But someone can.

Someone knows that family. At he fewest, there is one person who knows them and the situation at hand. If that scene transpired in random neighborhood in front of me and a coworker at the end of our workday, then it has reared its ugly head at home too. Perhaps one of their neighbors has heard the shouts, and maybe even has talked to someone in the family about it. A family member or friend of the family is sure to have at the least an inkling of what goes on between that husband and wife. I do not know them. I do not know where they live. I do not know how often such shouting occurs. But someone, somewhere does.

It is easy to feel helpless when you see signs of domestic abuse. It is frustrating for me to think back on and wonder if I did enough. Is there something I could have done more? I don’t know if it’s more frustrating to think that I could have done something and didn’t, or that I couldn’t have done anything else. Either way, the real key to stopping this from happening is to address it when I see it. If I knew someone was being abused – and remember that not all abuse shows in physical scars – I would report it. I’d tell whomever I needed to in order to prevent it from continuing. I might seek counsel from my mother, or my best friends, or my mentors, but I would share the information I needed to with the proper parties, and always including in those in any situation of abuse is the police. When I know with absolute certainty, and even when I just have a really weird feeling about it, I will report abuse to the police because at the very least, a report will be filed and that inclination of abuse will be marked. If enough “maybe, I’m not positive, but it just seems like something’s happening” reports come in, the authorities can take a closer look. We cannot let the fear of staining someone’s reputation scare us away from the possibility that they may be the one ruining someone’s life. Speak up when you see or suspect abuse. Even if it is a friend or family member, an abuser has a victim, and we need to do our part to protect the victim and not the abuser.

Thanks for reading, and good luck to you all in making the world a better and safer place for everyone. If you believe you know of a domestic abuse situation, please contact the local authorities, or at least share it with the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.

Thank you,

Alex

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