May the Fourth be with you! Happy Star Wars Day everyone! Star Wars Day of course officially started all the way back in 2011 in Toronto, Canada, but we all know it is the continued May the Fourth be with You and Revenge of the Fifth celebrations by the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team that really keeps it going (I love that kid in the Ewok costume!). There’s nothing minor about them. I hope that the First Order doesn’t see fit to continue constructing Death Stars as the third time most certainly won’t be the charm and I am a strong advocate against planetary destruction (but more on that later). I celebrate this year’s day of dedication to that galaxy far, far away in eager anticipation of revisiting it in 228 days when my most anticipated movie of 2015 is finally released along with my burgeoning sexual tension.
I am excited now though, especially after a weekend of temperatures in the 70s and 80s F. Such nice weather makes me hopeful that winter might end soon here. Honestly, we’ll have more to contend with from higher temps than I enjoyed this weekend soon, but I am still looking forward to summer for the chance to wear less clothing, enjoy a few beers outside, and watch superheroes, robots, and dinosaurs leave chaos in their wake until the leaves start changing colors.
The past three months featured an eclectic assortment of writing from me, so this third installment in my seasonal review series will be all across the board.
Back in the beginning of February – the true cruelest month no matter what T.S. Eliot says – I offered my opinion on the tradition of Black History Month in “Why Black History Month Is Bullshit”. You can probably guess my general feeling toward it all, but I hope that my reasoning is logical. As anticipated, I got responses from people with views on both sides of the issue, but all of them took it too far one way or the other for my liking. I had to disallow another blog from featuring this post because they felt I was saying something completely different from what I was trying to construe. I assume they only read the title. I encourage you to read the whole thing before you pass judgment on me, yet once you do read it please send me your thoughts.
The next post, “All About Oscar: A Highly Opinionated and Occasionally Entertaining Guide to Films Revered by a Naked Golden Statuette”, generated less controversy. It served as my “It’s my birthday and I’ll write what I want to” post and allowed me to have fun scrutinizing films of all eras, classic and obscure alike, in order to generate three top 10 lists: The Best Best Picture Winners; Best Picture Nominees That Didn’t Win That Should Have; and Best Pictures That Weren’t Even Nominated For Best Picture That Should Have Won Best Picture. I churned it out in time for this year’s Oscar Ceremony which saw Birdman win the top prize, but I stand by this list still today, so if you’re looking for just what the title says then this is the list for you.
I vented my frustrations over the Disneyland measles outbreak and the anti-vaccination community in “An Apple A Day Won’t Do Shit Against Smallpox”. This was an instance where I looked back at some notes from my school days to shed light on the situation. I hope I presented it in simple enough terms for everyone to understand that they need to get vaccinated for the sake of themselves and everyone else.
I next wanted to write an appraisal of my favorite record in the week of its 40th anniversary, but the best laid plans got set aside in the wake of the death of two of my childhood heroes: marine biologist Eugenie Clark and actor/artist Leonard Nimoy. In “Shark Lady and Spock: In Memoriam” I presented my own eulogies for the pair and reflected on the impact they had and continue to have on my life. Rereading today shortly after hearing blues legend B.B. King entered into hospice care made me realize how brief our time here really is, as well as how little I’ve done comparatively. Damn it! Why wasn’t I blessed better focus for scientific study, acting ability, or mad blues guitar skills?! Perhaps I’ll find my calling in mediocre writing once a week.
I got around to revering my favorite band and my favorite album in “Let’s Get Physical: A Celebration of the Highest Flight of Led Zeppelin”. I went along the double LP song for song as I made the case for Physical Graffiti not only as the best album from the gods of rock (yes, even better than Zeppelin IV), but the best from anyone. Sure, it helps that it’s a double album, but the best is the best. I’m sure you’ll find it at the very least pretty damn good.
A few months back I looked through a stack of vinyl records my parents had accrued over the years, many of which were unopened. One that I found that was battle worn was Physical Graffiti and I’m proud to say that when you play it at full volume you can’t even hear the scratches. Ironically, the album I’m most excited to have found in the same collection is a still wrapped in plastic copy of Zeppelin IV that still bears the sticker declaring that it “Contains ‘Stairway to Heaven'”.
I kicked off the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with “I’m As Mad As March and I’m Not Going To Take It Anymore!” where I described the tradition my friends and I have to choose who has the best mascot of the tourney teams and see how our mascot bracket finishes compared to the rest of ours and our other friends and family. This year we picked the UC Irvine mascot, Peter the Anteater, who unfortunately was knocked out in the first round. Our Mascot Bracket also finished in last place in both groups we entered it into… again. Maybe going by mascots isn’t the best way to win, but it is the most fun.
Remember when I said I didn’t care for global destruction? Well, I elaborated a bit more upon this in “The Climate It Is a-Changin'”. In it I described how FEMA is holding states accountable to take a scientific stance on climate change, else they won’t receive emergency preparedness aid if they refuse to devote a chunk of it to prepping for a warming climate.
When I first learned of global climate change I questioned it’s plausibility, but even before I understood the science that evidences how we’ve caused this rock of ours to heat up, I reasoned that it was worth it to change our ways to live greener lifestyles for the sake of conservation and long-term health of ourselves and the planet. Regardless of whether or not the world is getting hotter, it’s not a bad plan of action to try to clean the place up a bit and cut down on pollution. Now of course I know that we’re turning up the temp and we need to not only cut down on our fossil fuel spending, but counteract it with carbon sequestration and continued preservation of what natural lands remain.
I continued to discuss controversial topical issues with “Hoosier Homophobia: The Latest Chapter in the Book of Intolerance”. Definitely a pretentious title, but not an incorrect one. I discussed what I hope is firmly a lesson learned with Indiana’s bigoted “religious freedom” law that was thankfully quickly rescinded. Such legislation and sentiments still exist throughout the United States, and other worse “laws” are enforced to persecute LGBTQ people in other places. We’ve got a long way to go in welcoming everyone to the party of harmonious living, but taking back this Indiana legislation was a step in the right direction.
Keeping up with the theme of topical, immediately important news, I prattled on about how funny I find John Oliver and his sit down with Edward Snowden in my mature, professional manner with “Can They See My Dick?” It’s actually a quote made numerous times by Oliver in the interview which I included for your viewing pleasure. Take the time to watch it and you’ll not be disappointed.
I revisited my secondary hometown of Cleveland, Ohio where I went to college in pursuit of a Biology degree and came away with an increased interest in the development of rock and roll over the decades from its early influences to its current breeds of new subgenres, and also of lesser importance, a Biology degree. During the summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I discovered a great deal more artists of rock and roll that I never before knew existed and delved deeper into the works of those I did. I carried this on in my ensuing five years living in Cleveland and grew to love some rockers that I hardly knew in my teenage years. Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of these and he quickly became the most heinous exclusion from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in my eyes. Thankfully this year’s Rock Hall class finally included SRV and all was set right in the world for a time. I wrote about him and his band Double Trouble and all the other inductees in the 2015 class in “This Guy Is Crying…No More!”, a mondegreen of SRV’s song “The Sky Is Crying” and one of my prouder titles.
I also mentioned some bands and artists who are eligible that I was surprised to learn were not in the Rock Hall yet, and unsurprisingly a closer inspection revealed another major oversight by the Rock Hall. By some strange twist of fate, Journey are not in the Rock Hall. I have to think that someday they’ll get there, but even still, Don’t Stop Believin’. Also Don’t Start Unbelieving.
I stayed on the subject of rock and roll for another week, but this time with an emphasis on drug based songs in “Don’t Forget To Bring a Towel”. I put together of my favorite songs whose subject matter is the illicit and illegal substances of all sorts. I crowned The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” as the best song definitively about drugs (because Jimi Hendrix said Purple Haze wasn’t about tripping balls, while Lou Reed made it pretty clear what he was singing about).
Somehow I forgot about one of my favorite songs as a kid in the 90s, Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” which I definitely didn’t know was about crystal meth back then. This one will be featured again in a future post on a list of songs I’ve been putting together for a while.
Finally, we come to the edge of space, or at least our atmosphere with my celebration of the now 25 year old orbiting Hubble telescope and the man who served as its namesake in “Edwin, His Hooker, and Hubble Trouble”. If you want to ooh and aah all day, then take a look at the images it has captured over the years and awe at our magnificent universe.
Those pictures almost weren’t as clear, though. My friend Dan, the aerospace engineer, told me that the Hubble Space Telescope had issues right out of the space shuttle as its primary mirror had been ground to the incorrect specifications and caused it to be unable to look into deep space and carry out most of what it was built for! Because it was near-sighted, NASA planned to patch the telescope up so that it could fulfill its full mission. Fortunately, the space shuttle Endeavor went up to HST for a servicing mission in December of 1993 and added a corrective lens. As Dan put it, the Hubble has glasses! Or at least the world’s coolest monocle. And now it sees just fine and has been giving us unbelievable images for years.
Thanks for reading, or re-reading, or perusing as usual. Next week will begin the fourth season of my posts and it’ll be about… uh, eh, what-whatever I feel like writing about next Monday, naturally! Direct comments, questions, and all that jazz to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep on keeping on!
May the Fourth be with Us All,