Of the Divided States of America & Redux

Another week in the United States and another tragedy at the hands of a firearm. 

Not to kick a dead horse, but I feel like I’ve been here before…

Then I was told that guns aren’t the issue with Alton Sterling or Philando Castile, or the Dallas Police officers for that matter. 

It’s about Obama and the death of America.  It’s about division.  

Then we were told Alton Sterling was shot because he was reaching for his gun. 

So he was shot with a gun because he was reaching for a gun, but it’s not about guns.

I’m confused.

Police Officers are armed to defend themselves against the citizens who carry guns.

Some of those same citizens carry guns because they fear brutality from police officers who carry guns.

It would be dismissive and ignorant to claim that people of colour, especially those from neighbourhoods with higher levels of crime and thus greater interaction with law enforcement, have no real history from which to base their fears. 

Police officers have been convicted and sent to prison for brutalising and murdering people of colour.

People of colour have brutally and senselessly murdered police officers

So this is a war, and every American has been asked to take a side.  Who’s right? 

Does no one seen the gun correlation?

If America banned guns would the police still need to carry them?

Alton Sterling doesn’t have a gun because he hasn’t grown up in a culture that taught him he may need it, thus he has nothing to reach for, and – assuming the reports are true that that IS the reason they shot him – the officers have zero reason to kill him. 

But the fears of both sides are real and justified, however much we want to close our eyes to it. 

Thus, another in a long list of lines are drawn in America, leaving the population divided and blind to the fact that the enemy they think they are fighting is the wrong enemy. 

The real enemy is ourselves. 

Blinded by sensational media from both sides of the fence that are forcing people further and further apart, yet both sides point fingers at the other side’s ‘sensational media.’  And round and round and round we go, with no one getting any wiser to the real problem. 

American is a selfish nation full of individuals who are too easily manipulated by fear.

It also doesn’t help that Americans deal so frequently in absolutes. 

One cannot respect and honour the men and women of law enforcement who go out everyday of their lives and sacrifice their own personal safety to make America a safer place and also hold them to a high standard that says, ‘if you cross the line you must answer for it.” 

One cannot be shocked and saddened by the recent loss of life and not be considered a ‘cop hater’. 

One cannot also be disgusted by the amount of crime and violence on the street without being ‘racist’ and ‘blind’ to the fact that I’m of a skin colour that denotes privilege and thus have no right to speak.  My skin colour is often the very root of that problem.

I have to feel bad for the colour of my skin because it means my life was easier.  So, we don’t want an end to shame, just a reversal of it. 

It’s these same absolutes that lead decent people to claim that Donald Trump becoming the president of the United States is not evidence that bigotry is acceptable as long as that person is the representative of ‘my party’.  But the division isn’t their fault.  It’s the OTHER guy. 

That pointer really is handy as a finger, ain’t it?

American has their lovely two party system and it’s what leaves people feeling like they have to pick a side.

The sad truth is that neither side is really the side of progress for the whole.  It’s all self serving and the majority of people live in ignorance of that fact. 

The majority have also never stepped out of their own little bubble to truly understand the width and breadth of their own country.  How can you truly say you know what’s best for America when you’ve only ever lived in one place?  Put yourself in the shoes of someone living on the other side of the country from you, facing wholly different problems…

“But those aren’t my problems, I have to deal with….”

Your own shit.  That’s what American’s care about.  The three feet in front of their face.  The context from which they understand their own individual life and circumstance. 

So, two people of colour and five police officers died and we fail to acknowledge that this is a war we’ve allowed to boil over for years, and neither side is solely to blame. 

The real blame falls on the people, because we refuse to take the guns out of everyone’s hands and try to bring the violence to an end.  We refuse to actually be, in fact, united.

“It wouldn’t stop the illegal guns though!” 

No.  But it would be a start.  Stop focusing on why it won’t work and start trying to help find a way to MAKE it work.

America needs to start being know for something other than violence.  Military might and guns.  That is America.

I had a girl in my preschool class last year who was talking to me about where I come from.  We nicknamed this girl “Katy” after Katy Perry and everyone in the class often called her, “California Girl.”  She said she wished she could visit California one day and go to the beach.  Then she made a sad face. 

“What’s wrong?”  I asked.

“I want to go, but I can’t.” 

Confused, I stabbed at the reason she was saying this.  “When you grow up you can go wherever you want.” 

She shook her head.  “I’m afraid of going to America, I don’t want to be shot by a gun.” 

That’s from the mouth of a 6 year old Japanese girl.

That’s the image America is selling.  That’s what people see when they look at America from the outside. 

We should all be ashamed.

Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa are all dead now because we cannot see how divided we are.  Because we stand on our side of the line, clinging to our righteousness, and refusing to understand that change doesn’t come without a willingness to concede the need for it… from BOTH sides.

Instead of looking to pin blame, we should be looking for the root of this problem and finding a way to stop it form ever happening again.  How can we do that if we are too busy trying to prove it isn’t our side’s fault while blaming the other side for pointing the finger at us?

Like any dispute we must be willing to accept our own culpability, carry our share of the burden, and cross the line to our so-called enemy and ask how we can end this.  Until we can share the burden equally we’ll always be divided.

That very concept runs contrary to the name of the country and so few want to face how disgraceful that is.

So there’s your problem.  Now how are you going to fix it?

Of Guns & Control

America sure does love its guns. 

Well, some of them don’t, but those are just the bleeding heart liberals that don’t understand the necessity of deadly force when an intruder comes for your loved ones.  Could happen any minute now, so we gotta be prepared. 

The simple, ‘violence begets more violence,’ never crossed anyones mind I guess. 

The issue is complex and I don’t mean to make light.  Many people have lost their lives due to America’s stubborn refusal to take a good hard look at not only why guns are such a problem in the US, but how they became one. Continue reading

Of Politics & Division

The United States is in the preliminary process of electing a new president.  The great debacle otherwise known as…

The Lesser of Two Evils: 

A Game Where We Pick A Winner and Everyone Loses!


That sounds like pessimism, and I am sure there are a whole slew of people pipping up to give me all their reasons why their candidate isn’t all that bad, but the reality is – in my humble opinion – that the two party system in America is a system built to breed division. Continue reading

Of Racism & Pride

Race and racism is a complex issue.  I can readily admit that I lack the proper skill to tackle the entire beast in one post.  However, there is something that has occurred to me over the past few years that I would like to put out in the world.

Until we learn to completely disregard race as a factor, racism will never die. 

Continue reading

Of Hollywood & Diversity

I read on a friend’s Facebook post the other day that they are making a biopic of Michael Jackson’s life and that he will be played by Joseph Fiennes. 

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This lead to a debate of needing to give more people of colour the opportunity to star in major films. 

To be clear upfront:  casting a caucasian man to play Michael Jackson, who was African American, is absolutely ridiculous.  Regardless of what Michael might have looked like toward the end of his life. 

That being said, there is a reason behind why this happened and I am going to attempt to address it.

1. The Problem of Miscasting Goes Deeper Than Race.

Continue reading

Battle Royale: Star Wars – Round 2

With Episode II rightfully flattened last week, we move on to round 2 with Episode I still standing on top of the hill!

For details of how this king of the hill battle works, please check the previous post here.

Round 2:

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

star_wars_episode_i___the_phantom_menace_by_1darthvader-d6ieq34

versus Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

star-wars-revenge-of-the-sith-2-e1443771490925

Why Episode I Lost:

1: Midichlorians, Immaculate conception, and Trade Disputes.

In The Phantom Menace, George Lucas tried much to hard to create an overly complex story with elements that left the audience asking, “why does this matter?”  The characters were wooden and all the banter and connection felt in the original series was destroyed by his need to over tell the story. 

a8ac315baa675b0caaba96ce570a728ffc8a7b97924cd0a7df932f7c493a97c9As to Anakin, all that needed to be said was, “I’ve never felt such a strong presence of the force.  Even from a fully grown master.”  We don’t need midichlorians, or associations with Jesus.  Please.

“He’ll bring balance to the force… by dying for all of our sins…”  Ugh.

The empire was a vast, overpowering, tyrannical machine that suppressed the people.  That is a theme almost anyone can understand and sympathise with.

A trade dispute, on the other hand, sounds petty and, well, just boring.  Grand Moff Tarkin was a man one could respect as a serious man of purpose.  Viceroy Gunray is a douche. 

2. Baby Anakin Is Even Worse Than Teenage Anakin.

“Cho skrunee dopat, sleemo.”  Yeah… Almost everything Anakin said in Episode I is cringe worthy.  “Are you an angel?”  “I wouldn’t have survived this long if I wasn’t so good at fixing things.”  “Yippee.” 

pleased-to-meet-you

Many people have tried to blame this on Jake Lloyd and that is unfair.  The assumption has been, “It can’t be George Lucas’s fault.”

Yes, it damn well can be. 

This was quite possibly the worst child acting I’ve seen in all my years of watching films.  But I have to also admit that it’s the worst performance I’ve ever seen by Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman as well, an actor and actress whose body of work is incredibly impressive.  So, if two Oscar level actors appear unable to act… who is to blame? 

The douche bag who spent too much time obsessing over the sound effects and flashing lights. 

Little personal note to Mr. Lucas:  No one gives a flying shit about ship noises.  Well, no one but you.

3. Stealing, absolutely not.  Gambling with a child’s life?  Sure.

Oh no, the hyperdrive is broken!  What will we do?  They land on Tatooine.  There’s a slave holding scumbag that has one… but mind tricks don’t work on him (making his race equal to19fe5dfc3adb3101e8ec5dc67bdc9056de7c85ec6d64bef879555c096b104300 Hutts… which begs the question, why not just use a Hutt instead of increasing the number of beings impervious to mind tricks??). 

Stealing the hyperdrive was out of the question.  They were on a Hutt controlled planet! 

With two Jedi, I find it hard to believe they couldn’t have worked this out.  Then, to assuage your conscience, you bring back a brand new one when you are finished escaping with the queen.

Nope.  We are going to gamble with a child’s life in a race that leaves many people dead.  That is much more sensical.  Que the, “Who needs logic,” soundtrack. 

4. “I’ve Got the High Ground” Only Applies to Good Guys.

Darth Maul was awesome.  He was intimidating, fast, and totally fit the role of series bad guy.  Then he died… in the stupidest way possible. 

I contest that one of the major faults of the prequels was their lack of a consistent bad guy.  Think of what having Darth Vader for three films did.  It built his character slowly, showing you different sides of him and made you grow to dread him while at the same time secretly respecting him for his badassery. 

Every one of the prequels had a new ‘sidekick’ to the emperor…and they are increasingly lame. 

So Darth Maul kills Qui-Gon and then Obi-Wan rushes in, all filled with rage and hate, and fights him like a serious bad ass.  That sequence is by far the best lightsaber fight ever captured on film.  The successive films lost their focus on how to film these well and they sucked.

Then Obi-Wan gets knocked over the side of the vent, loses his lightsaber and is hanging on for dear life.  Darth Maul toys with him a bit and, somehow, can’t sense that Obi-Wan is reaching out for his master’s lightsaber (some force user Maul was… despite how well he fought UP to that moment)

Then what does Obi-Wan do?  Leap straight up in front of Darth Maul, flip over his head, land behind him and cut him in half.  And Darth Maul… never… moves… a…. muscle.  A force user who proved to be impossibly fast couldn’t think to even put his blade out, which is all it would have taken. 

This is made even more ridiculous when you factor in that, having the high ground (as Maul did) is the VERY THING OBI-WAN USES TO DEFEAT ANAKIN! 

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Again, ugh. 

5. All The Wacky Antics.

I am not going to blame this all on Jar-Jar.  That character was a mockery in and of itself.  Many people felt the same vitriol toward C-3PO when the original series came out though.  Likewise for the Ewoks. 

George Lucas, and I am certain he gets this from his buddy, Mr. Spielberg, loves to create childish and stupid characters to play the comic relief.  Then have thtumblr_m9n4e7djcu1rcl33co1_500em do stupid things stupidly to lighten the mood. 

I don’t really like  it when Spielberg does this.  I hate it when Lucas imitates it. 

Jar-Jar was the recent version.  As were the battle droids. 

Riddle me this, what good did it do for the movie having stupid droids?  Why does that even make sense?  It’s a robot. 

So Jar-Jar was stupid.  The droids were stupid.  All the Gungans were stupid.

Unfortunately, so was most of the movie. 


 

Honorable Mention:  Jedi’s are supposed to be tranquil.  Anger leads to the dark side, right?

Why the hell was this clown a Jedi then?

bfbc98a847563208afff3041c38ec2266a35afcfb488da08a4a5f00255e97ae1

Creates Angriest Characters in the History of Film… Picked to Play a “Peaceful” Jedi.

Episode I, you are the weakest link.  Goodbye.

 


 

A new Battle Royale! will be published each Saturday.  Next week I will be pitting Episode III of Star Wars up against Episode IV.  The movies will duke it out until we have crowned a king of the mountain.  As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback… especially if you disagree with my point of view.  Let’s hash it out, bro!

Of Celebrity & Judgmentalism

My daughter is 4 years old and she loves Taylor Swift.  I am okay with this.  My wife, not so much.  She doesn’t actively dislike her, but we got into an interesting debate the other night and it inspired me to write about it.

My daughter is currently aspiring to be a singer when she grows up.  She’s a bit torn though, as 4 year olds tend to be, between being Taylor Swift and Merida from Brave.  I am 100% responsible for that last one.

As we were watching Shake It Off on Youtube the other night my daughter said, “I want to be Taylor!”

I said, “That sounds like a good plan.  She’s a very popular singer and she started really young!”

My wife replied with, “Don’t be like her, she’s slutty and she can’t keep a boyfriend.”

That really got me thinking.  The debate got a bit heated because, while my wife was making an offhanded and only half serious remark, I came back at her in full, “this is why that is a ridiculous thing to say,” mode… and any man who has come at their wife in this mode knows that the fight ends with me on the couch thinking, “I was just trying to make a point…”

Here is what that point was (proving that men never learn their lesson about shutting up and letting things lie 🙂 ):

1. Money Changes People 

Money, sadly, makes the world go ’round.  For those familiar with Pink Floyd’s famous song, Money, it is the root of all evil… but if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away. 04a7cc0c6176ac4bb1a6232c83122802acbb00cf5e77f9b031042e649c7d2a61

Being relatively poor most of my life, I’ve dreamt of being rich and how wonderful it would be.  Who hasn’t at one point or another?  I imagine that if I were to become a superstar right now I’d have a good head on my shoulders about it and be able to handle the pressure.  I’d be smart, or so I tell myself.

If I became rich like Taylor Swift did I am not so sure things would have turned out well…

Taylor Swift made her first record at 16.  According to wikipedia, “she is the youngest singer to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart.”  She then went on have the best selling album of the year in 2009… at 19.  At 26 she is now making 80 million a year and has a net worth of nearly 200 million dollars.  

She is a year younger than my wife.

I asked my wife if, at that age, she had been given that kind of money, how she thought her life might have changed.  She claimed she would not have been different.  I think that is almost impossible.

41embdo202l-_ux342_I can tell you that, as a 36 year old man, I have yet to finish maturing in many ways.  At 19 years old I was quite possibly one of the dumbest people on earth.  If I had been given millions of dollars at 19, I can guarantee my life and my per
sonality would have taken a whole different road.

I would have gotten myself into a whole heap of trouble because the stakes are so much higher when you have the cash to open doors that are closed to most people.  Money turns wild ideas into reality.  At 19 I thought some pretty insane s**t.  Put into that kind of place I think I would have made a lot of decisions I would grow to regret.  Not because I was a bad person at heart, but because given that kind of freedom, power, and pressure at an age and maturity where I wasn’t equipped to handle it would have tempted me past my better judgement.

Many people try to argue that they would be the same person, but I think this is a lie we tell ourselves.  Human beings are defined by their struggles.  All the failures you’ve had to overcome have moulded you into the human being you are.  True, some base form of your nature may remain, but having that kind of money would drastically alter the type of struggles you would encounter.  Which leads me to point number 2…

2. Trust Is A Complicated Thing

My wife argued that she would not have gotten into so many strange relationships with men no matter how much money she had.  I tried to argue that trust is a perilous thing even in the best of circumstances.

Show of hands here from the people who have been burned by someone they trusted.  Keep them up if you have been burned by someone you were in a relationship with.  Now think about how much more complicated that situation becomes when you are world famous and have a heap of cash at your disposal.  Think of the number of flies you would have to swat at daily.  Think of all the work you would have to do to shield yourself from the people who were after everything but the you you so desperately wanted them to know and see and love.

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This.. is… Taylor?

How isolating and frustrating must that be?  The only people you would be able to truly bear everything to would be the ones who were around before it all blew up.  Very few people have lifelong friends that they grow to trust implicitly at age 16… let alone loves of their life.

Putting myself into a situation where I was 19, rich, famous, and surrounded by people who had to be strangers, I can see how I might end up going through a rollercoaster ride in my relationships.  Hell, between 16 and 26 I did go through a rollercoaster.  The difference is, no one cares about my rollercoaster.

3. Monogamy Is A Choice. 

Before I get too many people ready to shoot fireballs at me, let me explain.  I am a happily married man and I have no desire to be with anyone other than my wife.  I love her with all my heart and I am happy to be with only her till I die.

That being said, that lifestyle is what works for me.  If a celebrity, or any other person for that matter, is living a lifestyle that you do not approve of or prescribe to than you are free to voice your opinion, but keep in mind the words of Charles A. Dana, “Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth, or the only truth.”

Since the rise of western religious doctrine the norm has become, “one man, one woman.”  That does not mean this is correct for everyone, even if the majority feels it is.  Human beings have to learn to let other people live how they feel comfortable, even if it makes us uncomfortable.  It isn’t our life.

4. You Cannot Really Know.

One of the oddest things about celebrity is it brings about an open invitation to have your life evaluated and picked apart by any and all human beings.  Why?  Well, you asked for it, putting yourself up there on that pedestal.

Is that really sensical?

I listened to someone ripping another person apart at work the other day and I had to interject and ask how much they really knew about her personally.  The answer was, “you mean outside of work?  I don’t know anything about her.”  But he felt totally justified in lighting her up like Times Square on New Years because she did some things he thought were silly.

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This is my picture of him.  He is 100% this person.

The truth is, we all have a story.  It’s complicated and convoluted.  It has many twists and turns and there are millions of little bits you hide from the majority of the world.  A select few know the real truth about you, and those people are the diamonds in the rough.

Now, hands up again if you’ve ever been laid into by someone who knew f**k all about you, but still took it upon themselves to assume.  How pissed off did that make you?

Thinking about celebrities, none of us know them even the slightest bit, but people love to talk as if they do.  We think that because we read something about them online or in a magazine that we understand the width and breadth of their life and are free to pass judgement on it.

That was the part that got me fired up, to be honest.  How in the world can we as rational, intelligent human beings assume to know the first thing about someone like Taylor Swift?  Let alone enough to be able to say, “she’s a slut.”  Really?  Do you hang out with her?  Does she confide all the deep dark secrets of her soul to you?  No?  Then knock it off.  You don’t know her any better than you know Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse, so what gives you the right to throw off judgement?

I have my own life to live and my own baggage to carry.  You have yours.  Taylor Swift has hers.  My feeling is, why am I going to judge a life I am not living?

Which brings me to my last point…

5. Society Loves To See People Fail.

The reason why so many people are willing to cast judgement on celebrities they don’t know is because human beings take some twisted satisfaction in seeing people fall from grace.  We like to drag people down.

One of my favourite bloggers, empress2inspire, wrote a wonderful piece on empathy that bolsters this point I feel.  People simply lack the desire to empathise with other human beings, especially if that person is perceived to be higher on the totem pole.  Why?  Well, they got all the way up there, so why am I going to feel any compassion for them?

Because they are human, and so are you… I hope.

Bringing others down or judging them, especially when one knows next to nothing about them, will never help one move into their place.  I wish we could learn to stop doing this because it’s just sad.

Newspapers and the internet are trying to get readers.  How do you do that?  Sensationalism.  That’s a fancy word for making something bigger than it is, or even making something of nothing.  If you need a visual, it looks like this: disney-graphics-pinocchio-329861

And people eat it up because we, as a society, lack compassion.

We have no shortage of judgement though.


 

My advice to you is this:  Think back to a time when someone said something hurtful about you and hold that feeling in your heart for a while.  Then, the next time you start bashing another human being, celebrity or not, remember that hurt.  Remember that, innocent or not, you are attacking another human being that you might not know well enough to really be making those judgements about.

Next time, try and think well of them, even if they’ve given you no reason to.  Why?  Because focusing on the good only makes your life more positive.  I would rather think the best of people, as naive as that may sound, because thinking negatively only makes my own life that much darker.

As far as celebrities go, feel free to dislike their work.  But don’t be so brazen as to think you have a right to judge their life as if you know anything about it.  You don’t.  You can’t.  What you know was fed to you by a writer with an agenda.  Be smarter than that.

More importantly, be more compassionate than that.

Of Selfies & Narcissism

**I do not own any of the pictures used in this post.**

Advances in technology have changed the face of the world drastically over the past 20 years.  I am 36 years old and when I was in high school the most advanced piece of equipment I had was a pager and our computer at home had AOL dial up.  Remember that annoying telephone dial sound?  And heaven forbid someone pick up the house phone while you were trying to connect to the internet.

Now there are multiple computers in every home and we all live on high speed internet.  There is a smart phone in every hand, a tablet in every bag, and a kindle to replace your gaudy bookshelves.  Pretty soon The Sims will replace your actual family members and conversation with fleshy humans will be obsolete!  Yay!

selfie

OMG.  Hot.

This post will not delve into all the finer points of the rise in technology, but one minor aspect that has come along with it — the selfie.

One definition I found that I feel sums it all up came from Urban Dictionary.com:

A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

The rise in the number of “selfies” spreading like wildfire across the internet makes me a bit nauseous and it got me thinking recently.  Here is what I came to:

1. The ratio of women to men is pretty skewed.

I used the almighty Google to back my claim in this regard.  I typed in the word ‘selfie’ and then counted out the first 100 pictures.  There were 112 faces in those pictures and 73% of them were female.  22% were male.  A staggering 2% were Woody from Toy Story.  Figure THAT out.

What does this mean?  I think the reality that physical image weighs more heavily on females than it does on males is not a question in this day and age.  Some smart, attractive women have also used this craze to get themselves paid quite well because there is a whole gaggle of stupid males out there who will constantly stare at pretty women on the internet like slobbering neanderthals.

2. Selfies have given rise to the god awful facial expression known as “Duck Lips.”

Have you seen this face?  Urban Dictionary provided me with another invaluable definition once again:  image

Where one’s lips look like a duck’s bill(beak). Most ** make kissing faces while they take endless pictures of themselves and post them at various places on the internet. They think it looks really cool, but they actually look like an ugly a** duck. It looks really AWFUL, and makes me want to destroy the internet because so many people are doing it.
Guy1: Yo did you see her myspace? 
Guy2: Yeah! She looks like a real ** with those duck lips!

I know there are plenty of people out there mocking the face now, as it rightly should be, and good on you, but there are honest to goodness people who believe this face is hot.  Like,”you know you wanna f*%$ me,” hot.  I am here to tell you that, no… no, you are not.  Stop pursing your lips like a pouting baby before someone comes along and pulls them off your face because you are no longer mature enough to use them properly.  Ugh.  The sad thing is that Duck Lips are now being replaced by another horrid thing called Fish Gape.  Will the insanity never end?

3.  The world is antisocial enough as it is.  Do we need one more excuse not to talk to actual people?

One of my largest gripes with selfies is that they are taken in one of two settings: in one’s own home, quite obviously in one’s room or… even stranger… one’s bathroom (seriously, what the hell with that?)  or in a massively public place near a landmark or monument type structure.

In regards to the first instance, I will tackle that in point 4.

The second instance however is just sad.  Many times you can actually see other human beings in the background of people’s selfies.  Is it really so trendy to take the picture yourself now that you can’t just stop and say, “excuse me, but do you mind taking a picture for me?”  How many times have you asked someone that question?  How many times have you been asked?  Why are we actively seeking every reason in the world to not interact with other human beings?  It’s not a hard question to ask and it’s a request that the majority of people would be happy to do, but we are passing it up to take subpar pictures in order to be trendy.

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Look at all those people at the Colosseum… JK! Look at ME, damn it!

I don’t get it.  I really don’t.  It’s like the people who go to Starbucks together to study and spend the entire time instant messaging each other through their computers.  TALK, damn you!  Are other people really that scary?

4. When did narcissism become sexy?

Selfies are a form of ego masturbation in my opinion.  Looking at the picture above do you think the girl wants you to focus on the colosseum… or her, “I’m so cute!” face?  Go with B.  It’s sure fire.

For that matter, take a look at the majority of selfies that are taken.  What seems to be their main purpose?  For you to look at that person’s marvellous face, and only that.  To bask in the glory.  I was always taught growing up not to spend too much time looking in the mirror because no one likes vanity.  Now vanity has become a typical mode of self promotion.  When did the world become okay with such blatant self love?

I will temper this by saying that this comes from a man with a headshot on his about page.  This is a picture of me all prettied up and one could argue that such a photograph is also vain in its own right.  I would counter this by saying I only paid for and produced that picture at the request of my writing mentor who claimed that all real writing professionals need one.  I had a reason for my picture and made sure I found someone else to hold the camera.  If you are obsessed with taking selfies, do you ever stop and wonder why you love to take pictures of yourself so much?  I think you might not like the answer if you can be honest about it.

5.  The only thing more ridiculous than the selfie is the selfie stick.

This… just this:

pretty brunette making selfie with a stick

Now you can get a wide angle of my kissy wissy face.  Vomit.

It wasn’t bad enough that people were obsessed with looking at pictures of themselves and their total lack of actual friends (as opposed to their 2,000,000 Facebook friends), but now we had to give them a stick to produce a wider angle?  Seeing people using these things always makes me sad for society.

 

I actually saw someone once trying to set up this perfect shot of themselves and the struggle was quite fierce.  I walked over and offered to take the picture for them and they looked at me like I was speaking alien.  Do you not realise how much money I spent on this stick? their face seemed to say.  They had bought the stick and now they were going to use it.  Never mind that the help of a real live human would have ended their struggle with the perfect shot much quicker, the point was that they didn’t want me interfering and the purchasing of said stick had guaranteed them of harassment free picture taking at any time and from any spot.

It made me sad that such simple interactions are now becoming obsolete because so much of our young society is antisocial and vain.  They don’t want to talk to you, they want to text you.  They don’t want to visit with you, they want to Skype you.  They don’t want a picture with you, they want you to like their selfie on Facebook.

Who knows, maybe in another 10 years we won’t even have to leave the house and we’ll have cameras going 24/7 in our homes to catch us from any sexy angle we choose.  I pray to the gods I don’t live to see it.

What do you think about selfies?  Do you take them?  What is your reason for doing so if you do?  Where do you take them?  I hope I am not alone in my hatred of them.  Happy blogging all!

Of Disneyland & Memory

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*Not all images belong to me.  For what I borrowed, thank you.  For what I didn’t, I’m sorry.* 

Disneyland is a polarising place.  For those that love it, it’s a magical obsession.  For those that hate it, it’s an overpriced land of extravagance. 

I am of the former persuasion. 

Having just returned from a two day, three night trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea I will submit the things I learned from my trip to The Happiest Place on Earth. 

Did you really pay 20 dollars for that? 

0520wall20of20hatsOne of the most amazing things about Disneyland is that they sell the most ridiculously overpriced novelty items, items that cannot be used without some level of embarrassment on the days following a Disneyland trip, and people buy them up like crack.  I saw endless items that were obnoxious to the point of being an eyesore but countless people dropped nearly 40 dollars for them.  I cannot remember a time in my life  that I saw a person wearing their ‘special’ Disney purchase outside of the park.  So you spent all that money on something you would love intensely for one day?  It’s like people become drunk on the Disneyland experience and cannot fathom their life outside the park.  Buying a bright orange Tigger hat complete with tail is not only normal, but expected.  They must wake up the next day feeling like an alcoholic, take one look at that ridiculous purchase and think, as many of us have at one point or another, “I am never going to drink again as long as I LIVE!”

This attraction brought to you by Tampax, for when you are riding your own Splash Mountain.

japan20900I understand how business and promotion works.  I am not, contrary to how this post will end, 4 years old.  It was still sad to see that every ride now has a sponsor.  I don’t know that the LA or Florida Disneyland’s are like this, but the Japanese Disneyland had a sponsor for every ride.  It was VERY subtle and you really had to be looking to see it, but when you got to the main sign for any ride, there it was.  “Space Mountain” and under it: brought to you by Coca Cola.  It made me think of Fight Club.  “When deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.”  

Disney at night is my personal heaven.

IMG_2710Disneyland during the day is always a bit congested and can feel really hectic.  When the sun sets and the lights come on it is a world of quiet tranquility.  This is an odd statement seeing as how there are roaring rollercoasters and shouting people just like during the daytime, but the night just seems more peaceful.  The night also brings on the light parade, the fireworks (in the current case it’s a projection mapping show too.)  The night time is when Disney becomes truly magical.

Disneyland engages all 5 senses like very few things can.

tumblr_m74w38a4x51ragq9ko1_500People who had one home they grew up in their whole life talk about how that place brings them back to being a child.  I had many homes, so I don’t know what that feels like.  I think it feels something like going to Disneyland for me.  Why?  Because Disney is amazing at engaging all five senses.  The magic kingdom layout is almost identical no matter which park you go to, thus the sights are familiar and comforting.  Then there is the lingering smell of caramel and the tastes of the  candies, the sounds of all the familiar jingles, even the feel of the railing, the faux wood they use in the lines for many rides, is the same.  I was half a world away from the place of my birth but, if only for a moment, I was back home.  Looking at the ride attendants in their familiar costumes and listening to all the songs and jingles I have heard so many times, I could have been back in California.  It was an amazing feeling.

Going with a 4 year old is like going with a schizophrenic

301054_429772953724432_2061724935_nTaking my daughter for her first trip to Disneyland was sensory overload for her.  She wanted to do everything, all at once, RIGHT NOW!  She wanted to buy everything in every store.  She wanted to touch everything.  She wanted to ride all the rides at once.  Except the ones that went into a dark place, those could go blow, until she got used to the idea, then she wanted to ride again.  NO, she was not going to GET OFF the ride.  She was going to ride it again, thank you. Daddy, tell that stupid person we aren’t getting off!  I was dealing with a person broken by joy.  But still…

Going with a 4 year old is pure magic

IMG_2748As insane as my daughter made the Disney trip I cannot image going without her now.  Her reaction to everything brought back the magic so many of us lose the older we get.  That is what Disney brings out in me, and it brought it out in my daughter as well.  The look on her face when she laid eyes on THE Mickey Mouse was akin to looking at the combination of a person who has just come face to face with God and a teenage girl who is kissed by her idol crush.  There was screaming, there was crying, there was twitching, and there was the idiotic smile only the truly joyous could possibly conjure.  Everything about Disneyland made her smile.  Watching the light parade with her brought me back to being 4.  All of it was amazing.  It’s a parade of lit up floats but to her it was 100% magic.  I could see it in her eyes.  My heart was full to burst with the joy she was radiating. 


I learned a lot this trip.  The joy and freedom my daughter felt being at Disneyland reminded me why I love it so much.  It is also the very reason why so many people buy the stupid Tigger hats.  Because Disneyland is a place where you are supposed to just be happy.  It’s a place where you are allowed to be 4 as well, even if you’re 90.  No one judges because we are all in it together.  It’s a huge playground and the age requirement is 4.  You can’t be older to ride that ride.  So we buy our stupid hats and we breathe in the sweet smell, hum all the silly jingles and wave like idiots at Mickey when he waves at us… or even when he can’t see us.  It is a place of unparalleled freedom and happiness.  As adults we resent the prices and the crowds, we curse the lines and get frustrated at how stupid some people are.  In the end, if you choose to focus on these things, you may well come to hate Disneyland.  For me, I will never be able to see anything but the joy and nostalgia it holds for me.  I picture myself as an old man, sitting with my grandchildren watching the light parade that I watched as a child and remembering that there will always be a place, if only for a day, I can be a kid again. 

When our trip came to an end I was carrying my daughter to the train.  She was strung out from two days of the ultimate high and ready for sleep, but then she saw a huge picture of Mickey Mouse waving goodbye to everyone, saying, “Come Back Soon!”  The fuse was ignited one last time and, screaming Mickey’s name in my ear, my daughter let the magic erupt one final time.  I couldn’t help but smile like a big, dumb idiot.  She waved at Mickey with all her four year old might and shouted, “Mickey, bye bye!  Thank you, Mickey!  Let’s play again!”  Knowing then that her time at Disneyland was really over, she buried her face in my shoulder and cried. 

So did I.

Thank you, Mickey, for everything.