Apr 28, 2020

An introduction



In 2008, I set up this blog as a way to just give my thoughts on various topics.  Sometimes it was serious things that bothered me and other times it would just be a funny video or some cool music I wanted to share.   I don't advertise the blog, aside from my facebook/twitter accounts, relying instead of word of mouth and google searches.

One of the main questions I get about the blog, is what's up with the name?   Searching for Chet Baker?   There's very little Chet Baker on the site.

That's true, but there WAS a method to my madness. lol.   When I was going to set this up, I wanted some name that would be catchy I suppose.  Something that might stand out.  A bunch of blogs that I liked had weird or strange names, and so I wanted something that would be fairly short and memorable.

*MORE AFTER THE BREAK*

Jul 20, 2014

[REVIEW] @10TonsLTD's "Crimsonland" (PS4) + (Steam)


TITLE: Crimsonland
DEVELOPER: 10TonsLtd
PLATFORM: Playstation 4 and Steam
GENRE: Top Down Shooter
RATING: 8.9 out of 10.

Arriving to the Playstation 4 this week was a newly remastered version of 10Tons' PC classic top down shooter "Crimsonland".   I never played this when it was out before, but I've always dug top down shooters, such as Alien Shooter and others of that type. 

Since I started gaming on consoles regularly with my purchase of a PS3 back in '08, one of my favorite types of games were twin stick shooters.  As luck would have it, not only is Crimsonland a Top Down shooter, but it's also a twin stick shooter...of sorts.  Most twin sticks that I've played, you move the character with one stick and you aim/shoot with the other.  This one is slightly different, as you steer with the left stick and you aim with the right, while firing with either R2 or L2.

I find it easier to control when the sticks are the moving and shooting, but I was glad to see this wasn't hard to get used to.  One of the things I dislike about a lot of first person shooter games, is that you have pretty much every button (including D-Pad) slotted for one or more actions.  For someone like myself, that is a bit confusing and I have a hard time remembering what is what.

This is a fairly straightforward affair, however, which is good for those who simply want to kill alien creatures and not worry about keeping track of what button does what.  You move, you aim and you shoot.  That's it, that's all.

Crimsonland, much like their previous offerings (Oddball King, Sparkle 2) comes with multiple modes and weapon unlockables.  This one, perhaps even more so.   In addition to the main Quest mode, of which there are 6 stages with 10 levels apiece, for a grand total of ...yes, 60 levels), there are five different Survival Modes ranging in difficulty from typical Survival mode, to modes that make you wonder how you could be so arrogant as to think you could last very long.

Below is my best time, so far, at just a shade under 4 minutes.  I'm sure if I keep at it I'll beat it, but it becomes a frenzy once you hit level 6, and they just all start swarming you, and I'm almost positive they become sentient at that point and are able to read your thoughts and know what move you are going to make before you do.

Or maybe I just need to work harder at getting better.   Could be either one.



In addition there are what are labeled as "perks" which  provide potential lifelines to extend your gameplay, such as upgraded weapons, shields and bonuses that skyrocket your experience gained. 

I was very impressed with not only how good the game looks, but also just how much replay value there is with all the different modes and perks and unlockables.

Once you have beaten the main quests, you've unlocked everything there is to unlock (with the exception of one difficulty mode for the Quests part of the game).  When you beat the game on Normal, the only difficulty that is available from the outset, it unlocks "Hardcore Mode".  Beat it on Hardcore, and God help you, it unlocks something called "Grim Mode", which I don't even want to think about.   While I didn't have a whole lot of problems getting through the main quest, there were certain levels on there that were borderline sadistic in nature, and will surely cause people problems on the harder difficulty levels.

As you progress through the main Quests "Storyline", it will along the way unlock various Survival Modes, the last of which called "Blitz" unlocks upon completion of the main Quests.

I put "storyline" in quotes because there's really no story there.  You're a man with no name, kicking ass and just destroying everything in his path.  That's it, that's all.  There's no attempt to trick you into thinking this is deeper than what it is: utter destruction, mayhem and carnage with LOTS of blood splattering the ground beneath you as you lay waste to these alien bastards.

And you know what?  I'm good with that.  I don't need to know why I have to kill these things, I just know I want to.  And who could argue with that?

This is a very fun game, one that will challenge your reflexes quite a bit, as well as your resolve.  There are a few enemies, particularly the red and white spiders (my prayers are with you when you find them)  that will really wreck havoc on your desire to not break your controller, however they are beatable, so it's not a cheap enemy like, say, the end boss on Conan. 

No I haven't forgotten or forgiven that end boss for ruining what was up to them a damn fun game.

But I digress.

I recommend you check this game out, and don't forget to follow the Developers on Twitter and check out their official website to learn about their other games as well!


Jul 15, 2014

The One Where Archie is Dead And Thor Is A Woman

So apparently this is the week that the Comics world decided to have a bit of controversial news coming out, although I think it says more about our society than it does the Comics world that those things are deemed controversial.  In a more perfect world (or at least halfway decent) these things would not really be super controversial, they would be simply intriguing and interesting, maybe thought provoking, but not controversial.

Alas that is not the world we live in, and thus Marvel Comics & believe it or not Archie Comics made statements this week about upcoming issues that seemed to stoke some internet conversation, and not all of it positive.

First up there's Archie Andrews, that lovable family friendly red head from Riverdale.  I grew up reading Archie comics as a kid.  I would buy every one that I could, whether it was the Archie Double Digests, or Jughead books or even the Betty & Veronica books.  As a young boy I didn't care if they were supposedly geared towards girls, I just liked to read and I loved the Archie books and characters.  Same reasons I watched both He-Man and She-Ra.  Both Kidd Video and Jem & The Holograms, I also read Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew books.

As a kid I wasn't concerned with things that were supposedly geared towards one gender (I mean I'm not playing with dolls or anything...well...there was GI Joe, but anyway I digress), I just wanted entertainment, and the Archie comics supplied that in fun, if a bit vanilla, entertainment.

I stopped reading years ago and somewhere along the way Archie grew up big time, as it pertains to the subject matter that they cover.  Several years ago they introduced the character of Kevin Keller who would become the first openly LGBT character in the Archie series history.  This provoked the obvious reaction from a certain subsection of our society.  The types that are used to wearing bandages on their fingers from all the bloody knuckles they get from when they drag on the ground.

I loved that, and was very interested in the introduction of the character, and was hoping that they would not simply put him in the background and just say "hey, everyone, look how tolerant we are, we're writing in a Gay character" but then never do anything with him.

Wow, did they ever decide to do something with the character.

Kevin Keller would go on to be a married war veteran and become a senator in the comics.  I like that.

Then several months ago word came out that Archie was going to die in an upcoming issue.  Not only that, but he would die saving one of his friends.

Think about that for a second.  Comic book characters die all the time, and then, much like Stephen King, they come back.  But this is not your average superhero character, this is just a regular guy.  This is ARCHIE FREAKING ANDREWS.  The epitome of Apple Pie wholesomeness.  This isn't like Spiderman or Captain America where you can kill them off and bring them back because someone else can wear the outfit, this is ...Archie.

And then this week the metaphorical bomb was dropped on Archie comic fans everywhere when it was revealed HOW he dies.   I have to admit when I read how it happens I was stunned.  And when I saw the accompanying images I was speechless.  I just stared at the screen, not sure what I was seeing.  It brought up feelings inside me that I didn't know how to articulate, and I just sat there staring blankly at the pictures.

Finally I managed to utter "Holy shit, man."

First, the synopsis put out by the publishers, and then the images.

Via RollingStone.com

Archie Andrews fans already know that their beloved, red-haired comic book icon is going to die while trying to save a friend's life. Now Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO Jon Goldwater has offered more specifics about the character's sacrifice: Archie will perish after intervening in an assassination attempt on the series' first openly gay character, Kevin KellerThe Associated Press reports.




Holy shit, indeed.

Apparently the person who is trying to kill Kevin Keller is doing so for either the fact that Keller is Gay, or that he is pushing for gun control legislation after his husband was involved in a shooting.  The identity of the shooter has not been revealed, so it's not clear whether it's one of those issues or both that is provoking the assassination attempt, but I would imagine it's probably a little of both, with emphasis on the gun control. That issue will be released tomorrow (Wednesday, July 16th 2014) and then the following issue, #37, will be the final of that series, as it jumps ahead a year to show the impact of Archie's death.
 
Then in less somber, but no less controversial news, Marvel Comics revealed that in an upcoming issue Thor will be female.  Yes, you read that correctly, the character of Thor, the wielder of Mjölnir, the Hammer of the Gods, is going to be female.

I'll pause so you can freak out for a second, as so many people seem to be doing in the wake of this news.

*Muzak plays in the background*

Okay let's break this down here.  Full disclosure, While I haven't read all the comics of Thor, and I'm not steeped in the deep mythology of the Norse Gods (although I AM a fan of the New Zealand Norse Gods related series "The Almighty Johnsons", if that counts.  Which I'm sure it doesn't), I do like the character and I think I've at least read a bit of it enough to develop an opinion on this.

I don't see the problem.  I mean I see that there are those who have issues with this, screaming "TRADITION!" and "It's always been this way!" and whatever, but I tend to dismiss those arguments because they are the same arguments being thrown around as to why Johnny Storm can't be Black, or why Spiderman being played by a biracial teen is the end of the world as we know it, so sorry if I don't put much stock into that argument.

I liken this issue, frankly, to the issue of a Black actor getting the role of James Bond.  Years ago several Black actors spoke up about wanting to be the "first Black Bond".  Names thrown about were Diddy (yes, Diddy), Idris Elba and Chiwetel Eijefor among others.

You had people up in arms about "NO! It can't be! Bond has always been White!".

But just because he has ALWAYS been White, why does he always HAVE to be White?  Why couldn't he be Black? Technically Bond could be a woman. (calm down, nerds).  I always kind of viewed the "James Bond" and "007" to be the title, rather than the name.  They bring in some one and they take over the James Bond mantle.  That would deftly explain why there have been multiple actors playing the role.  The 007 Moniker IS the codename, and James Bond is the character, however I'm not the first to suggest that the title of James Bond is a little malleable.

It's like Dread Pirate Roberts.  THAT is an intimidating and fear inducing name.   Nobody would mess with the Dread Pirate Roberts.  That strikes fear into the heart of the mightiest soul. However if he were to be called the Dread Pirate Westley, well...that's a little less scary.  People might mess with someone named Dread Pirate Westley.

I find myself viewing this Thor situation in the same way.  Many people have wielded Thor's hammer over the years, including NON Norse Gods such as Superman and Captain America. Women such as Wonder Woman and Storm, and even an ALIEN has been deemed worthy to hold the hammer. It appears that the powers lie in the hammer, not the person holding it. So "Thor" is more a concept, or a pseudonym than an actual identity.   It's been that way since "Thor" screwed up and Odin decided to strip his powers and move it into the hammer.  And that only the person who is worthy of being Thor would be able to hold it.

So if you look at it that way, this isn't that shocking and earth shattering series of events.  A woman will wield the power of Thor which lies within Mjölnir. In fact in an interview with Time Magazine's website,  Jason Aaron, Thor's writer, explained:
TIME: How do you think this will impact fans who have been following the male version of Thor for such a long time?

Jason Aaron, writer of the Thor series: If you’re a long-time Thor fan you know there’s kind of a tradition from time to time of somebody else picking up that hammer. Beta Ray Bill was a horse-faced alien guy who picked up the hammer. At one point Thor was a frog. So I think if we can accept Thor as a frog and a horse-faced alien, we should be able to accept a woman being able to pick up that hammer and wield it for a while, which surprisingly we’ve never really seen before.

However there will always be those who blanche at change.  Anything that alters what they always imagined that thing to be will be pushed back against.  And yet when you put it the way Aaron puts it, it kind of puts those who are against this against the wall here where they have to accept that they are fine with a frog holding the hammer, they're fine with a horse faced alien wielding the hammer of the Gods, yet they only have a problem when a WOMAN holds it.

Not a good look, folks.  Not a good look at all.

Maybe we should take this a step further and REALLY shake things up.  Once Peter Capaldi is finished, why don't Stephen Moffatt introduce a female Doctor.  A Muslim Female Doctor.  A Lesbian Muslim Female Doctor.

That sound you just heard was the sounds of millions of Doctor Who fans' heads exploding simultaneously.

Jul 14, 2014

The One Where Israel Murders Palestinians



UPDATE: July 15th 2014 @ 11:18am

Today the first Israeli civilian casualty was reported, with Hamas taking responsibility for it.  This is obviously a horrible thing to happen, and I am not, have not, and will not justify or excuse Hamas' sending rockets towards Israel, even if they are being deflected by the United State's funded Iron Dome.  It does nothing but cause problems, and I've never been one to advocate violence as a way to solve problems.  This is a complex situation, and I'm not pretending I have all the answers or even some.

However, let's re-iterate here.  1 death for Israel.   Closing in on 200 264 dead, and thousands injured on the Palestinian side. 80% of which are civilians, NOT the Hamas members firing the rockets.  Hamas is doing wrong by firing rockets at Israel, and I understand that at a certain point Israel cannot simply allow Hamas to keep attacking them and just assume that none of the rockets will cause damage.  Falling shrapnel is allegedly an issue according to Israel, and that seems to be a legitimate concern I would imagine.

However, I highly question Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he says that they seriously wanted to take the cease fire seriously and adhere to it, but their hands were forced by Hamas rejecting it and continuing to fire rockets.   As I wrote before (in original post below) egos and pride has gotten in the way, and Israel will never stop until all of Palestine and Gaza are buried under rubble, dead and gone.  And America will never stop supporting them until that happens.

This is a horrible situation all around, and it does not look to be getting any better.   Not until things change in that region, which I really don't put much faith in.

ORIGINAL POST BELOW:


Imagine someone is throwing rocks at your house. You look out the window and there they are throwing rocks, BIG rocks...Rocks that could theoretically kill someone if they hit them. However the rocks fall WAY short of hitting your house, and land on the grass.

Then imagine you going outside and taking big rocks and hitting that person in the face until they are dead.
That would be hell of a disproportionate response. Meaning your reaction would far outweigh the threat that you were facing.  The person was wrong for throwing the rocks at your house, no doubt.  No one would defend that, however that is not license to kill.

No one would think that was right, right? You'd end up being locked up for murder, because that's what it would be: Murder.

There's no "stand your ground" law that would defend that, unless you were in some backwards ass place like Florida or Texas.

So why is it okay if Israel does it to the Palestinian people?

185 deaths, nearly 1,400 injured.about 77% of them being civilians, and almost half of that number being children.

Out of those, you know how many are Israeli? Zero. EVERY. SINGLE. DEATH. is Palestinian, the vast
majority being civilians, and almost half being children.

Oh but we have to defend Israel doing that, right? Why is that?

*singing softly* for....the Bible....tells...me...so.

Yeah.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK:

Jul 6, 2014

The One With The Potato Salad Kickstarter

This is something that is wholly depressing.  The amount of depression and frustration that I get when I see this far outweighs the minimal amusement at the overhwhelming success of this Kickstarter.

Apparently someone set up a kickstarter to make potato salad.  They were asking for $10, and that's it.  Yet in the span of 3 days they have raised over $4,000.  I repeat, to MAKE POTATO SALAD.

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking that I've lost my mind, I've ingested some bad tainted weed and I'm clearly hallucinating.  who would donate so much money just so some asshole can make some potato salad?

Behold the fuckery.


If you're one of the many hard working independent artists out there who have tried and was unsuccessful in getting your campaign funded via Kickstarter, does this not just infuriate you?  I saw this and was immediately trying to refrain from cursing at the computer screen, because to be fair, the computer screen is just the messenger here.

And you're probably thinking, "well, that money is going to be put to good use!  Well....

That's right folks.  All you musicians, and writers, and filmmakers out there who have struggled to build a fan base, who have put your own money, along with blood sweat and tears into your work, and have come up short on your kickstarter campaigns, just rest assured that this asshole is getting over four grand to make some potato salad.

Well done, Kickstarter! Well done!  Nice to see you have high standards as to what you'll allow to be fundraised using your site.

So indie artists, this pretty much sums up what you need to do to succeed on Kickstarter if the legitimate way is not working.  Just create some bullshit campaign designed for viral internet hits via the Reddit/twitter crowd, and just use that money for whatever you want.

Cause God knows, this prick is not using $4000 (and growing) on potato salad.

Here's some interesting reactions on an article I saw about this.  Kind of puts into perspective this ridiculous campaign.



If this annoys you like it does me, below check out a Kickstarter project below that could REALLY use your money.   Please support indie media and artists.

"Shepherd" is a 64 page Graphic Novel by Australian artists Nic J. Shaw aka @ShawLettering.  It has only 3 Days Left and is only 32% funded.  Very creative idea and beautifully illustrated.   Please consider supporting this by clicking on this sentence, and pledging! 

This 64 Page Graphic Novel tells the tale of two former hunters who now protect the creatures that were once in their crosshairs.

THE PREMISE
 

SHEPHERD is the tale of two brothers, bound in both blood and arms. Having hunted the fiercest of creatures in the world from an early age, the pair have found a peace in life, saving animals that would have once been slaughtered.


Their new life is not without dangers; old enemies, and bitter rivals are pitted against the brothers by a formidable foe: The Collector. His goal: to take back something he believes the brothers shouldn't have, something that they had supposedly killed -- the very last of the Honshu Wolves.

 The collector tasks three of the worlds greatest hunters to take the head of the wolf and put an end to the brothers. The hunters from all around the world include a Japanese swordsman, a warrior woman built of Viking stock, and a Native American tracker who happens to be the last of his tribe.

Toss a plucky reporter into the mix and you've got a tale of intrigue and violence that spreads it's way through out 1930's Japan.


Jul 4, 2014

Freedom Died When Anthony Cumia Was Fired



UPDATE #2: JULY 6th 2014:

So I wanted to throw in a little update on this post.  Nothing happened between Anthony & Sirius, other than a bunch of fans claiming they were cancelling their subscriptions.  This is more me clarifying some things, and adding some thoughts.

First off, the headline.  I think it's kind of humorous how many people who support Anthony die hard like, and yet they are RT'ing my link.  It makes me think they read the headline, and that's it, thinking it's a huge defense of Anthony's incredible racism.  I have to admit that is kind of funny.

Secondly, I think it's clear from what I wrote below, that I'm not a fan of Opie & Anthony.  Not a big fan of them or Howard Stern or any of those shock jock type guys. I think they simply traffic in the worst of humanity for the sake of shocking people.   They get off on that type of "Oh my God, what did he just say???" type of reactions from people that don't listen to the show regularly, and to try to one up what they've said before in order to try to shock even the hardcore listeners.

That's not my thing.  There is enough negativity and evil bullshit in the world, that I don't need more of it in the way of my entertainment.  There are many who like that stuff though, and hey, more power to ya folks.  If that's what you like, go for it.  I'm not downing you for that. I have a lot of friends who are huge Stern fans, and I think he is a bit less of an asshole than the O&A guys, but not by much.

Just my thoughts there.

As for Anthony being fired, I didn't really get into it below because that wasn't the point of me writing that. I was mainly responding to the idiots who think this is somehow a free speech issue, which it is not.  His free speech was not infringed in the least.  He was able to say what he said and no one stopped him.  He's the one who eventually deleted them (and every other tweet save a few from MLK day, oddly), nobody forced him to delete those.

His employer has the right to fire him if they feel he is a liability.  He has the right to speak, they have the right to fire him for what he said.  That's the way the world goes, my friends.  You may not like it, but that's the way it is, and the 1st amendment has jack shit to do with it.  Until the day the government comes in, in the form of the police, or whatever, to arrest him or fine him or whatever, this is not a 1st amendment/free speech issue.  People need to understand that.

Now SHOULD they have fired him?  That's not as clean cut, to me.  While I have no qualms about their right to fire him, I think they absolutely jumped the gun on deciding to fire him.  The thing is, he's known for being a racist asshole.  Everyone knows that about him, who knows anything about him and the show.  The show traffics in shit like that.

For years they've been hired and fired multiple times off the backs of publicity stunts and outrageous things they've said or did or encouraged others to say or do.   So what makes this different that suddenly SiriusXM, who was paying him a reported 3 million dollars a year, would just jump out in front of this and fire him?

Well, I think Social Media plays a major role in this happening.  We've seen how people on twitter can mount a protest against those they feel are causing damage to the discourse of society, whether it's attacking those such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, over their disgusting rhetoric, or it's defending those being attacked, such as the various Black women who were disparaged and denigrated by asshole "Men's Rights Activists" on Twitter.

I think SiriusXM realized that this was going to be a thing, and decided to preempt that by firing him and being done with it.

I don't think they should have fired him though, although as I said they had the right to do so.  I think that as disgusting and distasteful as that type of thing is, I don't think that everyone needs to be on the same page as far as what is "Acceptable".   I despise the Duck Dynasty people, and disagree vehemently with what they stand for, but you know what?  They should not be forced off the air.  Let them air what they want, and that way people see them for who they are.   Call them out on their bullshit, but let them speak.

Anthony should not have been fired because being an asshole should not be enough to lose your job, no matter what despicable things he said.  Especially since it didn't happen on the job, it was his own twitter account.

As the saying goes, I disagree with what you say, but defend your right to say it.   I just won't agree with your words or think they are in any way, shape or form acceptable.

But you have to be willing to accept the consequences for what you say.


------------------------------------

UPDATE: JULY 5th 2014:  

It appears Anthony Cumia has gone and deleted virtually every tweet that he's sent in his short history on Twitter.  When you view his account now, it only has two tweets, both from Martin Luther King Jr. day in which he speaks about how Blacks should not get a "govt. handout" but work for a living.  That's not intentional at all, no.

Original post below.

-----------------

Okay so since I can sense that there may be an outpouring of comments heading in my direction over my previous tweets in relation to Anthony Cumia (of Opie & Anthony fame) and his fairly shocking and racist tweets (in my opinion, and that of many others) I felt I would simply write up this piece, and then anyone that feels like taking issue with something I tweeted earlier, I will simply point them in the direction of THIS, and hopefully that will satisfy them.

Yeah, I know, I know, and I expect the Sun is made of Cotton Candy.

So as many people know Anthony wrote some insanely racist shit on twitter the other day. Now whether you think he was in the right in being upset at what allegedly happened, that he was attacked randomly by an African American woman who walked into the frame as he was taking photos in Time Square, and he refused to fight back (the gentleman that he is), that's debatable.

You can defend him on his right to take issue with what happened, providing what happened was as he described it. I'm not 100% certain I believe what he says, but I am entirely ready to be proven wrong in that situation. However, I think most people would recognize that if they were just randomly attacked on the street by someone, regardless of the race or gender of said person, then someone would be rightly expected to be upset at that.


MORE AFTER THE BREAK:

Jul 1, 2014

[REVIEW] Bubba Sparxxx - Made on McCosh Mill Road

RATING: 8/10 CHET BAKERS

I have a confession to make.  I'm a hip hop fan, however with few exceptions I'm not too much of a fan of White rappers.  There are definitely some good ones out there, however there are a lot who are terrible.  There's some out there who are doing it for the genuine love of Hip Hop and they live and breathe Hip Hop, however there's a lot who have less respect for Hip Hop as they do finding a way to make money off of Hip Hop.

I may be White, myself, but I have no patience for people who come into Hip Hop and try to co-opt it for their own personal gain, regardless of race or gender.  Not all of them are as reprehensibly offensive as Iggy Azalia with her stump speech-esque vocal inflections, putting on this image of how she views Black people as talking and acting, despite her being from Australia far from the American Hip Hop culture that she now profits off of, however they should be called out, nonetheless.

It's almost like some of these artists are the living, breathing incarnation of Danny Hoch's character Flip Dog from the movie "White Boyz" (and originally from Hoch's monologues). People who have only seen Black people on BET and WorldStar Hip Hop and think that's an accurate representation of Black people, and so they adopt that type of persona and vocal inflections.

As I said, though, there are other artists who don't engage in such fuckery and truly respect Hip Hop and are 100% being themselves.  Bubba Sparxxx is one of those artists, I believe. The thing I like about Bubba is that he appears to be just doing him.  What you see is what you get, he's not trying to be something he's not.  He's not posturing, he's not playing a gimmickey character, he's not trying to piggyback on a trend or anything, he's simply illustrating the life he grew up in.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK

Jun 30, 2014

The One With Nurse Jackie's evolution into Walter White



Last night was the finale of Showtime's dramedy series "Nurse Jackie" and I have some thoughts.

Just wrapping up it's sixth season, there are some who think that the show has gone on too long, however I have to beg to differ.  This show is not spinning it's wheels here or treading water here, folks, it is kind of spectacular to look at the show now and back when it started, and look at how Jackie has grown and evolved into something quite remarkable.

And as evidenced by last night's episode, Jackie is not the only one who has changed.

Before I continue, be aware there will be spoilers for the Season 6 finale of Nurse Jackie as well as references to the Orange is the New Black second season as well.  You are warned.

When Nurse Jackie first came out, Jackie was your average hard working nurse who had come to depend on pain killers to deal with a bad back that had been a natural result of constantly working on her feet, lifting patients, and all the other physical requirements of the job.  However, as would become clear, she is a fairly high functioning addict.

When she is taking the Oxys or whatever she has, she's not spacing out, she's not incoherent or whatever, she's still focused on her job, creating this impenetrable facade of someone who has all her shit together.  She's got a seemingly great marriage to a great guy, Kevin, who owns a bar, and two daughters.  It's all working out, it appears.

However she is clearly not alright inside. Her drug use is increasing, and she's having an affair with the pharmacist, Eddie, as a way of getting the drugs.  Eddie would probably give them to her anyway, but she is manipulating him by having sex in order to maintain this connection for drugs.  It's simply the 1st in a long line of manipulations that we see her pull off in order to get what she wants/needs.

As the show progressed, little by little, everything fell apart for her.  Her marriage, her relationship with her children -- her one daughter Grace seems determined to follow in her footsteps.  Particularly in a scarily similar manner Grace has seemed to adopt Jackie's ability to do wrong while having the image of a fine upstanding member of society.  Grace, while clearly doing drugs, shoplifting, etc, gives this wonderful speech about accepting responsibility for your actions in the finale at a school presentation as she is given an award for community service.

She is clearly her mother's daughter.

Also it is interesting how amazing she is at rationalizing her actions.  She cheated on Kevin with Eddie the Pharmacist, over a long period of time (in one of the final episodes of this season, Kevin reveals to Jackie's sponsor Antoinette that they were having an affair for about year or so), and yet when it was revealed that due to her withdrawal from Kevin and the family, that he had a brief affair, she blew up and kicked him out of the house in the Season 1 Finale, right as she thought she was being exposed for her affair.

She flipped the script and played martyr to perfection, all the while being a raging hypocrite.  And that has continued, as she attacks her current season boyfriend Frank when he reveals that he doesn't talk to his kids much because they're still angry that he cheated on their mother which led to the divorce.  She lashes out at him for cheating by pointing out "Kevin cheated on me" to justify her anger, never mentioning that she cheated on Kevin way before he ever thought of it.

There was some of that hypocrisy trickling down to Grace as well, as she non-stop attacks her mother for doing drugs and lying, when she herself is doing the same thing now with her friend Mandy.

Over the years we have seen Jackie evolve from this average ho-hum nurse who, while doing extraordinary things that cross the ethical and legal lines, was simply a human being trying to get by day to day.  Then somewhere along the way she turned into something more, and it only really sunk in for me as I watched this season.  It caused me to have a revelation as I watched the second to last episode:

Jackie Payton has turned into Walter White.

She may not be murdering people (although she almost killed someone in the next to last episode) but she definitely is engaging in this Machiavellian strategy of destroying anyone who gets in her way, and any and everyone that crosses her path in some way is worse off for it.  I mean just look at the results:

Kevin was a really nice and good guy who has turned into a bitter and angry man who is struggling to get on with his life with a woman he loves, Mia, and his two daughters after all that Jackie has done in their marriage.

Grace, who while having some problems, went completely sideways after her mother's actions were revealed, and is now doing drugs, shoplifting, and just having zero respect for her mother at all, even mouthing the words "Fuck you" after humiliating her mother by revealing, in a malicious fashion, that her father was getting remarried, as Jackie walked out of the room to avoid crying in front of her.  Mind you this was in a POLICE STATION as Grace was arrested for shoplifting.

Zoey Barkow, the All Saints Hospital Resident cheerful Nurse has had her naivete wiped away by the realization that Jackie has been manipulating everyone around her in such a stunning way.  I completely spaced on the fact that the fake ID she made for the dying nun, so the Nun would take the fall for using Dr. Roman's DEA card, was made using the picture Zoey took on her iphone.  When Zoey revealed that to Jackie in the finale I let out an "ohhhhhh Shit!".  I'm not sure how I missed that, but man, that was a super low point on Jackie's part.

The fact that Zoey was able to stand up to Jackie, someone she has always respected and looked up to, and who in the past she would simply lower her eyes and run away when Jackie would lash out at her, was a remarkable leap in her evolution as a character.  You could see she is no longer the bright eyed girl who first started in Season 1, especially how she reacted to the Zoey-Like bubbly intern who came in, basically taking the Jackie role of telling her to sit down and listen and watch what she does.

The list of casualties of Jackie land go on and on.  Dr. Roman, having her DEA card used and, and then Jackie lying about her to save her own ass in the finale, Antoinette, Jackie's former sponsor, who Jackie manipulated into relapsing, so Jackie could get her admitted into a facility to keep her from exposing Jackie's addictions to Akalitus, to Frank who seemed to be yet another really great guy that was too good for Jackie.

I made the comparison to Walter White, and I think it stands.  Walter was someone who put on this mask of a mild mannered individual, someone who you would never really give a second glance at, and yet he was pulling the strings in the background.  He was a drug kingpin, Heisenberg, sitting right in front of his DEA brother in law's face, hiding in plain sight.

In Nurse Jackie, she is hiding in plain sight in a hospital setting, tons of access to drugs.  They know she's a recovering addict, and yet she is given the benefit of the doubt due to how well she has played everyone around her.  Akilitus started to see through that in the end, when she seemed to catch on that maybe Jackie played her by having her "accidentally" run over Jackie's foot in order to secure a drug prescription that she made Akilitus think was her idea, thus giving her a reason she would fail the drug test that Jackie knew was coming.

Speaking of which, this is the second time that Jackie has harmed herself in order to get out of a potentially hairy situation.  In Season 1, she realized she had her wedding ring on at the hospital.  During that season she did not want people at her work to know she was married, especially since she was having an affair with Eddie, who did not know she was married.  She could not get her ring off of her finger, and so she smashed her finger with a hammer in order to remove the ring. 

In this season she allows her toes to be broken in order to be prescribed pain killers so she could avoid a drug test.  She lies about her sponsor giving permission, as long as Akilitus administers it, and the lies keep coming.

Some may dismiss the Walter White comparison, just on the fact that their body counts are significantly different, however, I would wager that the supreme level that Jackie manipulates everyone around her, the way everyone who comes in contact with her is worse off than they were before they met her (Kevin, Frank, Eddie, Zoey, Akilitus, even the drug dealer that she stole his girlfriend's credit card to buy Grace and Fiona's dresses), I think definitely mirrors the destruction that Walter left in his wake.

 

And much like Walter White, Jackie has become so adept at wiggling out of any and every dangerous circumstance that comes her way, whether it's being found out for cheating, or pilfering the DEA code of a doctor in order to write her own prescriptions and having the DEA investigate, that she is not really someone you would consider to be "in danger", rather she has become the danger, just in a slightly less homicidal way than White.

She's not quite the murderous sociopath that White was, and while I would not say she's quite the level of sociopath that Lorraine Toussaint's character Vee was from this current season of Orange is the New Black (who manipulates everyone around her into doing her bidding, while thinking it was their idea), there are definitely similarities between Jackie and Vee.

Much like White and Vee, Jackie is fully able to rationalize and justify what she does.  They don't view themselves as doing wrong, they are simply doing what they need to survive in this screwed up world they have found themselves in.   Jackie simply, at this point anyway, has not stepped over the line in which she is fully okay with someone dying in order to remain undetected.

Season 6 ends with Jackie seemingly in a situation that will present itself as a gamechanger of sorts.  I'm not sure how she can wiggle out of this.  Unless they come up with some way where Akilitus pulls some strings and says she was going to go into the Diversion program, and thus she's able to keep her job.  Maybe the person she saved at that wreck at the end will be what keeps her from prison.  The fact that she saved a life rather than racing to get on that plane.

I guess we'll find out next year.  But it is a fascinating experience watching just how far someone can plummet before they actually hit rock bottom, and what they will do to avoid acknowledging having hit said bottom.

Jun 7, 2014

[PODCAST] Searching For Chet Baker Podcast: Episode 24

Back with another indie podcast for ya folks.  Anyone out there listening?  If so leave a comment in the comment section below and let me know that I'm not posting this up for the ghosts of the internet past.

Below is the embedded podcast, along with the tracklisting + links to those artists twitter accounts, so you can follow their musical happenings and get updates on their careers!

Please support these artists, folks.  They deserve all the attention they can get, as I think, these are some of the hottest musicians out there.  I won't feature them on my podcast if I don't genuinely like them.  No payola here, no one's pressuring me to play their music.  I pick artists whose music I like and want others to hear and hopefully like as well.  It's that simple.

If you like it, and it's available to buy, please do.  Follow these artists on twitter and show your love!  Tell them where you heard them first, the Searching For Chet Baker Podcast!

Also follow me on twitter at @QuoVadimus2012.  Also follow graphic artists Miami Kaos (@RealMiamiKaos1)who not only designed the awesome podcast artwork you see below, but also the amazing banner you see at the top of the screen.  He's amazing, and I truly value him as a friend!


SFCBPodcast24 by Searching For Chet Baker on Mixcloud


01. K-Murdock Intro
02. Jasiri X - We Started From The Top, But Now We Here
03. Ohmega Watts feat. Surreal - No Delay
04. Dessy DiLauro - Mysterious
05. Willie Evans Jr. - Nerd English
06. The Starseeds (K-Murdock & Paranorm-L) - I Want To Know
07. Tony Ozier - Funkin Wit You
08. Surreal - Mama Don't Cry
09. Omilani - Shooting Star
10. Steven A. Clark - Not Ready
11. Todd Shannon - State of the Union

May 16, 2014

[REVIEW] "Sparkle 2" by @10TonsLTD (PS4)


TITLE: Sparkle 2 (PS4)
DEVELOPER: 10Tons
PRICE: $7.99 (Crossbuy with PSVita)
PLAYED ON: Playstation 4
HOURS PLAYED: 13
SCORE: 9/10

NOTE: I was sent an advance review copy of this game by 10Tons.

Years and years ago when I had a Playstation 1, there were a handful of games that I played more than any others.  One was Crash Bandicoot: Warped, which got heavy play.  Another was "Apocalypse" which featured a character modeled after Bruce Willis, with his face and voice.  It was, looking back, kind of a horrible game, and yet I loved it.  Sure, he only had like six or seven phrases that he would speak, along the lines of "I.......Feel.........GOOD!" and "Strap one on, it's time to jam!".  Very cliche type dialogue.  As far as 3rd person shooters go, it was fairly entertaining, however with my depth perception issues it was a pain in the ass, because a lot of it involved jumping towards and away from the camera to other platforms, and I wasn't very good at judging distances.  This led to me frustratingly repeating specific sections ad nauseum.

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Apr 17, 2014

[REVIEW] Dessy Di Lauro - This Is Neo Ragtime




RATING: 9/10 CHET BAKERS

I've spoken on my blog numerous times about how we, as music fans, tend to put ourselves in boxes.  We limit what we listen to, because we feel that we won't like it, or that's not "real music" or that the music is what older people listen to, not what young people listen to, or any other number of excuses we give.  At the end of the day, though, that's all they are:  excuses.

We're making up excuses to explain why we don't listen to more types of music.  Sometimes, the music just genuinely does nothing for you, and there's nothing wrong with that.  Other times, sadly, race plays into the factoring of why someone may not listen to a genre such as Rap music.  Sometimes the reasoning is sound and understandable, other times not so much.

I bring this up because I discovered an artist recently that just blew me away.  So creative, so original so undeniably cool that I was kind of mad that I had not heard her before.  Her name is Dessy Di Lauro, and she's one of these artists that really need to be seen and heard to be appreciated.  Just telling you what she does, I don't think would do her justice, and as I've tried to explain her music to people before, I think I end up doing more to dissuade them from hearing her than I am helping. Because she's kinda indescribable.

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Mar 30, 2014

[REVIEW] Watson + Holmes Issue #1

8/10 CHET BAKERS
 


Sherlock Holmes & Dr. John Watson are two of literature’s most enduring characters.  They are the subject of numerous books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and have inspired even more characters, either through adaptations into plays, movies and television shows.

The list of actors who have portrayed Sherlock Holmes is very long and distinguished, and includes names such as John Barrymore, Joaquim De Almeida (probably best known as the villainous El Bucho in Robert Rodriguez’ Desperado) Michael Caine, and most recently Robert Downey Jr. in the movies, while Jonny Lee Miller (CBS’ Elementary) and Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock) portray him on television.
The character of Dr. Gregory House is also inspired by the good Dr. Holmes, with his best friend Dr. James Wilson being the Watson to House’s Holmes. (get it? House? Homes?)

The idea of adapting a famous literary character to other locations, and changing up their attributes to create a  fresh start, so to speak, is fine, and I welcome that.  And the idea of taking historically white and British characters and changing them to African-Americans sounds like a novel take on it, and it could be an interesting venture.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK:

[REVIEW] The Hood: Change From Within Issue #1


 9/10 CHET BAKERS



Vigilantism.

It definitely has an appeal to many people's base instincts.  Their desire for justice and revenge.   This is evident by the success of TV shows and movies depicting various people who take matters -- and the law -- into their own hands and mete out punishment.  To right wrongs and make the world a better place.

It's a nice sentiment and one that plays on all the right emotional strings.

It's why we liked the show Dexter (before it went off the rails in that ridiculously absurd ending).  We had a guy who was only going after those who were guilty, who had done really bad things.  We, of course, had the benefit of knowing 100% those he was going after were guilty.  With only one or two exceptions, those that Dexter Morgan killed in his time on the show, were horrible people. Pedophiles, child murderers, rapists, etc.  We had the benefit of being all knowing, all seeing as it pertained to their guilt, and so we were able to get behind a sociopathic, psychopathic serial killer because we knew that he was doing good, even if his methods were not.

The real world does not work that way, however, which is why shows like that are deceptive.  In the real world, we can't know that everyone we target is actually guilty.  When ex police officer Christopher Dorner went on a rampage and was killing police officers that he felt had betrayed him and who had done him wrong, there was a percentage of society that were cheering him on and drawing comparisons to the Jason Bourne character from the movies.  His saga tapped into a segment of society that already had a massive distrust of the police (and often for good reason) and so it was easy for them to completely and utterly agree with his motives and methods.

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Mar 25, 2014

[REVIEW] Kristo (Graphic Novel)

 9/10 CHET BAKERS
 


Last year I helped kickstart a graphic novel called "Kristo" by writer Sam Roads & artist Alex Sheikman.  I just happened upon it when looking through the Kickstarter projects on the site, and immediately pledged when I realized it was a re-imagining of The Count of Monte Cristo (my all time favorite story) set in Stalinist Russia.   This was definitely something that I could get behind, and I was thrilled when it was successful.

Recently the copies of the book were sent out, and I got mine and finally had a chance to read it this morning, and so these are my thoughts on the book.

The thing about the Count, is that this story can be remade in virtually any setting, any time, any place.  The themes of betrayal, revenge and hope and redemption are universal, and thus can be universally applied.  There have been numerous takes on this story over the years in film, television and other media.

The pacing of "Kristo" is very quick.  Clocking in at around 65 pages (including appendices, and credits and that type of thing), it is not a slow paced read.  Things happen very quickly, and I think I was surprised by this.  Being as how this is my all time favorite story, I am particularly critical when it comes to interpretations of it.  I absolutely LOVED the 2002 film starring Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest, Passion of the Christ) and Guy Pearce (Memento, LA Confidential).  That movie was brilliant and I think perfectly paced, acted, written, directed, etc.


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Mar 10, 2014

The One With The Bible Twisting, Gospel Perverting "Pastor"



Anyone who has read my blog for longer than a minute knows that while I was raised as Christian, and I still identify myself as such, my faith has wavered a good bit over the years due to way that I perceive my faith has having been hijacked.  You see all these so-called Christians on the news screaming about how God hates Gay people (or sometimes they'll say that He loves them, yet will still condemn them to an eternity having the flesh burned off of them, because they dare love someone of the same gender).

And these people will point to the Bible and single out specific scripture that they claim backs up their assertion that God does not like the LGBT community, or rather He does not like what they do.  They utilize the single most maddening phrase, to me, the whole "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" mantra.  Personally I despise that saying, because I do not believe that it is possible to love someone and yet hate a core aspect of their being that you feel is a sin. 

You cannot believe that homosexuality is a mortal sin that is punishable by having the flesh burned off your body for eternity (or if you're going strict old testament, stoning or whatnot) and yet still claim to love that person.  You cannot believe that you love someone and yet have no bones about condemning them to Hell if they do not change their sexual identity.


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Mar 5, 2014

The One Where ONTRAC May Be Costing Amazon Some "Prime" Customers



UPDATE:  Wednesday, March 5th @ 10:41am.  SEE BOTTOM OF POST TO READ UPDATES.

I've been a member of Amazon Prime for several years now.  I enjoy the shit out of Amazon Prime.  I buy a ton of things from the site whether it's music, movies, video games, household appliances, and whatever else I might see and decide I must have.  I don't want to think of how much I have spent over the years on MP3's alone.

The reason I have Amazon Prime is the shipping perks.  I don't necessarily care about the Instant Streaming perks, although that's nice.  And I have an iPad, so the Kindle Lending thing doesn't apply to me, since I have to do that via an actual Amazon Kindle or Kindle Fire.  So it's the free 2 day shipping, or one day $3.99 shipping that is what attracted me to Amazon's Prime service ($79 a month...for now), and is what has kept me there all these years.

However there is an aspect that it making me rethink whether or not it's worth the time, hassle and various problems that come with it, ESPECIALLY if they decide to up their rates anywhere from $20 to $40 a year.

And that is the fact that one of the shipping services that they use, along with Fed Ex, UPS and USPS is a regional service called "ONTRAC".  ONTRAC is mainly located in the western parts of the United States, and they flat out suck.  There's really no other way to put it.   In the entire time that I've been with Amazon Prime I've had packages delivered by pretty much every delivery service.  By far and away, the worst is without a doubt, ONTRAC.


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Feb 18, 2014

My Response to Bizzle's "Same Love (A Response)"



Today I woke up and found a story online about a Christian rapper named Bizzle, getting death threats over a "response" video he put up to address Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Same Love".  The song, titled, appropriately I suppose, "Same Love (A Response)", pretty much lays out all the problems that that Bizzle had with the song, and it doesn't really take a long time to think about what those issues might be.

So when I first saw the headline I knew exactly what the problem the rapper would have, but I was curious as to who it was.   I don't really listen to Christian hip hop, or Christian music in general.  I did at one time, but I've long had my issues with Christian music, and I've been over this before so you can click here to read my review of Lecrae's album "Rehab" or here to read my review of Sho Baraka's album "Xth" to get my expanded thoughts on it.

So I was intrigued when I realized that I actually did know who it was, as I had featured Bizzle's track "Just Saying" on episode 4 of my indie hip hop podcast.  I enjoyed the track then, and I still do.  And I suppose I was curious as to what he said in this new song of his that would elicit death threats, although to be honest, it doesn't take much to get death threats on the internet these days, and that should not be indicative of an entire group of people as a whole.  The internet is a vicious animal that brings out the absolute worst in people, thanks to relative anonymity.

So after reading the lyrics, I was stunned into silence, getting angrier and frustrated with each line I read. I didn't care for the original Same Love song, although I agree with the message, I thought the song itself was garbage. I did love Mary Lambert's vocals on it though.

I was raised Christian and to some degree I still am, although nowhere near as devout as I used to be.  I'm not Gay, however I consider myself a strong supporter of marriage equality and equal rights for the LGBT community.  And reading what Bizzle was saying was infuriating, although not wholly original as these are pretty much talking points put out by bigots at the Family Research Council or professional bomb throwers such as Bryan Fischer or Tony Perkins.

It was no easier to read though.  And after reading it I realized there was no way I couldn't actually watch this video.  I had to see it because I was thinking maybe these words were wrong, and there was some kind of joke.  He didn't REALLY say this stuff did he?

Alas, he did.


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Feb 16, 2014

The One With My House of Cards Season 2 Thoughts



NOTE:  It should be obvious, but just in case it's not, this will contain MASSIVE spoilers for the Seasons of House of Cards, mostly Season 2.  If you haven't seen any of House of Cards, or you haven't finished Season 2, consider coming back to this post later.

Last year when I watched House of Cards, it took me awhile to get into it.  Not because it was bad or slow or anything like that (it wasn't), but more I have ADD and I tend to get distracted easily, and then I just kept going off to other things.

This year, there was still some of that, but I began watching immediately, seeing the 1st episode soon after they appeared on Netflix, and then I saw the rest over the course of Friday & Saturday, finishing up last night around 10pm.  There were little sections where I paused it and was doing some stuff online, as I use my monitor/TV for both computer use and my PS3/PS4 which I was using for Netflix.

Overall I liked the season very much.  It was so. full. of. treachery. that it was almost a chore to get through some of the episodes.  I mean there were backstabbings, manipulations, double and triple agents, and it just got to the point where I was like "please, just a little happiness!" here folks. That's all I ask.

But this isn't something that ends with everyone happy, singing and dancing through the closing credits.

 

Overall, this was another fantastic season, although there were some cracks in the surface that highlighted some flaws this season, writing wise.  Last season there didn't seem anything, to me, that stood out as "oh come on, what is this crap?" type stuff.  Everything was solid, everything was necessary, no filler I mean.
This year, there just seemed to be moments that really left me scratching my head as to why they went in that direction, particularly with a specific character (more on that later). 

They wrapped up the Peter Russo subplot fairly quickly.  Was kinda surprised how quickly they took care of that, and one thing I thought was interesting was subplots come and go, and they are forgotten.  Aside from maybe five mentions (almost all in the 1st episode) of Peter Russo, it was like he was never even there.  I suppose that could be good or bad, depending on your viewpoint.   I mean you don't want them to dwell on things that are no longer of importance (to the storyline), as there are constantly new threats appearing, but at the same time, it is weird to see massive things happen and then on to the next one, so to speak.

There were some truly WTF moments, but not necessarily in bad ways.  Although one specific WTF to the Nth degree comes in involving one of the Underwoods security men.  It's near the end of one of the later episodes, and you know it when you see it.  I have no words.  But true to form, it's never mentioned again.

Easily the biggest WTF moment was near the end of Episode 1 when Frank throws Zoe in front of a moving subway train. I literally yelled out "FUCK!" at around 1:30am in my church run apartment building.  That wasn't my highlight, let me say.


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Feb 11, 2014

The One With The Date Grape Daiquiri

Image courtesy of The Inlander


I have decided to throw this out there for those who are inexplicably supporting The Spokane Downtown Daiquiri Factory in their decision to name a drink at their new establishment, "The Date Grape Kool Aid".  Perhaps this is a fool's errand, in thinking that I would get a rational response, however being that I live in Spokane, and it's kind of frustrating to have the name of the city I live in constantly being associated with these people, I feel like I had to at least try to reach out and figure out just where their heads are at.

I have a question for those who are behind the naming of this drink, Jamie Pendleton the owner of the bar in question, as well as a local radio station, and for those who are still supporting him. 


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Feb 8, 2014

Common live at North Sea Jazz Festival ("BE" Tour) 2005




This here is a fantastic concert! Performed in Den Haag, Netherlands for the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2005 around the time that he dropped his classic album "Be".

Check this out folks, this show is not to be missed. The video and audio quality is excellent! 


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Feb 5, 2014

The One Where George Zimmerman Wins Again



So by now, I'm sure, everyone has heard about the proposed "Celebrity Boxing" match that has been allegedly set up between child killer George Zimmerman and rapper DMX.  The fact that it was announced, on what would have been the week of Trayvon Martin's 19th Birthday, I'm SURE was just a coincidence.  On that very fact alone, this should have been dismissed by anyone with a conscience.

I'll be honest I've had mixed feelings about this whole thing from the jump.  On the one hand, like many, my initial thoughts were that this was awesome.  That there was going to be someone to step in and give George the beats.  That Zimmerman would finally, if in some fashion, pay for what he did.  For what a jury inexplicably couldn't do: mete out Justice.

However, that doesn't hold water.  This isn't Justice.  Justice isn't a man gets to live the rest of his life in freedom outside prison walls, while his victim's family gets to watch as he milks his 15 minutes way past the deadline.  Justice isn't a man profiting off of his heinous crime, completely tone-deaf (or uncaring) how he comes off.


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Jan 29, 2014

[REVIEW] @Gangstagrass - Broken Hearts & Stolen Money

RATING: 9/10 CHET BAKERS

About five years ago when the FX series "Justified" premiered, I was first exposed to the music of Gangstagrass.  I had been anticipating the show for awhile, as it was based on characters from the mind of Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Jackie Brown).  Originally titled "Lawman", before being changed to Justified because of an identically titled show from Steven Seagal, the show's theme song was a mixture of hip hop and country/bluegrass.

As anyone who knows me knows, I really dig cross genre music.  Whether it's Hidden Beach Records "Unwrapped" releases which is a melding of Hip Hop and Live Jazz, or Apocalyptica, which is Heavy Metal and Classical, I like creativity. I like the pushing of the boundaries, the blowing up of the box that some artists find themselves trapped within.

Purists may scoff, but there's something kind of genuine about a group like Gangstagrass, an ever evolving collective.  Each album features some old standbys, so to speak, in the way of artists that are longtime collaborators, however they also will often feature brand new collaborators, who will figure into the Gangstagrass ecosystem going forward.


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Jan 18, 2014

The One Where Being Homeless Makes You A Target



When I was homeless, living on the street for several years during the 90's, it was a shock to the system, so to speak.  Nothing really prepared me for it, and it sort of happened all hurried like.  There was no slow build up to it, where it's like "Well first of the month comes, and I don't have the rent money or anywhere to go, so let me see if the shelter will have a spot."  More to the point of one day I had a place, the next day I didn't.  No warning, no hints, nothing.

And for a lot of people that is their exact story.  Nothing prepared them for it, and unfortunately not everyone makes it out of that situation.  I consider myself extremely lucky that I found myself in a city I had never been in before and met people who helped me get back on my feet.

When you are homeless there are certain things you have to get used to.  There's no guide to being homeless, that I am aware of.  There's no handy pamphlet or book that will ease you in and warn you what you need to watch out for.   You are thrust into an uncaring scenario where you are viewed as something other than human.

You are, as Fox News would call you, a "Taker".  In many people's eyes, you serve no legitimate purpose as it relates to society.  You are to be avoided.  Stepped over on the way to work, never looked in the eyes.  Ignored and made to feel that you don't exist.

And that is if you are lucky.

The alternatives could be you are singled out and targeted for the whimsical fancies of the sociopathic in our society.  Whether those sociopaths be high school kids out getting their kicks by rolling a homeless person, grown up budding entrepreneurs who will often pay homeless addicts $20 to beat the shit out of each other, so they can film it for their own amusement (and sale on the internet), or you will have the truly psychotics that will not only beat you, but set you on fire and watch you die in front of them, all while they laugh.

Now this isn't something that is happening to every homeless person, of course, but it is something that happens.  There are many documented cases of this happening, and it seems every month we see another instance of this.

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Jan 11, 2014

The One With The Bounty on Virginity



I was online today and stumbled across a video of a rapper named Aye Verb being interviewed, and he offered a fairly strange thing:  A bounty on the virginity of a female rapper named Jaz. His point, if you can call it that, seemed to be that she had the potential to be a phenomenal rapper on the level of Jay Z, but not until someone had sex with her.  Once a man had sex with her, then she'd be a real woman with real stories to tell, apparently.   Below is a snippet of transcript along with the video interview:

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Jan 5, 2014

The One Where Hip Hop Makes History



February 17th 2014.  Mark that date down on your calendars, or perhaps more appropriately in our age of technology, in your phones or tablets.  This is the day in which Hip Hop will have achieved, arguably, its greatest accomplishment.  And that's saying a lot, considering all that Hip Hop has done over the years.

On February 17th when Jimmy Fallon becomes the new host of NBC's The Tonight Show, the venerable live Hip Hop collective, the Legendary Roots Crew will come along with him as the official house band.

Seriously, how freaking cool is that?

As someone that grew up listening to hip hop and who loves Hip Hop in general and The Roots specifically, this is a momentous occasion on a level I'm not sure many properly understand.  Hip Hop is officially a part of one of NBC's Flagship shows.   This is major, folks.

The cache that comes with being affiliated with the Roots has given Late Night with Jimmy Fallon a sense of hip cool, while the affiliation with Late Night with Jimmy, has given Hip Hop a huge visible faction to mainstream America.

And some might think that this isn't that big a deal, because Hip Hop has already been taken mainstream, for the most part.  And to a point I would say they were correct, however, this is a different situation altogether.

This is a positive visible dynamic for Hip Hop.  Too often what Hip Hop is portrayed in the Mainstream Media is all of its negative components, and none of its positives.  When Hip Hop is portrayed to the Mainstream, it is done so with ignorance and buffoonery, to put it politely.   It is the lowest common denominator, which leads many out there who are not familiar with Hip Hop to assume that THAT is what Hip Hop is all about.

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Jan 3, 2014

The One Where I Lament The Death of Reading



So, I didn't wanna do it like this.  I didn't wanna start 2014, a brand spanking new year on a negative point, however I am forced into this.  One thing that has kind of irritated me these past years (among many many many things, I assure you) is this inexplicable embracing of anti-intellectualism in this country, especially as it pertains to online interactions and social media.

This is nothing new, as anyone that's been online more than a minute will understand.  That doesn't make it any more frustrating to come across websites that have completely done away with anything that requires you to read more than a paragraph, if that.  And sometimes, that seems to be pushing the limits of what people seem to want.

The latest example of this, or at least I'm just now becoming hip to this site, is "Upworthy", which is a website that essentially posts videos with hyperbolic headlines (and that's it) to get people to spread the links online, thus causing them to go viral.  The headlines are absolutely ridiculous (Even more than my own Friends rip-off structure to my headlines), and are designed to encourage you to watch the videos. Things like "This girl was crying and you'll never believe what this man does next!"   I know, I assume the man slapped her and told her to grow up, right?  No, of course not, it's always some sweet saccharine feel good story, which ironically is what everyone totally believed would happen.



Here's the problem though: I don't want to watch the videos.  I don't want to watch a 6 minute video about something totally amazing someone did, when I don't know thing one about them.  Why can't you just write a paragraph summarizing things, and then if I wanna spend that 6 minutes to see more, I will.  Why this marching towards the elimination of actual reading?

MORE AFTER THE BREAK