Aug 3, 2014

Why The American Government Will Never Legalize Drugs



Want to know why the American Government will never legalize drugs? Because then they'd have to either justify keeping millions of non-violent drug offenders (users/sellers) in prison, or release them, neither of which those in power want to do. 

I'm not the only one, I'm sure, that finds it ironic that in two states now (Colorado and Washington State) it is legal to sell weed, while there are people in prison for DECADES for doing that very thing. Murica indeed.

The thing is, though, is that you could legalize all drugs tomorrow, and not only would crime plummet but also drug use would drop as well. This isn't the baseless rantings of a lunatic drug head here, either. I don't do drugs. At all. I don't smoke cigarettes or anything else. Smoked pot twice in my life, didn't care for it, never did it since.

I don't drink either. Drank for the 1st time at age 22 for about six months with a room mate who was always buying, but then once we went our separate ways, I haven't had a drink since (over 15 years). And I can't stand being around people who do drink and do drugs. So I have no skin in the game personally, other than being tired of seeing my fellow man being denied their freedom for bullshit.

In Colorado when the recent legislation passed to legalize possession of marijuana, many people spoke up and asked about whether or not the 50,000 people who had been convicted from 2006 to 2010 in the state of pot related charges, would have their sentences either commuted or expunged from their record.

The answer, as if you didn't already know, is a big fat no.

Courtesy of TakePart.com

Though there’s a certain cruel logic to this viewpoint, from a global perspective it is an extreme outlier. The United States is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t guarantee what’s called “retroactive ameliorative relief” in sentencing. Meaning, when a law is passed to ease or eliminate punishments for a specific crime, those already convicted of that crime don’t necessarily receive the same relaxation or cessation of their sentence.

“The United States is one of only 22 countries that doesn’t guarantee retroactive ameliorative relief in sentencing,” says Amanda Solter, Project Director of Human Rights and Criminal Sentencing Reform Project for the University of San Francisco School of Law. “The only other countries that do this are places like Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, South Sudan, and a handful of countries in the Caribbean. Even Russia provides this right.”

So they clearly are not going to retroactively release all the drug offenders, because that would be ... you know...the RIGHT thing to do.  So they'd be stuck to JUSTIFY leaving them in prison for doing something that the government is now doing themselves.   And they clearly don't want that dragging into an election cycle.
 
Similarly in 2010, Congress passed what is known as the "Fair Sentencing Act".  This relates to drug offenses surrounding "Crack Cocaine" vs. "Powdered Cocaine".  Crack Cocaine is viewed as a drug for Black people, and Powdered Cocaine is viewed as a White People's drug.  As such, the sentencing guidelines are extremely out of wack.  Say a Black person gets caught with 1 gram of Crack Cocaine.  And say the Judge gives him 1 year in prison (I know, I know, dreaming that that's ALL he'd get, but just run with this).  In order for the White person to get the SAME sentence, he would have to have 100 grams of powdered cocaine.  In addition, the drug offenses also carried with it the atrocity known as the "Mandatory Minimums" where the judges hands were tied, and you HAD to be given a minimum sentence of 5 years if you had a drug charge and there was a gun involved.

For example, someone I know had a gun in his house because he lived in bad neighborhood and the house had been broken into multiple times in the past.  The police came into his house as part of an investigation, and there was not only the gun, but also some crack that was completely unrelated to the gun.  However, it was rolled up into a Gun and drugs charge, and he got a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison.  No appealing it, no plea deal to knock it down, 5 years. Even if the judge wanted to say "hey this is outrageous, there's no reason to give this person 5 years, he has no say in the matter.

This is what causes three strike offenders to get life in prison for shoplifting.


Yes, that is bat shit crazy.  And it's also the truth.  Click here to read more about the "Fairness in Sentencing Act".


My mentioning about the crime and drug use going down, upon enacting drug legalization, is based in facts only. But in order to do this, the Government would have to admit it was wrong, something it never likes to do.

And the thing is, I understand that the knee jerk reaction is to immediately say "No way, you can't legalize drugs, think of the massive wave of overdoses that would wash over the land."

And yet.....that's not what has happened before when this was done.

 

Courtesy of TheFix.Com

Portugal became the first European nation to take the brave step of decriminalizing possession of all drugs within its borders—from marijuana to heroin, and everything in between. This controversial move went into effect in June of 2001, in response to the country’s spiraling HIV/AIDS statistics. While many critics in the poor and largely conservative country attacked the sea change in drug policy, fearing it would lead to drug tourism while simultaneously worsening the country’s already shockingly high rate of hard drug use, a report published in 2009 by the Cato Institute tells a different story. Glenn Greenwald, the attorney and author who conducted the research, told Time: “Judging by every metric, drug decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success. It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country."

Back in 2001, Portugal had the highest rate of HIV among injecting drug users in the European Union—an incredible 2,000 new cases a year, in a country with a population of just 10 million. Despite the predictable controversy the move stirred up at home and abroad, the Portuguese government felt there was no other way they could effectively quell this ballooning problem. While here in the U.S. calls for full drug decriminalization are still dismissed as something of a fringe concern, the Portuguese decided to do it, and have been quietly getting on with it now for a decade. Surprisingly, most credible reports appear to show that decriminalization has been a staggering success.

The thing is, I understand, as I said, about the knee-jerk reactionary response to the idea of legalizing drugs.  If you're a recovering addict, or you're someone who has worked with addicts or seen the devastation that drugs causes, I think it's easy to reflexively push back.   You just imagine all the devastation you've seen drugs cause amplified by a million and want to reject any idea that this could work.

However, I take the opposite stance. I WANT to believe this would work. I take solace in the fact that it CLEARLY works in Portugal, a place that was insanely worse than us as it relates to drug abuse, and HIV infection rate. 

And I think you do yourself and others a disservice if you refuse to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the answer to a horrible problem is not how you envision it in your head.

And to be honest, we can not possibly do worse than what we've already done in this nonsensical War on Drugs.

I'll leave you with this brilliant scene from the HBO series "The Wire", as three narcotics officers talk about "The War on Drugs", and one character, Carver (who currently stars on the excellent series Teen Wolf) explains why you can't really call it a "war".

Jul 30, 2014

The One With The Parental Apologies



When you're young, you often hear someone say "One of these days you'll grow up and apologize to your parents for all the trouble you put them through."  And most likely, you laugh and think "Yeah right, that's one of those things people say to encourage kids to stay in line."

Years ago I had that moment.  There was a friend of mine named Dustin who lived in the apartment building I live in and for the first few months that I knew him, everything was straight.  Then suddenly everything changed. 

His problems with alcohol surfaced, as well as apparently his tendency to stop taking his prescription drugs, which involved anti psychotics and drugs for manic depression.   His mother was like...borderline Saint nomination worthy for how she stuck by him, however she was also a MASSIVE enabler for his behavior.  Behavior that included just really insulting her to her face, just being disrespectful and just an all around asshole.

That really threw me because I had never met anyone who was that disrespectful of a parent to their face.  Usually you have kids get yelled at by their parents, the parent leaves, and then the kid's like "yeah, well eff you, man." or whatever.  No, this was him talking down to her like she was the dumbest person alive.

Mind you, she's bringing him cases of soft drinks that he likes, buying everything that he needs, often taking care of rent if he had troubles with that, and the list goes on.   She was a business woman who had connections with getting tickets to concerts, plays, that type of thing.  So one day she knew that I was interested in a play that had just come to town called Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk.  She got two tickets for me and Dustin to go to see that at the local Opera House.

 

I was blown away.  These were like $80 tickets I believe, and she just dropped them off with Dustin and on the night in question, she took us there and then picked us up and brought us home afterwards.  I say this to point out that this woman went to great lengths to make her son (and by extension his friends) happy.

I didn't quite understand it, but I don't suppose I had to.  She was his mother, and he was her son, and no matter how much he would be an asshole to her, perhaps she chalked it up to his problems, and that was that.

Over the following months, Dustin started really getting out of control.  He'd stop taking his meds and he would basically get it in his head that he didn't have to take the meds.  He was fine, you know.  He didn't need those medications anyway. 

Isn't that always how it seems?

So at some point it got to where he would borrow money from me to get something he needed from the store.  Only he wasn't getting whatever he said he was getting, he was getting beer.   And when I found out, I basically told him, those days were over.  I don't like being around alcoholics, especially alcoholics who want to drinks and THEN come over and hang out with me.

I am not a sociable person to start with (beyond maybe one or two people), and I damn sure am not someone who wants to socialize with an overly sociable drunk.

So one day he came over and he was trying to borrow $20.  He didn't say what it was for, but I knew.  And he knew I knew.  And I told him no.  He kept asking me, pleading with me, coming up with every reason in the book why I should give him that $20.  I told him if it was for anything else I'd do it, but I KNEW what he was going to do with it, and no amount of him insisting he wasn't, was going to convince me otherwise.

So that's when he let loose with the final straw with me.  He pulled out the "I thought you were my friend." card.

And that's when I lost it.  I grabbed him by the shirt and started screaming at him to get out of my room.  I used a bit more colorful language, but when I say I was screaming, I was doing just that.  The next day I couldn't speak because my voice was just gone.  I just put everything into it and just unloaded on him, and the poor guy just basically stood there and took it.

I stood by him through a lot of stuff I won't go into, and helped him out a lot (and he helped me out as well), and I just couldn't take it.  I just unloaded about how he disrespected his mother who bent over backwards to help him, and he was just such an asshole and how my parents were all the way across the country and I didn't get to see them but every few years or so, and he got to see his mom and dad whenever he wanted, and he was just such a dick to her and on and on.  Finally I just threw him out and shut the door.

I remember to this day how much I was shaking and how I honestly thought I was going to just strangle him.  I don't know why I snapped like that, because I'm not someone who really does that.  I'll get frustrated at things, and I may yell a bit, but I don't really get physical with people because ...that's just not who I am at this point in my life, (nor that point in my life).

And later that night it hit me:  That was my moment.  That was my "One day you will realize what you put your parents through" type moment.

When I was a kid, to be blunt, I was an asshole.  I was a complete piece of shit.  While I didn't have alcohol or drug problems (didn't drink until I was 22, and aside from a couple pointless attempts at smoking pot, I've never done drugs) but I was a bit of a klepto and just all around douchebag to be quite honest.   How I made it to my graduation without my parents just out and out giving up on me, I'll never know.

I've long suspected that there is something GENUINELY wrong with me that stems from my biological mother, Sue, who aside from a 10-15 minute conversation I had with her when I was 25, I never knew.  She and my dad broke up when I was really young, and he married the woman I call Mom and she filed the papers to adopt me, so Sue would have no claim to me.  Not that she probably gave a shit, but whatever.

I wrote about all that stuff before, and you can click here if you want to read that.  Bottom line is that I've got mental issues that I know did not come from my Mom and did not come from my Dad (neither of my brothers from their marriage have whatever is wrong with me), so that leaves Sue as the only other option.

So I know I had these moments where I would simply act out and do things that defy all logic and reason.  My mom would often say "you wanted to get caught" but to me that was ludicrous. Why would I want to get caught and deal with punishment and yelling and whatnot?  But looking back, it's hard to argue with that.

16 years or so of this before I moved out after graduation, and started living on my own.  And it took my meeting this kid Dustin for it to sink it just what my parents must have gone through.  And I still don't think I'll ever fully appreciate it.  But just seeing how he talked to his mother, just seeing how much she loved him despite him just throwing it all back in her face, it just enraged me and I just finally took all of that out on him that night, and after that it just wasn't the same between us.

We were still friendly, but by that time, he just was not able to deal with his problems, and he eventually got evicted from the apartment building.  Over the next few years, I'd keep up with him through either him or his mom, and he was basically in one rehab place or another, however his mother basically donated money to these places, and so he got the kid gloves treatment.  This is the enabling I referred to earlier.  When a big donor is giving money to your organization, you're probably not going to kick her son out for breaking rules that any other person would have been thrown out into the night for, now are you?  Not when your place depends on donations you're not.

Finally Dustin hit rock bottom when he stole his mother's SUV and crashed into the intake at the county jail.  Fortunately no one was behind the door when he jumped the curb and crashed through it (although just a few minutes earlier there were two or three people there).  He ended up getting a year  and a half in jail for that little stunt.  I jokingly suggested he would get time off because he saved them the trip of bringing him into the jail.

And that was the last time I had seen Dustin.  When I went to Ohio back in 2008 to be near my parents, I called up Dustin's mom and dad and talked to them a little bit about Dustin and whatnot, but other than that, I didn't really hear or see from him again until today.

Today I went down to the church that I live above where they have a food bank set up.  I went down, picked up some things and was coming out, and I had to get by someone who was standing with some others blocking the walkway.  I just tapped his shoulder and asked to get by, and he turned around and it was Dustin.  Hadn't seen this guy since 2006 or so, and here he was. 

I just talked to him briefly, and he had kind of a doped up vibe to him.  When I first met him there was none of that, he was just a really fun guy to be around.  Then he started drinking (or perhaps re-started drinking after I had known him for a while) and then stopped taking his meds, and things just went south.

He said that maybe he'd come see me sometime, and I immediately thought to myself, "Not a chance, buddy."

And I felt like complete shit for it, but I knew there was no way I wanted to spend any amount of time with him in the condition he's in.   Over the past few years there's been two people who are addicts who I have tried to help out and they just would not or could not kick it.  One in particular sort of made me think that I had actually made an effect on their lives.  That I had positively influenced them and was the reason that they were staying clean.

They told me that coming by and hanging out kept their mind off of doing drugs and that I was helping them stay clean.  I can't tell you how amazing that felt, to actually feel for the first time that you are having a positive effect on the world.  I've never felt that way before.  Despite my box full of mental issues, delusions are not one of them.  There's never been a point in my life that I felt that I done anything but make people's lives worse by being in them.

And so I've gotten to the mindset now where I realize I can't change people.  They are who they are.  Dustin is an addict who has mental health issues (aside from his addictions).  No amount of rehab or whatever is going to change that.  Until the day he dies he will always be what he is. 

I'm not a hypocrite, either, I'm no different.  I'm still a piece of shit asshole, but I don't put myself in situations where I'm going to demonstrate that for the world to see.  I stay to myself, don't bother anyone and hopefully no one bothers me.

I just got all this kicked up again in my head after running into Dustin.  I had almost forgotten about him, sad to say, and upon seeing him in the same condition, it just kind of reinforced to me the hopelessness I feel about a lot of things, whether it's my own mental issues, or the world that we find ourselves in.

I want to think that things are going to get better, but if I'm completely honest...I find that extremely difficult to process.  The idea that things will get better, and the sun will shine brighter and everyone will get along.

I suppose it's important to have positive things to strive for, whether I can fully grasp them or not.


Jul 29, 2014

[REVIEW] @RipstoneGames & @VooFoo Studio's "Pure Pool" (PS4)



Several years ago I bought a game on the Playstation 3 called "Hustle Kings" by VooFoo Studios.  Really dug this game, and it had a lot of different game modes (8-Ball, 9-Ball, Killer, Trick Shots, Snooker, Etc) and a nice jazzy soundtrack to go with it.

However what it also had that sold me on it was the gameplay itself. It was very well designed, there were no real flaws that I saw, and it's a game that I still pull out every now and then and play a few tables.

A few months ago I noticed on the PS4 Store that there was an entry for "Pure Pool" and that it was by the same people.  I thought this was interesting, especially since it's been rumored that Hustle Kings is being brought over to the PS4.

I've been anxiously awaiting this game for awhile now, and as soon as it showed up on the store today, I bought it for $9 (PS+ Discount for the win).

Now several hours after I started playing it, I have mixed feelings on this and I can't help but feel a bit disappointed.  I mean there's still the different modes to play and the soundtrack is awesome as usual but there are a few things that really stick out as problematic for me, that I'll list below.  

I'll basically list the rest of this review as Pros/Cons of this and then give my final result. First though, check out this gameplay video I uploaded of my 1st full 8-ball game that I did after playing the Tutorial.



PROS:

Graphics are very good. I am not sure if they're THAT much better than Hustle Kings which was already amazing, but I'm not a good judge of graphics, so...take that for whatever.  Your miles may vary, depending on what your setup is. I'm using a 42" Vizio and I'm very close to the screen, but I'm not someone that really sees a lot of the differences in graphics quality.

Soundtrack. Nice jazzy soundtrack, and in a move that I wish they had on the Hustle Kings, they actually list the name of the track on the screen as it starts up. That's cool.

Accolades:
Think along the lines of Little Big Planet 2's "Pins" that were introduced in that game. Mini achievements for things like potting a ball off the break, potting multiple balls in one shot, potting consecutive shots in corner pockets, etc. This brings a bit more fun to the game, I think, and gives you extra incentives to go for.

Menus:

I like that while the opponent is taking their shots, which admittedly can take awhile sometimes, you can look through the options menus and the game can keep on going, and you can kill time that way, I suppose. 

DNA Profiles:

This is a cool feature that they've introduced for those who may want to play your friends, but you just can't get together.  As you play, the game analyzes your game, how you play, whether you play it safe, or take risks, etc and then they will create this "Ghost" profile of you, and so when you're offline, your friends can play your "Ghost" or your "DNA" profile.  Kind of cool, to be honest.

I don't play online very much, but this is a cool feature, I think.
CONS:

The camera angle. This is my biggest gripe with this game, and that's that compared to the devs previous billiards iteration, the brilliant "Hustle Kings", the camera angles are a bit off.

In Hustle Kings you could hit triangle (I think) and basically go above the action to see where the shot would go to. You could angle the shot, and see from above, which direction and angle the shot would go, making it easier to line up your shots.

With Pure Pool, there is none of that. You can "stand up" which just basically allows you to do the equivalent of stretching your neck to get a slightly better view, but you can't see the angle of the shot.

When you go to line up your shot in Pure Pool, you see two trails. The WHITE trail, which is the direction the cue ball goes and YELLOW trail, which is where the solid or striped balls are heading.

However due to the camera angle, if you're aiming at a ball further down the table, it's impossible to see where the yellow stripe is heading, so if you're trying to line it up with the pocket, it's basically a toss up whether or not you'll make the shot.

This REALLY is irritating.

And I realize this is by design, as they're seemingly trying to make this more of a "Simulator" rather than an arcade title.  I compare it to the comparison of Burnout Paradise to Gran Turismo.  One is a "simulator" in which everything is made as realistic as possible, the other is more of a fun balls to the wall type game.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I despise the simulator games such as Gran Turismo, because I can't control the cars, and keep slamming into walls.  The arcade titles though, such as Split Second, NFS Hot Pursuit/Most Wanted/Rivals are a ton of fun and I love them.

So while this was intentionally done by Voofoo/Ripstone, I'm not a fan and it makes it extremely difficult (overly difficult, IMO) to line up shots at the end of the table. Throw in my own issues with depth perception, and the unfortunate reality is that no amount of "Standing up and walking around the table" is going to fix that.

Merging of Online/Offline Modes:

I really am starting to hate these games that blur the lines between online and offline, most notably in Need for Speed: Rivals, where you can't even pause the game, because you're always online, even when playing single player. That also allows random people who you are not friends with, to interrupt your game and potentially wreck you just for the hell of it, and you lose a huge bankable amount of points.

Pure Pool does this in the form of a constant stream of random people showing up online that are able to be matched up against. I don't give a shit about these people. If I want to play online, I'll go to the online section and look for a match up. I don't want to see a stream of names popping up telling me they are online. I don't know these people, I don't give a shit about these people. Stop telling me about these people.

Also a byproduct of this is that games will occasionally lag something awful while playing a single player game against the AI.  That should never happen, however with more of these games coming out that try to blur that line between on and offline, this is going to become more frequent.

No Option to Speed up/Skip Opponents turns.

Sometimes when you're playing against very good AI, you have to sit there and just watch them make shot after shot. Sometimes I don't want to see this. I just want to get back to my next turn, or start a new game if they're gonna run the table.

This does not have the ability to skip ahead or anything like that. Not cool.

BOTTOM LINE:

Aside from a few little things and and there, I don't see a massive upgrade over Hustle Kings on the PS3 by the same devs. The Accolades are cool, and I dig the soundtrack, and the DNA profiles are a true step up, but their desire to move away from an arcade feel and more of a "realistic" simulator aspect, takes some of the shine off the game and adds a level of difficulty that I think many will be turned off by.

The true billiards hardcore players out there may embrace that tack, but for a lot of people, like myself, who are not really proficient, it just handicaps them from the start, and it can take them out of the enjoyment. Particularly if the players, like myself, has depth perception issues.

I think if there was an option to turn that aspect off, and have the top-down view again, that would be helpful, otherwise I don't know how much of this I will play if it gets to the point where I cannot make a good portion of shots at a distance, while the AI is superhuman..

FINAL SCORE: 7.5 out of 10

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.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK

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.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK:

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: