Category Archives: Ruminations

The Good, the Bad, the Ferguson

America’s pretty messed up right now.

We’ve got vitriolic divisions on racial lines, political lines, ideological lines, religious/non-religious lines… We’re divided on so many fronts, I still find myself unable to pledge allegiance to the flag. Why should I? It’s not true. One nation? Sure, even if a lot of people want to secede. Under God? Well, that’s definitely questionable. Indivisible? The only way we as a country could be indivisible right now is if we’ve already divided ourselves so much that we can no longer be divided. And we seem to be nearly there. With liberty and justice for all? That statement seems almost as laughable as “indivisible,” especially in the light of the events of Ferguson, Mo.

If you have no idea what events I’m talking about, go ye forth and seek ye a friggin’ newspaper and a house that isn’t under 6 miles of rock. The problems in Ferguson are so layered and numerous and ridiculous that one would THINK, as a nation, we could finally see eye-to-eye on something with only a few freak outliers in the data. I mean, we’ve got excessive, militarized police blowing responses out of proportion. We’ve got an unarmed, non-violent (at LEAST in that moment) person WHOSE SKIN COLOR OR CRIMINAL RECORD SHOULDN’T MATTER dead without a good explanation. If he was a criminal, he was executed without due process, a Constitutional right. We’ve got the freedom of assembly and the freedom of the press getting hampered by cops, not to mention the violations of the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments. And you’d better believe that 2nd amendment wouldn’t get upheld if a Ferguson protestor legally had a gun. We’ve got proof of this sort of activity happening all over the country for YEARS without appropriate punishments. We’ve got scientific data showing a decrease in police brutality and harassment claims anywhere cameras are required to be in cop cars or on their person. We KNOW, without a doubt, that there needs to be change. Race shouldn’t even be an issue.

But, no. Nothing’s ever that simple. See, too much has happened. There have been riots and looting. Those are bad, so Michael Brown deserved it. He may or may not have stolen cigars. Therefore, he deserved it. Oh, and he’s black. Which makes a difference. Because when you’re black, if you’re not an honors student planning to attend Harvard with a spotless record, a 4.0+ GPA and have never smoked, drank, had sex, owned a gun or hung out with another person of color who is less “perfect” than you, then you’re going to be demonized. This guy says all of this much more poignantly than I can, so I suggest you read it.

I was born extremely lucky. I reached into the lotto bowls of race and gender and got white male. As a man, I will tend to get preferential treatment over women when it comes to being hired and paid. I have a far lesser fear of sexual assault and rape. As a white person, I don’t have to worry about being treated as a stereotype. I don’t worry about being frisked. If I were to commit a crime, I’m likely to spend far less time in jail than a non-white person. And if I get randomly killed by police, at least I won’t get my name dragged through the dirt postmortem.

But do you know what the worst part of this all is? Nothing will really change. People will pretend it’s an isolated incident, like Eric Garner choked to death in New York, like Rodney King in California, like Trayvon Martin in Florida, like Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, like Michael Bell in Wisconsin. It was a fluke. It wasn’t a symbol of larger problems. They weren’t perfect people, so they deserved it. They goaded the cops. For goodness sake, we’ve got a crowdfunding campaign in support of Officer Darren Wilson, the man who shot Brown, and you can see how many people are apparently GLAD the boy got shot. Because blacks kill blacks and no one complains? Because he was a thug anyway? Excuse after excuse after excuse.

Nothing will change because we allow it to stay the same. Because we choose to see people as different and lesser than the rest of us.

America is going to be one of the most disastrously failed experiments if we let this keep happening, but there’s too much pride, ego and ignorance blinding people to that fact. Hopefully, I’m wrong. Hopefully, Brown’s death will ignite a spark of change for the better. Because we desperately need it before we burn.

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Depression, the Genie and Me

Robin Williams wasn’t my favorite actor.

I mean, if you asked me who my favorite actor is, I’d say Johnny Depp (yeah, yeah, whatever). If you asked me to name some actors I would always go to see a movie they’re in, I’d probably tell you Alfred Molina, Julia Stiles and John Goodman.

But when I heard about Williams’ suicide, I stopped to think of all the ways he influenced me. And he really did. I can’t remember a single movie I’ve watched with him in it that I didn’t enjoy. I grew up watching “Jumanji,” “Fern Gully,” “Aladdin” and its sequels. I constantly watched “Hook” and quoted lines from it, though I admittedly more often imitated Dustin Hoffman chewing the scenery as Captain James Hook. I remember getting in trouble for repeating a line from “Mrs. Doubtfire” as a child. (The line was, as Williams imitated Porky Pig, “Bedabba dabba dabba, p-p-p-piss off, Lou!”, not that I actually knew the words I was saying.) In high school, I was introduced to the beautiful film “What Dreams May Come,” an interpretation of Dante’s Inferno. In college, I discovered “Patch Adams,” “Night at the Museum” and “August Rush,” as well as two of my favorite films of all time, “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society.” It’s movies like those, especially the Academy Award-winning performance Williams gave in “Good Will Hunting,” that remind me that comedians often have a great capacity for drama. Even my lesser loved comedians, like Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler, have stunned me with their dramatic performances. But Williams had the special gift of making me love him both as a comedian AND a dramatic actor.

Even beyond acting with a bodily presence, Williams influenced me most notably with his impressions. Were they always great, pitch perfect imitations of specific people, like his John Wayne performs Macbeth? Nah. Could I always tell if it was Williams? Yup. I was the only one in my family that could tell from voice alone that Williams was not the voice of Genie in “Return of Jafar.” Even so, Williams had a talent for impressions and voices. His gift was in the total and complete dedication to the bit, as well as being able to switch from one character to another faster than should be humanly possible. I’ve always enjoyed doing voices myself, and it was Williams and Mel Blanc, the voice of many beloved Warner Bros. cartoon characters, that helped guide me in that direction.

He wasn’t my favorite actor, but that might be because I had trouble thinking of him as an actor. I thought of him more as a friend to hang out with, the funny guy with all the voices that could make me laugh. But there’s no denying that he was definitely one of the people I would always enjoy watching on screen.

That’s probably one of the reasons Williams is the only celebrity whose death I’ve cried over. It’s weird, right? Crying over someone dying when you’ve never even met them? There have been people I HAVE known in real life to die I haven’t cried over. I suppose that could very well be a testament to how powerful Williams’ gift of connection and humor and emotion was.

But if I’m going to be honest, that’s not the only reason I cried. That might not even be the main reason I cried. No, if I’m honest with myself, I think it was because Williams was depressed and almost no one knew.

Depression is definitely one of those things people at large are largely ignorant about, myself included. Part of it has to do with the fact that we use the word as a synonym for being sad. That ASPCA commercial with the Sarah McLachlan song? So depressing. Got an F on a paper you worked all night on? Now you’re depressed. Except there’s a distinct difference between momentary sadness, no matter how deep those moments get, and systemic depression. Depression isn’t cured by a funny movie or a pint of ice cream or hanging out with friends. It isn’t something you can just “nut up” and “get over.” And the worst part about depression? Based on my personal experience and the stories I’ve heard from other depressed people, depression is seen as undesirable and shameful, so the person that has it tends to do their damnedest to hide it.

Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of creative types, and often comedic types, that are on drugs or are depressed? Many of whom end up dead? People like Philip Seymour Hoffman (drug addiction) and Chris Farley (drug addiction) and Heath Ledger (couldn’t pull out of his roles). But everyone knows drug and alcohol addiction are things to seek help over. They’re obviously bad things, right? They’re self-destructive behaviors that can ruin your life. But when it comes to depression, most people shrug off the entire idea. Even though I am willing to bet that a large chunk of addiction is born of depression and the desperate attempt to escape that soul-crushing feeling.

Cracked.com, the source of many a funny thing on the internet, has more than a few articles about depression and anxiety in funny people. Here’s one by David Wong, who talks about why people constantly cracking jokes are often depressed. And here’s another one by Mark Hill, about misconceptions of depression. Wong’s article has many, many links to many, many other writings by comedians about depression, but these are the two I’ve read. And they have some good points, many of which I agree with, based on personal experience.

Yeah, I’ve kinda sorta admitted that I might be depressed before. Yeah, I’ve talked about it before. But people don’t seem to be too receptive to the idea until they see depression’s effects laid out in front of them. Until the man that never stopped being hilarious and bringing joy to everyone killed himself because he felt life had crapped on him one too many times, finally with a Parkinson’s diagnosis, people by and large ignore the issue.

I suppose it’s not anyone’s fault. In America, mental health and awareness has taken a veritable nosedive with absolutely no changes no matter WHAT happens. We have mentally unstable people shooting and killing in double digit numbers and nothing changes with our mental health system because the conversation become bluster about guns and gun rights. We have veterans returning home with PTSD and mental health issues, becoming homeless and forgotten, and nothing changes with our mental health system because the conversation becomes bluster about war and the people still fighting. And we have an Oscar-winning actor, a beloved father and husband, an immensely successful comedian, an intensely well-liked celebrity (which seems rather hard to come by sometimes), a man known for his voice who chooses to die by strangling that voice until it no longer exists… and likely, nothing with change with our mental health system because we’d rather focus on other stuff, be it injustice in Ferguson painting some bigger, disturbing pictures of America or be it dumping ice water on our heads to raise money for ALS and/or whining about people dumping ice water on their heads. Because as uncomfortable as those things might be, depression may be even more uncomfortable.

Here’s my personal experiences. As a kid, I was bullied for all sorts of reasons. I was too smart. I was weird. I looked stupid. I had glasses. I had a dumb haircut. I wore a suit to picture day. This caused me to develop a temper. And I got into fights sometimes, too. Not often, and I never went home bruised and bloody, but that’s because what fights I did get in I either refused to do much other than run away or, in one case, won by dropping a kid on his head. I didn’t have friends, either. Not really. There weren’t really any kids my age in my neighborhood, and my parents weren’t too big on my hanging out with anyone. That could be blamed on their being used to my older sister’s anti-social nature, but who knows. My one early creative outlet, playing violin, was taken away because I “didn’t practice enough.” When I eventually discovered acting, I fell in love with it. I got to be SOMEONE ELSE. That amazing feeling of escapism brought me so much joy.

This sort of thing continued for quite a while. My temper was an issue all the way into high school, with my father and I twice coming to physical altercations during my junior year of high school, altercations that were ultimately just him with his hand around my throat. My mother would take his side and say I shouldn’t have goaded him. That loneliness was not a good feeling. By this point, I’d buried myself even further into acting. While at the Alabama School of Math and Science, I finally found groups of socially rejected people who were just as nerdy, intelligent and ridiculous as me. My grades slipped as I focused my time and attention on the social connections I had never been able to have before. Eventually, I failed out, losing those connections.

In college, the struggle continued, but I found small groups to accept me, groups like the Quizbowl Team. A nerdy bunch, to be sure. And there were people on that team that made my social ineptitude seem like I was the most desirable socialite on the market in comparison. Plus, I had tampered down my temper throughout my time at college, and I started to find a way to be acceptable: Talk. A lot. Make jokes. Be interesting. Grab their attention for just a moment. Maybe they’ll just groan and roll their eyes, maybe they’ll laugh, but at least they’ll know I’m there. And I found people that didn’t outright reject me for that.

But it isn’t perfect. I’m not terribly funny. I consider myself a member of the school of quantity: If you crack enough jokes, eventually a good one will slip through. And it’s only through the past year of my job as a trivia jockey that I’ve become even remotely comfortable working a crowd directly, as opposed to in theatre when you work the stage/scene/character and the entirety of the performance works the crowd. I have tried to get better, to be a more desirable person to be around, et cetera.

And yet, I find that I’m still too honest for some people. On Twitter and Facebook, I was fully willing to admit when I was feeling crappy/lonely/hurt. Because I’m still trying to remind myself about the difference between a friend and a friendly acquaintance. Twitter followers, blog readers, Facebook friends… they aren’t the same as real friends. But I haven’t really had too many “real friends” growing up. I have my one best friend that I can call on whenever, and I only met her during my fourth year of college in 2010. I had a regular group of buddies I’d go out with to play trivia and board games, but jobs and distance have broken us up. At this point in my life, even more so than in college (though it was true in college), I don’t really have a group of friends I can say I’m truly a part of. I don’t have people I feel I can call up and say, “Hey, let’s hang out.” Maybe that’s due to years of being told, by words or actions, that I wasn’t desirable to hang out with. Maybe that’s because I just don’t understand social cues and don’t realize I do have friends like that. I dunno. But friends like that? Those are not the same as people you share internet social media information with, apparently.

Take a semi-recent example. A girl messaged me on Facebook to tell me I’m cute. I respond because why the hell not, what do I have to lose? We talk for a few months. We hang out a few times. She’s into me, I’m into her. All seems pretty great. Then, without any warning given to me, without any conversation about problems, she tells me we should stop hanging out. When I finally ask why two years later, she says it’s because I’m too depressing and self-deprecating. She suggests I see a counselor.

I would love to say this is some sort of isolated incident… but I know from my life and the lives of others it’s not. Misery may love company, but company doesn’t love misery. People don’t want to deal with miserable, depressed people. And why would you? Happiness is a good feeling. Sad people make YOU sad, and that sucks, right?

So, if you want to know why you’re shocked and surprised that someone you know was depressed and killed themselves, that’s exactly why. Because depressed doesn’t mean stupid. Depressed people know you don’t like to be around depressed people. Hell, I host trivia for 2+ hours five nights a week. Do you think I would still be paid if I told all of them how down I was? People don’t want a 2-hour sadfest. So those that are depressed, lonely, miserable… they tend to hide it. I’ve made the mistake in years past of thinking friendly acquaintances would care about my feelings, but they don’t. Those feelings are a drag. They’re a downer. So I’ve been teaching myself to try to keep my chin up, to “fake it until I make it” so to speak… and to really not announce my depression every time it hits me. And despite what those on my social media networks may think, I’ve been getting a lot better at just hiding my feelings in crappy eating habits and losing the desire to ever leave bed.

Am I depressed? …maybe. I’m too afraid to see a counselor and find out I am, that I’m not in complete control of my mind. Personally, I like to think I’m just having a slump. A really long one. There are good moments in my life that bring me cheer… and moments, even recent ones, that nearly kill me. I had one such moment last month. I asked two friends to kill me (only slightly joking before I broke down in tears). I ended up telling my tale to a cop that pulled me over for speeding later that day when my hand was shaking so badly I couldn’t get my driver’s license out of my wallet. He asked if I had any guns in the car. I didn’t get a ticket. To date, only 7 people, including the cop and the other person involved, know what happened. Not just because I hate myself for what happened and am afraid of what people will think of me… but also because I don’t know who’s there for me.

And that’s one of the worst things about depression. It blinds you to the people there for you. The lonelier moments are more clear than the ones with people who care. If someone like Williams, who had success and love in his life, couldn’t find a way out, what hope would someone like me, someone told to get over it, have?

So I hope I’m not depressed. Not just because it’s a pretty awful mental health disorder, but also because that’s a level of hopelessness I don’t want to think about. I’m not looking for pity. I’m not looking for close, buddy-buddy friends. I wouldn’t know what to do with them at this point in my life anyway. I’ve got some good things going on that I’m trying to focus on. The moral of my story, the point I’m trying to make, isn’t a personal one. It’s to say that I think everyone can do better. Everyone can be more diligent looking for depression. Don’t reject the funny person the day he or she drops the act around you and tries to tell you about his/her crap. We need to learn to accept the people we like for their good AND their bad. Don’t call suicide a selfish act. That’s like calling drowning after years of trying to swim to the surface a selfish act. The selfishness is in the people that see depression and ignore it. The selfishness is in people that don’t want to be sad so they give sad people distance. Some days, people want to be left alone. But it’s so much better to know someone is there when you walk back into the crowd than to know you’ll be alone whether you jump back into the crowd or not.

If we want anything to get better, we have to start taking steps on a personal level.

Robin Williams, you influenced me more than you will ever know, and the world will miss you. I hope maybe something good can come of all this sadness.

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Breaking the Hiatus

Well.

It’s been a while.

I’ve really fallen from my original “Write every day” mantra, unfortunately. I’ve let life and its busyness get in the way. And life has had some seriously hectic moments since last I wrote anything here. I lost my day job as a writer/editor, started hosting trivia 5 nights a week, directed a children’s musical and taught music theory, started doing private voice lessons (got one tomorrow, actually), created my white Thai chili, come closer to suicide than I have in a LONG time, acted in a whole lot of films/film projects… y’know, ups and downs.

I’m getting back to it because over the past few weeks, things have gotten hairy in America, and they’ve affected me in some way. There’s three big things that I’ve wanted to talk about for a while now, one based on my personal life and two on national/world events. Hopefully, if I never write anything again on this blog, I’ll at least get these three things out. First, a post about Robin Williams, depression and me. Second, a post about Ferguson, Mo. Third, a post about alcohol and sexual assault.

I’m bringing the happy times, obviously.

I think I’ll try to write at least one a day over the next three days, Thursday through Saturday. Mostly because I can’t keep these thoughts in my head much longer, as they’re driving me bonkers. I may very well lose some friendships or respect with some of these posts. I have no idea. But writing is what I do, and I’ve been far too absent from it as of late. Hopefully, writing SOMEthing will help kick my ass into gear and write the things I want and need to write.

I can’t guarantee regularity, but I’ve gotta get this stuff out before the public consciousness moves on to forgetting something else.

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A Quick Update

So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog. I was already strongly considering dropping the “daily” feature of the blog due to life getting in the way and the blog taking up a decent chunk of time… It should be pretty obvious at this point that I’m not really doing this as a daily blog anymore.

Still, I do want to write more often than I have been. There are still many things to talk about. Movies, plays and restaurants to review, politics to discuss, subjects to ponder about… all sorts of things. And I plan to do so, just in a slightly irregular fashion.

To update about life, though: I finished the most recent version of my play “Camp Gethsemane” and have started in on three other plays now. After a few more people read this version of CG, I’ll go back to spruce it up again and then I may be at the place I need to be for a production.

I was also cast as the lead role in a TV pilot from the UA TCF department, which has designs to be shown at a festival in New York City. The show is called “Toss-Up,” and you can help out by donating some money to the IndieGoGo we have set up here. It’s a comedy about a high school history teacher/tennis coach basically forced by his boss into being the Quizbowl coach, despite knowing nothing about it. It doesn’t help that their team is pretty crappy. You can watch the brief teaser-trailer here to get a very tiny taste of the show.

I’m also no longer single… We’ll see how long she tolerates me. And I spent about a week and change being super deathly ill, like to the point where I couldn’t even eat or drink for a couple days without severe pain. It sucked and I still don’t know what I had, though I’ve got a good idea.

Also, for those curious, I got a record 50 percent of my Oscar guesses right, though I would’ve had more if I’d actually slowed down and paid attention to what some of the technicals are and what they mean. All I can say is that “Life of Pi” ruined me a bit.

Anyway, I do have an old review of “Othello” to put up, as well as a review of “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” which wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it might be, though I still found it lacking in certain areas. I’ll have a full review up sometime this week, I’m sure.

For now, my apologies on my lengthy silence. You’ll hear a bit from me from time to time. Just keep a lookout.

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Men: Born To Be Rapists?

So, a bit ago, I was talking about the not-so-nice guys of OKCupid and the Tumblr dedicated to pointing them out with its fair share of snark. The Tumblr has apparently been taken down for reasons unknown, though there is an archive you can view that hosts most if not all of the posts the Tumblr once had. Anyway, there was something that I wanted to talk about during that post that I realized kinda deserves its own conversation.

Victim blaming and the true colors of male (and, sadly, female) douchery.

A friend of mine posted this status update on her Facebook that has apparently managed to catch on enough for a random blogger to make a graphic out of it and now know who the original writer was.

It says the following:

Men should be offended when someone claims that women should prevent rape by not wearing certain things, or not going certain places, or not acting in a certain way. That line of thinking presumes that you are incapable of control. That you are so base and uncivilized that it takes extraordinary effort for you to walk down the street without raping someone. That you require a certain dress code be maintained, that certain behaviors be employed so that maybe today, just maybe, you won’t rape someone. It presumes that your natural state is rapist.

Now, I don’t actually know how much victim blaming you’ve ever heard, particularly when it comes to rape, but it is a shockingly popular trend amongst men, and sometimes even women, to blame the victim (read: woman, as the majority of rape cases are male rapist(s) and female victim(s)) for something she’s done. Our politicians have been getting into the ever so subtle swing of doing that all the time lately, something to talk about later. Just think about all the politicians that have decided to not simply say, “Rape is wrong and should be severely punished” and instead want to qualify rape, as though some non-consensual sex is better than others.

And then you run into the ordinary jackholes that do things like this wonderful picture, which was apparently done by a guy but, if you look at the right, posted by a woman with the comment “Made me laugh lol.”

The reason calling people out for their God awful lines of thought – like the partner in a relationship is obligated to sexual activity with you when you demand it, or is required to meet a certain standard of physicality set by you – is a good thing is because of victim blaming and how horrendously it treats everyone. When we start saying, “It’s the victim’s fault,” then we easily move on to “Got what they deserved.”

Can you think of any moment someone deserves to be raped? I really hope that answer is no.

It’s thoughts like that that cause depressing statistics like this graph by The Washington Post. People just decide that the victims are lying about it or seeking attention or something. And, as that graph shows, too many victims are often too afraid to even report their rape. The environment we’ve created can’t be helping.

But like my friend said, it also makes rape seem like a natural, okay thing because rape is just one of those things men do, like farting. “Shouldn’t have eaten that Taco Bell! Now I have gastrointestinal distress.” “That woman shouldn’t have worn that short skirt! Now I have raped her.”

It throws our humanity and evolution into higher thinking beings back to the age of the primordial ooze. What’s worse, it creates a scenario wherein people believe all rapes occur that way: Woman got drunk, dressed like a slut, walked where she wasn’t supposed to, etc. I know I’m kind of narrowing my scope to heterosexual rapes of women, but that tends to encompass a majority of known rape cases as I recall, and the majority of rapes people blame the victims for. Point is, rapes very often occur in homes by people the victim knows, such as a boyfriend. Alcohol doesn’t need to be involved either. I know a metric crap ton of women that have gotten very very drunk in public and private places and manage to get home entirely unmolested. From what few stories of being raped I’ve been told about, alcohol wasn’t even involved.

If we’re going to start trying to do some good in the world, trying to turn this problem around, we need to stop lying to ourselves about the “why” and “how” of the conversation. We need to stop blaming anyone but the person taking the unconsented action. We need to start educating children on what consent is, and start warning them about the effects things like alcohol can have on it. Maybe then, that graph I linked to won’t be so freakin’ depressing.

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The Very Not Nice Guys Of OKCupid

So, you know how I’ve talked about how frustrated men that refer to themselves as “nice guys” have kind of created a mythical place known as the “friend zone” in order to sort of make people envision them as being imprisoned unjustly? A sort of place that they’re trapped in unfairly, and if someone would just give them a chance then they’d be fantastic?

I’ve mentioned that I understand the frustration and even used the term “friend zone” once as a way to convey being turned down as a potential partner earlier that day. I used to generally consider myself a nice person, an okay companion (though self-esteem issues have shot that line of thought right in the kipper… whatever that is (apparently it’s a fish, so please don’t ask why I’m using the word, I honestly haven’t a clue except that it sounds appropriate)). I generally avoided, and still do, trying to say, “I’m a nice guy.” The way I see it, it’s kind of like saying, “I’m not racist.” If you have to clarify and make that statement, then you’re probably racist. Not to mention, there is a massive “But…” that seems implied to the end of that. Like saying, “I’m not racist, but black people are just dumber than white people.” That statement and belief? That makes you racist.

So, when people say, “I’m a nice guy,” I kind of wait for the but. Thing is, the but is usually not something they say. Men won’t say, “I’m a nice guy, but I would totally rape that woman.” If only they’d say that. No, instead, there are unconscionable people that simply do horrific things like that. Am I saying all people claiming to be nice guys are rapists? No, of course not. But some of them? Yeah.

Though, actually, it’s funny how I said they usually don’t say the “but.” Because on OKCupid, they say it ALL THE TIME.

OKCupid is a free online dating website. I got one years and years ago, back when they were known for their random quizzes, like the ones that used to be on Facebook that would determine your Hogwarts house and your personality type and yadda yadda. I misspelled my screen name, too. It’s utterly dreadful and I’m sure it makes me look like a complete idiot, but I don’t want to change my screen name because then I’d have to re-answer all the questions I’ve already answered. …well, I may do it someday.

Anyway, my failed methods of attracting the opposite gender aren’t the point. OKCupid determines your compatibility with someone through a series of questions. There are thousands of these things. The more you answer, the more accurate your compatibility rating will be, supposedly. You get rated as match percentage, friend percentage and enemy percentage. You can tell them how important the question is to you and which answers you’ll accept from a potential mate. It’s interesting to be sure.

What’s really interesting is the number of “nice guys” that go on there and answer questions that basically fill out that but for them. “I’m a nice guy, but I think there are times when my partner is obligated to have sex with me.” That’s just one example.

Now, unfortunately, the site took a hit of some kind and lost its archive (it’s rebuilding at the moment), but there’s a Tumblr account called Nice Guys of OKCupid that is dedicated to finding these supposed “nice guys,” pointing out their hypocrisies and terrible natures and serving up a bit of sass to them. And I think it’s a great public service. A guy says he’d be willing to take advantage of a drunk woman? Bzzt! Not dating material.

If only these “nice guys” would be more up front about this stuff in real life… at least some of them are showing their true colors online. Because true colors… well, that’s something to discuss later. For now, just be satisfied in knowing that you aren’t a “nice guy” if you generally disrespect a woman and her right to choose how she looks or what she does in her free time.

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Liberals: Crazy For Kwanzaa?

So, I got a bit of a kick out of this. Apparently, Wisconsin Republican state Senator Glenn Grothman decided to go on a bit of a rant against the African-American holiday Kwanzaa, claiming it is a “supposed” holiday and saying, “Almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa — just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans.”

“Why must we still hear about Kwanzaa? Why are hard-core left wingers still trying to talk about Kwanzaa?”

So, as someone most people would call a left-winger, and some right-wingers would describe as “hard-core,” though I’m not exactly certain as to why, this entire thing just makes me giggle. First off, I had to look up Kwanzaa just to be sure I knew what it was. The ONLY people I’ve heard mention it are Sen. Grothman, author of the newspaper comic strip Curtis Ray Billingsley and Lonely Island, in their famous song “Dick in a Box.” Maybe there’s a rash of Kwanzaa conversation going on in Wisconsin that I haven’t heard about, but I feel like Grothman’s just being a bombastic fool.

See, Grothman goes on to attack the creator of Kwanzaa as a “violent nut” that apparently just didn’t like Christianity or something. For those that are having to Wikipedia Kwanzaa to find out anything about it, it was created by a professor at California State University, Long Beach, named Maulana Karenga, back in 1966. Apparently, though this may be rumor/falsehood, Karenga did originally rail against Christmas as a “white holiday.” However, nowadays, many black Christians celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa. And while Karenga was jailed for assault (though he maintains his innocence), the ad hominem thing is rather ridiculous. Should Christmas not be celebrated since it was made by the Catholic Church, which hosts a very violent and suspect past?

What I find funny is all the defenses people have for Grothman. Apparently, Kwanzaa is just a “made-up holiday,” so people should stop celebrating it. As though other holidays were discovered in the wild, growing on a tree. And when you point out that Grothman, a white man, might not actually have the insight necessary to determine whether Kwanzaa is something black people care about, you tend to get these types of responses:

“Only white liberals know what’s best for blacks.”

“All the black people that I know and I know many, don’t give a damn about Kwanzaa.”

“like obama knows what white people want right????”

It’s funny because, to the best of my knowledge, Kwanzaa is harming absolutely no one. It does not harm the people celebrating it, nor does it harm the people not celebrating it. So, it’s not an issue about “what’s best” for people. Nor would I say white liberals have a pulse on the African-American community. I tend to think African-Americans are the ones best able to talk about what they want. As for this idea that “I know a bunch of black people” therefore let’s make a sweeping statement about ALL of them… Do I really need to point out how ridiculous that is? Kwanzaa is celebrated. Black people that celebrate Kwanzaa do exist. Billingsley’s black and he talks about it, so there’s at least one person. As for the President Barack Obama comment… Seriously. It’s just stupid.

Honestly, I hadn’t heard a thing about Kwanzaa this year until I heard about Grothman ranting about it. Seems like another case of someone so obsessed with something that he makes is a bigger deal than it really is. Wonder if he’ll start ranting about liberals shoving Linux operating systems down everyone’s throats next. Because that’s totally something that happens.

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Cancer Is The Worst

Yesterday, I learned that one of my friends died of cancer.

He was a grad student at the University of Alabama, getting his MFA in directing. I didn’t know him as well as many in the department, didn’t hang out with him or work with him as often as many others, but I did know him and saw him most every day I was in the theatre building during his years there. Whenever I saw him, he always had a smile and would always, happily, greet me with a “Hey, Sean!” And the shows he directed were fantastic. In particular, “Flora, The Red Menace” became one of my favorite shows at UA, and had some of my favorite cast stories to go with it, such as him shouting “Macbeth” every time he walked onstage. Even when actors got sick, that didn’t stop him or make him put any stock in the nonsensical superstitions so many have in theatre.

He also gave me one of my favorite wall posts for my birthday on Facebook. Last year, he wrote: “‘Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.’ ~Dr. Seuss” and included a happy birthday at the end. It’s an encouraging quote, particularly for me as a writer and for me as someone lacking confidence most days of my life. The biggest regrets I have about him is not spending time with him or getting to work with him… and taking my birthday down from Facebook this year and missing another great quote I know he would have put on my wall.

He was immensely talented, extremely good humored, a constant beam of positive feelings and happiness. If I can positively affect even a hundredth of the people I know he’s given a single moment of uplifting to, I will feel like I have achieved something wonderful.

Heaven has called another angel home. Your friends left behind will miss you dearly, Matthew Burkholder.

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Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays

Wow. I have fallen SO far behind on this blog… I’m short six posts. This month clearly hasn’t been good for keeping up with the “daily” aspect. But I’ll fill them in. I always do.

Anyway, right now I’m a bit exhausted. I just got back from my grandmother’s house for Christmas (as I have work tomorrow), so I’m not going to be very deep on this post. I’ll be seeing “Les Miserables” later today, and perhaps “Django Unchained” next week, so I’ll let you know how those are.

But for now, relax and take a day off. Whether you celebrate Christmas (religiously or otherwise) or not, have a great day and enjoy your holidays.

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The Times, They Are A-Wastin’

Very often these days, I find myself either a) caught up with everything I need to do and unwilling to finish what I want to do, leaving me with nothing to do or b) overwhelmed by everything I need an want to do and needing to take a break.

And since I don’t feel like writing yet another movie review at the moment, I’ve decided to talk about what I tend to waste my time with.

Many people that know me know I enjoy trivia. I’ll spout off random trivia facts when the moment allows me to (and sometimes I’ll make the moment myself, thank you). I play trivia every week (or try to) at a local bar (it’s free to play, so why not?). I was the sixth highest individual scorer in my county in high school Scholar’s Bowl, played in college for four years (going to nationals three times myself), and was president of the Quizbowl team one of those years.

I mean, trivia’s fun.

So, often times, when I’m bored/needing a break/distracting myself from work I should be doing (like the play I wanted to finish before the end of they year that is pretty much NOT going to happen), I find myself going to Sporcle. It is THE ultimate ground for wasting time with all sorts of trivia, puzzles and other games. There are countries I didn’t know existed before I discovered trivia. No joke.

Though there are a lot of countries, so I suppose not knowing about the existence of Vanuatu, Kiribati or Tuvalu is understandable for most people.

Anyway. Check it out. Have fun. Yell at me when your productivity drops. It’s all good.

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