I Prefer Fascism in Movie Theaters

Since we’re actively flirting with authoritarians in our American government, we should just quit the charade.

We scream at strangers over the internet. We’re totally okay paying public education teachers poverty level wages, and then having the audacity to say they should be armed against active shooters. We shoot people whose driving standards are different to ours. We rationalize meeting despots for glorified photo ops. We freely pollute our Earth in every conceivable way, devastating the resources of the future generations long after we’re dead and gone. We actually put children in fucking cages and then actively obstruct justice if any breach of trust occurs.

Civility is fucking dead, so why not embrace a limited application of fascism in certain situations? Take for instance in movie theaters, where I’m sure a modest majority might embrace a brutalist philosophy.

In defiance of those little warnings before the start of movies, I’ve seen a lot of rude, abhorrent assholes at the movies recently. Since we’re apparently okay as a society condoning the things as described above, and rationalizing it afterward, we should extend the vestige to the movie theater, one of the last places on Earth we view and interact with each other with equal footing.

We’ve all seen the asshole two rows ahead of you pull out his smartphone (with the really fucking bright display) during the movie. And if you’re like me, you’ve fantasized about telling this ruffin to put his freakin’ phone away. But like masturbation, it’s just that, only fantasy.

Personally I would prefer the Big Brother method of corralling filmgoers. Everyone’s locked down for the entirety of the movie, barring trips to the bathroom. (There’s a thin line before fascism and sadism, you know.) So how about we install a dome surveillance camera over the room of the theater and if the night vision picks up some dick pulling out his phone to checkout an app, two tall imposing figures wearing black will come and forcibly eject the guy!

Alamo Drafthouse kinda has my back on this.

We should totally be okay with a shadowy, ethically immoral entity governing the theaters! If we’re okay with private prisons violating prisoners rights and committing endless human rights violations, then this isn’t a bridge too far!

Shame works wonders! Imagine having to travel to some squad room within the theater, where you have to bail out your significant other since they took out their phone to text somebody! Wouldn’t you be embarrassed to pick them up! What if someone sees you… We’re not okay with drunk driving and we could instill this belief in the next generation. Nevermind the Supreme Court! It’s not like they’re nonpartisan anymore!

Or what about those stupid kids or rednecks who won’t stop yapping during the summer popcorn flick? Or what about the person who brings their baby to the next Man of Steel film? In this instance, I gleefully envision a recreation of that one scene early in Con Air where an inmate spits on the guard who responds by having a cohort duct tape the prisoner’s mouth and throw a mesh bag over their face. If it’s uncomfortable for us why should it be comfortable for them…

Or in the least likely scenario in the best of worlds, we could inundate movie theaters with enough complaints and calls to action to make them bring the hammer down, as recommended by bloody-disgusting. But then again, who are we kidding?

 

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The sky is falling, I am learning to live with it.

The only way I can describe it as feeling like a deflatable balloon. When a balloon loses its air, the rubber mass is still intact but the air that gives it its distinctive shape is absent.

I get up and prepare for work yesterday, as I would do on a regular workday, but something is different today. I have awaken and found out Anthony Bourdain has died. Of an apparent suicide. Some odd sort of autopilot mode kicks in within my body. I go about my normal routine when getting ready to go to work. Make breakfast. Eat on your bed. Brush your teeth. Get your work clothes on. Nerve-endings are connecting with the brain and doing as they’re told but there’s no internal thoughts to supplement it. In other words, Blankness. The only deviations this morning is I make an omelette to honor my hero and I eat in relative silence.

I come to realize much later on in the day that I am in shock. This is uncharted territory.

It’s become some sort of twisted ritual that my idols die overnight while I rest and I awake to see the macabre news notification on my phone. On this particular morning, a text from my mother is the messenger, followed by one or two other notifications from official news sources. Last May, Chris Cornell died more or less the same way for me.

Some phrases you prepare for the contingency of the subject and action or verb eventually carrying out in the real world. There are some phrases my brain wasn’t equipped to process. “Anthony bourdain died,” the exact text my mom sent me is one of them.

It was improbable in my brain before Friday morning that Bourdain would take his own life. It still is. What were the signs? CNN is currently airing some repeats of ‘Parts Unknown,’ his travel show on the network, and I occasionally watch and wonder why did he do it? I’m at a disadvantage for only knowing the man from afar but I still want to know.

I suspect many are grappling with the same question…

How do you go about your life when one of your teenage heroes is prematurely dead? I’m still trying to figure that out.

I awoke this morning in a better mood, with slightly more spring in my step, yet when I go to the gym and I cannot go forth in my workout routine. After the first set of sit-ups on the bench, I sit up and see myself in those floor-to-ceiling mirrors and am struck by the blankness looking back at me. There’s none of the usual determination in my expression. Later that day, my mother confirms to me that I looked “gloomy” earlier when she saw me. I’m still hung up on the question of his motivation to end his own life.

Diversions seem to be working. I go to a thrift store after the gym, and go to the movies afterward and those things take my mind off his suicide temporarily.

I lost a close friend, as everyone feels now, and I’m definitely going through a grieving process. As I’m writing this down, it still feels selfish to devote a blog post to this, my reaction to him dying, even if it’s likely good for my own mental health.

I shouldn’t focus on myself when he leaves behind hundreds of real life friends, as well as loved ones, Asia Argento, to say nothing of his 11-year-old daughter, who I can’t even fathom what she’s experiencing losing her father.

All I can hope for is some improvement from the last day and not feeling as awful.

Anthony Bourdain. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production.

 

RIP Anthony Bourdain – 1956 – 2018

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.

 

No, Your Child Has Never Felt The Urge to Snort a Condom

The teenage Parkland activists not only gave me hope that a wedge issue like gun violence could be addressed legislatively but also that the average teenager was perhaps more perceptive and intelligent than I gave them credit for.

Instead, it’s the adults, I think we should worry more about.

For the second time in a few weeks, I’ve seen hyperbolic headlines about crazes the kids supposedly indulge in. First, it was a few YouTube videos, which made parents and news directors shit their pants, depicting teenagers bitting into those Tide bleach pods for some reason, as part of some challenge. Then, just this past week, the latest “teenage craze” has been snorting a condom up their nose, which is suppose to go elsewhere on the body I believe…  

Just how not every scrawny Caucasian Trump supporter is an active shooter, I believe the problem to be greatly exaggerated. The fact that The Washington Post, the bastion of all things holy, wrote a piece how the hysteria arose from a educators workshop that featured a handful of YouTube videos of such challenges, most of which were 10 years old gives me security in my beliefs.

No doubt that there exists a handful of gullible jackasses who have actually done such things, but it’s likely this mindset doesn’t affect all teenagers. However, I’m more concerned with the gullibility of adults who Ate. This. Shit. Up., some of whom are news editors, is vastly alarming. These people vote

Aside from these hysterical pieces feeding into the stereotype of teenagers as imbeciles who can’t get their clothes on without falling down the stairs, the proliferation of this casts adults in a bad light. If they can’t see past fake news created by Russian troll farms, then just how good are their bullshit detectors?

I understand this is partially a generational difference, and likely a feeling of superiority. If the last year has taught us anything, we’re sort of through the looking glass on such assumptions of binary things.

 

You’re Making the World a Worse Place, Social Media

I mean this. Usually, I bury these lede with my headlines, try to put something pithy, a little witty. But I can’t in this case.

There’s a story that’s floated to the top of my newsfeed today, which has been picked up by the mainstream, about how the high school students affected by last Wednesday’s mass shooting were “Crisis Actors,” hired to give pretense to passing gun control laws.

This is beyond infuriating to me as a journalist because I tend to ebb to the belief that a person is as good as the news they receive daily, and some people need the most robust information possible because they’re beyond stupid.

In the past, Facebook at least partially recognizes this, through public shaming, and they implemented features, both human and not, designed to obstruct the flow of faulty information, whether by tin-foil hat wearers or the local Russian bot.

So imagine my shock when this morning when I followed a trail to one of these posts on Facebook that I couldn’t report such content because it was shared as a mixture of both photos and video content.

This is beyond absurd and infuriating that Facebook didn’t consider that the flow of information is probably being shared by such media. After all, they released such paid ads, all of which were graphics, to intelligence committees in Congress recently.

And Facebook isn’t alone in the blame. Last August when Donald Trump hosted a rally in my fair city of Phoenix, a dummy Twitter account, which was Russian in origin, shared an aerial shot supposedly of the Pro-Trump crowd versus the size of the protestors.

636390300831498378-Anti-Trump

Locals knew better because the skyline and layout clearly didn’t match downtown Phoenix, but that didn’t matter because enough people saw this post before the account was flagged as a Russian bot (two months after the rally)!!!

And as it turns out, the President of the United States isn’t immune to resharing such dubious content.

Stop actively trying to make the world a worse place, social media. The world is already divisive enough and you are not helping matters.

What the river has done to this poor cracker’s land

An AP notification came over my iPhone on Friday that stated the State of Florida has ordered 5.6 million of its residents to evacuate before Hurrican Irma makes landfall.

5.6 Million People.

The next day, the Governor ordered another 400K people to leave.

In between this and Hurricane Harvey, I’ve pondered a lot recently how you’d decide what objects in your life you’d pack in the event a natural disaster directed itself in the path of your home.

This consideration of encapsulating your life into a single suitcase coincidentally comes at a point in my personal life where I’m planning for contingencies in my own. In the last month I’ve taken it upon myself to literally backup about 60 years worth of family photos currently situated in photo albums.

Part of my nature has always anticipated the worst case scenarios, but it’s difficult to imagine the existential dread when it’s fast approaching. I cannot imagine trading last looks at an abode you’ve called home for years or even decades before it’s hypothetically under water or memories become a pile of rubble when you return.

Before Hurricane Irma made landfall on Saturday, Vox posted a handy graphic of what Catagory 1-5 hurricanes would do to a home and surrounding palm trees. Such designations on what damage Category 1 versus 5 hurricanes would inflict are self-explanatory yet still nebulous. Even a Category 3, with 100 mile winds would leave a house mostly intact although significantly damaged. A Category 5 hurricane is strong enough to rip a palm from its roots. It’s likely akin to losing a loved one.

Somewhere in my mind, I recalled a thought experiment in Freshman year of high school when my theater teacher directed the class to consider what they’d carry with you in such a case. In my youthful ignorance, my answer was that I’d pack for survival rather than continuity.

Twelve years later and a mess of new memories later, it seems like a tone-deaf answer.

 

The Birth of an Idea

Most concepts we think up are nebulous in origin, three loosely connected thoughts and transitions linked by anmeaningful end result, if you’re lucky.

I had such a thought the other day I can still reconstruct that end idea. It wasn’t any idea that was life changing but I prefer to think that I walked away with an more accurate view of myself.

I like to cosplay, or costume play, and Phoenix hosts a comic convention every six months, Fan Fest and Phoenix Comic Con. Cosplay is basically dressing up as your favorite fictional characters. In the past, I’ve tended to eschew toward less obvious character to pantomime. People like those more, in my experience. Prior to last Friday, I had no inkling who I would cosplay in November.

During my break at work, I went to the public library near my work. As my car moved down the road, the following exchange popped in my head as I waited for the light to change, spurred by the awaiting smell of books and fine indoor cooling (libraries have the best cooling systems, they’re the just right of cool):

“You know, I think my favorite place to hang out would be is a library.”

(pause)

“It’s interesting that a lot of my favorite fictional characters are bookish, cerebral types. There’s a lot of me in those guys.”

*Mentally surveys the my favorite fictional characters/people I’ve cosplayed and if they had those characteristics I detailed.*

Eventually, I settle upon Rupert Giles, played by Anthony Head, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who was a librarian on the show. I’ve never cosplayed as him before but I mentally survey all the “costume,” any casual clothing I already own, which would complete the ensemble. A Donegal tweed jacket. An dress shirt from Jermyn Street (Giles would probably approve). I don’t have any particular slacks or loafers lined up but this can determined at a later date.

This is what cosplayers call a “closet cosplay,” where everything you need for a costume, give or take hair product or makeup, is already in your closet. When I decided to cosplay as Harold Finch, played by Michael Emerson, from Person of Interest last fall, it came together similarly.

A Buffy purist or two may want to take me to task for not being completely screen-accurate, but my general rule for cosplay is nailing the spirit, not so much an explicit recreation when I go out into the world as these people. Again, people appreciate the creativity and effort more.

So, in this minute and a half of my life I produced these thoughts, which will partially alter my experience at the convention this fall and hey, I know myself a little better after this.

Isn’t that cool?

Teach, I Was Not Prepared For This Exam…

Last Sunday, I finally plopped down in my office chair and soldiered through all the foreign terminology of health care until I came out on the other end with health insurance.

I won’t lie, I knew next to nothing, my belief and perceptions of government’s role in health care aside. Luckily I had my parents on hand to define what a deductible was versus a co-pay. They didn’t skip a beat. They knew everything, they’re old pros.

The health insurance market is based on such weird, contradictory notions of coverage that you have to assume the mindset of insurance providers view covering people.

A lot of what was introduced evaporated in my brain almost immediately, so my poor mother needed to repeat herself a lot. Internally, during this process, I had the thought that they never taught this in high school. They really should have.

I would have preferred becoming familiar with the stalwarts of adulthood at 17, rather than at 25, about a month before I fell off my parents plan.

This is something the government should require to provide for students in school. A crash course in budgeting and filing taxes was squeezed into the last month of classes during my senior year of high school. I retained a decent amount, but then again I’m not other people. I’m sure a class in Adulting 101 would result in less foolish young adults.

I would have valued a course in civics at some point during my primary schooling, even if it was one course. I suspect some of my fellow alumni would have too.

You’d finally shut down those snarky assholes in class who always complained, “Why do I need to learn this stuff?

Mike Rowe often gets shit for suggesting that a $100K education at a university isn’t for everyone and trade schools get more stigmatization than they deserve. I tend to agree with that assessment.

I believe in the role of government for societal change in instances where empirical evidence demonstrates legislation doesn’t exist or needs modifying for issues. If my elders truly cared for my generation and the world they’re bequeathing, then they would seriously consider such things.

Until then can always pick up their preoccupation of calling us a lazy and disinterested generation. Lord knows they’ve gotten mileage from that cliche.

“Daniel Craig Reportedly to Return in ‘Bond 25’ After Two-Year Sabbatical…”

…is a terrible headline but it approaches the truth more than the following ones filed by columnists over the last few hours:

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For those who aren’t cued into the entertainment news (and don’t understand these particularly pointed headlines) Daniel Craig, the current actor to portray James Bond 007, stated in a “Time Out Magazine” interview shortly after wrapping the last Bond film, ‘Spectre‘ that he’d rather “slash [his] wrists” than play Bond again.

…except he didn’t say that.

Here’s the full quote if you want to understand the context of Craig’s bluntness:

TIME OUT: Can you imagine doing another Bond movie?
CRAIG: ‘Now? I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists. No, not at the moment. Not at all. That’s fine. I’m over it at the moment. We’re done. All I want to do is move on.’

Craig muddies the water in those last two sentences but he’s clearly not done with the franchise.

No, he’s simply tired after playing the same misogynist for more than four years straight, one of which was dedicated to prepping for the next film, with no breaks for different projects scheduled in between his last two Bond films:

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.06.34 PM
That’s a lot of James Bond and not a lot of Daniel Craig for four years. Credit IMDB

If he was clearly done with a film series he has disdain for, then he would have omitted the words “now” and the follow-up explanatory phrases “not at the moment” from that statement.

Also, if he were done with the franchise, then that would mean he was in breach of his contract, when he signed up for two more Bond films prior to Skyfall‘s release in 2012. Spectre, released in 2015, would be the first of these two films.

And that would mean a messy public suit filed by the Bond producers against him…

But, that doesn’t sell newspapers and doesn’t inspire clickbait headlines that lead to all these company’s sites. If they accurately repackaged that incredibly complex quote into a concise statement, it would sound something like, “Daniel Craig to take sabbatical before returning to Bond role.”

Ever since Craig stated this almost two-years ago and new rumors emerge to his current status as James Bond, every hacky columnist resurrects that damned quote against him and writes a snark-laced post that takes an empirical truth and reframes it around a narrative of an “entitled actor who turns down a stupid amount of money to stand in front of a movie camera for two-hours.”

My disdain for gossip and the rumor mill aside, the average news reader who consuming this is being deprived of the full-story and context to one isolated statement that doesn’t give an overview to what was said.

And they’re the ones to suffer because they’re being taught crappy news reading techniques which has given us so many poorly informed Americans.

This is my least favorite type of journalism because it’s barely counts as such, one where obvious legwork and years of cultivating a reputable house of sources is replaced by a some smuck commentator copy and pasting a single out-of-context quote into a rumor-fueled headline.

Despite clarification from Craig on the issue, it’s what I gather is the current status in this instance.

I hope that’s the case. Don’t make me look like a fool, Daniel…

Turn, hell-hound, turn!

I approach House of Cards with an armistice of understanding. I recognize its stench of being too pleased with itself, its tired tropes, its pomp, its empty cynicism are the end result of viewing governing through the prism of the building power for its own sake, rather than contributing to the unfinished pyramid which is our republic.

And it’s no surprise that the real Washington D.C loves the show.

So, I wasn’t really surprised to learn about this season that President Underwood invents a fake terrorist threat to win a presidential election.

What else should you expect from a person who strong-arms a union leader, pushes a reporter in front of a train, or, in the case of the current season, murder a sitting Secretary of State with a flight of stairs?

After all, a series with no nuance should not expect to develop any at this late juncture but House of Cards has crossed the line from being unoffensive, trite trash to being reprehensible trash.

The funny thing about this show is I’ve never stopped watching in a sense. As a very casual viewer, I checked out about halfway through season two and then subsequently caught up through Wikipedia summaries and recaps on social media, always morbidly curious how far the show would go.

And now I know. And somehow this last development struck a nerve.

When I read recently that Russia tried to hack voting places in 39 states last November, in addition to creating fake news and disinformation to undermine our Democratic system, it made me all the more disgusted with a country with its own state-run news agencies and fine with jailing and intimidating political dissonants.

The characters on House of Cards “ratfuck” people all the time but it now serves as a unwilling bedfellow to all the chicanery when our institutions are under attack by unscrupulous authoritarians.

I don’t like thugs and despots on principle and this is what thugs and despots in power do when they do not wish to curry honest political debate which might otherwise kick their ass off the throne.

With all this in mind, it confirms Frank Underwood as the thug he always was. Resourceful and highly-motivated, but a thug all the same.

Screw ’em and his milquetoast show.

House of Cards rode on the coattails of being Netflix’s first original series and innovating a phenomenon of debuting a whole season of television for streaming then consumption. Besides that it carries no pedigree other than looking incredibly expensive to produce.

We all know the show is retelling a very stupid version of Macbeth, so could we fast-forward to the end in the show’s run where its Macduff stand-in takes dear Frank down a peg or two…