VICE – Uncomfortable Sociological Examination


It’s nice to get the news that not everyone is talking about.  Right now all you hear in the news is “Trump this…” and “Hilary that…”  Now the Presidency is something that is very important; it effects everyone.  I don’t negate that.  Nonetheless, I’m that type of reader where I want to be captivated by something new.  I would prefer to start reading about something foreign and culturally specific.  Our culture is all about money, power, and influence.  

This necessity leads me to VICE!!  This is an online magazine-“ish” where they are not ever afraid to report on everything else.  This not the Onion or that other newspaper that you see on Wal-Mart shelves reporting on alien abductions.  The pieces of Vice reporters have legitimate interest and purpose in the information.  They will report on the next President, yes, sure!!  But you also learn about how the gun industry plans on preventing 10k suicide.  LGBT equality is a very green topic in our country, but who knew that there was a battle for equality in wrestling?

If your interests are as far removed as mine, you can delve into their reporting on an international level where things really get juicy.  You can select probably any region or country in the world and there are Vice representatives there; active and alive bringing you the amazing stories told around the world of change, passion, progress, and another perspective.  From terrorism, to the war on drugs, to music, to third-world country issues, to the booming marijuana trade; you can be sure to find anything ,with different angle on it, at Vice.

I don’t get paid by Vice for this propaganda.  The only thing that I know for sure is that when I saw today’s prompt it was the first, and only, thing to pop into my head.  

TV has good information.  It does, really.  But I challenge you this much-

TV RANT AHEAD -For the next week, keep a journal or a log of what time you sit down to watch TV and what time you turn it off to do other things.  Along with those times, jot down what you were watching for that time period.  (CAUTION: THE FOLLOWING MAY OFFEND YOU). If you see things on your list like Glee, The Bachelor, Suits, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, or Game of Thrones (GASP!!  HOW DARE I) then you are like me and are drawn to fantasy.  Now while we are allowed to live out our wildest dreams through these characters and programs, they teach us NOTHING.  I won’t miss me some Walking Dead, but I’d rather watch something or read something that is going to improve my writing and fashion of expression.  

Vice provides us information junkies with all sort of material that will easily make its way into your writing making you that much more readable.  And readability is inviting someone in.  And who doesn’t love an invitation?  

Source: Vice

Advertisements

“It” comes to life

Out of all the things that this world is coming too, it seems we can add Stephen King – Prophet to the mix. This is straight out of a horror story!!! And to think that they haven’t arrested anyone yet?? Seriously creepy. A good read if you get the opportunity.

Apartment complex warns residents about clown trying to lure kids into woods – CNN

https://apple.news/AqA05QK8aR-CHclkhZfsBYg

Chapter 2 : It Doesn’t Pay To Cheat

“Hand me that screwdriver! Quick!”

James’ fingers were freezing. He could see the tools on the street near the left rear tire of the truck, but his fingers could not feel them. The street light was not enough against the shadows of the night. James blew hot breath into his left hand before reaching down to the chilling ground to pick up the screwdriver. His hoodie kept creeping over his eyes, and he kept having to adjust it back. He quickly handed the tool to Kevin who was busy picking at the door lock. The job of look-out is James’. He looked up the street just in time to see the stop light change to green. A man on a bicycle went across the intersection but did not notice the want-to-be thieves. His head swung around in the opposite direction to a lonesome residential street. Only a few scattered leaves danced along the road in the winter wind.

The dogs across the street at an old Victorian home kept barking in their direction. He prayed they would stop. The sound made James’ blood race and his hands quiver. It put him on edge. He hated that feeling. The feeling he got when the nerves in his muscles were set to sprint. His left knee was beginning to hurt so he swiftly changed the knee he was pressing against the frozen pavement. The smell of rust and grime emanated from the space in between the truck tire and the chassis.

“Is this going to work? Have you done this before? What is is taking you so long?” asked James shivering in the winter breeze.

“Hey, don’t chicken out on me! This score is going to be big. Look at this ride! Are you kidding me? We pull this off, and we are the guys to beat around here. Sometimes you gotta cut corners kid,” replied Kevin between the chatter and clicking of this teeth.

James’ mother had always told him that it didn’t pay to cheat. “What if the alarm goes off when you open it?”

“Don’t worry about that. Just be ready to hit the streets.”

James assumed his role as the look-out and turned around to rest his body against the truck. With Kevin at his back, the breeze hit his cheeks hard. He could feel the cracking of his skin. It felt like multiple paper cuts across his lips with every howl of the wind. He adjusted his oversized hoody back again away from this vision. A car in the distance turned in their direction. It approached at a creeping pace, but it was not long until the boys were right in the head lights. James’ heart leaped as the lights atop the vehicle became clearer in the night. The cops. “Oh God! We have got to go! Let’s get out of here!”

Kevin was startled by the booming of the siren and the red and blue lights that pushed the darkness from around them. He ran into James on his way away from the truck towards the intersection at the opposite end.

In a full stride, the oversized hoodie corrupted James’ steps. He never hated that ugly old thing more than tonight. He knew that running into a busy intersection would not be the best thing. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed an opened fence to the right. With no hesitation, he cut in that direction stomping his feet against the ground as hard as he could. He ran past the gate and meant to close the door, but it was out of his reach. He almost lost his footing as the grass turned to gravel near a window with light shining through it. He turned a corner and pressed his back against the wall with the hope that the patrol had chased after Kevin.

He waited a few seconds. He could not see as the strong lights of the patrol car had had their effect. He couldn’t hear anything over his shallow, cumbersome and uncontrollable breathes. He had to calm down. He wanted to reach over and lean on his knees to rest, but fear kept him rigid. He was glued in place with his spine against the back porch of the home. He stared at the 6-foot wooden fence across the yard he would be forced to jump next. His breathing calmed although the vapor spewed from his mouth in the wintertime air. He heard the gate squeak.

“Dispatch…. Foot pursuit in progress east of 42nd. 3 or 4 blocks from Wilshire Street. Over.” James struggled to find air. The snapping of the leaves and the brushing of the grass let James know they were walking cautiously. A bright light shone and first scanned the area across the fence right in front of James.

In desperation and recognizing that the footsteps were getting closer, James pushed off of the wooden porch and made for the fence in front of him. He could hear a sound behind him, a voice. The boy was not worried about making out the words of that voice. All he needed to do was jump. All his legs needed to do was forget the cold. Forget the pin needles of the dreary air of that night and lift his body up and over the wooden boards. He could see his silhouette formed by the giant light behind him on the fence. The voice kept getting louder and soon James felt someone else’s footsteps almost match his own.

As he approached the fence, it seemed to grow taller. He would need to curl his fingers over the edge. His left foot raised into the air to lead the hop, but his right foot shifted underneath him. Instead of rising in the air, he was falling. He was about a foot from the fence, and he tucked his right shoulder downward to absorb the impact. He felt a pain and heard a crunch as his body met the cold floor. His face was in the dirt, and his exhausted breathing threw dust into his eyes. Within moments a pair of cold hands wrapped him up. They forced his right cheek closer still to the ground and held his arms behind his back. Their pulling and tugging sent pain through his chest and left shoulder. He would not move again. He was tired. He had been beaten. It was over.

Source: Cheat

Chance Is Not Your Friend, So Why Would You Leave Things Up To Him?

At least for me, the Allstate commercial rings a very personal bell.  It’s funny how a commercial, that at most times tries to ask the question in a comical light, presents a very good life question.  “Are you in a good hands?”  So, are you?  

This was all brought about while I watched a very well-known film with my wife.  A women stands on a stage; her face painted in greens, purples, and oranges and her hair done up and high.  She has white hair and a purple rose adorns it which matches the purple suit she is wearing.  2 guards stand to her left as 2 stand to her right.  In the audience stand hundreds of children awaiting for what this women believes to be an honor bestowed upon 2 of them – 1 boy, 1 girl.  To the children in the crowd, it’s the annually celebrated Judgement Day.  As they are about to draw the names she speaks into the microphone with finesse, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

Yea thanks lady.  Thanks for the pick-me-up as I’m chosen to fight to the death.  In this movie, that line is meant as representation of what the people at the top of the food chain think – everything is a game and we wish you luck.  That’s because they have everything they need and only the middle and lower classes are exposed to such miserable circumstances.  But for you and I, that phrase should ring a bell.  Like the Allstate commercial.  I want the odds to be in my favor.  I want good luck.  I want to be favored in life.  I want to be in good hands.

Odds.   ädz/.     noun

the ratio between the amounts staked by the parties to a bet, based on the expected probability either way.

the chances or likelihood of something happening or being the case.

plural noun: the odds

“the odds are that he is no longer alive”

synonyms: the likelihood is, the probability is, chances are, there’s a good chance

So when you depend on the odds, it’s up in the air.  When you give your tomorrow for it to be thrown up in the air, it’s up to chance if it falls to shatter on the ground like glass or if someone or something catches it.

Chance. CHans/. noun

1. a possibility of something happening.

synonyms: possibility, prospect, probability, likelihood, likeliness, expectation, anticipation; More

2. the occurrence and development of events in the absence of any obvious design.

synonyms: accident, coincidence, serendipity, fate, destiny, fortuity, providence, happenstance; More

adjective

1.   fortuitous; accidental.

synonyms: accidental, fortuitous, adventitious, fluky, coincidental, serendipitous; More

verb

1.  do something by accident or without design.

synonyms: happen

2.  informal. do (something) despite its being dangerous or of uncertain outcome.

synonyms: risk, hazard, venture, try;formlessly 

Is it just me or do you see words like accident, risk, formless, dangerous, without design, and hazard in there?  These among others.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve got one opportunity at this life.  This doesn’t apply to all our feline readers that have developed opposable thumbs with which to scroll through the  Wordpress Reader with.  For the rest of us, one shot is all we have. 

My personification of chance is exactly like Allstate’s Mayhem Commercials.  I imagine Chance in a nice suit, smug and arrogant; prideful in the countless lives that ultimately resort to “him” as their method.  Or their tour guide.  All the while there is no certainty, design, plan, promise for them.  He knows that and smirks in the camera, while all these people take step by step not knowing.  Sigh…..  I don’t want to be one of those people.  I don’t believe in that.  So let’s say this conversation proves that we should reconsider our faith in Chance….

Tell me who do you trust now?

Mistakes – They’re Important

Skeletons are ugly; they are old and dusty for a reason.  Amazingly enough, it’s these mistakes that allow us to either Wither or Thrive.  If you didn’t trip up in your step once in a while, you wouldn’t stop to appreciate whatever path you were on.  Those important Forks in the road would fly by and you would almost miss them.  And you don’t want to miss anything in this life; you don’t want to take things for granted.  

This post is probably one of the most difficult for me to post.  It’s a few ideas I had jotted down from about 5 years ago; a time in life where I was not proud of myself, where I was not convinced that I knew what I was doing, where I messed up.  God only knows why I was given another opportunity; that golden gem of a moment to correct my wrongs and make amends.  A chance to use the rest of my life to prove that I could cherish and love the way it’s supposed to be.  At any rate, I hate to remember, but it was so essential in what I consider my own, personal, rude awakening.  

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

….My last post about me being in the Barber shop was a ruse…… It was my feeble attempt to get back into the habit of blogging without making the last 4 months of my life known. I came to a realization today….. That is impossible. The past does not have to define you as a person. Just because I was a grumpy old man yesterday doesn’t mean that I am a grumpy old man today. Its not fair to judge people by their pasts because in most cases there is always the ugly. Those portions of our lives where we were someone we promised never to be. The times when we made decisions we swore never to make. No matter how messed up the past has been for us, we dont have to be that again tomorrow. The dark and stormy cloud lingers over our heads nonetheless in the eyes of those that surround us. The past does not necessarily define who we are today, but it does give an idea about who you should be. The idea is that you have learned from your mistakes and have changed for the better…  As far as for me? This is what I realize now…

I’m a liar. I have deceived those that cared most about me. I have turned my back on principles and values that I held so near and dear to my heart my entire life. I didnt care that people would cry or cringe. I didnt care that people that loved me would suffer and feel betrayed. I am selfish and egotistical. I pretended to be someone that I was not; even though the task of being that person was exhausting and excruciatingly taxing on my psyche. I was reckless and stupid. That simple…
I mentioned a beautiful person that was in my life and had been a part of my life for a long time. We had plans of getting married very soon. Her smile lit up the world for me and I was glad and privileged to be in her company whenever I could. We laughed together but most importantly went through many hardships hand-in-hand. She supported me like no one else in this life had been able to. Not my parents or extended family came close to the pillar that this women was in my life…. I threw that away.
The circumstances are complicated and lengthy. Trust me, I do not say that in order to avoid scrutiny and judgement that is inevitable when you reveal yourself over the INTERWEB. I dont need it. What I mean is that I am not a man looking to be convinced of my wrong doing and malice. Ive accepted that. Im there. Where ever “there” is in reference to guilt and shame…..Ive been here for a long time now. It happened at my job that I posted about sometime in September or August. I was hired and trained with a few people who I was with all day long for about 2 months straight. Needless to say, I grew close to someone and well things went down hill from there. 

What baffles me to this date is how I didnt hesitate…  At the beginning I knew what I was feeling was wrong and not healthy and I fought it; I did. I put it aside day by day and remembered that I was supposed to be a man of integrity. I was supposed to know what being loyal and faithful was. I was supposed to be an example of what was right and have the courage and strength to avoid the wrong. Therein lies my problem. I tried to reason and fight with myself but I was too weak to say “No”. I should not have tried to do it alone. It didnt matter who I went to for help with the dilemma…anyone would have done the job. Instead I kept the struggle internal and no matter how many sessions of introspection I underwent; the outcome was the same. I doubted that I was going to be able to handle this like I should. The feelings grew stronger and I started to give in. I began to slowly lose interest in that wonderful partner of mine and my attention swayed in another direction. I began to ignore the life I had always known and a curiosity was born for the life I had never lived. This new life or person wasnt more beneficial for me than what I had. That is the amazing detail. If I had given up on my old life for a new and improved one then the mystery as to why I did it would be solved. Case closed, dilemma resolved. That is not the case unfortunately. What I did, I did because I am a guy. I made the mistake I made because I didnt think with my head or listen to my heart. I was selfish and didnt see the long list of priorities that were right in front of my eyes. I ignored them even though they remained the only constant at that time and I was reminded of them constantly by the Word and those that loved me. They saw me struggling but I didnt let them in. I shut the world out of my life and only kept this new person around thinking it would be enough and I could go on and never look back. Wrong again…… I hope you are getting the reoccurring theme here friends. I was wrong and I lost everything. That new person was only around for a little while and I was desolate. Alone. Being alone doesnt scare me because even if there are no other organisms, to be literal, around you at any given moment, your humanity, principles, values and beliefs keep you warm. The fact that you give your all to being a good person who looks for God when no one else does fills those voids that can arise when your “alone”. But now imagine my state after realizing that I had betrayed my sense or definition of humanity and decency; that I was not able to stay true to my principles, values and beliefs…….. Now add that I was physically alone. I was in small dark room with only a match stick….. And I wasnt sure of when the match was going to burn out…


Source: Mistake

When You Witness, You Are Touched

When you witness the impossible, the impossible becomes attainable.  All of a sudden it’s seems that you could have it all.  Doubt is thrown out and conviction sits in its place.  Fear is challenged with bravery because you can see it.  You can see victory.  

What we could accomplish if our days were filled with witnessing miracles.  The power behind that would be miraculous.  Even if the miracle didn’t happen to us!!  To witness is to be touched.  That’s all it takes.  For you to see or hear of the impossible being achieved satisfies you.  In this grand, over-reaching kind of way, it plops itself right next to you and you feel inspired.  

That’s why recent events taking place in the world are so important.  Those events that prove that the underdog is not always the loser.  Those instances that show that humanity and compassion still exist; even in the worst of circumstances.

The flooding of Louisiana surprises me.  Not that it happened again.  What surprises me is that even in the face of rebuilding from Katrina and putting that in the past, the people of that region are not shaken.  They are brave and ready for anything that may come.  Even losing everything to the flood waters.  They fear not.  A miracle of human perseverance.  The hundreds that are willing to help out in the relief efforts.  A miracle in this world of self-pride, arrogance, and selfishness.  

You stop to wonder if that kind of disaster didn’t happen, would we ever see a miracle? Sad to say.  We arrive at the usual phrase with that point – you can not know victory without first knowing defeat.  Amazing.  But for as long as someone needs help and feels hopeless, I believe that there will always be a few to answer the call of making miracles happen.  Now as far as those of us that haven’t been called yet due to where we live or our lack of resources, when we see those miracles we must recognize them.  We must be open-hearted enough to allow that magic to effect us; to inspire us to make that difference in our small, yet essential, world.  

The earthquake in Italy that has over run the news.  Stories of families that will not sleep but dig with the hope of finding loved ones.  Those that have persevered for days stuck under the rumble of concrete, iron, mud….  That miracle is hope that now days we don’t see publicized very often.  

The truth of the matter is that there someone right now that is battling cancer and winning the fight.  We don’t hear about them.  There is a mother right now that is pushing through complications to give light to a son or daughter.  We don’t hear about them.  It’s difficult for us to step outside of our box-of-a-life to appreciate these miracles happening everyday.  

What we see is so important.  It should impact us.  Be sure that it does.  It’s so easy to think that it doesn’t matter to you; “to bad for them.”  Don’t be that person.  Believe in miracles, no matter how small.

  
 

Source: Witness

 

 

“St. Vincent”-A Race Track, Strip Club, and A Dive Bar

I’ll start this review with the thing that brought me into this film with big expectations – Mr. Bill Murray.  Now, if he were to see this he would possibly consider me a fool.  He would probably point out that with so many intricate details that go into a film it’s impossible to put so much weight on him.  This is where I laugh because who ever said that I’m concerned with all the intricacies??  

Melissa McCarthy plays Maggie, a struggling single mother in the midst of a divorce.  She moves to Brooklyn with her 12-year-old son, Oliver.  She is excited about their new house and her new job since it will all prove that she is fit and able to care for her child.  Problem is the new job requires her to work very long hours, so she is forced to leave Oliver in the care of Vincent (Bill Murray), the next door neighbor whom they met after their moving crew dropped a tree limb on his car.  First impression – ruined. Vincent, agreeing to babysit only for the cash, isn’t slowed down by the boy.   He takes Oliver along on his trips to the race track, strip club and dive bar.  What ensues is the formation of an unlikely friendship.  Oliver begins to see Vincent as a mentor  and, against all odds and everyone’s good judgment, sees the good in him.

This movie is speckled with so many amusing moments.  It had me from smile to frown; from inspired to let down.  I loved how it was so honest about the way we live and why we live that way.  It paints a picture of struggle and the domino effect we experience along with those struggles.  

The casting could not have been more perfect.  I read that the film might not have ever been made had Murray not agreed to it.  Do you know why this is?  This is because Vincent, from the get go, is a low life.  He smells of alcohol, never cleans his house, always wears the same clothes, and spends his time and money on prostitutes – pregnant ones at that.  Now Murray is not that!!  But he is an artist, an actor.  And this film needed someone that could go there.  It got what it needed.  Murray impresses me yet again and, coupled with Jaeden Lieberher as Oliver, tells a story of revealed truths.  In this book, the cover definitely does not tell the whole story.  We learn of Vincent and what he is capable of and grow to love Oliver with his wit and charisma for that age.  Melissa and Naomi Watts also contribute in their own ways, adding to the storyline that in one way or another has to come together.  

The only thing missing in this film is a gangster with a gun out to get Vincent.  Oh…. Wait.  That’s in there too.  I’m not including any spoilers in this one so you will have to log onto Netflix RIGHT NOW AND HIT PLAY!!!

I’m Glad You Learned To Paint

I’m so glad that this artist learned to paint.  There is no way that he could have known that someday his art would mean so much to someone.  


It depicts a small creek that starts out surrounded by beautiful flowers and heads into a wooded forest.  It’s depth reels you in; the colors bring warmth to your body.  

Under the circumstances, I needed that warmth.  I need something to draw my attention and remind me; of life, of peace, of solace and of faithfulness.  What is more faithful than nature?  So faithful that it bears it’s fruit to the good and bad alike.  The creek is faithful and obedient to its path; it doesn’t sway or change direction because it wants to.

What it takes to learn is so much more than we care to give most times.  Like the saying goes, “Everything has a price.”  Does learning have a price?  Yes, it does.  How do you pay it?  Why should I pay it?

When you get on a carnival ride your mind answers these questions even before you recognize to ask them.  You pay the price because you want on the ride.  Why? Because it’s a rush and thrill of life.  How much?  As much as it takes!!!!!  No doubt about it.

Learning charges you “interest” and “time”.  When you want to learn to play a melody on a piano you have to be interested enough to buy one and you have to dedicate the time to practice and practice and practice.  This is the equation every time.  So in reference to our artist from above, this is an admiration of his INTEREST and TIME.  Had he not paid the price, it would have been someone else’s painting up on the wall.  Who knows, maybe it would not have had the same presence.  Maybe it would not have had what I needed.

The inspiration to learn something new and challenging is ever alive.  We should be learning something new everyday; something that makes us happy and smile.  Instead, the only things we are adamant in learning is how to make more money and how to live longer.  

Since I take a stab at playing music once in a while, I’ll link a video that shows the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument. 

Learn something today!  If you pay that price, you will reap the benefits.  

Source: Learning

Fifty…and getting away from what I Want

Where do I want to be at the age of Fifty ?

Hmm, that’s a tough question.  That version of myself changes with every day that goes by.  I constantly wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  There are those constants that never change; faith and family.  At the age I am now, I can honestly say that everyday before going to sleep my goals change; my dedication readjusts.

What happens is that you decide that there are certain things that you can never ” put on the line”.  The bible says that you can’t serve more than one Lord at a time.  If you try, sooner or later you will serve the one and forget more and more about the other.  So why is it that we try to flirt with this idea so much?  Those two things that I mentioned before are the most important to me.  If you take a step back and think, I’m sure that there are a few things that will shine as yours.  Maybe you can think of a time or two when you have, even if inadvertently, exchanged those things.  Compromised.  This is what happens when we are not careful; when we put those important things “on the line.”

It’s difficult.  It’s not everyday that someone asks us about what we value.  It’s a dangerous game of chance in our head.  It’s all part of that phenomena; where “I saw that going differently in my head.”  We can feel that we have the reason and the means and the perspective.  But that’s only what you think.  That’s only what I think; it’s inconsistent with reality and truth.  The Bible says that we can not say anything about ourselves.  Instead it’s the testimony of others, the sky and earth that that matter most.  Uh oh…..   Scratching your head yet?  In other words, where did I get this idea that I could possibly do anything or make a decision worth while on my own?  It’s a hazardous moment when you decide you have all the answers.  False.

So I can’t say that I know how much money I expect to have at fifty.  I’m not sure where I need to live or what I’ll be doing for a living at that age.  It’s not so much about “want” anymore for me.  Not with a wife and a baby on the way!!   To me, what I want is a joke.  It’s about what they need and what I need to provide them all of that and more.  At fifty, I just want to know one thing: I was able to maintain even under pressure of this world.  I want to know that I never put the important things on the line or in exchange for anything.  That sounds like a good retirement plan for me no matter the size of the bank account or where I’m sitting at on a map.

Google please, Keep saving me

Google Thanks
Your my friend
You define my words
Your maps never end

When I feel dumb
That’s where you come in
No matter the question I have 
Google you always lend a hand

I try to be so smart, but you save me in my brain fart,
I can’t do this alone, Thanks for always being in my phone

I try to act so tough, but you help me to know my stuff,
Google Please, Keep saving me.

The nerds don’t think
That they need you
What they don’t know
Is Obama uses you too.

In the nicest way
Your a total tool
You were the rock I stood on, in high school and college to not fail and drool

I try to act so smart, but you save me in my brain fart,
I can’t do this alone, Thanks for always being in my phone

I try to act so tough, but you help me to know my stuff,
Google Please, Keep saving me.

~JC

An Ode to Google