Archive for August, 2016


August 29, 2016

Welcome to Shepherdstown

While my heart will always be in Baltimore, I want to talk about another place. I have lived in Baltimore for a long time and during that whole time, my family also lived in Baltimore. We lived in Baltimore County, Roland Park, Tuscany-Canterbury and Woodberry but Baltimore was always a constant. Even when I moved to New Jersey my mom was still back in good old Charm City. They say you can never go home again but I felt that I sort of could. Then my mom moved out of the city and my brothers and I became the new proprietors of the Baltimore apartment. I’m the only one who lives there, though. Meanwhile, my mom moved out to West Virginia. I then ended up working West Virginia for two years while still going home to Baltimore every weekend. This summer I returned to Shepherdstown.


When I first hung out in Shepherdstown, I worked where I lived so I was pretty isolated. Lately, I have tried to explore the place a little and enjoy it more. The family homestead outside of Shepherdstown is beautiful. It was designed by my mom’s third husband who is incidentally my stepfather. It is situated way back off the main road out in the boonies. This is great for me because I actually like anonymity and being separated from the hustle and bustle. The apartment in Baltimore is actually separate from the hustle and bustle too despite being in the middle of the city. There’s also this stuff called nature everywhere and it’s surprisingly beautiful. I can walk outside for hours without crossing one street if I so choose to.

Country Roads

This past summer I revisited the place to do some paralegal work and then I worked on my studies. When I took a break, I was able to drive out into the area to have a little fun. So where can you have fun in the West Virginia panhandle? Well, if you want to do stuff you would do in Baltimore County, for example, you need to do some driving. Almost nothing worth doing is really close by and there isn’t really a straight road in the area either. I used to say that I hated to drive. When I started driving out in West Virginia, I discovered that I loved driving along the curvy, picturesque roads no matter what the destination was.


So where is that Baltimore County-esque stuff? Well, the big box stores, chain restaurants and movie theater are all in Martinsburg. When I worked out here, I drove to Lowes in Martinsburg over and over. There is a great Japanese steakhouse called Kobe out there which does the whole show complete with knives, fire and flying shrimp. There is a small movie theater where I saw The Force Awakens for the first time. Every time I have seen a movie there, it has not been crowded at all. This is perfect since I feel claustrophobic when there are too many people in the theater. There are a lot of big box stores which are necessary evils for a person on a budget.


How about Shepherdstown itself? Shepherdstown is one part hippie town, one part college town and one part expatriates from nearby cities. It is a premiere stop in the area for tourists so everyone is friendly and welcoming and quirky. The town is full of all sorts of specialty shops and actually has a ton of restaurants. This past week, while I was off of school, I spent a lot of time hanging out in the middle of town and just soaking it all in. The town is busy while not being overly crowded and everyone looks like they’re having a good time. Even the busker on the street gave me a high five before making his pitch. It also did not hurt that Pokemon Go hit the town hard and everybody was totally cool with it.

Rumsey Park

There is a lot of history in the town as well. The area is rich in Civil War history but thankfully Shepherdstown is free of confederate flags. The town is built around Shepherd University which used to be a teaching college. So most of the historical significance has to do with the college buildings and the fact that Shepherdstown is West Virginia’s first incorporated town. It is a really cool little place to walk around (even if you’re not playing Pokemon Go). Just the other day I even discovered a new area to walk to called Rumsey Park where you can find plenty of green grass and an awesome, giant monument.


However, I have two favorite places in town. The first is Maria’s Taqueria which is hands down my favorite place to eat in the area. In fact, it might be my favorite place to eat period. The place does not take itself too seriously and makes great Mexican-styled food. It doesn’t stress itself over making sure the food is authentic but instead makes sure it tastes good. While you can sit down, the place does a lot of take-out business with a small but simple and tasty menu. Everybody is friendly there and the place is adorned with sugar skulls as a nod to the real Mexico. The other place that I love is Beyond Comics. While I haven’t been there too often, Beyond Comics is a clean and friendly comic book store which has a great selection. I look forward to visiting there again soon.

Beyond Comics

This place is great but today my semester begins in Baltimore and I have to return to my apartment. I don’t mind because I love Baltimore. However, now I have a new place to call home too.


Quick Lass Pt. 3

August 27, 2016

It was a school night but Madeleine Price was already bored. She had already used her super speed to do all of her reading assignments in a fraction of the time. Of course, she had to slow down when she was actually writing out her assignments and do them at regular person speed. If she dragged her pencil along the paper at full speed, she would probably cause a fire from all the friction. In fact, she had lost a book report two years earlier that way. Homework was boring enough doing it one time, having to do it several times over was definitely torture. Homework was boring because it was too easy. If the teachers threw out a challenge on par with foiling a bank robbery now and then, Maddy would be more than happy to do a little math or read Romeo and Juliet.

So instead of doing homework or engaging in extracurricular activities, Maddy was laying on her bed and listening to police scanners. It was still a restless way to spend time but the local police were all stirred up and on the lookout for Quick Lass. Foiling the convenience store robbery was fun but it had put the cops on alert for super fast vigilantes. So, Maddy had bugged her sister Jan for a solution. She needed something to do before she started just going out and running laps in a field somewhere. If she was considering going on a run, she must be really, really bored. Thankfully, Jan had come through yet again. There was a reason that Maddy automatically gave the girl a percentage of her allowance. The genius girl made Maddy feel dumb but instead of leveraging that, Jan liked acting like Maddy’s Q. At least, she seemed to enjoy it when she was not working on her own secret projects.

Jan had developed a device that could tap into police and emergency frequencies from other nearby cities. She had it shuffling around, trying to find something to do outside of her jurisdiction. While she was happy she had not heard any big emergencies, she was getting bored. She had no other hobbies outside of fighting crime. Before her powers developed she had been way into video games but now they were an exercise in frustration. She was able to move her fingers way faster than current technology could keep up with and she had busted a controller at one point. There were few people at school that she felt like she related to. Most of the people she had gotten along with were anti-social and spent their time looking for space for tags at the trainyard or under bridges. She was stuck with fighting crime as her hobby but she could not do that if there was no crime to fight.

The scanner clicked over to Drake City and all of a sudden the dispatcher sounded like things were far more urgent. “Calling all cars. There is a 132 at Drake Nationa Bank. 51st and Cable. Be advised, suspects are armed and one them has some sort of ice projection powers. Surround and contain, SWAT has been deployed.”

Maddy jumped off the bed in surprise and excitement. A “132” was code for an armed robbery which meant that this was an honest to goodness bank robbery. Usually, she only got to bank robberies after the criminals had gotten to their getaway car. Most successful bank robberies were in and out and then they were speeding away from the scene of the crime. That’s usually when Maddy caught up to them and pulled them one by one out of their car. It was fun and the robbers usually looked really surprised. The kind of surprised that made a crook never want to try a robbery again. That is how things usually went but now it was a police siege with the criminals inside and armed and possibly with hostages.

There had also never been somebody with powers at the scene of the crime. Maddy hardly knew what to do with herself. On the one hand, she had never met anybody like herself before. She had always felt separate from the world around her although she suspected that Jan might have some sort of brainiac powers. She wanted to see somebody else with powers and talk with them and share all of her experiences. But the person at the bank would not be interested in that. They were a criminal. Not a vandal or a shoplifter like some of her friends but a real potential threat. Maddy could not imagine hurting innocent people with her powers and the thought suddenly angered her.

The superhuman icicle jerk would have to be stopped. She jumped to her feet and opened her window. There was no time to get caught by her mother or bargain with Jan to cover for her. The police were not equipped for this sort of thing. Somebody was going to get hurt if Maddy did not get to the bank and it was already fifty miles away. She would have to run fast but she would be there in minutes. She did not know if she would succeed but she also knew that there was no time for fear or doubt. Maybe this was why she had been given super speed abilities. Maybe this was her higher calling.

She changed into her costume with a press of a button and jumped out of the window. She started running the instant she hit the ground. As soon as she could, she pointed herself toward Drake City. She caught glimpses of shocked faces and startled drivers who must have seen her only as a blurred streak. She smiled to herself. They were all amazed by her and they had every right to be. In this costume, she was allowed to be special and now she was going to show the world again. She was on her way.

Media Update 8/25/2016

August 25, 2016

The Nice Guys

As I stated in past editions, I have wanted to see this since I saw the first trailer. Early reports from friends said that the movie was great and that everyone should see it. I never lived through the seventies so it only lives for me in social studies textbooks, movies and stories from my parents and friends who were there. This makes it (and several other iconic eras) kind of magical to me because they are largely fictional and exciting. Buddy detective films are a great formula as well. I mean, the lone detective is good but you get a lot more actual dialogue when two characters are on the case. So we get a Russel Crowe who (surprise surprise) is able to beat people up but is uncharacteristically sheepish. Ryan Gosling is a deadbeat private detective with a heart of gold but hilariously bad habits. What trailers will not tell you is that Gosling’s character has a daughter played by Angourie Rice who steals the show several times in the movie in the best ways. One thing that I should say is that the trailer presents the film as being much more high energy than it is. While it has a lot of awesome action scenes, there is a lot of actual detective work as well. This is actually better because there is more room for comedy and a great story to go with great characters. I definitely recommend it.


The Following

My dad recommended this to me a long time ago but that was when this show was only on network television. There is always a ton of things to watch and since I do not have a DVR, I tend to gravitate towards things that are On Demand or on Netflix. Recently as I was working on my homework for Accounting 101, I wanted something new to binge while I worked on all of the math. The Gods of Netflix provided for me and several seasons of The Following were available. I am angry at myself for not watching this earlier. I thought about saving this entry for Halloween but I have already watched a season and a half.  I kind of feel bad waiting until October. The show follows a Detective dealing with a cult created by a notorious serial killer. In a lot of ways, it is a lot like how the FBI would deal with The Joker if there was no Batman. In fact, the villain is almost like The Joker mixed with The Riddler. There is also a lot of Edgar Allen Poe imagery and allusions which always makes me happy. Kevin Bacon is fantastic as the detective with a vendetta.


The Usual Suspects

I am way late to this one. Unfortunately, quite a bit of the meat of it was spoiled for me a long time ago in the same way that the Sixth Sense is spoiled for people now. It is completely my fault, I should have seen the movie way earlier because it comes highly recommended. I am pretty sure that all of my friends back in high school saw this one. Hell, I am sure they all saw it in Middle School. This was made during the period where it felt like Kevin Spacey was in everything. Kevin Spacey will always be good in stuff even if he is playing Lex Luthor. Stephen Baldwin is in it at the height of the heyday of the Baldwin Dynasty. Benicio Del Toro was great as well. We also get a great appearance from Kevin Pollak who is great at playing a prick. There is even a great cameo from Clark Gregg. It was directed by a younger Bryan Singer long before he did stuff like the X-Men franchise. A lot of the movie really felt like a Tabletop RPG campaign. Each of the characters had a specialty and different connections and knowledge. It had the feel of instant togetherness even without working together long. I recommend the movie if you are one of the few who have not seen it and especially if it has not been spoiled for you.

Music of the Week:
Descendents – I’m the One

Punchnello – Birthday

The Used – All That I’ve Got

The Growlers – Someday

Kate Bush – Babooshka


Weekly Updates:
– I’m into Season 4 of Person of Interest now
– I watched a lot of The Following. A lot.
– I continued to watch Dark Matter and it just gets better and better
– I watched some Criminal Minds with Mark Hamill in it
– I picked Castle back up
– This week’s theme is “Detective Work”

Interview Questions 5

August 22, 2016


Where would you go in a time machine?

 I am kind of split on this question. By the time I got into high school, I had the show business bug bad and I worked on a lot of theater. First, I was a volunteer and then after college, I worked professionally. Through high school, college and beyond, one name that constantly came up was William Shakespeare. Without looking it up, I would say that I have done at least ten different Shakespeare plays and I enjoyed each one. So, one of the times that I would go back to is the time of Shakespeare to see what it was all about. I would definitely attend a Shakespeare play and a Marlowe play as well (probably Doctor Faustus). I would see what it was really like when Kings and Queens still ruled the land before more advanced systems of government formed. However, as I have been studying the law and following the recent elections, a sudden thought has been sparked. They say that Democracy was first born in Greece. I would love to go back and see that Senate in action and compare it to today’s legislative bodies. To see legendary philosophers plying their trade as things we read about in textbooks are taught from the horse’s mouth. I could also see some ancient Greek theater as well which would be absolutely fascinating.

The Flash

Which super power would you like to have?

As a guy who grew up reading comic books and watching genre movies and television, I have thought about this question for a long time. When I was really young, I was totally undersized due to a medical abnormality that I was born with. I was the shortest kid and that included being shorter than every single guy and girl my age. In fact, my brothers quickly overtook me in height and are both still taller than I am. So, I dreamed of having super strength. The idea of being able to benchpress a car was attractive for somebody who was so small. While I really did not get bullied much in school, the idea of using that strength in gym class and wowing people was a nice idle fantasy. Later, I wanted the power of flight because I was a frustrated teenager. I wanted freedom. I do really well on my own and the idea of being able to go wherever I wanted without a car was really attractive. Finally, near the end of high school and into college I was walking a lot. While walking is a nice activity, sometimes it can just take too long to accomplish. I want super speed. Even today I would love to have super speed powers. It would save me all the time in my mundane tasks and leave me more time to do all the thinking tasks. I want to be the fastest man alive.

Coke Pepsi.jpg
Pepsi or Coke?

This is a hard one and in order for me not to pick a cop out answer, I will attempt to actually make a decision between the two. I am one of the few people who likes both. Now, lately, I have been shocked to talk with people who absolutely hate Pepsi and love Coca-Cola. I can understand brand loyalty. When I was little, a Coca-Cola was a treat and I felt happy when I got to drink one. My family is from the American South where Coke is king. We come from Georgia originally which is the heart of Coca-Cola’s global kingdom and most of our family never moved north of the Mason-Dixon line. So I grew up drinking Coca-Cola and I can’t remember when I first tasted Pepsi. I think I do not remember it because I was so underwhelmed. I was not underwhelmed with the product itself but I could not tell a significant difference. In the leaner times, we had replaced Coke with Shasta and I could definitely tell the difference there. For me, Pepsi tastes a little bit sweeter but is mostly just like Coca-Cola. So when waitstaff asked me if I minded drinking Pepsi at restaurants I would cheerfully tell them that it was more than acceptable. In college, Rutgers had a distribution deal with Coke so there was not a choice and I often had a bottle of coke within arm’s reach. After college, in the wilds of New Jersey, I started buying bottles of Pepsi and mixing it with orange soda. I really liked that. Where I live now, there is a Pepsi distribution plant within walking distance so the Pepsi symbol is a friendly sight I associate with home. However, now that I think about it, Coke feels more like home to me. It makes me think of my family heritage and where we came from.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Chris Jericho

August 20, 2016


Consuming everything in the world of Sports Entertainment is hard and one of the ways I keep abreast of everything going on and learn more about my hobby is through podcasts. While I feel obligated to throw a shout out to the #OG538 and Rough House Podcast, I learn also learn a lot from listening to Talk is Jericho. Chris Jericho is an old hand in the business now but was just reaching fame when I started really watching. While I was not there for his emergence into the mainstream, I have been a fan for a long time. I have also read two out of three of his books and I am a regular listener to his podcast. So let us take a little look at Chris Jericho (Drink it in, maaan).

I was a latecomer to being a Chris Jericho fan. I was a huge fan of the WWF during the Attitude Era. It hit just when I was old enough to really get into it. I had first become a fan during the cartooniest era of the WWE and while I liked it, it was hard to admit that I liked it in public. When the Attitude Era hit, like a lot of people, I became the biggest fan of The Rock, Mick Foley, Degeneration X, The Brothers of Destruction and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Like I have said before, I did not watch a lot of World Championship Wrestling at the time. So my first look at Jericho was on WWF programming. The new millennium was on its way but mysteriously, a clock started to show up during every WWF show for weeks and it was counting down. The problem was, it would reach zero before New Year’s Eve. So, the mystery was what the clock was counting down to. This was during  a time before the Internet knew everything before it happened and I was genuinely clueless.

So, several weeks later on Monday Night Raw it was time for the clock to hit zero. However. I forgot about exactly when it was supposed to hit zero even though it had hours and minutes on it. The Rock hit the ring and was delivering one of his patented awesome promos that I loved. The Rock was the ultimate ingredient in sports entertainment. Whatever you added him to was automatically better and I was always pumped to see him talk and fight. So I was absolutely shocked when the clock appeared right in the middle of his promo and a siren loudly blared as the clock was dangerously close to hitting zero. The Rock paced the ring like an angry tiger and, even behind his sunglasses, you could sense that he was glaring at the stage. The clock hit zero and some of the most awesome entrance themes I had ever heard blasted over the speakers. Then a weird guy with blond hair and a big mouth strutted around the stage. He went word for word with the Rock and later I saw that he was dynamite in the ring.

As the weeks went on, I started to get more and more sold on Chris Jericho. He feuded with Chyna at a time when a lot of guys refused to do so. He went toe to toe with Kurt Angle and it was clear that this Y2Jericho guy was talented and fun to watch. Kurt was (is?) a legend and the two were both on fire as they definitely showed me that my old favorites were not the only game in town. He feuded with his good friend Chris Benoit after that. I know Chris Benoit is a sore spot in the business but he was a legend in the ring and that can never be denied. Anyway, facing Benoit and Angle gave Jericho a chance to show off all of the aspects of his style. He was a high flier, a technical expert, a brawler and pretty much whatever else you needed him to be. Jericho trained in the Mexican Lucha style, worked in Germany, learned the Japanese style in WAR and even worked for Jim Cornette for a little before joining WCW. Of course he was going to be good!

Jericho was consistently staying at the top of the heap and was facing the biggest names in the company. Finally, it was time for Jericho to get a serious shot at the Heavyweight title. The thing was, at the time there was two of them. Jericho became one of the biggest talkers and combatants in the infamous Invasion angle which I really should talk about at some point. He fought hard against his old foe The Rock while spending a lot of time verbally jousting with Stephanie McMahon. He was hilarious and a serious bright spot for the business in those years. He was a force to be reckoned with and it was obvious that the fans were behind him a hundred percent. Finally, he won both heavyweight titles in one night and became the first ever Undisputed Champion (the WWE likes this storyline a lot). Finally, he was honored with what was technically the first heavyweight belt of his career. He had gotten the Cruiserweight title in the WCW and the European, Tag and Intercontinental belts in the WWF but it just isn’t the same.

He stuck around as champ for a while. He formed a tag team with Christian. He entered into a feud with Shawn Michaels where he claimed he could do anything that Shawn Michaels had done in his career. He went about proving it and he entered the Royal Rumble to replicate Shawn’s beginning to end Royal Rumble victory. They ended up screwing each other over and eliminating each other. Jericho kept his eye on Michaels and vice versa even as they fought other people. Finally, Jericho fought Shawn Michaels in an awesome Wrestlemania match that got intensely personal and left room for a feud down the line. Jericho set his sights on the championship again and competed in the third Elimination Chamber match of his career (and the third one ever). Not satisfied with that, he invented the Money in the Bank ladder match even though he lost the very first one and has yet to win one. After feuding with John Cena he was kayfabe fired.

Eventually, he left the company to tour with his band Fozzy and explore new opportunities. I have come to love Fozzy and I really love Jericho’s vocals. Jericho is not a bad actor but he never really got a breakout role like The Rock got and his charisma in the ring never fully translated. So it was not a huge surprise when Jericho returned. He had left a heel but he came back a babyface and it was very refreshing. However, a pivotal moment in Jericho’s career came a little later. Jericho had taken acting classes and rubbed elbows with professional actors in his absence and now he had a lot of new ideas. He started to berate the audience and spoke in overly verbose promos where he removed a lot of what had made people love him before. In those days, he evolved from great performer and pretty good heel into an awesome heel. He wore suits and acted like the biggest jerk in the world. It was great.

Now? Well, Chris Jericho tried to be a babyface again but it is clear that he was just born to be an awesome heel. At his age, he was too goofy and hokey as a good guy. He came off less as a threat in the ring and more like that uncle you had who was in a band. He was dubbed Cool Dad by the fandom and, although he was still great, it was clear that he was just not clicking as much in that position. Finally, we got the heel turn we needed him to have. He embraced the darkness and went heel again by feuding with the “Phenomenal One” AJ Styles. Now, he is still one of my favorite parts of WWE Raw. He has embraced the role of the silly heel. He still kicks the crap out of babyfaces but he also throws fits, lies horribly and hurls childish insults at his opponents. While I know I take him for granted somewhat, he puts a smile on my face with his antics all the time. Lately, he has teamed with Kevin Owens and I can’t wait to see how that goes.

Media Update 8/18/2016

August 18, 2016


I did not really know what to expect from this movie but I have a deep and abiding trust in Disney by this point. In fact, I really should trust Disney a little more than I do because even when I doubt them, they deliver. I doubted the teaser trailer for this movie but I should have learned from Frozen. I think Disney just makes horrible teaser trailers (except for Moana, I guess). When I found out that this movie has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes I knew I just had to see the movie. I mean, I see all Disney movies anyway but I really wanted to see this one. The day I went to see it in theaters it was sold out and so I saw 10 Cloverfield Lane instead. I am so glad I finally got to see this. For one, it stars Ginnifer Goodwin who was one of the coolest things about Once Upon a Time. It also has Jason Bateman doing a really great job too. God, the animation just gets better and smoother with each movie. The story of the movie actually speaks to a lot of interesting themes like prejudice and affirmative action. This had every possibility of just being a lazy story about a city full of animals. They could have told a story that any human movie could have told but they told a story that really uses the fact that the characters are animals but also resonates with our lives. I do not want to spoil any of the movie. You should just go out and see it.


Finding Dory

So, for a while, I was watching every single Pixar release and I would not miss one for the world. Of course, after Cars 2, I decided to skip Planes and Planes 2 but they are the only ones I have not seen now. Finding Nemo was a very touching story about the love of family and the lengths we will go for love. The breakout star was Ellen Degeneres who stole the scene over and over again. The movie ended up being kind of America’s apology for kicking her to the curb for being gay earlier. She is a great comedian and, it turns out, a great voice actor. So we get this sequel starring Degeneres’ character who was actually the saddest and darkest part of Finding Nemo. So I go into this a little tentatively, knowing Disney and Pixar can make me cry. Degeneres was on fire again, possibly even better than Finding Nemo. Ed O’Neill played a really great grumpy octopus. Everybody returned from Finding Nemo and turned in great performances. Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Ty Burrell, Kaitlin Olson joined the awesome cast along with a lot of great bit parts. It really looks like Pixar might have really gotten over the stumbling blocks in the past. The story was touching and inspiring. It was a story about how we never know what we can do until we try. It also explored the memories we make and how they shape us whether we realize it or not and accepting our flaws as part of us. It was a beautiful movie and I definitely recommend it.



There is one reason I had been avoiding this movie and his name is Phil Collins. Phil Collins makes some of the whitest and blandest music in the world and yes I meant that as an insult. I used to have a friend (RIP Billy) who loved Phil Collins and he used to tease me about me not liking Collins or Genesis. I decided it was finally time as I recently made it my mission to watch every Disney animated film (or at least the theatrical releases). Tarzan was a major one that I had missed and I figured it was way past time to tackle it. When I played Kingdom Hearts, I got pretty familiar with the story and settings so, unfortunately, some of that was spoiled for me. The first thing I will say is the animation is really cool. There is one sequence where you watch Tarzan grow up and it was so smooth that I could not tell if Tarzan was steadily growing or if there were cuts edited in. The musculature of Tarzan and the movement of the animals was really awesome looking as well. The acting was pretty good but the real standouts were actually Rosie O’Donnell and Brian Blessed. Brian Blessed was a perfect deep-voiced villain, right up there with Scar and Jafar. Rosie O’Donnell was a little annoying at first but when I found out that her part had originally been male but was gender bent based on her audition, I had a lot of respect. The movie was really good in spite of my low expectations and I was impressed with the amount of detail they put in. The only downside was the music. It was not as bad as I expected but it was all sung by Phil Collins instead of the characters in the movie. It was a little off-putting but I do recommend the movie despite that.


Music of the Week:

Iskra – Wolf of Winter

Bat For Lashes – All Your Gold

Bulletbelt – Black Banshee

The Specials – Rat Race

Logic – Like Woah


Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Animals of Disney Animation”
– I’ve got a new favorite show to talk to you about soon
– I watched more Dark Matter and I love it
– I actually watched more Shannara Chronicles and it gets better
– Watched more Olympics though I’m kind of done with it
– If you pay attention, I started to rank what I saw each week. First is best, last was worst or not as best
– If all goes well, I am taking my final exams for the semester today
– I’m almost done with Season 3 of Person Interest.

A Brief Olympic Commentary

August 15, 2016

Everybody is big on the Olympics lately. I myself have watched some of the events because the Olympics can be a little inescapable, especially when my mother is so excited about them. I have enjoyed watching Gymnastics events, Diving, Volleyball and Football. I loved watching the US Women’s soccer team fight it out in the trenches. I loved watching Simone Biles winning along with Aly Raisman and just enjoying each other’s victory. I even loved the Williams sisters getting smoked in the first round because it meant a passing of the torch. I also loved Fu Yuanhui’s surprise at having won a medal and not knowing because of less than stellar eyesight. There have been a lot of great moments so far.

To a certain extent, I have also enjoyed watching Swimming. I especially enjoyed Simone Manuel’s genuine reaction to winning her gold medal and her comments afterward. However, there is a lot of stuff that has surrounded the sport of swimming that has annoyed me. Most of them surround one name because, unfortunately, when you discuss Olympic swimming you must eventually talk about Michael Phelps. While many might assume that because I am a proud Baltimorean that I would support Phelps. Not automatically true. As we learned with Brock Turner, being good at swimming does not guarantee that you are a good person. While I don’t actively hate him, I have come to resent several stories that have surrounded him.

First up in the Phelps round up is the stupid Chad Le Clos story. I did not see the first airing of the incident that launched a million memes. However, it was interpreted that Le Clos was messing with Phelps and Phelps was glaring at him in return. A few minutes of research told a different story. The two guys have had an off and on friendship and constant rivalry since Phelps’ return to the sport following his “dark period”. Le Clos has lashed out at Phelps a little but only in the way most athletes trash talk their opponents. Why Le Clos was jiggling in front of Phelps, we may never truly know. It looked like he was trying to be funny and Phelps was trying to concentrate and not get distracted. What we do know is that Phelps has said that after the Olympics he is visiting Le Clos in South Africa for shark cage swimming. This was such a non-story that it was kind of ridiculous.

<img src=”×377.jpg&#8221; alt=”Maybe he was just trying not to laugh?”>

However, that annoyance pales in comparison to the stupidity that I really want to discuss. Let us talk of cupping. Cupping is an ancient Chinese “therapy” that leaves Phelps and other gullible athletes looking like they lost a wrestling match with a squid. It is the act of lighting fires in cups pressed to a person’s skin. The fire causes a vacuum to be formed in the cup and skin to be sucked up into the cup. This causes the characteristic circular bruising and, on some people, also causes the skin to be burnt. The Chinese said that cupping promotes the flow of chi. Now, Chi is supposed to be energy flowing through the body but that energy has never been observed by science. When cupping took off in the Western world, they dropped the word chi and replaced it with blood. However, cupping does not promote blood flow. By bruising you, it actually disrupts blood flow by damaging blood vessels.

<img src=”; alt=”Losing a fight to a squid would be more acceptable.”>

Somebody believing in pseudoscience is something that is regrettable and should be cured by proper scientific education. However, people look up to these athletes. They assume that since these people are amazing physical specimens with athletic skill, that they know stuff about the human body. This is not necessarily true. This problem is compounded by the media who tries for a “balanced” look at things. Instead of looking for the truth, they present both sides of the debate equally which gives undue credibility to the pseudoscience. The problem here is shortcuts. Everybody loves finding shortcuts and there is certain manic pride in finding one and sharing it with others. This also applies when you think you have found a shortcut that isn’t one. These people think that because this “therapy” has existed for thousands of years, that it is a shortcut to enhancing their bodies. Instead, they are damaging their body and they just look foolish.

So, while you’re watching the Olympics this year, remember to think for yourself. Remember to do your research before you spread myths and rumors. Enjoy the awesome moments because those are way more fun than the manufactured ones. Also, choose your heroes wisely because some of them might be really gullible.

Felix Graham: Osaka Adventure 8

August 13, 2016

Felix Osaka

(Um, I accidentally posted this where 7 should have been somehow. So go to Part 7 here)

The Sentinel’s office sent several wagons out to collect all of the unconscious bodies quickly. Their response time was uncanny and when they were done, the street mostly looked like there had not been a battle there shortly before. While they hauled away bodies, Ren and May walked around and policed Ren’s arrows. Daisuke Inoki made a personal appearance and oversaw everything with an annoyed but impressed look on his face. Felix got the idea from the way Jun and the other Sentinel staff acted that The Lion rarely showed up on scenes like this himself. Maybe he used to but they looked too wary and too surprised for him to be a regular fixture in the field anymore. He was certainly intimidating and nobody paused in their work or stepped out of line while he was there.

Makoto brought them all back to the Sentinel’s office, her face was deep in concentration for most of the drive. She announced that they had successfully kept the fight a secret and that they now had a lead to follow. This was pretty much what Felix had guessed since they now had actual prisoners instead of an elusive former protest group. If they could not find the Tengu, the obvious choice was to interrogate the mercenaries to get a read on their location so the threat could finally end. Tensions were high at Sentinel headquarters but the new prisoners were interrogated one by one. Felix checked once again on the health of the prisoners to make sure that they were fit for questioning. Not a single one of them knew much, the information was obviously compartmentalized and not trusted with simple mooks.

Frustrated, May had gone to take a walk but there was still the large swordsman who had first attacked to question. Makoto called Felix and Jun to the observation room where Ren was already silently waiting. He had been there with May for hours before she stormed out and he seemed rooted to the spot. Daisuke had allowed Makoto to do the questioning since the little teen had a scarily authoritative demeanor. Also, she was the leader of their little band of legends and it said a lot that Ren and May showed her so much deference. She sat on the other side of the table from the large man who sneered at her as he was bolted into a seat. He did not look much less intimidating without the sword in his hand. He was definitely the tallest Japanese man Felix had seen.

“You will release me and my men. We were only carrying out a contract.” The man said, struggling against his bonds. His words were softly translated by Ren for Felix’ benefit.

“We most certainly will not. Your contract was undoubtedly to murder my team of legends before we could ask any more questions. We tend to take that personally.” Makoto responded. Her words were also translated by Ren.

“Your team fought admirably. We will stay silent and take our punishment if that is the way it shall be.” The giant swordsman said with another arrogant sneer.

“We would like very much to know the location of The Tengu. We have a receipt to deliver.” Makoto said. She was remaining utterly calm although she was perhaps a little annoyed.

“I will never give up an employer. It was bad luck we were caught but we have pride in our contracts and we will not give up our employers.”

“Was it luck that you were defeated? Or perhaps we were just better than you. The Tengu were certainly smarter than you, sending pawns to keep themselves safe.” Makoto said.

“We are not merely pawns.” The man said and Felix could have sworn that he was pouting.

“You could have fooled us. My swordswoman easily bested you and now that you are off the board, you have left your masters hidden but unprotected.” Makoto said with a little shrug. Felix could feel the looming presence of Daisuke enter the observation room along with May.

“Arrogant little worm,” the man said. He pulled at his arm restraints and they easily came undone. Instead of attacking Matoko, he plunged a thumb into his own eye and a fountain of blood was unleashed. Felix ran from the observation room and into the interrogation room and stood next to a horrified Matoko.

Felix focused on the bleeding man and let his healing light shine and the wound started to heal quickly. The guy started to laugh and suddenly his other hand was free and he began to tear at his face. Blood splattered everywhere as the swordsman tore at his face and laughed. Felix found it hard to keep up with the damage and he feared that his magic would fade soon.

“Somebody get a hold of him! Stop him!” Felix shouted and both May and Daisuke were suddenly there to struggle with the mad swordsman. The damage to his face was gruesome but he was still laughing loudly.

“Don’t worry about it, Doctor. This is but a vessel. We have been released and now we will release it to punish you all!” The Swordsman yelled. He slapped Daisuke and May away for a second to resume tearing at his face madly. The thing that was a man screamed and laughed and Felix could swear he saw something beyond the flesh and it was not a skeleton. It was something very different. And then, without warning, the man’s skull exploded and something shot out from it and disappeared into an air vent. Felix, Makoto, May and Daisuke were left bloody and confused in the middle of an interrogation room.

Media Update 8/11/2016

August 11, 2016

Jason Bourne

So I went to the Senator for a movie for the first time in a long while with my father. I like the Bourne movies well enough but unfortunately, I kind of forget their plots not long after seeing them. This is strange for me because I have a pop culture sponge mind that keeps those kinds of things safe in my mind’s vault. I cannot memorize phone numbers but I can remember all of that stuff. Still, I like the fight choreography and spy thriller action in the Bourne movies a lot. I also like when a character becomes an epic figure and a mere mention of their name answers questions and causes people’s eyes to widen. I also liked the Bourne Legacy because I might be one of the few fans Jeremy Renner seems to have these days. Anyway, this one was very much in the vein of the first three movies. There were a lot of locations and Bourne fought and shot people in all of them. Matt Damon was great as usual, though the role requires him to be pretty stoic. The real winner was Tommy Lee Jones who was at his charismatic best and did most of the talking in the movie. Also, Alicia Vikander was a very interesting character that, if there’s a sequel, we may happily see more of. My only problem was the camera work and edits were a little too shaky and quick in places. Still, I definitely recommend it.

The Man from UNCLE

So I was too young to see this show when it came out and I never saw any reruns. So I had no idea what the show was about but the trailer for the movie looked like a lot of fun. I really do like the sixties era spy movies on which this movie is based. Stuff like James Bond and George Smiley and so many others has a kind of iconic charm to it. This movie follows that style and also the understated, subtle performances that you might see in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy but not as grim as the new Bond films. The movie stars Armie Hammer, Henry Cavill and Alicia Vikander again. Armie Hammer is really great as a soviet spy forced to work with an American and really transformed himself in the role. Henry Cavill is actually really fun while he’s not playing Superman and plays a really good charming rogue. I was relieved to see that Alicia Vikander is more lively in this movie which shows that her stoicism in Jason Bourne was part of her character. She is pretty funny in this movie and often steals the scene in the best ways. The movie is fun and light, kind of a mix between a popcorn movie and a more complex spy movie. It was a pleasant way to spend an evening and I would definitely recommend it.

Eye in the Sky

I started watching this weeks ago but the poor internet connection kept making Amazon both lose connection and then fail to save progress. It was frustrating but kind of funny considering that a lot of this film is about establishing communication links with places thousands of miles away. I sat down to watch this movie because my mom chose it but I thought the trailer had looked pretty interesting. This one follows a single drone operation run by a joint English and American military task force. It details the politics and realities of drone warfare in our world today. So you have the military trying to accomplish the tasks in front of them while politicians try to deal with and prevent the fallout from those actions. Alan Rickman was excellent in this one and that’s great because this was his last movie. He has his usual gravity and charm but for the character, it is just like any other day. Helen Mirren is excellent as well. Her character is powerful and drives the story forward. Finally, there was Aaron Paul who did not have as many lines but those lines counted. He’s a great actor. Throw in the ensemble backing them up and it ended up being a great movie that was surprisingly emotional. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
The Sword – Hammer of Heaven

The Blizzards – Trust Me I’m A Doctor

Raleigh Ritchie – Never Better

Tristam & Braken – Flight

Lor Scoota – No Turning Back

Weekly Updates:
– I am heavily assembling Halloween. I will work on it soon.
– I finished Season One of Limitless and it so great
– I finished watching the IT Crowd and I wanted more
– I’ve watched a little bit of Olympics but it’s not my thing
– I am kind of burned out on politics for a bit
– I also picked Penny Dreadful back up and it’s great
– This week’s theme is “Surveillance”

The Law

August 8, 2016

I am writing this a few minutes before posting this in the middle of the night. My time has been at a premium and for once I had not written a post ahead of time. You see, something is taking up my time. Since January I have been going back to school and it has been an interesting experience so far. I sat down and laid out a plan to enter the Paralegal Certificate Program at CCBC so I could go ahead and get certified. I currently hold a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts and that tends to make potential employers tilt their head and look at me funny. I went to school for theater but I became tired of it and worried that my hard work would all be for naught if I got injured. I have had a very interesting path to my life since leaving my career in theater. Maybe that will be a tale for a different time.

I am loving studying the law. I have been around the law for pretty much my entire life. My parents are both lawyers and for the longest time I swore I would not be part of the legal profession. I am an artist and I would work hard to make a living as an artist. I succeeded in making a living as an artist. It was not much of a living but it was definitely a living and I would not trade it for the world. However, now I am learning all sorts of fascinating new things that are expanding my mind. It probably makes me say all sorts of annoying things as I stumble and struggle through my first few months of studying the law. I am trying not to be the “Yes but” guy and it is really hard because I am learning all sorts of cool stuff.

I want to be a paralegal because I like to research things. Research is like a treasure hunt for me. I feel like a paleontologist sifting through things bit by bit so I can take little pieces and form the skeleton of an unknown creature. Researching the law is often about researching elements of stories and we all know that I love stories. In fact, reading cases is pretty much comparing your client’s story to the stories of so many people before. It is fun to find matches and lay them out like so many puzzle pieces. The other part of what I do is writing. We all know I love writing. I mean, here I am writing at two in the morning. Writing a law document feels like successfully filling out a crossword puzzle or finishing a jigsaw puzzle. It may not be creative writing but it does take some imagination to think of connections to your client’s problem.

For the record, I still like Law and Order. I especially love Law and Order: Special Victims Unit but that’s because it has more compelling characters. I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the law profession get annoyed watching legal television shows after working in the field. I understand because of the inaccuracies but I feel that the shows are still more correct than incorrect. Also, they carry the spirit of legal work even if they do not actually represent the reality. In reality, the law has a lot of interesting stories but they look pretty boring when they are actually happening. Much like a tennis match.

So, halfway through my journey, I think of all the work I still have to do and I am ok with it. Bring it on.

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