Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

Cozy Questions Pt. 6

February 15, 2021
  1. What Superpower Would You Choose?

I have changed my answer on this so many times since I was a kid, ever since I started collecting comic books and watching Saturday morning cartoons. It makes sense as I have seen so many superpowers at this point. Flight was a big answer for a while especially before I had a driver’s license and was walking home from school. Likewise, super speed was a big one since I was very much into Impulse/Kid Flash as a preteen. Being able to move across town in mere seconds would be very attractive. However, it feels like a lot of people with super speed in comics feel isolated and anxious. Lately, I have been kind of more interested in shapeshifting because it would allow me to be anybody that I wanted to be. The ability to grow taller when I need to reach something or change my face to remain anonymous is attractive. Maybe just try a new look on a whim. Really, the power that I am settling on for right now is being a technopath. If I could “talk” to computers and get them to do what I want with ease, it would be amazing.

  1. Favorite Animal?

I mean, the obvious answer here is a wolf. Wolves are so interesting in that their social structure (as I understand it) is fairly similar to ours. There is a bullshirt theory of wolf hierarchy which includes alphas, betas, and so on which has now been disproven. Instead, wolves operate in nuclear family units. Wolves are not the assholes they are often portrayed as but are instead pretty chill animals. They keep to themselves and hunt only for food. They band together to drive away threats and actually rarely attack the human world. Really, if they are attacking livestock or humans, something caused an imbalance in their ecosystem. It is probably our fault. Wolves are also aesthetically pleasing as they are streamlined and have a simple but elegant style.

The closest runner up is probably the raccoon. Raccoons can be pests but, again, they are dealing with the craziness that is human society. Raccoons have high tactile ability with very sensitive hands and are one of the few animals that can easily manipulate human constructs with their hands. They can kind of use tools like monkeys can. Perhaps because of this, they wash their hands often. They also look pretty cool.

  1. Biggest Accomplishment?

To date, I actually think my biggest accomplishment was going back to school. I wanted a change of careers and nobody was going to hire me as a paralegal without training (or at least that is how it seemed). What is it with all of the good jobs requiring at least two years of experience? How can I get that experience without getting hired? Anyway, I decided to go back to school and I enrolled in a ton of classes over the course of a year and a half. I ended up working my butt off, harder than I have worked in school prior. I was a pretty good student in high school and I was pretty good in my first go-around in college (marred a bit by some emotional issues and anxiety that I have since started working on). When I went back to school at community college, I aced every assignment and every test and ended up with a 4.0 grade point average for the first time in my life. I did all of the work and relished it and wowed people around me which was the first time that I felt that I was at the top of the class.


Cozy Questions Pt. 5

February 1, 2021
  1. If You Could Meet One Historical Figure, Who Would You Choose and Why?

My first thought on this was Nikola Tesla but I feel like he might be an intimidating presence and I am not sure what we would have to talk about. The meeting might be anticlimactic. Then I thought, of course, of Picasso who I have shared depression with. Upon further reflection, I have a completely different idea. It would depend on your definition of a historical figure but I would choose Harpo Marx. When I read Arthur Marx’ autobiography, I instantly felt connected to him. A quiet and thoughtful man, he was a good listener with a mind that was always working and he was overflowing with creativity. We had different paths in life. Harpo dropped out of school and entered show business as a performer. I graduated from college and entered show business as a designer, technician, and carpenter. He went from stage to screen. I went from stage to desk. Still, I think we are on the same wavelength.

  1. If You Had to Be a Teacher, What Subject Would You Teach?

I actually have been a teacher albeit somewhat briefly. I taught a few classes when I worked as a counselor for a summer camp. I co-taught Theater Design Theory, Set Design, and a couple more little classes. The teaching was difficult due to my social anxiety but also because my students were all teen girls who were more interested in flirting with one of the few males within miles and miles. It was awkward but the connections I actually made were rewarding. Still, I feel like I could do a better job now. I would teach creative writing probably. I know that I am not published but I feel like I could help spread the love of writing like teachers did for me. I write almost every day and I have done so for most of my life. That has to count for something.

  1. Describe Your Perfect Day

I am not sure such a thing exists but I imagine that I could come close. Watching a movie with my mother and family would probably be part of it as we relax and enjoy a good movie. I would also love to spend that time also writing. I would also love to play a tabletop roleplaying game with my friends which are always fun. I would finish by relaxing and playing some video games as I let my brain drift and relax. The day would also include really good food. Freshly made breakfast maybe Eggs Benedict, lunch from Maria’s, and a barbecue brisket feast for dinner. It is hard to squeeze everything that I love into one day but you could fit in enough to have a day in the top 10 for sure.

  1. Describe Yourself In a Sentence

A thoughtful yet loyal creative who loves a good story as much as he likes knowing he is helping.

  1. Who Makes You Laugh the Most?

My friends make me laugh the most. I first met them through tabletop gaming where I have laughed until I saw spots in my vision. I started gaming online with some of them but that did not last long, mostly because I am not a huge fan of MMORPGs but I did enjoy the community and there were plenty of laughs over TeamSpeak. The group moved into Craft Night and Bar Trivia Night where we continued to make each other laugh like crazy. Slowly but surely they became my closest friends and I am constantly surprised at how funny and creative they all are. We are going to start Tabletop Gaming soon and we are trying to plan a Rifftrax-like Movie Night.

Cozy Questions Pt. 4

January 25, 2021
  1. What Are You Most Grateful For?

My creativity. I would have truly lost my mind a long time ago if I did not have the ability to write and create to help me work through things and center myself. I just let stuff pour out of me and it feels so much better afterward. The fact that people actually read it (and I love you wonderful people) is secondary to the fact that I absolutely have to write or I will explode. I am also really thankful for my friends and my close family. I got really lucky not to have grown up in too toxic of an environment. I ended up being fairly normal because I was loved and learned to love in return.

  1. Dream Job?

I think my dream job does not actually exist fully. The closest thing would probably be a research librarian, hired as a troubleshooter to research tricky quests for knowledge. If we are talking a real dream job, I would love to do this for magical artifacts like in The Librarian or Warehouse 13. That would require magic being real so that is not possible. In the meantime, I love being a paralegal because I get to research and write and solve puzzles every day.

  1. Do You Believe in Aliens?

I would be a fool to discount the existence of aliens somewhere in the universe. Our universe is so vast that the odds are in favor of intelligent life being out there somewhere. Where is it? I have no idea. I actually really do not want to know. We have enough trouble with our own planet that adding some sort of possible interference from outside is scary to me. As such, I do not really believe that our planet has been visited by any alien race. No evidence has been substantiated and a government cover up seems to be unfeasible at this point. Something big would have come out by now. I could be wrong but I remain skeptical that we have had any close encounters. I was absolutely terrified of it when I was a kid but realized it was poppycock as I got older.

  1. Favorite Sport?

I am not really a sports guy but I would say that my favorite sport to watch is American Football. The game is fast-paced and hard-hitting and generally fun. Part of it is that the Baltimore Ravens have been such a great source of entertainment for my hometown. For the last 20 years, the team has been an absolutely fantastic franchise that is easy to support. Currently, Lamar Jackson’s team is so much fun to watch and my interest has definitely been refreshed. My only misgiving is that American Football causes a lot of injuries. They are working to mitigate this but even so it can be very difficult to support.

  1. How Do You Relax After a Long Day?

Ideally, I do a workout, take a hot shower, play some video games and/or write, and eat a good meal. Different things definitely release different kinds of stress. If I am anxious and hyped up, a workout burns off a lot of the excess energy. Video games and television allow me escapism to temporarily forget my worries and let my unconscious mind work on them for a while. A good meal warms my belly and the tasty flavor makes me momentarily happy. A hot shower relaxes my muscles and lets me transition to home life. As a bonus, I take my anxiety meds which take the edge off of the end of the day.

Cozy Questions Pt. 3

December 28, 2020
  1. You Can Spend 24 Hours Anywhere, Any Time, Where Do You Choose?

I would take this deal solely as an intangible observer in order to lessen any impact on the timestream because there is no reason to go anywhere but the past. Anywhere else I can just choose to go to in the future. It is a hard question to ponder because obviously the possibilities are endless. One of the first ideas I had was to pick a movie or television studio to just sit and watch the filming taking place. I would love to walk the town of Tombstone on the day of the fight at the OK Corral. It would be horrible and violent but fascinating. There are a lot of moments in history that I would love to be present for. Speeches and appearances that rocked the world. Maybe pick a random day in Time’s Square to just watch all of the people. Oh! I know! I would just like to be a fly on the wall at the Algonquin Round Table.

  1. If You Were a Ghost, Who or Where Would You Haunt?

I am guessing that a ghost cannot really interract with the world around them physically beyond maybe flickering lights and making a door creak. So, I would want to haunt somewhere where people actually believe in ghosts might frequent so I would ocassionally have somebody to talk to. I think I would either like to be the ghost sidekick in a Hanna-Barbera kid detective show (Scooby-Doo, Jabberjaw, etc.) or like one of the ghosts in Harry Potter. I would just like to chill and chat when I felt like it and float around and observe when i didn’t feel like talking to anyone. If interraction at that level was not possible, I would like to mess with mediums who claim to speak to the dead but cannot. I would haunt the crap out of them and then do nothing when they tried to show it to other people.

  1. What Is Your Family Ancestry?

I only have bits of pieces of my ancestry since it has never been very important prior to our country’s arrival in the United States. I do know that my ancestry goes back to Scotland, England, and France to name a few. France is a huge part of my ancestry through my mother and one of our forbearers came directly from France. He was actually a member of Blackbeard’s crew for a time before receiving a pardon along with much of the rest of the crew for assisting in naval battles. He eventually became a fence for Blackbeard’s stolen goods when he couldn’t quite go straight. I have been informed that due to my family name being Portuguese that there were probably some ancestors from there. However, my slightly racist family member informed me that it must be from somewhere north where vikings invaded because we’re not that dark. Ugh. I refuse to take one of those genetic tests because A) I like my family stories and don’t want them to be disproved and B) I don’t want to give my genetic code to a private corporation.

  1. What Scares You?

This is cozy? I fear death but who doesn’t? I also fear public speaking although the edge of that has been filed off by anxiety meds. I used to shake and get nauseous as I was headed toward any public speaking situation. I was in a few children’s theater performances as a kid and I literally blacked out until it was over. Apparently, I said all my lines and did my blocking correctly but I had no memory of it.

Cozy Questions Pt. 2

November 23, 2020
  1. Dogs or Cats?

While I appreciate the love and energy of dogs and my brand is based on wolves, I am totally a cat guy. I have ADD so I really need a pet that is going to be cool with not interrupting me all of the time. Cats are a lot like me in that sometimes I want to be alone and sometimes I want to eat and then there is a small sliver of time that I want to spend with other people. I have anxiety as well but cats pretty much handle their own business. I like the idea of being around an animal that is calmer than I am. It makes me think things may not be as bad as I think they are. Cats are also kind of funny to me as they are constantly just doing weird things. The other day I came down the hill to drive my car to work and there was a guy taking pictures of my car. I picked up the pace, ready to ask this guy what his deal was when I spotted that he was actually taking pictures of a cat regally perched on my car’s roof. The guy taking pictures was embarrassed but I assured him that it was alright and that I actually felt bad about shooing the cat so I could get to work.

  1. What’s Your Dream Holiday?

My ideal holiday would be pretty solitary. I would want to be holed up on in a bungalow on a private beach somewhere warm and sunny. It would be far away from people so that I could go out and swim without being anxious about seeing anybody. I would not need a whole lot of rooms as I would be alone. I would want a big shower to rinse off the seawater and sand whenever I needed to. I would want a big kitchen to make my own food and a grill outside. I would want a high-speed internet connection and two computers, one for gaming and one for surfing and writing. I would take a notebook out onto the beach for writing while I’m not swimming and then I would type things up back at the bungalow. I would want to be somewhat close to restaurants so I could get food out but still be hidden away.

  1. How Many Kids Do You Want?

Zero. No offense to those who have kids (my mom has three) but I am fine on my own. I am aromantic and there are enough kids in the world. I do not desire to add any more nor do I want to carry on my lineage.

  1. Favorite Weather?

My favorite weather is actually when it is raining in the fall. The rain is so calming and I love to either watch it coming down or hear it coming down as I start to go to sleep. I have suffered from migraines in the past and I have always been light-sensitive. I really appreciate when the sun is hidden away by clouds and everything just calms down. Also, I never mind going for a walk in the rain as long as I have an umbrella and there is something a little thrilling about getting out there when almost everybody else has scampered inside. Second to the rain is when it is snowing out. It has a lot of the same pluses but unfortunately has the added risk of being out in the freezing cold and possibly slipping and hurting myself. Still, I have had some great adventures on snow days. Finally, third place goes to overcast days, of course.

  1. What Would Your Last Meal Be?

That is certainly a tough question as I am not too picky on food. I love spicy food but it can be rough on my stomach but I suppose if it is my last meal, I do not have to worry about that. I think my ideal last meal would be a smothered steak and chicken burrito with guacamole and sour cream on the side, oven-roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower, and garlic bread. Perhaps instead a angel hair pasta with shrimp, crab, and scallops, green bean casserole, and garlic mashed potatoes. I would definitely break my dessert rule and I would probably go with a big chocolate milkshake. I would probably explode near the end of the meal but it would be worth it.

Cozy Questions Pt. 1

November 16, 2020
  1. How do you drink your tea?

I don’t drink tea. The few times I tried it, it did not really float my boat. Iced tea tastes absolutely horrible to me. Maybe some day I will try some hot tea again to confirm whether or not I like it. Maybe something like mint tea would go over better. I like mint. In the past I would have put a ton of sugar in whatever I might try but I largely quit sugar a couple of years ago as a step toward better health. I had become dependent on sweets and now I have them maybe once a year (usually my mom’s birthday cake). So now I would eschew the sugar but I would probably pour a bunch of milk in (something I also have cut down on). I always wanted to like tea and coffee because it is so common and tea is so genteel and fancy to me.

  1. Favorite Dessert

Before I quit sweets, I had a bunch of favorites. I have always been a real sucker for chocolate and something as simple as warm chocolate chip cookies really float my boat. I love the mixture of chocolate and peanut butter or chocolate and marshmallow and there are a lot of good candies that combine these tastes. Reese’s cups have become sort of a running joke in my family because my stepfather hates the mixture of chocolate and peanut butter so it usually a good gag gift for him. As I got older, I felt like my palate became more sophisticated and I would have to say that my favorite dessert is actually a good cheesecake. These days, I like a good low sugar, high protein vanilla Ensure or yogurt.

  1. Favorite season and why?

I used to love summer because I was a kid and it meant school was out and I could go have fun at summer camp, with my friends or brothers, or visit the beach. However, as I got older I realized school was not so bad (it was largely the students I disliked) and eventually summer was no longer an escape. One thing I realized was how much I loved the Fall. The one thing I hated about the Summer were the insects and the heat. In the fall, all of the stinging and biting insects start fading away and I do not have to sweat like a pig. Also, I have always loved Halloween which is contained in my favorite month of October. With a comfortable climate, nature becoming more colorful, and all of the spooky times, I will forever love Fall.

  1. What Cheers You Up?

It depends on just how badly I am feeling and what type of bad mood I am in. I suffer from anxiety and mild depression so I do need a little pick me up now and again. I guess the first thing that lightens my mood is staying on top of my medication and getting good exercise but that is kind of a boring answer. Neither is a cure-all. Sometimes watching a good comedy can really do it for me. One of the reasons why I am constantly watching new movies is because watching something new often helps to shake me out of a funk. Music is a big tool. When I am feeling down a good mix of poppy, up-tempo music can really get me going. I am particularly fond lately of The Descendants franchise music. However, sometimes I am feeling anger and I need to listen to heavy metal. That is probably why I love Baby Metal so much. Also, calling my mom on the phone can sometimes help shake some anxiety. Same goes with writing, it helps me focus my mind and push away some of the bad thoughts.

A Few Thoughts on Hamilton

July 13, 2020

Selling Out

I heard a lot of rumbling and grumbling from Hamilton fans when it was announced that the show would be released on Disney Plus. The thing I heard was that people were accusing Hamilton of selling out to Disney. People jumped to that judgment because of Disney’s status as a content and intellectual property juggernaut. Disney is also a large corporation which are historically ethically neutral at best. I am not here to defend Disney but Hamilton was going to be distributed by one company or another. While we still have capitalism, that is the way it is going to be. Disney+ being a new platform makes it not a bad idea for both sides. Miranda gets plenty of eyes on his show while Disney gets yet another exclusive to dangle for subscriptions.

On top of all of that, Miranda already has an established relationship with Disney having worked on several projects with the company (Moana, Mary Poppins Returns, Ducktales, Star Wars, and the upcoming Encanto). With an established relationship, Miranda probably had an easier time arguing for creative control of the edit. Disney cares a lot about presentation so they would be able to display the production as well as anybody. Disney has also started to care more about diversity and representation and if this pushes them further in that direction, great!

Miranda had been sitting on a recording of the show for years presumably for a theatrical release that had been scheduled for October 2021. A theatrical release would have been great but we are in the middle of a pandemic which likely will still be lingering next year. Miranda is very smart and compassionate and probably did not want people rushing out to theaters and getting sick. Additionally, a Disney Plus subscription is about seven dollars which beats a fifteen dollar ticket any day. So for half the price, you can have a month of access to a lot of great Disney content instead of paying more for one shot (pun intended). Also, at one time a Hamilton ticket was considered a bargain at over $800. This is a steal. Of course, not everybody has Internet access but I think Miranda did the best he could.

In short, “selling out” means to compromise your moral code in exchange for money. Miranda’s goal was to get as many people to see his show as possible because he is an artist. He has accomplished that goal and continues to accomplish that goal.


Before the show was released on Disney+, Miranda was asked on Twitter about whether the show would be censored. Disney has a historically clean image to maintain and, among other things, Hamilton has three usages of the word “fuck”. The problem was that Disney+ has a rating cap of PG-13. In order to maintain a PG-13 rating, a movie has to keep to only one F-Bomb (and context matters). Miranda agreed to edit out two out of three F-bombs in order to get under the wire. He did not have to sacrifice any sexual innuendos and most of the show survived intact. Yet, some people are angry.

The arguments seem to be varied. Some people are mad that Miranda may have been pressured to sacrifice artistic vision. This is the anti-censorship argument. While I usually think that censorship is wrong, I do not think that is what happened here. Miranda has been vocal about his willingness to lose those two words in order to get the show aired. Another argument that I have heard is that the word “fuck” is not even that offensive. It is just a word. I agree with this. There is no such thing as dirty language, only dirty speech. However, that argument can go both ways. If it is just a word, then why not cut it out to accomplish a goal? The two usages that were cut added very little to the lines they were in and the one they kept (which is more of a Fuuuu). I say it is a pointless thing to complain about.

What Was Left Out

This is a much more valid complaint that was absolutely good to be asked. Hamilton does not do much to address the issue of slavery in the Colonies and the fledgling United States. There are a few lines that point out the conflict of fighting for freedom while slavery still exists but there are no slave characters and the issue is not pushed. Miranda has agreed that this is an issue. He agonized for a long time on what he could include and still maintain a cohesive story in an amount of time that an audience could sit through. He had a lot of tough decisions and frankly, I feel like he made the right ones.

I do not feel qualified to argue this point because I am a White Male Southerner. Miranda has addressed criticisms and has agreed with many of them. However, he has pointed out that the music of the show is a celebration of music that was only possible because of contributions by Black artists and culture. The show also does not paint any of the historical characters as paragons of virtue. Every single person (slave owner or merely complicit) is portrayed as deeply flawed.

I think the biggest point in the show’s favor in this matter is that it is a positive show that has sparked discussion about American History. The show talks about “Who Tells Your Story” and Miranda told a story but it is up to everybody to tell all of the stories. We need to continue to tell Black stories, immigrant stories, and so many other important stories. Hamilton is a great show but it may end up being more important because of what it brought to the table. I think vilifying Hamilton misses a lot of points and we could approach the problem in a more positive way.

Blood Pressure

March 23, 2020

I have refrained from writing about the following because of anxiety and embarrassment. However, I realize that I have nothing to be embarrassed about. I have been struggling with my mental health and my physical health for a long time. I do not like to talk about it but, now that things are getting better, I feel strong enough to talk about it. I have long suffered from anxiety which often overlapped with depression. This led me to me binging on bad food and hiding in my room when I lived in New Jersey. I did not really take care of myself but anytime that I got a little sick, I panicked. Homesick and depressed, my mental state deteriorated. I gained weight. When I got bronchitis, I panicked and thought that the problems from when I was 12 had returned and I was dying.

When I returned back to Baltimore from New Jersey, my mood lightened and I worked at a job that was very physically demanding so I lost weight and got stronger. After that was over, I got a desk job where I was once again not getting exercise. This job started out alright and I was happy to have found work. However, it was social work for the government and my generalized anxiety and social anxiety made it very difficult. I did not know how to deal with the phone and piles of work. I felt stressed all the time and I had migraines all the time. One day, I had a full-on panic attack and I rushed from the office to the urgent care center half a block away. I could barely breathe and my blood pressure was so high that they called an ambulance.

After a hospital visit and during a period of time away from work, I visited a doctor and was told that I had high blood pressure and anxiety. Something got stuck in my head and I was afraid that I had developed diabetes and that I would be blamed. Worse, I would have to deal with needles every day of my life. I started going to the gym but stopped going to the doctor. I did not want to know what was wrong with me. The medications my doctor gave me ran out but I did not go back to renew. I did no further tests.

I lived more or less normally, my weight fluctuating as I gave up on the gym and then went back. After my family went through a particularly rough encounter with alcoholism, my brother pushed me to get therapy. I went but got little out of it. My therapist left town to attend to her granddaughter and I did not find another. However, eventually, my brother suggested I visit a psychiatric nurse practitioner. He pushed the issue and I eventually gave in. This was the first time in my life that I was diagnosed with generalized and social anxiety. She took me seriously and I took her seriously.

She prescribed me Xanax and, once I adjusted to it, it was like night and day. The fear and anxiety I felt every day lifted. I felt more confident and I felt happier. I went back to the gym, realizing that I would stop going because I was anxious in public places. I would go back because I had heard that you could work off diabetes. I was told by my new nurse that I had troublingly high blood pressure and that, although I felt fine, I was definitely not. I found another doctor and they started to do tests on me. They could not figure things out so they ordered bigger scarier tests. I quit and walked away.

Recently, I switched my insurance to Kaiser Permanente and went in for a visit again. I was finally ready to accept whatever was coming to me. I immediately fell in love with the new set up. I was not visiting with a doctor who was a resident in med school who cared but did not seem to have time for me. Instead, I now have a doctor who speaks plainly with me and is super approachable. I can message him through an app with questions and he answers the same day. The big thing is that the laboratory is inhouse so I can just walk over and do bloodwork or whatever. It makes it harder to make excuses and avoid things.

I am now also on blood pressure and cholesterol medications and I am working with my doctor and the nurses to get my numbers down. I am starting to see improvement and I am sticking to the gym. (Historical note: My gym was closed due to Covid-19 last week). I have a blood pressure monitor at home which automatically sends my numbers to the nurses. I am doing a lot better and I am feeling a lot better and clearer. Best of all, my doctor finally shot down my old fear that I had developed or was developing diabetes. No diabetes. I’m doing pretty great, actually. I am also doing a job that I love and that leaves me with a lot more energy at the end of most days. So that’s how I’m doing.

Blue Bloods Must End

January 27, 2020

It is pretty clear that most cop shows often show an idealized world where the police are always right and the criminals are always wrong. The only cops who are villains are the police who go rogue and they are treated as an anomaly. They are detested and immediately caught or killed by their fellow cops. However, since I was born in Baltimore City and I keep my eyes open, I know that this is a fantasy. Law enforcement has not and never will deserve blanket respect or trust. There will always be “bad apples” on the force and administrations and the brass will always cover up for them. There will be no reform because the system works for the government. They can blame the problem on the people of color instead of fixing economic and racial disparity in order to repair society.

Anyway, there is one cop show that I keep watching that is actually fairly accurate to the reality of law enforcement in our world. That show is Blue Bloods. The show follows a family that has dedicated their lives to law enforcement. Fittingly, the family’s name is Reagan because most of them do not care about citizen’s rights or about being good people. They constantly espouse an “us versus them” mentality. This mentality does not just encompass the police department’s relationship with the criminals but also with the public at large. Every single cop automatically assumes the guilt of people they are dealing with and act like complete assholes most of the time.

The most obvious offender is the character that even fans of the show love to hate. Detective Danny Reagan is played by Donnie Wahlberg. He is a stereotypical rogue cop with anger issues who often bends or breaks the rules in order to “get his guy”. He even has an inexplicable Brooklyn accent even though the rest of his family does not. This is how “blue-collar” he is supposed to be. However, he is consistently a dirty cop and is constantly under investigation but is constantly cleared. He has real psychological problems and in the latest season, I feel like he might be a sociopath. For example, in one episode he rolls up on a hostage situation that has nothing to do with him. He waits until everybody has their backs turned and he walks in and shoots the unstable criminal. He never shows any remorse that he shot a human being who may or may not have had psychological issues. This is pretty indicative of his behavior on the show.

The actual worse offender is patriarch Frank Reagan, the New York City commissioner played by Tom Selleck. Frank is an old school cop who basically hates anybody who is not in law enforcement. To him, a cop is a shining example in the world and is to be given every chance to make up for horrendous behavior. In one episode, a bunch of cops are verbally harassed outside of a housing project so his response is to send in three precincts, SWAT, and everything else he can throw at the project. He directs cops to round up every single person who lives there and question them and detain them in search of criminals. No probable cause, no logical reasoning. He felt police had been insulted so he sends in the troopers to shock and awe civilians. He is rightfully blasted in the press for it until the search randomly produces a serial killer they did not know about and he is exonerated. He is a hero because he stumbled into a win.

More recently, he revisited something good he actually did and ruined it. In an earlier season, he fired a young cop because she stopped somebody for being brown and media backlash forced him to let her go. He later stumbles on her working a waitressing job. He feels guilty and reverses his decision. He hires back a known racist because he thinks that waitressing (a noble profession) is beneath her and he thinks that she should be a cop. Not only that but he gives her a get out of jail card by telling her that he personally has her back. So when she once again commits some racist act, he will get her out of it instead of firing her this time. Awesome.

There are some exceptions. Erin Reagan is an Assistant District Attorney played by Bridget Moynihan. She actually has compassion despite basically being a cop herself. She often fights against her brothers and father to get leniency for people actually damaged by the system. Her daughter, Nicky, played by Sami Gayle, is even more compassionate and is often the one voice futilely fighting against her family. Vanessa Ray plays Officer Eddie Janko and, as somebody who has experienced both upper class and lower class life, she displays a little more perspective but not much. Her fiance, Jamie Regan (played by Will Estes) often toes the line too much but is at least a little nicer than his family. Garrett Moore (played by Gregory Jbara) is Frank’s PR commissioner. He absolutely views things as the rest of us would and often preaches restraint and understanding if only to make the police look good. His voice is often lost and lately, he is often straight-up ridiculed for his views.

While the show always held this kind of darkness, it feels like it has gotten worse and worse over the seasons. I would not even mind the show as much if the Reagans were not treated as the show’s heroes instead of rightfully being depicted as the villains. They often make situations worse than they found them and rarely feel too bad about them. So, why do I keep watching the show? Honestly, I do not know. The acting is really good and I love a handful of really good characters. Still, every so often I will hit an episode that will make me furious and I will stop watching for a while. I may be hoping for the show to get canceled soon so some of those good actors can be on a project with more merit.

Big Bird

December 9, 2019

Obviously, I am a huge Muppets fan and I wholeheartedly love everything they have ever done pre-Disney and post-Disney. The Muppets will always be a part of myself and definitely part of the font of creativity in my soul. I have spoken at length about how Jim Henson was a personal hero of mine. I know his personal life was not perfect but his creativity and willingness to collaborate have definitely carried me through difficult parts of my creative, personal, and professional lives. One of the early things that Henson created while he was struggling creatively and financially was Sesame Street. While I was more of a fan of The Muppets and Fraggle Rock, when I was little I definitely watched some Sesame Street. It, along with Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, definitely encouraged my little imagination.

I think my favorite back in the day was actually Bert. As an introvert, I definitely felt a kinship with a guy who wanted things just right and was always trying to counter his introvert roommate’s energy. He was intelligent and underappreciated. However, through my teen and college years, I identified most with was Oscar the Grouch. I definitely went through a cynical period where I struggled with my anger and I have only recently begun to come out from under that cloud. Still, even during those darker days, I had a lot of love for those who I was loyal to. Of course, Oscar the Grouch was voiced by the most iconic character of Sesame Street. Of course, I am talking about Big Bird, the one character who never really had a name of his own. He was a shining symbol of childlike wonder and often seemed to embody that awkwardness we all feel in our own bodies.

Most of you must know that I am talking about this because the man behind Oscar and Big Bird (and others), Carroll Spinney, has died. It is indeed very sad but we had so many years and three generations got to enjoy Big Bird and all of his friends. I have been thinking back to some of his best moments. One that was not very televised was Carroll’s appearance at Jim Henson’s funeral in character as Big Bird. It was a beautiful moment that felt more beautiful to me since Henson had parted ways with Sesame Street long before. They were still all friends. I remember when Big Bird finally proved the existence of Mr. Snuffleupagus. It was a moment that showed kids that they should be believed when they are telling adults the truth. The moment was intended to give power to kids suffering from sexual and physical abuse.

In a moment from the year of my birth (and in fact 37 years and two days ago) Mr. Hooper died and Sesame Street used that to teach kids about death through Big Bird. It was such an interesting and meaningful moment that they could have explained away or covered for but they wanted to use it to teach. They confronted the hard truth. That moment makes me wonder how they are going to proceed with Sesame Street. Will they mention or acknowledge Carroll’s death on screen. I think it is obvious that Big Bird will not die. Jim Henson died and Kermit did not follow suit. Muppets cannot die. Humans can and do. Mr. Hooper was a different case but I wonder if they might do something subtle or outside of the show to honor Spinney.

The beauty of all creative endeavors is that the show will go on because it must go on. Carroll’s spirit will not be forgotten just as everybody who ever contributed will not be forgotten. Big Bird will continue to be that childlike influence on the kids (and their parents). Oscar will still grumble and gripe from his trash can. They have been so good at casting in the past years that you can barely tell when a new performer takes over. All of the Muppets feel like living characters and, honestly, I feel that they really are in their own way. The muppeteers have often said as much. I am interested to see where the story goes next. I wish that Sesame Street could break free from the corporate paywall it is now behind but if people are still benefitting from it, it is what it is. Hopefully, they can continue to make Jim and Carroll and everyone proud and make us learn and laugh.

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