Game of Throne Final Season Woes -OR- How I Learned Love Jetpacks AND Broadswords

DISCLAIMER: If you love the show or the books, GREAT! Don’t let my ramblings take that from you. This is mostly for comedic purpose. But, some of my true feelings are buried in this nonsensical drivel.

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At the time of writing this, season 8 of Game of Thrones is only days from airing. Like me, maybe you’ve seen tons of countdown clocks and memes in your social media feeds. People are abuzz with anticipation. The culmination of massive phenomena that began on HBO in 2011 (or those pesky written versions in 1996). 67 episodes, five published main story novels, 2 more pipe dreams of “forthcoming” books, plus comics and prequel content.

BUT, not all is well in the Land of Ice and Fire. While some fans are excited others are angry. Since the show has gone past the published works, some consider the latest season as fan-service fan-fic. Others have commented that the off screen jetpacks and rocket-powered ravens** have made them upset. Or, how the Ironborn people of Pike can make that many ships from islands that look like bleak rock.

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**These terms refer to how quickly the remaining main cast (and message by ravens) have been able to travel across Westeros and Essos with plot-convenient blinding speed. In season 1, it took what, a month of travel from kings landing to Winterell, and another month to the wall? Well, remember when Jon and crew were stuck beyond the wall in season 7, and Gendry ran back to some outpost, sent a raven to Dragonstone? Danny got on her dragon and flew there the next morning. (for perspective, just from Winterfell to Castle Black at The Wall is 600 miles by raven, 650 by road.)

There are defenders of these plot devices, saying that lore supports these things, or TV adaptation is required. Antagonists do as the internet does and just hates. So, nothing new there.

 But, I’m here to say: I don’t give a shit and I embrace the insanity.

I like Game of Thrones, both the show and the books, but the grand epic story was ruined for me, long ago. The moment overt supernatural and prophecy was added to the story, the whole thing became a house of cards to me.

See, the show (and the books) in the beginning masterfully blended political machinations with the ever present, creeping fear of the supernatural darkness. While we gasp at things like the Red Weddings, we are also aware of Jon Snow’s plight, for he’s seen beyond the wall. And that . . . that’s the problem. Sooner or later, all the who fucked who over (or simply who’s fucking who), won’t matter. Not when the Ice Zombies come a knocking. And maybe that’s the point. But it also undermines the core. The human element. Added to this, is the prophecy, you know, The Prince Who Was Promised. See, once we got the Fire God, R’Hollr Lord of Light pitting its avatars against The Great Other, the cold god of ice and death, then the wine sipping snark fests between uppity nobles were . . . well, blah.

image from HBO

image from HBO

Seriously, do you think I give two horse apples about the Iron Bank or the Golden Company when the King of the Ice Zombies killed a dragon with a fucking spear, then raised said dragon as an undead ice dragon? No. No I do not. Looking back, remember in the hot springs when Jamie gave that impassioned speech about why he killed the Mad king? Or Littlefinger’s deft plots? How about Tyron facing his dad in the crapper? Or Theon’s torture at the hand of Ramsey? Powerful human moments right?

Well I also saw and entire dead village of Hardhome stand up at once under the power of the Night King. I saw Jon Snow get resurrected (among others). I saw face-shifting disciples of the God of Death. The human story is drowned out by the fantastic. Fun Fact: in the books, Thoros of Myr, you know, top knot drunken red priest brought back Catelyn Stark? Although, she didn’t come ALL the way back. She was dubbed Lady Stoneheart and she hung Brienne. Yup. Neat stuff right? But please, tell me more about The Vale or the politics of Dorn.

No, please go on. Tell me more of your . . . politics. I’m sure I have another dragon killing ice spear here somewhere. image from HBO

No, please go on. Tell me more of your . . . politics. I’m sure I have another dragon killing ice spear here somewhere. image from HBO

Add to that the Three-Eyed Raven and time travel, then you have a cycle you cannot break. The past/present/future is seen. Maybe you can break the cycle, or perhaps we’re just watching/reading actors playing the parts as fate already decreed. Yes, the Hold The Door/Hodor bit was an AWESOME scene, but you may as well have had Marty & Doc zoom past in the Deloran.

I know, I know, I’m being both overtly narrow in my view while also editorializing for my narrative. I get it, trust me. But this is just my opinion. But once you add prophecy to a story, any story, “the story” is over. Meaning, like any book, show, or movie, once you see the ending coming, it’s a wait and see game. And in GoT there were only two options. You either take the political “medieval” drama to its end while you hand wave the mythical stuff/deal with it off camera (pissing off fans of fantasy). OR, you make a hard turn into the fantastical, and piss on the backbiting and maneuvering (and thus anger your cerebral nerds). Which is where we seem to be heading.

Now MAYBE, the show (or books) can blend the two and do so perfectly. And something tells me that there will be people loudly saying that it did AND didn’t (again, see: the internet). But based on what we saw last season, I think we should settle in for more giant set pieces, giant battles, and giant magic. I’m sure there will be some surprise deaths, some revenge, and a twist or two.

And I’m totally cool with that . . . Because I WANT the fan service.  

Like I said earlier, I like the show a lot. And in many ways, MORE than the books. Sorry literary fans. I know that is heretical of me to say, but I don’t care. Some epics are just too much. Like Dune, the first couple are solid, but then it just . . . goes on far too long, and diminishes the whole.

So after the better part of a decade for the shows, and 23 years of waiting for this goddamn series of books to be over, I say “bring on the fan service!” I was thrilled with last seasons events and I want more.  you know what I hope happens?

  • I hope Jon Snow rides a dragon, wooshing by, and beheads Jamie Lannister for trying to kill Bran.

  • I hope Sam tries to kill the Night King only for Gilly to stab him in the ass with dragon glass.

  • I hope The Hound fights Franken-Mountain in the Clegane Bowl. After which, The Hound cuts off The Mountain’s dick and tosses that Icelandic anaconda to Theon and Gray Worm who then battle for it. The winner takes it to Qyburn for reattachment.

  • I hope Brienne refutes Torman Giantbanes advances so that she and Sansa fall in love and open a goddamn flower shop in Dorn together.

  • I hope Danny finally tells Jorrah The Knight of Friendzone, to get a life.

  • I hope Theon beats his uncle at something, only for his sister to put Theon down after.

  • I hope Arya kills the Hound for his past sins, like killing her friend the Butcher’s Boy.

  • I hope Sansa learns to smile . . . an act (I wonder if Dark Phoenix will be any good?)

  • I hope Ned Stark comes back from the dead . . . only to die again, as Sean Bean does.

  • I hope that when all the heroes are dead and when Cerci sits on the throne, Varys and Gendry stab her. Only for them to then dissolve the monarchy and institute democracy. #MakeWesterosGreatAgain

  • I hope not only that Bran is actually also Bran the Builder and the Night King, but that the story ends with young bran sitting in bed, having been read a bedtime tale and the whole thing was a story (the Rian Johnson cut.)

But above all else, I JUST WANT THIS OVER SO I CAN FINALLY CANCEL HBO!!!!

See y’all in a few days around the internet water cooler!

~Gibby

Review of Captain Marvel: A Midling Movie -or- The Benefits of Being the Butt of the Joke

Right off the bat, let’s address the elephant in the room concerning this movie. While promoting the movie there was a plethora of comments and sound bites from Brie Larson about diversity and white male journalists. And naturally the internet exploded with vitriol. Who knew the internet was an opinionated place? But, I ignored it. I only cared about two things: the movie . . . and why is Brie Larson slowly transforming into Diane Kruger?

Images from Celebmafia and Getty Images

Before moving into spoiler territory, this is my brief, IMO, spoiler-free, TL;DR review: The movie firmly falls into the “It’s Fine” category. Nothing special. Nothing horrible. Nearly every story beat is predictable with minimal twists on the superhero movie formula. It has neat action. It has some jokes. It tries for heart, but misses. Captain Marvel follows in the wake of Wonder Woman, but without a seasoned hand like Patty Jenkins to guide the movie, it falls short of what it could have been. Influenced by other Marvel movies like Guardians and Captain America, but ends up in the mid-tier.

Okay, with that out of the way, the rest of the review will have some spoilers. Cool?

Marvel has always impressed me with casting, seeing something in an actor that could shine. If you look back, they cast the unstable wild card to be Iron Man, the banana in his ass comedian as Captain America, the unknown dead George Kirk to be Thor, and the pudgy schlub from Parks & Rec as Star Lord.

Images from Daily Mail, Not Another Teen Movie, Star Trek, and NBC

So when Brie was announced, I was excited. I loved her in Scott Pilgrim, The United States of Tara, 21 Jump Street and Kong: Skull Island. I was wondering what the Marvel casting team saw in her. But, after watching the flick, I think what they saw was her left shoulder, constantly pointing towards the camera, in a 3/4 square stance. The below pics don’t do justice. She loves to run/storm into frame, put her left shoulder forward, and make fists.

Images from Marvel

The movie is a pretty good action flick. It tries for comedy, and some jokes hit. But, you can also tell that the movie tried to be like Guardians, but with the 90’s instead of the 70’s. But, it never quite hits. (There’s even a scene where we’re in her head and Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” is playing. But since she disappeared from earth in 1989 and returned in 1995 . . . she shouldn’t know that song.) James Gunn brought a pathos to Guardians of the Galaxy and to his characters. A deep, personal pain to each of them which was masked in comedy. Something we the audience can relate to. But, the Captain Marvel movie is devoid of such depth.

The movie also tries to be a buddy cop flick with Marvel and Nick Fury, and that never really gels. And while Mr. Jackson is perfectly fine, the Fury you know from other movies is gone, and is replaced with this younger, dorky version who is the butt of Carol Danvers’ jokes and jibes. This self-described Retired Colonel turned Spy turned SHIELD Agent gets all gooey whenever that stupid cat is on screen “Who’s a widdle widdle good kitty kitty?”. (Yes, he says crap like that. A lot. And it sucks. And I have a cat.) The other sticking point is that Jackson and the rest of SHIELD, accept alien existence really, really quickly. I know the story needed to keep going, but as the directors/writers hand waved that bit away, I knew I was just along for the ride. Stuck in the backseat and forced to suffer bad choices. (see Fury’s missing eye here). This choice also retcon’s Fury’s speech in Avengers when he tells them that SHIELD is developing new weapons and tech because of Thor, and up until he arrived, they thought they were alone in the universe.

The movie is in essence a discovery of personal strength. You know, “the power was in you the whole time, you just had to believe” trope. As Cap Marvel AKA “Vers” discovers her past on earth, she starts to remember her old life, and there are actually very touching moments between her and her old wingman, Lashana Lynch’s “Maria Rambeau” and Maria’s daughter, Monica. When her best friend comes back, after 6 years of presumed death, Lynch’s reaction and performance is amazing

. . . and then, then they had to ruin it.

You see a few scenes later, the dialogue forces Larson to say something like “I don’t even know who I am anymore!!” Ugh. To which Lynch is forced into the other dead horse of bad writing by listing the protagonists superlatives. “You’re Carol Danvers! The bravest, strongest, and most amazing person I’ve ever known!”

I literally had my hand over my face during that scene in abject shock and cringe during this stilted scene. And for some reason, I couldn’t get the scene out of my head from Face/Off when Sean Archer is now wearing Caster Troy’s face and freaks out. His (Sean’s) best friend and partner Tito, has to remind of who he was. “You’re Sean ARCHER!!” You know, another black character reminding the white lead of their inner strength. Blah.

***Special shout out to Ben Mendleson as Talos, leader of the Skrulls. He chews the scenery and has some of the best lines and scenes. His character is given oodles more comedy, pathos, and depth. All this despite being forced to wear a mask that forced him to mumble and slur. Truth be told, if he was a new addition to The Guardians, I would totally be down.***


But since watching the movie, I’ve been trying to figure out what about Captain Marvel didn’t work for me. She was strong, she had some humor, she was snarky, she was committed. So what was it that made me, at best, iffy? And then it hit me. She, or likely the writing/directing team, refused to allow Captain Marvel to have humility.

What do I mean by that? Well, IMO, one of the reasons that the MCU characters have been so accessible, and thus successful, is because of their relatability and their humility. No, we’re not gods, super soldiers, or billionaire tech geniuses. But we are people who seek our father’s approval, feel weak, or mask our inferiority complexes with humor and narcissism. But beyond that, the characters are willing to be the butt of the joke.

Tony Stark blasted himself into the ceiling learning to fly while his robot sprayed him with an extinguisher. Thor was knocked out several times by being hit by a car, and even got a hypodermic needle in the ass mid-tough guy speech. Steve Rodgers was a scrawny, virgin, twerp who never learned to talk to women. Even in later flicks, Peter Quill is perpetually the butt of the joke. Steve Lang is constantly being mocked. Even T’Challa gets laughed at by his sister and his closest allies.

Carol Danvers doesn’t. She’s like a white-girl Vin Diesel who isn’t allowed to look foolish.

Think back on Wonder Woman. In DC’s first female led flick, Diana embodies power, poise, grace, and duty. But, she also has scenes of tenderness and humility. Remember laughing at her when she sees a baby? When she’s trying on dresses? Or when she marches out of the dress shop with a sword and shield? Funny stuff. Because the character was a fish out of water, there are moments when its okay to laugh at your protagonist. Because they kick so much butt later.

Image from Wonder Woman

Now maybe there’s a scene or two I’m forgetting which refutes these thoughts, and I’m willing to give the flick a second shot. But I think that by trying to make her a cinematic icon, they did a disservice by not allowing us to laugh at her, then cheer her later. I mean, even Rey got made fun of.

Image from Lucas Film/Disney

Another perfect example to illustrate my point in recent memory is Spider Man, Into the Spiderverse. The movie follows the standard superhero formula of newbie, incident, learning, falling, then succeeding. And Miles Morales is CONSTANTLY the butt of the joke. But, his story has style, flair, development, action, humor, and it will heart-punch you right in the feels. That’s why it beat Pixar for best animated movie in 2018, and why it will long be remembered when Captain Marvel is in the discount bin.

Image from Sony

I wondered if I was off base with my opinion of Captain Marvel. I am, after all, a white male (wocka wocka?). But once I started sifting through the reviews, I noticed a trend in the “left-leaning”/progressive websites. Some of them were not happy with the movie; seemingly upset that the movie was not what they had wanted it to be. On Metacritic, sites like Slate, Vox, Slant, The Guardian, Time, and the NY Post all had Captain Marvel in the 60% or below category. Some had titles like, “Finally, Women Have Their Own Mediocre Marvel Movie” (Slate), or “Captain Marvel Deserves a Better Movie” (Vox).

 Ouch.

But they aren’t wrong. 60% is about where it falls for me. I think there was a lot of potential in the movie But IMO, the short development cycle to get it out before Avengers: Endgame hurt the movie.

But, these are just my opinions. If you like the movie, GREAT! Don’t let me, or anyone else, tell you otherwise. Like what you like, love what and who you love.

Live long and strong

~Gibby

Gym Butt Highlanders - Or - The War of the Rumps

Think of the great rivalries. Cato and Ceaser. Michelangelo and da Vinci. Burr and Hamilton. Edison and Tesla. Kanye West and . . . everyone not Kanye West.

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These were nothing compared to what I saw on that fateful early June afternoon. I saw my sleepy little town’s gym turn into thunderdome. I saw . . .

. . . Two 19 year old wannabe Instagram Butt Models girls competing in a B*tch Off.

Laugh if you want. You weren’t there. I was.

The following events are 100% true. The names are changed to protect the innocent . . . or made up. Look, I didn’t know their real names. (Music and sound effects were added in post for dramatic effect :) )

It was 5 minutes to 3pm. After finishing my warm up of the elliptical I made my way to the free weight section. The normal afternoon patrons were there. Older people, a few early 40's folk like me trying like hell to fight off age, and of course the bevvy of young redneck men who believed camouflage was a way of life.

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All were familiar faces . . . save one. A young, fit, brunette girl in the tightest, high-waisted, olive green workout leggings. The kind that divided the butt into individual cheeks and left no room for imagination. She wore a matching low cut top that exposed cleavage and a bare mid-rift. In my mind I named this new comer “Thunder Butt.” Why? Because every exercise she did was thigh and butt based.

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(The butt and thigh exercises had become something of the latest trend at my gym with the local gals. And I’d take this moment to say this: I am not mocking this girl. You can read THIS POST to see my feelings on such shaming. I say if you have it, flaunt it for as long as you can. Time, gravity, and McNuggets are everyone’s enemy. All I ask is that you temper your confidence with just a touch of humility. Because if you spend your gym time looking down on others, I WILL mock you when you eventually get injured, or lazy, and get flabby. )

 - Now, back to the scene -

The single, redneck men watched Thunder Butt with sideways glances. They began picking up heavier and heavier weights as the primate portion of their brains told them to compete for the females attention. The males of the pack failed to notice the two thing that did matter to Thunder Butt: her upward held smart phone and the mirror. Between sets she would stand, legs askance, rump forward, side boob in frame, and camera out. Followers, not suitors, were her target.

It was then that I saw her head snap to the side. Her eyes narrowed. Thunder Butt sniffed the air. Something had her spooked. Like a highlander she knew there was something . . . amiss. I looked back towards the walkway and there I saw it. Or rather, her.

Ruby Rumble Buns. The ginger queen of the afternoon rump regiment.

(Yes . . . I name strangers at the gym. Sue me. I get bored during my elliptical work outs/between sets and giving different people at the gym nick-names is kind of my thing. In another post I can tell you all about Eminem McChicken Legs, Joey-Beard-Fashion, Captain Tans-Too-Much, Sad-Sally Trophy Tits, Roid Rage Roger, Bench-Press Mario, and Methusala’s Corpse.)

Thunder Butt scowled at the newcomer. Sadly, ole TB didn’t know that 330pm was when Ruby Rumble Buns liked to make her entrance. On this day, Ruby was sporting low-rise, dark gray leggings, with a light gray swirl pattern that circled her equally dominant backside. Ruby Rumble Buns tossed her strawberry-blonde pigtails back and pulled out her own phone. But . . . oops, she dropped it.

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Instead of picking it up like a regular human, RRB bent over at the waist, without bending her knees, to retrieve her device and to give the now frenzied young folk of the gym a show. But her real target was obvious. Ruby Rumble Buns stared right at Thunder Butt . . . and smirked.

Oh . . . SNAP!

If there was a mic, it would have been dropped. The room grew cold. Both women glared at one another. I could hear Clancy Brown’s gravely voice clear as day declare:

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

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Over the gym stereo, Queen’s “Princes of the Universe” played (ok, it didn’t. But for the sake of the story just go with it.)

What transpired next was an epic war of one-upsmanship as the two titans of the tush began their war. Ruby Rumble Butt began with single dumbbell squats. She looked over ever-so-slightly at Thunder Butt with a smile that said “Go home little girl”.

Thunder Butt’s lips thinned. Her glare hardened. Thunder Butt stormed over to the assisted chin-up machine. But instead of working her upper body as designed, she placed one foot on the knee pad, and executed multiple sets of single-leg presses. Bringing her knee to her chest, she ensured the glutes would be maximized. Once done, and a picture taken, she threw a catty glance over to Ruby.

But Ruby was having none of Thunder Butt’s shade. Instead she was performing deep, side lunges with a 45lb plate in front of two young men. Once she completed her set, Ruby Rumble Buns snapped a few pics of herself, then looked up at Thunder Butt in a “Oh . . . are you still here?” look.

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Oh no she didn’t!

More exercises were done. Poses made. Pictures were taken. I give credit to Thunder Butt, she tried. She fought valiantly. But, she’d been at the gym longer, and it was clear she was tired. Ruby Rumble Buns was fresher. Determined. To Ruby Rumble Buns, it wasn’t just posing and snapping selfies. No no no. Each move she made, every step she took, ensured that the butt came first. A drink of water? Knees together, butt out. Picking up of weights? Drop it like it's hot. Even standing and checking her phone was an exercise in modeling, with one hip canted ridiculously high.

Outmatched and defeated, Thunder Butt lowered her head in shame and left the gym.

There can be only one . . . butt. And on that day, Ruby Rumble Butt won “the prize”.

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GIMMIE THE PRIZE!

Let’s Get Back to Scaring Children -or- Meh . . . a Little Therapy is Good for You

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”


― Frank HerbertDune

Despite the title of this post, I’m not advocating that we should traumatize kids. Nor am I saying that we should lie in wait and spring out from the darkness with a clown mask and roaring chainsaw . . .

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. . . But that being said, that would be a moment they’d never forget. Heh, good times.

This thought’s been rattling around my head for a while, scaring kids that is. As a part time writer, I’m constantly pondering new, and horrible, scenarios to put my protagonists through. In order for a story to be "good", the hero has to go through a crucible. What good is a story if there is no challenge, no stakes, and . . . no fear?

Because that’s the rub of heroism isn’t? What is courage, or bravery, if not doing what needs to be done in the face of fear?

Of course kids face fear all the time. My own son, by the time of this post, is 6 and a half. When he’s scared, I tell him that it’s okay. But, just because your scared, doesn’t mean you get to quit doing what what we’re doing.

He gets it, mostly. And in time, he’ll understand it better. But as I look at my son, I ponder: what “scary” things I should expose him to? Where are the new primers to teach a little fear? The movies, the shows, the books?

Who remembers Choose Your Own Adventure and being too scared to turn to page 26 to find out your fate? (Pro tip: If you keep your finger at the decision page, it doesn’t count.) Doing a little bit of research, I’m happy to see that scary books, like Goosebumps and others, still exist for kids. But, what about the scary movies?

A quick Google search of popular scary movies for kids came up with a list that is primarily from my childhood and formative years, with a few here and there.

By no means am I saying I’m an expert, or is this meant to come off preachy in the “kids these days aren’t tough enough”. No. Far too many young kids face real fears and horrors that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I’m honestly wondering: Where are the popular, modern versions of The Secret of NIMH, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Neverending Story, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Willy Wonka, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Goonies, Gremlins, Star Wars, or Witches? The movies, while entertaining, are also full of dread, consequences, fear . . . hope, perseverance, and ultimately triumph through courage?

I guess Stranger Things, fits part of that, as do the modern sequels of some of those movies. But, is it the same? Are those meant for kids? Maybe I’m wrong, but, it feels like we are missing our modern Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The lessons taught to kids to give them a healthy respect of the unknown, while also thickening the emotional skin. And I’m talking about the actual Grimm’s Tales, the ones with the dark forests, cannibalism, eyeball pecking, grandma killing, toe cutting, abduction, and creepy as F*CK adults who don’t care one whit for the life of the young.

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Sure, the old movies I, and many of us, grew up on are still there. But, shouldn’t there be a new generation of film makers actively trying to murder/scare kids like Stephen Spielberg did in E.T., Hook, and Jurassic Park? For God's sake, the man killed Rufio!

I guess all I’m wondering is: are we still willing to scare the young, properly, thus instilling the value of fear? Are we still willing to teach them that The Fratelli’s will chop off your hand in a blender? That to Raptors, you are food? That Mr. Dark's Pandemonium Carnival is most likely operated by an agent of the Devil? That Darth Vader will chop off your hand, even if you are his son? That to Witches, children smell obnoxious and that they, The Witches, are demons in mortal form?

I’d like to think so. Special shout out to Guillermo del Toro and Pan's Labyrinth for keeping fear alive! 

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A taste of fear is good. A sense of the dark is good. Given a controlled space, it helps the psyche experiment with the macabre, reason with mortality, and cope better in times of real stress. 

But not TOO much. If there's too much, well,  I think we know where that leads.

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Ode to the "Tramp Stamp" -Or - Beautiful Butterfly, They Can’t Hurt You Anymore

Beauty and intrigue  

Arms raised up in youthful Joy

A turn reveals art

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Lower Back Tattoo, where did you go? You were once symbol of joy and exuberance. But suddenly, you were cursed. Shamed. They turned on you. They called you wretched names.

Ass Antlers.

Hoe Tag.

Tart Art.

The California License Plate.

And, or course . . . The Tramp Stamp.

How dare they. How dare they besmirch your beauty? Those vile, base creatures shamed you. They spat on you. Belittled you. They forced you into hiding. They said you were the symbol of the trashy.

Those miserable harridans said things like “Oh, okay Misty. Suuuure you’re going to be a marine biologist one day. Of course you are . . . because you’re so smart.

Damn it, and damn them. Misty, I believe in you. You will be a marine biologist one day. Or a dental hygienist. 

 

Lower Back Tattoo, you were replaced. Replaced but never forgotten. Not by me.

The Nautical Star can never replace you, no matter how many trendy idiots put them on their elbows.

 

They implied you were of low intelligence. But do these quirky pricks who got The Finger Mustache scream "academics"?

 

Only god may judge you? No, methinks an actual judge will judge you . . . guilty of shaming the Lower Back Tattoo  . . .  and most likely B&E, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, possession with the intent to distribute  . . .

 

Long before the Bird Silhouette and/or Dandelion Blowing came along, YOU, dear Lower Back Tattoo, were the badge of honor earned at that one crazy spring break.  

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Bows on Thighs? Ha! You can never replace the glory that is Lower Back Tattoo!

. . . well, huh. Hmm . . . let’s call you a close second.

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Ladies (and gentlemen?), hide your curling tribal marks no longer. Let your butterfly wings soar. Your days in exile are over. Thanks to insanely progressive social justice--and it's crazy that I agree--the words they damned you with are forbidden. No longer can they call your Lower Back Tattoo a “Tramp Stamp,” because that is slut shaming. If you were mocked because of your size and LBT, well, that is body shaming.

That being said, perhaps some of you may want to consider a cover-up. Progressive ideology aside, these are pushing the bounds of tolerance:

But in the end (HA!), it’s your decision. But I ask you, please come back. I remember the first Lower Back Tattoo and it was amazing. Sure it was 1996, but I can still see it. Done right, it’s sweet, sexy, and beautiful. And if nothing else, there are plenty of “No Regerts” out there to take the heat away from you.

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Return to us, Lower Back Tattoo. Show the world what you are. 

But if you don’t, then I guess we have to fall back on the underboob tattoo. Who knows what they’ll be saying about those in five to eight years.

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Legal Reason to Murder -or- That’s MY Sandwich, ASSHOLE!

Did know that under the Code of Hammurabi, a thief has his or her hand cut off? Or killed, depending on the translation. There are times I wished we could adopt that principle in our modern world. 

 Now, let me be clear, I’m not an asshole, well, not a complete one. As an only child, I do not feel compelled to share. When I do share what I have with others, I do it out of a sense of community, and kindness. Not out of some hippy commune sense of sharing. When people give, I give. It builds and strengthens relationships. 

 But few things drive me into a murderous rage than those who take what is not theirs. And I’m not talking about normal theft. We have laws which punish thieves. I’m talking about the real assholes in this world who deserve to have their hands chopped off...

...the fucking pricks who steals from the office refrigerator. 

(I imagine the sound of screeching tires, as a bunch of readers just just slammed on the metaphorical breaks on their way to convict and or lynch me for the beginning of this post. Right up until the moment I mentioned the asshole who steals whatever they want from the office fridge. How about it angry mob? You have those flaming torches and pitchforks, wanna head over to that asshole’s house?)

 So I’m a coffee drinker. And to set the record straight, I like cream and little sugar in my coffee. If you want to be one of those tough-nuts “coffee is supposed to be black!” people, please save it. Just go break out your “No Fear” t-shirt’s from the 90’s, go watch MMA and pat yourselves on the back about how much better you are for liking bitter coffee, you super-duper toughy-tough guy or gal. (In case you’re not getting getting it, I’m subtly making fun of you. Bragging about how you only drink black coffee is the gypsum of Mohs hardness.)

But I digress. 

 So, when I come to work, I bring my own K-Cups for the office Kuerig and a bottle of the creamer I like. One day a couple years back, I showed up to my new office. I put my brand new bottle of creamer in one of the four community fridges and went about acclimating to my new office. When I was ready for my 2nd morning coffee (the first having been brought in from home) I went to get my creamer and guess what? 

 It was already opened. And 1/3 gone. 

 W...T...F?!

 I asked the person nearest to the break room if they saw anyone open my creamer, and they replied “no”. Then, the person said to me:

 “Oh, ahh, yeah...did you put your name on it?”

 Me: “No.”

 Them: “Yeah, see, you have to put your name on stuff, otherwise it’s free game.”

 No. No the fuck it is not. 

 Who invented this? What under-or-over breastfed, entitled, thieving, douche-weasel made this a thing?! One does NOT have to label their own food and beverages. Is this elementary school? Do we honestly have to contend with brazen born buttholes who justify taking other people’s property simply because it “wasn’t labeled”? I was unaware a sharpie and/or a Post-it was thief repellent.

 Now, I have to share that this problem, is closer to home than I’d like to admit. 

 My darling wife...mother of my child...my soulmate, the other crippled bird like me, but together we can fly...is a food thief. Not at work, she’s not a villain. But at home, she is a domestic terrorist. A prowling hellcat waiting to pounce on your treats.

 Her justification? “Well, it’s been in there so long and you didn’t eat it.”

 Me: “But...that was my ice cream.”

 Her: “It’s been there in a week, it’s fair game.”

 Me: “It was peanut butter ice cream. My favorite. You don’t even like peanut butter ice cream.”

 Her: “I was out of mine, and you hadn’t finished yours. Besides, I can always get more at the store.”

 Me: “That doesn’t matter. It wasn’t yours.”

 Her: “Whatever.”

 ...Whatever. Whatever? WHATEVER?! “Whatever” isn’t an answer as to why you took what is not yours! You can’t just arbitrarilly assign a length of time to something which isn’t yours to take it! Sigh,...but that is my cross to bear. Her former roommate warned me of this, and I thoguht she was kidding. I married her, my lovely wife, for better or for worse. And now sad panda has no ice cream. 

 It was the good kind too. Peanut butter with chocolate peanut butter cups mixed in. 

 So to you, good people of the world, rip off your labels. Take down your Post-its. You know if you brought in a container of spaghetti. And if you go to get it for lunch and it’s missing, walk around your office, and the first person you smell garlic on, hit them in the skull with their “World’s Greatest”...whatever the fuck mug. As they lay on the floor, bleeding and soaked in their coffee, just say, oops, sorry, I didn’t see a label on that. 

 And, just in case you just struck a random co-worker who happened to have brought in leftover baked ziti, hence the garlic, well...you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. If nothing else, the real thief now knows you mean business and will leave your shit alone. Plus, odds are you just assaulted the same asshole who brings in pictures of their animals and talks about them like their his/her children. 

 So, win-win. 

 Next time, we’ll discuss how to order razor wire and surplus anti-personnel claymore mines from the internet to keep people from parking in YOUR assigned spot. Even if the neighbor’s douchebag friend says it’s only for five minutes, they’re lying. Just off them, trust me, they won’t be missed. 

Skull Punching the Elderly -or- A Beginners Guide to Spotting a Douchebag

On Wednesdays where I work, the cafeteria has chicken wings at the main course serving line. It’s pay by the ounce and a horrible deal, considering you’re really paying for the bones you don’t eat. But, every Wednesday at 1030, the line is ready to go. 

 One day, I decided I to wanted some wings. I walked down a little early and I managed to be second in line, behind a elderly, heavyset lady with a kind smile and a pleasant face. The line behind us was filling up very quickly and with minutes to go, there were more than thirty people in line. The cooks opened the cafeteria line and the wings were served. 

 Wanna take a guess how long it took me to get my wings? 

 Four minutes. 

 That kindly faced woman turned evil in those few moments. Gone was her pleasant smile. Gone was her goodly, outward nature. This new person wielded the only pair of chicken-tongs and used her ample...backside, like a pro NBA player boxing out anyone who tried to go around her. And why did this take so long? Because she was carefully, methodically and without care or regard to anyone else picked up, inspected, put back, and re-selected each individual chicken wing. When people in line began saying things hurry her, she simply began humming to herself. If they got louder, so did her humming.

 It was clear. She wasn’t oblivious to her surroundings. She just didn’t give a flying-F about anyone else. 

 She was a douchebag. 

 Douchebag means different things to different people. So for me, and for the contents of this piece, a douchebag is anyone who by action, or inaction, places their needs above others. Seemingly with contempt, self-absorption and a superiority complex. 

 So, this goes way beyond selfie-sticks, Jersey Shore knock-offs, people who emulate The Real Housewives of (fill in the blank), Joffrey from Game of Thrones or Kanye West. 

 That lady knew there were people waiting on her. But she showed no sense of alacrity as the line grew. She was going to get her exact, perfect wings and anyone who didn’t like it, could kiss her ass. And, for the first time in my life, I wanted to punch an older woman in the base of the skull. Over chicken wings.

 A couple of everyday, and small, examples are:

 The Asshole who has to back into parking spaces despite others wanting to park. Now, everyone has to stop what they are doing because the Douche needs to back in. And if confronted, they’ll claim it’s easier to pull out. 

 The person who refuses to look back and/or hold the door for others. The same goes applies to those who have to jump onto closing doors, be they elevators or mass transit. 

 

People who have to hold their phones out, speaker on, having loud, often profanity laden, conversations. 

There is a near infinite amount of examples out there, like people who park in handicap spaces, movie talkers,  people who set off fireworks when it isn't the 4th of July, and Dallas Cowboy Fans to name a few. But, I think you get the point

So, despite wanting to smash that lady’s head for the chicken wings, I simply turned the other cheek, waited my turn, and ate my overpriced wings. But the tale I share with others as often as possible. Partly to spin an amusing anecdote about the time I wanted to assault an older person over chicken wings. But also to spread the word of simply giving a damn about your fellow human beings. 

 Could you imagine a world where people considering others’ feelings, actions, needs and wants above their own, was common? What would that world be like? 

Well, it would probably be a lot like Utah. So...maybe we can stand a little bit of assholes...No really, Park City Utah was voted the most polite and friendly city in 2015 on CNTraveler.com

 But seriously, take the time to be mindful of others. Be considerate. Learn to drive and park like others share the road. And always, above all, question yourself daily. And ask yourself are you by action, or inaction, being a douchebag?

And of course...remember to HOLD THE GDAMN DOOR for others!

...<sniff> Big ups to Hodor!

Random Thoughts - WW vs WV, Adult Nuggets and Killing Stuff

No fancy post this week. No pop culture criticism, topical thoughts or rants. Just a few random thoughts. 


Whenever I see a WV sticker on a car...I think they are secretly Wonder Woman fans but are ashamed to admit it...

...It's OK. She's pretty cool.


Boneless Buffalo Wings are just chicken nuggets adults feel comfortable eating in public to still feel like adults...


I don't know who I find more baffling...

...Pro abortion people who are against the death penalty, or pro death penalty people who are against abortion

Comedy Shelf Life -or- How to Remake Innerspace.

Advance reviews of the new Ghostbusters movie have, let us say, not been kind. 

 

And, before this gets anyone’s hackles up, reviews claim it has nothing to do with the all female main cast. It has to do with the movie not knowing what it wanted to be, whether a reboot, sequel or homage as it calls back to the original without capturing the magic of the first. I myself will still see it and judge it (attempt to anyway) for what it and try not to compare it to the original. 

 Likewise, Kevin Hart, while cranking out many stand-up specials on Netflix, is saturating the theaters with the same “panicking, hyper, tiny-man” routine. Take his latest film, Central Intelligence, with an IGN score of 4.5 out of 10 and losing money at the box office. Not even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson could save it. And his movie Get Hard with Will Ferrell was pretty much a rip off of Rob Schneider’s box office bomb, Big Stan (go ahead, look it it up, I’ll wait).  

 All this brings a point to mind about the shelf life of the active comedian. And how, if overdone, causes that star to crash and burn. When they, the comedian, or Hollywood, just milk that cow until it falls over dead.

 Remember when Jim Carrey was funny? Or, Adam Sandler? The first couple of movies came out and we all had a good laugh and quoted them over and over. Then came the next batch of flicks and we got a chuckle, with a waning smile. Then the next batch...and no one was laughing. 

 Could you sit through another Austin Power’s movie, with people saying “Oh behave” and “shag” constantly?

 Like Mike Meyes, Will Ferrel, Anna Farris, Eddie Murphy, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Amy Pohler, Tina Fey and several others to name a few have seemingly reached their comedy shelf life. And, it is about to happen again to Kevin Hart and Melissa McCarthy. 

 Poor Melissa. While funny, no doubt, some claim losing the weight lost her the Mike & Molly gig. And people, it seems, want a plus-sized comedian doing physical comedy. They want the Belushi, the Farley, the Candy. Well, maybe those are all bad examples on account of being dead. But the point it, when Jonah Hill lost the pounds, he also stopped working. So, Rebel Wilson, you’re on notice.  

 

So, with the Ghostbusters coming out, and the love/hate it will receive depending on what side of the fence you are on the remake, she too may be looking for work. So, I propose this: With how Hollywood loves to remake movies that no one wanted or asked for, let’s do one no would expect: 

 Innerspace! 

 Yea, I said it. Innerspace!

 This 1987 comedy sci-fi darling gem starring Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan and Martin Short, was an incredible tale of comedy science where the hero, who was miniaturized in his submersible ship, was accidentally injected inside a go-nowhere loser. Communicating from within, the nerd becomes the unwilling hero and an epic tale of comedy spy/action followed. 

And it is just bloody ripe for a modern remake!

Imagine it: In this possible modern version, Melisa McCarthy can be the brilliant scientist who leads the miniaturization project, who is then accidentally injected inside Kevin Hart. Together they have to bring down an international terrorist...thing, who are trying to steal the miniaturization technology for...reasons? 

...Look, does it even matter? The material writes itself. Kevin get’s to do his “panicking tiny man” thing while finding inner strength and courage while Melisa get’s to curse at him in interesting ways. Paul Fieg (no doubt directing) get’s to chalk up another notch on his belt. Hell, this is even a way to slip a “Bet this is the first time a white woman’s been inside a black man” joke. 

 So come on Hollywood, make this masterpiece happen before both stars implode and try to do “meaningful” thought piece movies which leave people claiming they liked them...but deep down know they are garbage.  

Cathartic Hate -or- Tolerable Intolerance

Happy Fourth of July to everyone. I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a great Independence Day! I’ve written a lot recently, about tolerance, acceptance and generally being good to one another no matter race, sex, gender identity or religious affiliation. And I honestly believe all people deserve fair and equal treatment #humanist #egalitarian

But damn it...even my saint like tolerance wanes sometimes. As I am sure yours does as well. And sometimes, you just need to let it out. So this week, let’s put a pin in tolerance and address a few personality types, quirks and other little things. If for no other reason than just to have a fun rant. 

Pointy Brown Shoes and the Men Who Wear Them - Maybe it’s my drifting into the world of middle age...but you look ridiculous. Like a Keebler elf who is trying revive the Bee Gees, your shoes scream “please take my lunch money”. Ladies and gentlemen, if your loved one told you you look good in them, or “it’s the style”, they are lying to you. It is obvious from your floppy feet they want them to look bad on purpose. They are bad people. Remember “in style” comes and goes. These were once in style as were these:


 

Jeep People - I get it. You like the lifestyle, freewheeling sense of freedom and lack of side-curtain airbags (your idiotic waving to other Jeep owners was stolen from motorcycle riders http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Jeep%20Wave). 

If you're a good driver who is respectful, hey, drive on Jeep amigo! But, if you drive on the highway like it is an outback safari I hope...nay, pray, you are introduced to a ditch and your lack of doors allow you to achieve flight. For those who swerve through traffic in their Jeep, one leg out of the vehicle, tossing granola bars behind you on your way to your next kayak adventure (in my head they do that), you are a nuisance and deserve to meet a tree. 


 Your Fucking Beard - Sigh. A good beard is a cool expression of masculinity, no doubt. But, there is a limit. Unless you are a civil war enthusiast, an extra on AMC’s Vikings, or a bassist in a metal band, get that shit under control. Other than the weird guy at the gym with still wearing the toboggan hat and grunting, most people sporting the crazy beard look like they’ve never worked a day in their lives. Below are three pictures, can you spot the one who's "earned his beard?  


 Your Workout is Your Business - I know this is low hanging fruit, but I’ll be damned if people won’t stop. So, once again, I’ll say it for the world: No one gives a flying fuck what your latest time, rep, max, yoga pose or crossfit WOD was on social media. Now, you may say “But Gib, people need encouragement. And, it’s not hurting anyone to post their commitment to fitness” And that is true...sort of. There comes a point when said workout person is just humble bragging their way into a superiority complex. You’ll know it's happening when they start giving you diet and exercise tips...whether you asked or not. Which means they are doing it for attention, not for themselves.

Twenty Five years of Influence -or- Moments We Never Forget

Someone asked me if I’d read a few books which are considered classics in the sci-fi & fantasy realm. Some I had. Others I had not. I was asked, how could I excel as a writer if I didn’t read them. 

 I just smiled. 

 Twenty five years ago I came across a fantasy book series which changed my life. It wasn’t the greatest series ever. But it was what I needed. There are moments in our lives which are clear pivot points. I always knew I wanted to be a writer one day. But the type of write I wanted to be...well, that was forever changed when I read this series. 

 

The following is a piece I did a while back about anger and conflict in novels. And it was fitting as it exemplified what the impact that book series had on me. Even 25 years later and hopefully 50 more to come. 

 

Twenty Five years of Anger

 

`"No!" Tennetty drew her beltknife with her free hand. "He's my kill."

*You will stand aside, Tennetty,* Ellegon said.

"Why?"


Twenty-five years ago I read these words in a book I received by accident, a book that would forever change me. They have been with me ever since. 

Younger folks might not know about this, but there used to be a thing called The TV Guide, a weekly mini-magazine that told people what would be on TV. It was littered with advertising. One advertisement that caught my young, nerdy eye was a Sci-Fi/Fantasy book of the month club. You send them a couple of bucks, you get a bunch of free books and two new books a month. If you don’t want the two new books, you mail back a “No Thank You” card. Well, 15-year-old me forgot that part, and I got a book in the mail, an omnibus edition of the late Joel Rosenberg’s Guardian of the Flame series. I cracked it open, and it drew me in deeper than any book ever had, or ever would.

In the series, a group of college students is transported into a parallel universe where they become their fantasy tabletop gaming characters. With real-world minds in fantasy bodies,
and no way to get home, the heroes set out to find their way in this new land. They ultimately decide to take on the all-powerful Slaver’s Guild, because all people deserve to be free. And when you challenge something of that power, despite good intentions,
pain and suffering will follow. But the leader, Karl, knows that they have to keep the Flame of Freedom burning. 

The characters were so real and so developed that they became my friends. I
read and re-read the book so many times it was disintegrating in my hands. I had to hunt in used book stores to get my beloved words back. 

Rosenberg's creation is what inspired me to become a writer. He could take me from cheering joy to tearful sadness. And, when he decided to paint a scene with violence and anger, it wasn’t just the gore-porn that runs rampant in the work of lesser writers. His use
of anger and violence was purposeful and impactful, a masterful stroke from an artist. 

 The "Tennety" from above quotation was a rescued slave woman who had been abused for years. She took up the sword as her way of dealing with her demons and bringing
pain to those who hurt her and enslaved others. It was the only way her psyche would allow her to continue in the world. Ellegon is a dragon--a young one, but he too had been enslaved, chained to a cesspit to forever burn sewage, thereby serving as a city's sanitation device. Both had been saved by the hero Karl.

 In the series' third book, The Silver Crown, Karl is the target of an assassination. Under the cover of night, three killers sneak into the valley, Home, where Karl and his growing community of free-folk live. After Karl and his friends foiled assassination attempt, one assassin was left alive. Using the telepathic abilities inherent to all of that world’s dragons, Ellegon discovers the plan against the residents of Home and the source of the attack.

But what should the heroes do with the remaining assassin? Free him? Kill him? What would--what should--the heroes do? The following scene unfolds after the assassin’s mind is read outside the house where he was discovered, the house where he had killed an entire family, including a little girl.

 "No!" Tennetty drew her beltknife with her free hand. "He's my kill."

 *You will stand aside, Tennetty,* Ellegon said.

"Why?"

Ellegon's mental voice was calm, matter-of-fact. *You will stand aside, Tennetty,  because the little girl's name was Anna. They called her Anna Minor, as Werthan's wife was Anna Major.

*You will stand aside because I had promised to teach her how to swim. And you will stand aside because she always called me Ehgon, because she couldn't manage the l-sound.

*And you will stand aside because this is the one that smiled down at her to quiet her as he opened her throat with his knife. 

*And if you don't understand any of that, you will stand aside, Tennetty, and you will do so now, because if you do not stand aside I will surely burn you down where you stand.*

Tennetty moved away.

Gently, Ellegon picked up the struggling assassin in his mouth and leaped skyward,  his mindvoice diminishing as he gained altitude and flew away. *There are balances in this world, Afbee. And while there is no justice, some of us do our best. I see you have a strong fear of falling...*

"Karl? You want me to finish up here?"

"Can't. I lost my sword somewhere, and then there's--"

"I'll find it. You go home." Tennetty's face was wet. "Go."

Righteous indignation? Justice? Cold-blooded murder? I do not know.

But the writer used his passion to write those words at a level that I strive every day to reach. I only hope I create a scene one day that resonates with someone else the way this scene did with me.

The book then transitions to where the residents of Home are trying to go back to sleep that night. Karl returns to his home and finds his friend Ahira the dwarf, formerly the wheelchair-bound James Michael, sitting in his full battle armor with his axe outside the bedroom of three children. When asked why he is there, Ahira responds simply,


“Behind that door sleep three children. Two of whom I couldn’t love more if they were flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood. So, I am going to sit here all night, in my armor, knowing that no one will get past me to hurt them. Want me to find you a chair?”

Karl’s eyes misted over. “I can find my own chair.”

 Ahira was willing to commit tremendous violence to protect his friend’s children. But in that moment, he also conveys his love for his friends and commitment to their brotherhood and bond. Thank you Joel. Thank you. Your words, even when guiding a scene of anger and violence, taught me lessons that lasted two and half decade and will do so for two and a half more.