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Duck, Duck, Goose!

The townhome we currently live in is hardly without problems.  The back door leaks, our garbage disposal decided to randomly detach itself from the sink a couple of weeks ago, the floors creak, and there are cracks in the walls.  Our unit, which is only about 5 or 6 years old, has walls so thin that I can hear the little girl next door as she giggles and plays in her room.  We constantly find dog leftovers and cigarette butts outside our front door, discover kids on our back porch, and then have to deal with insane “market value” rent increases every year.  I can’t wait to move.

The silver lining to all of this is the ducks that live in the pond behind our unit.  Every year, they show up slowly and begin to have adorable babies.  And every year, we make sure we spent as much time as we can feeding them and watching them.  We have about sixty ducks living out there now, give or take a few.  There are more in the other ponds in our complex.  Between us throwing bread and grapes, the kids who love feeding them, and the elderly couple who throws out seed, they are a well taken care of bunch.

A few weeks ago, we noticed a solitary goose swimming alongside the ducks.  Initially, I wasn’t happy about it.  I’ve never seen a goose and been happy to be near it.  They’re generally mean from what I’ve seen, chasing people and appearing menacing.  This goose, however, was different.  He had a terrible limp and one of his wings was damaged, unable to fold down properly.  He had a heck of a time getting in and out of the water, as there are numerous rocks to navigate over.  He was a sweet and strange bird.

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We fed him along with the ducks.  He was a brave thing, taking the bread right out of my hand in a curiously gentle way.  Duds, with his tongue hanging out of his beak, often gets annoyed by the quickness of the ducks who will take bread he’s dropped from right underneath him.  If he is so much as bumped by a duck or a flying piece of bread, he looks as if he goes into a panic, beak open wide and wings spread out everywhere.  He follows the ducks up to our back porch and follow them back to the water when we went back inside.  As the days passed, his limp got better and better until it was no more.  His wing finally folded down properly and, two weeks ago, we saw him awkwardly take flight for the first time.

We named him Duddits, as he reminded  us of the character from Dreamcatcher.  I’m pretty sure whatever damaged his body also damaged his brain a bit, but he’s still pretty awesome.  Every afternoon, we go out back and Duddits comes to see us and steal bread.  Recently, he’s learned that he can get us to come out and see him by tapping his beak on our back door and peering through the blinds until he sees movement.  Between him and the ducks, we’re outside at least once a day to see our feathered friends.

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I like to think that, in some small way, we helped Duddits get healthy again.  Eventually, he will fly south for the winter and that will be the last we see of him.  It sounds silly, but that awkward bird truly made our summer.  He was such an oddity and we had so much fun sitting out back with him and his duck friends.  Our son thinks he is the coolest bird ever, and he’s right.  I hate how attached I get to random animals, as I’m going to be seriously heartbroken once he’s gone.  But who knows… maybe somehow Duds will find us again next summer and be once again tapping on our back door, looking for a handout.

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Bleeding Out

If you have yet to finish the True Blood series, close this window now and step away from your computer.  If you watched the finale last night along with me, read on.  The seventh season of True Blood came to a close last night, ending the series and bidding farewell to a cast of characters I had mostly come to love.  One thing I enjoyed during seasons 1 through 6 was the constant cliffhanger endings.  My husband and I would find ourselves binge watching because the episode endings were so good and left so many unanswered questions that we just had to watch one more.  And one more.  Season 7 seemed to forget that this was a good idea.  They seemed to forget a lot of things.

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In the very first episode, Tara dies during the battle with the Hep V vampires.  Arlene, Holly and Nicole are kidnapped.  Eric is still missing.  Sam’s secret is revealed.  It was one hell of a start to what I thought was going to be a great season.  When Pam finally finds Eric, we see that he is infected with Hep V and near death.  As one of my favorite characters, I was devastated to see this.  I was even more devastated when Alcide is suddenly shot and killed.  And even more again when Bill finds himself infected with Hep V that, due to Sookie’s fairy blood, is accelerated and killing him quickly.  The small but vocal doctor Eric uses for emergencies comes to aid Bill but panics when she realizes that Sookie’s fairy blood is royal and flees without assisting.  We never learn why she was alarmed, which is frustrating.

Seeing as how two very important characters are dying of Hep V, I felt confident that a cure would be found.  And it was; Sarah Newlin drank an entire vile of the cure back at the compound where Hep V was created, making her blood the one thing that could cure Bill and Eric.  The Yakanomo Corporation decides to synthesize her blood and make “New Blood,” a drink similar to Tru Blood that would work to hold the Hep V symptoms at bay without curing the vampire completely.  Supply and demand and all that.  They force Eric and Pam to work with them, which seems silly seeing as how Eric is a thousand year old cured vampire who could kill these humans in a millisecond if he wants to.

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Sookie being Sookie is able to discover that Sarah is the cure and is being held in the Fangtasia dungeon.  She gets a group together and breaks in so Bill can be cured.  But Bill, worried that his darkness will keep Sookie from being happy, refuses the cure and says he wishes to die.  Naturally everyone is pissed, but we still have this final episode for him to change his mind.  We’ve already seen Lettie Mae resolve her battle in bidding farewell to Tara through vamp blood hallucinations, so she is absent from the finale.  As is Lafayette, one of the best characters this show has to offer.  We get a heavy dose of Jessica and Hoyt, who are holding a marriage ceremony so Bill is able to give her away at the altar.  I get that it was meant to be seen as one of Bill’s dying wishes, but I don’t see why we had to dedicate so much time to this couple.  Bill also makes Andy, his last living relative, promise that he will allow the newlyweds to live in his house basically rent free.  It was a sweet gesture and overall a sweet wedding, but it wasted too much of the episode.

The story that deserved a lot of attention was given nearly none at all.  Pam tags Sarah with her blood and lets her flee, able to track her easily due to her constant fear.  Eric and Pam then reveal to Gus Jr and the yakuza thugs that they let Sarah go.  Gus Jr takes off after Sarah, and Eric and Pam kill them all in about five seconds.  It was painfully simple and wrapped up a main story as if it was nothing.  It left me wondering why the hell they didn’t do this as soon as Gus Jr revealed that they were able to synthesize a version of Sarah’s blood.  They were no longer needed by then, yet Eric allowed them to get in his way for what seemed like forever.  It made no sense.

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One surprise was Sookie being able to read Bill’s thoughts during the wedding.  Fairies are unable to read vampire thoughts, so this was a new one.  My thinking was that fairy blood mixed with Hep V was somehow making Bill human again.  Instead of dying from the virus, he would become mortal once again, able to give Sookie what she deserved in a human lover rather than one that is dead and filled with darkness.  But no, I was wrong.  Or was I?  We’ll never find out because Bill insisted he die in his burial plot at the hands of Sookie.  Not willing to part with her light, she staked Bill as he lay in his coffin, reducing him to a steaming pile of goo.  Seven years, fans have watched these two go back and forth, and this is the ending they are given?  None of it felt right.  It was quite possibly the worst way to say farewell to Bill.

Afterwards, Sookie walks home in tears and covered in pieces of Bill.  We then get that “one year later,” “four years later” nonsense so we can see where everyone has gone from here.  We thankfully get more Eric and Pam, who are filming informercials for New Blood and raking in dough.  They still have Sarah chained in the Fangtasia dungeon and are charging a hundred grand a pop for her blood.  It was a perfect ending for those two, but the entire finale was too light on them.  We needed more Eric and Pam.  We always do.  Their story was the only good part of the entire farewell.  We see Sookie and Jason hosting a Thanksgiving dinner.  Jason is married to Hoyt’s ex, Brigette, and has three kids in tow.  We get the smallest glimpse of Lafayette and James.  Sookie is very pregnant and her faceless husband sits at the head of the table.  Sam makes a return with his wife and now two children.  Everyone is happy happy.

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I don’t feel satisfied with the series end.  I found it silly that Jessica married Hoyt at all, seeing as how eager she was to get away from him before.  It also seemed odd because she had only recently reconnected with Jason, then forgot all about him and went to Hoyt.  Jason and Hoyt basically swapped lovers and both found true happiness.  Everyone seems to have found true happiness in another person; the entire table at the end was a parade of happy couples.  Even Pam and Eric, although not a traditional couple, have found happiness together.  I like a happy ending as much as the next person, but I can’t help but feel cheated by it all.  I also can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Bill was left alone and found that the mutated virus restored his humanity.  Overall, I could have done without this entire season.  If you watched, please leave your opinion and feedback in the comments.  I need to know that I’m not the only one left feeling empty after last night.

L Word Mississippi

I had a slight(ly huge) obsession with The Real L Word on Showtime.  Beautiful women whose lives were filled with drama, love and heartbreak, and truly wonderful personal journeys.  When the last season wrapped, I was happy to see two weddings but sad to see the series come to a close.  A couple of days ago, I saw a promo on Showtime for L Word Mississippi: Hate The Sin.  I missed the premiere, but made sure to record it the next time it was on.

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The title was a bit off-putting, but nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed for the next 90 minutes.  I have experienced my fair share of discrimination.  As a multi-racial person, I’ve gotten the question “what are you” more times than I care to remember.  When I lived in Georgia, I came face to face with the KKK and was made to feel less than human in my high school.  I grew up knowing what homosexuality was due to a gay second cousin, so I never gave it a second thought, but was always disgusted with the challenges my LGBT friends would face.  Even today, I see their struggles and it gets to me.  Because I’m not sheltered at all, I didn’t expect to be as shocked as I was at the stories from Mississippi.

L Word Mississippi began with the clear message that it’s not okay to be gay.  There is no holding hands in public, no kissing your girlfriend at the market, and no being free to live and love as you choose.  The religious community in Mississippi is massive, and that is a major factor in why the struggle for these women is so great.  “Praying the gay away” is thought to be something you can do.  Even some of the women featured on this documentary pray to save their own souls from their so-called sinful lives.  They have found love, but due to the teachings of the church, believe that love to be wrong and want to be saved and find a man to love.

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Rene’s story had my jaw on the floor, especially after we were introduced to her son, Devin.  Rene spent her life dressing masculine and even stuffing a strap-on down her pants in order to feel more like a man.  She stopped and began trying to dress and act more feminine after finding Jesus a year earlier.  Her son came out as gay a few years ago and she blames herself completely.  I dare anyone to look at Rene and Devin and try to tell me that being gay is a choice and not simply the way you’re born.  It’s beyond painful to watch Rene deny who she is in order to appease the church and the community.  It’s worse when she tries to impose those twisted beliefs on her son, who is happy to be who he is.

The other relationships we get to see in this documentary are truly beautiful.  Cameron and Amber are such a loving couple, and lucky enough to have a support system in the Per2yon Family, but you can still see the pain on their faces.  The level of hatred and ignorance they have to face is beyond my understanding and I give them so much credit for being strong each and every day.  Sara, who is expecting a baby boy, struggles with not only being a lesbian and the stigma that is attached to that, but is dealing with her wife transitioning into becoming her husband.  BB, a former pastor, is trying to right the wrongs of her past by helping LGBTQ youth so they don’t feel lost, ostracized, and suicidal.  The “love the sinner, hate the sin” message is strong, but it’s clear that the actual feelings of the community is “hate the sin, shame the sinner.”

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I don’t want to elaborate any further because I want everyone to please look this documentary up and watch it.  Regardless of your beliefs or level of acceptance, please watch this with an open mind and heart.  I want you to be as shocked as I was that this type of hatred and ignorance is not only still incredibly present, but is so widespread.  I am grateful for all the women involved for sharing their stories and hope that as more people see L Word Mississippi, more people begin to realize that it’s not the LGBTQ community that needs to change.  It’s the rest of us.

Moving Along

I was hit with a low blow today.  Scratch that.  I was hit with a fucking mack truck.  My heart felt as if it was going to leap out of my chest and dance across my desk.  My hands were sweaty and my skin clammy.  My appetite was nowhere to be seen and I was ready to sell my soul for a soothing shot of whiskey or tequila.

I’ve been very absent from the world of blogging lately due to my inability to properly handle stressful situations without becoming a useless, shaking blob of jelly.  I’m angry and I don’t know where to direct my rage and how to keep it from burning down the world around me.  I want to scream and cry and throw things until they break.  I want to confront the reason for my distress and beat it into the ground.  Yet here I sit, doing nothing.

As badly as I wanted to fly off the handle earlier today, I held it in and removed myself from the situation as quickly as I knew how.  I’ve shed a few tears, but have kept myself from falling into a full out sob.  Nothing is broken (yet).  I’m trying to fix it, but I feel like I should know why it happened in the first place, and that is one question that will never get a good answer.

I’m glad I didn’t see the smirk and sarcastic wave earlier today from the wrecking ball that destroyed my world today.  My situation would have been irreparable if I had seen that, as I have no doubt that someone would have gotten their teeth punched into the back of their skull.  At some points, I’m so amazed by what happened that I can’t even be angry.  But of course I can.  I am angry.  Justifiably so.  But anger won’t solve any problems.  I have to go forward.  I have to move on.  And a month from now, maybe a year from now, you damn well better believe I’ll be laughing in your stupid, smirky face, you intolerable bastard.

Selling Stencils and Playing Doctor

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that Hobby Lobby will no longer be forced to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees due to their religious objections.  Specifically, Hobby Lobby’s case targeted birth control that they considered to be abortifacients that would cause a miscarriage or abortion in an already pregnant woman.  Plan B and Ella, both emergency contraceptives that simply prevent implantation and do NOT cause abortions, are being blocked.  Two IUDs are also being blocked due to the misinformation that they too cause abortions.  The internet has exploded with Hobby Lobby’s supporters and opponents attacking each other with spit and venom.  The decision has been called both a victory for religious freedom and an attack on the freedoms of us all.

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Hobby Lobby’s website, in response to the question “Is Hobby Lobby imposing the religious views of its owners on its employees,” states:

Of course not.  The Greens and their family businesses support the individual liberties of all their employees.  The very notion turns the facts and the law on its head.  In fact, it is the federal mandate that violates the deeply held religious beliefs of the Greens by forcing them to violate the law or violate their belief that life begins at conception – a choice no company should have to make.  And by threatening extensive fines, the mandate would place a substantial burden on the Greens’ practice of their faith under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That’s why a federal appeals court ruled in their favor. Meanwhile, Hobby Lobby offers coverage for 16 of 20 drugs and devices included in the mandate in its health plan, and the four objectionable drugs and devices are widely available and affordable, and employees are free to obtain them.

There is obviously no law that is forcing any business to offer health care coverage that would include abortions.  The four birth control methods in question do not cause abortions to occur and seriously toe the line on when life is actually created.  To the woman using them, the IUDs are no different from any other birth control method.  Plan B and Ella are fantastic options for couples who experience an emergency such as a broken condom, or even a woman who was sexually assaulted and wants to ensure that no child results from the involuntary union.  It’s unfair to say that any woman who has used any of the four methods in question has potentially received a number of abortions.  It’s incorrect to compare the two.  Preventing implantation and removing a fetus are two VERY different things.

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The biggest issue for me here is that the Supreme Court just allowed a company to make a health care decision for their employees.  Hobby Lobby is not directly handing money over to their employees per request for doctor visits and medications, but using United Healthcare (I believe) to provide coverage.  Their religious beliefs should not be allowed to have this long of a reach, and certainly should not be reaching into the health and well being of their employees.  The life begins at conception argument is a fine argument to make, but it’s not right for the religious standing of the people on top to affect the type of care that every single woman on the bottom will receive from their doctor at a reasonable or at no cost.

I’m worried about what this decision will mean for the future.  If a gay couple adopts and requests maternity leave, can that be denied due to religious objections to homosexuality?  Can an employer decide that no medications will be covered due to their religious belief that medicinal healing goes against their God’s will?  Those seem like ridiculous notions, but then again I thought that it was ridiculous for Hobby Lobby to object to those four “evil” forms of birth control.  And here we are.  God trumps law.  God trumps employee rights.  God trumps insurance companies, doctors, and individuals unable to start their own business and play nicely with the people they employ.  Maybe I’m off base here but in my opinion, if I’m not having an abortion on company time and/or on company property, it is none of my employers goddamn business what I choose to do and certainly not their right to control the quality of my health care.

Please weigh in!  Leave your thoughts, knowledge, opinions, and rants in the comments section.

 

Be Gentle

I don’t have very many female friends.  It’s not because I loathe other women, have issues with jealousy, or am incapable of getting along with people of the same gender.  I find that being friends with guys just happens to be easier.  They can be just as dramatic as females can, but I seem to mesh better with them.  I’ve also had my fair share of bad luck in the past when it comes to other women.  I went through middle school with a friend who would run off and date any guy I even mentioned was cute in passing.  I’ve had women older than me act like petty children and attempt to sabotage certain areas of my life.  I’ve had females say they’re my friends and then say horrible things about me when my back is turned.  I’ve become insanely selective about what females I’m friends with and how close I allow them to get.

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I recently found out that a female I was casual friends with, in her words, “never liked me.”  We stopped talking after she had a falling out with someone I’m close to, which is when the never liking me comment was made.  In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal whatsoever.  Hell, she could have just been heated and said it to get a reaction out of the other person with no ill will meant towards me at all.  I have no idea and no intention of finding out.  But damn it, I am more bothered by this second-hand information than I have any right to be.  She and I don’t really have much in common and if not for mutual acquaintances, probably would never have met and spent time together.  We are two very different people.  Even so, I never ever had the slightest hint that she felt this way.

I’m an annoying twat who can be incredibly bitchy at times, I’ll admit it.  We’re all somewhat intolerable at times; none of us are perfect and we all manage to get on someone’s nerves throughout the day.  I’m at the point in my life to where I refuse to put myself in situations that make me unhappy.  If I don’t care for someone, I’m not going to waste my time around them.  I don’t see the point of making myself miserable just to try to keep the peace when I can just not put myself in certain situations and make everyone happy.  If she truly never liked me, I don’t really understand why she not only was more than willing to be around me, but talked to me one on one when she had no reason or obligation to do so.

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This is a very personal problem that shouldn’t be a problem to begin with.  She has a right to say whatever she wants; whether it was out of anger and not meant to be malicious or if it was 100% truthful, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter to me.  She’s not a bad person, and neither am I.  She didn’t say anything that was even all that bad.  My initial reaction was to feel attacked, and that is the wrong way to feel and the wrong thing to hold on to.  It’s the reason so many chicks are at each other’s throats all the time.  One innocent offhand remark snowballs into something monstrous and evil because we’re mentally incapable of shrugging anything off and moving on with our day.  It’s taking me nearly a week to finally decide that someone never liking me isn’t something I need to feel bad about.  That’s pretty pathetic.

I’ve been doing a lot of growing up lately when it comes to my relationships with other females.  Knowing that I can’t please everyone is something I’m still working on.  Knowing that assuming all women are nuts is a huge mistake is something I only recently learned.  Knowing that basing present relationships on past ones is stupid regardless of the type of relationship is something that also only recently slapped me across the face.  It’s all basic information that I refused to accept due to my fear of the past repeating itself over and over again.  If not for unrelated recent events, I’d probably be busy overreacting to her comment right now and posting a WTF blog instead of this one.  Believe it or not, me being slightly bothered for nearly a week and then writing this is a major improvement.

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It’s a shame that I can’t go back to visit my younger self and cram some sense into my crazy brain, but being able to behave like a rational person for once in this type of situation is pretty big for me.  This small thing has made me look at other things going on in my life and realizing that so little of it matters.  My coworkers are temporary fixtures in my life and I can’t afford to waste time worrying about making each and every one of them happy (or stressing over the BS they bring into the office, like my old pal Tubberpottimus did).  I have to understand the difference between friends and acquaintances and not expect the same out of both.  I sure as hell don’t like everyone I deal with, not everyone is going to like me, and that should be the least important piece of my day.

My husband and I are currently taking another big step in life together (not a baby… no one mention baby) and that has played a major part in getting me focused on what is important rather than on things that simply make me uncomfortable, hurt my feelings, or are otherwise superficial and meaningless.  I don’t want to be alone and lonely ten years from now because I was unable and unwilling to quit overreacting about everything that everyone does to me or around me.  I don’t want to become a bitter person who thinks the world is out to get her.

So, former friend/acquaintance/chick I used to know… I’m sorry if you never liked me.  Sometimes I don’t like me either, so I get it.  But I like you.  Sure, we could never be best of friends, but I always had a blast hanging out with you.  I’d love it if we could be civil when we see each other, but I won’t be offended any longer if you choose to act as if we’ve never met.  The bottom line is that I’m not angry, I’m not upset, and I harbor no ill will.  It took five days and a thousand words after I heard what you said, but I’m good.  We’re good.  And if one day down the road, a month from now or five years from now, things change and our paths intersect once again, I promise we will start with a perfectly clean slate.

Catfish

I confess, I am addicted to MTV’s reality show, Catfish.  I recently read that before hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph are able to read a single word from the victim of a potential Catfish, the production staff does extensive homework on all involved parties, which includes verification of the story, obtaining signed releases, and often requesting that the person being Catfished write a letter to Nev and Max asking for their help.  This is done because the majority of the people who contact MTV are the Catfish themselves, likely looking to finally come clean, which explains why their first words are almost always an apology.  Almost always.

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Catfish has gotten quite heavy in its third season.  While Nev has always been the calm voice of reason with Max occasionally losing patience and having to take a breather, we have seen Nev become seriously heated and angry at the people who have been hiding behind a false persona.  On the episode featuring Kidd Cole, who has scammed thousands of dollars out of who knows how many people, Nev became so angry at Cole’s lack of empathy with his latest victim that he threw Cole’s phone into a river.  Producers on-site have had to step in multiple times to calm Nev and Max down because, in their words, they are in danger of sabotaging their own show unless they get their emotions in check.  But honestly, who can blame them?

To my knowledge, I have never been Catfished, but I feel very confident that it has happened to me at least once during my life online.  Like most people nowadays, I’ve formed numerous friendships with people I’ve met online but never been able to see in person or video chat with.  I even met my husband online, although he was thankfully very real and never once hid behind any online falsehood.  I have friendships with people on Twitter that I still have yet to meet in person.  I’ve had brief interactions with people I assume are celebrities on a verified account that could in fact be just a random employee of that public figure.  Every single day, I find myself in some sort of contact with a person that could be someone very different from who I assume they are.

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The idea of Catfishing someone is hardly a new concept though, just one that has only recently been thrown into a spotlight.  Back when I was eleven and my AOL access was limited to an hour of glorious dial-up per week, I can recall spending the majority of that hour in various chat rooms made for my age group.  I quickly noticed that unlike the real world, each chat room would have a huge number of tall blond cheerleaders and ruggedly handsome football players.  The older I got, the bigger the lies became.  A slight exaggeration on physical appearance became outright lies that took hundreds of pounds off of bodies, changed genders and orientations, shaved off decades from a person’s age, and allowed anyone to have whatever career and financial status they wanted.  The joke became that any and all lesbian chat rooms were actually nothing but 30 – 50 year old men talking dirty to one another.

You would think that the more we see liars and cheats exposed online, and the more we see how easily one person can become someone else entirely via the internet, the more cautious we would all become.  Nev and Max’s investigations on Catfish are reduced from hours into minutes, but their work gives us more than a few tricks that can easily be used to verify someone’s identity.  The last episode of Catfish featured a tech-savvy guy who didn’t do his homework out of respect for the girl he thought he was talking to, but surely our own safety is more important that an imagined slight against a stranger.  I just popped my photo into a Google image search and scared myself a bit at how accurate the results were.  Lying is easy, but exposing those lies is easier.

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In addition to being cautious, we need to be smart.  Giving some random stranger online your full trust is beyond stupid.  People who wouldn’t trust some of their own family will put all of their faith into a person from Facebook that they’ve never met.  It’s mind-boggling.  Stopping for a moment and being rational rather than emotional could work to save a lot of people from a lot of heartache.  In the case of recent Catfish, Kidd Cole, it could have saved people a lot of money had they not taken the word of someone simply because he had a shiny cover story and amazing empty promises.  Every single person who puts themselves on the internet immediately makes themselves vulnerable to some extent.  How vulnerable you allow yourself to be, however, is something every one of us can closely control.

Show Off

My husband and I were lucky enough to not only score great seats for the June 2nd Raw in our hometown, but to also get tickets to Payback the night before in Chicago, IL.  One of the perks of being in the live audience is the opportunity to get yourself noticed on TV by either geeking out to the point that the cameras can’t stay away from you or by creating a good enough sign to grab attention.  I like to keep my fangirling as private as possible, but I do tend to go a bit overboard with my sign preparation.  For Payback, I went with the Wyatt Family.

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Not my best work, but I was proud of it.  I don’t know if it made it onto the Payback PPV at all, as we have yet to hop on the network and check it out, but I hope I got a second or two of screen time.  For Raw the next evening, I decided to go with Dolph Ziggler after this happened:

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Had no choice but to do it after getting a nod from the man himself.  I went in search of the loudest colored markers I could find and got to work:

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My arms were about to fall off at this point.

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This one I was damn proud of.  It could not be more obnoxious looking.  Sadly, it decided to rain before Raw, and my trash bag didn’t quite keep it completely dry, so the ink ran a bit.  My husband and I spent the better part of Raw glued to our seats, just waiting for Ziggler’s music to hit.  And finally, he comes out, we lose our minds, and he POINTS RIGHT AT US!  Excited doesn’t begin to describe it.  The first thing we did when we got home afterwards was check the DVR to see if that brilliant moment was captured on TV.

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My husband is pointing at Ziggler there.  Immediately afterwards, the camera cuts back to Ziggler and you can see him pointing back at us.  We have the gif at home; I’ll try to add it later on.  It was such a cool moment!

Three rows in front of us, we had a guy with a “BLUETISTA” sign and one that said “DANIEL BRYAN SUCKS.”  They spent the majority of Raw holding their poorly made creations up and blocking the view of myself and quite a few others.  Eventually, security intervened and ended up ripping the Bryan sign out of the guy’s hands.  Those two are the perfect examples of what not to do.  The people around you don’t want to have to spend their evening leaning left and right and left again to see around you because you’re only worried about getting on TV as much as possible.  The cameras aren’t going to focus on you for more than a moment or two, so it’s pointless to be obnoxious.  The audience at home is going to get more and more bored seeing you if you insist on trying to get on-screen during every single match.  It’s beyond annoying.

What you should do is put some effort into what you decide to make.  Hold it up when it’s relevant, throw it up a time or two when it’s not just in case, and then sit back to enjoy the show.  Trust me, actually getting the direct attention of one of our favorite superstars was INFINITELY cooler than seeing my sign pop up here and there during a match.  That is a moment that we’ll keep with us forever.  (Also, the Team Foley sign I made for the 2012 Survivor Series will live forever on the DVD, which is another awesome moment)  Aim for that.  Plus, I don’t want to be the only one with arm cramps after spending far too much of my weekends making WWE signs.

Thirty Three

Well, it’s finally happened.  I have reached the point in my life where my birthday is no longer the big deal I once thought it to be.  My birthday is this Friday and I will be spending eight and a half hours of it at my desk at work.  I’ll be attending a promotion ceremony for a coworker, chasing around civilians for their time cards, and fielding calls and emails that are too boring to even mention.  I have zero plans to go out and drink or party or get myself in trouble, although my husband is likely planning to do something amazing for dinner that evening.  All my excitement about the next few days is reserved for the two WWE events in June that my husband and I have tickets for, and the gifts that he’s worked so hard to make perfect.  But as far as my birthday itself?  Who cares?

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Let me assure you, my reluctance to make a big deal of a day that comes around every year has nothing to do with my desire to still be in my 20s, my inability to organize a perfect party, or my friends and family failing to make this into the huge production I secretly desire it to be.  I would much rather celebrate someone else’s big day and allow them to be the center of attention so I can enjoy myself than be the person of the hour and have all eyes on me.  I don’t expect my family to go for broke to make my birthday a huge deal and I’d feel horribly guilty if they ever did so.  I’m perfectly content with my age and the stage I’m currently at in life and sure as hell wouldn’t trade it for my 20s.  Unless we’re talking my metabolism from ten years ago, which I will gladly accept.

I’ve been watching an acquaintance of mine go crazy over her birthday, which is around the same time as mine.  She’s organizing two days of events and trying to get the maximum amount of people involved.  I keep seeing her stress about who is going to what event, who wants to do what, and a whole lot of other things that don’t seem like the kind of things one should worry about on a day they are meant to be having fun.  I won’t be going to her big event, as she scheduled it on my birthday and I feel weird about celebrating someone else’s day on my own with a bunch of her friends that I don’t know.  Unfortunately, my decision seems to have hurt her feelings, but I’d rather just have a quiet evening with my husband followed by some quality time with the child.

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Right now, there are so many amazing things set to happen that my birthday is the least of my worries or concerns.  Not only do we have a WWE Pay Per View to attend and a Raw to get to the following day, but we have some major life changes in our very near future that dwarf any birthday when compared side by side.  (Not a baby.  No one mention a baby.  There is no baby.)  It would be selfish of me to try to make this Friday into a big production when we have so many other things going on.  Not only do I not care about turning 33 all that much, I have no desire to put anything else on the back burner simply so I can feel like a princess for a few hours.  I don’t know what my husband has planned, but I know he’ll make me feel special and spoiled, and that is more than enough.

My birthday should be whatever I want it to be.  If I want it to be just another day, throw me a happy birthday wish and be done with it.  I promise it’s not some weird female trick in order to get presents and surprise parties.  Hell, you can even forget about it entirely and I won’t be put off or offended.  If I snap one day and try to organize the biggest party ever, you should decline to attend guilt-free if you so choose.  I’ve lost count of the birthday celebrations I’ve had to skip due to financial issues, scheduling conflicts, or just because I didn’t feel like going.  And that’s okay.  Birthdays shouldn’t be about how many people can be forced to celebrate your day.  It should be about what you want to do, who you want to do it with, and what kind of happiness you can find with whatever you receive.  The way I see it, as long as I’m smiling, the day went exactly as it should have.

Spidey

My husband and I caught The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in theaters on the Saturday after it opened and we were both incredibly happy with just about every part of the film, including the shock at the end.  A week later, I read an article on Cracked.com that tore down everything I loved about the movie, took a dump on it, and then set it on fire.  Financially, it’s not as successful as other superhero films, but it’s still raking in millions upon millions.  Critically, it’s catching hell from fans and critics alike, with an average rating of about 5 out of 10.  The few people I personally know who have seen it don’t have many positive things to say about it.  It seems as though I’m among the very small minority who disagrees with the points made by Cracked.com.

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Point #1:  “It’s a bizarre homage to the worst Batman movie.”

Apparently the Green Goblin and Poison Ivy are the same person, if the writers at Cracked are to be believed.  Jamie Foxx’s Electro was also too similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze for the Cracked staff, who were unimpressed with two characters who “gained elemental powers in accidents involving their own scientific research.”  And, like many people, they did not understand why Paul Giamatti appeared as villain Rhino.

I thought Harry Osborn’s transformation into the Green Goblin was perfect.  He was wrecked, but not overdone, making him look more menacing than I thought possible.  To compare him to Batman’s bright redheaded Poison Ivy is simply stupid.  As is the Electro/Mr. Freeze comparison.  Spider-Man 2 wasn’t written on a whim, it is based on the comics.  It’s silly to fault the movie for being similar to another when the characters in question are pulled from comics that have existed for years.  As far as Rhino goes, I do understand how some could be confused.  Not familiar with the comics myself, I had to have my husband explain the Sinister Six to me.  But even not knowing that, I found it painfully obvious that the introduction of Rhino was done with the sole intent to set up future films.  It made perfect sense to give the fans a few hints of what is coming in the next movie or two.  You know, like virtually every other superhero movie is doing nowadays.

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Point #2:  “The costume design stepped backward.”

Again, Cracked took a stab at Green Goblin, saying he resembled “a bionic Evil Ed from the 1980s vampire flick Fright Night.”  They were also unimpressed with the changes to Spider-Man’s suit.  The eyes on the mask have enlarged and are bright white, which stays true to the Ultimate Spider-Man comics but differs from the first film in this reboot.  The logo on the chest was tweaked and made to look similar to Sam Raimi’s design; it was meant as an homage to Raimi.  The color is a bit darker and richer.  He has a belt.  Belts are the worst.

To be quite honest, I didn’t even notice the changes to Spidey’s costume until reading that article.  I saw nothing wrong with the design whatsoever and was not put off by the fact that the costume changed without explanation.  The story wasn’t affected one way or the other by what shade of blue was used in the suit and I wasn’t put off by not knowing why Peter decided to change.  The belt makes sense, as it’s in the comics and gives Spider-Man a place to store extra webbing.  As far as Green Goblin goes, I’m not familiar with the character in Fright Night that Cracked compared him to, but I found his transformation to be fantastic.  Dane Dehaan proved in Chronical that he can go from sweet to scary at the drop of a hat, and his shift from Harry into the Goblin was on point.

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Point #3:  “The return of the “hip 1990s soundtrack” trend.”

According to Cracked, the days of top 40 songs meshing with superhero movies are over.  Batman Forever’s soundtrack, which was always a favorite of mine, gave us Kiss From A Rose by Seal.  Batman and Robin featured R. Kelly’s song about Gotham City.  The Cracked writers point out that this trend ended with 2002’s Spider-Man, after Nickelback and Macy Gray failed to find success with their soundtrack contributions.  For Amazing Spider-Man 2, Hans Zimmer put together “The Magnificent Six,” which consists of Pharell Williams, Michael Einziger, Junkie XL, Andrew Kawczynzki, Johnny Marr, and Steve Mazzaro.  One of their most notable contributions was the hard dubstep that played while Electro was on-screen, featuring narrations of the actions to the beat of the music.  Cracked did not approve.

I am going to buy this soundtrack.  I might buy two copies.  Electro is a powerful character, of that there is no doubt.  Having hard electronica playing while he attacks Spider-Man and the city was brilliant.  Having the narration, which to me was what was going on in his mind as he made the shift from reluctant victim of circumstance to a super villain, was a genius move.  I left the theater commenting on how whoever was in charge of the soundtrack and sound editing should win all the awards.  I stand by that.  The soundtrack made the movie so much more than it was by itself.

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Point #4:  “The plot was basically Spider-Man 3.”

Spider-Man 3 had three super villains with coincidental connections to Peter prior to their origins, a breakup between Peter and Mary-Jane, new revelations concerning Uncle Ben’s death, the introduction of Gwen Stacy, and an alien parasite that changes Peter’s behavior.  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had three super villains with connections to Peter prior to their origins, a breakup between Peter and Gwen, new revelations concerning Peter’s parents’ deaths, and the introduction of Felicia Hardy.  Same movie, according to Cracked.

I feel as if no one understood that this is A MOVIE BASED ON A COMIC.  A movie based on existing material in a universe where taking all sorts of creative liberties is frowned upon.  A movie that is rebooting a movie series we just saw ten years ago.  Of course there are going to be similarities.  Of course the story is going to be repetitive when compared to another movie that was trying to tell the same damn story.  I don’t know what the hell they expected.  A Gwen and Peter wedding?  A rewrite of villain back stories so there is no connection to Peter?  Mary Jane?!?

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This was a fun and exciting movie that allowed me to escape the real world for 2 1/2 hours and leave the theater with a smile on my face.  It successfully told the story of how Harry fell out with old friend, Peter, becoming his enemy and desiring revenge.  It successfully told the story of Gwen and Peter, which ultimately had to end because of what has already been written about Peter’s love life.  It successfully gave us the rise and fall of Electro, who Foxx turned into quite the dynamic character.  It successfully set up future films.  If you want to sit and nitpick at a movie based on a dude who got superpowers from a spider, have at it.  Personally, I find it much more satisfying to simply shut my mouth and enjoy the ride.

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