The Curve-balls Of Life

Life, if nothing else, is a series of curve-balls. When we think we know what is coming, a curve-ball comes out of nowhere.

I experienced one of those curve-balls today. While I cannot get into the specifics of this curve-ball, I will say that at the very least, it has thrown me for a loop.

Part of me knows that this is an opportunity to branch out and grow beyond my current circumstances. There is the potential option to stay where I am, but I am at the point where I am ready to step out of my comfort zone.

However, there is another part of me that is to be honest, scare sh*tless. I am the type of person who relies on the familiar, on the expected aspects of life. Not knowing what is coming around the bend makes me uncomfortable and extremely anxious.  But the truth is that no one knows what is coming around the bend. We may think we know, but we don’t.

I am a believer in both fate and hard work. I also believe that our creator does not give us anything more than we can handle.

This too shall pass, but at the moment, this curve-ball is present and accounted for in my life.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Dawn Summers

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

To be one’s little sister is not always easy. Especially when one’s older sister is the Slayer. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that little sister is Dawn Summers. Introduced in the beginning of season 5, Dawn appeared to be the average, annoying little sister. She adored her sister’s friends and wanted to be around them. But like any big sister,Buffy did not want to have her sister around.

But up until that point, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), was an only child.  But no one questioned Dawn’s existence. Then Buffy discovered that Dawn is the Key, a mystical object turned into human form so she can be protected from Glory (Clare Kramer). After Buffy defeats Glory, Dawn is accepted as she is. But then her mother dies and Dawn has to deal with the loss of her mother. In her grief, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) helps Dawn with a spell to bring her mother back, but that does not end well.

The sisters finally mend their relationship after Buffy’s bought with with depression and Dawn’s feelings of abandonment. During the final battle at end of the series, Dawn fights with the Scooby gang and earns her stripes as an ally of the Slayer.

To sum it up: The stereotype of the annoying little sister can be fun to play with as a writer. The character of Dawn is interesting because she is much more than the basic character trope. Beyond her magical conception and abilities, she is a fully formed character whom we love to hate because she is so annoying. When a character is memorable because they are annoying, the writer(s) have done something right.

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Throwback Thursday-America’s Best Dance Crew (2008-2015)

One of the surprising results of the meteoric growth of reality television is the opportunity for those in the arts to prove that they have what it takes to succeed in their chosen field.

America’s Best Dance Crew aired on MTV from 2008 to 2015. Produced by Randy Jackson, the premise of the show was for dance crews from the around the country to introduce themselves to audiences and to compete for the title of America’s Best Dance Crew. The show was hosted Mario Lopez and the contestants were judged by three well-known performers within the music and dance industries. Each episode had a theme and each crew had to come up with their own dance based on that theme. As with any reality competition show, at the end of the season, one dance crew was named the winner.

Looking back, I feel like this show was both very cliched and very niche. Though the dancers who were competing were obviously talented and working their tails off, it was a little too predictable for my taste.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Amazon Will Not Be Coming To New York City After All

After a lot of hype, criticism and politics, Amazon decided that it would not build its new headquarters in New York City.

To be honest, I am disappointed. While I understand the reasons why some people did not want Amazon to build the new headquarters in Long Island City, I feel like the benefits outweighed the risks.

I also feel like part of the blame falls on Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo.  Neither was completely open with the public as to the application process and the benefits that Amazon would have received, had they actually proceeded with agreed upon plan. It was just a little too “political backroom deal” for my liking.

But what is done, is done. Amazon has made their decision. There are many, many other businesses that contribute to the financial health of the city and her residents. I just can’t help but wonder what Amazon might have brought to this city, had things been different.

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There Is No National Emergency

In spite of America being the land of immigrants, there are many in this country who would prefer to limit who can come through our borders.

You know who is one of them. When he did not get the funding for his border wall by shutting down the government, he threatened to declare a national emergency and bypass Congress.

As of earlier this evening, the threat of using the “national emergency” has become a promise and with the backing of Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the bill to release the funds will be signed.

This “national emergency should be a concern for a number of reasons:

  1. From my perspective, Mitch McConnell is not agreeing to the bill because it is the right thing to do for the country. He is agreeing to it to save his own skin.
  2. The border wall is not only a waste of money and resources, and will not solve the complicated issue that immigration.
  3. The use of  the “national emergency” measure creates a dangerous precedent. It allows future Presidents to declare “national emergencies” for pet issues or projects when Congress says no.

We need comprehensive immigration reform, that is clear. But we must do so in a way that does not waste precious money or resources. This wall is a waste of both.

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Thoughts On the First Anniversary Of the Parkland Shooting

One year ago today, the students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School started the school day like any other school day. By the time the sun had set, 17 people were dead and many more were injured.

I’ve spoken in previous posts about my memories of the day of the Columbine attack. If only we would have done something back then. If only the gun laws would have been strengthened. If only our treatment of mental illness would have been different. Parkland and the other mass shootings that have occurred might not have happened. But we can only say “if only” in hindsight.

My heart still breaks for the families of those killed, the community at large and for the survivors whose lives were forever changed.

We need common sense gun control laws. While we cannot step on the rights of gun owners who follow the law and are of sound mind, we cannot continue to allow our children to be massacred in their classrooms.

May the memories of those who died one year ago today be a blessing and may we never forget the toll that gun violence takes on all of us.

 

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Thoughts On Ilhan Omar’s Israel Comments

One of the cornerstones of any legitimate and thriving democracy is the ability to criticize the government without fear of reprisal.

That being said, there is a distinct difference between having the right to openly criticize the government and hate speech.

Representative Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minnesota) comments, in my opinion, can without a doubt be classified as hate speech.

While I agree with her that money from lobbyists urgently needs to be removed from politics, the fact that she once again spread the lies that Israel (aka Jews) are using their money to gain influence is just plain wrong.

Some argue that antisemitism and anti-Israel is one and the same. They are completely different.  Antisemitism is hatred of members of the Jewish faith for no other reason than our religion. It is possible to disagree with the actions of the Israeli government and not be labeled antisemitic. But to criticize the actions of the Israeli government simply because it is Israel is antisemitic.

A real democracy has no place for prejudice or hate. A real democracy respects the diversity of the citizens who call this country home.

Do I accept her apology? I don’t know. But I do know that I am reminded that antisemitism is still very real and very dangerous.

P.S. Am I the only one who is disturbed by you know who’s hypocrisy in demanding that Representative Omar resign?

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Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom Book Review

When you learn from a master, the lessons learned often transcend the academic world. The lessons we learn from this person stay with us long after we have left the classroom.

The late Elie Wiesel was one of the most remarkable men of our time. He was more than a Holocaust survivor, successful author and a teacher. He spoke to our common humanity in a way that few people are able to do. Ariel Burger was one of the fortunate few who knew Professor Wiesel on a personal level; first has his student, then his teaching assistant.

Last year, Dr. Burger published a memoir about his time with Professor Wiesel entitled Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom.  They met when Dr. Burger was a teenager. Years later, he was offered a position of Professor Wiesel’s teaching assistant. For Dr. Burger, this relationship was more than the typical student/teacher or teaching assistant/Professor relationship. Professor Wiesel was a mentor and guided his teaching assistant as he dealt with life’s challenges.

I loved this book. I loved it because I felt like I was sitting in Professor Wiesel’s classroom, learning with his students. I also loved it because it speaks to the legacy of love and learning that only someone like Elie Wiesel could leave to the world.

I recommend it.

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Bill de Blasio is Thinking Of Running For President In 2020

For many in politics, the idea of running for President is the ultimate political dream. The question is, should they run or focus on their current responsibilities?

The list of potential Democratic 2020 Presidential candidates may soon have one more name added to it: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In a word: no, no and no.

He was not elected by the citizens of New York City to lead this city and then to leave us high and dry to run for President. We have more than enough issues that he needs to be focusing on.

The number of homeless individuals is far higher than it should be, there is an endless series of scandals surrounding NYCHA (lead paint, staff lead sex orgies, etc) and the MTA is a mess.

During his initial election for Mayor, he ran on a platform entitled “A Tale of Two Cities” He promised to fix in the inequalities that have plagued this city for decades.  While I completely understand the fixing the inequalities that affect every day citizens requires time and work, he has yet to fulfill his campaign promise.

Your responsibility Mr. Mayor,  is to the citizens of New York City, not the to the primary voters of the 2020 Presidential election. You can run in 2024, after your term as Mayor is over. But for now, I suggest you focus on the job the voters hired you to do.

 

 

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Flashback Friday-Pop-Up Video (1996-2002)

Compared the course of the history of music, the music video comparatively speaking, is still a new format. But like anything in life, one can only watch so many music videos before it becomes overkill.

This is where Pop-Up Video comes in. Airing on VH1 from 1996 to 2002, the program added to the music videos by including brief tidbits of information that had something to do with the song or the artist(s).

What I liked about Pop-Up Video is that the information that popped up was not just bland facts. Some of the pop ups contained trivia and some contained details that could be construed as naughty by some viewers. Looking back, I remember enjoying Pop-Up Video because you never knew which videos would be chosen and what information was going to be shared during the video.

I recommend it.

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