Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. II

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It’s been a long time since I reviewed a movie. There are a few reasons for that. Firstly…I’ve been busy and if I’m gonna write…I’d prefer to write about something important about my family or friends or something. Secondly…there haven’t been a lot of movies that I really care to write about. Thirdly…well…that’s really about it. I love movies and for me to take the time to write about them they better be WORTH the time…ya know?

Which brings me to THIS film. Going on record here…I, like a gazillion other moviegoers, LOVED the original GOTG. It was everything you want in a scifi, Marvel event movie. It had action. It had romance (kinda). It had humor. It was everything a popcorn movie should be and it was magnificent!

Cut to a couple years later and now you have the sequel. Look…we all know the rulebook says the second one should NEVER be as good as the first one…right? Well…except for “Aliens.” And “Terminator 2.” Oh…and “The Empire Strikes Back.” Well…THAT one is arguable. Aaaaanyway…I am so VERY happy to report that the sequel to GOTG isn’t just a return to the original. It expands and enhances. It’s hysterically funny in places. It’s action-packed! It has awesome new characters and it has storylines that blend well together, never leaving a character behind (which is difficult to do in a movie with 5 or 6 “main” characters). I left the theater feeling enthralled, exasperated, exhilerated and, above all the other “E” adjectives…entertained! This was EXACTLY what I needed to kick off this upcoming summer of blockbusters! Seriously…it was the most fun I’ve had at a movie since….well…the first one probably.

I’m not giving anything away here. It’s not what I do. But I will do this….here is a list of my favorite characters in THIS installment of the GOTG universe…

  1. Yondu (Michael Rooker) takes his character to a new level in this one. I won’t say why but just know…he’s back and better than the first.
  2. Baby Groot. Seriously…the opening sequence is worth the price of admission.
  3. Ego The Living Planet (Kurt Russell) is, without a doubt, the biggest surprise of this movie.
  4. Drax (Dave Bautista) steals the entire first half of this movie. He’s HYSTERICAL!
  5. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) & Gamora (Zoe Saldana) are the heart of this franchise and they don’t let us down here.
  6. Rocket. Seriously…you forget he’s a CGI character. He’s the Han Solo of this franchise and he makes every scene he’s in better.
  7. The 80’s references come fast & furious. Don’t blink! You might miss something!

Now…a few critical notes…

NONE.

This movie is awesome! Go see it in a theater. Make it as BIG a screen as you can. Get some popcorn, a soda, maybe some candy, whatever and prepare yourself for over 2 hours of entertainment. Also…a quick note…this movie may be the most colorful movie I have seen since “The Wizard Of Oz.” An entire spectrum of color is thrown at the screen at all times and it is FANTASTIC! Kudos to the art & CGI department at Marvel. It is magnificent to look at!

Overall Rating: A+. An awesome start to the summer! Way to go Marvel!!!

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People Are People

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“People are people so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully.
So we’re different colors
And we’re different creeds
And different people have different needs.
It’s obvious you hate me 
Though I’ve done nothing wrong
I never even met you
So what could I have done.
I can’t understand
What makes a man
Hate another man.
Help me understand.”
This song was written and produced back in March, 1984 by Depeche Mode founder, Martin Gore. I’ve always liked this song and its lyrics mostly because, quite honestly, I don’t understand either. What is it in the human nature that makes us so judgmental of others? Why do we care so much what anyone else does in their own home? Why do we care who someone else loves? I don’t get it.
With the advent of our new administration and the seemingly unending task that this administration seems to have for tearing down what its predecessors put into place, I have kept my tongue quiet up until now. It’s been a while since I’ve written simply because I have been mostly in a bad place in my head. What is happening around our country has made me skeptical of the direction I THOUGHT we were going in. The lyrics of “People Are People” are from over 30 years ago. For years, I have been thinking we were getting past the hate, the discrimination and the animosity that has been a part of the history of our country. I was dead wrong. With the election of Donald Trump as our President, our country has now been given the go-ahead to revert back to what it once was…and that is horrifying to me. It’s amazing to me to see what is happening in our country right now. One of the things that has set me to write today is something that could be considered small by some people…but for others? It’s a pretty big deal. And honestly…it’s one of MANY things I am concerned with.
Within the last couple of days, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed a law (Senate Bill 17 or the “Charlie Brown Law”) that would allow student groups at colleges, universities, and high schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students. Of course, the way the bill is written, it doesn’t SAY it’s SUPPOSED to do is this. The following is a copy & paste of what this bill SAYS it’s supposed to do…
“…permit students to voluntarily express religious or political viewpoints in school assignments free from discrimination; require local boards of education to ensure that the selection of student speakers is made in a viewpoint-neutral manner, the student’s prepared remarks are not altered before delivery without student’s consent, religious and political organizations are allowed equal access to public forums on the same basis as nonreligious and nonpolitical organizations, and no recognized religious or political student organization is discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs; allow students to display religious messages on items of clothing, access public school facilities during noninstructional time as a religious student organization, use school media to announce student religious meetings, and meet as a religious student group during noninstructional time and before and after school to the same extent as students undertaking such actions in a nonreligious manner; permit public schools to sponsor artistic or theatrical programs that advance students’ knowledge of society’s cultural and religious heritage; create a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to allow a teacher to teach about religion with the use of the Bible or other scripture without providing religious instruction, and to teach about religious holidays in a secular manner; amend KRS 158.186 to require annual notification to local school boards, school-based decision making councils, and certified employees of statutes pertaining to religious freedom and expression in schools; create a new section of KRS Chapter 164 to require public postsecondary education institution governing boards to ensure that students are permitted to voluntarily express religious or political viewpoints in assignments free from discrimination, the selection of student speakers is made in a viewpoint-neutral manner, the student’s prepared remarks are not altered before delivery without the student’s consent, religious and political organizations are allowed equal access to public forums on the same basis as nonreligious and nonpolitical organizations, no recognized religious or political student organization is discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs, and there are no restrictions on speech that occurs outdoors on campus and is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, except for restrictions that are reasonable, justified without reference to speech content, narrowly tailored to serve governmental interest, and limited to provide alternative options for the communication of the information.”
What is this long, run-on sentence I just copied and pasted from THIS  site? Well…it’s legalese that supposedly says that it prevents school officials from regulating student organizations, including the selection of members and “doctrines and principles.” What it is effectively doing is allowing student groups at colleges, universities, and high schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students OR anyone else for that matter with no recourse from the institutions. So…we could effectively be thrust BACK to the 1950’s on college campuses where certain groups aren’t allowed to participate in certain organizations because of their sexual preference, their skin color, their religious background, etc.
Question. Do I think this will happen?
There is a part of me that WANTS to believe ‘no’. I want to believe that we have moved on and are understanding that not everyone has the same DNA. I WANT to believe that we  all understand that we can’t all be white, heterosexual and middle to upper class. I wanted to believe that we were on a path to end racism, end hatred towards those who are of different sexualities, end religious hypocrisy. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. So…yes. I believe it can and will happen with the passing of this law. Our kids are a product of who WE are. All this time I thought we had been teaching them that people are different. I wanted to believe in change. What I see now is that there are people who do NOT believe that we can all live together in harmony. Apparently it is ok to be judge and jury when it comes to race, religion and sexuality. I’m from a family that taught me that we are all different in many ways. My parents raised me to be respectful of ALL people. I understand that not everyone was raised that same way but I wanted to think that MY generation was working to rid our planet of all of this hate and misunderstanding. I was wrong.
For the record, I think it’s a shame that we even have to concern ourselves with laws such as this one. Why do we, as a people, continue to discriminate? The other day I saw a commercial on television. I don’t recall what the product was however in a brief few seconds of this commercial, there was a male couple in their bedroom. One had awakened and was getting ready for his day and the other lay sleeping in bed. It was only a second. But it occurred to me that it’s THAT kind of world that we should be striving for. Where it doesn’t matter who is in whose bed. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is. It doesn’t matter whether you are male, female or transgender. Seriously…IT DOESN’T MATTER. In the end, we all will be put to rest, our bodies will become carbon and we will be gone! Why spend so much of your time worrying about others and what they do behind closed doors? It’s RIDICULOUS. And if you are a part of this apparently large group of people…you should be ashamed of yourself.
So many people want to quote scripture when it comes to this sort of discrimination. The “Lord’s Word” is what they will shout. They will march with signs and protest equality and say they are following God’s Word but they are all liars. Aside from the 10 Commandments, which I feel are strong rules to live by…all you have to do is flip to Matthew 7:12. If you visit Biblehub.com, you will find a wide variety of versions of this particular passage. It is commonly known as The Golden Rule.
“DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.”
Live it. Don’t question it. Believe in it. You will be a better person for it.
And for the love of all that’s holy…just stay out of everyone else’s business. Mind your own home. THAT is your business. And if you go around throwing stones at glass houses…you never know. Yours could be next.
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The Best (and Worst) of 2016

It’s the end of the year and so, as so many people and media outlets tend to do, I figured I would list MY favorite things of 2016. Can’t say there’s a rhyme or reason to them. Just happen to be things I liked or disliked about those 365 days around the sun…

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2nd BEST TV SHOW: “Love” (Netflix)

Honestly, I was just flipping through all of the Netflix programming available and came across this little gem. Who would’ve thought it would grab me the way it did? I can’t explain it…it just did. Two completely different personalities find themselves together one regular day and that starts a relationship (of sorts) that manages to get more & more criss-crossed as the season goes on. It’s a nice little change of pace from all the other heavy stuff out there and I found myself rooting for the leads more & more as the episodes went on. Can’t wait for the 2nd season!

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BEST NATIONAL SPORTS MOMENT: The NCAA Championship

Look…I love me some good basketball. THIS was the best championship in years…maybe decades…maybe EVER! Ok…maybe not ever but still…it was a good one. It was a hard fought battle from beginning to end between Villanova and North Carolina and there were not just one…but TWO buzzer-beaters!!! North Carolina hit the first when senior Marcus Paige hit a double-clutch 3 to tie the game with 4 seconds remaining and then Villanova forward Kris Jenkins hit a long 3 at the buzzer to shock the Tar Heels and give ‘Nova the 77-74 win. It was AWESOME!

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BEST STAND UP COMEDY ALBUM: Tom Papa – “Human Mule”

I love stand-up comedy and Tom Papa has hit the nail on the head with his latest comedy album! So many brilliant jokes about love, life, marriage and kids. Too often I found myself laughing hysterically because…quite frankly…EVERYTHING he jokes about is 100% true! Go check out this awesome comedy album, “Human Mule,” on iTunes now!

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FUNNIEST TV MOMENT: “David S. Pumpkins”

Nothing made me laugh longer or harder than this absolutely ridiculous character created by Saturday Night Live for Halloween. Tom Hanks IS very funny, but it’s the B-Boy skeletons, a bouncy instrumental track and the incredulous looks of Kate McKinnon and Beck Bennett that truly make this a classic!

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2nd BEST VACATION: Chicago Trip

Nothing like a little “me time” with 3 of my best friends in the Windy City! Chicago really is a great town and one of our country’s premier shopping locations. We didn’t do any of that, choosing instead to drink and eat our way through 3 days of fun! But still….if you WANTED to shop…Chicago would be a good place to go. Just saying…

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MOVIE OF THE YEAR: “Deadpool”

I’m a BIG fan of the Marvel movie world and I thought I had it all down until Deadpool hit theaters in the early part of the year and BLEW ME AWAY! The merc with a mouth was the most fun I’ve had in theaters since….well….since Captain America: Winter Soldier! If you like action and humor and super heroes and adult stuff? Then THIS movie is the one you want to see!

Other good flicks from this past year…

“The Lobster”
“Doctor Strange”
“Rogue One”
“Captain America: Civil War”
“10 Cloverfield Lane”
“Hell Or High Water”
“Passengers”
“Sing Street”

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2nd BEST FAMILY MOMENT: Thanksgiving With My Family

Let’s face it…this holiday will be in my favorites EVERY year. I love visiting my family during the holidays and this year we celebrated at my sister’s house. Thanks to Mandy for housing us for an afternoon of food, football and family! As always, this year was a lot of fun! Here’s hoping Frank revives out of that food coma any day now…

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TELEVISION SHOW OF THE YEAR: “Stranger Things” (Netflix)

Basically ripped from the best 80’s movies, this homage to my favorite decade was taylor made for me and my generation. Part “Goonies,” part “The Thing”, part “Every Other 80’s sci-fi, scary, action flick you can think of,” the writers of this 8 episode series nailed it PERFECTLY in every way. I highly recommend it…even if you AREN’T from the 80’s. It’s just SOOOOOO good!

TOP 3 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR:

Bear Hands – “You’ll Pay For This” (alternative rock)

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Watsky – “x Infinity” (hip hop)

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Sturgill Simpson – “A Sailor’s Guide To The Earth” (alt-country)

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All 3 of these albums offer something that a lot of artists don’t give you these days….quality lyrics. Sure, the music is excellent…but when you listen to the lyrics, that can make ALL the difference! From Bear Hands’ “2AM”…

All your friends are sober
Yeah we’re getting older
Going out’s a drag now
All my spots have closed
And we can fantasize
Without much of a mess
And making love is fine
But all I want is to forget
How old I am

From Watsky’s poetic “Tiny Glowing Screens Pt. 3″…

Some days I throw my hands up like this shit right here is hopeless
but today I throw my hands up like this shit right here’s the dopest
I’ll never sew my family’s holes up saying hocus pocus
So I focus love on what is whole and chase my magnum opus
There’s so much more life before I leave this skin behind me
Right now I’m feeling finer than Aaliyah in the 90s
Yeah, today I’m feeling firmly like my faith could never burn me
like I’m apt to move that mountain just by glaring at it sternly

Or how about THESE lyric from my favorite album this year…Sturgill Simpson and his song, “Brace For Impact”…

Some will beg for forgiveness
From someone above
For something they did
To someone they love
Some scream like a baby
Some go out crying
Some bid the world goodbye
And welcome to die
Go out and live a little
Bone turns brittle
And skin withers before your eyes
Make sure you give a little
Before you go to the great unknown in the sky
I could post meaningful lyrics from all 3 of these albums all day…but I won’t. Just go check them out. It will be worth your time. A few other albums of note…
A Tribe Called Quest – “We Got It From Here….Thank You For Your Service.” (rap)
POP ETC – “Souvenir” (alt-pop)
Jason Aldean – “They Don’t Know” (country)
Kings Of Leon – “WALLS” (rock)
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BEST VACATION: Family Trip To Gatlinburg 
If there was one thing I didn’t like about this little trip into the mountains of Gatlinburg, it was that it was too short! We were only able to go for a few days, but we rented a cabin in the woods in the Smokey Mountains, played some pool, hung out in the hot tub and visited this little tourist destination before a wildfire took out so much of the area in late November.
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BEST SPORTS MOMENT: Chris Throws 3 TD in his freshman year debut
This being his first game of his high school career, I can only imagine the butterflies Chris may have had going into this game. But he came out, did what he needed to do and threw 3 touchdowns to help lead the Tigers freshman squad to a nice win over Lawrenceberg!
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BEST DADDY MOMENT: The Father/Daughter Dance
I miss so much as a working father and for the first time in Ava’s grade school career, I was able to attend this annual event. We had a lot of fun and it was funny how Ava kept checking on me despite the fact that she wanted to be with her friends. I bought a new shirt and tie and everything! LOL! We had a lot of fun though and it is a memory I will never forget…
THE ABSOLUTE BEST MOMENT OF 2016…
Seeing Mom back home.
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What a long, difficult year 2016 was. Mom was in the hospital for 177 days, pretty much the entire summer, with a variety of health issues. Once the doctors got one thing under control, 2 more things would go wrong. But not once did I ever believe she wouldn’t be here to see 2017 and thank you God for proving me correct. She has rebounded in every way, she’s getting her legs back under her and her strength is returning and she is every bit as loving and chatty as she was before this whole thing began. My entire family is thankful for all of the prayers, comments and well-wishes sent through the entire ordeal and we are all very happy to see her back where she belongs!
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THE WORST THINGS ABOUT 2016…
Other than the obvious with my Mom, here are the absolute worst things about this past year. And trust me…it was an extremely rough year…
3. The deaths of the following…
 Prince
David Bowie
Gene Wilder
George Michael
Carrie Fisher
Kenny Baker (R2D2)
Muhammad Ali
Alan Rickman
Florence Henderson
Arnold Palmer
John Glenn
Gary Marshall
Glen Frey
Leonard Cohen
Nancy Reagan
and so many more. It was an extremely sad year for my generation.
2. The Presidential election
Possibly THE ugliest election of ANY election of my lifetime. I can’t remember when our country has ever been SO divided & downright ugly. In the end, who knows how it will all turn out but all I can say is that I hope the differences can be mended and our country can move forward. I’m not confident in where we are headed…but for the sake of our democracy, I hope I’m completely wrong and our new President proves me wrong.
1. Community struggles
This year we had many of our neighbors go through a variety of health & home issues. With Mom being in the hospital and work being what it is, I wasn’t able to be around for them when they needed support. I know that one has made a turn for the best and she has been cleared of cancer (CONGRATS MADISON!) and the other is doing well despite losing her partner and having been diagnosed with cancer also.
We also lost a friend from Christopher’s high school class at Beechwood. Mason B. struggled with Dravet Syndrome, which is a rare, severe form of epilepsy. On December 27th, Mason suffered a seizure that put him in a coma for 2 days. He passed on December 29th. Mason was a happy, spirited young man who always seemed to be smiling. He will always be remembered and he will always be a part of our hearts and a part of our community. Rest In Peace, Mason. We will always remember you.
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Here’s hoping 2017 is better to ALL of us and that we can all learn to be sympathetic, loving and thoughtful to those who need support.
So….See ya 2016! Wouldn’t wanna be ya! Now….ON TO 2017!!! Happy New Year everyone!!!
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On the field after Denver won Super Bowl 50. Ok…so THAT was kinda cool…

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Today Is A Great Day…Period.

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After spending the last 6 months in the hospital or rehab, today is the day. Today at 8:45am, my Mom returned to her home and now everyone in my family can breath a sigh of relief. What that woman has been through over the last 177 days is remarkable. I’ve seen her near death…TWICE…myself. Her body fought against her. Her kidneys, lungs, pancreas, you name it…they ALL wanted to quit. My Mom fought harder than I’ve ever seen anyone fight before and here she is.

I realize that there’s a Game 7 in the World Series tonight. It’s a game no one ever thought they would see in their lifetime…Cubs vs Indians. It’s been EPIC! But honestly? THIS is MY World Series championship. Nothing compares.

Nothing.

There’s nothing more impressive than someone who goes against the odds and fights and battles and makes it. Someone has the strength to say, “I know the odds are against me but screw it…I’m ALL IN!” And that’s what my Mom did.

5 months ago, as she was laying in her hospital bed with tubes sticking out of her mouth, nose, arms and God knows where else, I looked into her eyes and, without speaking a word, I saw that she wasn’t ready to go. She wasn’t ready. And dammit if she didn’t do exactly what she set out to do.

Unbelievable is what it is. And I couldn’t be more proud that my kids got to see someone go through what she did and survive. Now they know. Now…later in life….when the shit hits the fan and they think they can’t survive, they’ll know. It ain’t over till it’s over. Keep the faith, pray and fight. That’s all you can do. Amazingly enough, sometimes those prayers are answered. Today they are.

I’d like to thank all my friends who texted, called, posted or just said a prayer for my Mom on their own. Trust me…they were ALL appreciated!

And a HUGE thanks to the Big Guy upstairs. You rock!!! You answered every prayer that we sent your way and then some! And I can’t thank you enough! But now…I’ve got more to ask. You helped us but now I’ve got 2 neighbors here in the Bubble who need your help. My Mom can take it from here. Please go give Madison and Margaret all of your attention. They need you more than ever! Two of the nicest people you’ll eve meet and they are at a threshold. Be kind and help them as much as you helped my Mom please. Please give them strength and courage to fight on!

Today is a great day. God is with us and he is lighting the way. Peace, my friends. Stay strong and be positive. Amazingly enough…sometimes that’s all you can do and ya know what? Sometimes it really works!

 

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My Top 50 Favorite Movies

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50. The Goodbye Girl (1977)
Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason trade barbs and fall in love. Great writing and great chemistry between the 2 stars make this a romantic comedy for the ages.
Favorite Scene: When Elliot (Dreyfuss) and Paula (Mason) fight over the apartment.

49. The Sure Thing (1985)
One of many John Cusack films on this list, this little gem from the 80’s showcases Cusack’s comedic timing and his ability to play it straight. And having Anthony Edwards as his wingman makes it all the more satisfying!
Favorite Line: “Don’t you want to give me a ride? Hahahahahahahaha!”

48. Lost In Translation (2003)
Such a slow buildup with a satisfying ending. Bill Murray is subdued and Scarlett Johanssen is too young, which makes for a marvelous pairing between 2 sleep deprived Americans in Japan.
Favorite Line: “You’re probably just having a mid-life crisis. Did you buy a Porsche yet?”

47. Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)
Marvel has made a LOT of movies over the last 10 years but this is the best of the MCU bunch. The opening alone is worth the price of admission but then it kicks into gear when Cap fights against his best friend and hidden enemies come calling.

46. No Country For Old Men (2007)
Getting old ain’t as easy as it used to be. Tommy Lee Jones is the main character, but it’s Javier Bardem that stole the show. Next to Hannibal Lecter and The Joker, quite possibly the meanest bad guy ever to grace the screen!
Favorite Line: “This country is hard on people, you can’t stop what’s coming, it aint all waiting on you. That’s vanity.”

45. Cloverfield  ( 2008 )
Easily the most fun I’ve ever had watching a horror flick. It’s like riding a roller coaster! A lot of people complain about the shaky camera. I complain that it wasn’t long enough!
Favorite Line: “Well, I need to talk about something because if I don’t I’m going to actually shit my pants in this stairwell!”

44. Sex, Lies & Videtape (1989)
I remember going to see this in college and thinking I was going to see a grade-B sex flick. Actually it’s a very good study of the destructive relationships we make for ourselves and how we protect ourselves from the pain they bring.

43. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Cheer up Charlie…you got the Golden Ticket! And the golden ticket for this film is definately Gene Wilder. No matter how you cut it, from the second he falls, flips and pops back up to greet the kids at the front of the factory, Wilder owns Willy Wonka (and I don’t care what you say…Tim Burton’s version is crap).
Favorite Line: “So much time, so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it!”

42. The Breakfast Club (1985)
If you’ve ever been to high school you’ve dealt with the sterotypes. Although it doesn’t hold true to real life in the end, it’s still a hopeful look at what it could be. John Hughes at his best (but not his best!) and the soundtrack is kickin’!
Favorite Line: “Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?”

41. Deadpool (2016)
If you wanna make a superhero movie…then THIS should be the blueprint. Full of action, violence, romance, sex and a superhero who breaks the 4th wall and makes it fun for everyone. Forget the big budgets Hollywood. Take a look at this one and do it this way from now on!
Favorite Line: “Listen Al, if I never see you again, I want you to know that I love you very much. I also buried 1,600 kilos of cocaine somewhere in the apartment – right next to the cure for blindness. Good luck.”

40. Night of the Living Dead (1968 )
A strong combination of social commentary and horror film, all wrapped into a neat little black & white package. The low budget gives it a more drastic sense of urgency.

39. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)
The special effects, the performance of Richard Dreyfuss and seeing that alien walk out of the spaceship make this one of the greatest sci-fi films of MY time.
Favorite Scene: When the railroad crossing sign starts to shimmy and the lights shine down on Dreyfuss in his truck. Crazy scary!

38. Finding Nemo (2003)
The first of the Pixar films is the standard by which all of their films are measured. Everything about this film is genuine and the animation is flawless!
Favorite Line: “Good feeling’s gone!”

37. Dodgeball (2004)
This one is as stupid as they come…and chock full of some of the greatest one-liners since “Blazing Saddles”. Just dumb fun…and that’s good enough!
Favorite Line: “There’s no reason we need to be shackled by the strictures of the employee-employer relationship. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. In which case, I got some shackles in the back. I’m just kidding. But seriously, I’ve got ’em.”

36. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
The greatest mockumentary about a rock band EVER. Rob Reiner follows the greatest (or worst) group of rock stars around the world to film them in all their glory. It’s the love of the music that keeps these guys cranked to 11!
Favorite Line: “As long as there’s, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll.”
Favorite Scene: When they lower a 2 foot tall Stonehenge monument onto the stage and midgets dance around it.

35. Heathers (1989)
Big Fun! This is one of the most comedically dark films ever made. Christian Slater’s greatest role…and Winona Ryder seemed to have a career in the making.
Favorite Line: “I love my dead, gay son!”

34. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)
A love story told in reverse. Sometimes you have to see the ending before you can understand the beginning. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are an odd pair, but this movie makes it work. Very thoughtful and artfully done!

33. Joe vs The Volcano (1990)
So many Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies to choose from…and I choose the least successful? Well…maybe it’s because I like orange soda. Or maybe it’s because it’s really a great story about looking for one’s soul mate.
Favorite Line: “I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?”

32. Rear Window (1954)
Jimmy Stewart is a photgrapher looking for something to do while laid up in his apartment complex. How a man could be bored with Grace Kelly watching after him is beyond me, but Jimmy gets himself wrapped up in a murder mystery and Alfred Hitchcock is pulling the strings. An amazing film simply because you never leave the apartment and every second is filled with suspense!
Favorite Line: “Intelligence. Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence.”

31. Star Wars (1977)
The premier science fiction film. I must have seen it 7 or 8 times in the theater. Everyone always picks “The Empire Strikes Back” as being the best of the bunch, but this is the one that made my mind spin!

30. The Dark Knight ( 2008 )
Heath Ledger IS the Joker. And everything else in this dark and fast paced drama is just as good! Raised the bar on how comic book movies CAN be made!
Favorite Line: “I’m a dog chasing cars. I don’t have plans. I just do things. I’m not a schemer.” -The Joker

29. Blade Runner (1982)
It’s looking like a bleak future…and Harrison Ford is one bleak cop. But for all of the dark subject matter and constant rain, Rutger Hauer brings a ray of light to the party as Roy Batty, a cyborg on the run. The ending is one of the best in science fiction history.
Favorite Scene: The entire ending when Roy has Deckard hanging over the ledge. The writing and the cinematography is excellent!

28. Broadcast News (1987)
James Brooks’ look into a newsroom is poignant and accurate in many ways! I know…I used to work in several of them. But it’s script that makes this movie pop, and the triangle affair between himself, Holly Hunter and William Hurt make this one all the more interesting.
Favorite Line: “A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts!”
Favorite Scene: When Altman (Brooks) has to fill in as an anchor and is overcome with sweat on the air. Quite possibly one of the funniest scenes ever!

27. Blue Velvet (1986)
Take a small, everyday town and throw David Lynch into the middle of it. Shake it up a bit and throw in an over-the-top performance by Dennis Hopper (as Frank Booth. One of the baddest guys in cinematic history) and you have this classic. Violent and edgy and before it’s time!
Favorite Line: “Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!”

26. Weird Science (1985)
Yes…it is weird. But it definately ain’t science! This 80’s comedy might have escaped your radar, but it has always been dear to me. Anthony Michael-Hall plays it for goofs, but it’s Bill Paxton that makes this movie more than it should be. His character, older brother Chet, is a mixture of charm and idiocy.
Favorite Line: “For Christ’s sake, will you cover yourself?”

25. The Matrix (1999)
Revolutionary as a science fiction film. Should probably be a little higher on my list, but it loses points due to the 2 mediocre sequels it spawned. Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith is another bad guy who takes this movie to a whole new level! And the Wachowski Brothers mix special effects with incredible stunts to make this one for the ages!

24. Monty Python & The Holy Grail (1975)
Some of the greatest comedy scenes in film history are in this movie. From the “Knights who say Neh!” to the dance number at “The Round Table”, there are just too many to name.
Favorite Scene: When the tiny rabbit maims an entire army. Or maybe it’s when King Arthur uses a giant rabbit as a decoy to get into the French castle. Or maybe…

23. Defending Your Life (1991)
Al Brooks is great as the schlub who dies in an auto accident and finds himself in purgatory where he is given an attorney and must defend his life in order to move on to the next stage. Meryl Streep and Rip Torn almost steal the show as his attorney & love interest and this is just the right mixture of comedy and drama to give it weight.
Favorite Line: “Fear is like a giant fog. It sits on your brain and blocks everything – real feelings, true happiness, real joy. They can’t get through that fog. But you lift it, and buddy, you’re in for the ride of your life.”

22. Big (1988 )
Tom Hanks before he got “big”, and he was perfect for this film! As genuine and entertaining as anything else he has done, this little comedy that could follows 8-year old Josh as he learns how to be a man…in a matter of days. Elizabeth Perkins is lovely and perfectly cast as his love interest.
Favorite Scene: When Josh spits out the caviar at the Christmas party.

21. Poltergeist (1982)
Scary without being gory, this is one of Spielberg’s best! The everyday family in the suburbs gets visited by ghosts and Carol Ann gets sucked into the television. It goes from being entertaining to being horrific in a matter of moments!
Favorite Scene: When Carol Ann sits up close to the telelvision and you can hear whispering in the t.v. Still gives me the willies everytime I watch it!

20. Raising Arizona (1987)
Ridiculous situations. Ridiculous characters. Ridiculous dialogue. All the ingredients you need for a madcap adventure with Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter!
Favorite Line: “Son…you got a panty on your head.”

19. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo Del Toro’s classic fairy tale of heartbreak and wonderment. One of the best movies of the last decade.
Favorite Scene: When Ofelia is being chased by the creature with eyes in his hands. Very intense stuff!

18. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
I watch it every Christmas and it always brings back memories. Jimmy Stewart is as classy as they come!

17. The Princess Bride (1987)
This little fantasy has such a good script that no one knew what it was supposed to be. Is it a fantasy? Is it comedy? Is it for kids? Whatever…it was good for everybody!
Favorite Line: “And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… “

16. The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
It’s a classic. From the moment Dorothy steps out of her house into Munchkin land, I was blown away.
Favorite Scene: I just said it…

15. Bull Durham (1988 )
Kevin Costner IS Crash Davis. This love story wrapped in a baseball coating is one for everyone. Susan Sarandon is excellent as the love interest and Tim Robbins steals the movie as the dumb as rocks but lovable Meat…er…Nuke LaLoosh!
Favorite Line: “Yeah? From what I hear, you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a fucking boat.”

14. American Beauty (1999)
Oscar-winning film about the decay of the American family. The ending is my favorite ending of all-time. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is my hero!
Favorite Line: “Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.”

13. Swingers (1996)
It’s just so money! And it DOES know it. Nothing like kicking back and flipping on this little independent film that could. I think it was in our art house theater here for about 2 years!
Favorite Line: “And you got these fucking claws and these fangs, man! And you’re looking at your claws and you’re looking at your fangs. And you’re thinking to yourself, you don’t know what to do, man. “I don’t know how to kill the bunny.” With *this* you don’t know how to kill the bunny, do you know what I mean?”
Favorite Scene: When Mikey calls the girl he met at the bar and the answering machine keeps hanging up.

12. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Can friends sleep together and still be friends? Who knows? All I know is this was the defining romantic comedy of my life. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan brought comedic touches to their roles and Burno Kirby was excellent as Harry’s best friend.
Favorite Line: “Do me a favor, for your own good, put your name in your books right now before they get mixed up and you won’t know whose is whose. ‘Cause someday, believe it or not, you’ll go 15 rounds over who’s gonna get this coffee table. This stupid, wagon wheel, Roy Rogers, garage sale COFFEE TABLE.”

11. Aliens (1986)
The aliens are bigger and badder and Ripley is ripped. Sigourney Weaver is awesome and Bill Paxton shines as the marine with a nervous attitiude.
Favorite Line: “Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!”

10. Pulp Fiction (1994)
This film set the industry on it’s edge, cutting through to audiences with it’s jump-cutting plotline and it’s crazy cast of characters. Showed Hollywood that it could be smart and violent and we’d all get it.
Favorite Scene: When Vincent (Travolta) and Jules (Sam Jackson) shoot the guy in the backseat in the face.

9. Risky Business (1983)
Tom Cruise wasn’t big yet, and Rebecca De Morney is hot! This little movie made all kinds of money and put Cruise on the fast track to superstardom. The soundtrack is awesome (Tangerine Dream, Prince, Journey) and the plot (as implausible as it is) makes for some entertaining movie watching!
Favorite Line: “Every now and then say, “What the fuck.” “What the fuck” gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future.”

8. Better Off Dead (1985)
Lane Myer hates his life. His parents are strange, his friends are strange, and his girlfriend has dumped him for the captain of the ski team. What’s a high school loser to do? Fall for a foreign exchange student and bring home the trophy! This 80’s comedy has got some great scenes and some greater one-liners!
Favorite Line: “Sorry your mom blew up, Ricky.”
2nd Favorite Line: “Now that’s a real shame when folks be throwin’ away a perfectly good white boy like that.”

7. Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman make the perfect prison buddy movie. I could watch this movie every day and not get tired of it.

6. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
The most popular guy in school can get away with anything, right? Well…in Ferris’s case…yes, he can! And there’s nothing Principal Rooney can do about it. It’s like watching the coyote chase the roadrunner…and the roadrunner always wins!
Favorite Line: “I did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind.”

5. Hoosiers (1986)
Nothing better than this little drama about life, love and the pursuit of a high school championship. My all-time favorite sports movie.
Favorite Scene: When Coach gets booted from the game and Shooter (Dennis Hopper) coaches them to a win.

4. 28 Days Later (2002)
My favorite horror film. The editing is perfect, the acting is perfect and the social commentary is perfect for our times. Love it.
Favorite Scene: The entire opening sequence with Jim (Cilliam Murphy) wandering around a deserted London.

3. Die Hard (1988 )
Greatest action film ever. And why? Because it seems like it could just happen! Bruce Willis’ greatest movie.
Favorite Line: “Oh my God, the quarterback is TOAST!”

2. The Night Of The Comet (1984)
Okay…what in the world is THIS movie doing in my Top 5? Well…glad you asked. As you can see by all the other movies on this list, just about any of them could be on a list like this. But here’s the deal with “Comet”…I love it because no one else does! It’s got everything I like in movies, from the apocalyptic theme to a bad soundtrack from the 80’s. it’s just dumb fun and I could watch it a million times and not get bored with it. If you haven’t seen it, you should! And be warned…it’s campy and silly and the acting isn’t Oscar worthy. But it’s a great B-flick…and I love it!

1. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
John Cusack is perfect and the dialogue is awesome. Everyone in it is perfectly cast and the scenes with Cusack & Arkin as his psychiatrist are hysterical. Jeremy Piven as his best friend is fantastic and Minnie Drive and Joan Cusack are excellent as well. Just a really well done dark comedy and one that I have watched many times over.
Favorite Line: “Look, I don’t want to get into a semantic argument, I just want the protein.”

Updated Sept. 3, 2016

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Do You Remember That Time When We Were…?

IMG_2725

The other day, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook and it made me think. Years from now, maybe once my kids have grown and are having their own kids and I’ve retired and my co-workers have gone on to do amazing things and all of my grade school, high school and college friends are sitting around chatting about “the good ol’ days,” how will I be remembered? Not that it’s all that important really, because it’s not. I truly believe that you live your life on your own merit and what people think of you in the long run has no bearing on who you are or who you were. But with that being said, men and women far greater than I have done their best in life to warrant buildings and monuments and statues be erected in their honor. I am certainly not of stature to ever receive my own statue. Obviously THAT honor is reserved for people who make millions of dollars and play sports for a living.

No…I won’t be getting my own parade nor do I really want one.

But still. I DO wonder…what do YOU remember about me? I know I have memories, hundreds of them, tucked back into the corners of my mind (cue the Elvis track now). Many times I find myself listening to Sirius radio and a song comes on and immediately it triggers a time with someone. Maybe you and I were in high school and “Danger Zone” came on the radio and the next minute…we’re zipping down Maple in the ol’ red VW bug (Chuck). Or maybe it’s a ballad from the early 80’s like Spandau Ballet’s “True,” which reminds me of my very first dance with a classmate (Audrey). Or maybe it’s anything by Guns N Roses (Mandy). Maybe it’s a rock song that we played in heavy rotation at ACRN back at my college days (there are too many to note however they would include memories of Will and Tommy and Kelly and Greg and Ben and Matt and a slew of others). Maybe it’s a rap song by Run DMC and it reminds me of the time I drove you to get their cassette because you had to have it NOW and I had the time (Darcy). Maybe it’s a disco song by Abba that was playing in the background at a party where I watched you from across the room and I knew I was in love (Stephanie). Pretty much ANY song by Patsy Cline reminds me of my Mom. The Violent Femmes remind me of John. Most Prince songs make me think of Eric. R. Kelly’s “Ignition” reminds me of Meko & Donna. If a Pearl Jam song comes on, I immediately think of Steve McBroom (who passed a few years back) and my friend, Brad The New Guy (and yes…I DO know his last name but he was given that name as a part of our crew and so…that is how he will forever be known). So much of my life is attached to music. I think that is why this post stuck with me.

So…out of curiosity…is there a memory YOU have of me that is music related? When a song comes on the radio, does it trigger some moment that you and I had? It could be anything. I know I listen to a LOT of music. Some you may love, some you may not care for. Maybe it’s a song that I can’t stand and have mentioned it and now you will always think of me when that song is played (anything by Drake…my son). Either way…I’m curious. Please feel free to respond. I’d love to hear the story!

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Trying To Make Sense Of It All

Police LivesMatter

This past week has been, by all accounts, another very low moment in our nation’s history. First there was a police shooting of a man at point blank range apparently for selling CD’s near a local store in Baton Rouge. Followed not a day later by a Minnesota police officer pulling over a couple for having a busted tail light on their car and then shooting & killing the driver as he reached for his car registration. In both cases, the men killed were black. In both cases the police officer who fired the gun was white. In both cases, both men who were shot were “thought” to have had a gun on their person. This, in turn, led to the shooting of 12 police officers and 2 civilians at a peaceful demonstration in Dallas by a former military veteran who had served in Afghanistan. 5 of the officers died from their wounds. All were caucasian.

There have been many media reports, many online investigations, many social media posts and much conversation about what has happened. I have personally been a part of several conversations. Some have said it’s all about guns. Some have said its all about race. One friend I talked to thinks it’s about money. I believe it’s a little of all of these things. It IS about guns. It IS about race. And it IS about money. This country, in many ways, is angry. We have become angry because of all of the above. But today I read something that was reposted by a friend on Facebook that was written by TNT sports analyst, David Aldridge, and it was perfect.

The following is what was written by Mr. Aldridge on his Facebook page on Friday, July 8, 2016…

sports_journalist_David_Aldridge

“What’s on my mind, asks Facebook.

Well…

Something simple, really. I would just like us to stop killing each other. That’s all.

We don’t have to love each other, or live with one another, or go to school together, or get married, or share a ride to work, or eat out on Fridays. We don’t have to go to the same church, or root for the same teams, and our kids don’t have to have play dates together. I don’t have to support your political candidates, and you don’t have to support mine. We don’t have to believe in the same God, or any God, and we don’t have to watch the same TV shows, and you don’t have to like my music, and I don’t have to like yours. 

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

The anger in this country is choking us, slowly, like a mutant weed, and it permeates everywhere. I’m a black man, and I am doing better than 99 percent of all black men who’ve ever walked this planet. I’m good. And I’m scared that the next time I’m stopped in my car–for there is always a “next time” for us–a cop is going to look at my skin and pull out his or her gun, and kill me, because they’re scared and they’ve been trained, through history and regulation, to view me as a threat. And I’m terrified that when my two boys get old enough to drive, the same thing could happen to either of them. That makes me angry. When people say “Black Lives Matter,” you know what they’re talking about. Don’t insult me or them by replying “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter.” I know that white people are killed by police, too. But the chance of me or my kids getting shot is a lot higher than the chance of you or your kids getting shot.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

 

I saw a video of a police officer in Cleveland, who was crying and upset about the shooting in Louisiana. She was a cop who grew up in the ‘hood, as she said, but stayed in the ‘hood and worked there because she wanted to do good for her community and her people as a black woman. And while she was justifiably angry with the cops who have a “God complex,” as she put it, she also was crying because so many teenage boys of color were shooting and killing each other in her city. Yes, black people know all too well that our young men are shooting one another at an alarming rate, in Cleveland and Chicago and D.C. and communities you don’t know or read about. You don’t have to tell us. We know, because those are our sons and brothers and fathers we’re putting in the ground. And we know that there are lots of reasons that our kids are shooting each other–some our fault, some not. And we decry and protest those killings, every day. That you are not paying attention when we do is not our problem. Some of my black brothers and sisters will say I’m blaming our kids or that I’m a sellout, Uncle Tom, whatever. You can’t do or say anything to me that I haven’t already done or said to myself. I believe I’ve helped some young people see a different path and future, but I think I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded, because my young brothers keep shooting one another. But you’ve failed, too. If calling me out of my name gives you comfort, so be it. 

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

A lot of white folks are angry, too. They seem to believe that their country has been taken from them, and they want to take it back. I am not sure who they believe is currently in possession of said country, given the complete lack of wealth in communities of color, and given that women are still paid less than men are at just about every job. But that anger is real and I do not dismiss it or belittle it, for it comes back at me, and my family. I would just like them to understand that, whatever has happened to them or their families, it’s not because black and brown people have taken your jobs or your homes or your money. Trust me. We don’t have them.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

People of faith are angry, because they often believe their faith is twisted and misconstrued and belittled, and because there is a small but potent minority of people in this world who besmirch that faith and hide behind it to commit monstrous acts, in the name of the truly holy. I do not believe terrorists who kill Muslims during Ramadan represent Islam. (The vast majority of people killed by Al Queda and other terrorist groups that say they represent Muslims are other Muslims. That is almost never mentioned.) I do not believe that that young man who walked into Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and murdered those people in cold blood represents all Christians. And the people that killed those cops in Dallas do not represent me. I do not want white police officers killed any more than I wanted Sandra Bland or Philandro Castile or Eric Garner or Michael Brown or Alton Sterling or Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell killed.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

We are all getting played, by an arms industry that has turned inward, and convinces us, through its financial backing of its cowardly elected officials, that we all have to have guns to feel safe. And so we all buy weapons that were designed for fighting in war, and bring them into our homes and communities. And the arms industry–whose only goal is to sell more arms–happily provides the police and the compensating and the insane and anyone else who has the money access to whatever rapidly firing munition that can slaughter dozens of people in a matter of seconds that they want. Do not come to me with your technical distinctions without a difference about “semi-automatic” versus “automatic.” You know these guns are not designed to shoot deer, or skeet. They’re designed to kill people, efficiently and quickly. And just about anyone with a pulse can get one.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

I know who my friends are, and I love them, and they love me. Please feel free to unfollow, or unfriend, if you like. I just can’t take this anymore. I don’t want my children, or yours, to grow up in a world like this.

I would just like us to stop killing each other.

“There is no such thing as the State 
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.”

–W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939

I love this post because it says so elequently what needs to be said. All of the “Black Lives Matter,” “Blue Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter” back & forth, back & forth. It’s gotten kind of out of control. Of course ALL LIVES MATTER. It’s not really up for debate. Anyone who thinks otherwise has a screw loose. No one should feel worthless. No one should feel alone. But a lot of what is happening is because some people apparently don’t feel that way. It doesn’t matter if you’re holding the gun or not. People DO NOT CARE if you are rich or poor. They DO NOT CARE if you are lonely or in need of help. People, as a whole, do not care. Oh…we will SAY we care. We LOVE to do that. And I’m just as guilty. As I sit in my living room, reading all of the media posts and status updates telling me how much everyone cares about the people who were killed in the shootings in Orlando or the shooting in Baton Rouge or the shootings at Sandy Hook. We all care so much that we post about it and we send prayers for those who were involved but let’s be honest…we’re not REALLY doing anything about it.

We can go on and on about how much we dislike it. Obviously, most of my friends, whether they are black, white, purple, green, whatever color…none of them WANT to get up in the morning and see another horrific account of something else that has happened in another city. Hell…it could be in MY city, for crying out loud. In 2001, a white Cincinnati police officer shot Timothy Thomas, a young black male wanted for non-violent misdemeanors, when he ran from law enforcement. An entire section of the city RIOTED for 4 days, caused millions of dollars of damage, the mayor had to issue a city-wide curfew and brought national attention to police brutality. That was 15 years ago.

Nothing has changed.

Mr. Adlridge’s post is amazing because it’s honest. As a human being, it is within our nature to love, to sympathize, to invest interest, to feel a variety of emotions. It’s who we are. But through experiences that are individualized to each of us, some of that all changes. As an individual being, I am who I am. It starts at a very early age and continues forward from there. The old adage, “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” placates what is truthful.

Honestly? I can’t.

I can’t understand what you are going through. Not because I don’t try. Because I CAN try. As I sit here in the comfort of my hotel room, I can TRY to imagine what it is like to be driving down the road and then pulled over for a random traffic violation and then SHOT as I reach for my registration. Or I can TRY to be a small child sitting in a classroom when a crazed gunman comes barging into the room firing an automatic weapon. Or I can TRY to imagine that I’m a police officer rushing into a situation that leaves me with choices I do not want to make. But I’m just being honest when I tell you…it doesn’t matter how much I TRY to put myself in these situations because I have not lived them. There is no way to comprehend the kind of emotions that are involved in such incidents. I have never been in any of these situations and all I can do is pray that I never will.

This does NOT mean that I can’t sympathize. I truly believe that we should ALL be better humans and strive to help one another. But every fucking day I turn on the tv or I read the paper or I see another report on the internet that people are killing one another at an alarming rate. I see another iPhone video of someone killing someone else. I see hate and anger and hostility that I cannot fathom and then I have people I know & love who are suffering, who are angry and hurt. Not because any of those mentioned above incidents happened to them OR to someone they knew. It matters to them because it’s about the color of their skin. It COULD happen to them and that is a reality.

“I would just like us to stop killing one another.”

It’s such a simple thing. It really shouldn’t be so hard and yet…years and years of violence begets violence. When will it end? Maybe that isn’t the question we should all be asking.

Maybe “HOW will it end?” is what we are looking at in our current state of America 2016.

It scares me think that this is what it will come down too. But it seems that we don’t have the common decency or sense to discuss it in a way that is civilized.

How will it end? I can only hope that there is a point very soon when we can all look past our differences and sympathize.

“I would just like us to stop killing one another.” Wanna know what I would rather be said?

How about…”Be human.

Yeah. THAT is what I think we should do. THAT works for me. Wonder if we could give that a try?

SavingBaby

Other posts of interest:

Sunny Sanguinity – “Here’s Why to Resist The “Not All White People and “Not All Cops” Argument & What To Do Instead”

 

“It’s Not Us vs Them”“It’s Not Us vs Them”

Romper.com “People Protecting A Baby”

 

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