The Long Way to Tomorrow

Hello, all! I hope this reaches everyone in good health and with your favorite sports team/singer winning the…grammy bowl or something.

October is coming up, which means Halloween candy, Halloweentown and Columbus Day for most people. For me, that means that work intensifies. So I will be on hiatus until November, when I shall return with bi-weekly posts.

In the meantime, feel free to check out past blog posts. Or support this gofundme page: http://www.gofundme.com/Andrew4BarbaraM.Or master the flute!

So, until the month of turkey and elections, I leave you with this  poem, Tomorrow. See ya then.

Tomorrow

I forgot there was a tomorrow

So I just lived in today

I put aside my appointments

And all the plans I had in the way.

In the morning I watched the sun rise

And break the still of night

I saw bright reds and yellows

Thankful for my gift of sight.

When it came time for breakfast

I piled in plate after plate

Not wasting a single crumb

Thankful for the food I ate.

Then I ran a mile on the beach

And felt my lungs expand

I fell over after 5 minutes

Thankful for the gift of sand.

In the afternoon I talked to family

About how each person’s day had gone

Everyone had different stories to proclaim

And I was thankful they weren’t too long…

Cause at sunset I took my crush

To a special place on the beach

A quiet place I had kept secret

That no one else could reach.

I asked her boldly for a kiss

And she happily obliged

The kiss was so sweet and amazing

That after it I cried.

When she asked why I said

“There’s no tomorrow so we will never be.”

And she shook her head and said,

“There is, you’ll see.”

When the full moon took its place

And another 12 o’clock came around

I knew I was wrong and was relieved

With all this time I had found…

Forgetting there was a tomorrow

Was the best gift anyone could give

Because when you think you’ve lost tomorrow

You find out how you truly want to live.

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In Memory of Barbara

Today, I’d like you to remember one name: Barbara Marable.

barb

She was born in 1937. Growing up she loved sewing, dancing and soap operas. More than anything else, she always loved helping others through a kind word or home-cooked meal. In 2007, she started showing the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a form of dementia whose symptoms include loss of speech, loss of mobility and loss of memory. As the disease progresses, even the simplest tasks become impossible. Needless to say, it became harder and harder for Barbara to do all those things she loved. And after seven years, on January 10th, 2014, my grandmother passed away.

Alzheimer’s disease is predicted to affect 1 out of 85 people by the year 2057 and there currently is no cure. But hopefully we can change that.

I’ve started a  gofundmepage, whose link will be listed at the bottom. Every donation you make, will go to straight to alz.org, a non-profit company committed to Alzheimer’s research and prevention. And you won’t leave empty-handed. Barbara always believed that if you couldn’t do something extraordinary, than do ordinary things extraordinarily. So while I can barely sew a button and my dancing is pretty terrifying to watch, I can offer gifts of writing and acting to donors. Depending on the size of your donation, you may get a sonnet, one act play, full reenactment of your favorite movie scene or I may write and perform a play in your town. All the details are at the link at the bottom, so feel free to check it out.

I’ll keep the page open until the modest $37,000 goal is reached or until November, Alzheimer’s awareness month. If you can’t donate, that’s completely fine. But if you could, please pass this link along to friends, family, coworkers or that random facebook friend you don’t really know. Because awareness is just as important.

Whether you are a new or old reader for this blog, thanks for taking a couple of minutes to read this. And whether it be through a donation or through sharing this video, I am incredibly grateful for your actions today. This all started to honor the memory of the unforgettable Barbara. Here’s hoping that it ends with Alzheimer’s disease as nothing more than a bad memory.

If you would like to make a donation, you can go to http://www.gofundme.com/Andrew4BarbaraM.

11 Sentences

The most vivid memory in my entire life came about on my grandmother’s stoop in Brooklyn. Thirteen years ago, I stood beside my father and watched smoke continually rising into the atmosphere. No words were exchanged and none needed to be spoken.

Every year since then, there’s been a nationwide effort to commemerate the day each year. For some it’s a moment of silence. For others it’s a facebook post. For some it’s a visit to a memorial.

In the past few years, there’s been frustration expressed from people who are of the opinion that we do or show too much on this day through tv or facebook posts or moments of silence. To those frustrated, I ask for your patience. Everyone posting and broadcasting today still remember the good of today: the unity, the birthdays and all the other good memories.

They just don’t want to forget the bad either.

911

Five Powerful Music Videos You May Have Missed

music videos

When I invite people over to my house, I like to show them two things.

1. My Batarangs

bataragns\

2. Powerful Music Videos

For those of you who live outside of my zip code, I can offer you the videos. Here are, what I believe are great music videos with powerful messages. Because there are plenty of videos to choose from, I chose to focus on male artists this time around. I’ll follow up with a sequel of female artists, and then conclude the series with the most powerful music videos of all time. In any case, I hope you’ll enjoy these music videos and comment with some of your own.

Disclaimer: I know these music videos are not without their flaws, and some of their messages can get a little mixed. But overall, I picked videos that had a great impact on you and really tried to get a good message across. Alright, enough of that. Let’s get into:

FIVE POWERFUL MUSIC VIDEOS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

5. Imagine Dragons-Demons
I guarantee that you have heard this song on this radio in the past year. It plays like the typical rock hits of the last year: a catchy chorus, belty lyrics and an emotional crescendo. The music video, however, is a little different than typical rock.

The video starts out at a concert, leaving you thinking it’s as original in that rock music video category as the black eyed peas are to…well any other music. But the tone changes quickly when we zoom in close into a girls’ eyes and see that she’s struggling with the loss of her parents. After a few moments, it zooms back out and eventually into two more perspectives.

The message is simple: Everyone has their own struggles that they deal with. The key to making this video powerful lies in that concert setting. The video could have easily been shot with the band performing elsewhere, with the stories at the forefront. Instead they are depicted as simulataneous. This video effectively says that your problems, your “demons” may even be present while you’re doing something you enjoy. It also says that it’s normal, as it zooms into the bands’ lead vocalist at the end. It may not offer a solution, but makes sure that anyone suffering silently knows that they may not be alone.

4. Ill Mind of Hopsin 5

Many of you may not even have heard of Hopsin, but I’m perfectly okay with introducing you. He is a Los Angeles based rapper known for his strong messages and emphasis on countering popular culture. One of Hopsin’s early hits was “Sag My Pants”, which parodies Soulja Boy, among others. With a bio like that, you can get behind him.

The video sets us in a dark room with several teenage-early twenties stereotypes. They sit around, smoking and drinking like there’s no tomorrow. That’s the set-up before Hopsin knocks all of them down with a furious rant. He laments cultural standards placed on women, black men and even rappers in a relatively short amount of time.

Message:
“Do you even have any goals?
Aside from bagging these hoes.
And packing a bowl.
Well let me guess, NO.
You’re only in school because your parents make you go.
When all you do is play beer pong and hang out with your bros.”

This is just a sample of the mostly NSFW lyrics. The messages are again, pretty transparent through the lyrics. At the end of the day, you certainly don’t have to agree with all of his messages or how he states them. But you can’t deny that you leaves you thinking by the time the video’s through. This is tough love−and rap at its finest.

3. You and I
Here’s another song that you probably heard on a loop on the radio this summer. John Legend’s smooth love ballad was just his latest in a series of hits during his career. Even though I was single, I went out and bought chocolates to give them to that special person in my life :).*

*Since I’m single, that would be me.

The music video is a simple setup but tells a much more complex story. We see flashes of women of all ages, sizes and races looking in a mirror. They each see their reflection and have different responses. Some cry, some seem insecure and others are just taking a few minutes to look at themselves. We see a large range of stories in just a few minutes. They are all, in their own ways, beautiful.

The overall message is one of self-acceptance and confidence. Not just of your outward image, but who you are in the world. One of the most striking images comes with an older woman…but I will let you see that moment for yourself. Another thing that is great about this video is that it is so unlike other r and b videos. A good number of them focus around one beautiful woman being romanced by the male singer. “You and I” sets itself apart simply by making the bold choice to feature many more beautiful women.

2. Make It Stop

Rise Against is no stranger to making songs that revolve around powerful messages. It was so easy to find meaningful songs from this group that they could have their own list! But for fairness sake’, I just let them have one.

Make It Stop is pretty straightforward. It follows three teenagers in high school as they struggle with bullying. The reasons are not explicitly clear, but you can draw some of your own conclusions. Meanwhile, we see clips of Rise Against playing. The most stirring of these images is the lead singer holding up names of kids who have committed suicide while saying them slowly. And to compound this all, we see a series of “get better videos” from various sources. It’s a combo of real, orchestrated and heartfelt.

The message is shining and clear: It gets better. Similarly to Demons, the song does not pretend that there won’t be struggles. You will doubt yourself, and may even doubt that your situation will improve. It’s up to you to take your life within your own hands. You have to find the strength to go on*. This is a message that doesn’t limit itself to just bullying, but does a damn good job at striking out against it.

*Strength to go on is, coincidentally, another rise against song. ;D

1. We Exist

Arcade Fire rounds up this list. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about them before this song. But I wanted to. Oh, I wanted to.

The video revolves around a man who dresses like a woman to go to the bar in a small town. I am oversimplifying the story, but that’s just so I don’t want to ruin anything. Honestly, see it for yourself. Did I mention it stars Andrew Garfield of Amazing spider-man fame? Did I mention that he’s a tremendous dancer in this video? Did I mention that you should go watch it for yourself? Seriously, I can’t recommend it enough.

The message of the video comes in mulitiple parts. It encourages each person to accept who they are inside. To strike against the cultural norms and bullying. This video tells you that you are beautiful in every form, but you still have to find that strength to live and fight against your inner demons every day. This video encompasses everything I loved about the four previous and highlights something vastly more important: it was created.

Arcade Fire has gone on record to say the song was originally thought as a conversation between a father and his gay son. However, they chose to focus on a transgender protagonist. If you need evidence of how rare that is, name five other shows besides Orange is the New Black or True Blood that feature transgender characters prominently. Also to note, they were going to get a transgender person to play the lead until Andrew Garfield’s passion for the project made him a frontrunner. It doesn’t hurt that his current starpower brought more people to the video. Admittedly, his inclusion got my attention. So for combining so many messages and going out of their way to ensure their music video had a message, Arcade Fire’s We Exist is music video you can no longer pass by.

we exist

Happy viewing, and stay tuned for the sequel :D.

A Newer Take on an Older Hercules

 

For this throwback thursday, I’ve decided to go with a piece I was lucky enough to have published earlier in the year. It’s a short fiction story that…well, I’ll let you see for yourself. Enjoy!

Psych Consult #63

10-Disney-Characters-As-Modern-Day-College-Students

`“Drop the rum, put on your cape, and go to work.” I say to Hercules, who is slumped against the wall. He responds with glassy eyes and a dazed expression. It is going to be another one of those days.

I sigh and think back to when this all started. Ten years ago, I was a normal psychologist working at the Cranston Medical Center. One day, a mad scientist, calling himself Cronus, announces on live tv that he wants to “rebuild Olympus”. He then decides to “make Olympians” by launching a radioactive missile into Rhode Island. While thousands died in the explosion and fallout, around 200 souls made it out alive…with “gifts”.

`Most people with gifts enlisted voluntarily in the new Olympus branch of the FBI. The branch deals with terrorist threats, natural disaster relief and occasionally…unregistered “Olympians”.

Some of the gifts were horrible disfigurement. Other gifts were major boosts in IQ. And Hercules here got super strength.

“Unfortunately,” I think as I step towards Hercules, “Only the muscles got stronger.”

“Code name Hercules. Real name Michael−“ “No! I don’t deserve that name.” Hercules yells, his eyes wild. I hold my ground and say, “Easy. I was just trying to connect with you. You. The human you.“ Hercules tenses and screams, “The human me? Michael chose to go on a date that day. Chose to ignore the call. Chose−“ Hercules falls silent and his eyes get lost to the past.

I remember the day he spoke of. A twisted man held an elementary school for ransom. Forces all the adults out− but makes the kids stay. There were 113 children from grades K-5 left in the school. Not a single one went home that day. Hercules arrives on the scene late, sees the aftermath and just howls. And when Hercules is finished wailing, he called the agency and said, “I’m done.” Now he resides in an alley two blocks away from an abandoned elementary school−unable to escape that day.

Hercules picks up the bottle and takes another swig. Time for a different approach. I walk around him and pick up his cape. The smell makes me retch and there is an unidentifiable stain. Holding the cape at arms’ length, I say, “How about this? We go back to the office, get you a new cape, a warm meal and then, maybe, we can talk about your future.”

“No.”

“At least take a phone so that we know where you are.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Come back and watch the game?”

“Not happening.”

I throw the cape at Hercules’ feet. Time for a different approach. “Look. You’re number 63, Hercules. You have assignments piling up. You are going to come back and do your duty.” Hercules gets a crazy look in his eyes and stares into my eyes, making my head buzz with thoughts…and strategy. He extends his arm, the number 63 gleaming in the fading daylight and says, “What could you possibly understand about duty?”

I inhale and pull back my sleeve, revealing a gleaming number 6. As the shock registers on his face, I calmly say, “I’m not on the frontlines. I just get people back there. If you don’t want to come back, that’s fine. Obviously I can’t force you.” I turn my back on him and my head clears up a bit.

I’m halfway out of the alley when he says, “Wait, What did the missile do to you?” “Made me a pacifist.” I respond. When my joke doesn’t diffuse the tension, I confess.

“I hear voices, all the time.”

“How do you live with that?

“I just close my eyes until they go away.” I say, fighting the urge to do just that. “I do that too.” Hercules responds, standing up. He’s…taller than he looked in the videos. And as the fading sunlight illuminates him, he looks like a real he−

“Blurrrp.” Hercules belches.

Well…he looks tall, anyway. “Please, at least take a phone. Just for emergencies. My code name is Tiresias.” Hercules nods and I toss a spare cell phone in his direction. He catches it easily− I guess he still has the reflexes. But judging by Hercules’ downcast eyes, he’s still not ready. But Hercules is curious.

“What’s your gift?” He asks.

“That’s classified.” I respond, walking away.

“Why…why is it classified?” Hercules yells, trailing after me.

I stop, bracing myself for what comes next. I turn to face Hercules’ blue eyes. I can almost hear the wailing, but ignore it to say, “My power is too terrifying for normal Olympians to handle.”

Hercules shakes his head and says, “I’m not scared.”

“Oh really?” I respond, chuckling slightly, “Then why are you here in this alley?”

“I failed, I’m just…”

“Scared to fail again? Your muscles may be big, but you can’t hide behind them. I see fear all over you.” I taunt.

“I am not scared!” Hercules bellows.

“Yes you are. You’re terrified to try again. And who knows?” I say, ready to land the killing blow, “There are more than 113 kids in the world. Maybe you can save one this time.”

Hercules bellows and his fist comes flying towards me. I drop away and to the left, sending his fist colliding in the brick wall. I shield myself from most of the rock fragments, but I feel one graze my cheek. I reach up to my face and feel a warm wetness. That I didn’t see coming.

Hercules stares at me, dumbfounded. “I’ve never seen anyone avoid one of my punches before. How did you?”

I smile and say, “I have to get back to headquarters. See you there.”

I tear my gaze from Hercules and walk out of the alley. My phone vibrates in my pocket. Unsurprisingly, it’s the agency.

“It’s a go. We’ll see Hercules soon. When? I don’t know, I can’t tell the future.” I say.

I tuck the phone away and head towards my car, hoping for a more difficult mission on the horizon. Reading minds makes negotiating way too easy.

Put the Nudes Down Please! #StopCelebrityShaming

shamingSo by now, you’ve all heard the big, shocking news story from labor day weekend:

The Man behind the ALS ice bucket challenge is now a dad! Even if you’re not a fan of the latest social media trend, you have to admit that this news warms your heart a bit. (Maybe even enough to make that bucket of ice lukewarm!)

But as great as that news is, there was some not great news as well. A large number of nude celebrity photos were leaked online this weekend. Some of the celebrities targeted included Ariana Grande, Lea Michele and Victoria Justice. Of course, some of these pictures turned out to be completely fake. However, some have been confirmed as real. Most notably of all, Jennifer Lawrence rep’s confirmed that her photos were real. But instead of debating the authenticity of these photos, we should all focus on one fact:

They were stolen.

Since they were, I think we should all take a pact to not look at them. Or google them. Don’t even youtube them. Similarly to bullies, the only way to show these hackers up is to not indulge in them at all, rather, we should focus on the full persecution of those who let these photos out. It’s their fault that they are out there, not Jennifer Lawrence’s.

“But she took them! It’s her fault the naked pics exist!”-some day. And to an extent, that’s a credible argument. You should try to avoid taking pictures/recording events that you wouldn’t want a large audience to see. For example, I had to take my sister to the smash hit (Hah!) Bratz movie a number of years ago. We took a picture outside of the theater in front of the display to commemorate the moment. You won’t find that on facebook, but maybe if you hacked my computer. Which circles back to Jennifer Lawrence.*

*(I apologize for associating Jennifer Lawrence, even indirectly, with the Bratz motion picture).

Yes, maybe Lawrence should have exercised more caution before taking nude photos. But you cannot criticize her unless you yourself have never, ever, ever taken or been in a photo that you wouldn’t show to your priest, family or another family group. And again, critics are making it seem like Lawrence is responsible for something so risqué while the person who actually committed the crime simply took advantage of her situation. Hmm…for some reason, that sounds oddly familiar to much more heinous crime that I can’t think of right now…

Another story that broke over the weekend revolved around questionable comments that Ceelo Green made regarding sexual assault. The comments he made, were completely inappropriate. No matter how you interpret what Ceelo was saying, it was clearly not the time or the outlet to express his opinion on the subject. As of this writing, Green took down his account due to public pressure. The question is:

Is this any more justified?

I would argue that it is. Unlike Lawrence, Green was directly responsible for his tweet. He placed the content out there himself and is subject to any consequences. People had every right to call him out and wasted absolutely no time in doing so. Hopefully, not too many people were offended before the comments were largely removed. You could still search for them through leaked screenshots, keeping in mind one thing: the statement was originally made to be public.

So at the end of the day, is it right to pass judgment on these celebrities? To #celebrityshame? In general, I’d say no. We have far too much insight into celebrities’ lives as it is. We know dating histories, blood types and even have middle school photos for most celebs! (Fun to look at). When we get into private affairs becoming public, such as emails, phone calls, and elevator videos, we should try to exercise discretion in indulging in them. It doesn’t matter if they were leaked. It doesn’t matter if they shouldn’t have said or done a certain thing. It doesn’t even matter if you like them or not. If the video/pic/phone call is not endangering anyone’s lives or does not contain some sort of threat, then no one should be involved but the celebrity.

Promise me that internet, won’t you? Think about if you ever became famous. Don’t you want that Bratz picture hidden away for all time?