Opposite ‘Karens’

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Currently Listening to: Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet

The Year of the Karen

2020 has had three continuous topics of discussion: Coronavirus, voting, and Karens. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the new noun, a ‘Karen’ is defined by Urban Dictionary as a middle aged woman who makes solutions to others problems and inconvenience to her even though she isn’t remotely affected. In simpler terms it is a woman that complains about the most minute of issues and wreaks havoc on people, usually people of service who are trying to help them. It is almost unavoidable on Facebook, Twitter and even TikTok to see a video of some woman terrorizing their communities and embarrassing their children in front of them.

Like most viral trends in 2020, there are pros and cons to this outbreak of Karen-age. The pros is that those that are acting out and being terrible human beings are getting called out and some are even being fired from their jobs. One such occasion involved a woman harassing a Filipino man who was stenciling Black Lives Matter on the concrete in front of his home. She thought she was doing the public a service by claiming she knew who lived in that house and what he was doing is defacing property. Little did she know that man lived in that house for 18 years and by him posting the video of her being a ‘Karen’ as they say, she got fired from her CEO job for skincare company LAFace (stupid name anyways).

Of course then after being practically shunned by half the internet she did that typical thing that people of higher power do and say “I’m sorry for my actions, I am willing to learn from these mistakes and learn more about how I can help”. Yeah… OKAY buddy.

The con of this Karen apocalypse is that people are constantly being filmed and sometimes on occasion these angry people are totally in the right in the situation, but since Karens are popular memes and trends on the internet people are more than likely going to side with the person behind the camera.

I thought with all this negative attention on Karens and just 2020 being ass, that I would highlight what it means to people of service when the OPPOSITE of a Karen comes around to their job. The regulars. What Teddy is to Bob in Bob’s Burgers. What Homer is to Moe in The Simpsons. I don’t know why cartoons came to mind first, but nevertheless there’s so much highlight put on the bad people that the good ones barely get any love. I have worked customer service jobs for over five years now and I have definitely seen the good, bad and ugly.

There’s this saying that says we are more likely to tell a story of a bad customer experience than a good one. Probably due to the damage it had to our workday and we just need to vent. But I have worked enough Sunday mornings and school nights in my life in restaurant service to make a few friends along the way and I’d like to highlight that because that’s what I love most about working customer service.

The ‘Nanny McPhee’

If you’ve never seen the movie Nanny McPhee, it follows the story of this ugly nanny (it’s not far off to call her ugly, that’s her character trait) who is hired to take care of a group of poorly behaved, wealthy children and as they begin to act more proper and obedient she gets better looking. There’s customers that I have helped that are slow burners and with time and experience with you they gradually start to like you or at the very least tolerate you.

I have a regular that comes in every Sunday morning, usually the first customer of the day, that orders a cinnamon bagel with a coffee and pays with his bag of quarters. He’ll usually come up twice for a second round of bagels. When he first started coming in him and I did not get along whatsoever. I used to dislike taking his order because of how unresponsive and dismissive he was to my small talk efforts. One Sunday all this changed. He came in and waited in line like most Sundays, but this time when one of my coworkers called him over to take his order he told her that he wanted to wait because he “wanted to wait for my guy to take my order”. This guy happened to be me.

I’m not sure what I did to make him all of a sudden like me, but who cares him and I were vibing. I always knew exactly what he wanted at the sight of him coming through that door and got everything ready. Him and I had this running joke of him giving me pens from his job that was part writing utensil and part laser pointer. I would toast his bagel and then the moment I’d turn around and hand it to him he’d flash his laser at me and say “got another pen for ya!”

The Givers

Most people who go into fast food like places just want to be in and out to go about their day. Some people look to establish connections with the associates. The people that go to places like Denny’s twice a week and get ‘the usual’ which if it’s Denny’s the usual is probably the blackest coffee you’ve ever tasted and a Grand Slam with a secret red hair that the kitchen hid just for you. Every place has those memorable regulars and I definitely have a lot of them.

There’s this Russian couple that have been nothing but kind to me from the very beginning of when I started. We’d always refer to them as Victor and his wife because his wife always sat down while Victor would come up and order their meals. I have asked in the past, but they always steer the conversation a different direction. Normally I wouldn’t say a customers name in something like this, but they would love this publicity. They’ve openly acknowledged how they enjoy my writing ability in the past so I think they would really dig it if they ever found this.

What makes them so significant is how selfless they are to everyone. They were small business owners who made beautiful pieces of art for clothes, canvasses, and pillows. Again, I have no idea what I did to make them like me but I guess I did something right. I love making conversation with anyone so maybe I just seduced them with my half-awake, early morning charm and scent of bread.

They have consistently asked me to model for their website and given me personalized gifts out of pure appreciation for being nice to them. They once made me a shirt that was very cool, but I think they gave me a youth large shirt when I wear an adult medium so sadly I couldn’t rock that crop-top look without looking like I hang out at public park benches in my spare time. Anyhow, these guys were always super selfless and made my Sunday mornings a little bit easier.

The Parent

This one may sound kind of weird, but I’ve worked at my current job for about four years and I’ve made a lot of connections with customers over that span of time. Some of the regulars ask me how school is going and simple stuff like that, but some of them have introduced me to their families and tell me about their lives too.

There’s one customer in particular that I have known since the very beginning that if you’re reading this and you work with me, you know exactly who I am talking about. Man, if there was ever someone who was a second mom it would totally be her. Nothing is gonna replace my actual mom obviously, but she has given me great advice in the past and really motivated me to pursue my passions and further studies.

It has gotten to the point where if either of us see each other in the cafe we have to catch up with each other whenever I’m not occupied or at the very least say hey what’s up. I’ve had coworkers text me in the past telling me that she has asked them when I am coming back from school or how I am doing too. Other members of her family that come in are awfully nice to me as well and that makes my day. I say this because what else is going to make my day? Not tearing up while cutting onions? Well, yeah that would make my day too I suppose.

The Complainer

This one sounds worse than it seems. Truthfully, this one could easily be interchangeable with ‘the parent’ or just a friendly face in general. If you’ve ever seen Freaks and Geeks, Lindsay has a close connection with a former math teacher to the point where she calls him by just his last name as a nickname. She goes to him to voice her opinions and to complain too. This is applicable to customers too. I have met people while working that will talk to you and have that close connection, but will also treat you as if you have some sort of authority.

There’s one lady that comes in that is infamous for complaining about things around the restaurant because she has been going nearly every day since the place first opened. Why not? She knows this place better than me probably. It’s funny though, instead of talking to a manager or asking anyone else she’ll voice her problems to me. I don’t think she expects me to do much other than relay the message, maybe it’s because I actually hear out what she has to say, but at any rate she comes to me about any strife she has. She’s told me before too “this is why I come to you. You don’t suck” Thanks, I think?

There’s also a guy that used to come in with his wife (again I’m not gonna use names out of respect) who would complain about our bagel toaster not being effective enough. He would also call me the ‘expert bagel toaster’ to my managers and say I am the only one that can make that thing work. Sure, it’s kind of a backhanded compliment, but I’ll take it. It’s better than having an egg whipped at me (yes, that has happened. Over-easy too). That guy actually ran into me one time when I was out for breakfast at a different restaurant and payed for my table’s check. What a guy.

Point is I think some people just want to find that messenger to relay how they feel if they don’t feel confident to do it themselves. I’m hired to help customers out, why else am I working? To ignore what customers want?

The Genuinely Good Person

This one is easy to write about. These customers are just flat-out good people. They treat you like you are an equal and not a victim to their every demand. These people I appreciate the most because these people 99% of the time aren’t regulars. They are just random people that take time out of their day to be considerate and be selfless. These people matter the most because I don’t know them. I don’t expect anyone to be nice to me when I am working but I’m not gonna say I don’t want that. The same way I don’t come into helping someone expecting them to be a dumbass or an angel.

There was this one time where I was refilling the drink stations and this lady approached me and said “I know I’m a total stranger, but you’re kicking ass at your job.” I was fairly new at the time so I was astonished that someone even noticed me since I was pretty shy back then. From then on we knew each other on a friendly basis. I even saw her at a gas station once and I chilled with her while she waited for someone to help her get back into her car.

The most important time of someone being a genuinely good person goes to this couple that would come in every Friday evening. This was probably two months into my job, I really enjoyed working there, but I had a lot of doubt in my work since I felt kind of unheard and under-utilized at the time. This night in particular was rough since I had made more mistakes than usual. I was still giving my all during work, but I think this couple could recognize something was wrong. The man said after I rang them up, “you know you’re doing a really great job. You’re very chipper, it’s nice.” That line has stuck with me ever since I first heard it four years ago. They became my favorites instantly and I would look forward to taking their order every Friday night.

Why Write This?

So besides what I said earlier about how we should focus on the good when this year has been so negative, I think it’s important to recognize the small good deeds in the world. There are genuinely good people out there. When I repeat these interactions I have had with customers giving me compliments it isn’t to brag or even prove that I am good at my job. I just remember these moments because they meant a lot to me.

I go into work truthfully expecting nothing. I don’t fish for compliments or get upset when people aren’t being particularly nice some day. I go in there expecting to work hard and get paid. My moral compass says to do good and not expect validation or anything in return. Why wait around and be disappointed when people don’t return the favor when you can just do something nice and not expect anything? This can be said about these customers I talked about above.

I wrote another entry recently on teachers and the effect that even their smallest gestures have on us going forward. The same can be said about customer interaction. Like I said, I don’t expect anything in return when I help these people out at work because it’s my job, but when someone does do something generous I never forget that and it really is kind of an incentive to continue to work hard.

When I first applied for this job never did I think that it would shape me into the way I am today. I have come across so many new people and had a lot of interactions good and bad over the years. Sure, I remember bad times there but who wouldn’t? We’re programmed to remember the small traumas. Don’t dismiss the not so grand times since we can learn from them, but definitely don’t forget the spectacular ones since they remind you what you are capable of doing.

Dedicate

I usually don’t dedicate these posts to anyone, but this feels appropriate even though he’ll never read this. I would like to dedicate this post to Don. He was the first guy who complimented me at work and became good friends. He passed away a few years ago from a long battle with cancer. I’m very blessed to have known such a selfless, caring, funny guy such as himself. You made my long Friday nights at work a little easier.

Teacher, is this Okay?

Breaking Bad: 10 Ways Walt Got Worse As The Show Went On
Shocked Walter White duh

Currently Listening to: Confess by Twin Shadow

This Happens… right?

“I could barely hear you, but it sounded good!” Some kid told me this after I had performed a solo during choir in middle school. I was a pretty shy kid growing up and during my preteen years I probably could’ve been considered “the quiet kid” if I was in a class that I didn’t have my primary friends in. Sure, I’ve always been fairly outgoing to an extent, but middle school kind of halted that for a bit. I had to put my friendliness on hold and fend for my life because if you got caught slipping you were history. Melodrama at its’ finest, but in the moment that is what it felt like walking the halls. If you didn’t have a reputation in sports or theater you kind of had to make a name for yourself. I found myself in the “smart kid” clique. I had been involved in extracurricular math and science clubs after school during late elementary school and middle school which helped me get some credibility I guess as much as one could in that situation.

Something about being the quieter kid though makes you almost more of a target for teachers during that time. Going back to choir class, I think about my choir teacher who seemed to be loved universally by the student body. He was pretty charismatic and had a somewhat decent sense of humor. He was a favorite for sure.

So going into the first day of class I had high expectations for this guy. Everything that had been said about him seemed to be true, he was very energetic and seemed to love what he did, which was refreshing since the art teacher I had the quarter prior was the opposite. It wasn’t until we were doing warm-ups when he would tell us to sing these short sentences and phrases to help harmonize with each other (I don’t know choir lingo so that’s probably wrong, whoops). One line came along where he had purposefully sang the line in a goofy fashion. This made my friends and I laugh because obviously goofy voices are funny to little kids. He stops playing the piano and looks me dead in the eye and singles me out.

“Campbell, why are you laughing at my voice?”

Before I could get halfway through saying I thought his tone was funny, he said “don’t be racist!” This sort of divided the class, half laughed and half were just confused. I stood there shocked. How am I racist? I wanted to defend myself, but I felt powerless. This guy was liked by nearly everyone in school and I was kind of a nobody at the time. Not to mention I didn’t want to get a detention.

Earlier this week my girlfriend had asked me if I had ever thought about how teachers treated you when you were younger and thought in retrospect, man that was actually kind of messed up. This is definitely one of those moments. Actually, I could name a handful of these times. When that day happened in choir I was just kind of stuck. I didn’t really stand up for myself with teachers or professors until high school hit. As a kid I thought, well they’re the teacher they can say and do what they want since it is their classroom. No, little me! Don’t think like that!

This is just one case of something that growing up I just thought to be considered ‘normal’. There’s times that in my youth I wish that I had said something about or brought to someone else’s attention because there were definitely things that I encountered and felt that definitely weren’t meant to be blown off. Let’s discuss.

Sarah McLachlan’s (Teacher’s) Pet Commercial

You know those famous Sarah McLachlan commercials where they’d show footage of the abused animals in shelters over her song Angel? It almost felt like there could be a compilation reel of all the times that I had seen a teacher be awful or even borderline abusive with their speech towards the students.

One time I distinctly remember was during social studies in sixth grade when this one kid’s phone went off. You got to keep in mind that phones weren’t a common hallway communication escape tool for people yet. Teachers at the time were also EXTREMELY sensitive to the sight of it and one could be sent immediately to the dean if spotted or heard. Back to social studies though. We were going through a lecture about probably ancient Egypt since middle school social studies teachers only believe in one ancient civilization. My teacher was getting all fired up and sweaty about hieroglyphics and then it happened… *RING*

The room went pin drop quiet. The teacher pretty much snapped his neck turning around, I’m pretty sure his eyes cartoonishly popped out of his glasses too. He screams, “WHOSE PHONE IS THAT!?” Nobody says anything. Why the hell would we? This man is built like a gorilla and could probably fling us out the door into the 7th grade pod like a frisbee.

“Well?!”

The thing is we did all know who it was we just didn’t want the teacher to demonstrate ancient Egyptian torture methods. The kid, what a guy, raises his hand in shame and fear. “It was me sir.”

“Shame on you!

“B-but sir I-“

“GOOOOOOO! To the dean’s office!”

The kid walks with shame out the door and on the way out the teacher uttered two sentences that haunted me at the time, but cracks me up now.

“The hell with you! You’ll be lucky if you ever come back to this place.”

Bro, it’s a phone not a gun. Thank god there was only 10 minutes left of class after that so we didn’t have to hold our piss from being scared out of our minds. I think back to times like this and wonder how traumatizing it probably was for this 12 year old to be told to go to hell by a teacher for accidentally forgetting to turn his contraband phone off before class. I’m pretty sure I remember going up to him a few days later seeing if he was okay and the phone call ended up being his mom.

Saddest Kid in Grade Number Two

Let’s go waaaaaaaay back to elementary school. Elementary school definitely had its troublemakers and burnout-bound kids and that was made quite obvious by the way they acted and respected their teachers. There had to have been some gossip in the teacher’s lounge about asshole kids that they had in class and just carry with that kid in future grades. This one kid in second grade possessed the typical qualities of a teacher’s nightmare. He would crack jokes at inappropriate times, say bad words, fart in other kids seats, and stole people’s markers.

Given, none of this had happened yet and it was only the third day of school. This kid had asked one of his tablemates if he could borrow a marker and accidentally knocked over his books. Okay, it happens no sweat nobody tripped about it. About ten minutes later he opens up his desk and his books slide off again. This was the last straw for my teacher. She got up and stormed to his desk, picked up his books he had just grabbed from the floor, slammed them on the ground and told him to pick it up.

Maybe people closer to my age can relate, but back in the day those reading textbooks in elementary school felt like 100 pounds, so when she slammed those books it felt like she created a new fault-line underneath the school. What my teacher didn’t know was that this kid had scoliosis and struggled bending over. This poor guy probably felt the way that I did in choir class and he just sat there shocked.

Whatever Homie

The biggest thing difference about K-8 and high school? We start to develop our personalities and come into our own outside of what our parents taught us. The other difference? High schoolers aren’t afraid to speak their mind. The thing about high school teachers though is that neither are they.

I can tell you a handful of times where teachers deserved to get roasted like a nut. Actually 50% of the time they did and it was hilarious. I remember having a substitute for geometry one day and when you’re a sub usually the way the day goes is that you do your assigned lesson by yourself and maybe a partner. This sub took it upon herself to say that she “thinks she knows geometry” and attempted to teach the lesson. Little did she know that the teacher had printed off the wrong lesson and made sheets for YESTERDAY’s homework.

As she was ‘teaching’ the lesson, we gradually picked up on the fact that we had already done this. The smartest kid in the class raised her hand to inform the sub, but she responded “save all questions for the end, thanks”. The girl then said without hesitation “miss we’ve already done this lesson”. The sub didn’t like this.

“You really expect me to trust high schoolers to tell me what I’m supposed to do?”

The one kid who wasn’t so smart, but equally as vocal defended her, “Yes! We’ve been here, I have the homework.”

The sub got angry and told him to go to the dean. This guy wasn’t going down without a fight. He blurted out, “No! I am not going there for telling you that you should do your job.” I think on his way out he called her fat too if I remember correctly.

I had a fair share of those kinds of moments too, none where I fat shamed a teacher, but definitely stood up for myself. My freshman year biology teacher is one that comes to mind. She made it very apparent that she was married and if someone addressed her as Ms. instead of Mrs. she would snottily correct them every time. I had a hard time in that class, so one day when I asked for help and totally said Mrs. and not Ms. she took it upon herself to correct me anyway and started walking away. An anger flushed through me, I snapped back, “Are you gonna get over yourself and actually help me instead of walking away?” Of course she didn’t like that and gave me a warning, but after that she didn’t mess with me again.

I always tell the story of my senior year composition teacher when talking about teachers I didn’t like. She wasn’t a bad teacher by any means, her and I just didn’t see eye to eye. Junior/senior year I really cracked out of my shell and became very extroverted. I loved to talk and that’s still no secret. When passing around papers one day, I jokingly called my teacher homie since my speech professor (pre-requisite to this class) and I would joke like that. She did not appreciate this. From then on it was all about me defending my honor and her trying to tear it down. Charming lady, really.

This is Why You’re Wrong

Thinking about these times when teachers were being flat out terrible makes me reflect on the past. These people really were our parents away from home in a way. In our first days at school when we’re younger, many kids cry when their parents leave them with a somewhat stranger. The teacher is responsible for making that kid comfortable and create a safe learning environment. They need to develop a sense of trust in order to get to them.

Man, there’s some teachers that did the exact opposite. My art teacher for example all throughout elementary school would tell us to not talk at all and force us to do the same projects year after year. I’m pretty sure I did self-portraits like three different times and got told one year that mine lacked originality. Maybe it’s because I’ve done this before and I’m fucking nine years old you honey-baked ham. She also ate glue in front of us and that on its own was enough to make me uncomfortable.

Point is if I had a better art teacher growing up I’d probably be a more skilled artist and more passionate about it in the middle school years. You know THE YEARS WHERE YOU DEVELOP CHARACTER. I really looked up to a lot of my teachers/professors, even the ones that weren’t so great. They had the knowledge and they had my interest too. I was there to learn, in order for me to attain this knowledge the best is if I can trust the teacher. There are many times where I was let down by a teacher due to their lack of passion or willingness to help me out.

I am minoring in journalism and I was very skeptical for years because one of my teachers told me during a career building activity that they don’t make any money and to pick something else. Clearly I didn’t have much integrity back then.

Coulda Woulda Shoulda Brudda

When you’re a kid your teacher is not only like another parent, but also kind of your first boss. You’re expected to get your tasks and assignments done at given deadlines or else there’ll be consequences a.k.a detention or even suspension. You have this trust and strong liking for the teacher, mainly when you’re in elementary. I can’t think of many teachers or professors that I ADORED or anything close. Teaching I can only assume is like parenting. The kids that they teach and help develop will absorb more than you can imagine and relay it back to their parents. I remember a teacher in 7th grade stubbed her toe on the front table and said “ah shi—– oooot!” Nice catch. At least she owned up to it and caught herself.

There are so many times where those kids who are now adults look back on those K-12 years and either laugh, cringe, or reminisce. It almost doesn’t matter what your teacher taught, if you couldn’t connect with them or see eye to eye, it’s pointless. Those are the prime years of coming into our own being. You might forget what you learned in class, but you never forget the people who taught you those forgettable lessons. Massive thanks for the ones that didn’t give up on their students and cared about where they went in life after. Even if it didn’t seem like we appreciated you, trust me we definitely remember what you did for us and more than likely can recall your lessons the best.

Halloween Series: 5 Great and 5 Awful Horror Movies Part 2

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) - Moria
Silent Night, Deadly Night (yes that’s the name of the film)

Currently Listening to: Bloom by Beach House

Happy Hell-o-ween!

It has come to my attention that when I attempt to say the word ‘horror’ it comes out like I’m saying ‘whore’ instead. So for those curious, no, I was not watching a whore movie called The Babadook. Wonder if anyone truthfully thought I was talking about a whore film and questioned why I am so open with what I am watching… AHYHOW! Welcome to part two of the best and worst *ahem*… HORROR movies. When I was writing the first part it made me realize how passionate I felt about writing about how much I loved the movies being discussed. Now I’m sitting here thinking about how fun it’ll be to rip on the bad ones.

If you know me in any capacity if I really don’t like something I will make it very apparent that I’m not a fan of it. I frequently bring up how much I don’t enjoy candy corn during this time of year and even though I think the taste is gonna change every time I give this piece of garbage nightmare candy a second chance I always end up resenting it a bit more. The same can be said about these movies. Some of them have been so offensively awful that I would never give them another chance, but some of these I have given another shot and just get worse thinking about it. So here we go… FIVE terrible horror movies you most definitely should avoid.

The Worst

5. Haunting on Fraternity Row

Haunting on Fraternity Row (2018)
Umm…

Admittedly I should’ve known better going into this based off the title. I watched this one with my roommates last year and I’m pretty sure that we purposely had a ‘bad movie night’. We had just finished watching The Package, which is about a movie where this teenager drunkenly slices off his junk and they have to transfer him and his severed schlong to the nearest hospital before it’s too late. It’s as bad as it sounds. Then came Haunting on Fraternity Row. Wow this is bad. Sometimes you’ll come across a movie like this and it’ll purposely try to be dumb but the content itself is still fun like Freddy vs Jason or Zombeavers. This you can tell they were trying and it was painful to watch.

The plot is so lifeless and boring. Basically a frat house is having a massive winter party and something makes the house possessed and a being starts killing people. That’s it. Truthfully, this could’ve been a good premise for a movie if it had a higher budget and a better script. Having a haunted frat house would make for a good horror comedy. Instead we are stuck with this, a found footage film that makes no sense to be recorded like that in the first place. The dude behind the camera films EVERYTHING. The party prep, the drama, the people hanging out upstairs, some douche trying to scare people… oh yeah and there’s a party! What kind of frat guy is like ‘hey man remember that winter party when I hung up the streamers? Yeah man I was soooooo sober. Highlight of the day’?

You know exactly who is gonna die within the first ten minutes too. Everyone in this film is either annoying as hell or dumb with the exception of two people that I thought were going to live. Nope they die. Oh well then everyone is gonna die then, right? Yup. Nobody survives this movie. They all get attacked by the cousin of the smoke monster from Lost, the black shadow.

I think the most offensive part of this movie is that the monster (I think it’s a monster or demon maybe?) doesn’t make sense. The only way for the characters to defend themselves is if they’re in this room in a wall that accidentally got smashed during the prep for the party that’s full of convenient, copious amounts of lights. Okay, whatever that’s stupid but fine. Then when the teens go to hide the monster destroys the lights… Dude…

If I had said this was a horror movie and someone thought I said ‘whore’ movie instead, this is an occasion where I probably wouldn’t have corrected them. This movie is Alpha Sigma Sigma.

4. The Nun

The Conjuring Universe Fans on Instagram: “The Nun 😍😱 @thenunmovie 💖  @taissafarmiga @bonnieaarons1 💖 #TaissaFarm… | The conjuring, The  conjuring annabelle, Nuns
Nun ya business!

The Conjuring 2 was actually a really great sequel and continued on a really strong franchise (outside of Annabelle). There were a lot of memorable scenes and characters, one such being a terrifying nun painting that jumped out of the wall and tried to kill one of the main characters. So naturally, the people did the exact thing they did with Annabelle and take a cool character or item from The Conjuring and make a whole movie about it.

What this and Annabelle have in common is that these could have easily been great. They weren’t. What those two movies do NOT have in common is that Annabelle is just okay, The Nun is not.

I saw this one in theaters and welp that was a mistake. The movie follows an investigation of the titular nun character that mysteriously died out of nowhere and now a priest and two other people (one is also a nun and the dude I think was a farmer or something I don’t know/care) go to the Vatican and get to the bottom of this mystery. Halfway through the movie I forgot this premise. My friends and I started cracking jokes. We all collectively loved The Conjuring movies so when it got to the point where we just kind of gave up and couldn’t stop laughing I was enjoying myself through the disappointment.

The funniest thing about the film is the score. I get that they were trying to go for a haunted men’s choir, but it just came off sounding like a morbidly, obese dude getting kicked in the dick and hearing his groans of pain in super slow-mo. That could’ve easily been made into a drinking game because this track was played at least ten different times throughout the movie. Best believe that every time that came up we would mimic the noise. People around us joined in too.

What The Nun did do well though was have a cool opening scene. I did kind of laugh at it too because the effects were lacking, but you would think after that scene it would be a really dark, somewhat scary movie. Nope. I jumped from a loud noise twice and that was that. I think the best part of The Nun was when Whoopie Goldberg came out and started singing songs from Sister Act to combat the evil.

3. The Quiet Ones

Does “The Quiet Ones'” Ending Suggest Coupland's Theories About the  Supernatural Were Wrong? | Read | The Take
The Quiet Ones (2014)

There was a span of time between 2014 to 2016 where I watched a TON of scary movies. I would say the percentage between good and bad ones were probably 15% good and 85% bad. Some of them had really good ideas and were just executed poorly, some had pretty good acting and some genuine scares and just had bad writing, and then there’s all of the above. The Quiet Ones is all of the above. There was just something about this one that was so awful that I couldn’t get it off my mind for months. Every so often I’ll go through my old lists of movies I’ve watched every year and then I see The Quiet Ones and I groan.

The Exorcist… I mean Silence of the Lambs… no that’s not right either… Sinister? Oh yeah The Quiet Ones! That movie is about these students that go with their professor to study these behavioral habits of this girl named Jane who seems to be possessed by an outside force of darkness. Together they try to analyze her behavior in order to help Jane get better while simultaneously gathering research for their class.

This movie is bits and pieces of every horror stereotype ever made. To the point where it is frustrating. It also fuels my cringe intake. There were many lines of dialogue and actions of the characters that made me question why I had paid $6 for this matinee bullshit. There’s also a lot that makes no sense here. There are a few exorcism scenes where the students attempt to retrieve this darkness from Jane and attempt to manifest it. In one such scene things get out of hand and they have to hold her down before she goes insane and for some reason a tentacle launches out of her mouth… This is never brought up again or even explained either. Is she being possessed by Cthulu? Is Squidward Tentacles controlling her every move with the sound of his clarinet?

As if this movie couldn’t get any weirder there’s romance. Oh yes love is in the air in this abandoned house. I feel God in this slanty shanty today! One of the students develops a crush on Jane and attempts to take her away from the house to ‘save’ her from cruel and unusual treatment. Ruining their research and the whole reason that any of them were there in the first place. Think about it buddy, is saving this girl really worth sacrificing your GPA? Anyways, then there’s this stupid plot twist that makes zero sense that I’m not even gonna try to explain because I personally still don’t understand it. You’re better off watching The Nun or Pitch Perfect 2, well maybe not Pitch Perfect 2.

2. Carrie (2013)

Carrie (2013) movie review by SlashingThrough.com
Worst prom EVURRR!!

Some people really love the original Carrie and consider it a classic even. I can’t stand it. I saw the 2013 one first and had a very sour reaction to it. I thought maybe the OG Stephen King adaptation would be better, but I actually disliked that one quite a bit too. Maybe it’s because I grew up generations later than when the original story came out, but I don’t understand the bullying. Why are people actively trying so hard to make Carrie’s life so miserable? I get that she’s the nerdy, weird kid and comes from a troubled household, but why is she the target of everyone in the school? I just never found that realistic.

Both of these films are extremely similar, almost too similar. This might make the 2013 one worse by default due to lack of originality or trying to do anything different. The locker room scene, the prom scene, the ending (kind of) all note for note the exact same. There’s also a l At least in the original they made Sissy Spacek look somewhat like the reject kid and the mom looked like someone who was overbearingly religious. I’m sorry Chloe Grace Moretz is too good looking even in this film to be the outcast. Julianne Moore wouldn’t have been my first choice for insane, overbearing mother either.

Maybe the whole pig blood thing would’ve made more sense back then with their seemingly small town setting and given their resources, but it doesn’t really for a 2010’s film in a rural setting. The school they go to is clearly very nice and upscale and I don’t think pig blood would be a modern bully’s first choice for sabotaging a girl at prom. At least they didn’t make it TOO modern and cyberbully her by somehow sending a totally embarrassing selfie to everyone in the entire school and everyone checks it at the exact same time.

I’m perfectly fine with a director challenging an audience with a certain style or direction that makes people uncomfortable, but this one is just too yucky for me. The overbearingly religious mother is really underacted by Julianne Moore and to this day I still squirm and laugh at the line where her and Carrie are arguing about her dress being revealing and calls her boobs “dirty pillows” to which she angrily responds “they’re BREASTS mother!” Um… dirty pillows?

If you like this power to ya, I just find no redeeming quality to Carrie.

  1. The Intruder
The Intruder Trailer: Never Buy a House from Dennis Quaid – /Film
Dennis Quaid attempting to stay silent by holding in his gas.

What the actual deuce was this movie? Not only is this one of the worst horror movies I’ve ever seen, it’s probably one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen PERIOD. There’s so much to dissect from this pfft I don’t even know what to call it.

First off, I don’t really feel bad for these characters at all. They’re all snobby rich people who might’ve worked hard for their money but come as whiny teens using daddy’s plastic. The premise itself is just flat-out dumb. This extremely rich couple decides to buy this extravagant home called Foxglove that has a massive backyard and beautiful interior from this dude named Charlie (played by Dennis Quaid) who owns the property. The couple decide to purchase the house from Charlie, but the he seems to have a hard time letting it go. He still comes and mows the lawn and even sneaks into the house to arrange things to his liking. Why? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

I haven’t seen a man in love with his house this much since Monster House. The massive gripe with this movie is the fact that all this could’ve been stopped had they called the police. Charlie supposedly killed his wife and his daughter ran off and threatened HIM she’d kill him if she tried to contact her again, she was never threatened. So why not call the police? Because that would make too much sense.

Annie (the wife) is an extremely ignorant sack of bologna. Every time Charlie comes over he is clearly hitting on her and she just allows it and thinks ‘oh he’s such a sweet guy’. Meanwhile she’s accusing her husband of cheating on her. Yeah OH-kay Annie. In her defense Scott (the husband) did cheat in the past, but supposedly that was worked out. Whenever Scott tells Charlie to leave she gets extremely defensive and says he can stay. Girl I’m pretty sure you didn’t drop a dime on the purchase of this place, let Scott make the decisions here. Charlie ends up getting angry at him and eventually runs Scott over with his truck. This is unknowingly at the time, but still I’m sure one can assume that it was him by the familiar truck that shows up to their house every day.

When discovering how crazy Charlie really is instead of calling the police what does Scott do? HE CALLS HIS WIFE. Bro?? You can probably guess he was in the house so what do you want her reaction to be?

Something that also needs to be said is Scott’s fear of guns. Charlie is a hunter and shows off his guns, but due to PTSD Scott is afraid to interact with them. So when it comes to defeating Charlie in a not-so-epic climax Scott picks up a gun, tells him to go to hell and the gunshot fades the screen to black. Insert the most inappropriate rap song for the credits to follow. There’s also a very randomly inserted sex scene that has no purpose other than to probably promote whoever’s R&B song was playing in the background. This happens a few times, where the music just doesn’t match the mood and I end up laughing. There’s definitely a dude mowing our grass and washing our dishes as we speak, but whatever let’s smash!

Charlie also ended up foreshadowing how Dennis Quaid is in real life to an extent. So to that I salute The Intruder for warning us. Imagine if Dennis Quaid’s character in Parent Trap and Charlie had a cross-over. How awesome would it be if kid Lindsey Lohan picked up the gun at the end and said go to hell before shooting her deranged dad?

Yeah, The Intruder is hilarious in all the wrong ways. It’s not a so bad it’s good situation, it’s truthfully so bad that it is bad and I find that hysterical.

Alternate Titles and Taglines

This is what these movies SHOULD’VE been called.

Haunting on Fraternity Row:

Alt Title: Are You Afraid of the Dark Bro?

Tagline: If you thought frat guys weren’t evil enough check out what’s in their basement!

The Nun:

Alt Title: The Conjuring Presents: The Nun (Nun’ ya business!)

Tagline: You wish this was Sister Act

The Quiet Ones:

Alt Title: Silence of the Exorcist that seemed Sinister, but was just a game of Ouija

Tagline: Worst. Group. Project. EVER

Carrie (2013):

Alt Title: Carrie White’s Fright Night Under the Lights

Tagline: This year’s prom theme… DEATH

The Intruder:

Alt Title: HGTV’s House Hunters

Tagline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMtZfW2z9dw

Honorable Mentions:

Ouija

The Visit (why was the kid rapping a part of the movie)

The Lazarus Effect

Malicious

Human Centipede

47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Ma

Pet Sematary (that’s how it’s spelled)

Halloween Series: 5 Great and 5 Awful Horror Movies Part 1

Scary Movie' May Be Outdated But It's Still Pretty Damn Funny [You Aughta  Know] - Bloody Disgusting

Currently Listening to: Sincerely by Dude York

Happy October!

It is the beginning of my favorite time of year. The holy trinity of months. The final quarter of the year. The intro to Christmas. Nah, but Halloween is cool too. I always LIKED Halloween when I was a kid, but only loved it select few years. Maybe it was the years that I had an especially great costume that I remember loving like when I was Mr. Fredrickson from the movie Up or Indiana Jones or being Dracula either time. I never had a bad costume, but I definitely had my favorites. I could probably tell you my least favorite though since there’s this infamous picture of two year old me having a meltdown dressed up as a lion. Maybe I was just getting in character for being the cowardly lion from Wizard of Oz or I was getting in character to be a total wimp. Thankfully that only lasted a few years.

Funny enough, I actually like Halloween a lot more now than I did when I was a kid. The parties are always a great time, haunted houses have become a must every year now, and the candy consumption grew too thanks to being older and having a debit card with access to bags of Sour Patch Kids and Kit-Kats. My new favorite tradition though is watching horror movies. It wasn’t until I was about 13 or 14 that I really started to adopt scary movies as an every year occasion. I can’t credit it to Poltergeist since even though I love it now it scared the living shit out of me as a kid. If I HAD to credit one movie though it’d probably be The Conjuring. That really spiked my adoration.

So since it is October I thought it would be fun to break away from my traditional blog format and make a list of five great horror movies and five not so good ones. This is completely subjective, but I definitely feel strongly enough about a few of the worst. Shall we begin, Clarice?

Also worth noting, this is ONLY THE BEST this entry. The worst list will be out in a few days!

The Best

5. Get Out

Get Out': Jordan Peele Reveals the Truth Behind the Sunken Place | IndieWire

I think most people around my age can distinctly remember the time that they first saw Get Out. It seems like people either really love this movie or really hate it. Why they would hate it I have no idea, unless you are like my parents and aren’t especially fans of horror movies. I was kind of late first watching Get Out since I had missed it initially when it first came to theaters. It wasn’t until it was offered as an inflight movie that I got an opportunity to watch it. Within the first five minutes I was absolutely hooked. The tension and buildup with the longshot of the man talking on the phone walking to his car in a dimly lit neighborhood while someone lurks in the background was terrifying. Only then to follow it up with Childish Gambino’s Redbone? Ridiculous!

I don’t know if anyone else could relate to this, but I truthfully had no idea what was going to happen next. The writing is so strong and has so many plot twists that I did not expect whatsoever. The fact that something that seemed like a typical slasher flick at times turned into a commentary on racial injustices and prejudices in America is unheard of and ultimately welcomed with open arms. All while simultaneously terrifying the audience with gruesome depictions of violence and ‘wanting to see the world through a black person’s eyes’. It’s such a great concept.

Good acting is usually not something that is a highlight of most horror films, but I think Daniel Kaluuya as Chris was stellar. From the first moment I saw him tear up while being hypnotized at the beginning of the film I was like damn this guy can act! His TSA buddy was really entertaining too and made for great comedic relief.

What impressed me the most though is the fact that the dude that wrote the Key and Peele substitute teacher sketch directed AND wrote the script for arguably one of the most important horror movies ever still blows me. I was just waiting for the teacher to pop out at the party in the middle of the film and greet the main character, Chris and say ‘ah you must be Cha-ris’, only to knock him out for correcting him. The former Cubs manager, Joe Maddon was also great as the dad in the film. Nice try ‘Bradley Whitford’ we know this was your victory lap after the 2016 World Series win.

While I do love Peele’s second film, Us, more than this one it feels more like a thriller than a horror movie so that’s why it makes this list.

4. It Follows

What's in a Name? The Anonymous Horror of 'It Follows' - The Atlantic

They should’ve just renamed this movie ‘Wrap it Before You Tap It’. You might have never heard of this movie, but you deserve to and lucky for you I’m about to half-ass explain it!

It Follows is about this teenager who goes on a date with a guy who acts kind of strange, but you know looks trump strangeness (explains why people are attracted to Ted Bundy nowadays). Their date ends abruptly, but it was good enough for them to have a sexual encounter. After this night, strange things begin to happen. She discovers she is being stalked by a creature that takes over as different human beings in order to disguise itself. Why is this happening? The guy she slept with was blessed with an STD that causes this strange being to stalk whoever contracts the disease and follows them until they kill them. I’ll leave it at that because the mystery of how to get rid of it is what makes it so gripping.

Anyone that watches any horror movie in some capacity knows that most ‘scary’ movies nowadays will just scare you with a loud sound to make you jump, but what actually happens is less than scary or just flat out dorky. It Follows doesn’t do that at all except for maybe one or two times. The rest is just based off of pure uncertainty. Often you’ll see silhouettes or anthropomorphic figures in the background and it just has you guessing if that is the creature coming to kill her or if it’s just some Chad ripping his JUUL.

When a movie has a great soundtrack it earns bonus points. It Follows has a very memorable synth-driven, 80s inspired soundtrack and I love it. I would definitely buy a physical copy if my pockets didn’t have moths flying out of them. It also helps with building tension which some may seem as a cop out for natural tension, but who cares it sounds dope.

3. The Conjuring

Wanna play!?! ;) | Tv actors, The conjuring, Horror movies

One of the first dates I ever went on was to see this movie and I was visibly terrified. Of what though? The person I was with? The fact it could be super scary? That it was an R rated movie and I was just a lil boy? That popcorn was $7 and I didn’t have the chore money to afford it since I blew it on the ticket? If you guessed the fact that it was scary then you are correct! To be fair though, I would’ve accepted any answer.

The Conjuring is different than most horror films or truthfully I should say WAS different than most horror films. Seems as though there are so many movies that attempt to replicate the magic of it and just nobody gets close. Hell, even the own franchise tries to replicate it and it doesn’t work! Shoutout to The Nun, you’ll see that title later (subtle foreshadowing, right?). This movie has so many memorable moments that made me dig my fingers into that faux velvet seating in the theater. The hide and go clap scene is iconic at this point and still trips me out, the scene in the basement/cellar I can’t remember which, but whatever it’s terrifying and haunted me for a straight week.

What I really respect about this movie is that it took a seemingly dead format of the ‘based off of true events’ format and made it seem real. The two paranormal investigators showing their work to the college class makes it seem very cinematic too. Smart. I’m glad they made the investigators intellectual and not like an episode of Ghost Hunters where grown men are screaming because they think they heard a ghost whisper ‘hot cheetos’ and then play it back with voice-over saying “did this ghost say hot cheetos? We can’t be sure”.

The effect and makeup in this film are worth mentioning too. The design of Annabelle before she had her own spinoff franchise was definitely an image that stuck with me. The demons also looked really realistic, given I’ve never seen a demon but if I did I can imagine it’d look like that. Unless you count Trisha Paytas then I’ve definitely seen a demon and that characterization is awful.

2. It (2017) and It Chapter 2 (2019)

It Chapter 2 director hints at potential Pennywise movie

The first IT came out on my birthday and it was probably one of the most memorable birthdays because of it. I remember seeing Atomic Blonde with my friends that summer prior and they showed the first five minutes as a teaser and we were all like “wOOOoooAAaaaaHHhh we gotta see that man!” That small teaser ended up being better than Atomic Blonde, but anyhow. IT is easily my favorite modern horror movie and for good reason. It’s scary as FUCK.

I don’t care what anyone says I got ridiculed by my close friends for thinking it was scary, but damn did you not see Pennywise?! Bill Skarsgard did amazing as the titular clown/alien. His voice has almost become as meme-able as Christian Bale’s deep, raspy Batman accent. The beginning scene of the film where little Georgie (r.i.p. my guy) meets Pennywise in the drain in an attempt to retrieve the boat his older brother Bill made for him is the perfect intro to what kind of villain he is and the voice changes to sound more enticing to his victims.

What REALLY set the tone for what was to come was when they actually showed Georgie’s arm being bitten off and you see him crying and desperately attempting to escape with just a nub oozing blood down the drains and getting dragged down there. As often as kids are in peril in horror films it’s not often you see a kid actually get hurt, let alone killed on screen like that. This made me fearful of what was to come since the stars of the film are kids too and kind of made me sick to my stomach. Not due to fear, but because I snuck sushi into the theater and that shit on screen was gross. I felt dirty eating raw fish after seeing some little kid get his arm ripped off. I was worried I’d feel something stuck in my teeth and just pull out a piece of yellow rain jacket.

Fun fact: I didn’t eat sushi for a good two months after this.

What follows after this amazing opening scene is a series of terrifying events like being chased by a leper through an abandoned courtyard, blood blasting through a sink drain, and seeing hands of people clawing for life trying to escape behind a fiery door. The child actors make this movie what it is. I was laughing my ass off the entire movie, not in a messed up in the head kind of way, the movie is actually supposed to be funny I promise. The adults are all creeps though and I don’t understand why they were all made out to be these disgusting characterizations. It was nevertheless very entertaining though and fleshed out certain characters.

The second IT movie isn’t as good as the first one, nor does it completely follow the same rules as it which was kind of disappointing. The whole point is that the adults can’t see Pennywise and within the first 10 minutes an adult was killed. What? Maybe Pennywise was homophobic or something since they are the only LGBTQ characters presented at the time (THERE’S better foreshadowing for you). It makes sense that the kids from the first movie can see him since they survived, but not just some random dude at a carnival.

The two IT movies are kind of like the Alien franchise, one is more of the horror movie and the other is more of an adventure. IT Chapter 2 feels more like an adventure than the first one did. (Almost) All the characters coming together 27 years later to defeat Pennywise felt like a band of childhood friends trying to reconnect and conquer at the same time and less like a ‘oh no a clown!’ kind of take.

Whoever was in charge of casting seriously didn’t get paid enough. The grown up versions of the kids from the first film all made so much sense. I just don’t understand why they got the Old Spice guy to play adult Mike. Unless they combatted Pennywise with the 24 hour sweat resistance power of deodorant. Bill Hader and James McAvoy were perfectly cast though and they felt the most like their character from the film prior.

The thing is though, this movie isn’t really great by any means but I don’t care at all it’s just fun. The movie exceeds 2 and a half hours and it felt like an hour. The thing I can’t really give a pass to though is how they defeated Pennywise and how he looked like a deflated baby afterwards. Did Pennywise never go to middle school? If he went to middle school I can guarantee you he would’ve been dead in like 15 minutes after walking through the halls. If hate words killed him he wouldn’t have lasted in 2020 either

  1. Halloween (1978)
The killer guide to Michael Myers' Halloween - Blastr

My parents always warned me as a kid that if I watched scary movies I would get really bad nightmares. They said this about Jurassic Park when I was like six and guess what I watched Jurassic Park. Did I have nightmares? You bet your ass I did! Flashforward a decade later though and I just got done watching Halloween for the first time. Alone. With no one home. Lights off. Shit.

I think at the time Halloween was really the only slasher movie I had seen, unless you count Saw which I thought was pretty good. Halloween elevated my thoughts on horror films in general. I continued to think about this movie for weeks after. I worked at Party City during this time too and I vividly remember a Michael Myers mask popping out at me while looking for a costume and jumping a foot in the air.

Like It Follows, Halloween has an amazing score. Everyone knows the infamous Michael Myers theme, but there’s something supremely haunting about the rest of the score which was composed by John Carpenter, the director, himself.

To Halloween’s credit, this movie opens with a homicidal mental patient escaping from a mental hospital and goes off into the countryside and he isn’t afraid of hiding in clear daylight. I don’t know there’s something kind of sinister about that, like he knows that if he kills someone in clear sight his reign of terror will end, yet he isn’t afraid to make himself apparent. The scene where he is hiding in someone’s yard while staring at teens walking back from school is a perfect example.

Halloween is an asshole. The filmmakers get so much tension built up and all these warning signs that something bad is going to happen and nothing does and I LOVE THAT. The whole time I was like ‘nah NOW he’s gonna get ’em!’ and I never knew when he would do it until he did.

The last 20 minutes are perfect. The chase between Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael is super realistic and extremely intense. With every footstep and creak of floorboards I found myself gripping into my own hands. The worst is when you think it is all over and he died, but SIKE he dipped and left. What?? After all that he’s still out there? No way man, no way.

Honorable Mentions

Scream 1 or 2 (more funny than scary)

Sweeney Todd

The Cabin in the Woods (very creative, just not really scary)

Poltergeist

Hereditary

Insidious

Psycho

What You’ll Sadly Never Forget

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/stephencolbertquadfacepalm_4937.jpg

Currently Listening to: Era Extrana by Neon Indian

Picture This…

It’s an overcast day, could rain, but there’s enough sunlight seeping through the pattern of wispy, white clouds to say otherwise. You’re on the way back home from getting groceries at your local grocery store because you like to support our local businesses. You think about what’s to come for the rest of the day while cruising down the road. You’ll pack away your fruits and veggies, you’ll kick off your shoes and enjoy a few episodes of Parks and Rec since it’s an easy thing to have on in the background, and think about that one time you jumbled up your words at Applebees when the hostess greeted you and you responded with ‘hello, how are you going’ and in return gave you the look of ‘aw this poor nerd can’t speak correctly’… Wait why did you think of this? This was two months ago!

Why, Brain?

Have you ever had an experience such as the scenario above? A completely pointless memory that serves you no purpose or significance with how life goes from here other than to make you groan and question yourself. Hell, I don’t need to even ask I know you have. There’s enough memes on Twitter for me to know that everyone feels this at some point. This doesn’t necessarily have to be an embarrassing moment from your past, it could be something that got under your skin in the past and for whatever reason just stuck with you. It could also be a weird phrase or song that you can’t tell who wrote/said it, where it’s from, and the name of it. An earworm.

For me, these stupid memories always come in at the worst times. I remember going to one of my first job interviews and in between the time I was waiting for the manager to return and interview me and the interview itself my mind wanted to re-introduce the memory of being four years old and walking into one of my classmate’s birthday party gift in hand only to enter their home and see the exact same gift already set up in their living room. Upon opening the punk kid said “hey we already have this! Why did you give me a second one?” Then everyone at the party looked back at me, people walking their dogs stopped and stared through the window, and mister Jesus Henry Christ himself beamed down in all his glory and smacked me a good one upside the head and said you’re on your own homie (bonus round for thinking that Jesus’s middle name was Harold when I was younger)…

…And then my interviewer sat down. Suddenly, tell me a bit about yourself seemed like a trick question. What did he want me to say? That I was a track-star and earned the medal of honor for skipping? Oh boy, the pits are getting sweaty. Surprisingly I didn’t get a call back after that. Their loss, the team at Corner Bakery really suffered without me. I can tell every time I go that they really just wish I could save them.

We’ve all had these moments or little traumas that hold us back and actively try to suppress because for some reason you think people can read your mind in the moment. It is something that I face almost once a week and to be completely honest I create at least one of these memories a week. It’s like I’m a magnet for awkward situations. Given, I am much more confident than I was back when I had that first job interview at 16. Not too many things affect me like that anymore, but when they do they have to be the ones that burrow the deepest in the shelves of my mind.

With that in mind, I wanted to write about the different situations that I have encountered that induce these wonderful little memories and bother me when I’m trying to fall asleep at night. Trying to gather all the what ifs and what would’ve happened if I had just done this.

RRRGH Why Didn’t I Just Say *Fill in the Blank*

There’s an episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza spends the entirety of the episode wishing that he had said this good comeback to one of his coworkers that degraded him during a meeting for calling him a shrimp while munching down on shrimp cocktail. I have had so many of these moments in my life. I’ve dedicated hours on end thinking about what I could’ve said in the past to change different situations where someone had insulted me and couldn’t come up with anything in return. Don’t worry mom and dad I was barely ever bullied in middle school. With the kind of comebacks I had in elementary school I probably deserved to be bullied more.

I’ll give an example of this. One time during gym class in elementary school I accidentally bumped into this girl in kickball and told me in the snootiest way possible, with her nostrils extending a foot past her face “watch where you’re going dude”. I didn’t like this so I said “that’s why your shoes were untied” when she was actually wearing velcro shoes and flicked her nose when she looked down to check. The entire game stopped and everyone carried me on their shoulders including the gym teacher chanting my name throughout the halls. Or at least that WOULD be how it was if I had just said that. Instead I said “well someone fell through the crack of their bed.” What the fuck? Not only did I mess up one of the most common phrases known to man, but I KEPT GOING. I think I just panicked in response to messing up the phrase, but I only dug myself deeper into this hole that was basically a crater at this point. She looked at me all weird and walked away.

There are plenty of times where we get angry and wish we had said something to either de-escalate the situation or end their career with a deep cutting insult. While it’s not ideal to dwell on that kind of stuff, it’s still fun to think that if you had a time machine you can reverse the past and tell yourself a better insult. One that would make you endlessly desirable to the opposite sex and give you an autograph tent next to the playground.

You Stupid Idiot

I had referred to these moments in life as little traumas earlier and this is especially applicable for situations that make me angry. Like in the previous section, I can get dwell on situations where I could’ve said retorted with a better insult. Nothing is more frustrating when someone says some shit to you and you don’t get the chance to say anything back.

This happened very recently actually which is one reason why I decided to write about this. This woman, at least I think she was, she resembled a less attractive Dick Van Dyke in her profile pic but she left a pretty disgusting comment on my last post. In the very last line of my post I made a joke about the Cheeto Puff himself, Donald Trump. Had nothing to do with politics, nor did any part of the entry. This woman took it upon herself to say that “I had her until I mentioned Trump” and went on to mention how great he is and how we will all realize how great he is once he is out office. I just ignored it. Two days later the same lady responds and says that I backed out of a debate and basically called me weak. Funny, I don’t seem to remember putting anywhere on my site that I would be open to debating with a stranger, sorry, DUMBASS that from an entire entry only took away one sentence that had nothing to do with the content itself.

I chose to ignore this and just block her, which was probably the right thing to do since she wanted to be hateful, nor will I engage in negativity in this safe space. But there are times where things are shouted to us from a car driving off or a stranger on the street or we are told things by someone who is in a position of power that are hurtful, but we don’t get the chance to respond.

It’s not so far out of left field to say that we have all had management or someone in a higher position of power than us say rude or hurtful things to us in the past. Whether it was meant to hurt or not. This is also something that sticks with me and comes up at random, inconvenient times. I had a manager at my first job ages ago tell me that I don’t deserve to be working there. I just kind of stood there and wondered why she couldn’t have just told me where the bathroom was and left it at that, but whatever I’ll wet myself in front of you. It’s cool.

I also came across a situation about a month ago where my girlfriend and I were walking in a downtown area and we had eggs thrown at us from a truck full of teens and got called a faggot. I’m assuming by stereotype I was called that by the way I dressed because I looked very good that day, but nevertheless neither of us could do anything about it because of how fast they drove off and how shocked that something like that actually happened. I think about this situation all the time and know for a fact that it will become one of those memories where it’ll pop into my head at random and bug me again. I play out the different conceivable scenarios about what I could’ve done in response to this hateful action, but ultimately it’s a waste of time.

Embarrassment

Alright, let’s lighten the mood and talk about embarrassing shit because that’s always fun! So whenever an embarrassing situation comes into play that’s the kind of suppressed memory that bugs me the most. I’ll start saying lalalalalalala in my head in an attempt to get that out of my head and just realize how annoying my coping mechanism is. I’ll start humming a tune. I will literally do anything in my power to escape that thought and just go on about my day. Even if that means wearing Crocs without socks into a public area.

The way I see it, embarrassment is divided into three categories. Anger, awkwardness and mortifying, and funny. In an angry sense it’s the things we say or do that messes up something we were working towards. Slipping up during a conversation that was going very well with a potential love interest or friend for example. One time I was really hitting it off with someone at a party a while back and I ended up sneezing. What’s that you say? Sneezing doesn’t sound embarrassing? It isn’t, but it is when you attempt to cover your face (that’s right, I was covering my sneezes before it was cool) and you end up smacking the person’s drink out of their hand. They storm off and you get angry at yourself and sort of at them in a weird way for leaving.

The second kind of embarrassment is awkward/mortifying. These are the situations where every conceivable thing that could go wrong does. This is the accidental fart (shart if you wanna raise the stakes) in an elevator or the unprepared speech in front of a bunch of people. For me, I’m goofy and I make jokes instinctively. It’s just the way I function. I find everything funny even if it shouldn’t be. I can look at a park bench and think of a funny scenario or find something humorous about it. When jokes don’t hit though in a crowd of people it makes it very uncomfortable. This is the kind of embarrassment I am getting at. The kind that makes you question why you didn’t just shut up. It’s such a small instance but I remember those almost as vividly as the actually funny things I brainstorm.

The last kind is funny embarrassing. This is actually a good kind of inescapable memory. Maybe the events leading up to it weren’t exactly admirable, but it lead to something greater than what just happened. This could be tripping and falling into a puddle in front of a group of people and someone is generous enough to come and help you up, leading to conversation. Another example could be telling a joke that you think is hilarious, but nobody else laughs at it. You sit in shame until later someone comes up to you and tells you that they thought what you said was actually funny and not in an act of pity, but genuinely. Since I have given embarrassing examples for most of these I’ll give one last one. One time during class I dropped my pencil and when I dropped down to grab it my head hit my desk and all my other materials fell off onto the ground. This made people around me laugh at my pain, but someone saw something special in the way I ever so gracefully smacked the goofy out of my head. I made a new friend that day that must’ve thought the way I handled it was unusual but intriguing.

Wrap it Up Buddy

So despite there being copious amounts of moments that are super embarrassing, there is good that follows it. Even though I’d rather forget the time that I sung the lyrics to a song wrong during a concert and someone corrected me, at least I am able to look back and realize there is a life after that moment. It sounds super over-dramatic and it is, but in the moment that is how it feels no doubt. The only thing that halts this way of thinking is when these memories DO come up, it kind of makes an insecurity come up too. Sort of like a barrier to progress and move on. If you were humiliated in the past why try again and just spare yourself the shame?

There was a small period of time where I wanted to minor in psychology because the mind is an amazing, peculiar specimen, but also an asshole and I think there’s a lot to learn from it. I wanted to understand why we remember these things above others. Why we think of the negative things more frequently than the positive. My psychology professor a few years ago told me that trauma is most commonly associated with the bad memories and experiences, but is misunderstood. Good trauma exists too. I find myself remembering the negative stuff more often on my own and the lighthearted, fantastic memories having to be brought up by friends and family. The “hey remember when we did this!?” kind of discussions.

To wrap this all up as the section title presents, we can’t prevent these memories from popping into our heads are conveniently awful moments… I have nothing positive to say about it actually, they’re just flat-out awful. At the very least we learn from these moments in time and try to be more cognizant or aware of future outcomes assuming we come across it again. I just hope I never come across a situation again where I slip and fall in the mud while playing soccer and end up having to sit in what looks like shit-stained pants for the rest of the day.

I’m ending this entry like this because I want someone to comment “you had me until you brought up shit-stained pants.”

Works Cited:

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Facepalm/LiveActionTV

Kill Your Heroes: Speaking to Society’s Gross Modern Perception of Death

Robin Williams - Wikipedia

Currently Listening to: The Greys by Frightened Rabbit

How Could This Happen? (Intro)

I write most of these entries while working the very early morning shift at my job and usually I’ll have something planned the night before, but today felt different. Call it writer’s block, call it lack of sleep, call it I have so much school happening at once and am stuck in a pandemic-itis. I did come into my shift this morning with the intention of writing something, I just didn’t know what. Usually I’ll turn on some fairly easy going music while I peruse through the internet, usually indie folk, soft rock, or R&B. Today I came across Frightened Rabbit. What a great band. They’re not my favorite band by any means, but they came in at such a pivotal point in my life that they hold a special place in my heart.

I had the privilege of seeing the band perform at Lollapalooza in 2016 and was blown away at their musicianship and the dedicated fanbase that was front and center at the dusty baseball field stage. Flash forward to May 2018. I followed the band on Twitter at the time and I enjoyed reading whatever they posted, but they weren’t very active. I tapped the news and Frightened Rabbit was trending. Uh oh… This was during what was arguably the height of the “me too” movement so I was worried something had happened. Even worse. Scott Hutchison was missing. The band tweeted out they had no idea where Scott was other than they knew he was at a hotel in Scotland and that he was in a ‘fragile state’. Hutchison put out two tweets within the days missing:

“Be so good to everyone you love. It’s not a given. I’m so annoyed that it’s not. I didn’t live by that standard and it kills me. Please, hug your loved ones” and the one that is haunting to this day, “I’m away now. Thanks”. These tweets caused me to follow this story extremely close and hope that this suffering man was okay.

Scott Hutchison was found dead on May 10th by a bridge around Port Edgar in Scotland. I was numb. I don’t really react or feel anything when celebrities pass other than a short thought of ‘oh that sucks’ and sympathy for their family and friends because well that’s sad. Death is immensely morbid to the masses.

I’m assuming that the death of Hutchison affected me more than normal because this situation felt very real. Someone going missing in a delicate state of mind and tweeting vague statements saying that we all need to love each other and that he’s ‘away now’ just feels like something that I’ve heard before. Almost as if someone I used to know from school went missing or someone I used to work with had disappeared and their family had reached out asking for details.

So with that whole circulation of thought this morning, I thought I would write about how death is treated in what my college courses call the digital age and why I think it is beautiful, confusing, and disgusting.

It’s Like I Knew Them…

As stated prior, what made Scott Hutchison’s story so powerful and upsetting to me is how real it felt. Frightened Rabbit was never a huge band either so maybe the fact that he seemed more human than the average celebrity made it seem like he was a person. People of fame are obviously living being, but in a weird way they don’t seem human to me. They might as well be animatronic sculptures of cheese (I watched a small YouTube doc on Chuck E Cheese before this, don’t hate that metaphor). I just don’t see them as human.

Any small act of charity, hospital visit, the infamous ‘thoughts and prayers’ tweet that many of them tweet when someone passes away or a public disturbance occurs. It seems like they are held on such a high rank by so many people that it comes off as pity. I’ve mentioned the halo effect in entries prior and why I think it is a toxic trait that our society possesses. This is no stranger.

Even when celebrities are still alive people act like they know the people they idolize. Maybe they really do and keep in touch and have conversations over crullers and macha tea… Nah. That’s very unlikely. I used to be a pretty avid Twenty One Pilots fan back in late middle school early high school. That was until they broke out in 2015 and their fanbase got incredibly stuck-up and acted like gatekeepers. I remember distinctly a conversation on Josh Dun’s Instagram comments between two fans going back and forth about how goofy the drummer is in the picture and how it is “just Josh being Josh”. Ew, what??? You don’t even know this man!

Point is that people will delve so deep into a famous dude’s social media, interviews, and Wikipedia page that they feel as though they know them. Kind of like how horse girls think they know every Clydesdale’s background story and how they came to this country with nothing but a dollar in their horseshoe and fueled on a whole lotta hope. People worship their celebs and power to them. Some people just find that admirable quality in someone that makes them want to make them believe they know them.

The Day(s) of Mourning ?

Michael Jackson, Prince, Robin Williams, David Bowie, Whitney Houston… These are all names that in my lifetime were impossible to avoid when they passed away. These people all had monumental influence in their respected area of profession and definitely meant the world to a specific generation and demographic. I remember the day when Michael Jackson passed away. My mom and uncle were especially gutted when they heard about the passing of the king of pop. They grew up listening to his music and lived through some of the biggest moments in pop culture history because of him. The moonwalk, the Thriller music video, the “hee-hee”s, and many other things. Arguably the biggest artist to ever walk the earth.

Nostalgia is definitely a main component of why people have such a strong reaction to when people like Michael Jackson pass away. We all get emotional thinking about the things that made us happy during our childhood. It’s like when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, it was an emotional event for so many people including my family since we had all grown up watching the Cubs be the butt of every sports joke. Seeing them win was a victory for everyone who had been a fan for any amount of time. We all had that childhood connection and shared love for these teams and people we look up to, but will probably never meet. I think it is very cool that we are able to learn about ourselves and our emotions through the ideas and actions of these people. To an extent of course, the Swifties that try to be Taylor Swift are vile.

You may have noticed the question mark in the section and that is completely intentional. There has been this recent trend that I have seen on Twitter whenever a celebrity passes away where users will share information about them that shines a negative light on them and their legacy. Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last week and there has been a massive outpour of praise and blessings to her family and the legacy she left behind. Meanwhile, someone tweeted a screenshot of an article a few years back about her where she said she didn’t understand Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem. Okay buddy, we get it you’re cool. Save some women for the rest of us.

This is a common occurrence nowadays. George Bush Sr passed away and while he was a controversial figure and had a lot of people oppose him even his sworn enemies were sharing their condolences (whether or not to believe them is up to you). Meanwhile I see someone tweeting something along the lines of “you shouldn’t feel bad for George Bush Sr dying. He hated gay people and did nothing about AIDs”. Even if that may be partially true, let those who did look up to him mourn in their own way.

I don’t understand the notion of making people feel bad for caring about someone who isn’t with them. I’m not saying worship Hitler or anything like that nor to ignore the bad things that they did, but the point is someone found a quality in that person that they found admirable and maybe learned something about themselves in the process.

Cancel Culture Strikes… I Mean Stinks

Deaths of a public figure bring out the weird in people. This is applicable for people that are still living too, but some people have a free pass of sort. A pass that George Bush Sr didn’t exactly get handed (probably because he was the president). This is the ‘I can’t be canceled’ pass. Some people that I look up to have done some terrible things that aren’t to be ignored. John Lennon is someone I’ve learned a lot about and took a lot from. Buuuuuuuuut he did also beat his first wife. David Bowie is someone I was really fond of in high school, but he also had sex with a minor. Yikes. Michael Jackson is infamous for a number of different allegations, but many still look up to him.

It feels wrong to say that I look to someone who abused their wife because my morality says that’s the wrong thing to do and obviously I stand by that fact that beating your wife is the weakest thing a guy can do. Yet people still discuss him. Why? He stood for many things that people found admirable. He strongly believed in change and peace for people of all shapes and sizes. That doesn’t destroy the fact that he did what he did in the past, but the point is he ‘learned’ from it (I use quotations because like this entry presents, I don’t know John Lennon). A lot of people were inspired by his actions.

This poses the big questions like ‘why do some people get canceled over others’ and ‘is it wrong for me to like someone’s art and ideas if they’ve done bad in the past?’ A common phrase thrown around is to separate the art from the artist. This concept to me is iffy. Sure you can separate the art from their craft, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should forget it. This is something that I strongly argued for for many years. Until someone brought up change.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Change

I recently just finished watching the Karate Kid spin-off Cobra Kai. The plot follows Johnny, the villain from the OG Karate Kid, as he revives his old dojo and attempts to get his life together and come at life differently than his predecessor/mentor taught him growing up. Throughout the show he learns more and more about how times have changed and you watch him slowly grow. Meanwhile Daniel, the protagonist of the OG Karate Kid, tries to stop Johnny and sees him still as the bully who tormented him when he moved to the suburbs all those years ago.

This show represents the two arguments. Can people who have done wrong in the past do good now? Can someone truly change? These are both questions that we have to ask each other and ourselves.

When the rapper XXXTentacion was murdered in cold blood in 2018 I had no thoughts on the situation other than I knew he nearly beat his girlfriend to death. I never listened to his music and refused to at that, but a few peers of mine kept trying to convince me that he tried to change during the last years of his life. They tried showing me proof through videos and various statements he put out regarding his journey. While I still refuse to support his music and listen to it, this conversation opened up a new world.

I truthfully do believe that people can change and deserve a second chance. People do deserve the opportunity to change and grow for themselves. Who cares what someone like me would think or anyone for that matter. Only you can understand your growth and journey and that story isn’t for everyone to hear.

My main takeaway from writing this entry and closing it out is that what we attain and learn from someone’s legacy is completely subjective. If someone truly looks up to Elon Musk and is inspired by his craft let them be inspired. Art inspires art regardless where it comes from. We radiate and ooze great ideas based on what we can learn from others no matter where they come from. If it wasn’t for David Bowie I wouldn’t have the inspiration to learn how to play a guitar. If it wasn’t for Tony Horton I wouldn’t have been inspired to better my diet and perfect my workout routine. If it wasn’t for Donald Trump I would’ve… sike you really thought I would, huh!

Memorable ‘Injuries’

By: Campbell Petschke

Peter Griffin GIF | Gfycat

Currently listening to: Holy Fire by Foals

Crack-a-lackin

Everyone has their own personal injuries and incidents. This could be broken bones, scrapes, infections, cuts, etc. As much as heartache may hurt your inside that is not what I am referring to this entry (I’ll give y’all a break this time). I’m talking about the brutal, gory, and cringe-inducing battle wounds. That slip on the floor and hitting a table, the slicing of a finger while chopping an eggplant, the bruising of the brain while sitting through Pitch Perfect 2. As this section suggests though, I personally am ‘crack-a-lackin’ yo… I’ve never shattered a bone nor had to get stitches. Better believe I am knocking on wood after writing about this content. It’s the equivalent of saying you never get sick and then you’re nearly passed out at home the next day cuddling a waste basket next to your four empty bottles of lemon-lime Gatorade and half eaten sleeve of Saltine crackers.

Side note, you know that first time you throw up and how it’s almost equally relieving and draining that first puke? Ever look down and just be like man what the hell was I thinking eating all this mess? It looks like a mix of Mountain Dew infused cottage cheese with mystery meat and ______ <- (Insert soup of choice here).

Side side note: Is it just me or is it really funny when people throw up and also the way that people around them react? It’s always a collective ‘awww uggggghhhhh’ like they feel bad. I don’t know maybe I’m just cruel in the moment.

Okay, back on track… INJURIES!

You Broke a Bone? Cute, I Skid My Knee on Playground Pavement…

So why write this entry at all? Well, it’s funny you didn’t ask. About a month ago I had an epic stumble that won awards of all sorts while running to my friend’s car to grab my keys that I forgot. I wrecked my left elbow, hands, and especially my side where I developed a bruise as big as a small child’s head. It looked like a really bad paintball incident or a shark bite without the bite. Bruce wishes he could bite like that. Anyhow, I’ve since recovered for the most part, but it once again made me realize how lucky I was to have just get bruised and not break anything vital. Like I said earlier I’ve never broken, fractured, or needed stitches. The closest I’ve been is oral stitches from the copious amounts of oral surgery. Man what a dorky injury. Oh you got ten stitches on your head from your helmet shattering in a motorcycle incident? Well, I got my wisdom teeth pulled buddy, get well soon I guess.

This’ll sound so stupid to those who have broken a bone or received stitches, but as a kid I was always kinda jealous of those who did have injuries like that. I thought crutches were the coolest thing since interactive classroom whiteboards. You got to leave class early to get to the bus or next class and you had a glimpse of stardom. Given I wasn’t always thinking with my head as a kid and factored in, you know, part of your body is getting fucked up and that’s how you get the privilege of using crutches. To put into perspective where my mind was at growing up, I just realized three years ago that the logo for Fifth-Third Bank was the fraction 5/3rd’s and not just a cool design. I also thought Michael’s was Michelle’s for a little bit there too, but anyhow.

Fifth Third Bank Assists Its Customers and Communities During the COVID-19  Pandemic | Diversity Best Practices
The logo that was so hard for me to decipher.

The Free Pass

I don’t know if anyone else struggled with this in school, but when it came to ice-breakers at the beginning of the school-year or new semester I could never put to words what they asked of me. Not to mention I had terrible public speaking anxiety when I was younger too. The popular question that seemed to always be asked was ‘What’s something special about you?’ Now obviously there’s a lot of things that are significant to my character, but when you’re stressed the hell out about it being your turn to speak next you can’t think of who you even are. I’m thinking ‘well uh I have two feet! Wait everyone has two feet, shit… Um I go to school! Dummy why do you think everyone’s here??’

The one thing I knew I could say was that I have vitiligo, which is the loss of pigmentation cells in the skin making some parts patchy and white. I said this one time for 6th grade language arts and everyone including the teacher was confused and kept asking questions. Now when you’re terrified of public speaking the last thing you want to do is stay standing with everyone staring at you being asked questions and being considered the kid with the weird skin (I always liked my vitiligo, but when you’re nervous you think the worst as a kid). In the moment I thought maybe if I shit myself I can just get myself out of this mortifying experience. That would make for a good icebreaker answer in the future too. ‘What’s special about me miss? Oh well I can literally defecate on command to get myself to get out of awkward situations.’ Okay maybe not, but it was always a thought.

So how does this all relate back to injuries? Kids that broke a bone or got stitches had it so easy. When asked what was special about them they could just say ‘oh I broke my arm’. *BOOM* done. Well some of us less fortunate kids didn’t break their arm in three places, a-hole. Then they’d get asked the fun follow up questions like where did it happen and how old were you? They’d get a level of respect in the teachers voice too. Of course I thought it was cool too *sighs*.

I Like Waking Up to the Smell of Bacon, Sue Me

When you do get injured though it is an opportunity to have your moment of sympathy or even respect from your peers. Whether you seek this out or not is up to you. I think back to moments like when someone I used to work with kept purposely holding their hand weirdly around people and ONLY when people were around. Obviously you want me to ask what is up with your hand. So I did and naturally his face lit up so he could tell his heroic story of how he beat up this drunk guy that was hitting on his girlfriend at a bar. So after I got his autograph I thought wow this poor guy… really wants his moment of fame.

When situations like that arise I always think back to one of my favorite episodes of The Office where Michael acts overly affected and injured from burning his foot on his George Foreman grill that he sets next to his bed in the morning. Why? To wake up to the smell of bacon of course. Meanwhile Dwight gets a concussion in an attempt to ‘save’ Michael from crashing into the front gate to the parking lot. Dwight acts like nothing happened, while Michael requests special treatment and comes into work with crutches.

While I’ve rarely come across situations like this in my life I can’t help but think of people in the past that have over-exaggerated their minor injuries. To put into perspective, while working at a restaurant one of my friends had hot cheese from a grill fly into his eye one time and didn’t tell anyone. He just said, “I’ll be right back” and didn’t find out until his shift was over. Meanwhile, a different person lightly bumps the counter-top with their hip and screams as if they got hot cheese in their eye. Don’t worry the person that bumped their hip survived. It’s just funny how some of us want the sympathy and attention from our injuries like I did when I was younger and some just want nothing to do with that attention and feeling of pity.

Day 1: Michael Scott | The Office Amino

The Final Punch

This entry was just something fun to write, nothing meant to be taken with serious intent. I like to think that most of us, when it comes to injuries, know a Michael Scott and know Dwight Schrutes too. Some of us want the sympathy to help feel better emotionally and feel validated and some of us just want to live another day without anyone noticing.

I’ve never been in a physical fight outside of a few times where I’ve had to defend a friend/significant other, but luckily I’ve avoided any massive confrontation and/or injury from this too or had it escalate. I tend to steer clear of that whenever I can, personally I feel like there’s more to life than giving someone else attention out of anger and giving them what they want. Instead I just passively think about it later… for the rest of my life. Not really, but I do think of what the potential consequences could be, such as injury.

Injuries aren’t especially something to be desired as I’ve learned the hard way. I don’t have many scars or burn marks on my skin nor do I have any weaker bone structure from breaking bones. The closest thing I get to that is when people see my somewhat patchy, vitiligo hands and feel prompted to ask when I got burned and how old I was when that happened. I’m never bothered, but it is not attention I seek in the least. If I really wanted that kind of attention I would’ve put a George Foreman grill by my bed years ago.

I’m probably gonna jinx my entire existence after this and have the most embarrassing injury known to man. I can see it now… the next article where I discuss me tripping while going up an escalator, pants get caught on the belt of it dragging that and my underwear off and end up smacking my head on the railing and someone stepping on my hand with their stilettos on accident. All while being arrested for unintentional public nudity. Stitches in my knuckle, broken collarbone, and fractured dignity.

Media Cited:

https://aminoapps.com/c/the-office-amino-us/page/blog/day-1-michael-scott/r3Q7_nofeuM55ErePYmdlRPmW3pbRblBx

https://www.diversitybestpractices.com/fifth-third-bank-assists-its-customers-and-communities-during-covid-19-pandemic

The Songs That Shaped Me: Raised By Wolves by Voxtrot

By: Campbell Petschke

Voxtrot Break Up - Stereogum
Indie-pop group Voxtrot.

Currently Listening to: Headcase by Day Wave

The Origin

If you’ve known me for any period of time on a musical level, you most likely know that I am a ride or die Spotify user. I thoroughly enjoy how much detail goes into their special curated playlists and how much they give back to the listener throughout the year and at the end of the year. However, I do use a free Apple Music trial whenever the opportunity arises because they unlike Spotify they are terrible at creating playlists specifically to your taste. I’ll listen to 15 minutes of The Strokes and get the “if you like The Strokes” playlist which contains All American Rejects and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Huh?! It makes no sense, but believe it or not I have found some gems this way. White Reaper is one of my favorite modern rock bands and I found them in a random playlist for listening to My Chemical Romance, no correlation whatsoever. This is also the case for Raised by Wolves by Voxtrot.

It was my cousin’s wedding day in 2018 and I was sitting on the couch at home awaiting instruction from my parents on what the plan was for travel. I would be driving separate from everyone else because work couldn’t give me the day off so I would have to leave the reception early while my family stayed out there in a hotel. While I was slumped on the sofa in my baggy sweat shirt and athletic shorts I realized that I hadn’t used my free trial on Apple Music so I thought, what better time to redeem this and inevitably forget to cancel it a month later than now. Through 20 minutes of solid listening I heard a few songs that really resonated with me, Can I Call You Tonight by Dayglow (that’s right I knew about this song before TikTok, catch up society) and Freaks by Surf Curse, which will receive this treatment sometime in the future too.

After a few misses comes this magnificent opening of “I was going hungry and lazy here when you stopped me in my tracks, I was going crazy I was desolate and ready to kill”. What follows is a soothing guitar driven track that relies heavily on the lead singer Ramesh Srivastrava (you have no idea how many times that auto-corrected to Sriracha) and his passionate, almost desperate vocals. I was really digging the playful, very 2000s sounding ballad, but wait what’s this? The song switches flow out of nowhere! Is this the same song? Most definitely. This isn’t the last time that the song pulls that too.

The nearly five minute track around the three and a half minute mark hits the bridge which is my favorite of all time, the buildup with the increasing clashing of the cymbals to the emotional pleas of desperation that feel as though he is removing his heart to the listener and shoving it in one’s ear holes. It is a beautiful moment in indie pop. After that follows a very jangle-pop closer (the other sound switch I was talking about!) that almost reminds me of Dreams by Fleetwood Mac even though the two songs don’t sound much alike. The song ended, but the goosebumps followed after.

Why This Song Stuck With Me

Voxtrot had always been a band that just hid in the background for me. I had just seen their short lived career on my dad’s iTunes library back when I used my iPod Classic which if they modernized I would buy it in a heartbeat. Around that time I was just listening to fairly mainstream alternative and 2000’s pop punk so in between my shitty Green Day songs and Fitz and the Tantrums I didn’t have time for what seemed like just another indie band. I wasn’t exactly into paying attention to lyrics at the time yet either, that would take me a few more years, so I am grateful for coming across Raised by Wolves when I did. Plus if I did come across this song back then I would’ve compared it to Raised by Wolves by Falling in Reverse which I probably would’ve thought was better at that time.

2018 was easily the worst year of my entire life. My mental health was at an all time low, school wasn’t going in the direction I had hoped and had to sacrifice my summer to retake a class I had failed, and I was beginning to realize what life was like after high school. Lonely, cold, and expensive. Those 4 for 4’s at Wendy’s add up quickly believe it or not. Those reasons mixed with a few other complications made me a more vulnerable person I think as a result. When it came to music though it was almost like this newly-found emotional state was my super power. I thought every heartache, strife, and struggle someone sang about deserved shouts of “yes they get me!”. They didn’t. I didn’t understand what they were going through and let alone myself until looking back on it years later.

Raised By Wolves just happened to say the right things at the right time. The relationship I was in at the time confused me and made me question a lot of my own personal feelings and perceptions. I felt as though this song guided me through the journey of his fractured relationship. The song starts by telling the story of a man who compares his desperation for love and attention to that of a hungry wolf and the supposed love interest is his prey. The issue? She wants nothing to do with him. She is leading him on because she doesn’t know what she wants and therefore doesn’t commit. What follows is a string of lyrics that journals his attempts to make her fall in love with him since she isn’t giving him reason not to do so. Whenever he goes in for the kill though, she resists and ghosts him. How could she?!

Ramesh then goes on into the chorus to say that he will never live like her, but she will probably die like him “all lovelessly and empty”. He is fed up with her bullshit, but persists. The kind of lyrics that make you wanna scream ‘don’t do it man!!’. She continues to toy with his emotions and he finally releases that gut punch of a bridge:

And oh, don’t you wanna love?
And don’t you wanna feel?
I remember, you were reckless, you were hungry, you were real
You were so uptight
Listen, I don’t mind
I feel like I’m watching a car crash
And oh, this is how it ends
You will watch your friends
Take a moment, take a nothing
Then they’ll put it in again

The second time I heard this I had to stop and evaluate my situation. I felt as though I played the role of both characters without even realizing. I was only around my former significant other because it was convenient, I preyed like a wolf and struck to feel ‘complete’. I had no clue what I wanted. I was only thinking about what would distract myself from the pain I was going through long enough. I gave my all while simultaneously deep down giving nothing at all for myself. It took me a long time to figure out that lesson and learning to sit with my thoughts and figure out what I wanted and what I needed. I felt like how the song suggested, young and stupid.

The Real Reason of Why This Song is Great

As stated earlier, when I first discovered this masterpiece of a track it was my cousin’s wedding day. I listened to that song twice and it was stuck in my head the entire day even through the songs at the reception. For whatever reason the Cha-Cha Slide didn’t hit me on an emotional level that day. What this song does symbolize for me is change.

I practically had 0 to do with the whole wedding, I had no role to play other than sitting in the chair and being there for my cousin and his wife, yet it felt like life changed that day. Maybe it was because it was the first official wedding I had ever attended and I was in awe. Maybe it was the fact that my cousin and his wife were moving out of state. Maybe it could’ve been that this was the first time I had driven to an event of this proportion by myself and not with my family. Whatever the reason may be I do remember that day note for note and it sticking with me for a good few months.

I recently told someone that if music was playing at a certain day or time in the past my memory would be more vivid. I could tell you where I was the first time I heard Mr Brightside by The Killers or Vampire Weekend’s debut. Voxtrot’s Raised by Wolves is the perfect example of that. It is nearly impossible to listen and not think of that June day in 2018 and the lasting impression that it left on me.

I Will Never Live Like You… Again

Raised by Wolves has slowly dethroned The Cure’s Just Like Heaven as my all-time favorite song. I can’t think of more than maybe five songs in my lifetime that have affected me on the level that this beautiful song has. I can’t think of more than two that have made me have an epiphany on the same level as this one either. I constantly refer back to this song as my sign of change. A lot of great things have happened since the first time I heard this song two years ago. I got out of community college and figured out my passions to study, I combated a lot of negative energy and people (not with fists I’m a lover not a fighter), but most importantly I learned how to better accept change.

What really prompted me to write this article was due to a recent listen of the track when it popped up in a playlist. I realized how important it is to not be like the guy or girl in the story of Raised by Wolves. It taught me not to pursue someone that isn’t going to reciprocate those feelings and share your understandings. It also taught me to take a step back more often and realize if what I’m doing is hurting people around me and my own health too. The woman in the song is self-destructive and selfish. She is uncertain of what she wants, but makes that the narrator’s problem too. The narrator is thinking with his heart and not his head. He is desperate to create a relationship and meaning from a foundation of practically air and dust particles.

I can say with confidence that after listening to this song again before writing this entry I truly feel as though the changes in my life that have occurred since first listen have helped me become a person I always wanted to be. I am nowhere close to achieving everything I want in life, nor will I be anytime soon but I have learned to appreciate the journey. The sign of a good song in my eyes is being able to take your own life and experience and apply it to the lyrics or being able to take away something else that may have nothing to do with it at all.

I have finally taken a much needed step back and evaluated what I really needed/wanted out of life. Right now I have a firm idea of where I want life to go and that feels great to just type. Raised by Wolves has paved this path for me that I feel like I was destined to follow. A path that not only taught me not to compensate happiness for acting out of desperation to get a quick thrill, but also to take any change good or bad with stride. I went from being young and stupid as the song suggests and less of feeling lovelessly and empty.

Sure I’m still young and stupid sometimes, but I’m learning. I am forever grateful for the people who stuck around during the duration between 2018 to now. You saw the parts of me that I don’t think anyone deserved to see, not even me. I have nothing but massive amounts of love for those who acted like Ramesh and never gave up on me. I promise I won’t be like the girl and neglect or ghost you or do coke to feel something. I’ll just listen to this song again for that.

Celebrity Manipulation

A Kardashian Family Khristmas: Kimye Give North $65,000 Present, Sia  Performs at Their Party & More | Billboard

Currently Listening to: La Di Da Di by Battles

Intro to Extroverts

Nowadays in the era of social media domination and the culmination of jobs that arise from the platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and most recently TikTok, celebrities and ‘influencers’ have been a mainstay and unstoppable force. These people use these platforms to not only sell themselves, but also to promote products and services. Lebron James will post pics of last nights’ game against the Trailblazers while simultaneously promote his sponsorship from Sprite. Addison Rae of TikTok fame will be seen performing a dance on the popular video app while also promoting her partnership with American Eagle wearing their specialty jeans. They all have the one mission in common, to gain followers and to make a profit. In darker terms to get you to obey them.

These seemingly untouchable celebrities have created such a powerful following and draw for people to be like them that they pretty much have the world under their thumb. With every tweet, promotion, and picture they expect you to follow their every move because they are the ‘standard’. Every grows up looking to be like their hero. Hell, as a kid I looked up to Spongebob because of how affable and funny he was and now he’s on fruit snacks and mac and cheese boxes? F*cking sell-out.

Through a mix of massive egos and facade of charisma, celebrities have found a way to sneak into our daily lives and try to influence our behavior… and we eat that shit up like a fat kid in Legoland. This kid in particular eats Legos don’t question his way of life.

Why Write This Article?

If you’ve known me in any capacity for at least three months you know that I’m not a fan of Hollywood culture and the social hierarchy that it poses. It’s all a game of status and popularity that we all think we want to achieve because celebrities make us feel as though in order to be universally loved, you have to follow their every move. Well, maybe not every celebrity tries this, but as long as they have a loyal fan-base their followers will still attempt to copy that behavior.

Sure, there are some seemingly genuine, popular public figures that I feel are necessary for a lot of people. People like Malala and even Chance the Rapper ooze positive energy and motivate you to do what you believe in. They exist with the intention to do good for themselves, but also for the good of their communities.

Then there’s the negative ones. This is the reason I write this entry. Tekashi 6ix9ine, Bella Thorne, and most notorious and malicious… the Kardashian/Jenners. These are the people that have made it big and pose as nothing but negative images to the youth and the people that observe them.

Insincerity and Fraud

There’s very little that I find more disgusting and degrading than when celebrities talk about the real world. Sure, some may have an understanding of how the world works and what it feels like to work your way up towards something bigger and better. In a lot of cases though it is just by knowing somebody. I can rip on the Kardashians all day, but honestly give any natural disaster or death of a public figure and one of them will put one singular tweet ‘pouring’ out their every heaving notion of ‘heartache’ and then the next day promote their brand like nothing happens. What they’re saying is ‘oh that’s sad, next’ and ‘that doesn’t affect me in any way so I’m just gonna pretend that I care just so people think I’m genuine and worldly’. No way man.

This past weekend is a perfect example of this accusation. Actor Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther and 42) passed away from colon cancer. He falls under the category of celebrity that I do believe has good intent. Through his roles of playing powerful black figures in history such as Jackie Robinson and James Brown and starring in Marvel’s first black lead superhero movie since Blade as Black Panther, he posed as a role model for many children and young adults as someone they could look up to and learn from. He never flashed his state of being or made his cancer public because it wasn’t about him. It was about what he could do and I think a lot of people recognized that.

So many A and B list celebs tweeted about Boseman this weekend, pouring out their condolences for him and his family. You know what though? I don’t buy it. I don’t believe any of the celebrities that tweeted, posted on Instagram, or put out statements. With the exception of Michael B. Jordan, who put out an extremely heartfelt tribute to his close friend and Black Panther co-star.

Timothee Chalamet simply tweeted out “oh fuck my heart is heavy I can’t believe this”. 325,000 likes… I can just imagine the e-girls eating that shit up like it’s glitter on the floor of Hot Topic. So many people posting pictures with him, simply for clout like ‘hey I know him! I know the dead guy! I took a picture with him!’ This is simply to build credibility and for you to believe that they care. It almost seems as though if you’re attractive and/or popular enough people will buy into what you say. Hmm…

The Halo Effect

If you are unfamiliar with this concept I’ll be the first to break it to you… No it’s not the way you felt after first hearing the Beyonce song (even if it did shape me into the man I am today). The halo effect is where you have this idea as if someone is above you, almost godly in some cases, and feel as though based on what life has taught you, to believe most of what they say and do to be justifiable and true. Why? Because status and the way that characters in sitcoms react when a celebrity makes a cameo in one episode. KISS ADAM SANDLER’S TOES BECAUSE HE WAS IN AN EPISODE OF UNDECLARED!! Anyhow, off the toes topic, celebrities invoke the halo effect into a lot of their followers. I’m also trying my best to not make this all about the media because at the root of it all, the media outlets are really the underlying threat here and well that’s an entry for another day. Regardless, let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

The Kardashian/Jenners

If you don’t wanna hear my somewhat educated rant on this god awful family then skip this section I won’t be hurt. So first off f*ck this family. I can’t think of a worse group of people to look up to if I tried. At least 6ix9ine built himself up from something small (not defending him in any way, he is gross too). The Kardashians got famous for two reasons: Bruce Jenner and the Ray J sex tape. Hey children! Engage in coitus and film it for the masses and boom popularity! Haha! In the words of Michael Scott “No! NOOOOOOOO!! God!”

These buffoons can literally get away with whatever they please and will NEVER get cancelled. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad? Dismissed. Any breakup that any of them have? It’s never their fault. You don’t expect me to believe that it is always the other person’s fault do you media? Kanye West, as controversial and irrational as he is at times, suffers from bipolar disorder. He went on an all out rampage on Twitter one day saying that Kris Jenner and his wife Kim tried to send him to a mental institution without his permission. Um… that’s illegal. The next day, tweets deleted, Kanye apologizes, Kim posts a long post on Instagram saying about how much he has done for the family and how bipolar disorder affects lives. Are you using your husband’s illness as a platform to educate the public to make yourself look like an advocate for mental health? F*ck you Kim, seriously.

Worst part is we forgive them. They are without a doubt the most powerful family in the world. I say that with dismay and utter disappointment. I truly believe that whatever happens, they will rise back up again to live another day.

Conclusion and Confession

Look, I’m not perfect whatsoever. I look up to some people that aren’t the best role models. One of my all time favorite artists is Kanye and he is not the best person to take life advice from. I’ve bought Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s Teremana Tequila because I think he’s a positive role model for a lot of people (and that is some very smooth tequila). I follow some celebrity news and I love movies and TV. I can’t write an article like this without admitting my own faults and admiration. I think that we can learn a lot from the people in TV and movies.

Words are often interpreted in different ways, some positively and some otherwise. Something that someone says could not make any sense to some, but could mean the world to others. It doesn’t even have to be a celebrity. It could be a random dude at Jewel Osco in the checkout line or a motivational speaker at a school assembly.

To wrap this lengthy entry up, I firmly think that we should all be more considerate of the words we choose and our actions. We learn a lot from the world around us, through thick and thin we develop character and behavior through what we see and hear growing up. I think it is appalling that companies cash in on our idols to get us to believe in order for us to be like our heroes we have to shop like our heroes. Whether or not you choose to buy into that culture is totally up to you. I will not look at you any different since we all develop different values.

Through it all, do what makes you happy and do what will pay off in the long run. Stick to your morals and beliefs. Don’t let anyone tell you your standards or code of ethics is incorrect without rational reason or threat to your character. Whether you know it or not, you could end up being the idol for someone who needs the guidance without even knowing. We have more power in our words than we could ever believe. Be the hero that you would look up to.

The Last Year of Summer Vacations

Sheppard performing at Lolla 2015

Currently Listening to: Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle and Sebastian

The Ghost of Summers Past

I’ve never been a huge fan of Sunday nights. In my eyes, the weekend’s true ending was Saturday night. Sunday was always a laid back day nevertheless. The most rigorous summer Sundays mainly consisted of either yard-work or maybe an early shift at the restaurant. When it came to those nights, regardless of it was a school night or summer, there was always a sense of dread to accompany. Parents went back to work, kids went to school/work, and dog became lonely until around three in the afternoon.

One thing is for sure though, nothing was worse or better than that last night of summer vacation. I can pinpoint any year of school and be able to tell you if I was excited for it or not. Spoiler alert: anything after 8th grade was anything but thrilling. Not that being greeted to the scent of high school pubescence in the halls wasn’t wonderful its just that I’ll miss looking into my eyelids at 7am instead of the back of some kids head behind a patched up seat on the school bus.

One thing occurred to me while on a FaceTime call this past weekend though that lead me with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Ready for this phrasing? This past Sunday was my last last day of summer vacation. After this there would be no more school year anticipation and anxiousness to keep my late night thoughts company while staring intently at the ceiling or the wall next to my bed. This year was especially different given the crumbling state of our country. Summer 2020 felt like a summer when I was in elementary school. The kind where I practically stayed at home for a majority of it, the only difference was that I had work and there was a sense of ‘hey I can potentially catch an incurable disease out here if I’m not careful, haha!’.

Bummer Staycation

I’m totally not alone when it comes to expectations of what this summer would’ve been if not for the covid-19 pandemic. In early February I was infatuated with the idea of barbecues, baseball games, dinners out with family and friends, swimming, beach trips… you get the picture. Think of every single stereotypical summer vacation idea and I had hoped the world that those summer days would be in the future. Given that nearly none of that happened and summer vacation just kind of blended in with the morbid online schooling of spring 2020 semester, I was pretty much ready for my last year of college.

Although I feel prepared for the year ahead and have come to terms (we’ll see how long it takes for that to change) with this being my last year of school I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed that I was deprived of my senior summer. I felt like a whiny 16 year old girl whose idea of her sweet sixteen was nothing as how it turned out. Only difference is that I couldn’t exactly do much about it and that I’m not a 16 year old girl (sure you’re glad I cleared that up).

As stated previously though, I have never really been ready for summer to end, but this year I totally was ready. That is in no way a bad thing though because ever since I transferred to a university my passion for learning has come around full circle. I actually adore school now. Just goes to show how a few good professors can really influence a student’s perception of attaining knowledge (shoutout to Professor Swan and Semali).

Summer 2020 was still nevertheless enjoyable for what it was. As an adult, the past few summers were a bit less magical than in years prior since as a kid summer is a sacred thing that can’t be touched. When you’re a kid the only three times you can’t mess with are video-gaming time, bedtime, and summertime. I guess you can argue dinnertime, but even as an adult if you mess with any mealtime we may have an issue at hand that can only be resolved with a sing-off or dance-off. In all seriousness don’t mess with my food EVER.

Doing Backstrokes in the Fountain of Youth

I would give thousands of dollars to regain childhood wonder and magic. Those summers of going to the waterpark on Sundays, going out on Friday nights with my family, seeing my grandparents Monday through Wednesday, and going to concerts are memories that I wouldn’t give up for all the money or 17 grain bread in the world (bread isn’t exactly currency I just really like 17 grain bread). I always looked forward to the next adventure, the next activity, the next trip to the park, the next time I would get to go to Target. I just looked forward to any sort of summer excursion no matter what it was.

This isn’t to say that I don’t see magic in anything anymore. I still get excited to see my family, to go out with friends, to go on dates, even to see my coworkers. Finding the beauty in little everyday activities is the biggest relief of dopamine I could possibly fathom. Writing this entry itself gives me so much joy and comfort with how easily I can write this and not feel any weight of life push down on my sore shoulders.

Adulthood and childhood are two entirely separate entities and that goes without question or even a second thought. Both have their perks and their strains, but I will always have a special place in my heart for that wonder I felt on many summer activities in the past. The enthralling rush of anxiety I would feel before pitching a baseball game, the wonder I felt taking the train to the city and seeing the skyline, the beauty of seeing the lake front in the distance driving up the dunes, the euphoria I felt for my childhood friends whenever we would meet up with each other… I’ll just never take those memories for granted.

Looking Ahead

So even though this is was my last last day of summer and my last first day of school I can’t help but feel optimistic for future summers. Sure, it’ll most likely blend in with most other days given that schooling will be a soon memory of the past, but I have high hopes of what those days will consist of. The one thing I think about often is how much I appreciate how my parents introduced my siblings and I to so many different activities and places. I think about how when I have kids how excited I’ll be to take them on small adventures and do little activities that hopefully invoke some sort of love with each day that follows. To create traditions that follow for years to come. Even if the ‘childhood wonder’ is a thing of the past for me I’m sure it’ll feel just as good to give that feeling to my kids one day. In the meantime, I’ll stay content with the excitement I feel every time I see a cool sunset or come across a cute dog. I promise my life is more exciting than this heheh *sweats nervously*.