Fear and Loathing in the Divided States of America

As I was going through my documents on my computer, I came across this piece I had written the week after the presidential election.  I don’t know why I didn’t post it then, but here it is now…

 

So it has come to this.

After a year and a half of proudly supporting, promoting and doing everything in my feeble abilities to help Hillary Clinton take her rightful place among the Presidents of the United States, somehow she has lost to her opponent, Donald Trump.

To say that my emotions have run the gamut this week would be the understatement of the year.  How someone such at Hillary, who had the drive, the determination, the knowledge, and not to mention the experience to do the job, could lose the presidency to someone like Donald Trump boggles my mind.  I could be biased, however, which I’ll freely admit to being when it comes to Hillary.  You see, ever since Bill Clinton became President, I have admired her.  As the years passed and she became more involved in the political arena, I came to admire, respect, and yes, love Hillary even more.  In my opinion, she’s one of the greatest political figures the United States has ever, or will ever, have.  My partner says I seem to have a weakness for strong, powerful women in leadership.  That may be true, but I believe I come by that naturally.  After all, my unwavering allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen would be enough evidence of that… not to mention my absolute love, loyalty, devotion and admiration for my mother as well as my grandmother when she was still with us.

But let me get back to the point of this post.  There’s little doubt you have felt strongly, one way or the other, about either Hillary or her opponent.  If you say you couldn’t care less, well… let me be the first to say you’re lying.  What I can’t wrap my head around, however, is given the fact as to how divisive this election season has been, and given the blatant disregard for those around him, I’ll never in my life understand how anyone with a shred of self-respect or respect for anyone they love could have voted for her opponent.

You see, throughout his campaign, Hillary’s opponent vilified everyone around him who wasn’t white, conservative, and some would argue Christian.  He has called those from Mexico rapists, drug lords, and promised to build a wall to keep them out of his country.  He’s objectified women, demoralized minorities, ridiculed the disabled, and generally made anyone who isn’t exactly like him feel as though they are somehow “less than.”  Sadly, this behavior has brought out the same in his followers, who think it’s perfectly acceptable to treat others this way.  He based his entire campaign on propagating a sense of fear in his followers, and admonished them to loathe that which is different from themselves.

If you need to be reminded of just how terrible this man is, one needs to only think back to his campaign rallies held throughout this past year where his followers attacked, beat and berated those there who opposed his views.  To add insult to injury, he even promised to help pay their attorney fees for doing so (but I think we all knew that would never happen).  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the divisive rhetoric that spewed from his mouth was more than nauseating.  All this has fanned the flames of so much hatred that people are now fearful of what is going to happen to them.

I myself have been the victim of hate speech on social media by his followers, ranging anywhere from false accusations to veiled threats.  This coming from people I “thought” were my friends.  Never before have I heard such vile things come out of the mouths of people as I have this year, no doubt encouraged by this man.

Now I know some people will say that I just don’t get it, and that they aren’t like that.  But as you sit there and support someone as misogynistic, xenophobic, prejudiced and an all-around bad orange as this man is… well, keep in mind that my grandma used to say, “You’re known by the company you keep.”

That’s the main reason why it’s so hard for those of us who supported Hillary to accept the results of this election.  You see, it’s about much more than merely election results.  If that were all it is, you would see us accept this decision much more gracefully, knowing that it was all part of the process.  But this is about much more than that, and much more than being, as someone called me, a “sore loser.”

So what is this all about for us?  It’s about fear.  It’s about the uncertainty of not knowing if our basic human rights will be stripped away due to the prejudice of the leader, like in many third world countries.  It’s about the fact that hatred, racism, bigotry, intolerance – they’ve all effectively been given the stamp of approval by electing Trump.  Unfortunately, a vast majority of the people who elected him will never know what it’s like to deal with these things on a day-to-day basis.  Let me put it this way; if you’ve never been awakened in the middle of the night to find the KKK burning a cross in your yard or discovering your relative being lynched and hanged from a tree simply because of their race, you’ll never understand the threat of that kind of mentality being allowed to once again run rampant.  If you’ve never feared for your life because you’ve wanted to simply hold the hand of the person you love as you walk down the street but can’t because they happen to be of the same gender, you’ll never understand the fear of homophobia and gay-bashing being socially acceptable again.  If you’ve never been afraid to go to your house of worship to pray for fear it might be bombed while you’re there, you’ll never understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of religious persecution.  With a Trump presidency, we face an all-too-real possibility that these types of crimes will dramatically increase, simply because of his followers believing that it would make their country somehow “great” again.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I know Hillary wasn’t perfect… none of us are.  But as far as what the candidates stood for, she was infinitely the better choice.  I wish those who bought into the fear mongering could have opened their eyes and seen that.

What really unnerves me about the whole thing, and makes me feel such an absolute sense of betrayal is the fact that it was the white “Christian” (and I have to use the term “Christian” very loosely here) masses that are the main group responsible for electing him.  Conservative Christians pretty much voted rank-and-file Republican, while most liberal Christians, I want to believe, voted for the best candidate for the job.  What I can’t understand is that Christians could see exactly who he was and what he stood for, all the while ignoring it and holding their nose and pulling the Republican lever, regardless of who it was they were voting for.  If you’re one of these people, I want you to remember what you’ve done while you watch the news of children being terrified of being ripped from their families due to deportation, or kids in school cafeterias being bullied because of their race, all because their parents and their new leader seem to think it’s somehow okay.  I want you to remember what you’ve done the next time you hear about someone you know being dragged by a chain behind a truck down a rocky road until he dies all because getting rid of one more person of a different race will make their country great.  I want you to remember what you’ve done the next time you hear of someone being tied to a fence post out in the middle of nowhere and left to die after being beaten half to death all because of their sexuality.  I pray none of this happens to someone in your family.

So what are you going to do, now that you’ve won?  Call for unity?  Tell us all to “just get over it,” and get along with the business of life-as-usual?  While I personally might not agree with the violence in the protests going on across the country, I can certainly understand why people feel the need to protest.  I’m sure you can too… after all, it’s the Trump supporters themselves who led the protesters by example.  It’s funny to me, though, how now that he’s won the election all the talk from his supporters has all of a sudden stopped being about brandishing arms and taking back their country, by force if need be, and are now asking for unity.  And you have the audacity and unmitigated gall to expect anything out of others different than what you’ve shown the world for the past year?  A call for unity was Hillarys message all along, and it was you who rejected that.

I don’t say that to advocate violence, but to simply drive home the point that it’s extremely hypocritical of Trumps followers to feel they can treat anyone they disagree with in any way they choose, yet cry foul whenever the roles are reversed, even slightly.  This is not the way Jesus, who you claim to follow, would have you behave.  You do not get to act like a petulant child all year and bully, threaten and mistreat everyone around you who disagrees with you until you get your way and then expect everything to be fine with everyone.

You have a chance here, albeit a very slim one, to prove to the world that you really can treat others equally.  I would highly suggest you act upon it.

 

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If I Could Turn Back Time: an Ode to Crystal

There’s just no way this is happening.  And yet, against everything my soul is fighting against, I find that it’s true.  You see, one of my dearest friends, Crystal, has passed away.  As I sit here looking at a blank computer screen, it seems unfathomable to me to believe that my friend, my “bestie,” my partner-in-crime, has passed.  It doesn’t seem possible that someone so full of life, love and laughter wouldn’t be with us any longer.  All day, I’ve passed through a myriad of emotions ranging from sadness, denial, depression, anger, despair, numbness – and as I type this, I’m in complete and utter shock that all of this has happened.

My dear, sweet friend Crystal is one of those people who is an absolute joy to be around.  She has a way of making you smile, laugh, even feel good about the world around you even when everything is crashing down and miserable.  Through the years, she’s been a rock to so many people, and someone who has always been there to encourage those who are downtrodden to get up and try again.  If there was ever a person who was an angel in disguise, it’s definitely her.  I can’t count how many times she’s been there for me, encouraged me… I simply can’t believe it.  I keep thinking this just doesn’t seem real, that there has to be some mistake.  She is the one who stood by me when times were hard, and gave me the strength to carry on when I thought there was nowhere left to go.

She has always been there for me, regardless of the circumstances.  If I needed a shoulder to cry on, she was there.  If I needed to vent, she was there.  If I needed someone to just be a friend and joke around with, she was there.  I remember how she was such a support to me in difficult times, and such a friend during good times.  There were so many times we joked with each other about doing our Cher impersonations in our own version of carpool karaoke that it almost seemed to be iconic moments in time.  Now, looking back, the lyrics, “If I could turn back time,” have never been so poignant.

There have been so many people who have been touched by her love and generosity, even some who would never have the honor of meeting her face-to-face.  Crystal has always been the person you could count on to quietly lend a hand to the homeless, the downtrodden, the abused; anyone who needed love and compassion was sure to find it if they came in contact with her.  Even those who will never know it was her have been recipients of her love and kindness:  from those who benefited from shoebox gifts at Christmas and various other charities, to those who were in the domestic violence shelter… these people benefited in some way from her generosity and love.

Crystal has always been extremely loyal to her family and friends, and we were blessed to count ourselves in that number.  I personally know that during times of great sadness and despair, she has always been there for me to help me in any way she possibly could.  There are very few people in this world today who have the courage to show the kind of love and compassion Crystal showed.  It’s not everyday you discover these people, and my life has truly been made so much better and richer for having known her.

The main, driving force in her life was her Christian faith.  I realize this has been said about many people, but Crystal is one of the few people who actually “walked the walk” instead of “talking the talk,” as so many people phrase it.  There are many examples of her good works I could share, but the most obvious example of her faith has been her desire to help others around her.  If there was ever a person you could count on to fight for what’s right in this world, it would be her.  I’ve witnessed her do everything in her power to help pick others up and lend a hand in times of need.  If you ever needed anyone in your corner, you were extremely blessed to find Crystal there.

I hope to one day be half the person she was in this life.  To find such a person to walk along beside, even if only for a short time in this journey, is a rare blessing. I’m extremely thankful to have shared this time with Crystal, and I look forward to meeting her again on the other side of eternity.

I love you, my friend. I’m so heartbroken you’re gone, but I know you’re better now and happier now than you have ever been. We may be parted right now, but I know in my heart this isn’t the end. I’ll see you again, and I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to in heaven. Until then, know that those of us who are left will keep watch over each other, and always hold you close in our hearts.

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2016: The Annus Horribilis, vol. 2

In 1992, Her Majesty The Queen opened a speech with these words:  “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.  In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.  I sometimes wonder how future generations will judge the events of this tumultuous year.”  I’m not sure about you, my dear reader, but I believe these words could also describe our look back at the aftermath of 2016.

I think this past year can be summed up in four words:  what the heck happened?!?  While I realize that my memory isn’t one for the record books, I don’t remember a year where we’ve dealt with more hatred, death, bitterness,division and all-around disappointment than we have this year.

On a personal note, this is the year I lost my last living grandparent. My grandma on my father’s side passed away on June 10.  Her health declined rather quickly in the last few weeks of her life, but I’m so grateful to have been able to see her and talk with her before she passed.  It will be I time I shall forever hold dear to my heart.

This year marked a milestone for me.  After over ten years at the same job, I made a move to another office.  So instead of being an oncology nurse, I’m now in pulmonary.

But enough about me, on to the rest of the world…

We’ve dealt with the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which started when high levels of lead was found in the citizens water supply.  Trying to fix it became no easy task, and to this day, the poor people living there are still having to deal with the red tape and other day-to-day problems this has caused.

The Powerball lottery reached a record 1.6 billion (yes, that’s Billion, with a “B”), and I didn’t win one red cent of it.Powerball Lottery

A bunch of redneck he-hanks in Oregon, led by some Jethro Bodine wannabe, decided they wanted to go live in a wildlife preserve to protest the government not letting them do whatever it was they wanted to do on federal property.  They became such a laughing stock by not thinking their little sit-in completely through and going on youtube or wherever asking people to send them supplies, that they were actually sent, get this… boxes upon boxes of dildos!  Eventually, their great leader was caught outside the compound with a few others in his car when they were pulled over for a minor traffic violation.  Things went from bad to worse when one of them got testy and decided he wanted to run towards the cop and throw a hissy-fit (or something along those lines, I forget) and get himself shot. Things went downhill from there.  Let’s just say they’re all in jail now, or on trial, or both.A pro-militia supporter holds a constitution while chanting

This year we saw a rise in police shootings in the black community, which brought about the Black Lives Matter movement to counteract the shootings. Then, an All Lives Matter movement started to counteract the Black Lives Matter movement.  Throughout the entire year I’ve seen my friends go back-and-forth with each other over who was right and who was wrong. Personally I think that having sunk to the point of needing either movement and not automatically treating each other as equals and having mutual respect for one another, is a sad commentary on where we are as a society.2015-09-04-1441395137-7049687-image3

A new game came out on smart phones everywhere called, Pokemon GO.  If I understand it correctly, you run around with your phone catching imaginary pokemons, and he who has the most, wins.  People were running around like they had lost their ever-loving minds, standing in the middle of roads, running onto others private property, and even falling off cliffs to their death trying to catch these things. I don’t know about you, but trying to catch some Peek-a-choo, Peak-at-you, Hoochi-hoo, Coochie-Coo, or whatever they’re called isn’t enticing enough for me to risk my life.  Thank you, but I’ll pass on this one.1-go-300x169-jpg

The biggest news, for myself anyway, is the vote in Great Britain to leave the European Union.  The “Brexit” vote, as it had become known, came as a surprise to practically everyone, since all the pollsters predicted the victory would go to the “stay” campaign. Ironically, it was only AFTER the results were announced the next day that Google declared there was a huge uptick in the people of Great Britain looking up, “what is the European Union?”  David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, as well as other Tory leaders.  Theresa May was placed in the role of Prime Minister, all in a time span of approximately two weeks.Great Britain and European Union

The summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, even though there were doom-and-gloom predictions of the city not being ready for them, due to being behind on construction of the proper facilities.  To add insult to injury, they also had to deal with the Zika virus outbreak, as well as reports of the water being unsafe to swim in.  For the most part, however, the games went smoothly from what I understand.  But of course, I didn’t watch them since I don’t keep up with the volleyball.maxresdefault

Samsung began selling the Galaxy Note 7 to much fanfare, only to discover once you got yours, it was destined to spontaneously combust into flames, burning you and everything around it.  Even airlines refused to allow them on their flights. Samsung eventually had to discontinue the phone, even after the initial recall to fix the problem failed. I knew it was hailed as the new hot item, but I think actually setting itself on fire is taking the idea of being “hot” to the extreme.160902161818-02-samsung-galaxy-burnt-phone-note-7-exlarge-tease

The closer we got to Halloween, the more we started hearing about these bizarre clown sightings, where weirdos dressed up in clown costumes would just stand in the edge of the woods near playgrounds, creeping out kids and parents alike.  If it was just an isolated incident, I could understand that it was most likely one sicko with nothing better to do than scare people, but it seemed to be happening all over the country.  Simultaneously. That just added way too many levels to the creepiness for my taste.download

One of the most unusual things about 2016 is the amount of notable people and celebrities who have died this year.  It seemed that it started in January, and never stopped.  Here’s a list of some who have died, although it’s by no means a complete list:

Pat Harrington, Jr
Most famous for playing Dwayne Schneider on “One Day at a Time.”  Died January 6.

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David Bowie
Iconic musician, actor.  Died January 10.

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Rene Angelil
Celine Dion’s husband and manager.  Died January 14.Celine Dion & Rene Angelil Arriving At

Alan Rickman
Actor famous for roles in “Harry Potter,” “Love Actually,” “Die Hard,” and others. Died January 14.alan2

Glenn Frey
Co-Founder of the band “The Eagles.”  Died January 18.635887447644481100-xxx-glennfrey-glader-hp2a5017-v01-78965680

Joe Alaskey
Best know for voicing “Daffy Duck” and “Bugs Bunny.”  Died February 3.020316-joe-alaskey-composite-getty-3

Maurice White
Founder of “Earth, Wind & Fire.”  Died February 3.maurice-white

George Gaynes
Best known for roles as the commandant in the “Police Academy” movies as well as “Punky Brewster.”  Died February 15.960

Angela “Bid Ang” Raiola
From the reality show “Mob Wives.”  Died February 18.960-1

Harper Lee
Author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  Died February 19.Nelle Harper Lee

Tony Burton
Played Apollo Creed’s trainer in the “Rocky” movies.  Died February 25.8bb103a0-3c0e-4fca-935f-beb470b8f0f4-large16x9_tonyburtonz

The Earl of Strathmore
Michael Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, cousin to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died February 27.

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Joey Feek
Part of the country music duo “Joey+Rory.”  Died March 4.gty-joey-feek-cf_151214_16x9_992

Pat Conroy
Author of “The Prince of Tides.”  Died March 4.gettyimages-697790_wide-52f67899aee1aa239c59c58300242f10ca4e9dca-s900-c85

George Martin
Manager of “The Beatles,” often called “The 5th Beetle.”  Died March 8.george-martin

Phife Dawg
From the hip-hop group, A Tribe Called Quest.  Died March 22.tribecafilmfestival2011portraitstudioczmefy2dmkal

Garry Shandling
Actor most famous for “The Larry Sanders Show.”  Died March 24.gs_headshot

Jim Harrison
Author, “Legends of the Fall.”  Died March 26.28harrison-obit-master675

Mother Mary Angelica
Founder of the Catholic TV network, EWTN.  Died March 27.160327-mother-angelica_3328b036067ec2fc40d88a3c54c3ad7b-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Patty Duke
Star of “The Patty Duke Show.”  Died March 29.29906170001_4821895521001_4821837867001-vs

Erik Bauersfeld
Voice of General Ackbar from “Star Wars.”  Died April 3.admiral_ackbar_erik_bauersfeld_split

Doris Roberts
Actress who played the mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”  Died April 17.50942744CBS_CON025635067

Prince
Musician known for “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” among many others.  Died April 21.prince

Michelle McNamera
Crime writer and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt.  Died April 21.160423102606-michelle-mcnamara-patton-oswalt-exlarge-169

Papa Wemba
Known as “the king of Congolese Rumba.”  Died April 24.Congolese singer Papa Wemba performs dur

Billy Paul
Singer best known for “Me and Mrs. Jones.”  Died April 24.billy-paul

Alan Young
Actor best known for his role in “Mr. Ed.”  Died May 19.21youngsub-obit-master768

Muhammad Ali
Award-winning boxer.  Died June 3.Muhammad Ali 1970

Anton Yelchin
Known as Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films.  Died June 19.anton-yelchin-2015-869x1024

Elie Wiesel
Holocaust survivor and humanitarian.  Died July 2.elie-wiesel-9

Miss Cleo
Famous for playing a Jamaican psychic in infomercials.  Died July 26.miss-cleo-dead1

The Duke of Westminster
Gerald Grosnever, the 6th Duke of Westminster.  Died August 9.Duke of Westminster death

Kenny Baker
Played the droid R2-D2 in “Star Wars.”  Died August 13.1_star10

Gene Wilder
Known for playing the title role in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” as well as characters in “Haunted Honeymoon” and “Young Frankenstein.”  Died August 28._90962477_mediaitem87811809

The Lady Chablis
Transgender performer made famous by the book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and played herself in the movie version.  Died September 8.ripladychablis2016-500x565

Alexis Arquette
Transgender actress.  Died on September 11.169768042_1473621270

Shawty Lo
Atlanta rapper.  Died September 21.

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Agnes Nixon
Creator and writer of “All My Children,” “One Live to Live,” and other soap operas. Died September 28.agnes-nixon-dead-ftr

Shimon Perez
Nobel prize winning Prime Minister of Israel.  Died September 28.166

Raine Spencer
Raine, Countess Spencer, step-mother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Died October 21.Countess Spencer

Janet Reno
U.S. Attorney General under President Clinton.  Died November 7.janet-reno

Leonard Cohen
Canadian singer-songwriter.  Died November 7.1411561144285-cached

Robert Vaughn
Actor from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”  Died November 11.172582164_1478889790

Gwen Ifill
Co-anchor of PBS “Newshour.”  Died November 14.gwenifill

Florence Henderson
Best known for portraying the mother on “The Brady Bunch.”  Died November 24.agape_rg3_florence-henderson-horiz_s4x3_lg

The Hon. Margaret Rhodes
Margaret Rhodes, cousin and best friend to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died November 25.Margaret Rhodes

Fidel Castro
Former President of Cuba.  Died November 25.1420832283181-cached

Ron Glass
Actor best known for his roles on “Barney Miller” and “Firefly.”  Died November 25.

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John Glenn
The first astronaut to orbit the earth.  Died December 8.john-glenn

Joseph Mascolo
Actor best known for his role as super-villain Stefano DiMera on “Days of our Lives.”  Died December 7.

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Alan Thicke
Actor who played the father on “Growing Pains.”  Died December 13.2014-08-08-alanthickehs1

Zsa Zsa Gabor
Hollywood icon and socialite.  Died December 18.zsa-zsa-gabor-1

George Michael
Musician best known as the front-man for the 80’s rock group Wham!, and his later solo career.  He was known for having hits with songs such as “Faith,” “Father Figure,” “Careless Whisper,” “Outside,” and many others.  Died December 25.

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Ricky Harris
Comedian with a recurring role on “Everybody Hates Chris.”  Died December 26.58627e111500002300915fdc

Barbara Tarbuck
Actress best known as Lady Jane Jacks on “General Hospital,” as well as Mother Superior Claudia on “American Horror Story: Asylum.”  Died December 27.

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Carrie Fisher
Best known as Princess Leia from “Star Wars.”  Died December 27.carrie_fisher_2013

Debbie Reynolds
Actress and singer.  Carrie Fisher’s mother.  Died December 28.debbie-reynolds

While not a complete list, and I’m sure I’ve missed some, it’s astounding to me how many notable people have passed away this year.  I’m convinced there is some kind of cosmic serial killer on the loose in Hollywood.  I do hope they’ll catch this cosmic killer before he/she does anymore damage!

Since this was an election year, I would be remiss to not mention the election cycle we just survived.  The Americans just experienced the most bizarre election that I can personally remember.  Mind you, I’m not one to get into American politics, but this year was different for me.  To begin, the Republican party seemed to begin the election cycle with everyone who was a Republican running for President. Eventually, they whittled away their candidates until they were left with one:  Donald Trump.  On the Democrat side, they had Hillary Clinton running against Bernie Sanders for the nomination, and it was Hillary who won the nomination of her party.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you the only reason I was remotely interested in the American elections was Hillary. I’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since her husband, Bill, was President.  Even in those days I wanted her to one day be President herself.  Don’t ask me why… I chalk it up to a “cult of personality” thing more than any stance on any issue.

Given the vile, misogynistic, xenophobic, fascist, nauseating and overall repulsive things Donald Trump said during his campaign about minorities, women, LGBTQ’s and anyone who isn’t a white, straight, Republican male, I couldn’t in my wildest nightmares imagine this guy would have a chance to become President.  During the campaign, videos emerged of his rally’s where people were attacked, thrown out, and bullied.  The man was endorsed by practically every hate group in the country, including the Ku Klux Klan, who said he was the candidate that “most embodied their beliefs.”  And yet, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the electoral college, although she won the popular vote by nearly three million more votes. Now the orange hemorrhoid is about to lead the country for the next four years.

On the other hand, there actually HAS been some good to come out of this year.  I met some amazing people at my new job who are absolutely wonderful.  I had to buy a new car when my Mazda gave up the ghost, but so far, my new gray Nissan is running really well. We nicknamed it “The Gray Ghost.”  We’ve made plans to visit England this coming February, and airline tickets and hotel have been reserved.

So having said all that, here’s to the end of 2016, the annus horribilis vol.2. Let’s all hope and pray 2017 is somehow much better.  Lord knows, it couldn’t get much worse.

Misadventures in Physical Fitness

Poor Martha didn’t know what she was getting into.  She has been asking me to go to the gym to try this “Body Pump” class she’s been taking for months now.  I always refuse.  You see, I hate going to the gym.  As a matter of principle, I hate anything having to do with exercise.  It’s not that I’m lazy, but I figure if I’m going to put forth an effort to push my body to its physical limits, I need to see some immediate results.  For example, when I do any sort of manual labor, usually I can look back and see the results of my hard work at the end of that same day.  Not so with exercise… it seems it takes forever to see any results from that.  I guess I’m just a sucker for instant gratification.

My particular aversion to exercise is nothing new.  Since the days of gym class in junior high school I’ve been this way.  During those days I was one of the few who refused to “dress out” for gym class or any other such ridiculous thing that involved jumping around, sweating, and looking like some fool needing a heavy dose of Ritalin.  If it wasn’t for the academic aspects of that class, I’d still be trying to get a high school diploma at the age of 45.  Silly, I know, but sometimes the truth just needs to be told.

When I went to college, little did I know I would have to endure this nightmare all over again with yet another PE class.  As you can guess, I put it off as long as I could.  I think it was my first semester as a junior before I ever gave in and finally decided to get that God-forsaken class over with.  It wasn’t bad enough they made me go through the agonizing misery that only a sadistic, evil, hateful, spiteful, vindictive, deceitful Bush administration torture expert could conceive of doing to another human being; no, they had to add a swimming test to this class just to prove their callous hearts had no soul.

You see, I do not swim.  I don’t even go into wading pools.  With my luck, I would be the one you read about in the paper who drowned in his bathtub when he fell asleep.  So you can imagine my dismay at the announcement that we had to take this swimming test and actually pass it in order to pass the class.  Just as soon as class dismissed that day, I marched myself right up to my PE teacher with the bad perm and explained, rather convincingly I thought, that I could not swim and there was no way I would be able to pass this test.  Thinking that she would have mercy on my soul and just let me slide from this one thing since I had endured all sorts of humiliating things in the name of finishing college, I felt pretty confident that I would be able to talk myself out of it.  The only thing she would do, however, was give me an “Incomplete” for my grade and told me to take a swimming class the next semester and come back to take the test.  Can you believe that nonsense?  The next thing I remember were the paramedics reviving me with spirits of ammonia.

Time passed, and I had completely forgotten about any swimming test.  But like an old wise sage on the mountaintop, a college registrar forgets nothing.  I got a letter in the mail the next year stating I had an “incomplete” in that PE class to remove from my transcript before I could graduate.  Having a renewed sense of stubbornness and zeal to beat the system, I once again decided there was no way “they” were going to beat me in this thing that, in my mind, had become a full fledged war between myself and the dark forces of the PE department.

The very next day I sauntered myself into the office of the Chair of the PE Department to explain how there was no way I could pass such a test and how unfair it would be to force me to do something of that nature.  I think I used excuses like, “afraid of water” and other things that might not have applied to my particular situation just to make my case stronger.  Believe it or not, the evil little man behind the desk didn’t buy it… I would have to swim whether I wanted to or not.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that didn’t sit well with me.

Not to be outdone, I made an appointment the next day with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to plead my case to someone who obviously had more sense than a simple PE teacher with an over-inflated ego.  But after 30 minutes of bearing my soul and laying it on the line, he proved he was no better than anyone else.  He agreed that I would have to take this test.  That idiot!

Well, that didn’t sit well with me either.

So the next step, obviously, was the President of the University.  Trying to get an audience with him, however, was like trying to get a peek at the Pope.  In no uncertain terms, the little troll of a lady sitting behind the desk informed me that if the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences had agreed with the PE Chair, there was no way the President was going to overrule their decision and I would be forced to take this test or not graduate.  I’ll spare you the details of the scene that ensued in her office… suffice it to say there were threats of calling security that just didn’t fit into my envisioned scenario, so I left.

So there I was, stewing in my dorm room, trying to figure out a way out of this mess that I had gotten myself into.   Still, admitting defeat was not an option.  They say it’s always darkest just before the dawn, and little did I know my “dawn” was getting ready to walk into my room in the form of Shane.  Shane was a good friend of mine from one of the organizations I was involved with on campus.  We started talking and I explained to him my dilemma.  He explained that since there was a completely new staff in the PE department from the time I had taken the class, he could impersonate me and take the test for me.  FINALLY… a light at the end of the tunnel!  The very next morning, we called and arranged an appointment for “Glenn” to take his swimming test.

When the day of reckoning finally arrived, we casually walked over to the natatorium, Shane having memorized and rehearsed all the information needed to convince the swimming instructor he was actually “Glenn.”  After about thirty minutes, Shane emerged and said, “Well, you got an A.”  Once our friends figured out what happened they couldn’t believe we went through with it… and actually succeeded!  Twenty-odd years later, that little incident is still brought up in conversation.  I guess that goes to show you there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

I suppose I tell you that story to give you a little background as to how humiliating it was for me to finally break down and tell Martha that, yes, I would finally go with her to this “Body Pump” class.  You see, I had gotten on the scales the week before and almost had a nervous breakdown because of the numbers that flashed before my eyes.  Never in my life had I been that heavy.  So I decided that something dramatic had to be done.  Little did anyone realize, however, exactly how much drama would be involved with this experience.

The day of reckoning finally arrived.  After work, I followed Martha to the gym where we met her husband who was also taking this class.  Now keep in mind, by this point I’m more nervous than a woman of ill repute in church about setting foot in a gym.  All sorts of terrible scenarios crossed my mind, but the worst was getting ready to become reality.  We walked into this place where everyone looked as if they’d been on a strict steroid regimen for at least two years.  When we got to the room where the class was held I was introduced to the instructor who was this twenty-something girl who looked like the Incredible Hulk, and here I was looking more like the Incredible Bulk.  This was not the start I had anticipated.  We picked out our weights, and I took the smallest amount possible (hey, why kill myself on the first day?).  Finding our place in the back of the class, we started with the warm-up exercises.  I should have known it would be all down-hill from there when the instructor jumped into the class without even a mention of how to go about doing these exercises.

So here I am, at least a beat-and-a-half behind everyone trying to figure out what the heck they’re doing.  About ten minutes into the class, my legs have turned to jelly, and my head is floating about 10 feet above the rest of my body from sheer dizziness.  Then, the truly unexpected happens.  We had to place this barbell over our shoulders for part of the exercises, and that’s when I must have pinched a nerve in my neck.  All of a sudden, I get the worst headache known to humankind.  In two seconds, I had convinced myself I was having a stroke right in the middle of the gym.  Everything blacked out, I couldn’t hear anything but my heart beating in the middle of my head, and I became so nauseous I was convinced I was going to toss everything I ever ate in my entire life onto the floor.   Surely, I don’t have to tell you that this is not how I planned to meet my Maker.  Never in a million years had I imagined my obituary would read something like, “Glenn died unexpectedly from suffering a stroke while working out and drowned in a pool of his own vomit.”  But struggle through, I did.  Before class was over, however, I did have to worship in front of the porcelain god in the restroom and make an offering of my lunch from earlier that day.

At the end of this class, I was so relieved the ordeal was over I could have kissed the ground when I left the gym.  Martha didn’t think it was as bad as I did, which only convinced me even more she must be a card-carrying masochist.  I was so nauseous and had such a headache when I got home, I immediately went to the medicine cabinet, swallowed two Percocet for my headache and shoved a Phenergan suppository up my backside as far as I could get it for the nausea.  Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening in bed.

The next day, I was so sore it literally took me five minutes just to get down the stairs.  It even hurt to blink my eyes!  My headache was still there, and it would be with me for at least three more days.  I could hardly move.  When I finally made it into work, I wished the ten plagues of Egypt upon Martha all at once for subjecting me to such torture when I hadn’t done anything in life bad enough to have to endure this kind of suffering.  It was sheer hades on earth!

Eventually, the pain went away.  I forgave Martha for trying to kill me, but in no uncertain terms I let her know I learned not to fall for her evil tricks ever again.  The other day, she actually tried to convince me to go to a different class.  The look I gave her almost turned her into a pillar of salt.  The next time I get this crazy idea to lose a few pounds quickly, I can guarantee you it won’t be by going to a gym.  No, next time I think I’ll simply have my jaws wired shut.  Believe me, it’s a lot less painful!

Runway Runaway

I’ve been mulling over the idea of whether or not to write this particular post, due to the possibility of offending certain people. With that in mind, and not being one to back down from setting the ill-informed straight, here we go… and to “heck” if the guilty are upset.

Lately I have found myself being an attendee at a few weddings and funerals; two very different observances in the circle of life, but both extremely important. While attending these particular ceremonies, I have noticed (as one would over the last few years) that I need to remind my dear, precious readers of the importance of at least one very important thing.

What is that thing, you might ask? To put it simply, it’s HOW YOU DRESS!! Of course, there are other things I could discuss concerning how to conduct yourselves during these events, but for this particular blog entry, allow me to focus on this one particular subject.

There is hardly anything in our lives that are more important than weddings and funerals. They are, for the most part, once in a lifetime events for those who are the center of such functions (although I know there are those who marry two, three, four or more times… as well as those who “die,” but there’s a mistaken identity which leads others to believe the dearly departed is another person… or perhaps I’ve been watching too much Days of our Lives, you never know). In times such as these, it is extremely important to remember that those in attendance should have at least one thing for the person or persons you are honoring: that thing is called RESPECT.

For most of us, it pretty much goes without saying that you should dress appropriately for said ceremony, but unfortunately, it seems that it is becoming more common among some people to totally disregard the appropriate dress for such occasions. That brings us to the point that I feel I simply have to remind you of what is acceptable and what is not.

While I thought about discussing each event in individual blog entries, I decided to lump them together since it seems the offending individuals treat both with the same disregard for decency. When you are invited to a wedding, that should alert you to the fact that the couple thought enough about you that they decided to share their most important day with you and that you would, at the very least, wear the appropriate attire based on the time of day the wedding will take place. As a general rule, that would include a suit and tie for men, and dress for women. Based on what time the wedding is to take place and the venue, a quick Google search would tell even the the most ill-informed what would be the most appropriate items to wear to said event. But even if you’re too stupid to read subtle hints, I can assure you that shorts and a t-shirt will not be on the list.

The same rules apply to funerals. If you loved or admired the dearly departed enough to attend their funeral, even the most common of attendees should have enough sense to wear something appropriate for such a ceremony. I have attended funerals lately where people have actually shown up with t-shirts with various wording printed on them, jeans, shorts, flip-flops, etc. Since these people seem to have no frame of reference to base their poor decisions on, let me be the first to tell you that this is not acceptable. At the very least during a funeral, you should wear a suit and tie or dress, similar to the proper attire for a wedding.

Now before you get all huffy-and-puffy and try to blow somebody’s house down, I completely understand and accept that there are exceptions to every rule. There are some situations where other attire would be completely appropriate. For example, I recently attended a memorial service for a very dear friend who wanted his service at the beach, led by a friend who asked others to share stories of their time together, and they specifically asked people to dress casually, in beach-appropriate clothes. It was an amazingly beautiful service, and it reflected the personality of our friend who passed away perfectly. That, my dear readers, is an instance where it’s totally acceptable to show up in shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, etc.

The same exception can also apply to something like a backyard-barbecue-styled wedding, where the bride and groom have asked those in attendance to wear casual, street clothes. I’m hoping you can see a theme emerging for the exceptions, but if you’re much too daft to catch on, let me spell it out for you: only wear what I would call “street casual” clothes to such events if you’re told by the hosts that it’s the preferred style of dress. Got it? Lord have mercy, I hope so.

Not only does dressing appropriately for said functions show respect for those you’re honoring by your attendance, it also shows respect for YOURSELF. One would hope that when you go to functions such as weddings and funerals, you would also show enough respect for yourself as to want to make an effort to look your best. It may seem counter-intuitive, but actually, dressing appropriately will help deflect attention away from yourself (even though that might be slightly traumatic to those who are actually narcissistic enough think they’re always the center of attention, regardless of the situation), and allow the focus of attention to be on the ones you’re actually honoring by being at their service. When it’s all said and done, after all, it’s about them and not you.

Don’t misunderstand my little rant here by assuming I’m suggesting that everyone show up in the latest Christian Dior or Vera Wang ensemble to come off the runway. Far from it. If you’re someone on a tight budget (and believe me, I know there’s more of us than those who can afford designer clothing), I’d like to point out that even Walmart carries clothes that would be considered appropriate styles for such events. So you see, dear readers, dressing appropriately doesn’t have to break the bank. If you don’t have at least one suit or dress in your wardrobe for such events, now you can go out and get one. You never know when you’re going to need it. Believe me, no one is going to know where you got your clothes or how much you paid for them unless you’re one of those crass people who shout that kind of information from the rooftop.

Keep in mind, all of this is simply my opinion, which I realize in some circles doesn’t mean anything. You might disagree wholeheartedly with what I’ve just said, and that’s fine. You’d be wrong, but you can disagree all you’d like.

So having said all this, please keep in mind that if you ever get the chance to attend my wedding or funeral, I would personally prefer you dress for the occasion. A word of caution, however; if you come to my funeral in flip-flops and t-shirts, I will jump out of that casket, snatch you bald, and have security guards drag you out and throw you onto the street for showing such disregard for my memory.

Got it? Good.

Of Crime and Passion

First of all, I’d like to apologize to all my followers out there for not writing in such a long while. It seems once life speeds up and throws one thing after another at you, plus the lack of inspiration, writing seems to take a back seat to everything else going on in life.

To make everyone aware, my paternal Grandmother passed away this weekend. As you’ve most likely discerned from my previous posts, I’ve always been close to my Grandmothers. Even though I may have been closer to my maternal Grandmother (my Grandmother who passed away this weekend lived much farther away, so distance played a large part in our closeness growing up), that in no way diminishes the love I have for her. But that, as they say, is another topic for another time, when my head can wrap itself around everything that has transpired over the last few days.

The biggest news to come out of this weekend is, obviously, the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. With everything going on in my own life, I was one of the last to hear the news until much later. It seems around fifty people were killed, along with an additional fifty-or-so people wounded when a shooter opened fire on a crowd inside a gay nightclub in Orlando named Pulse. I’ve heard some call it one of the worst mass-shootings in modern American history.

Since I’m one of those people who practically stay logged into Facebook, I soon saw all these reports being posted of the incident, and the horrific tales which soon followed. As I began scrolling through my friends posts and reading comments, one in particular stood out to me. Trying to come up with something meaningful to say about the incident was extremely difficult for me, given my own personal loss this weekend, but I think the following summed up what I was thinking more succinctly than any other. After receiving the authors permission (thank you so much, Alex Darke), I’d like to post the message in its entirety for all to read. I think it says a lot about the state of mind and the struggle fought by those affected by this tragedy.

Earlier today, a friend remarked: “I don’t understand. The way you are reacting, it’s almost like you knew someone in the club.”

Here’s the thing you need to understand about every LGBT person in your family, your work, and your cirle of friends:

We’ve spent most our lives being aware that we are at risk.

When you hear interviewers talking to LGBT folks and they say “It could have been here. I could have been me,” they aren’t exaggerating. I don’t care how long you’ve been out, how far down the road to self acceptance and love you’ve traveled, we are always aware that we are at some level of risk.

I’m about as “don’t give a shit what ANYONE thinks” as anyone you’ll ever meet… and when I reach to hold Matt’s hand in the car? I still do the mental calculation of “ok, that car is just slightly behind us so they can’t see, but that truck to my left can see right inside the car”. If I kiss Matt in public, like he leaned in for on the bike trail the other day, I’m never fully in the moment. I’m always parsing who is around us and paying attention to us. There’s a tension that comes with that… a literal tensing of the muscles as you brace for potential danger. For a lot us us, it’s become such an automatic reaction that we don’t even think about it directly any more. We just do it.

And then… over the last few years, it started to fade a little. It started to feel like maybe things were getting better. A string of Supreme Court decisions. Public opinion shifting to the side of LGBT rights. Life was getting better. You could breathe a little bit.

What happened with this event was one of a few things that are pretty dramatically demonstrated by how Matt and I are reacting to this. Matt came out fairly late, during the golden glow of the changing tide. He’s never dealt with something like this. It’s literally turned him inside out emotionally because all that stuff he read about that was just “then” became very much “NOW”. For me, I’ve had some time to adjust to the idea that people hate us enough to kill us. Matthew Shephard was my first real lesson in that. So this weekend was a sudden slap in the face, a reminder that I should never have let my guard down, should never have gotten complacent… because it could have been US.

Every LGBT person you know knows what I’m talking about. Those tiny little mental calculations we do over the course of our life add up… and we just got hit with a stark reminder that those simmering concerns, those fears… they probably won’t ever go away. We’ll never be free of them. Additionally, now we just got a lesson that expressing our love could result in the deaths of *others* completely unrelated to us. It’s easy to take risks when it’s just you and you’ve made that choice. Now there’s this subtext that you could set off someone who kills other people who weren’t even involved. And that’s just a lot.

That’s why I’m personally a bit off balance even though (or because, depending on how you look at it) I live in Texas and was not personally effected by this tragedy. Don’t get me wrong: nothing will change. I will still hold my husband’s hand in public. I will still kiss him in public. We’ll still go out and attend functions and hold our heads high.

But we will be doing those mental calculations for the rest of our lives. Those little PDAs you take for granted with your spouse. They come with huge baggage for us. Every single one is an act of defiance, with all that entails.

So do me a favor. Reach out to that LGBT person in your life. Friend, co-worker, or family. Just let them know you are thinking of them and you love them. That will mean the world to them right now. I promise you.

For me, reading this post and reflecting on the tragedy of this weekend really drove home the point of how hate and bigotry are still alive and well, even in spite of the recent examples of people being more tolerant and accepting of the LGBT community. Of course, I never thought it had gone away, but knew it was hiding in the shadows, ready to strike at any given moment. I suppose I never expected it to strike out in such a dramatic way. I suppose I say all this to express that I simply can’t understand how such crimes against humanity can occur to people who are passionate about nothing more than wanting to go about living their own lives on their own terms, loving another human being without causing harm to any other person on the planet. But hate is an all-consuming, relentless, deplorable state-of-mind, and it causes misery in its wake wherever it goes.

I pray for the families of the victims, hoping they can somehow find peace in all this chaos and sorrow. I pray for others affected by this tragedy that they can (and I know they will) find the strength to keep fighting the evil that seeks to destroy them and hold their head high, knowing that their bravery has overcome that which seeks to destroy them. To everyone personally affected by what has happened, please know that I stand with you in spirit, and I’m sending love your way and encouragement for you to keep being true to yourself, no matter the odds!

The First Annual Christmas Letter

It’s that time of year again—the time where people take stock of the previous year and reflect on the good things that have happened as well as the not-so-good things that have occurred. Many people have taken to participating in this trend of writing Christmas letters to their loved ones, so for the first time ever, I decided to do the same. Here are a few highlights from my year:

As many of you know, my driving expertise is considered by many to be lacking. To add to the weird things I’ve hit with my car, you can now add “swimming pool” to the list. It wasn’t my fault, however, so let me explain… Upon leaving the illustrious Walmart, I found myself behind someone who bought one of those kiddy pools they have propped up on the side of the store. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it tied down very well. As we started driving down the road, the wind picked it up and threw it onto the road, just in enough time for me to run over it as it hit the ground. I suppose I should be grateful their weren’t any “kiddies” in the pool at the time.  Did I also mention I received at text from “John” asking me if I would be interested in driving for Uber?  I guess “John” doesn’t remember riding with me.

This year, I actually received a letter requesting my presence for – of all things – jury duty! To make matters worse, it was from a county I haven’t lived in for probably ten years. While I thought it was a nice gesture on their part to think of me, I wasn’t about to be bothered with all that nonsense. We all know I would have found them guilty just for dragging me to a cold, inconsiderate, uncomfortable courthouse that hasn’t had fresh air in it since 1952. When I called to inform them I couldn’t accept their lovely invitation due to not being a resident of that particular county, the receptionist (or whatever you would call her) on the other end told me I had to send proof of residence in order to be removed. I asked her, “Was the fact that you had to send me the letter to my address two counties away not proof enough for you that I don’t live there anymore?” After a brief silence, Miss Personality rambled on about how they needed a copy of my drivers license and such. Fine. I sent her the requested info to which I received a letter releasing me from said jury duty for the rest of my life.

We decided to move this year after finding a good deal on a house outside of town, so we decided to sell and move.  I don’t know how it is in your area, but I’ve quickly discovered it seems people house-hunting in Wilmington seem to expect people to GIVE them a house.  For free.  After some insulting, low-ball offers, I instructed our Realtor to tell people if they want a free house to talk to the people at Habitat for Humanity and to leave me alone. I hate it for my Realtor, however. She’s the sweetest girl you’d ever meet, and she’s doing her best, given the fact Wilmington house-hunters are cheaper than Ebeneezer Scrooge after he’s fallen on hard times.

Since this is the year where all the arguing and fights start to commence in the political arena, I would be remiss without mentioning that there have been some back-and-forth banter among my friends and myself. Suffice it to say, I have some stupid friends.

That pretty much sums up my noteworthy experiences for 2015. There’s plenty of other things I could have written about, but let’s face it – I would’ve totally bored you to tears if I haven’t already. I hope you have had a great year, and an even better one to come! In the words of Her Majesty The Queen, “A very happy Christmas to you all.”

Prayer for France

Join with me in praying for the people of Paris, and for all those in France and the rest of the world touched by these senseless acts of terror:

Lord of all compassion,

We pray for all of those caught up in the midst of tragedy or disaster.

For those who have lost life and those working to save life,

For those who are worried for people they love,

For those who will see their loved ones no longer,

Lord have mercy.

For those in need of the peace that passes all understanding,

For all who turn to you in the midst of turmoil,

For those who cry out to you in fear and in love,

Lord have mercy.

For those in confusion and those in despair,

For those whose tears are yet to dry,

For those in need of your unending love,

Lord have mercy.

Amen.
from http://www.churchofengland.org

 

 

Vampire in the Limousine: My Review of Duran Duran’s New Album, Paper Gods

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Finally! My wait for the new Duran Duran album, Paper Gods, is over. After being released on September 11th, I went straightway to the nearest store and snagged my copy. I’ve had it in my cars CD player ever since, listening and re-listening to it (as is my custom when they release a new CD) until I know all the words to every song. As with all their new releases, I have to say, I love it!

duran-duran-paper-gods

I’ve been a huge Duran Duran fan since their early days, and I’ve stuck with them ever since. Given that fact, my review of their new album might be a bit biased, but hey, this is my review – so deal with it.

It’s funny to me that when a new Duran Duran album is released and I invariably mention it to others, they always seem to say something like, “I didn’t know they were making a comeback,” “I didn’t know they were still around” or “When did they get back together?” I usually end up looking at them with an “I can’t believe you just said that” expression on my face and say, “Um… they never went away. The radio just stopped playing them.” Duran Duran have been releasing albums on a regular basis since they entered the music scene in 1981. I’ll admit, their biggest commercial success came in the 80’s with songs such as Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, The Reflex, The Wild Boys, Save a Prayer and Union of the Snake. In those days, radio DJ’s would refer to them as the second coming of The Beatles. After their popularity dwindled, they did have a resurgence with Ordinary World and Come Undone in the 90’s, but ever since those days they haven’t made much headway in the top 40 world.

Fast forward though the years and 10 or so albums to today, with the new offering, Paper Gods. It is their 14th studio album, and features a collection of songs they’ve done in collaboration with various artists such as Mr. Hudson (Kanye West/Jay Z collaborator), John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and producers Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson. The album reminds me a bit of a journey from a sarcastic feel in the 7 minute long title track, Paper Gods, to a melancholic reminiscent look back in The Universe Alone.

The mood of Paper Gods feels darker than its predecessor, All You Need is Now. Roger Taylor, the bands drummer, says, “The last album was very much about going back to the early days and recreating the early Duran Duran sound. That was what Mark Ronson was really looking for with that record. But I think we’ve allowed ourselves to be very modern and contemporary with this record.”

For me, it’s thrilling to hear Simon LeBons voice singing new material. The album opens with the title track, which sounds oddly spacey and electronic with the sarcastic feel of the lyrics. It’s followed by Last Night in the City, which hits you as a bold electrifying piece which features guest vocals by Canadian singer Kieza. You Kill Me with Silence has been described as one of the best tracks on the album, up there with their most loved ballads, such as Save a Prayer and Ordinary World.

The first single from the album, Pressure Off, is infectious. If for no other reason, the chorus itself gets stuck in your head as it reaches for new heights. Then there’s Danceophobia, which features Lindsey Lohan (yes, you read that right, Lindsey Lohan… the booze swilling, controversy stirring actress) in a speaking part where she plays a doctor offering a diagnosis as well as cure. To be quite honest, I was a bit apprehensive when I first heard Nick Rhodes, the bands keyboardist, state she was going to be on the album. Somehow, though, she makes it work.

One of the main reasons I love Duran Duran so much is for their lyrics, especially in their 3rd album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger. They’ve always been sort of ephemeral, artistic, open to interpretation. Sometimes, they can be just plain odd… and I love them for that. One of the best lines on the entire album, for me anyway, is in the chorus of Only in Dreams, where we hear Simon warning the listener, “There’s a vampire in the limousine, the sun’s going down like a symphony.” I’m not sure what it is about that line but it grabs me.

So do yourselves a favor, dear readers, and have a listen to Duran Duran’s new offering, Paper Gods. As Simon said on their website, “Please spare us the 50 or so minutes that it takes to listen to Paper Gods from its opening note to its closing echo. I promise that you will not be disappointed.” Give it a chance, and I think you’ll like it. After all, Simon knows what he’s talking about.

With these Handcuffs, I thee Wed

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve undoubtedly heard about a woman named Kim Davis (no relation, thank the good Lord) who serves as the County Clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky. Just in case you have been under a rock or in a coma and don’t know who I’m referring to, here’s a quick recap: Mrs. Davis has been making headlines in the news recently due to her unwillingness to issue marriage licenses ever since the Supreme Court made gay marriage legal nationwide. She attributes her refusal to issue said marriage licenses to her ultra-conservative religious beliefs.

Ever since the Supreme Court laid down the gauntlet and declared that homosexual couples had the same right to marriage as their heterosexual counterparts, Mrs. Davis has had her apostolic panties all twisted in a knot and has made it impossible for anyone living in her county to receive marriage licenses, gay or straight, by denying everyone a marriage license. So now we have the old, “if I can’t have it my way, no one will have it in any way” song-and-dance.

Why is she doing this? From what I understand, she adheres to a belief that the “homosexual lifestyle” is a sin in the eyes of God, and that signing the marriage license for a same-sex couple is somehow supporting a relationship she doesn’t agree with. Regardless of the fact that it’s one of the main responsibilities of her position, Mrs. Davis has consistently refused to do the very job she was elected to do ever since same-sex marriage became legal.

I don’t know about you and your particular job, but in my situation, I would find myself in the unemployment line faster than I could say “fundamentalist hypocrite” if I were to refuse to do part of my job duties. Herein lies the problem with this whole sordid, convoluted mess. Mrs. Davis was elected to a secular government position which, when she took office, swore an oath to follow through on all duties which pertained to her position – the signing of marriage licenses being one of them. Due to her beliefs regarding homosexuality, however, she is refusing to do her job duties and using “religious freedom” as an excuse to get out of it. Since she’s an elected official, she can’t exactly be fired, so that makes the issue even more of a headache to deal with.

Those who are supporting her and her crusade against same-sex marriage have wasted no time in crying foul to anyone within earshot and trying to make the case that she is the one being mistreated due to her religious beliefs. The poor girl is simply trying to do what she feels the good Lord leading her to do.

A certain friend of mine said it best – “Well ain’t that just the skank calling the slut a whore!”

Anyone with an IQ greater than Forrest Gump can surely see this for what it is; nothing more than hate and bigotry dressed up in the robe of religiosity. Those who support this woman are constantly bleating about how her religious freedom is under attack. Listening to these people have caused me to suck my teeth and roll my eyes so hard that my fillings are loose and I’m constantly dizzy.

In order to gain a little perspective here, let’s talk a little bit about what an attack on a persons religious freedom looks like. If you’ve been awakened in the middle of the night by intruders in your home who’ve come to beat you (or even worse) because of your beliefs, or you’ve been kidnapped and tortured because of your Christian faith, you’ve been persecuted. If you’re expected to sign a marriage license for a gay couple, and it stands in contrast to your faith, you’re not being persecuted. Why? If for no other reason, the fact that you are free at any time to resign from that position and find another job out in this crazy world where you don’t have to deal with another persons marriage should be evidence enough. No one is forcing Kim Davis to remain in her position (or even change her beliefs about same-sex marriage), but she refuses to leave her post, and at the same time, refuses to do the job which she’s been elected to do.

Today Mrs. Davis was finally put in jail for her actions, and from what I understand, will remain there until she gets her head out of her posterior and agrees to do her job or resigns. People on social media are posting their little hearts out, for and against her and her stance. Politicians and other high profile people are also weighing in with their thoughts on the matter. Even presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took to twitter today defending Mrs. Davis. In my own personal opinion, if a repulsive, hypocritical, pedophile-loving piece of trash like Mike Huckabee is defending you, that should tell you just how wrong you are… but I digress.

It remains to be seen how all this will play out before it’s all over with. I hear that the Rowan County Clerks office will actually start issuing marriage licenses tomorrow in Mrs. Davis’ absence. It should be interesting to see what tomorrow holds, and even more interesting, to see how long Kim Davis lasts in jail before she has a change of heart about her so-called convictions.