A Swift Kick in the Balls.

I cannot recall hating a year so fucking much as 2016. 2016 has been nothing more than a year of loss. I have come to an understanding that my being almost 40 means that my heros are going to be dead soon; however I didn’t expect so many at one time. Today, however, is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Today we lost our princess: Carrie Fisher.

I am in tears, literal tears, as I type this out. We have lost 50 celebrities from music icons to statesmen this year. That’s almost one per week this year and 2016 still has a few days left. I cannot believe that one of my biggest heros is gone.

It sucks.

Not only was she Princess Leia, and later General Leia, she was a huge advocate for mental health issues. When I was first diagnosed as bipolar, I watched a documentary called “The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive” by Stephen Fry. I was shocked to see her in it. I felt a calm come over me when I found out that “Princess Leia” was bipolar as well. Carrie Fisher became more of my hero that day because I knew that if she could live with being bipolar, then I could too.

I will miss her terribly, despite I am just a fan that she never met. She meant the world to me.

So long, Princess.

 

 

A Faulty Concept

Funny preface to this post: I sat down this morning to type this up and I had to stop because my AC was leaking water in a closet in my office geek lair and all over the floor. Called my HVAC Guy and he came over to check it out. The issue was that I apparently didn’t understand the effects of gravity on the movement of fluid in a hollow cylindrical tube. When I last changed the filter, I didn’t place the drain pipe back at a downward angle so that the condensation from the coils could drain. He just slanted the pipe back, smiled, and told me to have a good day.

Before all of that happened, I was watching a documentary called “The Mask You Live In“. It covers the concept of masculinity and how it can be damaging to young boys and the men that they become later in life. I kind of talked about this in a previous post and my experience with it.  It involves the concept of masculinity as far as how we teach our boys to suppress emotions. We tell boys “don’t you cry” or “men don’t cry” and it wasn’t until  I was in my mid 30s that I saw how this had damaged me as a person.

Now, let me start this off by saying that I know that I give Tumblr a lot of shit; however that is because Tumblr tends to take a concept like this and go to the farthest extreme with it. In this case, I actually owe some Tumblr users a thank you because without their rational and educational posts I would never have even thought that this was an issue and by “this” I mean the tradition that we raise our boys, if not our children in general. Another thanks to Tumblr (sort of) is that the thought of gender being a created concept had been planted; however no one on Tumblr actually ever really explained it in a way that I understood. A point that is made in this film is that, generally speaking, kids are biologically the same. You give them choices and they will make similar choices 90% of the time no matter what sex the child is, but that 10%, or 5% on each side of the spectrum, is where we get the concept of gender.

This concept is created by traditionalism, commercialism, and media. All of these create the social norm for gender. Tradition says that men are to be strong, fast, muscular, good at sports, sexualy active ( if not overly sexualy active) and they conquor/dominate. If you are not this; then you are not a man and you will never please your parents. Tradition says that a woman is to be pretty, fit, good at domestic duties, a nurturer,empathetic, not sexualy active (or at least don’t let anyone know that you are),but flirtacious and submissive. If you are not this; then you will not attract a good husband, and you will displease you parents. Commercialism supports this by advertising to these points from everything from kids toys to laptops. Media also helps with the creation of gender by the music, film and literature of the time. While traditions may be changing all over the globe, it’s still a change in progress.

Our traditions are moving away from the heteronormativity that mainly was focused by religion; however now we have new concepts that are still flawed. These concepts (again, I have talked about this in the past) like “Alpha” types and those are usually assigned to a gender (Alpha Male, Alpha Female) and even still when we look at the definitions ( of which there are many) you see these old traditions still deeply entrenched in them. You see words like “enterprising” , “Assertive”, “Superior”, “seeking all avenues of fulfillment, including the sexual”, dominant, physically fit, rarely get emotional and these were taken from sites that gave traits of both “Alpha” Males & Females. So, in our great step forward we have learned that masculinity is not a gender, but a trait; however it is a trait that we still are fucking up six ways to sunday. You also apparently cannot be “Alpha” and be feminine. Every trait that is generally described as feminine, is used to describe the “Beta” type. So, again, having empathy, emotions, being sensitive, nurturing, sexually submissive/inactive is all seen as weaker.  So really, we haven’t changed anything, we just allowed females to become masculine and men to become feminine and we still ridicule them for “switching teams” (no matter what that person’s orientation is) because it is still entrenched in our brains that boys do Y and girls do X.

My problem with this is that kids don’t need this shit. If little Billy is crying; then go find out why he is crying. Why is he sad? Let him talk about it. If little Jenny wants to take karate and play with robots, let her. So what if all of the other girls have dolls and are playing with a giant fake plastic oven that comes with fake pans and food? So what if Bill likes art and doesn’t want to play football?  Let Jenny have Optimus Prime and become a black belt! Let Billy talk it out and draw unicorns fighting dragons! Because if you don’t, later in life, your holidays will be awkward and your kids will be in therapy.

Trust me on that one.

Because I know if that I had heard a lot less of “if you don’t stop crying; then I will give you something to cry about!” and was allowed to express my feelings and emotions then I may not be in a few places that I am now. I know that if I had kids, I wouldn’t be pigeonholing them into these gender roles and stereotypes that come along with their sex. I would be letting them make their own choices, and guiding them as they went along. Last time I checked that’s what parents did.

Or so I have heard.

This Happens Everytime I Watch This Movie.

I was watching “The Giver” (again) ,which was also one of my favorite books, and … wait, if you have never seen or read “The Giver”:

The Giver is a 1993 American young-adult utopian novel by Lois Lowry. It is set in a society which at first appears to be a utopian society but is later revealed to be a dystopian one as the story progresses. The novel follows an 11-year-old boy named Jonas. The society has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness,” a plan that has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives. Jonas is selected to inherit the position of Receiver of Memory, the person who stores all the past memories of the time before Sameness, as there may be times where one must draw upon the wisdom gained from history to aid the community’s decision making. Jonas struggles with concepts of all the new emotions and things introduced to him: whether they are inherently good, evil, or in between, and whether it is even possible to have one without the other. The Community lacks any color, memory, climate and terrain, all in effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality.

Basically, there is no love, not even any touching outside the “family unit”, children are all genetically engineered and birthed by “birth mothers” then assigned to family units. Any that do not meet The Community standards are “released” (aka: euthanized; however people have no memory or concept of death or murder, so they do not realize this) to “Elsewhere” (as are old people), which means no sex, even between spouses (again, because there is no memory or concept of what sex is). There’s also no music, art, literature, or any creative expression. The Community is of pure logical functionality and has no emotional depth. Hell, they literally do not have any memory or concept of color, not just skin color, but actual, chromatic color. In the movie, The Community members literally see in monochrome. On the other side, there is no pain, jealousy, anger, betrayal, war, death (in concept), loss, racism, discrimination, inequality, poverty, or Donald Trump.

So, it makes me wonder: Would you want to live in this type of society? Imagine that you know nothing of “The Receiver of Memory” and that all of the 3rd party omniscient parts of the story. You are just one of the members of The Community wrapped up in “Sameness”. Would that be a life worth living? No depth, but no strife and struggle either. You are assigned a job that is best suited for your skill sets, and you have no worries regarding finances. You are assigned a spouse (which, unfortunately the book does have a strong sense of heteronormativity) and two children, so there are no worries about dating and starting a family; however there is no love for any of them, you just enjoy them and take pride in their accomplishments. Again, no poverty, hunger, war…etc.

Everytime, I read this book or watch this movie I ponder this question. Honestly, my answer is usually always different. When I look at the world today, with all of the hatred coming out of people, people being discriminated against or murdered in the name of religion, financial markets in current turmoil, poverty, rampant mass shootings, and our own government at a slow pace to do anything about any of it because of party ideologies. I almost think “Sameness” wouldn’t be such a bad idea; however how long would that last? If we did receive our memories back, would we start this cycle of violence and hate all over again or learn from our mistakes?

At this point in history, I think we may need to give “Sameness” a shot; however we may just need to tweak its parameters a bit.

What do you think?

Straight Dope.

I watched a couple of documentaries this week and I want to write about my take on this subject:

Prescription Drug Abuse.

Not only by what most of us picture as “the addict” but also by what these two films bring to light. The abuse by General Practitioners prescribing medications that they have little to no knowledge about for conditions that they have little to no knowledge about. The abuse by pharmaceutical reps by planting falsified information into these Doctors and the abuse  by the pharmaceutical companies themselves by pushing out medications that they know may cause harmful side-effects (that they can also then sell another pill for) and manipulating legislation to allow it all to happen.

Here’s what I mean.

The U.S. makes up 5% of the global population and yet we consume 75% of the prescription drugs available world wide. Now, my immediate argument was that it’s because we can afford them and they are readily available; however we only rank 37th in the world for  health care systems according to W.H.O .

You learn in these films that drugs are just that, drugs. Opioids are basically the same as heroin, Adderall is chemically the same as meth. I shit you not, you are giving your ADHD kid meth to settle down and focus.

heroin_oxy_diagram

1-fuLSIjHwAt54mrk4BahBXQ

You learn in these films that Ronald Reagan started this whole thing by allowing Pharmaceutical Companies to advertise directly to the customer, despite the presidents of all 3 drug companies writing letters to him urging him to reconsider. This deregulation was furthered by Bill Clinton later on and these actions gave birth to what people call “Big Pharma”.

The films both tell you that pharmaceutical companies used to be driven by science (sometimes mad science) but is now driven by profits.

I filed that under “No Shit” real quick.

I know drug manufacturers aren’t looking to cure shit. There isn’t any money in curing things! The money is in the treatment and management of conditions, not the cure.

Everyone knows this.

What everyone doesn’t know is that what I consider to be the worst drug problem in America (and it’s all based on ignorance and misinformation) happens daily in doctor’s offices everywhere and it is covered in these films in one way or another.

Let me explain.

The first film that I watched was Off Label which starts with talking about drug trials. Deeper into the movie it talks about exactly what it’s title means:

off-la·bel
adjective
  1. relating to the prescription of a drug for a condition other than that for which it has been officially approved.

It goes into how pharmacy reps will ask doctors about any “interesting cases” they have had in which their product has been used and if the doctor says “Yes” then the sales rep will offer to send the doctor a ton of medical research for their pill and it’s billions of new uses that they can now prescribe it for instead of the other drugs that actually have proven to treat whatever issue for years.

Now, in some cases, this works out; however in some it does not. The film also touches on that a lot of people that are on psychotropic medications and  are getting them from their primary care physicians or general practitioners. To me this is a horrible way to get psych meds and the worst drug problem we have in America, because of my experience with the first time I ever sought treatment for my mental health issues. When I first came to terms that “something was wrong with me” I saw my PCP, actually I saw my PCP’s Nurse Practitioner, because let’s face it, none of us ever really see our “actual” doctor. We see their Physicians Assistant, Nurse Practitioner or whatever other pseudo-doctor that helps them out. When I told her that I was having bouts of depression and then a few minutes/hours later would be dealing with mania and then I would return back to depression again (mind you, I didn’t use those exact terms, but I know now what I was dealing with) I was given a prescription for Prozac and Xanax. I wasn’t diagnosed as bipolar at the time (There were no diagnostics at all, that happened about a year or two later when I tried to have myself committed), so she didn’t know that giving an SSRI to me would have this effect:

In people with bipolar disorder, SSRIs and other antidepressants carry a risk of inducing mania, making it essential to monitor for signs of excess energy, decreased need for sleep, or abnormal and excessive mood elevation.

So, needless to say, I felt AWESOME on Prozac! It was fucking amazing! I understood why EVERYONE was on this shit!

Then I got diagnosed as bipolar and that was the first thing to go.

So, I completely agree with this film’s take on the reason why the market is flooded with psych meds is because PCPs are scripting them out and not knowing what they will do to their patients. There is one woman in the film that is bipolar and is on 20+ medications. She is so zombified that it is just sad. The thing that made me absolutely angry is that the film mentions that her psychiatrist will not see her anymore; however still issues her medication.

That’s some bullshit.

The second film that I watched was called “Prescription Thugs” it was a follow up to another film that I watched during my “Top 100 Documentaries” called “Bigger, Faster. Stronger” regarding steroids (#86).  I won’t lie, this film come across that all pills are bad and bad for you; however the filmmaker lost his brother while making the film to pharmaceutical abuse and was abusing pharmaceuticals and alcohol while making the film. So, I really had to look into the subtext here, and towards the end he kind of ties things up.

One thing he also touches on is the over prescribing of psych meds. Now, everyone he talked to said “they went to their doctor”. So, this makes me think that again you have PCPs ,or their assistants, prescribing psychotropics that they don’t understand and are not actually diagnosing anything. The film also touches on Statin drugs and how they are ” a big fat lie”.  Basically, statin drugs are cholesterol pills.

“Statins” is a class of drugs that lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver. (The other source of cholesterol in the blood is dietary cholesterol.) Statins block the enzyme in the liver that is responsible for making cholesterol. This enzyme is called hydroxy-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA reductase). Scientifically, statins are referred to as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.

http://www.medicinenet.com/statins/article.htm

Then I read this and it kinda scares me:

FDA is advising consumers and healthcare professionals that:

  • Routine monitoring of liver enzymes in the blood, once considered standard procedure for statin users, is no longer needed. Such monitoring has not been found to be effective in predicting or preventing the rare occurrences of serious liver injury associated with statin use.
  • Cognitive (brain-related) impairment, such as memory loss, forgetfulness and confusion, has been reported by some statin users.
  • People being treated with statins may have an increased risk of raised blood sugar levels and the development of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Some medications interact with lovastatin (brand names include Mevacor) and can increase the risk of muscle damage.

Yeah, I have been getting a little “foggy” lately and also, I was just diagnosed as diabetic. Now, I am willing to bet that the diabetes is because I am a fat guy that smokes and used to eat like crap, but it could have been this pill!

But, I am digressing.

Now, this film hit on something that the book I am reading actually talks about and that is we are a culture that is afraid of our feelings. We all want that happy “everything is great” feeling all the time and we do not feel out feelings. We have been taught to avoid emotion and I believe that is another reason why PCPs and their assistants are prescribing psych meds that they know little about without actually diagnosing their patients. The film has a kind of “all pills are bad” vibe to it, but really I think the filmmaker is saying that the current culture in America is what is driving this addiction to medication. Which is partially true, but I can see where someone would take that as an excuse to actually quit taking their psych meds.

Luckily, there is an ex-pharmaceutical rep that they interview that and actually mentions that doing stopping psychotropic medications cold turkey is a horrible idea and she actually lost a family member because they did exactly that.

(Not all pills are bad, stay on your meds kids)

I also think we, as a culture here in the U.S.,  overuse mental health terms (Example: OMG, that makes my OCD so flair up. Ugh, my taco fell and now I am so depressed about it) and because of that these illnesses have been marginalized. So, instead of referring their patient to a psychiatrist that better understands depression or any other emotional/behavioral health issue; general practitioners and their staff just prescribe what that nice pharmaceutical sales rep’s scientific study suggested would help with this condition. Mind you, I believe that medication works for mental health issues, when the diagnosis is correct and you are prescribed the correct medication(s). For that to work, you have to go to the correct type of doctor.

Here’s how I look at it.

If you have a cold, you don’t go to a psychiatrist for treatment. So, why the fuck would you go to your primary care physician for a mental health issue? That’s like taking your laptop to your auto mechanic because it won’t boot up. Also, people need to understand that if you are experiencing a behavioural/mental health issue that it’s more than just popping pills. You have to see a therapist. You have to feel your feelings and talk shit out. It’s a two step process for treatment.

So, is there prescription drug abuse in this country? Of course there is. Doctors aren’t referring patients to the specialist that they should, pharmaceutical reps are pushing drugs for uses that they possibly shouldn’t be used for and pharmaceutical companies are pushing out this research to those sales reps to give to the doctors so that they feel “educated” about the product.

 

My advice is to only get diagnosed and medicated for mental health issues from a psychiatrist or other mental healthcare provider. Other than that…

Ask your doctor*.

 

(Or trained and licensed medical professional)

 

 

For Your Viewing Pleasure…

Now that I have Hulu and ditched the dish. I purused their documentary selection. I was delighted to find a film that I was chasing down for months, well chasing down to watch for free anyway, and I immediately watched it.

of-two-minds-poster

This film has to be one of the best films to watch if you are bipolar, the SO (significant other) of someone that is bipolar, or a friend of someone that is bipolar. It explores different people that all have different experiences with this disease and how they cope and treat their illness.

It opened my eyes to the fact that I am bipolar and that my experience with it is my own. I am not going to be like that guy, or that lady that also has it. I am not going to travel to England, go on a pub crawl & buy cars for 3-4 people (true story that was shared in a group I was in). I am not going to dress in drag and carry an ice pick in my purse and obsess over stabbing someone with it. I am going to be me. I am going to stay up for 3 -5 days, reflash my phone to make it work “better”, then do the same thing to my tablet, then reconfigure them to how I want them to look,  watch a film series on (insert interesting subject here), take an online calculus class from Ohio State, chain smoke, drink 2 pots of coffee, clean something, order some cool shit on Amazon, get into a bidding war over a vintage Gonk Droid action figure on eBay, and then maybe have a snack before starting my actual day. If I am depressed, I just want to lie on the couch, eat peanut M&Ms, and think about how shitty of a person that I am and how people would be better off not knowing me.

What really baffles me at times is that there are people that will get diagnosed, and not take meds. They will change their diet, and do Yoga and that works for them (but it’s a challenge for them and they end up back on meds) or they will just not take meds at all and go through the mania and the depression and “suck it up”.  I know I have to be on medication. I also know that the medication makes me boring, and feel like shit. By like shit, I mean that it takes away my “high” that I get when I am manic. I remember when I was unmedicated and everyday was a party.

Before I was diagnosed, I was in sales and I did exceptionally well at it. I was around other “alpha” types that always wanted to celebrate and party. So that’s what we did. Until I was fired for some bogus inventory shit, basically because one of the managers didn’t like me because I wasn’t a kiss ass. So, I went to another electronics company and became an assistant manager almost instantly. Again, around “alpha” types and I excelled. Mania gets you far in sales; however when you get depressed, people start to think you are loosing your edge and the “higher-ups” start to wonder if you will make it as a full-fledged manager. Pretty soon, I was getting passed up for promotions. That’s when I quit and got into IT.

Another movie that I would suggest to anyone that (again) is bipolar, the SO (significant other) of someone that is bipolar, or a friend of someone that is bipolar is:

images

This is the first movie I ever watched to understand what it meant to be bipolar. While it is a little antiquated, it still holds true to the subject. You see someone going through being diagnosed, and trying to understand that diagnosis. You also see other people, albeit celebrities, that are also bipolar share their stories and how they cope. When I saw that one of my heroes was bipolar, I cried. I also knew that if she could make it through it, then anyone could.

This movie started me on trying to understand what I had been handed, and gave me the comfort of knowing that I was now alone. I may have mentioned it in other posts, and I will probably mention it again. Simply because it is an amazing film to watch and to begin to grasp the diagnosis of being bipolar.

This film was one that I just stumbled upon and I am so glad that I did. It was made by a man that dreamed of being a filmmaker and his life was put on hold because of his mental illnesses. The thing that I was intrigued by this movie was that, unlike the other mental illness documentaries, it dealt with a person with multiple illnesses, like myself. The film is called:

oc87-the-movie

OC87 follows  Bud Clayman as he finally gets to fulfill his dream of becoming a filmmaker and how his multiple illnesses affect his daily life. I really related to this film, simply because my multiple illnesses are starting to affect my life as they did his. My dreams are being put on hold while this whole disability thing is getting sorted out and even after that they may be left at the altar, or something that I have to come back to.  Again, if you or a loved one have a mental illness, watch this film with them. It may help you both understand things a little better.

Honestly, I would recommend watching all 3 of these movies if you want to see the entire spectrum of what bipolar disorder can do to a person. I would suggest watching Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive first, then Of Two Minds, and then OC87. To me that would be the order that would give you the best picture of what it is to see things from a newly diagnosed persons POV (Point Of View), to someone who has already been diagnosed and how they handle it, and then to see someone who has multiple illnesses and how they cope and handle things.

So, make some popcorn and have one “crazy” movie night and learn a few things about living with this illness.

But not Kettle Corn, that stuff is just confusing. It looks like popcorn, but tastes sweet. Seriously, that’s just wrong.

Of Two Minds – (Hulu, Amazon Video)

Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (You Tube)

OC87  – (Netflix, Amazon Video)

The Darkside of Being a Star Wars Fan.

First if you haven’t seen the Rogue One trailer go watch it:

 

Did you see it?

OK, now here is where I am going to start to rant about something that probably should be on Tumblr, and since these posts are shared there, it will be. (I feel like this blog is like the TARDIS right now!)

Anyway…

The rant that I am about to go on is this:

For decades, the Star Wars franchise has been a boys club. Every Star Wars fan knows this. The only female character in the entire franchise was either Princess Leia or Padame`.  So out of 6 films, you had 2 strong female characters. The only other female characters you had were either Twi’leks that were arm candy or Rancor chow, or ….well background characters.  Yes, you had female Jedi in the prequels, but it wasn’t until “The Clone Wars” animated series that you actually got to see any of them or hear any of them and even then that series was driven by Obi-Wan and Anakin with Ahsoka Tano as a supporting character. It wasn’t until Star Wars: Rebels that we now see her, Hera and even Sabine have more of a prominent role in a Star Wars animated series.

So, now we have Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And we have **gasp**  the aforementioned strong leading female character – Princess Leia (Now General Leia, fuck that Princess shit) and Rey who is, what the fuck, the LEADING CHARACTER OF THE MOVIE! Yep, Star Wars now has a female leading character and some of my fellow Star Wars fans IQs fucking plummeted.

“How did she all of the sudden get her powers? That doesn’t make sense, this movie is stupid. Disney ruined everything!”

It’s called “The Force Awakens”. Guess who it woke up in? The little girl that was left on Jakku and had a flashback of repressed/suppressed memories when she saw an item that was familiar to her. This is not a new concept. It’s just like when River her saw the code in the bar and said “Miranda” and it unlocked all of the repressed fighting skills she had or countless other movies use that same plot element, but it’s like some of my fellow Star Wars nerds just had a fucking tantrum when Rey turned out to be the Jedi badass and the main character in TFA.

Which brings me to today.

The Rogue One trailer features, you guessed it, what appears to be a female lead and again my fellow Star Wars fans are losing their shit. All day I keep seeing these gems:

Instagram:

mrzirhkI: starting to bother me that women are the protagonists of films like this

doejones94: Dang it Disney thinks everything is about princesses

Youtube:

Darth Trepid: What a joke. Girls are so weak and only belong in the kitchen. There’s no such thing as a “strong woman”. Go make some babies and sammiches already. Bring back the real Star Wars.

HENNI Mohamed: feminist propaganda

Booke685: why not just call this whole franchise “Girl Wars”?

I just can’t even. That’s right, the stupidity of these comments has infected me. Star Wars needs, and always has needed, strong female characters. Why?  I will tell you, but I need you to read these words out loud:

STAR WARS IS NOT JUST FOR BOYS.

Let’s repeat it:

STAR WARS IS NOT JUST FOR BOYS.

One more time to make sure you got it:

STAR WARS IN NOT JUST FOR BOYS.

So, now that we have established that, I want you to understand it. Star Wars isn’t a gender. It’s a fandom that accepts everyone. The cool kid that is a closet case nerd, the geek that has spent a fortune in Star Wars memorabilia and can tell you everything about every aspect of the Star Wars universe, the reformed geek that now has kids and will be taking his son and/or DAUGHTER to see these movies and playing with their toys (because he has bought his own and they are unopened and in mint/near mint in his “office”) and now doesn’t have to explain why Princess Leia is the only female in the Star Wars universe and that no other girls exist. Now we have a new Star Wars that is one of equality. We have multiple strong female characters, we have LGBT characters (read the books) in the Star Wars universe (and possible pansexual, that doctor in The Resistance base was REALLY eyeballing Chewie, just sayin’) and I want to see more of these things. Why? Because Star Wars is for EVERYONE! So, if you are of this old way, then you better get with the new way or take your “pure” copies of Episodes IV, V, & VI that you have on laserdisc or VHS and just stick with those. Because we will be watching the new movies, including the anthologies, in the machete order with our lightsabers ignited and our middle fingers held up to the “traditional ways”  of being a Star Wars fan.

Welcome to the new Star Wars fandom, everyone is welcome.

On a lighter note…

I did go to Twitter when I was looking for sexist, dumbass comments. For transparency, then one about “Disney and Princesses” was the first on that I saw and that made me start noticing the others; however on Twitter I didn’t find any on the Star Wars account. Which shocked me, because Twitter is usually a cesspool of stupid (ask Wil Wheaton). The only mention of female roles was this one:

Laura ‏@Laura_Chisnall I can’t cope with all of the perfect females that are joining @starwars #RogueOne
<Kylo_Ren_Approves.gif>

Maybe there is a new hope for us, yet.

(Oh shut up, it was funny)

 

The True Story Of…Part IV: The Final Destination

Well, this is it. The final 25 films of the top 100 documentaries that I have been watching on Netflix.  I have to say, that this experience has taught me a lot. I have wandered into cultures that I would never had thought of. I have seen pieces of history that I would never have even thought would have actually happened. I have seen horrors that I would have never thought humanly possible. I have seen beauty that I didn’t know could exist. This whole thing started off as a simple “dare”, but ended up being a life experience that I will cherish.

Now let’s look at the final films.

76.  FrackNation: I updated the last post and I hope anyone that reads this saw it. This really tore down a lot of the alleged false data that the film maker in “Gasland” used to promote his film. The film maker here is an investigative reporter from the UK and the film was backed by a KickStarter promotion. Basically, this guy goes all Mythbusters on the film “Gasland” and tears it to shreds. What really kills me is that the director/creator of “Gasland” repeatedly denies comments or interviews when he learns that this guy is making a film regarding some of the content in “Gasland”.  Again, I suggest watching both films and drawing your own conclusions.

77. Restrepo: Holy crap. I loved this film for one reason: it’s integrity. It didn’t cut scenes or hide shield you from the horrors and sorrows that war bring. This film will scare you, will horrify you, and will make you cry. If it doesn’t do any of these things it’s because you lived them (In that case thank you). I definitely recommend watching this film.

78. Hell and Back Again: I watched this film, still recovering from Restrepo, and was astounded by the pure hell that this guy went through to go through recovery. It’s a good look into what a soldier’s return home can look like.

79. Out of the Clear Blue Sky: This 9/11 documentary just made me not only remember all of the feelings that I had on that day: the fear, the confusion, the anger, but it also made me feel the loss that this man suffered. Cantor Fitzgerald was a financial firm that lost 658 employees in the 9/11 attacks. The story is told by (among others) the CEO of the firm. The way this man grieved openly in public, on TV, at meetings was just heart-wrenching. I would definitely recommend watching this.

80. First Comes Love: OK, let me sum this film up: 41 year old woman wants a baby, goes to gay friend for sperm, gay friend says sure but he ain’t gonna be a daddy, 41 year old’s father is dead set against this. 41 year old’s best friend says she will help out because this is an awesome plan. 41 year old gets pregnant. 41 year old’s father tells her to get an abortion and that she’s an idiot. 41 year old meets a guy and falls in love. 41 year old has baby. Gay friend sees baby and can’t put baby down, 41 year old’s father sees baby and is totally in love with his grandson and denies ever saying a bad thing about the pregnancy, kid is now being raised by at least 4 people.  I just saved you 1 hour and 45 minutes of your life.

81. After Tiller: Let me just start by saying that I am going to strongly suggest that you watch this film. Even as someone that is Pro-Choice, I have always had an issue with 3rd Trimester Abortions, apparently because I didn’t know what they really were. This film not only will enlighten you on what they are, but the history behind them, the current struggle with them and why it’s important to fight for a woman’s right to be able to have access to a doctor that can perform them. This film changed my mind, enlightened me and again, I strongly suggest you watch this film.

82. Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story:  So, all of this hype about Caitlin Jenner and we never heard about this lady? Kristin transitioned from male to female and was a member of SEAL Team 6. Her medal accomplishments give her the rank of a 1 Star Admiral. She is an American Hero, yet Jenner got all of the “brave” comments. Sorry, she wasn’t brave compared to Kristin. You go get shot at, then come home and make the decision to transition and then tell all of your SEAL & Marine friends about it on top of the media and then come talk to us about brave. I loved her story, and I suggest watching this film.

83. Mala Mala: This film shows the life and lack of civil liberties for the transgendered community in Puerto Rico. It was a bit slow and really lagged. It finally picks up at the end with the civil rights aspect. There were some interesting bits of information here and there about transgendered people; however this film was just slow. If you are curious about that community, I am sure that there are better sources.

84. Beware of Mr. Baker: For years I thought that Keith Moon was the all time rabid drummer. Moon was the crazy man.  That was until I watched this film about Cream’s Ginger Baker.  Holy shit, not only was he insane but he was the archetype that all rock/metal (and really anything related) drummers were based on. The way he came up with the beat, the rhythm, and the insanity he brought all out shined Moon, and anyone else that would come down the road. I loved this doc, and you should also check it out.

85. Pumping Iron: *sigh* … OK, we are going to get through this. This is about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno  as they go for Mr. Olympia. If you like body building, or need further proof that Arnold is an asshole, go watch this.

86. Bigger, Stronger, Faster: *sigh* … We will get through this one, too. Again, it’s about body building, well…more about sports in general and the use of anabolic steroids to enhance performance. It gives facts vs. fiction of steroid use and almost draws to the point of: is a matter of health or ethics? Again, if you are a sports guy/gal; then go for it.

87. This Ain’t California: Wow, this was an awesome film (and a welcome break from muscles and steroids) about a sub-culture that is close to my heart. It’s about skaters during the 70’s & 80’s in East Germany. What they went through, and how they made things happen. I loved it.

88. Exit Through the Gift Shop: I love the concept of “Banksy”. It’s like a shadowy figure that wages guerrilla warfare on the established order with art. I love Banksy’s pieces and style. I loved seeing other artists (I swear that I have seen the “OBEY” art posted around Fort Worth, TX) and hearing how they have come up with their concepts. I really enjoyed this film and if you are an art fan on any level, I would suggest watching it.

89. Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story: OK, let me just say this: I TRIED. I watched this film 3 times. 1st time: fell asleep; 2nd time: Made it a bit farther, but fell asleep; 3rd time: Made it all of the way through, and just didn’t care. I just could not find any interest in this film’s subject. Maybe I just didn’t get it.

90. Print the Legend:  Y E S! Finally a film about something that my little nerd heart is curious about: 3D Printing! I was amazed at the all of the turmoil that had happened with Form Labs & Makerbot.  Plus, just taking a deeper plunge into the 3d printing world was amazing. I would recommend this film, just because it’s an amazing technology.

91. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry: This guy is a pure bad ass. He is China’s “Banksy” but he doesn’t hide his face. He want’s you to see him. He want’s you to know who it is that’s giving you the finger. I love his message and his art. This film also gives you a glimpse into the life of the people in mainland China. You gotta see this film.

92. Jiro Dreams of Sushi: I have been wanting to sit down and watch this for a long time. I am so glad that this was on this list and I finally got around to doing it. This man is an artist. He is a true craftsman, and at 85 he still doesn’t believe that he has mastered the art of sushi making. It was amazing to see him and his sons work and create these dishes. I would suggest watching this film because it is amazing.

93. More Than Honey:  One thing that is touched on in “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is that a lot of fish are disappearing due to over-fishing. This movie approaches another self-inflicted ecological wound regarding the bee population. You have probably heard more than once from your “hippy-friend” that the bees are dying out (man); however most people cannot tell you why. This film will not only go into that but dispel a lot of other “bee myths” that I found intriguing. I liked this film, and I would suggest watching it and even with the kids.

94.Microcosmos: OK,  I don’t even know where to begin on this one. First, the opening music is creepy as fuck. Its small children singing in very soft low voices and its just fucking unsettling. Then you get a small narration at the beginning and that’s it. The rest is just really amazing shots of insects that make you feel like Ant-Man and you have no idea what you are looking at. It’s amazing images and sound, and would probably be amazing to watch when your high.

95. Seen it.

96. The Whale: This film was amazing and was narrated by Ryan Reynolds.  So, it was kind of funny imagining Deadpool telling you the story of little lost orca that befriended an entire village.  This film was funny at times and also had deep sad moments. I won’t lie, I cried several times during the film. I definitely recommend this film, simply because it is an amazing story.

97.  The Queen of Versailles:  This is a story in which it is hard to feel sorry for the characters. These people live in such excess, and when things get tight they get lowered to a realistic level (more or less) and you can’t feel for them. If you do watch it, you will know what I mean.

98. Tabloid: Holy shit! Just watch this film. You will never see a movie that includes: Mormons, international kidnapping plots, alleged prostitution, and cloning pets. The best part is that this is a true story.

99. Vernon, Florida: I am from a small town, and I have lived in even smaller towns. This film is about locals from a small town and it is a series of laughs and WTF? moments all in a one hour film. There is no educational value in this, other than seeing what small town life in the south can be like.

100. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father: I have seen this film multiple times and each time I see it I cry more tears than the last. If you have never seen this film. Please go watch it.

 

And that’s a wrap! I have completed this Top 100 challenge! I hope now that I can find something else to watch on TV and that this hasn’t completely ruined my brain for mindless shows that are just for entertainment value.

If you have been reading these posts, I want to thank you for keeping up with me as I completed this task and I hope that you enjoy some ( if not all ) of the films that I have written about. I hope my reviews and opinions might have been helpful.

Again, thanks for reading.

The True Story of… Part 3: Beyond Thunderdome

Wow, I came to this faster than I expected.  I almost can’t believe that I am already posting about the 3rd quarter of the top 100 list that I have been watching. I actually checked 3 times to make sure that I didn’t skip any of these.

Its also hard to believe that I have watched approximately 75 documentary films on such a range of subjects, some that I would have never even thought of watching or probably have even come across. I feel that this entire experience has enriched my life and given me an experience that I will always look back on. As corny as that sounds, and especially when you think “You just watched a bunch of movies”, it’s more than that. Documentaries are stories; they are the story of one person’s or a group of people’s experience or point of view and you are the story’s listener. Movies are entertainment; Films are experiences.

Let me tell you about my latest experiences:

51. How to Survive a Plague:  This was a story of the aids epidemic in the 80’s. It tells the story about how the LGBT community was basically left to die by the Reagan administration. Like any minority community, the LGBT community found ways to fix the broken system and try to survive.  It was saddening to see these people basically left to die by bureaucracy.

52. We Were Here: This was the story of the beginning of AIDS in the San Francisco area. It tells the horrifying beginnings of this disease and it’s impacts on the gay community of San Francisco. Again, like “How to Survive a Plague”, it also shows the community coming together and trying to survive what was the very beginnings of the AIDS Epidemic.

Honestly, I recommend watching both of these films; however I would recommend watching “We Were Here” first, and then “How to Survive a Plague”. After watching these in “list order”, I wish I had done the same.

53. All American High Revisited: Basically, High School in the US in 1984 with a Finn exchange student then at the VERY end of the film they play catch up after 20+ years with kids from the film. It was entertaining, and I cringed at some points at the 80’s fashion. I liked it and found it entertaining/cringe-worthy.

54. Maidentrip: OK, this is one of the films that I: 1) Wanted to see & (2) Wanted to right about. This little girl is fucking amazing. She just goes and gets a boat, has her dad help her get it sea-worthy, fights the courts in Holland to let her sail, and BOOM! She is gone! She fucking sails seas that seasoned sailors nuts shrivel up at. She is amazing and the ending, just floored me. YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!

55. Undefeated: Did I mention that I don’t like sports? Well, I don’t. So, I really don’t want to sit through a 2 hour film about teams, and practice, and coach’s big speech. Fuck that. So far, every time I have said something like: “I am going to hate this film” is when I end up loving it. This film is a typical story. An underfunded, inner-city, football team that is struggling. You have seen it, you have heard it, but dammit if this film didn’t get to me and I ended up loving it. I won’t say it is a must watch, but if you ARE a sports fan; then yeah you need to sit down and watch this film (bring tissue).

56. Medora: Unlike the previous sports doc, I couldn’t care less about these kids, this team or this town. I didn’t see the same drive and determination as I did with other kids. I didn’t see the same fire as with the other coach. [SPOILER ALERT] Which is probably why the team lost so goddamn always. Honestly, I didn’t see the point of this film, or why it was on the list.

57. Rich Hill: OK, one of the other films that I was waiting to write about. This film highlights the lives of 3 kids. 2 kids have behavioral problems, 1 kids parents are just not based in reality and don’t know how to get their shit together. The two kids that have behavioral problems, neither are medicated or in any form of treatment. One of the kid’s parents pisses me off to no end because she thinks at the age of 12/13 that he should be able to manage his own psychiatric problems and medication and basically just lets him go, but screams at him when he makes mistakes. There’s a difference between a kid being a little shit and needing help. What it did show to me is that the issues that come with poverty, aren’t a racial thing because these kids are all white, and this is in a rural white town. It was good to see some diversity & I would definitely recommend watching this film.

58. White Earth: Wow, this was eye opening to an issue that is happening now in North Dakota with the oil industry. Apparently a year or so ago, mass drilling operations started in ND. So, a lot of people and their families migrated to there. It’s an interesting piece of recent history that has occurred that no one really has mentioned.

59. The Overnighters: During the mass migration of people seeking jobs in North Dakota, a lot of people were sleeping in their cars. Hotels, Motels, and even RV parks were filled due to the massive influx of people into these small towns. A church pastor starts housing people at his church and a complete shit-storm starts because of it. I honestly could believe some of it, and some of it I could not. The absolute hell that this man goes through to do what he believes is right is commendable. I honestly couldn’t believe some of the things that happened in this film.

I recommend watching both of these; however you should go ahead and watch these two in “list order”.

60. Detropia: Wow. The state of decay that Detroit is in is horrific. Little to no manufacturing work is there anymore and over 60% of the population has left the city. The city is broke, and the state had to eventually take over management of the city. Its sad that one of the largest automotive manufacturing cities in America is now a ghost town.

61.Caucus: This was the sideshow that was the Republican Iowa Caucus in 2012. It was fun to see all of these “next presidents of the United States” parade about, spout non-sense, praise the lord  and eat corn dogs.

62. The Square: This film actually brought back some memories. I remember sitting and watching these videos of the violence of Tahrir Square during the revolution. Seeing people being shot down by their own government, being beaten and then having it happen all over again, and again. It’s this kind of resilience and patriotism that you have to admire. I would definitely recommend watching this film.

63. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room: I thought I knew the story about Enron. Horrible investments, fraud, and everyone lost their 401k. This film shows that’s just the tip-top of the iceberg. The way these guys fucked up and fucked over is amazing. It is a beautiful painting of bullshit and greed. You need to watch this film.

64: Kids for Cash: Wow… I am still wrapping my head around this one. I actually posted another post (that is extremely long, just FYI) because it just infuriated me that not only could this kind of thing could happen, but that there are elements in the schools today that elevate the risk factor of the threat of a child becoming part of the criminal justice system for issues that shouldn’t be involved in the courts. If you have a child in school, are a teacher, or school administrator then you should definitely watch this film. Matter of fact, just everyone watch this film.

65. The House I Live In :  I have never thought about why drugs are “bad”. How did we decide that heroine is “bad”. How did we decide that cocaine is “bad”. This film shows how the war on drugs is a farce, and how other factors came into play when deciding that certain drugs are “bad”.  It was informative and had a lot of history in it, along with personal stories from people in prison.  I would spend the time to watch this film.

66. The Farm: Angola USA:  This was the story about Angola prison in Louisiana and some of the people in it. I have never seen such care for people as I did in the COs and the Warden, and such sorrow but acceptance in the prisoners. It did raise the question of how we spend money on our prisons and how that the current way things are done is completely flawed (And that’s coming from the COs and the Warden). It really changed my view point and way of thinking on the penal system.

67. Evolution of a Criminal: I loved this film. I loved the way it was done. I loved the subject matter and I loved the story that it told. I am not going to tell you anything about this film. That’s right, nothing. You need to go watch it.

68. Making a Murderer – Generally, I skip the films that I have already seen and chances are that you have already seen this one or at least heard about it. If you have not seen this film series (yes series) then you need to. You will never see the criminal justice system in the same light again. This series will leave you angry and crushed. You have been warned.

69. Which Way Home: This film really did something to me. It moved me to tears, it infuriated me, and it confused me all at the same time.  First the description is completely wrong (SOME SPOILERS):

This documentary follows three children who make a dangerous trek through Mexico en route to the U.S. border, hoping to reunite with their parents.

It starts with 2, both have left home and their parents in Central America. Then they pick up 2 more that either have left their parents or do not have parents, if I remember only one is from Mexico the other is also from Central America (I could be wrong). So, none of these kids are trying to reach their parents (Actually, I think 1 is but he doesn’t know where he is in the US or if he is still there). (SPOILER ALERT) The film crew then finds two other VERY YOUNG small children but looses them. This made me almost sob, and definitely cry.

The thing that infuriated me was while interviewing these kids and some adults along the illegal train ride through Mexico. Everyone seemed to have this sense of entitlement to come into the United States. Now, I am not anti-immigration. I have a buddy of mine that has a wife that is going through immigration/citizenship right now. Yes, it’s long and costly. Our immigration policy needs an overhaul; however opening the borders or giving rights to illegal immigrants isn’t an answer in my book. If you want to come to America, awesome! The line starts over there.  The other thing that infuriated me was the parents of the kids. They were banking that their pre-teen child would survive the 1000+ mile trip to the border and then survive crossing it (which usually means crossing the dessert).  One kid’s mom was highly disappointed that her child didn’t make it and now she couldn’t “get ahead in life” for her other kids and new husband.

This film confused me because you have these kids that are trying to escape shitty home lives, shitty situations and try to make a better life; however we have people here that are citizens that are trying to do the same thing, we have refugees that are trying to do that same thing and we have people that are going through immigration legally that are trying to do the same thing; however it’s hard to think about this when you are seeing these kids go through all of this hardship right on your TV screen. Thus the confusion. As you can see, this film really provoked a lot of thought and feelings in me. I suggest watching it and seeing what it does for you.

70. These Birds Walk : This film was an interesting subject and shed light on the issues of child-rights and treatment in Pakistan. There aren’t a lot of surprises, to be honest, but it does give you hope that there are people out there trying to do good.

71. Call Me Lucky:  Before this film, I couldn’t have told you who Barry Crimmins was or why he was important. After watching this film, I now want to see every bit of stand-up he has ever done, and every speech he has ever made. This man took personal tragedy and made it into a weapon. He took on things, from the Government, to AOL and held his ground. He is an interesting and inspiring man. I am glad that I watched this film.

72.  Girl Model: I always knew that the modeling industry was horrible. It was a machine that physically and emotionally devoured women and shat them out empty & broken. This film is just about that, but with young teenage girls. I have never seen such soullessness in a human before. It’s like they were vipers preying on some type of small bird. It turned my stomach. If you have a daughter, and she wants to be a model, sit down and watch this film with her. If you have a daughter that is currently trying to get into modeling…stop and watch this film.

73. Iris:  Like sports, I could also care less about fashion. I don’t care about trends, whats in, whats out. Fuck it. I am wearing a shirt and jeans with my All-Stars. That’s if I am wearing pants that day at all. This film goes into the life of 93 year-old fashion icon Iris Apfel. This lady is a riot! What she does with clothing and accessories is awesome, and I like the stuff she comes up with; however why she has a cult following or is an icon I don’t know. This is a delightful film about a little lady, with too many clothes and accessories, a cult following in the fashion industry, who knows how to haggle and her and her husband are funny as hell. It was a welcome break to all of the soul crushing that occurred in the previous few films.

74. Mad Hot Ballroom: This film pissed me off within the first 6 minutes. Apparently, ballroom dancing is a required class in elementary schools in NYC and is a 10 week course. I do not understand why this is required. You are forcing children to learn a skill that they will (more than likely) not need later in life. Want to make a class mandatory in elementary schools? Try typing/keyboarding.  To play devil’s advocate, it did give them some social skills that most kids do not have at their ages; however another thing popped up that just pisses me off about how we reward kids. I cannot stand the idea of the participation trophy. The way this was set up was that all of the kids that lost the semi-finals were 2nd place (Silver Level) and they got ribbons and gift bags. All of the kids that advanced were 1st place (Gold Level) and they got to advance, plus got ribbons and gift bags. This continues all the way to the finals, with the exception the winner got a big ass trophy.  Even if this film had none of the above things that just grind my gears, I still wouldn’t tell you to watch it.

75. Gasland: This was one film that hit close to home, because I live in a town on the Barnett Shale and I have one of these wells about 500′ behind my house. Actually, my town was kind of famous for awhile because we started having earthquakes. From Nov 2013 to Jan 2014 my little town had 27 earthquakes that were about magnitude 2 , a few were higher. These were the first earthquakes that have been felt in my area in 150 years. After testing, The Texas Railroad Commission shut down 2 of the waste water wells. We haven’t had an earthquake since. So, when the film starts going into other details about the dangers of fracking, I paid attention. What this film showed, horrified me. I really think everyone should see this film and pay attention to it.

(UPDATE)

I am currently watching #76 FrackNation and it is a must watch RIGHT AFTER “Gasland”. Its basically the counter point to that film and it is something that you must watch after. This film blatantly goes for the throat to dispel all of the key points of “Gasland”. The film maker (who was backed by Kickstarter donations) goes to show you that a lot of the images and points used in “Gasland” were false. Again, I think that both films should be watched and your own conclusions drawn.

 

I am now on the final films. The last 25(ish) and then I am done. I don’t know what the hell I am going to do after I finish this list.  Maybe I will start my own, who knows.

 

 

 

To Protect & Educate?

From time to time when I am watching a film, it can really move me. That’s one thing I like about documentaries, they produce a genuine emotion. Sure, movies can do that too; however you know it’s not real. Sure you wanted the girl to finally confess her love to the boy vampire and when it happens, you feel joy (or nauseated), but you know deep down that it’s not real and that joy is hollow. Not that it doesn’t mean anything to you. Trust me, 38 year old me still gets that little cold shiver when Darth Vader says “No, I am your father.” just like 4 year old me did when I see that scene in “The Empire Strikes Back”  and the same giddiness when the Slave-1 takes off from Bespin with one carbonite frozen Han Solo in the cargo hold, but those feelings pale in comparison to the emotions that some of these films that I have been watching of the past few weeks have made me feel. The emotion that they provoke are just like their subject matter: true.

The film that I finished that prompted me to come and start typing this out was called “Kids for Cash” it regarding the Luzerne County juvenile court scandal involving Judge Mark Ciavarella.  The film shed light on a few things that I have to get out of my head and all of these points I cannot believe actually happen here in the US. I don’t know why I get shocked by these type of things anymore (Especially since the film I watch before that was about the Enron scandal premeditated plan to fuck over EVERYONE) because I know these things happen. I know they happen because I read the news, I see these types of films, and I maybe I am just too damn observant, but it still is something that I think we all need to be aware of.

Here’s what I am talking about:

The beginning of the film starts with a blurb about the UN Treaty called “Convention on the Rights of the Child” that was done up in 1989 and that every country in the UN had signed and ratified the treaty except 2 (it may have said 3 but I don’t recall the 3rd) Somalia, and the United States. That was at the time of the film, Somalia has now signed & ratified this treaty since. The US has signed it; however we have not ratified it (with the exception of two optional clauses) and we are the ONLY nation in the UN to not have ratified this treaty.

(https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=IND&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en)

You then start learning about the scandal and the key elements, but then the film goes into something that I have not given a lot of thought about either in schools or in the world itself. And that is the Zero – Tolerance policy.

I see this all the time. On bill boards, on police cars, on the Internet; however I have never really put a lot of thought into it other than “this means there is no tolerance for X, so I better not do X“. After watching this film and now reading up on what the Zero-Tolerance (aka: Zero-Logic) policies in schools are, they are quite possibly the most insane thing that I have ever heard of. Now I get some of these, but we still have to use our fucking heads! Zero-tolerance about dealing heroine at school, zero-tolerance about about chasing people with an axe at school, and Zero-Tolerance about about firearms at school I get these types of policies. However, I still think we should let little Jenny tell us why she is dealing black-tar heroine during Eng. 4 or why Robert decided to bring that rocket launcher to school today. Instead, this shit happens:

  • After bringing a Cub Scouts dinner knife to school to eat his lunch, a six-year-old boy was ordered to attend an alternative school for students with behavioral problems for nine weeks.
  • A third-grader was expelled for a year because her grandmother sent a birthday cake, and a knife for cutting the cake, to school. The teacher used the knife to cut the cake, and then reported her to the authorities as having a dangerous weapon. The expulsion was overturned and led to a state law that gave districts the ability to, “on a case-by-case basis, modify the terms of the expulsion.
  • A second grader in Baltimore, Maryland, was suspended in March 2013 for biting a Pop-Tart into the shape of a mountain, which school officials mistook for a gun.
  • A kindergartner in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was suspended in March 2010 for making a finger gun.

Schools and faculty go ape shit over these policies. Schools because they don’t want to be liable for anything and face lawsuits, District/State/Federal Scrutiny, the media, or loose any type of funding. The faculty doesn’t want to get their hands on anything because they will have to face the parents, risk loosing their job, or can’t do anything due to restrictions put on them in regards to punishment by the school/district/state/Fed. Government. So, now we have these Zero-Tolerance policies that cover everything (and fix nothing) imaginable and the best part is that it requires zero-thought. You did X ? Well, that comes under our Zero-Tolerance policy against “all things kids may do” and we automatically do Y as a punishment, end of discussion. It requires no discussion, the adult doesn’t have to think, the child isn’t allowed to speak and the parents can take it to the school board regarding the policy and go through a lengthy battle or find another way of educating their kid. It’s Zero-though, Zero-discussion, Zero-Options and Zero-logic involved. The worst part is, the kid doesn’t get why they are being punished. Even the 15-year old angst ridden emo kid. Why? Because his brain is still developing! It will continue until he is about 23. That’s why kids are “dumb” their brain is still growing and developing. You still have to help them and correct them. Instead, let’s just make a policy that is devoid of thought and just goes right to us disciplining the child as hard as we can.

That’s if your kid isn’t arrested first and you aren’t called by the principal, but the cops.

I remember this boogeyman showing up at my school in my senior year. All of the sudden, in 1995, we had a cop roaming our school. I don’t remember if he was called an SRO. I just remember he was only a few years older than us, and not very bright or very nice (unless you were blonde, had a nice rack and were in a short skirt). He was there to root out the “massive drug problem” in our school, and end all of the “violence”. So,he was there to stop the kids who dropped acid, keep us from going to Taco Bell at lunch and stop the rare fight intense staring contest with angry looks and heavy breathing between the stoners and ropers (cowboys); OK, got it. Mainly, he chatted up girls, handed out tickets for smoking on campus, kept me from my burrito and played hackey sack with the acid kids that he was supposed to be busting for being “the drug problem”.

Now days, there is an SRO in all of schools here. The High School, both Junior Highs and one that tours the Elementary schools (If I heard correctly) in my town. In the movie ( and in life) the SRO is the school’s henchman. He’s the guy that can enforce discipline and keep the school’s hands clean. Also, with broad broad zero-tolerance policies, he can also exercise his/her power as a law enforcement officer and detain/arrest your child. This isn’t something I am telling you to scare you, it’s just a fact. I went to find what the definition of a SRO’s role actually is. The website for the National Association of School Resource Officers had nothing. They had no definition of what their role is in your child’s schools, just mainly how to become a member and some resource material. Then I went to a couple of other sites (that weren’t just PDF’s) and found these two plain English definitions:

Roles of SRO:

Law Enforcer
Informal Counselor
Educator
Emergency Manager

(http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/default.asp?Item=2687)

 

We have defined a School Resource Officer as a sworn officer assigned to a school on a long-term basis trained to perform three major roles: law enforcement officer, law-related counselor and law-related educator..

(http://cte.jhu.edu/courses/ssn/sro/ses1_act3_pag1.shtml)

Did you see it?

Both definitions (and I am willing to bet most definitions) of the role of the SRO have Law Enforcer as the first part of their roles. They are not their to mentor your children, or be their buddy that will council them in that time of crisis; they are cops and they are there to be cops. Now, I know there have been some heinous tragedies at our schools and no one wants another one of those; however a constant police presence in schools will not prevent that. (Neither will arming the faculty or any other crazy schemes I have heard) What it does do is send more kids to jail, even for minor and non-violent offences. These kids are impacted by this, some do not even graduate because of it, and some end up in their own tragedy and either develop a mental disorder or end up taking their own life due to the trauma.

There was an article written in Time about if SRO’s in schools did more harm than good. The article eventually mentions two opposing studies. One that shows that students will be involved in the criminal justice system for every offence that occurs in schools (which I can believe due to the talks that I have had with my child-having friends) and the counter study that the National Association of School Resource Officers quotes on their site that states:

Supporting these national statistics is a 2009 study by Matthew T. Theriot, comparing 13 high and middle schools that had an SRO and 15 schools without an SRO within one school district in the Southeastern United States over a three-year period––2003-04, 2004-05, and 2005-06. 53 When the results were controlled for economic disadvantage, the presence of an SRO led to a 52.3% decrease in the arrest rate for assaults and a 72.9% decrease in arrests involving possession of a weapon on school property.

So, of course I went looking for these studies and read them both (I now have a headache, you’re welcome).

The first report by Jason P. Nance basically tells us that the more contact that kids have with an SRO, the more likely that they will end up being arrested. When I read the paper (Its a legal paper and I am not a lawyer, but it mostly made sense), I should say that your child will more than likely end up being arrested and not be given their rights, because they are at school.

Despite the Supreme Court’s pronouncement that students do not “shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate,” students’ constitutional protections with respect to investigation,detainment, interrogation, and punishment at school are quite limited…courts consistently hold that a school official may question a student without providing Miranda warnings, regardless of the possibility that the
school official might later refer that student to law enforcement for wrongdoing…

So, if you do something as nefarious as say, violate the school dress code. The teacher that catches you can start questioning you about whatever, and if you don’t talk or answer their questions; then you are now being insubordinate. You’re not exercising your 5th amendment rights, your breaking the rules and adding to your punishment.

Nance’s report also goes into the foolishness that kids are being arrested for and again, I have heard stories, I posted examples above  and I have YouTube.

For example, police officers stationed at schools have arrested students for texting, passing gas in class, violating the school dress code, stealing two dollars from a classmate, bringing a cell phone to class, arriving late to school, or telling classmates waiting in the school lunch line that he would “get them” if they ate all of the potatoes.

To be clear, these mishandlings are not limited only to high school and middle school students. In 2005, the police arrested five-year old Ja’eisha Scott after she threw a temper tantrum…

Yep… a five-year old:

 

Nance’s study finds that regular contact with SROs leads to more arrests, but not just for major things like weapons, or drugs. He means for everything! Your kid farted in class? Get the SRO. Your kid stole a Skittle from her friend? Call the SRO. You’re checking your Tindr account during Bio2? Page the SRO.

It is important to note, however, that when I tested my
models using different categorizations of offenses, those different categorizations did not affect the overall results of my empirical study—that a police officer’s weekly presence at a school significantly increases the odds that school officials will refer students to law enforcement for various offenses, including lower-level offenses.

He also states that other factors like state-statutes, the general level of crime in the school already, and the level of crime in the part of town that the school is in, were also considered; however no matter how the model was changed, generally students were referred to the SRO for low-level offenses.  So, basically, if there is an SRO in the school there is a significant threat that your child is going to become involved somehow with the criminal justice system in a place that they are supposed to be learning.

Now let’s look at the other guy, Matthew T. Theriot and his report:

Though contrary to statistics showing
that school crime nationally was declining, relatively rare, and usually
nonviolent, school shootings like those in Littleton, Colorado, and
Jonesboro, Arkansas, fed growing public fear of juvenile and school
crime.

Moreover, several criminologists and legal scholars have expressed
concerns that some strategies designed to make schools safer—
particularly the growing number of school resource officers (SROs)—
might actually criminalize student behavior and lead to a substantial
increase in the number of school-based arrests…

 

Wait… What?

Empirical evaluations of these various security strategies are limited,
have varying levels of methodological rigor, and often report conflicting findings…

This guy starts off agreeing with the other guy

“…some strategies designed to make schools safer—particularly the growing number of school resource officers (SROs)—
might actually criminalize student behavior and lead to a substantial
increase in the number of school-based arrests…”

And then says that Empirical evaluations of this are limited and because of all of the variables are often conflicting. So, basically all of the Empirical data can almost be thrown out; however what can be observed is that police in the schools leads to more arrests. Why, because this is a matter of record. It is historical data that can be measured. You just have to go by the arrest records. (Yes, juvenile records are sealed, but you still have a record of the arrest, just not the case files if I understand correctly) So, just looking at the number of arrests, Matt came up with this:

…the number of school-based arrests in one Ohio county increased from 1,237 in the
year 2000 to 1,727 in 2002. According to juvenile court officials, most of
these arrests were for minor offenses or unruly student behavior…

A similar escalation was reported in Miami-Dade County, Florida, where
the 2,345 school arrests in 2001 were a threefold increase over the
number of school arrests in 1999. The vast majority of these arrests
were for simple assaults and disorderly conduct.

So, police in schools equals arrests and police in schools also means that faculty will hand off discipline to the police vs. doing it themselves and then introduce your kid to the criminal justice system. They call this the School to Prison pipeline.

While more empirical research is needed to evaluate school-based
arrests made by SROs, there are practical and conceptual reasons to
suggest that SROs play an important role in introducing more and
more students to the juvenile justice system.

Even the guy’s report that the National Association of School Resource Officers used in their resources said that the more SROs are in our schools then the more kids are going to end up in jail. Yes, he did give the data that they quoted (sort of):

Regarding specific charges, though not significant when alone
(Model 1), Model 2 in Table 3 shows that having an SRO at school leads
to a 52.3 percent decrease in the rate of arrests involving assault
charges per one hundred students when controlling for the level of
economic disadvantage at school…

Similar patterns exist regarding arrests involving possession of a
weapon on school property. For this charge, when controlling for
economic disadvantage, schools with an SRO have a 72.9 percent
decrease in the rate of arrests per one hundred students.

If I understand this correctly, these numbers only impact schools that are impacted by economic issues. He actually mentions that the higher the disadvantage, the more impact it has.  So, SROs are not needed at all schools, but really at on a “as needed” basis and really, if the school is underfunded, couldn’t we worry about fixing that? Maybe if the school was a better environment, you wouldn’t need the SRO?

Anyway:

Finally, results presented in Table 5 show that school resource
officers dramatically increase the rate of arrests with disorderly
conduct charges with and without controlling for school poverty.
Specifically, without controlling for economic disadvantage at schools
(Model 1), having an SRO yields a 402.3 percent increase in this arrest
rate per one hundred students…Schools with a resource officer have a 122.1 percent increase in the rate of arrests involving other charges per one hundred students when
analyzed without other independent variables. When economic
disadvantage is added to the regression models (Models 2 and 3),
however, the impact of SROs ceases to be significant. Instead, school
poverty emerges as the only significant predictor

It look like these two guys are saying the same thing in both of these papers. SROs just increase the number of arrested kids and doesn’t really have an effect on deterring a lot of actual crime (Unless the school is already affected by crime). It appears to me that the school administrators have hired the police to carry out discipline, which many schools have their hands tied with, but the police are not there to discipline children. They are law enforcement, not school policy enforcement, and they need to be out looking for criminals and not kids trying to sneak a smoke in the bathroom. That’s what the faculty is for, to enforce school policy. If the kid is being an asshole, then call the parents, not the cops.

The United States incarcerates 2 million kids per year and 95% of these crimes are non-violent offenses. We imprison FIVE TIMES more children that any other nation. That’s right, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan and all of these other countries that we think are evil and backwards don’t imprison kids (or as many kids) like we do. We couldn’t even ratify a treaty that protects children’s rights, when the rest of the planet has! I know that a lot of this is stemming from a documentary that I just watched; however that’s what I love about these films. They provoke dare you to think. To look into, and to even get passionate about things that you normally wouldn’t. If you would have asked me a month ago about Zero-Tolerance Policies or School Resource Officers, I would have just shrugged. Now, I am angry for my friend’s kids, my nieces, and just for kids in general.

Kids don’t have it better these days. Kids have it pretty fucked up.

 

 

The True Story of: Part 2 – The New Batch

If you recall, I have been on a trek through the top 100 documentaries on Netflix for 2016  . I posted my thoughts on the first 25 on another post and now here I am with my thoughts (and rants) about the next 25!

Here we go:

 

26.  Paris is Burning: This film focuses on the gay/drag balls of the 80’s. It gives a great history of gay culture and I really enjoyed the film. It did show that while we have changed as a society and have become more tolerant, some things are still the same and are still heartbreaking. This documentary shows something that is part of the history of a sub-culture that is now fairly mainstream. I know it’s not going to be for everyone, but I would suggest it.

27. Moana With Sound: So this documentary was originally filmed in the 20’s and then remastered with sound later by the original directors family. It’s about life on the Polynesian islands and was an interesting film to watch; however if you hate silent films or subtitles, then you will absolutely hate this film.

28. Manakamana : OK, I have been waiting to write about this film. I have been chomping at the bit to tell you all how fucking infuriating this film is. It’s not about pilgrimages to a temple. No, its about people riding in cable cars while sitting uncomfortably in front of a stationary camera for 9 minutes usually in dead silence ( Oh, and don’t get me started about the “goat sequence”). The only parts that were remotely interesting was watching these two ladies try to eat ice cream, which is apparently new in Nepal, and the death metal kids with the kitten. Seriously, I about raged 11 minutes into this film and skipped it.

29. Approaching the Elephant: This documentary is about the concept of free schools. Free as in the students decide what they want to do and learn and they have an equal voice equivalent the staff. This actually inspired me to research this and write another post. I definitely recommend watching it & drawing your own conclusions.

30. Actress: This was a boring documentary. Honestly, I fell asleep a few times. Basically it’s about Brandy Burre who left the acting world to focus on family and now is basically bored and wants to get back into acting and has family drama that ends up tanking her marriage. Oh yeah, she also can’t get any acting gigs that she wants. I honestly thought I was watching a Lifetime movie at a few points. Honestly, I don’t see why this or Manakamana were on this list at all.

31. The Civil War: The thing that I dreaded when I took this to task was hitting a documentary series. I likened it hitting a Whammy! on Press Your Luck (ask your parents or Google it, kids). Luckily, however, this 9 part series was ACTUALLY about the civil war! It was amazing! I learned things that I never knew about the civil war, some that were just astonishing! I really don’t want to spoil it, because I hope that you will actually go watch it. It was amazing and a must watch.

32. Los Angeles Plays Itself :  This film gave a few facts about how Los Angeles is used in movies and not represented correctly in the narrator’s opinion. I can see his point, but the film eventually becomes an almost 3 hour bitch session about how Los Angeles is not used properly in movies and you also get a geography lesson. Unless you are just a huge fan of L.A. , sorry, Los Angeles in the movies, there’s no reason to watch this.

33. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology: I absolutely loved this film. I loved the way the concepts of Ideology are broken down with popular films (Especially “They Live!”). I love the way my own views of Ideology were challenged and I loved the way this film was shot. It was both intellectually stimulating as well as visually stimulating. I definitely recommend watching it and I will probably be watching it again.

34. The Nightmare: If you have never heard of sleep paralysis and want to learn more about it, find another film besides this one. While this film covers the topic, it does it in more of a “horror film” kind of setting. You never really understand what sleep paralysis is, other than the basic definition, and you just get to hear stories from people with this disorder while the film maker tries to scare the ever loving shit out of you with creepy effects. While I love a good horror movie, I watch documentaries to learn things and this was more show than substance. Again, why is this here?

35. Side by Side: Basically, Keanu Reeves goes to a bunch of directors/cinematographers and they talk about “is Film dead?” and go over the difference between celluloid film cameras and digital cameras that use CCDs and hard-disk drives. I liked it because it gave compelling arguments about digital vs. analog on the different aspects of data storage and I learned about CCDs now shooting in 5K. If all of this sounds like a foreign language, or you don’t give a shit about cameras or how movies are made, then skip it.

36. Casting By:  This film was amazing. You learn about Casting Director Marion Dougherty and the way she helped make… well pretty much every fucking movie that any of us love because of the cast come true (Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate, The World According to Garp, Lethal Weapon just to name a few). She helped launch careers of pretty much every major movie star that you can think of (Warren Beatty, John Voit, Jon Lithgow, Mel Gibson, Bette Midler, Cybil Sheppard just to name a few). She was unappreciated by the Academy, but loved by every actor and director that she dealt with. I found myself saying “Holy shit, she did that!?” a lot during this film. I highly recommend watching this one.

37.Lost in La Mancha: This film is about the making of a film that doesn’t get made (sorry to spoil it, but you will come to that conclusion with in minutes of watching the film). It’s about Terry Gilliam’s epic struggle to bring Don Quixote to the big screen. It’s an almost comedic tragedy that also has Johnny Depp in it. If you are a Monty Python fan, or just like Terry Gilliam,  I would recommend it.

38.Virunga: I have never thought much about other countries going after resources like oil and such as the U.S. does. After watching this film, I now know that everyone gets their hands dirty. This documentary revolves around the Virunga National Park, home to the last group of Mountain Gorillas. The rangers here have to defend this park from poachers, squatters, and rebel soldiers. I don’t want to give too much away, because my hope it that you will watch this film. It’s definitely on my must watch list.

39. War Don Don: This revolves around the civil war that occurred in Sierra Leone and the international special court that is gathered for the trial of war criminals, specifically Issa Sesay. The atrocities that occurred during this conflict are horrendous and almost unthinkable (and I have a pretty fucked up imagination).  The whole film swings you between a “hang the bastard” mindset to almost a “maybe he was a patsy” way of thinking pretty much the whole way through. I would recommend it.

40.The Act of Killing: Director’s Cut: OK, this film was just a little odd for me. All I remember is saying “Man, Indonesia is a fucked up country” multiple times throughout the entire film (Sorry Indonesia). The film is fairly interesting, the main subject is an interesting character; however the whole thing gets a little muddled over by the Indonesian politics/orange clad paramilitary youth-group and the film sometimes feels like it doesn’t know where to focus. The film was just chaotic. I did like it, though.

41. The Imposter: Holy shit. If you are familiar with this story about Nicholas Barclay and his disappearance, then this gives so much detail to that story because it actually interviews the family and  Frédéric Bourdin, who goes step by step on how he did it and narrates most of the film. IF you have never heard this story. Stop reading this now and go watch this and be prepared to say “What the fuck?” a whole lot of times. Seriously, go now.

(Welcome Back!)

42. Naqoyqatsi: (Takes deep breath and exhales slowly) Alright, I know that these films are creations. They are the art of the film maker. However, this fucking shit stain was a waste of my time and gave me a fucking headache. I tried to see the film maker’s vision. I read the film’s description…TWICE. Matter of fact here it is:

Naqoyqatsi chronicles the most significant occurrence of the last 5,000 years — the transition from a natural environment to a technological reality.

Once I noticed the pattern of images, I got it; however this film made me feel like I just watched the tape from “The Ring”.  Seriously, this was 90 minutes of my life GONE! This film is basically something you watch stoned or while tripping balls.

43. Samsara: OK, so this film was kind of like Naqoyqatsi, but a tad more coherent. It basically shows the friction that can and does exist between man and nature, especially when man is living more in a more industrialized/technological society than a tribal/native society. I did like the film, I saw the point in the art; however it’s one you can easily pass on because the message is basically “technology will kill you and the planet” which I found hilarious because the film was shot on a digital camera, probably edited on an Apple laptop and streamed on Netflix. But technology is evil! ಠ_ಠ

44. Touching the Void: OK, I will save you some time (unless you are a mountain climbing junkie and just want to see it).  2 guys climb up a mountain in a dangerous fashion, and make it up the mountain. 2 guys climb down the mountain and 1 breaks his leg (BAD). Guy tries to take broke leg guy down the mountain, but he ends up dangling him off an ice ledge. After a bit, he thinks broke leg guy is dead so he cuts the rope and broke leg guy falls 150′ into a crevice. Broke leg guy survives the fall and eventually tunnels his way out. Both are still friends and still climb mountain like idiots.

                                                           The End

45. Last Days in Vietnam: Every documentary I have ever seen is always about what we did while in Vietnam. The battles, the airstrikes, and the use of Agent Orange; however I have never seen a film about what we did to leave Vietnam. I was always under the impression we just picked up our shit and took off. Well, apparently not. This documentary shows how we evacuated Siagon and the Embassy before it was over ran. It was shocking to see some of the compassion and bravery of these men. This is one I recommend watching.

46. Best of Enemies: Before today I couldn’t tell you who the hell William F. Buckley Jr or Gore Vidal were without Googling them. This not only shows them in their famous on air debate, but also shows the shaping of current politics here in the US on both sides. I was amazed at the topics that Vidal covered in his writing at the time and stood up for in debates, and I was not at all shocked by Buckley’s rhetoric as it pretty much is the same shit we hear today. I liked this film, just because I was completely unfamiliar with the subject.

47. Let the Fire Burn:  This film was about the MOVE cult (sorry, “organization”) in Philadelphia and the standoff they had with police in 1985. Again, this was a topic that I had no knowledge about so it was extremely interesting. During the film and seeing the events of the standoff, I likened it to the Waco, TX standoff with the Branch Davidians & David Koresh; however in this case the question of “did law enforcement start the fire?” is pretty damn clear. (Sorry, SPOILER ALERT!) It’s an interesting piece of history that is kind of obscure. I would recommend watching it just because of that.

48. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 : I loved this film. Simply because it shows the other Black Leaders other than MLK, and Malcolm X and their impact on the movement. It sheds light on the US Government’s targeting of Black intellectuals that would be able to rally POC and community programs that would allow black people to stand on their own. It was an excellent film and no matter what color you are, I recommend watching it.

49. Concerning Violence: (Same guy that did The Black Power Mixtape) This film covers colonialism and how it oppresses and continues to oppress people of color to this day in Africa through force and religion. It’s a hard subject to swallow, so I will leave viewing this one up to you.

50. How to Die in Oregon : Let me start off by saying that I had and still have mixed feelings about this subject. Basically in 1994 Oregon passed the “Die with Dignity” law and legalized physician aided suicide for terminally ill patients.  It’s the story about people facing their diagnoses and taking that option. At first I was shocked, the programming in my head that suicide was bad kicked in; however these people were going to die anyway. They had months to live (if that). The rest of their lives were going to be full of pain, feebleness, and well, just nothing good. So, the term suicide isn’t really correct. Termination of life is more to the point. Suicide is taking your life when you aren’t terminally ill. Termination is just speeding up nature and going out on your own terms. By the time I was done watching this (and done crying), my view had been changed. I think that everyone should have this right, and that this should be an option for anyone facing a terminally ill disease/diagnoses.

So that’s it! I am half-way done! There’s a few that are coming up that I am looking forward to, some that I have seen, and some that I have no idea what they are. Hopefully, I don’t hit another series and can get through these next 25 fairly quickly.