In Memoriam | Gene Wilder (1933-2016)

Source: Variety

Thank you, Gene, for being a bright light and making us smile. Not only did I enjoy your performances in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate FactoryYoung Frankenstein, and Blazing Saddles, but I really enjoyed your small stint on Will and Grace as Will’s boss Mr. Stein. The world will be a little less bright without you. Gene was 83 and died from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease.

May you be peaceful and happy, wherever you are.

Source: Gene Wilder, ‘Willy Wonka’ Star and Comedic Icon, Dies

The Reading Room | 5 #Books to Binge-Read After Binge-Watching #StrangerThings

Fill your ‘Stranger Things’ void with books!

Did you watch “Stranger Things” on Netflix?  Did you tear through it? Were you left wanting more? Then check out one of these books, sure to leave you riveted. Filled with the supernatural and extraterrestrial, normal people in bizarre circumstances, and a tinge of nostalgia, these books are must reads for anyone looking for stranger things…

I answered yes to all three of The Reading Room‘s questions above, but I’ve only heard of two of these titles–the King novel The Tommyknockers, for one–but I had no idea that John Dies at the End was a book. Whether it started that way or this is a novelization of the film matters not; it looks like I need to be making a trip to the library!

Have you guys seen Stranger Things yet? Did you like it? Do you think this Reading Room list does your feels from the series justice?

TV | The X Files Season 10 Premiere

Source: Fox Broadcasting

I am so excited to have The X Files back in active rotation. Just caught up with the first episode, “My Struggle,” and found it close to form. It generated a lot of new questions, barely answered any old questions, and gave us a whole new revised version of the old conspiracy to theorize about. All I know is I am locked in for the next episode, because I have just got to see how this mini-arc ends.

It was lovely to see Scully and Mulder “back together” and in the most awkward of consequences. They were more often trading barbs than kisses, which I’m okay with either way, but they did a fine job of simply making it feel awkward to watch them together. Again, not a bad thing, they are actors, after all, and it would be awkward to be called by a former boss to find a former lover, who is also a former co-worker, wouldn’t it? And, then, after more than a decade, hang out like it’s old times? Yep, definitely awkward.

We also get to see Skinner and the Cigarette-Smoking Man. Sans awkwardness, but with heated exchanges and statements of the obvious, respectively. And then there’s Joel McHale, playing buddy believer with Mulder, as a conservative TV host, who the New York Times felt was miscast here. But I thought he brought just enough energy, zeal, and overt seriousness (I mean, sometimes it felt like he was just trying too hard there.) to bring that character to life. It just reminds me that I need to start watching Community.

Overall, I was pleased, and I’m looking forward to where this little reboot takes us.

Pop | Tarantino Gets Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Source: USA Today

Congratulations to Quentin Tarantino!! I have been a big fan of his movies since Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I love how he tells a story, the actors he works with, and his dialogue is always intelligent and engaging. I haven’t seen a Tarantino film that I didn’t like. Pure entertainment, and well earned! Congrats to the folks who joined him in the “Class of 2016”. Click the image to see the entire USA Today article.

Love his quote:

“That’s really cool, I must have become a big shot,” he joked during his speech. “This is a real, real groovy day.”

Books | The Bazaar of Bad Dreams from #StephenKing

Source: Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster just sent along some information on Stephen King‘s newest short story collection. Here’s what they had to say about it. Certainly can’t wait to dig my claws into it!

A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.

Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.

Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

#Ideas | Something to Remember Looking Toward the #NewYear

I have classified myself as depressed since around the time I turned 12. This came as a shock to my mother when I told her, after I turned 19. I didn’t have words for the deep sensations of hopelessness, lack of control, and fear of the future I was feeling so long ago. Whenever I told my mother I was worried about something, she would say to me, “Stop it. You’re too young to worry. Go, have fun; be a child.” But I didn’t know how to be a child. I mean, I knew how other children acted, and though I’ve been called childish by demeaning people I like to think of it as being creative, imaginative. And because I spent so much time floating in a fantasy world as a child, I often felt like I had no idea what to do in the real one.

That translated into dead-end relationships and keeping people at arms-length so I didn’t have to feel the pain of their departure. I doubted that anyone could really love me because I could barely love myself. Though much of this is in the past, I do still struggle with feelings of inadequacy and failure. My friends and family tell me how “great” I am, but I always remind myself they are my friends and family.

In other words, I still need to find ways to remind myself that I am a productive and important person with worth: even if I’m not certain of my reason, my purpose yet. I need to remind myself that I’ve seen some pretty amazing things (The Art Institute of Chicago, I’m looking at you) and I’ve been to some pretty amazing places (Myrtle Beach, SC, I’m talking about you). There are so many places left to see, things to do, and goals to accomplish.

And on that path, there are five little things I need to remember. I received the list of Virginia Satir’s Five Freedoms while I was pursuing therapy the first time I attempted a master’s degree. I was studying Public Relations (totally the wrong field for me, but I loved the writing and event planning involved) really because I told a certain ex-girlfriend that I would and I still felt like I had something to prove to her. That I could do something without her. It was really the fallout of that relationship that guided me toward the Depression Screening Clinic the campus medical center was offering. That was a chance to really determine if the depression I saw within myself over 10 years before was really there.

It was. I had a great counselor and she was the one who told me about Satir’s list of freedoms. Reading them in that moment, holding a simple print-out, with no banner ads, all white-space, I felt a strange sensation rush over me: hope. Someone had heard me and finally understood what I was asking for: a sense of control over myself and my future. I thank the universe for that woman every single day of my life, and the power those five short statements gave me. Walking into the new year, running my own business, and keeping my head and heart above water will only be possible if I can remember the power I have over myself and actually exercise it.

From the PsychCentral Blog linked above, Satir gets a nice little introduction:

Satir keenly observed that many adults learned to deny certain senses from childhood, that is, to deny what they hear, see, taste, smell and touch/feel.

Noting the significant role our senses play in our survival, she devised the following “Five Freedoms” tool, essentially affirmations, to help people connect to their body and self in the moment, and focus their attention on their inner resources and creative choices in the present. (Here we see how ahead of her time Satir was; these are mindfulness concepts proven today by neuroscience research.)

The Five Freedoms:

1) The freedom to see and hear (perceive) what is here and now, rather than what was, will be or should be.

2) The freedom to think what one thinks, rather than what one should think.

3) The freedom to feel what one feels, rather than what one should feel.

4) The freedom to want (desire) and to choose what one wants, rather than what one should want.

5) The freedom to imagine one’s own self-actualization, rather than playing a rigid role or always playing it safe.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to get away with not playing it safe–I’m too thoughtful, doubtful, and purposefully cautious for that. But I do enjoy being spontaneous with people I love and with whom I’m comfortable. So, my New Year’s resolution is to remember that I’m productive, capable, and prepared to face the future, even if I don’t know what’s coming or where I’ll be when it’s over.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Happy New Year, Everyone!!! 

Pop | Happy Birthday, Andrew Dice Clay!

Happy 56th Birthday,
Andrew Dice Clay!

Source: The Huffington Post/Getty Images
Source: The Huffington Post/Getty Images

He’s been one of my favorite stand-up comics for about as long as I was aware of stand-up comedy. I had a cassette of his early stand-up Dice and I had that shit memorized for the longest time. I can’t believe he didn’t come to mind when I was working on my “Dirty, Funny Friday” post last week. Andrew Dice Clay taught me obscenity, vulgarity, and shaped my outlook on life considerably. Best birthday wishes to you Dice!

My First ‘Postcard from Russia’!

In a post just about two weeks ago, I mentioned some photographers on WordPress worth watching. Alex Markovich owner of Markovich Universe was one of them, and for that recognition he provided me with my choice of his photography to be sent as a postcard. As part of this agreement, I was to take a picture of the postcard once I received it and send it to him. Well, I asked if it would be okay to share with my blog readers, and Alex complied. 🙂

For your viewing pleasure, my very first Postcard from Russia. Thank you, Alex, you’re doing really beautiful work!

"Depression" taken in Hotmyzhsk of Belgorod Region November 2010
“Depression” taken in Hotmyzhsk of Belgorod Region November 2010

For a donation (accepted via Paypal), you can have your very own Postcard from Russia! You, too, can choose from the bounty of beautiful images Alex has provided in order to share his mother country with the rest of the world.

Pop | Dirty, Funny Friday

This Friday is Dirty, Funny Friday, and I’m featuring some of my most favorite, vulgar comedians. There are plenty of other vulgar comedians out there, but these are definitely my favorites. So, without much further ado, I’ll let the comedians speak for themselves.

Dane Cook has been making me laugh since the first time I saw his first special on Comedy Central. He’s faced his own accusations of plagiarism from Joe Rogan and Louis C.K. But that isn’t even the worst Cook has faced on his climb to fame. He’s acted in movies and has a new special, The Under Oath Tour. Here is the audio from the 2-disc album Retaliation (2005) my favorite batch of Cook stand-up. (From tvden1 and ActsAreMeantToFool)

Lisa Lampanelli, though likely unrecognizable today, is more known for her work on the Comedy Central’s Roasts of various celebrities. She’s vulgar, satirical of racism and homophobia, and willing to flaunt it. Admittedly loud and annoying, she’s isn’t stopping anytime soon. There’s too much to point fingers at to do so, and I can’t wait to see what else she says about life for ladies in the good ol’ USA. Here’s the video of Take It Like a Man (2005). (From Vegar Moen)

George Carlin is one of the classics. Hailing from the ’60s and taking all kinds of satire and logic along in his wake, no subject matter was taboo for him. I was lucky enough to see him live, and it’s indescribable the amount of laughter this man can produce when he really gets going. He’s political, articulate, thoughtful, and brash–not to mention his affection for nasty, nasty words you can’t say on television. Although, it’s funny to see what has become “mainstream” since this was filmed. Classic bit from a missed classic. (From tazredakteur)