Love: Native Americans

It is hard for me to think of America, the country that I live in, without recalling all that I’ve learned over the years about the Native American people and what we as “Americans” have done to them. Sure, in elementary and high school we are given a broad overview, which doesn’t necessarily highlight the heinous crimes committed, just as young little Germans are given a broad overview of who Hitler was. (To support that last sentence, while spending time in Germany in an adult education course, my instructor, as we discussed WW2, was playing down the atrocities and then told me that ‘Hitler was an Austrian you know’. So, that shows you how instructors are taught to kind of….’brush over’ that little smudge on their countries reputation.) In fact, Adolf Hitler is known to have studied what the United States did to the Native Americans when planning his own genocide. He used it as inspiration. Hmmm….curious. And we’re the good guys. You sure?

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How many Native Americans did our government actually murder, whether directly or indirectly? There’s a wide gap in the estimates that you will find. Some scholars say around 10 million and some people even say upwards of 100 million. I’m apt the believe that the official number is somewhere in the middle of those two. Why? Well because if you have any common sense, you’ll know that history is written by the conquerors. OF COURSE the US Government would play down the official death toll for its beloved citizens. “Oh hunny….we only killed 1 million people. That’s not THAT many. Let’s buy this 500 acre plot of land for .50 cents and open a farm! Yay!’. Either way….we killed tens of millions of native inhabitants just so we could have a home. That’s defined as theft right? And yes, disease, smallpox and plague played into lots of the deaths as well, but those are diseases that Europeans brought with them.

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It’s a difficult topic to research and find solid information on because so much of that information has been buried. Also, Native Americans have an oral tradition so it’s very possible that a lot of the history and knowledge from many past elders has faded with time. Of course, you can do a quick google search on this topic… but there are some very good Native American authors that I’d urge you to read, including Joseph Marshall III and David E. Stannard (though he’s not Native American). Why am I writing about this and why do I even care, being that I’m not Native American? Well….I live in this country. As a citizen I’d like to know the history of the place I call my home. I find the Native American culture fascinating and I believe that their wisdom and teachings are tantamount to succeeding as a person and as a country. I hope to see a day where the U.S. Government and the U.S. President will actually openly apologize to the Native Americans, rather than giving them a cheap and underhanded whiff. Ya know? A real apology…with fanfare, tv specials, ceremonies, charities and large reparations, with suitable and sustainable parcels of their homeland given back to them, with reasonable subsidies given to their families so they can thrive, revive their culture, religion and way of life and not become poverty stricken alcoholics. Our American ancestors were thieves and murderers. We killed their culture, raped and murdered their people, displaced them and destroyed their way of life….for HUNDREDS OF YEARS. We could at least acknowledge it, properly educate ourselves about it and give the remaining Native Americans a large slice of the pie that we’ve been eating for the past 400 years. After all….we stole that pie from them. You might say, ‘Hey…but they’ve got their casino land and are wealthy now….so we’re even’. Come on now hypothetical guy who said that….don’t be foolish.

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I wasn’t there during the colonization of America. I wasn’t involved in the killing of the natives. I didn’t rape and scalp Indians and then murder thousands of buffalos just so the Native Americans would starve. I’m sorry for it. But I wasn’t there. And now….. I enjoy the life that I’ve been raised in and have become accustomed to as an ‘American’. I’m not saying we should demolish all our houses and revert back to the ways that the Native Americans lived (though some of the things that existed in their former lifestyles are very attractive). For one, those of us who come from other countries, however far back the genealogy goes, are not ‘natives’ in America. And two…..once you put milk in the coffee….it’s kind of hard to get it out. So, we can’t just go backwards and change history, however horrible it may be, and live in a world of ‘what if’s’. But what is essential… is to remember what our ancestors did…..understand it, accept it, formulate a better and more respectful way to live…..and move on. Otherwise, we’re doomed to continue dealing with corrupt politicians, a pure profit driven society, oppression, war, famine, a highly stressed out populace and an under educated, short attention spanned, reality-show obsessed culture. Maybe if we had some Native American leaders in political office….things would get better. Philosophies could change. Who knows? It’s worth a shot because as many pro’s as ‘America’ has….the list of con’s has been steadily growing.

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Why do I say we as a people and a country would be doomed? Well….look at it this way. When two people in a marriage have a problem, it gets better and/or goes away once it’s brought out into the open, discussed, and then resolved. When the problem is ignored….or the other persons opinion is rejected or passed over….the problem gets worse, and worse and worse….until there’s a HUGE FIGHT. We’re connected to the Native Americans, whether we think we are or not. And if ‘we’ (the US government….and it’s citizens) don’t fix the problem that ‘we’ created…..it’s going to continue to be a problem. It will be this underlying, spiteful, festering anger…(no matter if another 500 years pass’s before anything proper is done). Call it a Native American curse, call it karma, call it whatever you want….but ya know….fixing the problem….that’s called LOGIC. Maybe our country and even our world is a such a disaster, filled with hatred and injustice, because we can’t mend our root problems? Maybe…just maybe?

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Hey….I’m just a regular white guy with a blog…..but I hope that I’ve struck a chord in some way and have encouraged you to learn more about the Native American people (through books or films or museum visits), to join their cause and/or to amend your attitude about them. They’re a great people with a rich history, in each and every one of their tribes, and they deserve the utmost respect.

Thanks for reading this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. As always….do your best. Be as kind as you can. Follow the Golden Rule. And have a great night.

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Outrageousness: Throwback Thursday

Stop. Please. Just stop it with this Throwback Thursday business. I try my best to have an even keeled blog. I’m well aware that it’s my opinion on things, whether entirely mine or other’s that I’ve sifted through and formulated… but I really do try to be somewhat rational, logical and calm……AND I CAN’T BE WITH THROWBACK THURSDAY!!! Seriously! Stop it. Enough is enough. I don’t care about that picture you took in 1989 with Bo Jackson or that polaroid of you and Aunt Wendy from 1993. I don’t care!! Ya know who should care about that crap? YOU!!! THAT’S IT!! YOU. So stop clogging up my news feed with bullshit!!!

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I’m glad that you’re appreciative of your past, that you want to share in it with your facebook friends and that you’re aware of the passage of time…..BUT STOP IT ALREADY!! You’ve gone too far. I’ve even seen people on facebook doing Flashback Friday!! Oh, so posting 5 old pictures on Throwback Thursday wasn’t enough you narcissistic buffoon? So, you’ve gotta post MORE BULLSHIT for us to look at on friday? Great. Thanks. I couldn’t have gone on with my day without seeing that cute picture of you with your Cousin Tommy when you were 8. I don’t care. No one should care. Except for YOU!!!!! And possibly your family…and maybe your partner/spouse/lover. But that’s it! I don’t really give a flying fuck when I see a picture of you with Louis Gossett Jr. when you met him on the set of Iron Eagle (1986).

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So here’s the deal. STOP BEING A PRETENTIOUS PIECE OF CRAP!!! No one cares!! The only thing that posting a throwback picture does is to enable others into a call to action for them to post their own throwback photos because they think that they’re missing out on some cool fad. But it’s not cool! IT’S FUCKING STUUUUPPPIDDDDDD!! Here’s an idea. Just post photos to your albums if you want us to see them. If I happen to come across your profile and look around at your photos….I’ll click ‘like’ if I like it. You don’t need to THROW IT IN MY FACE!! Here, here, here!!! Look how awesome I am!! I existed in the past!! Isn’t that cooooooll?? I met Bill the hot dog guy at Yankees Stadium in 1971. Isn’t that great!?! It’s thursday. Click ‘like’ now. Now. NOW. NOW!!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

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Look…whatever….I’m just being cynical about this whole Throwback Thursday thing. I’m being a bit abrasive……but you know I’m right. And I get it. You’re just having some fun on social networking and have the need to be ‘liked’ by your Facebook peers. Great. Super duper for you. Advice to myself: Stop using Facebook on thursday because it makes me mad. Advice to everyone else: Stop posting so many Throwback Thursday Photos!! God forbid you miss one Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday. The world will surely crumble if random people don’t see you and your best friend Nishka at the family BBQ in 1974. Welllllll……on the other hand….maybe we want to see that photo. (CLICK HERE FOR RUSSIAN MAIL ORDER BRIDES)

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I hope this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. has entertained and/or enlightened you. As always. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. And if you’re mad…..use a punching bag. Don’t kick the dog. Have a great day!!!…..oh yeah, sorry for cussing so much.

 

Movies: Joe McConnell’s Film School 102

Alrighty then. I shall continue the free filmmaking lessons that I started back in December. If  you haven’t read part 1 HERE IT IS. Films. Movies. Hollywood. Most people think it’s magic to make a movie. Even I still think it’s magic sometimes, and though some facets of filmmaking are very special, I know better than to think that it’s ALL magic. It’s actually just pretty simple stuff that you can learn without taking out a 120K loan to go to film school. Because seriously….who in their right minds wants to do that?

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Ever seen the film Swimming with Sharks (1994)? Or Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder (2008)? Well…..give those a watch. Now, I haven’t worked on 200 million mega-budget Hollywood films, the biggest budget I was ever on I think was about 1/4th of that, but it’s pretty much the same deal every time. Someone/some company has lots of money. They hire producers to control that money in the film production. One of those producers or production managers is very mercurial, frugal and unsympathetic. They, ya know….kinda like having power over others and get off on it. Usually….that’s your boss. And that boss will put you through hell unless you follow the rules, are ALWAYS prepared, bust your ass and never complain. Even when you’re blocking traffic on a dirt road near a swamp and there are 10,000 mosquitos ripping you apart for 16 hours. Don’t complain. Just do it. Even when you have to drive 2hrs roundtrip to the nearest Home Depot and when you return to set they don’t need the materials anymore….so then you drive another 2 hrs roundtrip to return the stuff….but when you get back to set they need you to GO BACK to Home Depot for something else. Don’t complain. Just do it… with a smile on your face.

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The people at the top aren’t always that bad. But….90% of the time someone in the group of investors, executives, producers and managers will be MORE THAN HAPPY to be a dickwad to everyone on set. If you’re lucky….you’ll only get those 10% of the time jobs when EVERYONE IS SUPER COOL. Anywho……What are those rules and ways of being prepared that I mentioned before? Well…it varies depending on your boss, your position and the production that you’re on (because there are no set rules…just general rules) but what I’ve found to be tried and true are these (if you’re working as a PA or anything comparable), ya know…a bottom of the ladder job. 1) Always have some paper on you. A small pad is fine or just some scratch pieces 2) Always have at least 4-5 pens on you. Producers/Production Managers are always on the phone and they’ll snap at you for a pen/paper many times. If you ALWAYS have them ready, you’ll be their best friend…for a couple of minutes. Some people like to have pens, pencils, highlighters and erasers on them (and that’s great!!) but that’s too much for me and it always weighed me down. So….a few pens and you’ll be golden.

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3) Keep your mouth shut. Keep it shut when they’re filming, when they’re rehearsing….hell….JUST KEEP IT SHUT. There will be time to goof off with friends you’ve made on set during lighting set-ups, lunch breaks and general WTF is going on!?! breaks. You’ll slip up for sure…most people on set do. We’re only human. But if you follow that rule 95% of the time you’ll be A-OK. 4) Have a good attitude. I’ve said this before. You don’t have to smile like a retard all the time….but just have an optimistic viewpoint towards the shit-storm of a movie that you’re working on. After all…it’s JUST A MOVIE. 5) This is the one I hate. Always pick up your phone…IMMEDIATELY. It goes without saying that during work hours you need to always answer your texts and calls….but when you’re off…..ANSWER YOUR PHONE. Yes…you just worked a 14 hour day and commuted home and have 8 hours to eat, shave, do your laundry and sleep. And then production calls/texts you. ANSWER IT. I’ve gotten into trouble with this one a lot because I hate cell phones and dig the off-the-grid style….but hey…..answer your phone.

There are certainly other rules…but those will do for now.

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Whatever department you’re in….you’ll start to pick things up pretty quickly. Within 2 weeks to a month of production work, you’ll know more than most people in film school. It’s not really rocket science. Just do what you’re told, learn from your mistakes and anticipate when the demanding actress will want hot jasmine tea before she asks for it…and you’ll have a friend for life. Being on a movie set is kind of like babysitting. If you’ve spent time with kids, you’ll know that they’re selfish. They could be AWESOME kids….but still, they’re selfish. They wanna do what they wanna do. If they don’t get their way they’ll throw a hissy fit and you’ll have to spend 5 minutes talking them down or they’ll go out and randomly hit other kids. That’s like a film set…..just with a bunch of grown ups.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G and it’s helped in your film pursuits, your knowledge of the filmmaking process or that it just generally entertained you. As always. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. And have an awesome day!

Love: Where Does Barack Obama Beat Off?

In all seriousness…..where does Barack Obama beat off? Yes, he’s the President of the United States of America. Yes, he’s all powerful. Yes, he’s the King of the World….but he’s just a regular human being. I feel for the guy. Don’t you? I mean, imagine if you were stressed out and wanted to be alone, but you’ve got 10 guys following you around all the time, clearing every room you have to step into, surveilling (audio and/or video) every room that you go into…..you’d have no privacy. How embarrassing would it be to have someone listening to you jerk off, or take a dump…..or have sex with your wife!! Someone is always standing outside of the door incase an emergency arises, so that they can knock or barge in and go, ‘Mr. President….We need you’. How frustrating is that!?! Inevitably some security guy has to be listening in on Barack 24/7 because who knows….a ninja terrorist could thwart all security efforts and try to assassinate him…so they’ve gotta listen! But dammit!! Have some empathy for the guy. He’s gotta wake up early and get briefed on all the worlds daily issues, go to lame ass meeting after meeting, give boring scripted speeches, meet with more people, sit in uncomfortable furniture, act proper all the time, etc. etc. etc,….let the man beat off in peace!!! Come on….look at all these dweebs he’s gotta deal with all day!

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Hey, he did sign up for the job….but I’m sure he didn’t think about how annoying it’d be. Now I fully understand why current and former Presidents keep in touch…..because they’re the ONLY people they can vent to. I can image Barack calling up George W (and you’ve gotta be PREEETTTTYYYY F’IN desperate to turn to George W for advice)……So, George W. answers and says, ‘Well, I’ve been waiting for this call (chuckles)’….and then Barack goes on about how being the President sucks ass!! And that’s when George W. tells Barack that he built a ‘beat off closet’ which is similar to a ‘man cave’ but not really. And he tells Barack where it is and says that he can rename it. So Barack renames it ‘Barry’s Beat Off Closet’ and sneaks away and hides there when he wants to be alone.

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It’s been a really long week. World War III almost began. Some terrorist stole radioactive materials and the US Government lost 20 good Marines preventing a huge disaster from happening. Plus, your wife is mad at you because you forgot your daughters birthday. You think the President gets the chance to sleep in, eat chips and watch movies all morning to unwind? Then walk around the rest of the day in his underwear and listen to Led Zeppelin? Ummm no….probably not. ABSOLUTELY NOT! He can’t just call up his buddy Phil from high school and grab a beer at the local bar and shoot some pool. Sure he can have Phil over at The White House….but The White House is soooo boring!! Look at it. It’s lame! It looks so uncomfortable. And it’s wired and under audio/video surveillance. Maybe he wants to talk to Phil about how much of a dick Joe Biden has been….he can’t just talk about his problems because EVERYONE will know. He can’t go anywhere without a bunch of security goons trailing him around. What if he just wants to go to the beach one day, or he wants to go fishing…alone! Nope. Not gonna happen. Ever.

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Do you think there’s one guy in the Secret Service that is really pulling for Barack? Like….he blocks the other Secret Service guys from annoying him. He says, ‘Come on. Leave Barack alone. The red light is on in the Beat Off Closet. Leave him be.’ And the other guy freaks out, ‘NO!! We need The President. He has to sign (insert stupid approval notice here)’. And the other guy helps again, ‘Come on. He’s been through enough. Barack deserves this time. Let him beat off in peace’. The Secret Service? No. No. No. It’s more like the COCK BLOCK SERVICE!!!! That’s why the President always ages twice as fast as normal while they’re in office. They’re so stressed out because they never have any privacy! Barack probably has screaming fits all the time, ‘I want to watch a Tom Cruise movie!! I still haven’t seen the remake of War of the Worlds!! Please!!! Give me a few hours to myself!!!’

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So, however you feel about the guy…whether you think he’s a good president or a bad one, whether you think he’s a puppet being played by uber-rich corporations, or if he’s the headmaster of the illuminati, or if you think he’s really an alien from the planet Nibiru….he’s still just a guy. Just a regular guy who seems grandiose because he wears fancy suits, is super famous, is the prom king and football jock rolled into one and he’s extremely powerful….doesn’t matter. He’s just a regular dude who wants to beat off, go fishing, watch movies, drink a beer and eat chicken wings……alone!! By himself!! But he never will.

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I’m not saying he’s the greatest President. I’m not saying I care about his policies. Politics is such a joke anyways. What I am saying….is that he’s a human being. He’s not God. He’s just a guy. Like all other guys. And he’s probably got a lot of the same needs as the rest of us. So….think about that the next time you yell at him for not being born in this country.

I hope this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. has made you laugh, enlightened you or brought some joy to your life. As always, be good to yourself, be good to others and be good to animals, plants and all living beings. Even rocks. Have a great day!

 

Love: Vote With Your Dollars

A very wise professor I had in college once said, ‘You vote with your dollars’. Those are simple words that just about sum up the world that we live in and what you can do to change it. Money rules everything. Money wins the presidency. Money gets you out of your DWI arrest. Money helps you get away with murder. Money helps you stay out of jail even though you’re a guilty pedophile. Money can change your image. Money can get your kid on the varsity team. People can do just about anything if they have enough money. The system is flawed. It’s a rigged game. I’ve known this since I was a child that we basically live in a cleverly shrouded feudal system. So, the question always is….what can the little people of the world do? What can a regular person, who seems insignificant, do while facing down giant corporations, powerful politicians and lobbyists and billionaires? Easy. Spend your money wisely. Enjoy your life. And vote with your dollars.

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The rise and fall of little lines on graphs are king. Have a look at the book The Tipping Point and see for yourself. Why did Walmart get so big? Because people kept shopping there…and they KEEP on shopping there. Why did so many McDonald’s open in the last 70 years? Because people kept eating there. You can see where I’m going. It’s very simple. So… if you don’t like something, don’t buy it. You don’t have to stand outside of a fast food joint with a sign that reads, ‘This food is terrible for you and will give you diseases’ to affect change, although sometimes protests do work, if you’re into that sort of thing. But most of the time the people that you’re trying to save/enlighten won’t care…or they won’t believe you because they’re delusional. Don’t fight it too hard. All you gotta do is ignore it. Now, will Walmart fall apart and shut its doors because one person stops shopping there? Probably not. But trends are fleeting. Tides come in and go out. And empires rise and fall. It’s inevitable.

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There are a lot of things in this world that I dislike. Many things, in my opinion, should be banned immediately….but they won’t be because there’s a lot of red tape (politicians, lobbyists, boards of directors, stock options, employers, charity runs, legal fees etc. etc.). But….if the money starts to disappear, the company/product will eventually disappear. You might be saying to yourself, ‘is it really that easy? That’s all I have to do? But I’m mad about (insert issue here) and I want to take a stand!!’. Well, voting with your dollars is taking a stand. Think about it. Let’s use Kraft Easy Mac for example, a product that is SOOO BAD FOR YOU, but I used to LOVE IT in college. Ok. So let’s say that you spend $50 on Easy Mac per month. That’s $600 a year. Not much of a loss for a multi-billion dollar corporation. But let’s say that 100 people are doing what you’re doing….Kraft just took a hit of $60,000. Someone in the chain of command is going to notice that. I mean, that’s a years salary. That could be a lay-off. Then Kraft puts a manager on it and starts conducting some anonymous surveys. Those former easy mac lovers say that they don’t like ‘ingredient x’ in their food…..and eventually Kraft removes that ingredient. Tada! Change… in the form of macaroni and cheese.

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Not very complex stuff…but at the same time IT IS very complex. Once you learn to be conscious of what you’re supporting, whether it be entertainment, politics, cell phone companies, charitable organizations or the foods that you put in your body, you’re empowering yourself to live life on your terms and to make a difference in the world, however large or small that may be. And sometimes…the little people make a larger difference than the super rich. Now there are those that say ‘voting with your dollars’ is terrible advice. But I 100% disagree with that. I’m not telling you what to purchase with your hard earned money….I’m just urging you to be conscious about what you buy, to know where it comes from and what the true repercussions of that dollar spent are. You love fast food and eat it everyday? Well…just as long as you know what you’re doing to your body and the consequences…have at it. Though, I really hope that you’ll be like the residents in Vermont and other parts of the world and put good food into your body.

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It’s a wild world. In many ways it’s a terrible world, but don’t get too cynical. There are many beautiful things still. And yeah, unless you’re a mega-millionaire or billionaire….you might feel like you don’t have any control. But you do. You just gotta calm your mind and look for it. So, with talking about ‘voting with your dollars’…I hope you see the bigger picture. That no matter how small you are….you can make a big difference.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and that it’s improved your life in some way. As always, be good to yourself, speak the truth, be good to others, be good to animals and follow The Golden Rule as best as you can. Have a great day.

 

Outrageousness: Fat People in America

Fat people……it’s a subject I’d been avoiding to put on my blog but I can no longer resist. Why can I not resist? Because people don’t seem to be getting the point. We don’t just have fat people in America. We don’t just have obese people. WE HAVE MONSTERS!!!! Michelle Obama talks about it….so that’s my go ahead, though I’ll probably be a bit harsher than the First Lady.

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All prejudice aside for a moment, yes there are some people who have glandular problems and it’s a little more difficult for them to lose weight. Those people have actual health issues and need an even stricter lifestyle regiment and medication in order to achieve the goal of reducing their size. Years ago, while making fun of fat people, I was rightfully put in my place by a friend who stood up on behalf of a relative who had serious weight & health issues through no fault of their own. I’m sorry for that. I did my research…..I get it now. Not all people are fully in control of how much weight they gain.

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That being said, there are a lot more FAT PEOPLE who are in COMPLETE CONTROL of themselves than those who cannot help being big. These are the types of people who weigh 1,000 lbs. 1,000 pounds!!! At a certain point they lose the ability to walk or even stand up…..so WHO KEEPS BRINGING THEM FOOD!?! Some people actually have the goal of weighing 1,000 pounds. WHAT!?! This world is weird and corrupt and depressing at times….but WHAT!?! That means they knowingly continue eating, because they’re idiots or they think they’re depressed, and they have an enabler that buys them foods and wipes their butts…..because HOW CAN YOU WIPE YOUR ASS WHEN YOU’RE THAT FAT!!!??!!!

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These are the types of plop-bags that I can’t feel empathy for. So, for very large people who want to prevent being said plop-bags… Here’s some advice from a friend of mine. ‘You want to lose weight? EXERCISE!!! AND STOP EATING!!!’. Simple enough, yes? Even for above average people, it’s really not that difficult and you do not need all these silly ‘flavor of the month’ dieting fads. Just exercise more and don’t eat as much and at the same time, eat healthier foods. THAT’S IT!!! At one time in my life I was a little overweight. I had poor eating & exercise habits. In the first week on my new diet I lost 10 lbs and that was without exercise. Do you know what I did? I stopped eating bread, cheese and processed foods and overall… I ate less. In the following weeks I changed my diet even more and began exercising. I then reached my goal of losing 25 lbs. It’s the same if you’re 300 lbs overweight. Eat less. Eat healthier. And exercise. Or else you will look like THIS BLOB.

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Did you know that more than 1/3rd of adults in America are obese? That’s a lot. Why are we so fat? Lots of reasons! Here’s a list of my thoughts on why we’re fat. 1) We eat too much 2) We’re cowards who have such low self-esteem that ANYTHING will set us off and make us go on eating binges. 3) Even if we don’t gorge ourselves, we eat really unhealthy foods (including a lot of fast food). 4) No one walks anywhere. We just drive, drive, drive, which makes us lazy 5) We drink too much SODA!! & eat too many sugared things.

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It’s your choice. If you’re an American you have certain freedoms and you can do what you want. I don’t 100% agree with proposed programs such as former Mayor Bloomberg’s which would limit the size of drinks or foods you’d be allowed to purchase….but I do agree that there are TOO MANY IDIOTS in this country. If collectively, we had more common sense, we’d never put such disgusting things and such copious amounts of disgusting things into our bodies… so making a law about it wouldn’t even be an issue. But it is an issue……because we LOVE BEING FAT IDIOTS.

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Oh the humanity you may say. What would America be without peopleofwalmart.com and big, gross morons to make fun of? I tell you’d what we’d be….WE’D BE AWESOME!!! We’d be a huge country of healthy, amazing and intelligent people that walked everywhere, did GLORIOUS things and left a small footprint for the future generations. You know how many fat people I see when I travel outside of this country? Maybe 1 out of 200. And that ‘fat’ person would fall under our American term of ‘chubby’. You know how many obese people I see when I travel outside of this country? Maybe 1 in 500. Likewise, that obese term is reduced to ‘fat’ in America. I actually didn’t see ONE fat or obese person when I last traveled to Europe. Why are they so skinny? Is it because they’re poor or they don’t have FREEDOM? NO!!! It’s because they’re not halfwits!!! They live close to their job, hence they walk or ride a bike to work instead of driving, they buy healthy & nutritious foods at the store, they eat in small quantities, they socialize more and view meals as a time to enjoy other peoples company rather than a time to EAT EVERYTHING and inhale filthy foods like a vacuum cleaner. Sure they’ve got their fair share of dummies and inept doofus’s too but on the whole it’s a healthier culture….LIKE OURS SHOULD BE.

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To be fair, yes, there are lots of smart, sexy, attractive people in this country that have fantastic eating habits, amazing exercise routines and enjoy life TO THE MAX. I’m not saying that America is devoid of AMAZING PEOPLE. There are just a lot of FAT IDIOTS TOO!! Why am I not afraid of offending people? Because sometimes you just have to PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE FACE in order to get them to change. It’s like when I had a fight with a good friend in the past, she had to get in my face, yell at me and tell me I was a moron because you NEVER TELL A GIRL SHE DOESN’T LOOK GOOD WHEN SHE ASKS YOU, ‘Do I look good in these jeans?’. I learned my lesson. Ladies…you look great in everything you wear.

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Therapists please, stop coddling fat people when they come to your office pretending that they’re depressed. Just tell them that they’d stop being depressed if they STOPPED EATING SO MUCH. There are multitudes of ‘big boned’ people who have a larger body type, who eat healthy and who are totally cool and happy with themselves. Great!! Join me! Join us! Let’s save America from all the gigantic, monster-sized fat people!!

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Like I said earlier, if you can’t do anything about your situation, you just gotta roll with it. I have big feet. I can’t make my feet smaller so I can fit into a size 10 shoe. It is what it is. Some people are big. They’ll always have a big body and be somewhat chubby. Ok. You just gotta be happy with who you are. But it’s a pretty simple concept for those blubbery, monster people out there to grasp. Be healthy. Eat less. Walk more. Exercise more. Drink more water. The world had it’s fun and we don’t want to make fun of you anymore. We want you to be healthy. Look down below and you’ll never overeat again.

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If you’re really, really, really, really fat and you read this…hey the truth hurts. You can change for the better. You’ll be healthier. You’ll have a normal range of motion. You’ll live longer. AND YOU’LL FEEL BETTER. Look….even Jonah Hill got skinnier…..kind of. If you have a fat friend, don’t show them this blog because they’ll get mad at you. Also don’t hang out with them when they invite you out to a fast food death trap such as Taco Bell, Burger King or McDonald’s etc. etc. Maybe you can BUY THEM A SALAD!!!! instead (sorry that was rude). But you’re their friend…you can help them in some way.

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There will always be different shapes of people in this world. And I pray that we can purge America of the army of obese monsters one day. I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. and that it entertained or educated you in some way. As always. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. Be good to animals. Have a great day!

Movies: Joe McConnell’s Film School 101

One of my goals as a filmmaker is to eventually teach and pass on my knowledge; through my films, future classroom instruction & lectures etc. That being said, I’ve decided to make a fun little ‘Film School’ section on my blog. Film school is really expensive. Sometimes it is WELL WORTH the investment but other times students end up getting stuck in a crappy film school paying off enormous loans for the rest of their lives. So, if you don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for school and would like to gain knowledge through other means like Will Hunting did…I say GOOD FOR YOU!!!

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I’m not saying I’m the most experienced and cultured filmmaker in the world….far from it. I’m no J.J Abrams, but I do have information to offer…..and it’s FREE!! Whether you’re a beginner looking to get into the world of film, an intermediate looking to change departments and learn some new stuff or a master who’s just looking to identify with another filmmaker OR maybe you’re looking for some Schadenfreude…..either way, enjoy.

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So you want to get into Film & Television? Great!! Now take a deep breath and be realistic. You’re not going to step out of the gate and become Steven Spielberg right away unless Steven Spielberg is your dad…. OR if you have a leg up on the competition due to some serious nepotism. Even if you DO have great connections that can give you a high position right away, you’ll eventually flounder that opportunity and just be seen as a rich trust fund kid unless you’re dedicated, hardworking and talented. Note how I put those in order. DEDICATED, HARDWORKING and TALENTED. Lots of people in the industry might not have talent right away, whether they are a PA, Actor, UPM etc. but man are they dedicated and hardworking (easy to work with is encompassed in those two definitions and you’ll eventually understand why if you work on enough films). It’s much easier to re-hire someone when you know they’ll show up on time. Sure, maybe they’ll make a mistake or two….but mistakes in the film industry are very common. It’s better to have someone who LOVES to go to work rather than someone who is super talented but a pain in the ass.

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Next…… it’s all about networking so that means you will need to become sociable. Maybe you’re an asshole. Maybe you’re shy. Maybe you have a horrible stutter when you speak. But now that you’re in film you’ll need to work on your personality, you’ll need to be friendly, you’ll need to get peoples contact information and you’ll need to keep in touch with people. It’s not hard. Social media is very helpful. Just send a Christmas E-card letting your friends and colleagues know, ‘Hey! I’m alive’. Maybe you don’t even need a job….but it’s good to keep in touch because as many people as there are in the industry……it’s a very small business. I guarantee you’ll run into colleagues on film sets across the country and possibly the globe. One of your contacts may eventually recommend you for something or get you a job. You never know. And if you do know that a ‘certain someone’ is a complete fool and bad connection to have….well then….you’ll know what to do.

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See that last picture? No he’s not just the salad dressing guy!!! That’s Paul Newman. PAUL MOTHER F***IN’ NEWMAN. He was an amazing actor/director who was nominated for several academy awards, won one, and starred in films such as Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Sting (1973) and my personal favorite Nobody’s Fool (1994). Have I seen all of his films? No. But I’ve seen a lot of them…..several times over. Why? Because I love film….no, I LOOOOOVEEE FILM. And if you’re going to successfully become a student and/or work in the business it would help if you educated yourself. Orson Welles, Jimmy Stewart, Buster Keaton, James Cagney, Alfred Hitchcock, Federico Fellini, Charlie Chaplin, Humphrey Bogart, Richard Attenborough, Sergio Leone, Tom Cruise, Steve McQueen, the black AND the white one,…..the list goes on and on. WHY AM I USING CAPS, CURSING AND USING EXCLAMATIONS!!!??!!!………….I’ll tell you why….

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….it’s because you need to prepare to get YELLED AT. There are assholes in the film/tv industry. In the real world we call them Sociopaths, formerly known as Psychopaths. Yes, they’re in the film industry too. Most of them in the world are because it’s very easy to use and abuse people in this business. Sure, there are some really cool people….but you’re bound to run into some flaming douches. Let them yell. Take it in stride. Don’t get pissy. Let it go and do your job. It’s just like if your girlfriend is venting to you after a long day of work…..it’ll eventually end and she’ll go back to normal. If the person doing the yelling is in the wrong, eventually others will see it and slowly but surely said ‘nutcase’ will stop working in the industry OR you’ll get other jobs and stop working around them. Sometimes good people get shit-canned and bullied in the wonderful world of tv/film by these Sociopaths so watch your back. Keep records. Use your head just as you would in your normal life. Sounds fun right???

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I’ll stop the first lesson here….and I’m not going to make a numbered list reexamining what we’ve just learned. The info is there…use it as you will. We’ve got A LOT!!!!! more ground to cover in the future so start studying. I hope this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. has helped in your pursuit of and/or knowledge of the film business. As always. Have a great day! Be good to yourself and be good to others….especially animals.

Movies: The Tailors Apprentice

On Saturday Oct. 5th I was lucky enough to attend the cast/crew screening for the new independent film ‘The Tailors Apprentice’ (2013). Rowan Bousaid, a friend & colleague, had invited me to the screening and I attended in support of his acting efforts in the film. I went in blind because I knew nothing of the films story, plot, other actors, where it was made etc. etc……zilch, nada. And I will say that I was thoroughly impressed.

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Without giving away spoilers, there are a few elements in the film that really stand out as being exceptional. First I’d have to say is the original score, created by Matt Bukaty. For a majority of the film you don’t even notice it because when music is THAT good it just draws you into the story. When you do take a breather and notice the music you say to yourself, ‘damn this soundtrack is good’. Major kudos on the soundtrack. Second is the films directing, which isn’t always obvious to the audience unless it’s really bad…..or really good. The director Jeff Lehmen did an amazing job and I’m not saying that for any other reason than…….he’s a talented dude and I hope he gets the opportunity to keep making films. His direction stood out to me so much because of the pacing, the freedom that the actors seemed to have to develop their characters and more importantly……a religiously oriented film with a small cast isn’t always my kind of movie, but there was a depth and meaning throughout this film that captured my attention and pulled me in to the story.

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Lastly, the cinematography was very good. I also want to write about how good the acting was (which it was) but that wouldn’t be entirely fair because I’m friends with one of the main actors…so you’ll have to judge that yourself when you see the film. There were some flaws in the film (as I relayed to the creators on their FB page after the viewing) but really….what movie doesn’t have flaws? The most important thing is that those flaws are easily overlooked because the story is so engrossing that you don’t mind the minor imperfections.

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After the screening the cast/crew answered some questions about the film and the audience got to hear thoughts from the main actor Stefan Laurantz. It really enriched my experience to hear how devoted and dedicated the actors and director were to not only making this film, but making the best film they could possibly create. I got a clear sense of the heartfelt camaraderie between the films team, which as a fellow filmmaker is refreshing to see. Of course my main man Rowan Bousaid might’ve had a few too many drinks before his speech…..but there’s nothin’ wrong with that.

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As it was a graduate thesis project for UCF, the filmmakers are raising additional post-production funds through social networking. I highly recommend taking a look at the trailer, seeing the film when it’s available and even contributing to the films cause if you’ve got some cash to spare. And to be honest (sometimes I’m way too honest for my own good)…I wouldn’t be interested in seeing the film after viewing the trailer. But….you HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM. The trailer doesn’t do it justice….I don’t think any short preview can. You just gotta see it. If you liked ‘The Way’ (2010) or ‘The Razors Edge’ (1984) you’re almost guaranteed to like this movie. You never know what you’re getting into with an independent film…..and this is one I think you’ll enjoy.

Be sure to check out The Tailors Apprentice on facebook or on the official website for the film. As always….be good to yourself, be good to those that you encounter and be good to animals…even if they’re annoying little dogs who poop and pee on your carpet.

 

Outrageousness: Asheville is not Shangri-la

Have you heard the stories about Asheville, North Carolina? That it’s heaven on earth. That it’s the greatest city in America. That it’s one of the greatest cities in the world. Is that what you’ve heard? Well……it’s what I was told for years. Every person I talked to would rave about Asheville. Friends, colleagues, random acquaintances, people in health food stores, people in bars etc. etc.. It was as if this was the best kept secret in the world. And the question was….when will you go to Asheville?

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After years of hearing these amazing reviews……I decided that it was time to go. A friend and I had the opportunity…..so we went. We were SOOOOO EXCITED!!! All the stories. Great bars. Great people. Great air. Great scenery. Farm houses in the middle of the city with chickens running around. People growing their own vegetables. A super sustainable city of the future. So on we went. We parked the car and started walking.

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We saw the city hall, a fountain, some churches, some side streets with shops. Ok. Cool. We didn’t find the magic everyone was talking about…..but ok. So we decided to grab a couple of beers at a bar downtown. There we sat….trying to get our bearings and figure out if we were missing anything. After being accosted by about a half dozen homeless people pan handling for money, we began talking to a local at the bar. He said to us, ‘You’re pretty much doing the best thing in Asheville. Sit around, drink….and look at cars drive by’. Interesting……THAT’S THE BEST THING TO DO IN ASHEVILLE!!!!???!!!! Wow. The people telling me about this place must have been drinking some good kool-aid if that is true.

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This local went on to tell us that it’s legal to walk around topless in Asheville. So…ladies can walk around with their boobs hanging out. COOL. But he then said that it’s not that cool…..because old fat homeless women are usually the only ones taking advantage of this law. Eeesh. Nothing against old fat homeless women….but I understand how that could be unappealing.

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Alright….so we picked up and walked around some more. We had some food. Then wandered over to the River Arts District. Everyone said it was amazing so we had to go. Naturally, we were curious. Maybe this is where the magic of Asheville was. And again…..no magic. It was a tiny group of buildings with a few sculptures lying around.

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There was a little brewery/bar in back that was decent…..if you like drinking beer in a dirt yard while looking at train tracks. Having grown up in the hick-town of Washingtonville, New York…..naturally I thought that it was pretty cool….because that’s what I did when I was a teenager. And then we saw a pitiful, saggy, tattooed drunken woman who was babysitting an infant…. AN INFANT….at this bar. When asked the baby’s name she replied, ‘Oh man….I don’t know’. Either she was too drunk to remember, she legitimately didn’t know….or she kidnapped the child. WTF!!!

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A couple more hours of walking. A few more bars. Some side streets that looked like downtown Newark, New Jersey….and then I was officially jaded (not that I wasn’t jaded before….I was still looking for the MAGIC OF ASHEVILLE). So here’s the deal (for people who believe the stories). Asheville is no where special. It’s just a place on a map. The parks are small….and dirty. The shops are ok…not too different from any funky little hippie town shops. The bars are decent…some are cool. It’s not especially cheap. The drink of choice is PBR and the style of choice is HIPSTER. There are no jobs to be had unless you work in a hospital (from what I gathered talking to locals). There is an over-saturation of bums who pan handle by day and go live in the mountains at night (I was accosted more than a normal day in New York City). The cops hassle people too much (according to locals). There are a bunch of empty lots with graffiti. There are some mountains nearby to hike on….but they’re really not that impressive. And that’s that. Did you know that gay whales take it in the ass?

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Later, after my dream-like vision was shattered, I realized that Asheville is pretty cool….IN CONTEXT. It’s a progressive city….FOR NORTH CAROLINA. It’s not Shangri-la. Not even close. If I went there with the mindset of, ‘hey I’m going somewhere new’…it would have been a much more enjoyable time than with the mindset of, ‘this is going to be heaven on earth’. I plan on visiting again and giving Asheville another chance. After all…..who doesn’t enjoy empty lots that say UP DA PUNX!?!

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To me….Asheville seemed like the perfect place for people to go if they were on the verge of being homeless. It’s where you go to live when you’ve given up all hope and just want to give it one last shot. Will visiting again with a new mindset change that opinion? I sure hope so. And I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings Asheville….but you’re really not heaven on earth. Either that…..or I’m missing something and didn’t find the MAGIIIIIICCCCC OF ASSSHHHEEVVIIILLLLLEEEE. It was a weekday when I visited and I really do need to see it on a weekend. But as the seasoned local told me…..the best thing to do in Asheville is sit around, drink and watch cars pass by.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. and as always, be good to yourself, be good to others that you encounter & be respectful.

Video Games: Beyond-Two Souls

Today I’m going to do a quick review of the new video game Beyond: Two Souls. Why quick? Because the game is way too frustrating to do a lengthy review. It’s got a great story, impressive graphics & great acting by the main characters but the con’s far outweigh the pro’s. The game goes in a linear path with virtually no freedom, the controls are atrocious and very frustrating at times (it’s basically like playing a long tutorial. They tell you what button to push and at what times), it’s near impossible to figure out and get a handle on the camera movement & the disjointed style works in movies but not so much with this game.

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When I say frustrating, it’s the kind of frustrating where you’re really into the plot line and the story, you’re really into the characters…..but the gameplay is so damn stupid that it makes you want to give up on the whole experience. I can kind of see what the designers were going for…something like the old game Dragon’s Lair, in terms of gameplay, but it just doesn’t work. Kudos though to Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe who turn in great performances. I’d also love to see the director David Cage make a movie instead of another video game.

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Not that there aren’t great moments in the game, there are. I loved the story. When you’re at the sweet 16 party and you get asked to dance…..and kiss a boy for the first time. You feel it…..however queer that is for guys playing the game. Also, the giving birth part is completely outlandish but perfect in the storyline & character development. Ellen page is so good and you get drawn in to her character as you see her grow from a little girl into a woman. And it really sucks…..because she’s in horrible circumstances her whole life.

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M.A.V.B.L.O.G. SCORE- 3 out of 10. Frustrating controls, frustrating camera movement and a boring freedom less linear game path make this game unplayable. It would have made a great stand alone movie, which at times you wish was the case. I loved the actors, the writing, the story, the dialogue options and the visuals but as I said before the con’s far outweigh the pro’s. Is it worth a purchase? NOOOOOOOOO!!! Is it worth a play though? yeah maybe…..if you have nothing better to do. I paid 2 bucks at Redbox for it, which I’m ok with….although, I’d recommend reading the story and watching the cut scenes on youtube instead.

Here are a couple of other blog posts about the game if you’d like to do some more research.

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I hope this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. assisted in some way. As always…have a great day. Take good care of yourself……and treat others with respect. Even animals.