174.

   Two days before Memorial Day another school shooting. Two days before we remember the glorious dead who’ve sacrificed every thing we are shocked, again, as a nation by the horrible acts that occurred yesterday in Southern California. Or, are we shocked? The occurrence of school shootings increasing as the days roll on and somehow we’ve lost track of what’s important through the visceral carnage and death; that there is life lost and all could have been avoidable. 

   It’s not a shocking thing to say that we’ve almost given up caring about shootings anymore. Yes we sound appalled, then we say things that we say every time and in two months we forget their names. We forget the faces of those who were murdered, slaughtered and then we forget the name and face of the one responsible. After awhile, we as a society just forget about the whole thing until another mass shooting occurs. Rinse and repeat, rise and shine and move on. Why do we do this to ourselves? How long can we sustain this notion that guns are okay as long as everyone has access to them? How long can we lie to ourselves like this? It can’t be for too much longer.

   Since the Virginia Tech shooting, one hundred and seventy-four people have lost their lives to random shootings in this country, including the Sandy Hook massacre, the Aurora Colorado Theater shooting, Tuscon and Gabriel Giffords blasting. Here, let me repeat this for you:

 One Hundred and Seventy-Four people have died from random mass shootings since the Virginia Tech Massacre. 174. 

  Now, if we take everything since Columbine? It’s 348. This is where you work, this is where you learn, these are places where your kids place, where your husbands and wives teach. How much longer are we, as Americans, going to allow ourselves to be blind to the facts? That mentally unstable folks are getting weapons by the boatload, arming up and killing us? What will it take? 500 people dead? 1,000? How many more bodies until people as a whole are outraged enough to say that enough is enough? 

   This Memorial Day I want all of you to think about that, even if it’s only for a moment. While you’re eating burgers, drinking beer and on the lake I would like you to consider this idea for just a moment. Yes, consider and think about those that have lost their lives in service for the country, but consider those that have lost their lives in random acts of violence. Thank you, and have a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend. 

174 since April 16th, 2007.

 

X-Men: Days of Future Past, or as I like to call it; “UP YOURS, AVENGERS.”

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“Look, Cyclops, it’s Marvel’s Avengers! Should we say hi, or just not even acknowledge each other due to distributing rights?”

ImageSince I was a small, three year old child I have long Marveled [pun intended] at the X-Men. They were my Saturday morning funtime, my toys entertainment and my first intro into the world of super-heroes and comics. Am I biased when I say that the X-Men is my favorite part of Marvel? Absolutely. Am I biased when I say that Jennifer Lawrence is the shit: Hands Down? Of course. Finally, am I biased in admitting that Hugh Jackman is the one man in Hollywood that both terrifies and makes me feel the most comfortable because he’s such a cool dude? Fine, yes. Most obviously, I love the X-Men. Yes, Spidey’s cool and all that, Batman totally rules (especially since he’s the only DC character I will ever, ever care about) and yeah – the Avengers are all cool I suppose. But nothing comes between me and my love of the X-Men. Now, on the review, shall we?

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Spoilers fall after Magneto. You’ve been warned so don’t get pissy if you spoil your dindin.

Days of Future Past here on out will just be called either “Days,” or the movie I’m talking about, just so we’re clear here because this is complicatedly uncomplicated. Cool. Also, I’ve already placed Magneto to warn of spoilers so, again, here be spoilers. You’ve been warned twice now.

ImageFirst off, let me just say that Evan Peters stole the show. Hands down, Quicksilver dashed away any hopes that the Flash is better in any way, shape or form. Now, Peters’ performance was excellent. Comical and witty, the petty-thief was fun to watch. I also enjoyed the nice little nod to him being Magneto’s son. Oh – you didn’t know? Yeah. I said there were spoilers.

The plot of Days was actually fairly simple, which being Hollywood I understand. Hugh Jackman’s character, Wolverine is sent back in time to stop Mystique from killing Tyrion Lannis – I mean, Bolivar Trask. Due to her vengeance on Dinklage’s character, damn near the entire species of Mutants go extinct from the onslaught of the Sentinels (machines made to adapt to each mutant’s powers, killing them by exploiting individual weaknesses). What I liked most about the future aspect of Days was the premise that everyone had something to do. There were no characters just aimlessly standing around, waiting for the Big Bad to show up. Kitty was sending Jimmy back in time (mentally), Colossus,Sunspot, Blink, Storm and Bobby all are patiently awaiting the murderfest that’s about to ensue from the Sentinels. So, they are kind of standing around but at least they’re just hanging around for a reason: waiting to die. Which is fine by me, Also something good: Anna Paquin’s reduced to a measly cameo and that is excellence because she is just awful in every way. Anyway, Wolverine is sent back in time, and super-hero high-jinks run amok throughout Washington D.C., Paris, Vietnam and New York. Neat. However, this could not all be possible without the return of the fantastic Bryan Singer. Good job, Bryan. Stick with X-Men, Super-Man sucks anywayImage

ON TO OTHER STUFF!

The acting was superb, as always, with Mcavoy and Fassbender reprising their roles alongside Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen respectively, were all fantastic. (Again, I’m biased because Magneto is my favorite Marvel character) All of the characters were phenomenal with one small exception; Bolivar Trask. I know it was the writing and not Peter Dinklage’s fault that his character’s villainy felt so minuscule in comparison to Sebastian Shaw in First Class. Trask felt somewhat empty, just a random scared scientist hellbent on wiping out an entire species for global peace. Dinklage did well in his portrayal and is actually the only complaint about the film I have sans the “Uhh, I thought Phoenix killed the Professor in Last Stand. How the hell is he…” but then I remember it’s a super-hero movie, so I shut the fuck up with my logic and just go with it because it’s awesome. Lawrence did a fantastic job as Mystique but as well established as she is – I expect nothing less.

With the already mentioned plot-hole, I found nothing else wanting in the film except that I just was left wanting more, and that is never Imagea bad thing. It means the film was grand, which brings me to my final point:

ImageThis could very well have been the greatest Super-Hero Movie ever made and I mean that. Did it blow the lid off of the series? Definitely. When I say this I hope someone wants to skewer me, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a better film overall, in every way shape and form than Marvel’s The Avengers. I’m just being frank here. Does it carry the emotional hoopla of the Dark Knight series? No. Was it more entertaining? Definitely. Does it kick Spidey’s websack in? Yes, yes it does and honestly can’t wait for Apocalypse due out May 27th, 2016. Also, stay after the credits for some Four Horsemen awesomeness.

I give X-Men: Days of Future Past an 9.3/10. More witty than the Avengers, smarter than the Amazing Spider-Man films, and just plain better in every way than any previous X-Men film. Go see it.

 

 

Hogs, Dawgs, Roll Tide and Corndogs.

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I love the SEC, and yes – It’s better than the NFL. Now, before you go all ballistic on me you should know that I was raised in the South, and in Arkansas where there is no professional team at all, the Hogs are what we have. My family all grew up in an era where Arkansas had made the switch from the South West Conference to the SEC. Me? I was only two when we joined the SEC, and at the time I didn’t even live in Arkansas. So when we moved to the Ozarks, I was quite young and wouldn’t you know it? I’ve only ever known is the SEC, and it shows.

I love the South Eastern Conference, hell, I love it more than most of my family. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Whether Arkansas is on a hot streak with back-to-back ten win seasons or Bert Bielema’s foot-in-mouth antics, it’s always a great day in the SEC.

Think about it, would you rather be in a humdrum conference with the only personality being Bo Pelini? The man who’s faux-twitter personality is actually more famous than he himself, or would you rather be in a conference that houses such personalities as Bert Bielema, the Old Ball Coach Spurrier, Les Miles and Nick Saban? C’mon. You know the answer here. Image

Every season we in the SEC get to anticipate each and every move within our conference, and football is our bread-and-butter, sacrament and purpose. Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and South Carolina have no professional football teams and have a love for their college teams that you would have to think that it’s as important as the meat and potatoes on the table. And you wouldn’t be wrong if you thought it was. There is no off-season in the SEC. There is Signing Season, Spring football, Media Days, Football, Bowl Season and repeat. There’s no downtime, and we would not have it any other way. Each child in the states of Alabama and Arkansas know their respective rivalries by heart. Arkansas proudly remembers the Miracles on Markham I & II, Alabama and Auburn – who’s hate for each other is as strong as the Palestinians and Israelis, knows each every moment from the Iron Bowl. Ole Miss and Mississippi State may not have the most prominent, national title implication rivalry but if you tell them that Egg Bowl isn’t important they’ll only stop beating up on each other for the moment to both beat the ever living out of you.

The rivalries are fierce, the schedule is a gauntlet, the victories great and the losses miserable. The love for these college teams is stronger than any bond you’ll find in the NFL. I’m a Seahawks and Patriots fan, and I can honestly say that the Twelfth Man doesn’t even compare in strength and bond to the Crimson Tide fanbase, or Hog Country, or Dawg Nation. The lone SEC football love is lacking at the University of Kentucky but damn it all if they don’t rule the world of college basketball. Every single team in the SEC dominates in some athletic category. Arkansas sweeps the world of track and field, South Carolina owns the world series of college baseball, Alabama is the King of College Football, and as is every team in our conference.

ImageRespecting the SEC is all I know. Loving the SEC is all I can do, and representing my team through every incredible win and horrible loss every Saturday down South is what I love doing, and if you live in SEC country then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Football is King here, the Battle for the Boot was* our Black Friday excitement, the Iron Bowl being the hardest fought game in the sport, the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry has an amazing history that rivals the Packers-Bears rivalry. I dare you to say that these proud states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas aren’t the best damn states for a football fan to live in. I double Dawg dare you.Image

Who wouldn’t be proud? Seven straight national championships in football, amazing moments, the greatest universities, the most amazing fans make Saturdays down South the best place to be. From Roll Tide to War Eagle, Go Hogs to Geaux Tigers, Dawgs and Cocks, Gators and Vols, Rebs and Bulldogs, Commodores and Aggies; every war cry is bred into us. And trust me when I say this:

We are the SEC, and we are better than you. 

The Metal.

ImageI’m a music enthusiast. If you know me, you know that I fill every MP3 playing device to the brim with songs (well, I did until I discovered that with the amount of music I purchased Spotify would be way more economical, and as such I now just pay for Spotify). But through all of my weird indie artists hip-hop and downright weird shit I play in my car one wouldn’t expect that I’m actually a huge Metal supporter. Some might even say I was born from Iron Maiden itself – true story. (No, I’m not Bruce Dickinson’s bastard son, I am most certainly my father’s son)

However as big of a fan of Metal I am, I never really have an audience to show my roots. So, this morning I’m doing a small personal article on something that is about me. I hate personal blog entries, so I will try to keep this as non slippery as I can by serving you a dose of the fucking Metal.

Being raised by two rather liberal hillfolk parents who played folk music throughout my childhood, it seems strange to say that my parents were both huge Metal fans back in their hay-day. True stuff, my mother, who looks like Princess Peach, wears mostly pink and has puffy white poodle looking dogs was once a roadie for Iron Maiden; hung out with Bon Jovi and Slash and was an overall boss-ass (and still is to this day,might I add) and my dad who bears an incredible resemblance to Mario was a mega fan of Led Zeppelin. Now, I know what you’re thinking: A, who the fuck cares? Get to the Metal! B, wait – your parents look like Nintendo characters? And finally C, Led Zeppelin isn’t Metal you dunce.

   Wrong. Zeppelin themselves might not have been Metal, but every Metal band to date can trace their roots back to one of two bands from the 70s: Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Any Metalhead that’s worth their leather will tell you that, and if they don’t then they are poseurs and they suck.* Zeppelin was a huge influence for later Arena-Goodtimes bands like Van Halen, Def Leppard and multitudes of others. [I swear to God almighty that if you say 80s Glam “Metal,” I will kick your balls or ovaries back to whence they came. 80s Glam Rock is not Metal] So, this brings me back to my roots:

My parents played an important and immense part in the shaping of my character. They encouraged me to be a free-thinking individual who supported open thought, art, philosophy, politics and of course – being musicians themselves – music. I learned to appreciate all forms of music not matter how horrendous and blatantly bad [One Direction and Bieber], I still appreciate it as music. And having Maiden and Zeppelin roots in my house as a child, Metal was in my blood. So what is the point of where I’m going? Image    Like a good Dio song intro – wait for it, good shit is coming. [I promise] So as an adult now, I want to present my appreciation for a music form that is blue collar, intellectual, learned, ever-evolving and yet still the song somehow remains the same: Metal. Iron Maiden has been such a huge factor in my life that I can’t really remember a time when Eddie wasn’t in my soul. I can remember when “The Trooper” came on, and I was…Maybe four years old, and I began rocking out. [Yes, for the record, I’ve always had a somewhat shaggy, longish hairstyle compared to most boys because my mom made sure that I didn’t look like a dunce, what with my huge ears and raccoon features, stunning. I know] So I can remember being a four year old child, wearing my Tommy Hilfiger clothes, shaggy auburn-by-black hair banging in the wind* to the “The Trooper,” and my dad jokingly asking my mother if she was sure that I wasn’t Bruce Dickinson’s son.* So, point is that as far back as I can recall, The Metal has always been there for me. It’s in my veins, and my soul and even today nothing will amp me up like a ‘Priest,* Maiden or Danzig song. Metal, in a way, shaped me as a person.

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At one point early in my life this is all I wanted to be.

We all go through those horrible thirteen-year-old trends when puberty first strikes, so yes once upon a time this guy here wore that Cradle of Filth shirt proudly, black-and-white striped arm warmers and giant clunky boots that even Ace Frehly would have looked down upon. I was that kid, too, before the jock, the hipster and now – your writer. In many ways, I still am that kid. Unashamedly I look back on my days and smile, as any fan should.

But, the good shit is here. Would you like to know why I’m writing this tribute article? Because the endearing faith of Metal bands, musicians and fanatics alike has never waned. Metal has never surrendered even when on the brink of being forgotten. It lurks there, cultivating itself, molding to every new level and every time that the Metal comes close to extinction incredible musicians and artists spread their form and shit gold on everyone. And it is fan-fucking-tastic. Every once of iron that seeps into our souls is like a fresh morning dew, waiting for new beginnings…If by fresh morning dew I meant blood soaked, leather-bound spiked up singers. Yes, that’s actually exactly what I meant. Image

I appreciate the artistry, collaboration and integrity that this music has, and for the rest of my life I will always love the Metal. Every time a new music craze comes along, it kills everything in it’s path, save the Metal. The Metal has been, and will always be here to stay. Punk didn’t do anything but help give us Thrash, Techno and Hip-Hop gave NuMetal a beat, New-Wave died [Thank God,] and here in the twenty-first century Metal is strong, vibrant and well. And what an age we live in! Almost all of the original founders of the genre are alive and well, the guys who’ve brought the legion back time and time again, the re-inventors and even the new kids are all living in the same era. That, my friends is outstanding and incredible. For that, I am so thankful. We live in an era of Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Plant, Lars Ulrich, Rob Halford, Jimmy Page and Marilyn Manson. If that doesn’t make you feel fucking incredible and you yourself are, in fact, lame.

I appreciate it because the only definite of Metal music is this: It survives, thrives and drives. A genre that cannot be simply defined by one artist, or group. It defies time, and stands alone as a collection of envelope pushers, mainstreamers and diehards alike.

The Metal, it comes from Hell.

*Not really, I’m sure they’re great people.

*In the backseat of my parents’ cars.

*My mom was a roadie, not a groupie. Get your damned mind out of the gutter.

*The Priest being Judas Priest.

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This entire article was written in honor of The Metal, my parents and in memory of Ronnie James Dio.

Common Misconceptions: Stop your shit, people.

ImageI think that one of the greatest misconceptions of our generation and of social media, is that somehow being rude to people intentionally is cool. Now this may sound neckbeardy as get all-but hear me out. If someone says hello to you and is genuinely being nice or what have you – how do you respond? Well, where I come from you say hello back and let that be that. Small talk won’t kill you, but being snide and rude for no other reason than it being exactly what you are will kill your social standing, and trust me when I say this as a twenty-four year old man who’s learned little more than Jon Snow: No one will really like you. I mean that. No one wants a Debby Downer and no one wants a hardhearted asshole as a friend.

Yes, you may have good intentions, that’s nice. There’s this SoHo mentality that some people didn’t leave in High School that, somehow, rude and bitchy is cool. It’s not. It’s just what it is; rude and bitchy. If someone texts me, I don’t greet them with a “Why are you talking to me?” I great it as a “Oh, hey, what’s up?” Then I move on with my day, and if they’re making idle conversation and not making transgressions I treat is as such. It’s called connection and humility, and in this day and age, it’s something that we’re in severe lack of.

I see it all the time, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where some people may genuinely be trying to be nice and it’s responded to in a manner that really makes me question why I follow this people to begin with. Maybe it’s my Southern roots, or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t want to be known as some kind of prick. Maybe that’s just me.
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So, women – I’m going to be blunt in saying that if you don’t want creepers messaging you and/or following you then stop taking selfies with your duckface, wipe off that shitting Wal-Mart make-up and act like an adult, otherwise you’re going to get creeps and jerks. This is one case where I can definitely point out that “attention-whore seekers are asking for attention.” Not rape (because no matter what, to the assholes that would ever commit such an inept and horrid act, she’s never asking for it. Jerk off at home, you pevs). This isn’t Gossip Girl, and you’re not a billionaire in Manhattan.Image Oh, and not everyone wants to get in your pants – trust me, I’ve thought the same thing about myself for years.

And guys, if a girl doesn’t want to talk to you then don’t blow up her message inbox with violent or abrasive comments. It’s useless and you’re only being a jerk. In fact, take a step back from sending that message and think about what you’re writing. Would you like for someone to send that to your sister? No? Then don’t send it. Same goes for creepiness. There are acceptable levels of interaction for commonplace parlance and calling someone your “foo-foo fluffy kitty,” and “real-life Felicia Day.” (For the record, even if they were your real-life Felicia Day, your life would be canceled. You don’t want that…Do You?” So for the ab-toting idiots? Put a shirt on, and not TapOut…Never TapOut. For the fedora-flakes? Shave your neck, and take off that goddamned fedora. Only Bogart and Bear Bryant get to rock the creepcap and not be creepy.

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See this? No one likes you if you are like this. So stop it.

To everyone else? Thanks for reading. Have a great, – wait. No. Have an American night.

Quick snippet on the new Star Wars:

Image  Hey everyone, as you may already know J.J. Abrams released a small video involving the new Star Wars: Episode VII earlier today, and with this comes an awesome moment in fan history – you can actually be part of the new Star Wars film! Just head over to http://www.Omaze.com/StarWars and donate $10, that’s all. You’re helping a really great cause and you’re putting your tip in the hat to be in the next Star Wars film. So go help make history and maybe you’ll get to guest star in that history.