Be the United States, not the Divided States

“You know, if every person watching this show — I don’t want to get too serious, but there are millions and millions of people watching right now — and if every one of you took a minute to reach out to one person you disagree with, someone you like, and have a positive, considerate conversation — not as liberals or conservatives, as Americans — if we could all do that, we can make America great again. We really could. It starts with us.”
Jimmy Kimmel in his monologue to start the 2017 Academy Awards

If Jimmy wrote this or someone else, he hit it out of the park in my humble opinion. The American populous has been greater than political rhetoric and intollerance before. It can do it again… But that’s up to us – the general American population – to do it.

To be left parted by partisanship, by race, creed, color, genre, sexual preference… That’s not America. We may all want the country to go down another route but the most important path for all is down the middle.

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by | February 27, 2017 · 1:17 PM

I posted over on Raw Charge last night in the wake of goalie Ben BIshop’s trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Los Angeles Kings. Click over to read.

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by | February 27, 2017 · 12:09 PM

Regarding “Fake News”

When you’re president of the United States of America, you’re exposed to loads of data.  Most presidents are exposed to private data that the public never knows (intelligence briefings, security stuff). And the world roasts and laughs at stuff known as “fake news” – satire, humor – that comes out that mocks the administration, other political or public figures, or simply plays with stories of the world.

Now, if you’re reading that and thinking you’re missing out because you’re not compelled to laugh at CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc, etc, etc… I hate to break it to you but these are long time, distinguished news organizations that report facts (though partisan accusations are also tied to them). Their tenures are all multitudes longer than Donald J. Trump’s involvement in politics.

And when an administration builds up the concept of “alternate facts” which are outright lies, which is the epitome of “fake news”. It becomes laughable that someone of political stature pulls this act. It’s not that political people telling lies and pushing them on the public is foreign, it’s just when they are such broad lies and it’s a repeated folly that it starts to draw the ire of those who share information with the public (aka news organizations).

Right now as many sit on the side of Trump because he is a Republican and shares ideologies with them, it seems like partisanship is what carries the “fake news” label: “Because Donald Trump is on my side of the fray and the media keeps speaking down about him, they’re the enemy as that’s how Donald Trump has marked them.”  Never mind the fact they’re showing and repeating his own actions which leads to the ire from Trump himself.

Real “fake news” can be outright dismissed because it holds no sway or bearings; they’re dismissive, unimportant lies that get brushed over or ignored. That happens every day of the week in this world at the public level and in the media (via comedy).  This brings me to intelligence leaks and Trump both going nuts and downplaying the data (or attempting to) as “fake news”.  If it truly was fake, irrelevant news, why did it lead to the resignation of a high profile member of the administration? Why is the leak now sought by Trump and put down by him?

This isn’t attempting to be a partisan attack, people. If you are on the political right and see truth in “fake news” labeling from Trump, what you’re seeing is Donald Trump upset that he isn’t getting played up while his actions as president have been divisive (the immigration executive order) and non-secure (Mar-A-Lago last week), let alone in conflict with allies around the globe along with more security issues nationally (U.S. / Russia ties on the sly). That’s not something to side with, not with how he’s done it. It’s also not a reason to consider news “fake”.

For those of us who want attention and to be in the spotlight, it hurts to have a negative be what the attention happens to be. That’s Donald Trump’s reaction to news coverage. His chaotic path (immigration, the Yemen attack, the anti-environmental scree, his dislike of due process, etc and how he handles them) draws the negative reaction. That’s not a partisan reaction; it’s a reaction to a president forcing his hand (with little involvement in the process) during his first 30 days in power.

“Fake news”? Y’know, for all the anti-Saturday Night Live messages that Trump has tweeted, he’s co-opting a label from two decades ago when Macdonald hosted “Weekend Update” on the show. Macdonald would spew the line before he started his dignified-yet-comedic act. It was done for humor sake.

Trump’s bellowing of “fake news”? He doesn’t like how he’s framed and it paints him in a negative light – because the story and facts (not “alternate facts”) frame the picture as just that: negative.

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The road to recovery becomes the highway to…where?

I’m choked up upon reflection this afternoon. I just had physical therapy formally end. Therapy that was assigned to me after the shit hit the fan in December 2016. It’s also exactly one week after I met the surgeon who saved my life on Dec. 6th, my opportunity to express my gratitude to the exact man who is a direct and true hero for my life.

Delusions had me thinking I really was dead in the immediate aftermath of emergency brain surgery. Logic, reality and time have made me wonder just how the hell I survived. Knowing my condition, the infamous genetic disorder NF2, and my medical neglect in recent years (lack of MRIs and communication with my doctors), it just mounted things against me.

Unfortunately, I have other things against me now that logic and reality sway before me in a mocking sense all the time. Lack of social interaction, lack of romance, lack of work, little productivity, empty dreaming of achievement…

Last time I dealt with these morale haphazards was the winter of 2003-04. John J. Fonts Esq., the formal version of my cutesy nickname, was once again recovering from necessary surgery. This time, the catastrophe looming without surgery or with a screw-up during the cut-cut was paralysis. That was defeated, say thank you and praise the maker.  What got me away from that maize of morale post-op was web design, sports and being a pioneer of the NHL blogosphere with the birth of the Tampa Bay Lightning blog Boltsmag.com. Boltsmag has turned into Raw Charge on SB Nation; you can find my old posts through the archives. It may not be an easy feat though. The site’s birthday is February 13th. Next week.

That was then though, this is now. And even then, the site did not financially show accomplishment to me (meaning ads, which I hate, did not pay me back or something). It did give me something to focus on in my unique voice as a writer, but it (and Raw Charge) were not much of a rewarding time investment.

Creativity and writing may still be where I go from here; I’ve been working on a potential book of poetry. It would be stuff I’ve written for the past 20+ years. I’ve also toyed around with lyrical verse and trying to get music made to turn it into song. I don’t know how to have a legit career as a lyricist but that would be an adventure worth taking for this man of rhyme and reason.

I’ve survived, yet I’m lost. I’m happy to be here but I’m in a foul spot of ugh, hold the pickle. What comes next may be nothing, it may be grand, and it may be a fulfilling whisper that makes me feel accomplished. Whatever the answer is, it is still in the process of becoming.

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Filed under Boltsmag, interweb, Medical, Raw Charge, The Life

Plenty of Fish and the Upgrade scam

When I was on Plenty of Fish in 2016, I “Upgraded” my account. That upgrade was just affording me a little more access to the site with profiles and this-and-that.

Between the lack of responses to social attempts and other judgments against POF, I cancelled my account in early fall. Done and over with. I move on.

Except in the payment area.  POF has charged me – twice – since cancellation to continue the “Upgrade” subscription (despite the fact I no longer have an account with them).Every 3 months I will be charged $38.75.

I emailed POF’s highlighted Customer Service email address (cs@plentyoffish.com) and lo-and-behold these two key areas of the email:

If you are an upgraded user, or have question about one of your payments, please send us a new email from the email address registered to your Upgraded POF account.

Replies to this email will be automatically deleted.

 

So, in essence, a customer service line that vows to ignore you? Pleasant, no?

Calling POF or your pay line (be it your bank, PayPal, or credit card company) may or may not get this resolved. In my case, I’m hearing impaired – while I can hear, I’m horrible with the phone.

Update 1: I contacted support again from another email address, this time I got no auto-response so someone may actually respond. The fact they weren’t clear about how my email wasn’t registered with their DB (when contacting from my original address) is an eye-rolling frustration-.

Update 2: Never a word back from POF after two emails sent over the past week. Great Customer Service, eh?

Update 3 [final update]: It’s 2:30 PM on Friday, Feb. 17 and I just received a refund notification and a payment suspension via PayPal.com. No direct response from POF. While this brings back th emoney taken by POF and stops the auto-rebill, it’s still a degree of cold social on their part. Never the less, mission accomplished.

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Filed under dating, interweb, The Life

Read my full column/blog post HERE.

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by | February 4, 2017 · 2:43 PM

The day when the Jose Gaspar is overseen by Cap’n Jack Sparrow

The Gasparilla season in Tampa, Florida is forthcoming. That’s weeks (if not a month) of civic events around Tampa tied to the grandiose kick-off celebration event: the invasion flotilla of locals, politicians and civic leaders and the “invasion” of Tampa, with the city being claimed by the pirates to officially start the whole season off.

And, yet, it’s just local. It’s not a recognized event nationally. This seems contradictory because there’s an odd timing coincidence: The invasion can also be deemed as a physical representation of the tourist season. From February through April, much of the state of FLA is invaded by that dubious, pirating lot of vacationers and spring training nuts who spend money and relax while also crowding up roadways and areas of commerce.  A pirate invasion? How about snowbird invasion?

(Note: If you couldn’t tell, I’m playing around here with negatives; tourism is a grand part of Florida)

The NFL’s annual championship rite, the Super Bowl, has been played in Tampa more than a few times, and while the game has begun being played later in January and now February, there was never a schedule shift of Gasparilla and the pirates to coincide the hype of Super Bowl Weekend… While that’s a grand marketing failure, it also makes sense: Tampa Bay is represented by the Buccaneer franchise in the NFL after all. Forcing a pirate image / entity down the league’s throat when it’s a celebration of two teams playing for the Lombardi Trophy… Well, it seems like a bad move that will be hit with criticism nationally.

That doesn’t mean always keep the damn thing hoaye, local and low key though.

I’m not here to lobby for much, but there is a point I do want to make that could raise local leaders’ thoughts on the invasion event that earns it a spot in national attention in a positive, tourism-inviting sense. Since the release of “Pirates of the Caribbean” by Disney Films, and with actor Johnny Depp’s has embraced his Captain Jack Sparrow. I’ve wondered why we haven’t heard of Depp being in town for this Gasparilla invasion. Not necessarily in-costume (which he seldom dawns for more intimate events) but just out of his personal “connection” to piracy (in show, not in plundering and looting) by way of Sparrow.

The fact Disney is so invested 90 miles away adds a little touch to the idea. It’s not like Depp has to stick around longer than he wants to (unless he’s in-character). I also want to say Tampa residents/politicians or civic strong-guys shouldn’t actively push to make this happen, or if they do to not make a public marketing push (“See Johnny Depp at Gasparilla!!”). That turns down and ruins the surprise of something like this happening.

Gasparilla is this Saturday, January 28. I don’t expect the presence of Cap’n Jack Sparrow this year… It would be grand if some other star (who is not a local resident) would make their presence known.

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Filed under Movies, Politics, The Life

Reviewing lyrics and Living on the Edge

As a young teen, I was pretty fixated on Aerosmith’s 1993 album release “Get a Grip” and the hits that came from it. It was such a mix of Hard Rock and Pop, along with a mix of Steven Tyler’s attitude (which was most shown off during video performances – but that’s acting in part; lyrically it showed up in songs like “Flesh” or “Crying”.

The song that won me over was track #5 on the album, “Livin’ on the Edge”

In 10th grade I wrote an essay about the song and how it seemed to be an overall view of life and how we “live on the edge of sanity and sobriety”.  From the viewpoint of a 15 year old, that seems to fit just fine. And in a way, it’s still something that goes with the song.

The thing is, sitting here oh-so-many years later and thinking about the music (and listening to it), I’ve gone a few more inches regarding the song’s overall meaning. It’s fitting now with how we’re all reacting to things in the political world or social sphere…. But it’s been that way for a long, long time. Hell, its human life.

There’s something wrong with the world today
Don’t know what it is
Something’s wrong with our eyes
We’re seeing things in a different way
And God knows it ain’t his
It sure ain’t no surprise…
We’re livin’ on the edge

[Chorus]

Something wrong with the world today
The light bulb’s getting dim
There’s meltdown in the skies
If you can judge a wise man
By the color of his skin
Then mister, you’re a better man than I….

Those are the first two verses of the song and they give an overall view of an honest, everyday life in US society. We’re always pushing for something or seeing a wrong transpiring with the news of someone else’s accomplishment or met benchmark. And while we strive to achieve or right a wrong, we feel or see more wrongs, more doom and gloom that make us wonder just where the hell we’re going as a world.

Perhaps the most profound and murkiest line of these two verses is the wise-man declaration. The statement irons down the fact that this is everyone. Not just groups you prefer. That fact and we all have high points that need to be seen instead of where we came from.

This is the last verse of the song:

There’s something right with the world today
And evrybody knows it’s wrong
So we can tell’em no or we can let it go
But I would rather leave it hanging on

We’re all living on the edge. It’s life. And life itself – having it, experiencing its achievements, pitfalls, horrors, celebrations, comics, remorse, adventure, frustration, etc… It’s what’s always been there. It’s also society; it’s the social sphere of humanity. Its life, and it’s damn well better lived than mourned as if the end was here.

I think it’s a middle verse, sung twice, that nails this down:

Tell me what you think about your sit-u-a-tion
Complications, aggravations, it’s getting to you
If Chicken Little tells you that the sky is falling
Even if it wasn’t, would you still come crawling
Back again?
I bet you would my friend
Again and again, and again, and again and again…

For everything you see as wrong, for every doom that tells you the end is nigh, you’re going to keep going. You have things to accomplish, social gains to achieve or to support, political gains or protests to vent.

And while we’re Livin’ on the edge, the backing vocals of the chorus seem fitting:

Livin’ on the edge
You can’t help yourself from falling
Livin’ on the edge
You can’t stop yourself at all

… With a double-deep vocal simply repeating everybody behind the “You can’t” lines.

We see peril, doom, and upheaval. You might be on the political left or right, you might be a vegetarian or a meat eater, you might be a guy, girl, transgendered, gay, bisexual, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, militant, pacifist, etc, etc… We’ve all got our places to go, people to see, things to do, and items to achieve. It’s what’s driving us and dividing us all at the same time. It’s the edge of life – it’s the world happening. And happen, it’s going to do. That’s living,

 

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Filed under Music / Lyrics, Must See TV / Entertainment Industry, The Life

Musical Demo: Picture Perfect (aka Picture Perfect Love Affair)

In the late 1990’s I was a poet and lyricist first and foremost. You can find some of the poetry I wrote and have written over the years on the site (click the writing tab above and move down to the poetry selection). That’s not the point though. One poem I wrote, just a lyrical mash-up inspired a bit by Green Day, was “Picture Perfect Love Affair”, a crazy guy in love with a girl in a photo. In fact, that story sort of mocks me at the time, as girls from High School still mattered, and I only had their photos to look at.

Years later, I forget when exactly, I had a little edit of the poem.  “Edit” being the addition of a chorus to use between stanzas:

It’s a picture
Picture perfect

Picture perfect love affair

It’s a real simple build up and filler but it does the job that is expetec of it – it moves you forward and transitions you.

The summer of 2016 had me meet (online and off) Nick from the Pretty Voices. At one point or another I ran lyrical verse past him in a conversation and lo and behold, Nick delivered a demo of my work.

As it stands right now, I don’t think the Pretty Voices are going to record this thing, but it IS nice to have something I wrote put to music.

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Filed under Music / Lyrics, Poetry, The Life

Regarding surgery and the menace that is NF2

There’s another aspect to talk about regarding life and where things for me stand at three weeks after I had an emergency brain operation which I talked about last week. What I focused on squarely during that write-up was post-op and the world I was involved in as I tried to grasp reality again. Just for the sake of throwing out the key words: Delusions, mental lapses, reincarnation.

Yeah, but what about before all that, what about pre-op?

While I have no recollection of Tuesday, December 6th and the events that led to surgery, I can remember life leading up to this incident just fine. And in the days before December 6th, it did come up where I thought of grander concepts and my medical condition in general. And I didn’t want anything to do with a process of medicine.

Let’s take a step back here and start with my condition: A rare neurological disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 2. I’m deaf by way of it. I’ve had a few operations to remove tumors in my back and head. I know all the fun and games of the hospital (…which further makes me pissed off at the “ICU” I dealt with earlier in December, which was nothing of the sort, but I digress). At 37 years old, the concept of NF2 treatment is what pre-op was about. My thoughts leading to Tuesday, December 6th were a shrug and a rude hand gesture or two toward NF2. While the menace was and is part of my life, I wanted to live my life firstly and forget about the medical condition. I wanted to be and not get lost in MRIs or neurological clinic visits and such.  It’s those aspects that dominated thoughts of pre-op: The fact I was overdue to have a scan or see a neurologist just for shits and giggles.

Being is what life is about; most of us toil through what our world offers. That’s what I wanted; not to get distracted by what could happen if I don’t, but to foil away against what was happening with life. NF2 can go fuck itself, and if it was going to kill me then oh well, too bad, so sad.

Yeah, and then we move to today and where I am at the moment and I’m ready for war. Like I said in the write-up the other day, I was dead post-op. Knowing that (or experiencing that) riles me up inside.  I had to experience this shit and you’re still a genetic menace in my body? Fuck you.  Fuck you, dearly [Editor note: f-bombs are fun sometimes and fitting]

I’ll have an MRI in the next six months, I’m sure, and will likely see one neurologist or another just to have a social sphere and good times… All because tomorrow is dictated by what the disease brings to the table. I’ll still foil and toil away at life as it matters, but this genetic condition ain’t playing well with me and I sure as shit don’t want to be nice in return.

 

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