Walking Dead 5:07 “Crossed” Recap

I can still remember in college when my professors would say it’s unprofessional to write “good” and “bad” to describe something as a critic. While that may be true in a news paper, I call the shots when writing on my own time and style. I can also remember when I really got into The Walking Dead back in 2012, it was my senior year of college watching season three. Season five has been the best season we’ve had, but three will always be my favorite. This episode wasn’t a bad one, just not as good as some of the previous ones. I was hoping for more climactic moments in the episode, but it served to prep for the showdown with the cops at the hospital this coming Sunday.

What I enjoyed: seeing Daryl rip the head off of a walker and beat one of the cops was pretty epic, probably the most creative walker kill we’ve seen all season. I also enjoyed seeing Rick confront the cops and them being able to tell he used to a police officer himself. It was also really nice to see how the group dealt with Abraham after he assaulted Eugene. Seeing Beth get the power to defend herself again and save Carol. Lastly, it was nice to know that Eugene is still alive (even though he has very little plot relevance now).

What I didn’t enjoy: Seeing the cop knock Sasha unconscious, how Rick didn’t go with his plot to snipe all of the cops down, all of the jumping around to different characters, not knowing if Father Gabriel will betray or abandon Rick’s group (and how Gabriel has been acting vs how his character in the comics acted).

I felt this episode had great moments, but still has left a lot to be desired. As a matter of fact, season five started out with a big bang, and has slowly spiraled down to a regular drama. I’m sure the mid season finale coming up will fix that though. Stay tuned folks, the nice thing about me writing this on a Friday’s that Sunday isn’t so far away now.



Walking Dead 5:06 “Consumed” Recap

*Disclaimer* I studied Journalism in college, and the main thing they taught me was to never miss a deadline. However, I write best when I’m inspired to do so, not when I’m constrained by deadlines (personal or otherwise).

With that out-of-the-way, I’d label this episode as an interesting balance between “funny”, “boring”, and “reflective” (which totally doesn’t sound like my blog, ahem). There were funny moments, intense moments, and a lot of talking between Daryl and Carol about past events.

What I enjoyed: the scene with the van falling off of the bridge was really awesome, I also love how improbable it was that Daryl and Carol weren’t injured at all by the fall. I laughed my ass off when it started to rain walkers who fell off the bridge after the van. I felt the flashbacks were used to good effect, and that it’s awesome that Daryl and Noah are going to enlist Rick’s help in destroying the corrupt folks at the hospital.

What i didn’t enjoy: the vast amounts of dialogue that seemed to happen for no real reason that really just became filler. I also didn’t like what happened with Noah’s character at first with how he stole the weapons from Daryl and Carol. Lastly, I could have done with more of what was going with Eugene and Abraham.

At any rate this was an enjoyable episode, I just could have done without all of the talking (which is a fairly common complaint about the series in past seasons). Once again the next episode is coming up in less than an hour and I will enjoy watching it.


The Writer Who Doesn’t Read

Long has it been since I’ve been able to pickup a book and read it all the way through to the end. I’m not one to read up the latest trends either. And I’ve never been one of *those readers* who stayed up all night to enjoy a riveting novel.  The last time I did read books that intensely was when I was reading World War Z and Slaughter House Five back in my senior year of high school (2007-08, how I miss thee so.)

When I was in high school I considered myself a “punk rock reader”, meaning I only read what wasn’t considered popular by mainstream book culture. This is why I only started reading Harry Potter in the last year, why I used sparked notes to get my way through King Lear in British Literature class, and why I am still hesitant to even bother with the Twilight saga (especially since I’m not the target audience for such a screwy love story).

In high school and college, I loved joy reading different books that caught my attention. My imagination was able to paint pictures in my head of a great literary play of far off galaxies (Star Wars), and PTSD war soldiers who claimed to be abducted by martians (Vonnegut). The last book I can fondly remember reading was “Fire and Rain” by David Browne which told the tale of how 1970 was a pivotal year in ending the optimistic spirit of the 60s, and how pop culture shifted after the Beatles split up. I would like to pen a book in that style about the year 2011, which I feel was a real game changer from the uncreative stagnation of 2009 and 2010 for the world of music (with special thanks to Adele, lol).

My interest in books dwindled after college due to the stress of a four year relationship ending and not being able to hold a job (and I’m still searching for a career today). My life fell into a deep pit of depression for a very long time. Reading books would make me fall asleep after a little while, and I could never read more than a chapter at a time since I read the words slowly. On the flip side, the events of 2014 have largely been a vast improvement in my life with how I’ve re-discovered my sense of self respect, gained valuable work experience, and strengthened my resolve to live life the way I want too. My interest in literature is slowly returning to me now that my joy in life has returned.

Words have become my friends again given how my quality of life has improved. I partially owe this interest returning thanks to comic books like The Walking Dead and Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”. I’ve also started looking back into the poetry of William Wordsworth and Robert Burns. Lastly, I was tipped off to the awesome vampire novels of Anne Rice by a friend. I intend to to read more than I did before, but I will do so at my own pace and with books that I deem to be of a strong quality. I can still be a “punk rock reader” like I used to be. I just need to trust in my own opinions on a book instead of what other critics have to say about it, which makes sense given how I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Star Wars Episode III.


Recap on Walking Dead 4:04 and 5:05

So I missed the deadline to review these episodes when they were fresh, so to make up for it and catch up for this week I’m going to give a brief recap on what I did and didn’t like about episodes four and five of The Walking Dead.

5:04- My only real complaint about this episode is that things only revolved around Beth and a bunch of throw away characters we were just introduced to. What I did enjoy is the blatant metaphor for control by the Government and police forces that we’ve seen in the last couple of years. From Officer Gorman’s creepy and sexual predator type advances towards Beth, and the scene of Beth climbing down the elevator. This episode was unsettling because of how twisted the members of the hospital are, though the walkers helped.

5:05- This episode had to be the screwiest of the season so far with how the pacing went, the random switches to Abraham’s flashbacks, and the sex scene where Eugene was spying on Abraham and Lolita (which is also a direct reference to the comics). This episode was my least favorite of the season so far aside from the references to the source material and the scene where Eugene uses the water cannon to kill all of the walkers. When Eugene fessed up to being a fraud, which was probably the most shocking moment in the season so far.

And so the next episode of The Walking Dead comes on in under 20 minutes from when I post this, which means I will review the new one later tonight or tomorrow morning.


Reaction to “Only” by Nicki Minaj

*Trigger warning: foul language, sexual themes, Nazi imagery*

*Less serious trigger warning: awful music*

So I watched the music video for “Only”, and I’m not highly offended by the Nazi imagery or the fact that Nicki Minaj cited Metalocalypse as an inspiration for the video. What annoys me more is how how stale the beat of the song is, and how vulgar the lyrics are. I’m surprised because I thought most of these rappers did club songs, not stuff this slow and stale. The lyrics in the music video are insanely bland and more screwed up than the video they appear in. I want to say that this is happening because the parties involved only care about money, but I can’t back that claim up. What I can back up is that this song is just an ink blotch on an otherwise strong year for music. It’s just sad that shock value is what sells now.

Here’s the video, which relates to the trigger warnings above.

Please keep in mind I will not approve of any racist or otherwise hateful comments about the musicians in this song, it’s important to separate the person from the art work. All trash talking and/or defending should be purely about the video and the song. Thank you.


The 1990s

Nostalgia through out the generations is inevitable, but the idea that the next generation of kids are going to look back on the new millennium years as “the good old days” like the way my generation does the 90s disturbs me. In my mind the 90s represented a golden era of peace (post Gulf War), excellent kids TV shows, awesome music, and strong economic prosperity. In the same way, that feel of the 90s ended on September 11th, 2001. What followed after 9/11 was a decade of political schizophrenia and an unending war that has caused my generation a great deal of misery. Some people from the 80s didn’t like the 90s, and some people from the 70s didn’t like the 80s, etc. But I think we can all agree that the 1990s was the last GOOD decade we had since going outside to have fun was a tradition, not an option.


Interview With a Veteran

Happy Veterans Day everybody. I am writing this post today because I am thankful to the veterans of this country for working to defend the United States, and I want to bring up a valid point about the problems that veterans face day to day. Today I will be interviewing a man who I knew served in the Marines, and has chosen to remain anonymous to speak about his experiences and views.

I had reached out to the Anonymous Veteran (AV) over social media and he agreed to comment over some of the major issues facing vets today.

Me: Hello AV, nice to see you again. Thank you for letting me take the time to interview you.

AV:  It’s my pleasure. There’s a lot of things I think people might not know or understand about veterans, especially those with PTSD.  I’d like to help get the word out any way I can.

Me: Then we can start the topics at hand; why do you feel that the Government has dragged it’s feet over increasing funding for the VA?

AV: The VA is an amazing organization when it works correctly and despite the governments many shortcomings, I don’t honestly think it’s intentional. Incompetence and poor planning, sure. I don’t think the government took into consideration how much bodily and mental suffering can accrue in over a decade of warfare, and now they’re caught with their pants down.

Me: True, it’s the result of poor planning and oversights over how long the war has lasted. Another issue out there is the large number of homeless vets, what do you have to comment about the large number of people without a roof over their head?

AV: I think homelessness among veterans correlates directly with the awful way the treatment PTSD has been handled. Vets with PTSD feel like they have no where to turn, and don’t ask for help because they believe people will think less of them, or simply not understand, which is usually the case. What adds to it is the pride factor, not wanting to appear weak, but it’s not all about pride. What it amounts to is homeless vets with no one and no hope left, after all they’ve done for the country, and that’s awful.

Me: PTSD has been a great problem since World War I, it’s literally been killing our vets everyday. With that said, why exactly are so many vets ending their lives? What’s the best way we can help them?

AV: I think somewhere around 22 veterans kill themselves everyday. I’ve heard the number is more like 35, though. Vets with PTSD feel isolated and alone, the best thing to do is be there for them, even if it looks like they don’t need you to be. It means a lot.

Me: True, sometimes the best help is to reminds someone that they aren’t alone. On the subject of PTSD and from your own experiences, what can you comment about service members you’ve seen scarred by combat?

AV: I was good friends with a guy who saw his friend and squad mate get blown to pieces by an IED in Afghanistan. For a while, he would get dangerously drunk three or four days a week and either cry or smash things, usually both, until he passed out. He would ramble on about the blood and gore and collecting his friends scattered body parts for transport. Regardless of how drunk he was, he woke up screaming from nightmares at least twice a night. He went on like that for about a year before he stopped drinking so much. He still has the nightmares though, since I last talked to him.

Me: Jeez, that really makes the terrors I’ve faced seem insignificant by comparison. I hope your friend finds inner peace in his lifetime. Do you have any closing thoughts to add this Veterans day?

AV: I personally feel a little awkward when I’m thanked for my service because I know I didn’t do much, but the sentiment means so much. It lets me know that people out there care about me. That’s what vets need, especially around Memorial Day and Veterans Day. If you know a vet, please thank them for their service, just so they know they’re not alone.

Me: I intend too, and I always will. Thank you for your service and your time, it means a lot to me.


10 Things I Will Miss About Naruto

And so today marks the end of my favorite Manga created by Masashi Kishimoto, fitting as a gift for my birthday on November 10th. I’m filled with positive emotions right now, and I’m going to remember this series very fondly. I’m not spoiling much in this blog, rather I’m just going to reflect on my favorite moments of the series, and show what it has taught me as I grew up through my angst filled teenage years.

1. Never giving up or giving in-

This was always the primary theme in Naruto, hard work and dedication pays off vs natural genius at certain tasks. I always related to Naruto being the underdog with how I’ve developed into playing my music. I had to struggle to understand music theory and how to play instruments better when I first started.

2. The Fight Scenes-

Sure, DBZ characters can destroy planets in their base forms, but the fights in Naruto were always very well thought out (the ninjas always use strategy) and escalated in very climactic fashions. My favorite fights were definitely Itachi vs Sasuske, Naruto vs Pein, and Might Guy (eight gates) vs Madara Uchiha. I just fan-gasm every time I read and see these fights in because they are just so epic!

3. Obito Uchiha-

“I am no one, I do not wish to be anyone. I just care about completing the Moon’s Eye Plan!” Obito manipulated a lot of things behind the scenes from the start of the series, and was known as the masked man and Madara Uchiha for many years. The reason I will miss Obito is because I enjoyed the arcs in his character development. Sure, starting a war to revive his childhood crush was week, but he still served to be a bad ass villain for most of the series. And he later redeemed himself in the fight against Kaguya before his death. Also, I respect Madara Uchiha; but I feel like Obito was a better character because he had to work for his power. Madara was just born into the series with God like powers and an annoying cocky attitude.

4. The philosophy behind the “talk no jutsu”-

The talking scenes and flashbacks have annoyed a lot of people through the years (myself included), but when they are used correctly these scenes can have a lot of emotional impact in building up a fight or teaching us life lessons. These scenes helped me cope with my inner demons many times. One of my favorite scenes is where Naruto moved Nagato to revive the people he killed in the invasion of Konoha arc, thus having Nagato redeem himself. I’m pretty sure Naruto defeated more villains using words than he did with actual fighting.

5. People Doing Manga Reviews-

My two favorite online reviewers of Naruto are Sawyer7mage and Forneverworld for their funny and smart reviews. Sawyer’s jokes always made me laugh, and Fornverworld was always good at picking up on things that I had missed from reading the manga. Of course, I tried to get into the swing of things with reviewing this and other manga, but my hands are tied between working and writing about my regular topics (life, TV, music). I’ll miss the jokes and fan theories, but most of all I’ll miss the discussions in the Naruto fandom community that Naruto (the series) had created over the last 15 years.

6. Brightening Every Wednesday Morning-

I mostly read the series through online scans of the manga, though I think I’ll pick up the series in paper form now that all the books will be out soon. In college I would always look forward to Wednesdays for the Naruto manga, and Thursdays for the anime (and my bi weekly paycheck every other Thursday). The weeks where Naruto would take a break would be very dull Wednesdays indeed, but I still survived to see the end of Naruto.

7. The Villains-

From Orichimaru and the Akatsuki, all the way back to Zabuza and Haku, this series had some very memorable villains and anti-heros featured in it. I already mentioned who my top favorite villain was earlier (Obito), but every villain in the Manga (aside from Deidara and Kaguya) was quite memorable. They all had interesting abilities that distanced them from their humanity, and they all had memorable back stories. Many villains always pulled an Anakin Skywalker and turned over a new leaf. As for the ones that stayed evil like Uchiha Madara, they were so overpowered they needed to be killed by plot-no-jutsu, thus ending the joke “Madara’s so powerful even Kishimoto can’t kill him”.

8. The Tailed Beasts-

From the start of the series we see that many of the tailed beasts (“the bijuu”) are seen as menacing and evil from when the Nine Tailed Fox attacked Konoha, we later came to understand the Bijuu as misunderstood creatures who just wanted to live free lives rather than being trapped inside their Jinchuriki hosts. Kudos to Naruto for helping the Bijuu to become happy with life again and helping them achieve their eventual freedom.

9. Naruto’s Mentors-

Naruto had a tough time growing up in the leaf village having never known who his parents were, so throughout the series he had many mentors including Jiraiya, Kakashi, Yamato, and Iruka for being like father figures to him. In Naruto Shippuden many of the villains who wanted to kill Nartuo eventually became friends of his, and he even fought for them to honor their memory. I relate to this (in a sense) towards my music teachers and Journalism professors who helped me through my struggles to become a better musician and writer.

10. Naruto and Sasuke’s Rivalry-

This was the core the story line in the manga that had been built up for quite a long time, and also how the series reached it’s epic finale. For a while people were doubting how the fight would happen when Sasuke began working alongside the Shinobi Alliance, but Kishimoto came through for us in an epic fashion. I’m going to miss seeing these two fight each other, not just in battle, but their philosophies of isolation and revenge (Sasuke) vs friendship and peace (Naruto). I’m happy that their rivalry ending signaled the end of the manga, and led to an amazing epilogue in chapter 700.

And as I finish writing these words, I feel a sense of sadness and joy at the same time for realizing the manga series that I started reading back in college is over now (despite the mini series coming out next Spring). So the only thing tougher than writing this blog as I’m feeling so many emotions was deciding the right song to send off the series. And I found the right one after borrowing an idea from major anime pages on Facebook. “Wind / ウインド” which was the first ending ever used for the original Naruto anime.


So what does it mean to “die with dignity”?

An insightful and touching piece, also one that raises a good question. Personally, I sympathize with people like Maynard rather than just criticize their decision. Also, in my mind to “die with dignity” is to accept death without fear after you feel you have lived the way you wanted to live your life.

Sarahbeth Caplin

I have been thinking a lot about Brittany Maynard. She’s been on my mind ever since I heard her tragic story, because it was released to the media just after my father died of cancer. Other than Robin Williams, I’ve never felt grief this big for someone I didn’t know personally.

I think it’s because I have an idea of where her family is emotionally right now (but only an idea). My pain is still fresh and raw, and that’s without having my grief under a national spotlight.

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