That time I creeped on Sasha from The Walking Dead.

vampire_MyaMqmcO.jpg

You all probably know her as Sasha Williams on The Walking Dead. I knew her as the National Poetry Champion at the American Forensics Association National Individual Events (AFA-NIET) tournament of 2006, and I was star-struck before she killed her first zombie. Here is that story and an embarrassingly quirky moment that is my life.

Collegiate forensics competitions have nothing to do with crime or cutting up dead bodies like many assume when they hear that the college forensics team is recruiting and looking for members to join. It’s speech and debate at the collegiate level.

I was actively involved with the forensics speech and debate team at Minnesota State University-Mankato in which we would write speeches, cut and splice literature to make argumentative performances, and travel just about every weekend to compete for trophies or as we used to say on our team: we win trophies for what we do with our mouth. Every tournament win was a chance to qualify for the coveted chance at competing at the national level at the AFA-NIET tournament.

Oh AFA. Where the best of the best speakers in the nation would gather with hopes of breaking into out rounds. While I was always confident when I was at state and regional tournaments, the AFA-NIET tournament was always the tournament that always made me doubt my abilities, and I spent most of my time in rounds in complete awe of the talent that I was up against. The downside to this was that I always have a habit of completely embarrassing myself because of how socially awkward I can be around people, especially around those that are extremely talented and those I am inspired by.

It was a preliminary round in Poetry. I was always nervous at the national tournaments because you could pretty much count on just about every performance to be on fleek as they say (now, not back then, but I digress).

She walked in, completely resolute in her confidence. And that hair, it was gorgeous. Look, I appreciate when curly hair looks good, because I can never get mine to cooperate; it’s always the hottest of messes. It was styled to perfection, but more importantly she was a genuinely nice person and sincere in the small talk she engaged with her fellow competitors in the round. She performed a poetry program on shoes, and the role they had in shaping gender and personal identity performance. Her interpretation of the literature and performance was awe-inspiring. She weaved in and out of characters, and the audience felt the range of emotions that she was experiencing through her both her execution of the performance and the poetry. A program of poetry all about a seemingly generic topic of shoes. The critical social commentary and arguments she created with the intertextuality of the poetry in her program was everything but generic.

She finished her performance and took her seat next to mine. I was still completely blown away by what I had just experienced. I was star-struck. This would have been the perfect opportunity to congratulate her on her performance; to tell her that she was an extremely talented and inspirational speaker; powerful. What did I do?

I sheepishly smiled and said,

“You’re so pretty, and I really love your hair…”

She awkwardly smiled at me and nervously replied, “Thaaaaanks?”

I don’t think she meant it in a rude or dismissing way at all, I think she was honestly perplexed as to how to respond to not only what I said, but how I said it.

She then asked to be excused from the round as she had other events in this round she had to get to. I was in mid face-palm when the judge called my name to perform. I loved my piece and loved performing it, but I knew…I already lost that round and a part of me was glad she wasn’t able to stick around to see it.

SpeakTheTruth_border

Sonequa not only pwnd in that round, but she went on to win the well-deserved title of National Champion in Poetry for the AFA-NIET 2006. She now stars on The Walking Dead as Sasha Williams.

I very much doubt (and don’t blame her) that she remembers who I am, and I sincerely hope she doesn’t. If she does, she remembers me as that really weird creeper guy from the poetry round that she completely dominated from the speech tournament she completely owned.

Marvel does it better

suicidesquad1111jpg-c73c00_1280w

Against all my better judgement I went and saw Suicide Squad over the weekend. It’s not that I hated it, I didn’t really. I didn’t love it though, and I knew that this was most likely going to be the case despite the high hopes I had for it. I really wanted to love it, but when one of my friends asked me (knowing my extensive knowledge and love for comic books) to predict how I was going to come out of the theater feeling, I responded: I want to like it so much and have high hopes, but pretty sure it’s going to be like every other DC film. I’m going to come out of it not hating it necessarily, but will more than likely be disappointed at the narrative and missed opportunities for rich character development.

So, here’s your obligatory warning. I’m about to go into details from the movie, so if you are looking to avoid any spoilers for Suicide Squad, you should stop reading now.

spoiler-alert-logo

Overall Impression: It wasn’t completely awful and for the most part, the movie was enjoyable for what it is. A friend of mine sitting next to me told me there were several moments I let out an audible disappointed sigh, and he’s not wrong. While it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve seen, there were definitely moments that didn’t live up to what I was expecting.

Deadshot and Harley Quinn definitely stole the show for this one and their characters were definitely the most intriguing and did the most justice as far as representing their comic book counterparts.

deadshot

Deadshot, one of the most notable anti-heroes of the DC Universe. An assassin with a troubling family past, but also motivated to take action whether for the heroes or villains to do good by his children. This was portrayed well in the movie by showcasing the relationship with him and his daughter. Will Smith did not disappoint in his portrayal of the surefire yet often conflicted assassin. Deadshot surfaced as one of the leaders of the group and motivated other team members to contribute to get the job done, while still remaining morally grey throughout the movie. One of the highlights is when he goads a reluctant El Diable who fears losing control to help fight the fight and light things up with the squad.

Deadshot: Whatcha gonna do?
El Diablo: You wanna see something? YOU WANNA SEE SOMETHING!?
Deadshot: YEAH!
(After El Diablo goes berserk and gets lit fam)
Deadshot: Yo…I was trying to get you there. No hard feelings, right? We good?

margot_robbie_harley_quinn_suicide_squad-wide-999x624

The breakaway performance definitely has to go to Margot Robbie though as Harley Quinn. She definitely stole the show in my opinion. The focus of the movie was on her and showcased her relationship with the Joker. Her backstory and presence seemed to be the focus out of all the squad members. The movie seemed to take a lot of inspiration from The New 52 version of Harley as she was shown to be exposed to the same checmicals Joker was exposed to in the film as part of her backstory. Her leaving the squad for Joker and later rejoining when the plan fell through was also remiscent of a New 52 plot. I thoroughly enjoyed Margot Robbie’s performance of Harley and she had a lot of great moments. Her motives and loyalty walked a fine line with zany madness throughout the film, but one thing was certain: underestimating her was most certainly a mistake. The only moment I might have groaned (here comes some whine) was when she played a critical role in saving the day as she blurts out, Stop hurting my fwiends! (and there’s the cheese).

It will be interesting to see what happens with the character as it was revealed in her bio that she was an accomplice and either helped or was the one to kill Jason Todd. This revelation might help to explain why she reacted so strongly when she sternly states, “Own that shit” to El Diablo’s reveal about killing his kids. It may be her reaction to her own killing of an adolescent Jason Todd. Another possibility for this reaction could be that she was responsible for the death of her own kids. Whaaaaat!? BOOM! BLAM! KAZAM!

For those of you that missed it, the movie hinted that Harley might have been pregnant with Joker’s kids at some point and this could be a gamechanger that could be incredibly intriguing or a plot twist that ends up being a miserable disaster.

2016-08-8--18-54-20

So, when it comes to Deadshot and Harley Quinn, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Unfortunately for me, it just goes downhill from there with the rest of the characters.

Amanda Waller: Overall, the movie did a good job illustrating how cut throat and ruthless this character really is, but I wanted the movie to reveal and explore her deeper connection with metahumans and the major players of the DC universe. I get that this isn’t possible in the cinematic universe as metas are only beginning to surface and be known in this world. But still.

Diablo: I am on the fence with Diablo. On one hand, I really enjoyed his brooding character and his internal conflict of using his powers fearful of losing complete control of them. He was most certainly a force to be reckoned with. He has a really tragic backstory, but one that is a deviation from the comics. In the comicverse, he unleashed his fury on a rival ganghouse only to discover there were innocents; women and children that also fell victim to his flames. As a result, he let the authorities take him to Belle Reve due to his overwheliming feeling of guilt for taking the lives of innocents. The movie decided to up the ante and change his backstory to losing control and taking the life of his wife and children instead. Why they decided to make his backstory that much more tragic, but completely ignore the tragedy of Katana’s backstory (see below)  was what perplexed me. The only thing I can think of is to allow the reaction of Harley Quinn, which will more than likely play out in future movies. If this isn’t the case, then to make that choice with Diablo while completely ignoring Katana’s tragedy makes absolutely no sense.

Joker: It was cool to see a completely different interpretation of the Joker, but it got old real fast, especially his laugh. When I first heard the laugh in a trailer, I thought it was interesting and definitely had a chill factor to it. I also assumed this was a specific laugh in a specific scene to invoke that specific feeling. Nope, that laugh was pretty much the same every time something happen to tickle his fancy. It never changed. And come on, no one believed the Joker was actually dead when Harley watched in horror as his helicopter crashed in a burst of flames, so she could rejoin the squad with tear filled-eyes and those oh so pouty lips.

Slipknot: Who the hell was he again? Unless you’re an avid reader of comics you still have no clue who he is other than to serve the sole purpose of being the obligatory red shirt in the movie. If you’re going to kill someone off, at least provide some semblance of a back-story to make us feel something for his death other than, whelp guess his only purpose was to die.

Boomerang: He didn’t contribute much other than to be the skeezy cat-calling sterotype to womanize the bad ass that is Katana, which again, was barely touched upon. He bailed the first chance he got only to return to the squad moments later with absolutely no motivation to do so.

Katana: Like I said, Katana is a badass, but you don’t really understand this in the movie other than to know she knows how to use her weapon. A missed opportunity to explore a pretty epic backstory of her husband being killed by his own brother who held an unrequetted love for Katana. This was referenced, but watered down by revealing “someone” killed her husband with the souleater sword that ended up in her posessession. The scene explaining that she talks to her husband would have been so much more tragic had they offered more details of this backstory of not only her husband’s death, but the tragic death of their twin children in the same incident. The movie also doesn’t take any time to explain how Katana came to be involved with Rick Flag or the suicicide squad, but she merely just shows up as his body guard with absolutely no explanation of their connection.

Killer Croc: Well, this was probably one of the most disappointing portrayals. Killer Croc is a beast in the comics, A BEAST!  The movie, sadly, turned him into a deformed thug that kind of looked like a crocodile.  The movie took the fact that Killer Croc’s alter ego is Waylon Jennings who happens to be black. They basically ran with this and made this the focus of his character, completely ignoring the raw primal power of the croc and watered him down with cheap humor. His only request is to get a flat screen TV, so he can do nothing but watch big booty dancing on BET. Come on…They completely bastardized the beast that is Killer Croc.

Enchantress: I’ll admit that I don’t know a whole lot about the Enchantress in the comic book world and that made me continue to wonder throughout the whole movie, why she was so hell-bent on taking over the world. I get that she was pissed, because she was essentially just a tool to be used, but why not just go straight for Amanda Waller? I also found it troubling that the squad’s first mission was against this seemingly all powerful herky jerky magic-wielding belly dancer. The stakes were suddenly so monumentally high in a matter of seconds with no room to explore how the squad evolves from completely conflicted individuals to a cohesive unit.

Rick Flagg: I expected more, so much more of this character. What I got was a whiny emo lovesick puppy dog who was apparently maneuvered into a relationship that makes absolutely no sense just so he can be forced to babysit the villanis that Waller recruits. Flagg actually lead a World War II team called the suicide squadron, which serves as an inspiration for putting together the meta human suicide squad, but again, this was a completely missed opportunity to better explain his connection and motivation for leading the suicide squad.

Na na na na na na na na (That’s supposed to make you think of the Batman theme music to serve as a transition into the conclusion).

Time for the cool down. Thanks to those who bared with me on my rants and ramblings on the latest installment of the DC Cinematic Universe. Alright look, I realize that the comic book buff in me tends to make me a little if not obnoxiously overcritical of the movies. These are merely my own personal qualms with the DCCU, and I completely understand that. I get why a lot of people really love these movies, but I for one will always look to Marvel as an example of how to bring the expansive comic book universe to film and do the characters and plotlines justice. I didn’t hate Suicide Squad, but I didn’t love it either.

 

Wow, I have a blog.

I haven’t really been maintaining or using this space for my writing ramblings, obviously. Will this post signify a resurgence in my blog productivity and lead to more regular posts and insights from UD!? I hope so, but let’s be real, probably not. As much as I love spewing out word vomit out into the empty void of the interwebz, time doesn’t always cooperate with me and things like the blog tend to get neglected as soon as the school year starts. I don’t know why I waited until the end of Summer to decide I wanted to try and start blogging again. That was poor judgement on my part. Here’s to hoping though, right?

So, it’s been what? Two years since I’ve posted? Whaaaaaaaat!? That’s just craaaazy!

whaaaat

So, what have I been up to the last two years!? So much to tell, but let’s use this post to focus in on one particular yet pretty significant thing. Probably one of the biggest life change that has happened since I’ve posted is I am now…wait for it…

in a relationship. Two years and still goin.

Inarelationship

It’s weird, but kind of cool. I wasn’t really looking for a relationship and had pretty much convinced myself that I didn’t really want to invest myself in anyone anymore considering the slew of bad dating experiences and terribly awkward hookup encounters I had been having over the years. I had pretty much accepted  that it just wasn’t in the cards to find someone who could both understand and appreciate me for more than just a hot bod and quick release in this square state that I live in. I had made peace with it.

imadorable

And then it happened. We met, we nerded out about video games and stuff, we started flirting. And now here we are, two years later, still together and living together with a room mate who happens to be his brother. Like I said, it’s weird.

It’s also super cool, because I genuinely feel like I am dating my best friend and have found someone I am 100% comfortable with and can completely be myself (quirks and all) without holding anything back. I actually like hanging out with him, and we laugh a lot together.

FacebookneckbackIt’s been challenging at times sure, I mean we both didn’t quite know how to handle it when we felt feelings; something we both hadn’t felt in a really long time. Emotions, blech, amirite? We weren’t quite prepared to deal with a super serious relationship; we’re like the least serious people you could ever meet.

whysoserious

Overall, the challenges are nothin compared to the good times we’ve had and what we’ve been able to overcome. I’m glad I ultimately got on the tracks rather than jump the hell off of them despite how my knee-jerk reactions were screeching at me; it’s been one hell of a ride. He also turned out to be one hell of a guy. He puts up with a lot to be with me, I mean a lot. Facebook Keys

And he sometimes does the sweetest things to show me just how much he cares.

Cinnabon

And hey this guys gets me, I mean he really gets me, which is pretty impressive. Not many do nor have been able to.

crying.jpg

We get eachother to the point we are able to point out things we and/or others don’t even notice about ourselves or more accurately things we don’t want to admit about ourselves. The best part is, we keep each other in check. We make each other better people.

Facebook CJ Zekebuysdumbshit

The best part? In the past, it was always challenging dating anyone that was a non-gamer, because they just didn’t get it nor were they thrilled with the idea that I would be spending most of my free time gaming and not paying attention to them. When you’re dating a fellow hardcore gamer, it becomes a non-issue.

couplethatgamestogether
Our side by side gaming setup. A couple that games together; stays together.

So, yeah, there’s this guy. He’s pretty cool, and I’m pretty smitten. We’ve been together for two years now and I look forward to what’s to come. Even the moments where we will inevitably drive each other crazy from time to time; what relationship doesn’t come with these learning moments.

So, yeah, I’ve been a little distracted and haven’t been keeping up with the blog, but now you know a pretty significant piece of what has been going on in my life for the past couple of years.

Question of the day remains: Will I be able to provide more glimpses in my time away and keep up with this bloggy-blog? Will I be able to continue to post nonsensical yet whimsical ramblings into the void? I hope so.

 

I just work here…

One of the worst parts of my job are the endless meetings I have to go to. Sometimes, we even have a meeting to plan a meeting. Those are the worst. I really hate meetings, and I’ll do just about anything to get out of them.

calendarLuckily, I have a boss that truly understands my disdain for meetings and really allows me to express myself in that area. Finally, I feel like I have a boss that gets me.

Me: Do we really need to have a whole meeting about the handbook? I gave you an update on that a couple weeks ago before I went on vacation.

Boss: We need to get that handbook done ASAP, where are you on that.

Me: Like I said, I’m done with it except one part, the Student Conduct policy. Once I get that, I can just pop it in and it’s done.

Boss: So, why isn’t it done yet?

Me: Because I wasn’t the one writing it, I don’t know, I just work here…

Boss: (short pause, silence, then a gasp) Shit! I’m the one who was writing that huh?

Me: Is there really any way I can answer that question without pissing you the fuck off?

Boss: Oh shut up! God damn you can be a smart ass, but your’e timing is impeccable.

Me: You know, I really enjoy our banter and working relationship. It reminds me of home.

Boss: I’ll have the policy to you by the end of the week.

Another meeting averted!
excellent-mr-burns

 

Summer is ending

Featured

This Summer has been chalk-full of travel complete with discoveries and observations. Some pithy and others not so much, but notable none the less.

Portland, OR
♦  I have awesome friends. I just wish they lived closer, and I could seem them way more often than I do.

♦  Don’t ever take mushrooms and then walk down a busy street. Get to your location where you plane to settle for your trip and then take them. Tripping balls in a busy public space; no matter how inconspicuous you think you’re being, I guarantee that you’re not. Chain smoking cigarettes while bug-eyed continuously exclaiming: I just need to get to the forest while laughing uncontrollably, and going into “ninja mode” when an ambulance throws on their siren as they speed by is a sure giveaway that something is amiss.

♦  The hiking opportunities in the Portland area, and I’m sure the whole state of Oregon, are beyond awesome.

hike

New Orleans, LA
♦  The live music is amazing.

♦  Frenchman Street is a way more happening hangout than Bourbon Street.

Frenchman

♦  Sometimes, a hug is just a hug, and giving one to someone who needs it is a great way to brighten your and someone else’s day.

♦  The shot girls on Bourbon Street are grabby and taking a Christian married man to a bar with said shot girls is not the best idea.

shots

♦  Plan on getting wasted. No matter how much I told myself I was going to remain sober or turn in early, the fact remains that I was out until 3 in the morning and drunk every night while I was there. Every. Single. Night.

oldbar

Clarkston, WA (Family Reunion)
♦  Road trips that last longer than 12 hours are never a good thing. NEVER.

♦  Sometimes, the best companions at family reunions is the doge. I spent most of my time out with the doge playing fetch and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hemmy

♦  Nothing, and I mean nothing is more awkward than getting hit on and groped by your cousin. There was full-on junk grabbing involved; kind of takes the crying game to a whole new level. To be fair, she was the drunkest girl at the party. She’s always the drunkest girl at the party.

♦  Handle flirting cousins with care. If you reject them too harshly, they may announce to your whole family they know a secret about you and force you to come out.

♦  Being outted to your family, while awkward as fuck, may not necessarily be a bad thing. Some family members definitely have issues with it, but on the other hand, it has brought me closer than ever with others. Those that I grew up with, but have lost touch with over the years.

♦  Clarkston/Lewiston, while a beautiful little pocket of Hells Canyon, is hot as fuck in July. There were several fires in the area and running through the smoky haze was probably not the best idea I’ve had.

Clarkston

 New York City, New York
♦  Times Square is a hot sticky mess.

TimeSquareF

♦  Wear proper clothing in the Summer, especially for the Subway tunnels. Otherwise, YOU’LL end up a hot sticky mess…

Sticky

♦  Everyone always says not to wander off on your own in the city, but exploring the city on my own during safe daylight hours is both rewarding and whimsical.

Flatirin

♦  The Ground Zero memorial is incredibly sobering and moving. Be prepared to feel the feels just by visiting the site.

911

♦  Idina Menzel is absolutely delightful. James Snyder is dreamy.

Idina      Dreamy

♦  People will flirt with you and call you sexy to get what they want. It’s so very flattering at first, but ultimately crushing to the ego when you realize they are using blandishment as a means to an end.

♦  Always, ALWAYS double check that you have set the alarm clock for the right time on your cell phone. Especially if you have an important presentation to give.

I took a small nap after lunch and almost missed my afternoon panel presentation. I was perplexed, because I could have sworn I had set my alarm to wake me up at 1:45. I woke up at 1:55 and barely made it.

At 2:45, amidst the presentation, I startlingly realized why my alarm did not wake me up. My alarm is set to play the song “Fancy”. There were many chuckles in the room, and my face was redder than it’s ever been. I may have done a little dance to try and play it off. There was a slow clap involved.

♦  When traveling to Ellis Island by ferry, they truly are trying to create the immigration experience. We never made it; the person I was traveling with got dehydrated, sick, and came to the brink of passing out. We had to be escorted out of the line after an hour wait.

♦  Although, obsolete, phone booths are still very prevalent in New York. They don’t work, but come in handy for those getting their marijuana edible treats organized to sell on the streets.

Phone

So, it’s been a pretty amazing Summer with its ups and downs, but one that I am sad to see come to an end. School starts in a couple of weeks, and I’m not nearly as prepared for it as I should be. However, one thing the start of the school year is sure to be a sign of; the end of my life and free time for a few months. As bitter as I sound, I do enjoy my job and am looking forward to the return of the students.

The Dance of the Shadows

platos_cave_b

-Bansky

As I sit surrounded by the soundscape of the season, I contemplate the very core of my being. I gaze at the reflection across from me and wonder: is it I or the image across from me that walks in the real and the concrete? Is it I who dances among the shadows or he? These are the fleeting thoughts that I entertain rather than focusing on the task at hand.

Contemplating on the musings of brilliance, I question my significance. Beings on an artificial plane of existence have created and enacted numerous revolutions and uprisings within the blink of an eye. Yet, here I sit trying to crack the formula of success and wonder what piece of myself am I sacrificing to fit the mold.

It is my hope that I dance among the great philosopher kings and not among the shadows. I want to break free from the shadows and live in a world of light. I want to basque in the serenity of  sincereism and the calm that comes with the absolution to do so.  I want to move with the natural soundtracks that this world’s landscapes have to offer.

A world where the known and the unknown merge into an orgy of knowledge and wisdom. This is where my weary mind takes its flight of fancy at this midnight hour. A journey with seemingly no end, a journey, which I am uncertain I desire to return from.

I am great in a crisis…

At the beginning of the academic year, my office was moved into the counseling center. The Campus Counseling Center is within the department I work in, so I am fully aware of the situations that arise throughout the semester. The highs, the lows, and the times when things get a little cray for students (usually around mid-terms and finals).

Part of my job is helping students know what their rights and responsibilities are, guiding them through policies, procedures, grievance processes, and advocating for their needs. So, students often wander into my office with questions, concerns, and just to chat. One day, while our front desk worker was on their lunch break (who usually handles the walk-ins) a student wandered into my office, took a seat, and asked: “So, how does this work?”

I was a bit perplexed, and asked what his problem was assuming that it was a possible grievance issue. About two minutes in, I realized his problems were a bit more severe and out of my range of expertise.

I awkwardly threw my hands in the air: “Oh, I’m not…I don’t…I mean, I’m a great listener, but…Oh God!” I collected myself and explained, “What I’m trying to say is I am not a licensed counselor.”

I promptly set up an appointment with someone that was much more qualified to assist. This moment also prompted me to try and label my office a bit more clearer.

This also made me realize that I am on the front lines now. At any moment a crisis could walk through the doors of the counseling center, and I may be the only one around to handle it. Counselors gave me some advice and how to handle walk-ins that seemed distressed and in full freak-out mode. I kept telling myself that I am GREAT in a crisis.

Some time later, the front desk person had the day off. The door opened, and I poked my head out of my office to see how I could assist the student.

Student: I need to see E (counselor) right away!

Me: She’s with a client right now, but let’s take a look at when she’s available next. You need to see her right away you said?

Student: Yes, I called her earlier and she said to come right down.

The student was red in the face, seemed out of breath. This is distress…This is it; This is happening right now, I thought.  I am GREAT in a crisis! Let’s do this!

Me: (Pause with a look of concern right before blurting out) Are you suicidal?

Things took a turn, the student is now donning a very puzzled somewhat disgusted look.

Student: Um…no…I just need to drop off these scantrons. E said she needed them today, so I ran down as fast as I could, so she would have them in time.

Me: Oh…well uhhh, why don’t you just take a seat, and she should be done with her client in about ten minutes or so…Aaaaand I’ve made things very awkward now, so I’m just gonna go back into my office…I’m just…gonna go…

I promptly returned to my office, slumped in my chair, and gave myself a nice hearty face-palm.

I am GREAT in a crisis…or someday will be…this day was just not my moment to shine.