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.

Advertisements

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.

 

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

 

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.

My Twilight Experience

I have a pretty sweet job. One of the main things our department does on campus is plan and implement activities for the student body. As a result, I get to do a lot of pretty cool things. The latest project was renting out a theater for the premiere of…wait for it…the latest installment in the Twilight saga. Breaking Dawn Part II. There are a lot of perks that come with my jobby job. This isn’t one of them.

Keep in mind I haven’t seen any of the previous films nor have I read any of the books. The moment I learned that vampires sparkle in this series has spurned a barrage of mockery from me ever since. This was a vampire mythos I could not get on board with. Consequently, a co-worker of mine expressed she was cashing in on a favor that was long over-due for missing out on last year’s theater rental for the premiere of Breaking Dawn Part I. We agreed then, my payment would be to go to a movie of her choosing. Little did I know she would hold out a whole year let alone remember my little debt. I braced myself for the worst, but also told myself that it couldn’t all be bad. I had it on good authority that the majority of scenes showcased shirtless hunks and this installment contained a battle of epic proportions.

Below are my live-tweets as I embarked on this melodromatic and broody journey. Fair warning, there are tons of SPOILERS! I am sure my live-tweets have already caused tween rage and brought forth the wrath of angsty Twilight fanatics who were unable to make it to the premiere. Yeah, well bite me.

I’m gonna need this caffeine to get through this. God help me…

Live-Tweets during the viewing of Breaking Dawn Part II

  • I was just informed there are mind bubbles involved…OH MY…
  • Theater ad just instructed me to turn off my phone and abstain from using it during the film. Nope, not gonna do it!
  • Here we go. There are squeals throughout the theater & they haven’t even shown vamps and wolves without their shirts yet.
  • Cheesy groping within the first 5 seconds. Even with red eyes she’s still pretty expressionless.

  • Did he seriously just ask her to sniff him!?

  • The fact the baby was nicknamed Nessie gives me hope for this film
  • Am I the only one that finds vampy foreplay to be super awkward!?

  • And Jacob is stripping…STRIPPING!!! This movie just got momentarily better. And the theater is rejoicing and cheering. Even the dudes, although I suspect their cheers are meant to be ironic.
  • Aaaaand the moment has passed. Back to shit I don’t understand.
  • Oh the sparkles! I just can’t take the SPARKLES!
  • Edmund’s face or more specifically his overdone facial expressions freak my shiz out!
  • Heads r rollin, baby drooling blood, more sparkles, what appears to be brooding & ominous flashbacks. No idea what is happening right now.
  • I don’t understand why all these vamps have mutant powers…

  • Tyra Banks became an Amazon vamp, and she still smises like a boss!
  • Vamp vamp vamp of the jungle, watch out for that tree!!!
  • Dude! It’s Hans and Frans! These Romanian vamps are sassy!
  • Black smoke monster from Lost apparently became a vamp.
  • Mind bubbles!!! Vamp mutant training has begun.
  • Had to take a pee break and upon my return realized this theater is starting to get a little ripe…
  • I think an epic battle is about to take place. After a long lull of boredom, things have taken an interesting turn.
  • Did Edward & red coat dude with long flowing hair (brunette Fabio) just share an intimate moment as they held hand & mind melded?
  • FIGHT!!! ::cue Mortal Kombat theme music::
  • EPIC MINDBUBBLES!!! YUSSSSS!!!
  • I don’t understand what is going on with brunette Fabio’s fancy pants speech…
  • So many sneers!!!
  • FATALITY! Fatalities galore!!!

  • So many dead puppies! I may need to process…
  • Shit just got real…

Final Tweet:

I feel so utterly cheated right now and simultaneously nauseous…I DEFINITELY need to process now…UGH!

Needless to say, I was not amused with what transpired toward the conclusion and the ending was just gross. However, the experience of watching the film in a theater full of college students (many with whom our department work with) laughing at the absurd moments, cheering at decapitation and maulings, and the mystery science theater esque atmosphere made it well worth it. Will I run out and get the previous installments or the books? That’s an emphatic NO.

Do I regret going to the final installment of a series I have scoffed at and mocked since their inception? See previous answer above.

The hottest new club…

While Saturday Night Live’s skits can be inconsistent and you never really know what you’re going to get; some send you into fits of hysteria, while others just leave you feeling meh. Throughout the seasons and casts, Weekend Update was always one of my SNL highlights. I enjoy the current host, Seth Meyers and find his Weekend Updates delightful, but I light up when I realize it’s a Weekend Update that features a certain lovable city correspondent.     
                                                                                                                                       
(1)Some argue that Stefan is homophobic and perhaps he is; he’s definitely not known for saying the most politically correct things. (2)Bill Hader explained to Jimmy Kimmel that the character was a combination of a barista with similar mannerisms and vocal inflections as the character Stefan and an email writer John Mulaney received about a gay bar that had a laundry list of features. A gay bar that prides itself on the many amenities and attractions it has to offer? WHA????


(3)Take the following descriptions of some of the hottest gay clubs in New York City:

Mingle with a pretty and diverse gay crowd at this hot nightspot in Hell’s Kitchen. The huge two-level lounge is a former warehouse (and whorehouse). Enjoy therapeutic cocktails named after your favorite disorders – from Delusions to Psychotic Episodes. Free entertainment includes an open-mike night, a comedy hour featuring queer-friendly comedians, and nightly DJs.

At Eastern Bloc, the drinks are strong and (relatively) cheap, bears are beautiful, and the house assumes no attitude. The decor is early Communist nostalgia and DJ Josh Sparber runs the show at the Good Times parties on Wednesday night, where it’s easy to strike up a conversation with a bearded stranger.

Stefan’s portrayal seems pretty accurate when you take these factors into consideration. So, O.K. Stefan is a bit of an exaggeration, but come on! That’s what makes him so funny! Some of the stuff the writers have him saying is so outlandish, Hader can barely keep a straight face and often breaks character as he bursts out laughing at the absurdity. I can see how some may find him offensive, but shit is funny; I don’t care who you are…
With Stefan’s backstory and origin in mind along with the satirical nature of both the show and the performance, I would say the knee-jerk reaction to cry homophobic may be a bit pre-mature on this one. I would hope the majority of American audiences can distinguish between realistic performances and satire. There once was a time when the sole purpose of a homosexual character on a television series or the big screen was to be THE comic relief—the idiot or the bafoon. We’ve come a long way baby! There are a multitude of characters, and these characters showcase a multitude of backgrounds and a much more complex archetypal schematic for the “gay character”. With this broader exposure, I’d like to believe the majority of audiences fully understand characters on SNL do not serve to represent the whole nor encourage hasty generalizations. Are there some who will come to the myopic conclusion that Stefan is “just like the rest of em”? Yes, but those folks will always be around. Upon each generation, shiny and new douche-nozzles shall arise! One thing is certain; progress has been made. Let’s not pick on poor Stefan as if he is standing in the way of it.
_____________________________________________________________________________

1. Stefan on SNL is Disturbingly Homophobic,” (The Data Lounge, December 21, 2010). http://www.datalounge.com/cgi-bin/iowa/ajax.html?t=9965549#page:showThread,9965549 (September, 6, 2011).
2. “Bill Hader Explains the Origin of ‘Stefan’ on Fallon,” Huffington Post, November 25, 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/27/bill-hader-jimmy-fallon-snl_n_788746.html (September 6, 2011).
3. “Top 6 New York City Gay Bars,” (About.com). http://manhattan.about.com/od/glbtscene/tp/nycgaybars.htm (September 6, 2011).