Monday, June 29, 2015

Ted 2: a very Ted review SHORTIE

In this special shortie edition, Germar attempts a spoiler-free review of Seth Macfarlane's Ted 2--starring Mark Wahlberg.  Here's the issue: Germar was just released from the hospital and was filled with drugs.  Then, he went out after work (definitely should not have gone to work either) and had champagne, champagne, and Jack, and Jack.  So whatever this is, try to enjoy it.  He actually fell asleep twice while recording.

Friday, June 26, 2015

No freedom ‘til we’re equal; Picard supports it

by Nani Lawrence, Writing Intern

This May, a Belfast judge found a family-owned bakery guilty of discrimination for refusing to make a Bert and Ernie cake with “Support Gay Marriage” in its design. Originally, they accepted the order, understanding the intent. Ashers Bakery called to cancel the order two days later based on the owner’s evangelical Christian beliefs.

Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled it [blatant] discrimination because they: 1) knew the man who ordered it was gay, and 2) would have no qualms about making a cake supporting traditional marriage. She also stated they were a public business, not a religious organization. Therefore, they have no right to reject a customer based on beliefs. That makes sense, right?

Not to everyone.

Sir Patrick Stewart, probably best known for playing Captain Picard and being an overall amazing person, disagreed with the verdict in an interview in early June. In his view, they shouldn’t have to write a message that personally offends them and their deeply-held beliefs. Their right to free speech should be balanced with other’s right to equality. In that case, why not make the cake, give the customer frosting, and let him write the “offensive” message?

Photo by: Dave J Hogan/Getty
Stewart later clarified his remarks. Stewart respects that others disagree with him, including the courts. But . . . 

What I cannot respect is that some have conflated my position on this single matter to assume I’m anti-equality or that I share the personal beliefs of the bakers. Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth. I have long championed the rights of the LGBT community, because equality should not only be, as the people of Ireland powerfully showed the world, universally embraced, but treasured.

This is akin to soldiers, when referring to flag burning, asserting “I disapprove of what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

This case remains murky. Most Americans know little about other nations’ laws, let alone their cultures. Ireland, and Northern Ireland—a part of the United Kingdom--seem to be signed on to the UK’s Human Rights Act.  The act went into effect in 2000, and its purpose was to incorporate the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. The UK also operates, at least partially, under the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Neither of these are technically legally binding, and often the rights provided in each are widely interpreted. The citizens of the UK at least have the same avenues to challenge perceived injustices, without going all the way to the European Court in France.

In Hamalainen v. Finland, the applicant, Ms. Hamalainen, was born a male. She dealt with her “issues” for many years, married a woman and had a child. In 2006, she was “diagnosed a transsexual,” and started living as a woman. Three years later, she underwent gender reassignment surgery.

Her complaint came to the court because, although her driver’s license and passport reflected her new identity, her identification number did not. The court apparently did not side with her because her wife refused to have their marriage reclassified as a registered partnership.

If the UK’s law does in fact reflect the European Convention on Human Rights, the rights of a same-sex couple are not necessarily protected.  The Convention didn't protect the status of the marriage when a heterosexual couple became a lesbian couple. LGBT individuals probably don’t quite have the same rights as straight individuals. But hey, at least same-sex marriage is now legal in Ireland, right?

Sir Patrick Stewart has a point, especially if there is nothing regulating business discrimination. Ruling this way might even open the floodgates of businesses having to serve any individual, no matter how horrible the speech; who knows? The judge has a point, too, though. Turning away a paying customer based on your belief—especially after you already said you would service them—is not only messed up, but a very stupid business practice.

The best response to these incidents may be to simply move on, find another baker who will satisfy your order, and spread the word. If the media has shown anything lately, it’s that people can rally. The free market is a wonderful thing, and if any public service feels they have the right to discriminate, the public definitely has the right to choose not to frequent their establishment.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pretty Little Liars: “Don’t Look Now” recap & review

by Melissa Parkin 

Mr. DeLaurentis finally tells his children the “truth” about Charles. Apparently, the eldest sibling of the clan displayed some rather disturbing behavioral issues from a young age. After attempting to drown a baby Alison in the bathtub, Charles was sentenced to the Radley Institute, where he killed himself by the time he turned sixteen. Mr. DeLaurentis just so happened to be out of town at the time of his son’s death, and his wife decided to cremate Charles without so much as holding a funeral service for his passing. Alison relays the tale to the Liars, and the ever so blunt Hanna immediately calls bull. Considering this is “A” we’re talking about here, would anybody buy this story? No funeral, no living witnesses to question, and no paperwork to back up any of this. As Shakespeare would say, “there’s something rotten in Denmark.”

Eric McCandless/ABC Family
Though the girls may have escaped the Dollhouse, they still can’t help but feel smothered in one form or another. Spencer’s anxiety and sleep deprivation consumes her every moment. Since her mother cut her off from anti-anxiety medication, Spencer resorts to dumpster diving in the Montgomery’s trash when she learns that Aria has tossed out her meds. When the effort leaves her empty-handed, she turns to accepting special brownies from Ezra’s new baker. Fitz catches on to what Spencer’s doing and lends his opinion on the matter, but the words fall on deaf ears. All Spencer wants is peace, even if it’s only temporary.
Tensions continue to boil as Hanna finally blows a gasket over the fact that Caleb is constantly hovering around her like an overprotective hawk. She’s “smothered” by him always being around. After she discovers that he’s even planted a GPS tracker on her car to keep tabs on her, she firmly declares that she “needs space.”

Things aren’t going any better over at the Fields’ residence as Sarah Harvey’s presence and skittish behavior sends up more red flags for Emily’s mother. Ms. Fields forces Emily into seeing a therapist, whether she’s ready to open up about her experiences or not. Sarah refuses to seek counseling though and even resorts to running away. Emily insists that she can help Sarah, and decides to take Ms. Harvey to the community swimming pool. The girls share a late night dip; Sarah finally seems to relax.

Lastly, Aria finds that her father has entered into full-blown papa bear mode, insisting on escorting her everywhere she goes. Having recently been bitten by the shutterbug, she finally manages to get some time alone when she visits the college to use their darkroom. As she develops some shots, she freaks out upon finding a note from “A” insisting that Aria is still “MY doll, bitch.” Apparently, Charles went all I Know What You Did Last Summer on Aria while in the Dollhouse by chopping off her locks after she refused to dye her hair pink—hence the new ‘do. Aria tries to flee from the darkroom, but soon discovers that she’s been locked inside. As only PLL can, a handsome helping hand comes to her rescue in the form of Clark, a gorgeous fellow photog, who removes the wedge “A” planted in the door.

Unconvinced by Charles’s supposed death, the Liars try to track down his medical records from Radley. Given that the facility closed down, they’re forced to sneak into Riverhill Davis Center, the place where the remaining patient records are sent for shredding. As per usual, Charles’s record is incomplete. Noticing that Alison’s deceased great-aunt was on the visitor’s log, they, along with Jason, go out to her old house with the belief that Charles is actually squatting there. They do in fact find him resting…just not in the way they expected. Jason and Ali uncover a grave in the backyard, with Charles’s name engraved on the headstone. It’s legitimate. The show closes out with the hooded “A” observing a computer monitor, where each of the Liars’ locations are pinpointed out on a map via GPS tracker. Yes, it was creepy.

“Don’t Look Now” definitely has its fair share of twists and insight, but it has problems, particularly with convenience. Sneaking inside a facility to get medical records would generally inspire a cute, low-grade Mission: Impossible heist plan, but instead, the girls just stroll right in through the backdoor without anyone noticing. ANYONE. Then, Jason just so happens to recall a bizarre occurrence at his great-aunt’s house that he never thought strange enough to investigate until…how long after the fact? It gets better.

Hanna and Caleb. What. Just. Happened?

The strongest couple on the show suddenly goes on a break, because Caleb was being…a loving boyfriend? Oh, how awful for you Hanna. The man helped rescue you from a psychopath’s lair and wants to keep you safe. Your response: push him away for caring that much. Seriously? If this development doesn’t inspire fantasies of throwing your remote shattered screens, then I’m not sure what will. This was not season six’s best. *tears*

 Pretty Little Liars - “Don’t Look Now” Rating:  C +


#CancelTheDuggars

by Taylor Williamson, Writing Intern

The public craves controversy and drama.  So the social media uproar over the molestation rumors concerning the television series 19 Kids And Counting comes as no surprise.  Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the like overflowed with comments from the hashtag #CancelTheDuggars, to express cruel statements regarding the family.


Following the news, when accusations arose regarding one of the eldest children, astonishment and surprise overtook the media. Various leaked police reports were flying around the web, stating the eldest son, Josh Duggar, inappropriately touched underage girls, including his younger sisters when he was a teenager. According to CNN, Josh Duggar confessed to some of his actions: “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends...."Duggar also stated in a report from ABC he “would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions.” Yes, he was a teenager at the time, but even teenagers are know the difference between right and wrong.  While human beings are prone to making mistakes, some have greater consequences than others.  If a man desires to inappropriately touch a minor, does that desire disappear?  Most offenders relapse and commit similar crimes.

In the wake of a furious social media frenzy, the network, TLC, hastily pulled the long running television series.  The network also stated, “We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time.” 19 Kids and Counting centers on a heavily Christian family with strict rules regarding relationships and it seems the more children they have the better.  In preparation for their marriage, the women plan their wedding day around their ovulation cycle in hopes that they will become pregnant as soon as possible.  This show aired for fifteen long seasons and was preparing for another season before the rumors began to spread.   

With this knowledge, it seems worrisome to grant a man, who previously abused minors, permission to be near his young daughters and young sisters. He should be in rehab and getting help.  The family knew about these accusations, however, and they hid this . . . darkness. Hiding the truth damages their credibility and makes people question what other secrets they might be keeping.  Who’s to say there weren’t more children who were victim to Josh Duggar?  How many times did he abuse his younger siblings? The big question still remains, what will happen with his own daughters? Should he be allowed so close to his children?

The overall question on the public’s mind is what else are they hiding and how much worse can it be?

Following the world wide scandal after much time has passed, many people are rallying for the Duggars in hopes of continuing the popular reality show.  People praised the Duggars--glorifying them for changing their lives for the better.  A fan wrote, “My heart has changed so much watching you all....”  These overwhelmingly positive responses from fans illustrate how even though the family buried a scandal, they continue to receive love and support from many people. Despite the fan support, many people still side with The TLC Network for discontinuing the show.

Following the media scrutiny, the family agreed to an interview to set the record straight.  In the interview, the family discussed how they overlooked the eldest son’s actions, claiming it was biology and saying how the media investigation was worse than the actual abuse. The family created an excuse for the son, and claimed that the sisters were unaware of the abuse; he touched them while they slept.  If this is true, Duggar stripped his youngest sisters of their innocence by entering their safe environment and hurting them.  In the interview, the parents admitted to attaching locks on the bedroom doors and banning the game hide-and-seek.  No one knows besides the victims or Duggar what really happened, or if he found a way around those safety guards. 

The family also blamed biology.  Yes, young boys who just enter puberty experience changes in their body and the way they view members of the opposite sex. This doesn’t justify his behavior.  The family promised they underwent therapy, but, there’s no guarantee that they went, or if it really helped.

On the question of is Duggar still a danger to young girls, psychologist Sharon Lamb stated, “It is possible Josh is no longer a threat.” Only time will tell at this point whether he has changed.  Following the shocking scandal, the family minus Josh and his wife were pictured spending quality time together. 

To this day, there is still no formal announcement to officially end the series.  Some people find this strange and upsetting. One person in particular who finds this reaction unsettling is June Shannon from the cancelled television show Here comes Honey Boo Boo. She believes, “TLC is coddling the Duggars and are even backing them up, amid the scandal.  They have a lot of high exec people hanging out with them.”  Oddly, TLC seems to be pondering and debating their plans for the show.  The show had a great fifteen year run; it’s time to say goodbye.  



Sources:

Soriano, Mercy. "'19 Kids and Counting' Cancelled? Anna Duggar to Give Birth to a Baby Girl in July amid Scandal." Ecumenical News. June 17, 2015. Accessed June 17, 2015.

Schumann, Rebecka. "Jana Duggar Spends Time With Younger Siblings Amid '19 Kids And Counting' Molestation Scandal." International Business Times. June 15, 2015. Accessed June 17, 2015.

Grossbart, Sarah. "Years after Josh Duggar Molested His Sisters, the Family Insists He's a Changed Man." The Edge. June 15, 2015. Accessed June 17, 2015.

Ong, Czarina. "Entertainment." In Support of Duggars, Fans Say How '19 Kids and Counting' Changed Their Lives. June 13, 2015. Accessed June 17, 2015.

Rothman, Michael, Katie Conway, and Alison Ehrlich. "Josh Duggar: '19 Kids and Counting' Pulled in Wake of Allegations." ABC News. May 22, 2015. Accessed May 24, 2015.

Corriston, Michele, and Amanda Michelle Steiner. "TLC Confirms 19 Kids and Counting Pulled from Schedule After Child Molestation Accusations." People.com. May 22, 2015. Accessed May 24, 2015.

Ford, Dana. "Josh Duggar Responds to Child Molestation Police Report - CNN.com." CNN. May 24, 2015. Accessed May 24, 2015.

Britney, Free. "19 Kids and Counting to Continue After TLC Fires Josh Duggar?" The Hollywood Gossip. May 23, 2015. Accessed May 24, 2015.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Story-time with Germar: the magic of dating

In episode 220, Germar talks about that magic--the first time you meet or date or kiss . . . is it really magic, coincidence, nothing at all? Here, Germar revisits his Sinister Six of ex-girlfriends and covers the first encounters, relationships, and thoughts looking back. Honestly, it may not be very interesting, but listen anyway and enjoy the music.  But first, Germar canceled (postponed?) What's Poppin'--hear why.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

LGBT Pride Month: T is for transgender

by Nani Lawrence, Writing Intern

Surprise, surprise, not everyone’s a fan of change. Oftentimes, those disgusted that queer people exist intersect with those that disparage the concept of LGBT Pride. Sometimes, even allies are against it. The argument is that it divides society into “us” versus “them.” True, lately, LGB people are more “out and proud” after a long struggle. The largely forgotten “t,”--the transgender community--now has popular support and visibility within mainstream media.   On June 8th, Becoming Us premiered on ABC Family. The show is primarily about a young man named Ben and how he deals with his father’s transition.

Photo by Dan Hallman/Invision/AP
In the first episode, Ben’s father, now “Carly,” was in transition. She began hormones a few years prior, while she and Ben’s mother were still married. Carly reveals to Ben that she is getting bottom surgery. His girlfriend, Danielle, is dealing with her own father’s transition as well. Perhaps with quite a bit more understanding than Ben, but she’s helping him get there. With the help of his friends and family, Ben slowly learns to accept his “Dad/Mom” for everything she is.

Trans Pride Flag
Elsewhere, everyone knows about Caitlyn Jenner. You are either sick of hearing about her or heartened that the civilized world accepts her. The link to the Kardashians is troubling to some, and even inspires skepticism. A Texas woman by the name of Jennifer Bradford started a petition to revoke the medals Jenner won back in the 1970s, under the guise of truly “supporting the transgender community.” The International Olympics Committee shot down the idea right away, stating “Bruce Jenner won his gold medal in the 1976 Olympic Games and there is no issue for the IOC." Luckily, her accomplishments are not erased because of her transition, but the whole situation arguably proves Jenner’s intent. There are many other comparatively low-risk ways to get attention. Why would she put herself through all of this?

Another inspiration to transgender people everywhere made news recently, too. Laverne Cox is the first trans-person to have a wax figure at Madam Tussauds in San Francisco. With the release of season three of Orange is the New Black, Cox’s star gets brighter by the day.

Cox shared her support for Miss Jenner via her official Tumblr account, appropriately, the first week of June. Cox stated that she must agree about how gorgeous Jenner looks, but what ”is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities.”
GETTY
Cox gained prominence after the first season of Orange is the New Black streamed on Netflix in 2013. Since then, she has been a very vocal supporter for her community. Having someone as established as she speak out on issues and support her fellow trans-community members is an inspiration. However, even she acknowledges the limits of her fame.

. . . in certain lighting, at certain angles I am able to embody certain cisnormative beauty standards. Now, there are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody these standards. More importantly many trans folks don’t want to embody them and we should be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves…. Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I now have. It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people.

Seeing transgender people and understanding why they are the way they are, especially in mainstream media, is probably one of the best ways to achieve equality. Trans-individuals still face many hardships today, just as anyone not born straight and white. The sickening events of the past few days—and the past few years-- have shown us that race relations and equality after several centuries of struggle remains a struggle. It will still be a very long road, full of mostly heartbreak and small victories. But at least the transgender community is breaking ground in a pretty big way.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jurassic World

In Episode 219, Germar gives the rare SPOILER-FILLED movie review for Jurassic World (18:00). But first he explains how famous people spend their days working as telemarketers.  Oh, hold up, he totally forgot to mention that tons of actors that you would recognize work as telemarketers in Hollywood. And also it's 2015. Get used to the idea that your entire life will be online whether you approve or not.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Great gay things for LGBT Pride Month

by Nani Lawrence, Writing Intern

Very Catholic Ireland held a vote on whether to approve same-sex marriage nationwide. Irish citizens flocked to their native land in droves to be on the right side of history. Poll centers reported on May 21st that the referendum passed by a good 62 percent.

Stemming from this historic vote, author J.K. Rowling tweeted about a hypothetical, fictional wedding between Gandalf and Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. In kind, Christian Terrorists Anonymous (“CTA,” my name for “Westboro;” I refuse to give them more "ink") promised to picket such a union. Because of course they would.  More back-and-forth took place over Twitter, but Rowling fought against the group as an amazing ally and human being.

from Have a Gay Day's office wall,
photo by founder and president Michael Knote
The Equality House--a resource center sponsored by the organization Planting Peace in Topeka--hired actors to get “married” as these accomplished wizards. The ceremony took place June 7th, and by all accounts it was as magical and epic as you’d expect. It happened right across the street from the “church.” Awesome.

The director of operations for Planting Peace, Davis Hammet, presided over the faux ceremony. Like the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series, the wedding was a celebration of the power of fiction to help people “learn the importance of seeking justice, of bravery and courage, [and] the power of fiction to teach you how to struggle for what is right,” he said.

This amazing spectacle all came about because of Rowling’s final slap of awesome reality. In a tweet on May 27th, she responded to a fan complaining that she inadvertently gave CTA attention. Her response:



Aaron Jackson, the founder and president of Planting Peace, told the Huffington Post Rowling’s final tweet spoke to the core of the non-profit:

The Equality House was founded to take a stand against the hurtful words and actions of hate groups like the WBC. People often question why we even mention them, and Ms. Rowling’s words were spot on. We must actively stand up to hate and ensure that LGBTQ youth understand that they have a broad platform of love and support in this world. That is a core part of what we do at Planting Peace.

As both expressed, visibility is very important for any marginalized group of individuals. This “behavior”—or anything that strays from the norm—is more tolerated in society. But there are still those who are more comfortable denying change and progress. It’s an extreme example and most everyone in America dislikes them, but why do you think CTA exists here?

Every group that discriminates runs to the inappropriate arms of First Amendment protection. They completely miss the point that the amendment only protects their hate speech from government action, but somehow they still win court cases (editor’s note: and hate speech isn’t necessarily protected).

CTA  protests every bad thing that happens. In the past, they have protested funerals of soldiers with signs and chants akin to blaming homosexuals for the ills of the world. Not because these specific individuals are gay, but because God would not supposedly allow bad things to happen if “He” weren’t angry about gays having rights. Or, if you pay attention to reality, to spread their vile message and anger everyone. The recent trend of blocking or forming a wall of people around funeral processions is quite a perfect response.  People stand up, refuse to be bullied, and find a way to lessen the pain of others.

As Rowling brilliantly summed up, in less than 140 characters, choosing to ignore and be the better person is fine. Sometimes in life, it’s unfortunately all you can do. But if you can make this dark world just a bit brighter for someone else, why wouldn’t you?

 
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