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by Jeff
Rated: 18+ · Book · Biographical · #1399999
My primary Writing.com blog.
Logocentric (adj). Regarding words and language as a fundamental expression of an external reality (especially applied as a negative term to traditional Western thought by postmodernist critics).

Sometimes I just write whatever I feel like. Other times I respond to prompts, many taken from the following places:

         *Penw* "The Soundtrackers Group
         *Penw* "Blogging Circle of Friends
         *Penw* "Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise
         *Penw* "JAFBG
         *Penw* "Take up Your Cross

Thanks for stopping by! *Smile*
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June 21, 2022 at 11:24pm
June 21, 2022 at 11:24pm

"JAFBG | Prompt

I'm really conflicted on this issue, and it stems from a conversation that my brother and I had. He asked me one time what the process was like to get certified as a foster caregiver/guardian in order to adopt our kids, and I was telling him about how we had to take a number of classes (about both requirements for foster parents and general child development to be aware of what foster kids placed with you might be going through), a social worker regularly coming out to check our home for safety concerns (cleaning products and sharp objects and alcohol locked up, child safety products like gates on stairwells and electrical outlet covers, etc.), a thorough vetting of our psychological and financial fitness to be parents, and a regular schedule of health evaluations, all meticulously documented.

I then asked my brother how all that compared to having his biological kids, my two nieces, and he goes, "Wow, nothing like that. At the hospital we had the baby and they basically checked to make sure the baby was viable, then they handed 'em to us and sent us on our way."

Since that conversation, I've often debated with myself about the right amount of parenting preparedness. Having been through the foster-to-adopt process, although I can definitely see the need for some initial safeguards and checks, the process is extremely onerous. That said, a lot of that process prepared us really well to care for our kids, and the idea of having a biological kid in a hospital and them just handing you the kid at some point after a few hours or days of observation and going, "Good luck!" seems crazy irresponsible, and I wonder if there shouldn't be just a little more proactive double-checking to make sure kids are going into safe environments with responsible parents.

I'm hesitant to support the idea of licensing for parents because I generally don't like the idea of government deciding who does and does not deserve to be parents, or having any say in that process. But I do sometimes wonder if a simple administrative step would be helpful. There are lots of questions of infrastructure and reporting to be able to handle it, but what if there were a simple evaluation process for expecting couples where a social worker stopped by for a chat, took a look at the home, and had a conversation with the parents about basic fundamentals like providing for the child's needs and making sure they're mentally prepared for how their lives will change. For everyone that seems like they've got a handle on it, great... you check the box on the form and move on with your lives. But if the social worker had any specific concerns out of that meeting, they could recommend some of the steps we had to take as foster parents, to work with someone to establish healthy habits or discuss other options in advance of the child being brought into the world.

It's one of those things that many people, especially Americans, react poorly to almost immediately... the idea of government reaching into our lives and "taking away" something we previously had the freedom to do without any oversight at all. But given all the atrocities in the foster care system today, which is to say nothing of the atrocities in private homes that don't even get brought to the attention of social services, I can't help but wonder if maybe a teensy bit of mild oversight would have a preventative effect on a lot of our current problems.

I dunno... it seems to me like there has to be a sensible middle ground between, "We're going to watch you like a hawk every minute of this child's life" and "Your baby is two days old, we're discharging you from the hospital and wish you the best of luck over the next 18+ years!" *Think*
June 20, 2022 at 10:55pm
June 20, 2022 at 10:55pm

"JAFBG | Prompt

I would 100% shelter a refugee in my home, no question. I can't imagine a scenario where, generally speaking, my answer to the question of, "Would you help someone in need?" would be, "I don't think so, no." That said, the circumstances would definitely play a big part in what specific way I thought I would best be able to help and it's not a one-size fits all problem, so the second two questions in this prompt are critical.

What factors would you have to consider?

My family lives in a townhouse, and with two kids running around, space always seems to be in short supply. The needs of the prospective refugee(s) would have to be a factor. Is it a single person? Is it a family? Would they be comfortable in a small room that doubles as an office, even if we moved the office stuff out? Would my kids have to share a room in order for everyone to have the space they need?

Timeframe would also be a consideration. Is this for a limited amount of time while they work through a more formal resettlement process? Do they need a permanent new residence?

The biggest considerations I'd have to make are mostly logistical, making sure that the space we have to offer is a good fit for their needs and something that my family could work with for however long was needed.

What might make you say no?

Obviously the biggest red flag would be anything that might put my own family at risk. If the refugee were some sort of a violent criminal, or was the subject of active pursuit where there was a chance my family would be in danger. That would be a nonstarter. Another would obviously be a scenario where we just couldn't make the logistics work.

I would probably also say no in cases where, more generally, actually living with us in Southern California wasn't an ideal situation... like if we were only taking one family member while the others were in different cities or states. Or where someone needed permanent resettlement. In cases like those, I would probably be more inclined to help in other ways, by finding acquaintances with the appropriate accommodations, or helping them financially or otherwise to get set up for success on their own.

I suppose the TL;DR version of this blog post is that I can't think of very many scenarios in which I wouldn't absolutely help a refugee in need. But there would be some real questions about whether staying with us would be the best thing for all involved. But would I hesitate to give someone in need a place to stay if it were in my power to do so and they needed one? Absolutely not. Refugee crises are only going to increase in the coming decades and I think it's a moral obligation of every human being to help other humans in need. If we were being displaced from our own home country for some reason, we would want to be able to rely on the kindness, compassion, and generosity of someone in another country to help us resettle. The least any of us can do is extend that courtesy to someone else.
June 1, 2022 at 12:22am
June 1, 2022 at 12:22am



         *Movie* The Muppets (2011)
         *Movie* Muppets Most Wanted
         *Movie* Snake Eyes


         *TV* Barry (Seasons 2 & 3)
         *TV* Bosch: Legacy (Season 1)
         *TV* The Boys (Season 1)
         *TV* Ms. Marvel

For some reason, I had never gotten around to watching the two most recent Muppets movies until now. We watched them last weekend with the kids and I was shocked at how funny they were. Not just kid humor, but tons of inside jokes about show business that are meant for grown-ups. As cheesy as the movies are, they were genuinely fun and I find myself wanting to revisit a bunch of the other Muppets properties with the kids that have been created over the years.

Snake Eyes, on the other hand, is yet another entry in the "nobody knows how to make a good G.I. Joe movie" genre. If you're familiar with the property, Snake Eyes is the good ninja that works for the Joes. Storm Shadow is the evil ninja that works for COBRA. And somehow, inexplicably, they made this a movie where Snake Eyes is a complete garbage person who is welcomed in by Storm Shadow, treated like a brother, and betrays him at every single step along the way. By the end of the movie, Snake Eyes has basically taken Storm Shadow's place in his own family, and when he stalks off and joins COBRA it's kind of like, "Yeah, no wonder why." Also, Henry Golding may be pretty to look at, but he's clearly terrible at stunts and fight training. *RollEyes*

On the television front, I watched our new series Ms. Marvel that comes out in June, as well as the new Bosch: Legacy spinoff series which I love, don't get me wrong (because the original Amazon Prime series is great), but for the life of me I can't figure out why they made it. It was made for Freevee, a streaming service that used to be IMDb TV which is owned by... Amazon. So Amazon basically has a completely secondary streaming service for which they're... creating new spinoff shows based on shows Amazon Prime itself has canceled.

I finally got caught up on Barry which is excellent (although Season 3 takes a real turn in a lot of ways and it's a little jarring compared to what came in the two seasons before), and I fell in love with The Boys which is an irreverent take on superheroes (specifically super teams like the Justice League) and what would happen in a world where they're complete assholes, narcissists, and have the same mental problems the rest of us have. Honestly, if you're at all a fan of superhero fare and you don't mind a darker twist on in, this is a great show that turns a lot of tropes on their head. It's delightfully dark and twisted. *Smirk*

TOP PICK: The Boys
May 29, 2022 at 12:23am
May 29, 2022 at 12:23am


I'm really, really late posting April's watch list, but I did keep track of everything:


         *Movie* The Batman
         *Movie* Death on the Nile


         *TV* Barry (Season 1)
         *TV* Is It Cake? (DNF)
         *TV* Last Week Tonight (Season 9)
         *TV* Law & Order (Season 21)

I was really looking forward to The Batman, which might have had something to do with my overall lackluster impression of it. A lot of my friends absolutely loved it and raved about it, but I found it to be generally good-but-not-great. Part of the issue was the pacing; at 176 minutes, there were a lot of gratuitous shots of brooding Bruce, rain falling, Batman's cape fluttering in the breeze, etc. They missed an opportunity for a great two hours and instead made it an okay three hours.

Death on the Nile was beautifully shot but also felt a little indulgent on Kenneth Branagh's part. When you're both the director and the star, maybe don't spend so much time lingering on yourself. *RollEyes*

As far as television goes, finally getting on the Barry bandwagon and it's great. Really offbeat and quirky and fun. I'll write more about it next month now that I'm caught up and on Season 3. Law & Order is the newest revival of the venerable series with a (mostly) new cast and, for the most part, it hasn't changed a bit. Same formula, same character archetypes. If you liked the old Law & Order, there's very little to dislike about the new one (mostly because there's very little that's different).

Last Week Tonight continues to be my favorite comedy news program. The deep dive they do on important, topical subjects is great, and the stunts they pull are always aimed at raising awareness of the week's issue. This season has done some really excellent explainers, including on the topics of what critical race theory really is, police interrogations, wrongful convictions, sex work, and data brokers.

Is It Cake? was a fun idea for a show that I didn't need to watch more than two episodes of. It's a reality show and the idea is that expert cake decorators make cakes that look like other things (each episode has a theme, so one episode was making cake that looked like junk food, one was making cakes that looked like designer handbags, etc.), and contestants have to try and guess which one is the cake and which one is real. Like I said, it's a fun idea... but the host is absolutely obnoxious and stretches out a ten minute concept into thirty minutes with annoying banter and fake drama among the cake decorators... so this one was definitely a DNF. I don't need to see a whole season of this stuff.

TOP PICK: Last Week Tonight
April 3, 2022 at 1:46am
April 3, 2022 at 1:46am

I keep meticulous track of all the books, scripts, and comics I read every year. Plus the podcasts I listen to. But the one thing I don't do very often is write about the things I watch. I don't really know why I haven't until this point, but I recently noticed that a friend of mine writes up a "media consumption" post on Facebook every month and I thought I might start doing the same.

To qualify for the list, it has to be something that I've watched that's new to me. It doesn't necessarily have to be a current show, it just can't be reruns of something I've already seen. So if I'm including it in this list, it means this month is the first time I've watched it. I won't list the stuff I lost interest in quickly, but I'll put "DNF" (Did Not Finish) next to anything that I stopped watching and have no immediate plans to finish.

So without further ado, here's February's watch list:


         *Movie* The 355
         *Movie* F9
         *Movie* Free Guy
         *Movie* The Kindness of Strangers
         *Movie* Turning Red
         *Movie* The Weekend Away


         *TV* The Bad Batch
         *TV* Moon Knight
         *TV* Pieces of Her

There really wasn't anything this month that totally blew me away, but then again I didn't watch a whole lot of stuff either. Free Guy was a movie I've been meaning to watch for a long time and I'm glad I finally got around to seeing it. Same with F9, but the Fast & Furious movies have been more about laughing about how dumb they are than appreciating them on their merits.

And I'm really proud of our new Marvel show that debuted this week. It's a good one. *Wink*

TOP PICK: Moon Knight
March 20, 2022 at 12:59am
March 20, 2022 at 12:59am

"JAFBG | Prompt

One of the most backwards-thinking and harmful concepts we've ever come up with as a society is that someone's worth is inherently tied to their productivity, and that basic human needs such as food, housing, etc. need to be earned. No, people who receive state benefits shouldn't be forced to volunteer for charity, FFS.

While there is certainly a conversation to be had around setting appropriate guardrails and systems by which society can address abuses of public assistance programs, that is not the same thing as a work requirement in order to qualify for those benefits in the first place. The people who rely on public assistance are not a monolith. There are people who can't work for any of a number of reasons, including but not limited to disability, lack of skills, lack of opportunity, and existing socioeconomic biases. Are we really going to say someone, "Hey, because you're unable to work for a local charity, you don't deserve to eat? To have a roof over your head? To seek medical treatment?"

Human dignity shouldn't have a cost attached to it.

It's also important to keep the bigger picture in mind, and to weigh the scope of a solution against its unintended consequences. Take all these dumb "election integrity" laws (a.k.a. voter suppression) making the rounds in state legislatures these days. How widespread is the problem of election fraud, and what is the cost of eliminating it entirely? Let's look at some data from the State of Texas:

Since 2004, Texas has issued 534 election-related criminal charges (which in and of itself is misleading because at least one individual was responsible for 100+ of those charges because they tampered with the ballots of disabled senior citizens on a large scale). Even if you count all 534 charges over the past 18 years, that's still less than 30 charges per year, in as state where an election typically has between 5 and 15 million votes counted. That means election fraud only applies to somewhere between 0.0002% and 0.0006% of the ballots. And yet the new voting restriction laws in Texas just resulted in 23,000 ballots (about 17% of those received) being rejected from the latest primary, which means that these measures are combating a one-in-five-thousand problem by invalidating the otherwise legitimate votes of one-in-five citizens.

The solution is creating more of a problem (albeit a different one) than the original problem ever was. Some might argue that's the whole point, but that's a topic for another blog post.

But consider a work requirement for public benefits in the same context. Let's say we're very concerned about the number of people who receive state benefits that are, at best, kicking back and living on free assistance. Or, at worst, are actually scamming the system. So we decide that we're going to make everybody who receives that assistance "work" to "earn" it. How many people would be kicked off those assistance programs because of their inability to work? And aren't those the people that, by definition, need the assistance the most? How many people would we be hurting to ensure the handful of bad actors didn't get away with their fraud?

Don't get me wrong, the system shouldn't be wide open and allowed to go unchecked. There should be a mechanism for evaluating cases and determining fraudulent behavior and other abuses of the public trust. But the onus of that should be on the state, not the individuals receiving the assistance.

If you're worried about too many freeloaders on public assistance programs, vote to raise taxes and allocate more to the enforcement of those programs rather than putting heavier burdens on those who rely on the programs.

If you're worried about voter integrity, vote for candidates who advocate more resources for and improvements to the election systems rather than those who look for ways to simply make it harder for people to actually vote.

If you hate abortion, vote for a better social safety net so that expectant mothers have a range of options (adoption through a well-functioning foster system, being a stay at home mom with public assistance, being a working mom with access to affordable childcare, etc.) so that abortion is no longer the only viable alternative to supporting and caring for a child - often alone and with little support - for the next eighteen years.

No one should be forced to work in order to meet their basic survival needs, and the idea of requiring people to volunteer for a charity in exchange for the assistance they need to survive is a misguided concept that will create more problems than it solves.
March 15, 2022 at 12:10am
March 15, 2022 at 12:10am
(566 words)

"Andre The Blog Monkey's Banana Bar | March Musical Monkey Madness Day #10


Andre got into the bar business as a matter of necessity.

He acquired the Banana Bar specifically, as a matter of circumstance.

In the days following that first "world" tour with The Muse ("Andre's Tour), Andre was just a mild-mannered monkey with a portative organ ("Andre's Instrument) hoping to make a name for himself with his magnum opus, a K-pop inspired Christian folk metal epic currently entitled Breakdancing My Way Through The Bible: A Folk Metal Odyssey ("Andre's Genre). But once he received his first royalty check for $3.28, he realized he wasn't going to be able to finance his dream project without some additional capital.

As one might imagine, investing in a musical concept album at the bleeding edge of the intersection between K-pop, Christian music, and folk metal was a tough sell. Andre wasn't able to find anyone who would give him the money outright, and his attempt at a Kickstarter failed miserably. In retrospect, offering backer rewards like, "whatever's between the cushions of my couch" and "a Kraft mac-and-cheese dinner cooked for you by the visionary artist" probably didn't do him any favors. Nor did the surprisingly concerted effort by the various autocephalous archdiocese of New York in response to the unfortunate incident with a non-portative organ ("Andre's Termination).

However, with some support (financial, not moral) from Steve Winwood ("Andre's Teacher) plus a surprising amount of loose change raised from street performances of a metal version of "We Don't Talk About Bruno," "Andre's Song, Andre was able to scrape together several thousand dollars to invest in a business that would create some income to help fund his passion project. That several thousand dollars got nearly cut in half when Andre got a call in the middle of the night from The Muse ("Andre's Partner) who needed to be bailed out of a Micronesian prison ("Andre's Legacy) for unspecified crimes against a Pelew flying fox, and Andre felt like he owed him one thanks to how much The Muse had helped him with his magnum opus ("Andre's Collaboration).

Long story short, Andre wasn't exactly able to be selective about his investment opportunities.

And that's where the Banana Bar comes into the story.

Andre, feeling a little discouraged at having so much of his hard-earned cash go to bailing out a friend and limiting his investment options, happened upon the Banana Bar while he was in need of a drink. He stopped in and was enjoying the best Rumchata Banana Cream Pie cocktail he'd ever had in his life ("Andre's Party) when he overheard the then-proprietor of the bar discussing some costly updates with a repairman she had called out. Money was tight and she had no way to pay for the needed updates. Andre, whose musical talents were rivaled only by his generosity, left the remainder of his hard-earned cash as a massive 50,000% tip on his Rumchata drink.

The proprietor rushed outside to ask why he'd overpaid for an $8 drink by about $4,000. Andre just shrugged and said that he believed she'd put it to better use than he would. She invited him back for another drink, and they got to talking. Talking turned into repeat visits, and repeat visits turned into friendship. Ultimately, when the woman passed away a couple years later, she left the Banana Bar to Andre in her will. He continues to own and operate the bar in her memory, while working on his music on the side.

March 14, 2022 at 11:53pm
March 14, 2022 at 11:53pm
(302 words)

"Andre The Blog Monkey's Banana Bar | March Musical Monkey Madness Day #9


Were The Muse and Andre a one-hit wonders in the sense that they only had one song and one tour together as an actual performing act? Technically, that's correct. But that's not to say that The Muse and Andre stopped being collaborators. After all, you can't call a concept album an "odyssey" without putting in an enormous amount of work, and Andre frequently relies on the creative efforts of The Muse as he puts his magnum opus together. In that way, they're a lot like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alex Lacamoire. Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme. Steven Spielberg and John Williams. Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis.

It's an open question (albeit among very few) whether additional collaborations between The Muse and Andre would have catapulted them into the mainstream. Both are staggeringly talented musicians, but were perhaps ahead of their time. Christian metal and folk metal hadn't really been combined before (or since), and when you throw in their mutual love and incorporation of K-pop... well, the overlap on the Venn Diagram for that one is pretty teeny tiny.

Still, Andre is undeterred in his mission to bring Breakdancing My Way Through The Bible: A Folk Metal Odyssey to the public. He continues to work on it in his off hours from the Banana Bar, and frequently finds himself running ideas by The Muse. These days, the two of them mostly collaborate via a private Discord server that was set up for them by a Banana Bar patron who couldn't settle out his tab one night. They've been using it ever since, both because The Muse is currently on his South Pacific Island Nation tour, and because neither of them can figure out how to Skype or Zoom. Plus, both of them agree that the Tenor GIF keyboard is far superior to Giphy.
March 13, 2022 at 11:54pm
March 13, 2022 at 11:54pm
(367 words)

"Andre The Blog Monkey's Banana Bar | March Musical Monkey Madness Day #8


After modest success on local radio stations, Andre and The Muse's record label decided it was time for the big leagues and set them up on a world tour. Okay, maybe not the "big leagues" (Los Angeles and New York and Chicago are expensive!), but definitely the concert world equivalent of a minor league Triple-A affiliate. Okay, maybe more like the double-A farm system. Their United States tour included stops at the finest dive bars, public amphitheaters, and empty warehouse spaces the following cities had to offer:

         *Bullet* Calexico, CA / Mexicali, MX*
         *Bullet* Yuma, AZ
         *Bullet* Las Cruces, NM
         *Bullet* Kileen, TX
         *Bullet* Texarkana, TX
         *Bullet* Murfreesboro, TN
         *Bullet* Sandusky, OH
         *Bullet* Flint, MI
         *Bullet* Fort Dodge, IA
         *Bullet* Bismarck, ND
         *Bullet* Bozeman, MT
         *Bullet* Laramie, WY
         *Bullet* Vernal, UT
         *Bullet* Winnemucca, NV
         *Bullet* Bend, OR
         *Bullet* Redding, CA

The record label was a little tight on funds, so The Muse and Andre often had to sleep on the tour bus (which was actually the label president's rusted-out 1987 Ford Econoline 150 Camper) and found themselves having to work to earn their meals. "Corporate events with coordinators who couldn't care less" and "weddings that had lost their DJ at the last minute" were their real bread-and-butter during this tour. Sometimes quite literally, because they found themselves often subsisting on leftover table bread and pats of butter.

The world tour being a "big success" was somewhat of an exaggeration on the part of the label to hype up their two biggest performing artists at the time. Still, if you consider the fact that they started the tour with zero albums sold and ended the tour with... checks notes.... fourteen albums sold, then it was quite a success.

* The opening set of this show was held in the parking lot of the Jack in the Box on Rockwood Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets, with the second set following from the dining room of "FLAUTAS Mi Nuevo Ranchito" off Calle Agustin Melgar. Some people accused the label of pulling a stunt just so they could say it was a "world tour" spanning multiple countries.

(Those people were Andre and The Muse.)

(They also happened to be correct.)

March 12, 2022 at 11:59pm
March 12, 2022 at 11:59pm
(317 words)

"Andre The Blog Monkey's Banana Bar | March Musical Monkey Madness Day #7


NOTE: This song is set to something along the lines of the first song ("Siegfried's Song" - 00:00 to 02:53)

Andre and The Muse's first hit song together ended up also being their first foray into Christian Folk Metal. The Muse, well known bad boy of the Christian music scene, joined forces with Andre and his folk metal roots to come up with the following song:

(rasping, wailing vocals)
King of Kings
Son of the Living God
Alpha and Omega

Come have your way with me
Help me to really see
What is now and what will be
Oh pretty, pretty plea(se)

(rasping, wailing vocals)
Fountain of Living Waters
True Vine
Lamb of God

(fading out)
The Way
The Truth
The Life

The lyrics are short, of course, but intended to be repeated over and over again for nine and a half minutes straight. The success of this track is what ended up inspiring Andre to develop his Breakdancing My Way Through The Bible: A Folk Metal Odyssey in a similar fashion where, if played straight through and only once, the concept album is done in about twenty minutes. But, out of respect for his fans, and to bring resonance and gravitas to the material, the repetition of the lyrics has BMWTTB:AFMO currently at a run-time of nearly eight hours.

While Andre admits that this will likely be problematic from the standpoint of booking venues and playing enough shows to offset the cost to stage everything, he has to give the source material its due, and obviously if one is to do a K-pop-inspired folk metal magnum opus on the glory of God structured in parallel with the Holy Bible, one best come prepared to wrestle with it for a while. Bathroom breaks during the show are highly discouraged, so please don't bring any beverages into the theater... for your own sake.

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