Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Contagion—Part Deux: The RECKONING (Or The Vaccination Recommendation)

            I know it's been a while since I posted that rant about wisdom teeth and their lack of valid purpose, but I had take the time to recuperate and clean my apartment.  Which I did.  A lot.  By sleeping in and taking the proper amount of pain pills and getting hooked on the new CBS docudrama </scorpion>, after Mom refused to let me watch FOX's Sleepy Hollow on their LCD HDTV.  But the break was worth it, even though the Pre-Op Gremlin Diet was a pain in the ass, I had to chew on one side of my mouth for a while, there was no liquid diet (so as to not let my jaw lock up, according to the doctor) and I'm stuck being round with no way of getting a Nutritional Counselor through the Adult Autism Waiver.  Yippee.
            On the bright side, I now have a real doctor (a Primary Care Provider and not a pediatrician, if you will) and he's genuinely concerned about my health.  And after the initial new patient appointment, I'm ready for this year's flu season.  And if I'm ready, and you're not ready, well….you're fucked because I'm not going to be your nursemaid unless I'm the only healthy person left in the world and left with no choice.  Especially if you're against vaccinations for various reasons; which brings me to offering this (optional) full Contagion soundtrack for this blog post on the importance of vaccines, Autistic Spectrum Disorders not being caused by them, and how everyone is panicking over frickin' Ebola.

            If you're like me, you rely on modern medicine and science to keep you alive and healthy for a lot longer than the Dark Ages of childhood.  Seriously, science has been advancing medicine and medical practices to the point where we can treat diseases with proper procedures and improve the outlook of cancer patients without the application of bloodletting and establishment of haunted quarantine facilities located on islands made of human ash (*cough, cough, whisper* Povegliaaaaaaa…..).  Anyways, unless you have a compromised immune system that requires careful monitoring and drug cocktails that turn druggies green with envy (and nausea), we're doing great!  Mostly….  Unfortunately, there are always crackpots (on pot) spouting bullshit from both ends.

            Let's address the first issue: the Ebola Panic Pandemic!

E-BOLA: Not Just a Bowling-Themed Computer Virus

            Lately, there has been a lot of uncertainty with a particular virus that manifested in Western Africa.  Ebola has been the subject of news channels for the past few days (maybe even weeks), and with the help of idiots of the Fox News Channel, panic is being spread faster than the flu virus in a room full of phlegmers.  Seriously, just tune in at any point of the day and you'll see them talking about either ISIS (a valid concern, but only if it's without the Obama Blame-a-thon) or the Ebola virus, saying that it'll make you bleed from every orifice, that it will cause delirium, that it will make your dick sprout wings and fly off!!!!  (Thank you, South Park gluten episode, for that joke.)  Seriously, the experts are saying that it's not super, super, super airborne contagious, Fox News Idiots!  Why continue with the fear-mongering even after their repeated statements that basically translate to "CHILL DA FUCK OUT"?!

            And before the conspiracy theorists start flooding the comments box with statements of, "They are just saying that to make it so you can get sick and the doctors and medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies can get a lot of business and profit from this outbreak," please do yourself a favor and read the fucking Hippocratic Oath carefully; lying to hurt us or get us sick is a violation of that oath.  I kid you not, it is often believed that part of that oath says, "I will do no harm."  Any deliberate actions to cause harm (even to make money off of it, though most of the money comes from the insurance companies) is considered malpractice.  Or fraud.  Or something along those lines—Dr. Drew, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, back me up here, please!

            So, even though there was one case of Ebola in Dallas, Texas (and many more in Africa), I doubt that it's going to spread like zombie wildfire.  There could be one other person, but only if they have been exposed to an Ebola-infected individual's bodily fluids, including but not limited to blood, feces, urine, or spit.  Just calm down, breathe and stop reading WebMD; you'll just freak out more.  (That goes double—no, triple for you, Jenny Lawson!)  Unless you're a doctor or nurse, stay away from yellow people you see bleeding weirdly—and call emergency services, because even though they appear to be the victim of the Horseman of Pestilence, they're still human and deserve a fair chance at surviving this illness.  (Unfortunately, it's too late to save the Simpsons' universe; they're all jaundiced!  OH MY DAVROS, THEY ALL HAVE CANCER!!!!!)

            Which reminds me: who is the last person to touch my hand sanitizer?!  *flails*

Vaccinations: A Good Defense Makes a Mighty Fine and Painful Offense

            Vac∙cine—n. (vak'-sēn) a modified and hence harmless virus or other microorganism for inoculation to produce immunity to a disease by stimulating antibody production.

Yeah, that definition excerpt is from the Webster's Universal English Dictionary that I got as a gift one Christmas.  It's been handy for looking up words I don't understand or want to share the definition of.  And this definition definitely has the demand for sharing.

            Ever since the dawn of the commercially available Interwebz, there has been a rise in a virulent strain of crazy people who insist that vaccines are more harmful to children (and other people) than the illness it "supposedly" helps the population create an immunity in response to.  I'm serious, with Jenny McCarthy (Wow, that name sounds familiar!) writing books (that get published) about how she "discovered" the "link" between autism and vaccines—which is complete bullshit—there has been a rise in stubborn ignorance and stupidity!  And I'm on the Autism Spectrum; I can verify how bullshitty this reasoning is!

            Let's start from the beginning: I have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder diagnosis of Asperger's (under DSM-IV, and I can keep it thanks to the fine print in DSM-V); up until now, only about….90?.....people know I have it, including family members and friends.  (Due to this, I'm also a recipient of services through the Adult Autism Waiver—YAY GOVERNMENT!  But that's not what we're here to discuss.)  And since the diagnosis, we (meaning family members in addition to myself) have been able to identify that I inherited the genetic trait from my father.  Yes, my father has an undiagnosed case of Asperger's; why else do you think I call him the non-Leonard Nimoy, non-Zachary Quinto Mr. Spock?  But if you take a closer look, it's possible to trace that back to his father (my grandfather), who believes he, too, has Asperger's.  So, yes, Autistic Spectrum Disorders have a genetic root in all this mystery—but that's not the entire answer to this Paladin-level puzzle people have been trying to put together for years.  It could be caused by something in the environment, the amount of oxygen we're getting at birth, etc.  So far, we don't know what the source is—we're still looking for it.

            But with the Internet came false information: "Vaccines have chemicals and harmfullevels of lead that WILL cause your kid to get autism!"  It is to the best of my (probably faulty) knowledge from an English college course that this theory came from a fraudulent research paper, with a message popularized by Jenny McCarthy and Oprah and the series premiere of Eli Stone (remember that TV series?)—truth be told, the whole damn cake was a lie!  And yet, the idea spread and connected like-minded vaxxers to create this movement based on this lie.  And after a while, there are now Autism organizations that are working to promote this idea and saying, "Let's get rid of vaccines for good!"
            Everyone.  Please.  Cue the facepalms.

            How about we set this allll straight?  First of all, lead in vaccines is completely bullshit to me.  The FDA and whatever other organizations that are in charge of regulating drugs that require injection is not going to let any drug onto the market if it has any harmful levels of lead in it, including levels that  "cause autism."  Not to mention that I have no idea if any other drugs or chemicals cause autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorders.  From what I've learned, it's not about the blocking of chemicals to certain areas of the brain like lead can (Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey episode 7, "The Clean Room"), but rather a different way of wiring the brain.  We think differently, process information differently, express ourselves differently from neurotypical (NT) people due to this "faulty" wiring.  And even though it's frustrating to a lot of people (especially mothers like mine), it doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with us—we're just a lot more different from everyone else.

            But anyways, vaccines do serve a real purpose.  It helps your body identify what viruses and bacteria are not good for your cells and organs to metabolize.  Once identified and eradicated, the body then knows (how) to produce the correct antibody for that particular virus or bacteria so you don't wind up hospitalized and getting your food and air through a fucking tube shoved down your throat.  This way, you can't get SUPER sick from flu or chicken pox, measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox….   For a while, these diseases were only found in the virus vaults of the Centers for Disease Control and developing nations.  Now, with the anti-vaccine bullshit spreading through the masses faster than Bubonic Plague at the Olympics in Autumn, they are making a comeback.  Which is not good, because not only will we get sick (from POLIO—DO YOU WANTPOLIO?!) at worse levels and intensities, but it will also mean that Mama Squirrel's contribution is completely moot.  She was one of the vaccine pioneers, which makes her sound older than she really is, but I'm pretty sure that she is part Gallifreyan, so she can't really age like you and I do.  The only people who shouldn't get a vaccine are the ones with compromised immune systems for whatever reason: immunosuppressants, HIV and AIDS, etc.

            In the end, the fear of having a child with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder should NEVER take priority over keeping yourself and your family healthy (and alive).  Besides, what is there to fear?

Neurodiversity: When It's OKAY to Have Autism

            So, to quickly recap, Autistic Spectrum Disorders are a bunch of "disorders" that vary in symptoms and intensity, is NOT caused by vaccines, and has more to do with neurology than the immune system.  Oh, and I should mention that there is no cure for this.  (It's also NOT caused by Ebola, for the confused readers.)  No diet (gluten-free or otherwise) is going to heal/cure/"manage" the symptoms of an ASD, no matter what the vaxxers and gluten-phobes claim.  Seriously, I think y'all are crazy for saying, "OMG, GLUTEN-FREE PRODUCTS, I NEED YOU!"  I'm sure that soon, there will be markets for "gluten-free" toilet paper, underwear, feminine supplies, condoms, soap, cars, houses, tanks full of oxygen…..  Please don't start that; I'm forbidding anyone from using this "idea" (read: crap) as an excuse to keep the phobia alive.
            Much like pi, this fear is irrational, and it doesn't seem to end……

            Anyways, people haven't exactly understood what it means to have an ASD; growing up (and going through hell school) in a small town in the middle of FUCKING NOWHERE (in a place that Verizon can't seem to find on the map), I was ostracized by about 85% of the student population for being different this way.  At first, I couldn't understand why, but now we know; it was a tough battle to get the diagnosis, though, as I didn't get it until I was 15 and in high school. (What's worse is that it was initially "Asperger's tendencies"—what a way to half-ass your practice, Dr. [name hidden]!)

            Anyways, yes: we're socially awkward, we're highly intelligent, we can have laser focus on topics of interest…..which is funny, because isn't that the definition of being a nerd????  Oh my Davros, it actually is!  Nerdism can have neurological and developmental causes!  Clinical nerdism—what a breakthrough!  I should totally blog/talk about this—at another time!

            Well, besides that, there are a lot of us on the Spectrum who find it very difficult to think of living without an ASD.  It is a part of us, a part of our identity, a part of who we are.  Yes, ASDs have their drawbacks (which sometimes makes it frustrating to interact with the members of society on the spectrum), but it doesn't mean that ASDs are a bad thing to have; it's simply a different way of functioning in the world.  However, it also doesn't mean that ASDs are what define us as who we are: we have them; it doesn't mean that we ARE the disability, that they have us in their tight grip and there's no hope for us.  There are lots of resources out there that can help you understand your daughter/son/sister/brother, and it isn't really that hard to accept ASDs as a part of life: You have to live with it, rather than suffer from it.

            Acceptance is the first step.  That's what's key to being a happy parent of a child who's on the spectrum: just accept it.  I'm not asking for you to surrender (actually, I sort of am, but only by a factor of 5%), but rather to realize how you can't create the perfect child; so they have an ASD—so what?  Do you see any Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding through the streets?  Is the diagnosis of an ASD so earth-shattering that it literally causes an earthquake in your area that registers at 12.0 on the Richter scale?  Is it so horrifying to have an ASD that it's akin to terminal cancer or lupus?  (Is it Obama's fault?  Is it the work of the Freemasons or the Illuminati?)  The correct answer is: HELL NO!  All it means is that you should learn how to speak their language and understand them on a deeper level.

            (Also, any diagnosis of an ASD should be double-checked.  That's what second opinions are for!)

Medical Dalek says "VACCINATE!"

            So, let's wrap this up: FOR FUCK'S SAKE, JUST GET THE VACCINES!  There should be legitimate medical reasons why you shouldn't, like real allergies to eggs or any other ingredient in the vaccine, or compromised immune system, or some other legitimate issue.  (I do not consider money to be a legitimate issue; there are places out there—and I'm referring to "outside of my home base but still in America"—that offer free vaccines.  I'm serious!  Even my college, Marshall University with their free basic healthcare for full-time students, would hold free flu shot clinics for the students every year.  Just locate one near you, and go there!)
            As for the whole "fear of needles," that's a bit understandable: it can hurt, it's frightening, etc.  But I've had to deal with needles my whole life (most recently with an IV needle for my oral surgery) for medical reasons.  I can tell you from experience: all you're going to feel is a painful pinch, and then it's over.  If you need to, bring a good friend.  But you can do it!  I believe in you, even though I don't really know you!

Good places to check out for more information:

~Bad Astronomer:  He's a blogger, a skeptic, a pro-vaccine critic, a scientist, an astronomer, a nerd, an all-around smart and funny dude, and he's worked on the Hubble Telescope—SQUEE!!!  He can weed out the bullshit and get you the truth.
~Centers for Disease Control: They're the master experts in America on infectious diseases and other sick-making stuff.  'Nuff said.
~Mayo Clinic: More top-notch medical people.  (Warning: their pages cast a negative light over ASDs.)
~Autism Speaks: Even though I initially thought that this organization was anti-vaccine, I took a look and I was wrong.  However, I'm still a little leery...but I recommend them!

            That's all I can come up with for now.  Let's just hope that the Ebola virus doesn't evolve into a zombie virus and DESTROY US ALLLLL!  (If you're a zombie, I'm sorry: just stay the hell away from me and my human colony.)


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rant-Rant-Ranty-Rant: When Your Teeth Get Stupid

            Yeah.  I know, it's a rant about something as small as "wisdom teeth."  But I have a few thoughts I'd like to share about the topic.  Seriously, I do!  Some of it is me voicing concern over being given general anesthesia, some of it is about how I have to fast before the surgery, but I hope that I'll give it a humorous spin.  Be warned: there is media in this post, so it's best that it gets loaded up on a laptop or desktop computer with a cable/wire/whatever connection.  It's also best not to be eating when reading this post….
            As for the optional theme song, it's "Hard Trance Techno Rave Music" by trancElovE.

            I've never expected this to happen to me; I just hoped that I didn't have to deal with this issue.  Unfortunately, my biology just laughed in my face with my own mouth.  In fact, it only started one or two days before I found out: my right lower wisdom tooth (which is number 32, in case you're a dental professional) was hurting so bad that I couldn't even sleep.  When I got up and talked to my parents that morning, I was terrified: what if they had to yank it out right there at the dentist's office?!?!?!  I was not mentally prepared for any of it!  Although I admit it's not my first rodeo—it's my second and I'm still not any better at it: my two front teeth had to be removed in two halves, the second being oral surgery with Novacain.  I hated it, since it involved the use of a scalpel inside my mouth!  (Sorry for the visualization, there.)  That and with Mama Squirrel's recommendation, I insisted on general anesthesia.  And with every choice, there are consequences: a whole new hellish hand basket of dread was delivered straight to me because I've never been anesthetized that way before.  But let me shed some light on the teeth themselves.

Unintelligent Design: Why Not Call Them Stupid Teeth???

            There's a lot of debate over how we got to be this way: Creationism vs. Evolution, Intelligent Design vs. Natural Selection, etc.  Of course, there is a shit ton of scientific evidence that tells us we evolved from monkeys, who might not be so thrilled about the connection:

And yet, we aren't perfectly evolved (Disproving Intelligent Design: why design us with these medical flaws, for fuck's sake?!), which brings me to this brilliant counterpoint from Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson: Unintelligent Design.  There are so many things wrong with us, and some of them were outlined by Dr. Tyson in the 277thepisode of the Nerdist Podcast.

            First off, what's going on between our legs?!  We've got an entertainment complex in between two sewage systems.  It's unsanitary and we have to use our hands to keep ourselves clean in that area, which is also inefficient.  That and there's a ton of foliage in that area!  It's gross and stuff, seriously.

            Secondly, we eat, drink and breathe through the same hole in our human faces!  This ensures that a percentage of us humans choke to death on what we consume.  Not with dolphins: they eat and breathe through two different holes in their body, which means that they'll win in a sardine-eating contest!  But even then, if we don't find an early exit from life, we live 80 years on average; in spite of this, we die from starvation in 8 weeks, we die of dehydration in 3-8 days, and we die from asphyxiation (suffocation) in 8 minutes.  We're fragile human beings who fall prey to many illnesses that are the result of this chemical and biological balance being off inside our bodies.  Too many cells in one spot causing a riot is cancer; not enough endorphins being produced in our brains leads to depression; too much stomach acid leads to acid reflux disease.  If we're so "perfectly designed," then why do we have this happen to us?

            Then we have our "useless" body parts: the appendix is not really needed in these days, and yet, we all have them, thanks to our ancestors hunting for whatever food they can get.  There was no cooking in those days, no discerning bones from muscles and feathers and fur and scales and whatnot, so they would eat the entire animal, including the parts that give us no nutritional benefit.  That's where the appendix would come in: it creates a sort of acid that helps the remaining solids (bones, beak, feathers, fur, etc.) dissolve so it doesn't hurt them when it comes out the other end.  (All together now: EWWWWW!!!!)  But now it's quite useless, as the appendix, being completely BORED, will sometimes malfunction and burst—appendicitis, which can only be resolved with surgical removal.  The gallbladder stores whatever the liver produces, even though the liver can perform the same functions as the gallbladder.  Tonsils would have to come out when we get tonsillitis, but nothing is as much of a pain as wisdom teeth.

            Why have wisdom teeth?  They're the farthest back on our lower jaw, and we don't even get them to come through until we hit our later years, well after we lose all our baby teeth.  But they aren't perfect in their emergence: 90% of all people have at least on wisdom tooth come in impacted, or at an angle, pushing against the molars next to them, causing pain and infection, perhaps even damage to the adjacent teeth.  There could even be a cyst that forms, which is even worse.  Yes, it's common as fuck, but here's another issue: why not just remove them at an earlier age?  These teeth are easier to remove when the patient is younger, since their roots are not completely formed, and the surrounding bone is softer than in your early 20s; not only that, there is less of a chance of damaging nerves and other structures nearby.  (Source: pamphlet I got from my consultation appointment.)  Thanks, AAOMS, for taking the wait-and-see approach.

            One more point to make: why call them "wisdom teeth" when they come in incorrectly?  When I first went in to my dentist's office, I made the joke of my wisdom teeth being "unwise".  This body part, in my opinion, is completely stupid.  They have no current purpose except to be a pain in the ass, causing problems for 90% of all people, which can only be put an end to by way of oral fucking SURGERY!  That's why I want them to be renamed as "stupid teeth," because there is no point to them in today's world.  Not to mention how many drugs are involved with treatment.

Anesthesia: The "Fun Part"

            I've never done illegal drugs, I'm prescribed medication for depression/anxiety and my ADD (squirreliness), and I don't like not knowing what my brain is doing, and even just being unconscious with people doing surgical procedures on me makes me anxious.  I'm just not prepared for that idea.

            That and me going like this after waking up:

I'm terrified of having a panic attack and freaking out like that.  Seriously, the loopiness, albeit fun for my parents, is frightening to me as I don't know how much control I have; my pre-frontal cortex could be affected in ways I do not know if I like it or not.  What also sucks is that I have to go into Gremlin Mode the very night before; I'll wind up hungry and cranky and panicked and anxious and stuff—I'll be a total mess, trying to find my copy of Let's Pretend This Never Happened and re-reading the chapter titled "Draw Me A Fucking Dog."  It'll be a total trip, for sure.

            That and I better have a milkshake waiting for me after I'm awake and mobile!  (I'm going to look for milkshake and smoothie recipes after this and the next time I'm online.  Suggestions are appreciated!   Just tweet them to me with the hashtag #SmoothieSquirrel!)

            At this point, I think it's best to look at it as a nap I so desperately need, followed by a liquid diet I hope to extend into a week-and-a-half.  Again, not my first rodeo: I was on a liquid diet before, and I lost a lot of mass that way.  Not that liquid diets are the ideal solution for "weight" loss.  I'll update you as best as I can, and I appreciate you reading this blog, but it could be a while before I post anything again.  My next post might wind up being the week after, but who knows?  #RECUPERATE

            In any case, ENJOY YOUR BURRITO MILKSHAKE!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Some Sort of Paradise: A Review of Utopia, Fox's New Reality Show

***At the time of publishing this post, Utopia is already in its 12th Day, with one person (the former convict) having already left the place after ranting and cursing and being generally angry.  Two people came in his place.***

            Sorry for no post last week.  I was sick with some sort of cold or respiratory infection, so I was like, "Fuck it, I'M QUARANTINED!" for the entire week.  (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for dropping off the store brand DayQuil and NyQuil med stuff.  It really helped a lot!)  I was staying inside, not doing much except eating, sleeping, medicating and repeating.  And watching shows on TV and listening to podcast episodes and playing computer games.  So this week, I'm lifting my self-imposed quarantine and trying to not strangle people because of my impacted unwise wisdom tooth (that needs to geddafuckout!) in order to re-acclimate to the outside world.  Meanwhile, I was able to watch one of the premieres of a new reality show on television: Utopia and then following it up with some disturbing news on Fox.

            Which brings me to my optional theme song mix for this post: Spacemind's "Space Ark"

Justice for Cruelty: People Are Not Punching Bags

            Thanks to news teasers on Fox, I was convinced that I needed to watch a segment about howsome idiot youths were filming themselves beating up an older man who hasdisabilities (or, as the media likes to put it, "special needs man," or "mentally challenged man".  It's a step in the right direction, but now try using Person-First language.  News media outlets are the source of "disability-first language"' usage, and I want to change that all over the mediascape.).  First, some idiotteen at Musikfest tries to use brass knuckles (of which possession is ILLEGAL everywhere in the States) to beat up an older man who was defending his wife, all because the idiot teen and his girlfriend "weren't being respected."  And now some dumbasses think it's a good idea to just beat up someone with disabilities who is older than them and to put it up on YouTube.

            Let me tell you something: IT'S NEVER A GOOD IDEA TO DO THAT!  In PA, it counts as assault.  And just hurting someone who has a disability (or two….or five….) is wrong no matter what you think because it only means you're so gutless and cowardly and full of shit that you have to pick on someone you see as "lower than you" or (and I hate using this word) "retarded," which, today, translates to "stupid," among the youth (who need to learn etymology more; "mental retardation" is a term used for a disability that delays the mental and emotional development of a person).

            This sucks.  I'm outraged by their actions.  Not to mention that I'm now more cautious: I have no interest in being treated that way, and I have a lot more self-respect than those losers.  But if I'm ever faced with that situation, I'll either try and make a quick exit or I'll stand my ground, using my intellect to scare them off, while calling 911 because I'd rather have cops there to handle the situation than to be left alone.

            This is why it is important for there to be self-defense classes provided for people on the Autism Spectrum; it's so they can defend themselves if idiots like the ones in the news decide copy their attitude, arrogance and actions to seem tough, and to teach us self-discipline.

            Seriously, this bullshit is not something I would EVER tolerate in my Utopia; the perps would be thrown to the zombies.

Building Paradise: My Garden Does Not Look Like This….

            Yes, I'm going to review this new reality show called "Utopia".  So what?  (I'm not referring to the idyllic location that Professor Yana was trying to launch a giant rocket towards, by the way.)

            It's not like it's Big Brother; far from it!  You see, what's different about this show is that there isn't a real prize like cash or a house or a vacation or whatever is tangible in this realm.  It's actually a social experiment (like every Big-Brother-structured reality competition show is) that is to be done over the course of a year, examining every participant's idea of a perfect world or perfect society and how they can create it.  The Pioneers (the first fourteen or fifteen people in this society where cameramen aren't around) are vastly different, with backgrounds ranging from pastors to professional chefs to Apocalypse preppers to yogis to expecting mothers and even convicts; my personal favorite among them is Hex the Huntress, who has brought her own bow and quiver of arrows Utopia!

            The idea of the show itself is audacious enough: a perfect society where the Pioneers are not allowed to be outside the gates, but outsiders are allowed in during certain hours.  It's self-governed, remotely monitored 24/7 for an entire year, and the electricity and food had to be obtained by themselves, a complete bubble with a fish-filled pond, a pool, chickens, cows (or "Mootopians"), fertile land, some money and a barn.  The group itself is not going to stay the same, as more people will come and others will go.  It's all going to be streamed live, all day and all night, and the audience will have a chance to join the group inside the gates, applying to casting to say, "I want to help build a perfect society!  SIGN ME UP!"

            And it's already on its first two weeks: soon after the project started, there have been conflicts ALREADY!  Someone didn't want to share his things because it's all he had, another man (whose ego is bigger than the show, I bet) drank too much whiskey and was being a total pervert, the redneck and the chef exchanged heated words and butted heads, literally and figuratively, which led to the redneck almost just up and leaving.  There were lots of people stripping down until they're nothing but naked blurs with faces and arms diving into the pool, and a few of the Pioneers are uncomfortable with that because they're that frickin' conservative.

            And yes, I live tweeted during Part 1 of the premiere:

            And I do believe that this is interesting enough, but they're not done yet; I have some ideas that they should implement with their rules and practices and stuff.

         Π    Anyone who breaks a rule or something to the point where it pisses the others off should spend the next 24 hours shoveling manure and sleeping with the cows that night, if it's a minor offense.  Major offenses or repeat offenders should be ejected from the society.

         Π    Court is a good idea: let the offender and 3 to 5 witnesses give their testimonies, and then have them go out and wait for the verdict that will be decided amongst the rest of the Pioneers.  Punishments must also be determined during deliberations.  (Manure shoveling should be a punishment!)

         Π    Get a full on bull or something, a cow that can help the female cows make little calves, which results in better yield for milk!  Same with a rooster for the chickens; animals don't live forever!

  Π    Get some sheep and a ram, as well as a couple of goats so that the wool can be sheared off, carded, spun into yarn and used to make clothing that they can sell online for more money or to replace torn or lost clothing.  Also get a loom, so you can weave together sheets and blankets for the cold winter months, and knitting needles for scarves and hats and stuff; knitting and weaving aren't hard to learn, but it's fun to do and it boosts self-esteem.

         Π    If Amanda gives birth inside the grounds, let a certified midwife come and help out with delivery in the barn with sheets hanging around them and almost everyone else waiting outside, then get Amanda and the baby off to the damn hospital to get them both examined just in case.  Medicine is not optional; people in colonies like Plymouth and Salem and Johnstown did get sick and die from illnesses and childbirth and whatnot, and we don't need a Utopia that is quarantined with CDC officials milling around in Hazmat suits just because someone believes that they shouldn't get vaccinated.  (Also, get someone to come by and give vaccinations.  Pioneers who are vaxxers don't have to get them as they can suffer the fucking consequences of their "decision", but not everyone is a vaxxer.  VACCINATE!)

         Π    Don't shy away from Twitter; we (Utopians, aka fans of Utopia) love communicating with you, and should be able to give feedback when asked.

            At least, that's what my perfect society should be doing.  That and making thrones for me.  :P

            Anyways, the idea is audacious (so is building a colony on Mars), but it should be interesting to see what does and does not work for creating a perfect society.  At least then, I can get to work on building my colony for when the zombie apocalypse comes; so far, all I can come up with is either live in Antarctica or on one of the rocky Aleutian islands off Alaska, or to move in with Bigfoot and Chewbacca.

            Unsure how many Dalek plungers out of 5 to rate this show, because the jury is still out on how many should be awarded.  But it is something to be checked out.  I shall continue to watch until I get bored!

            Until then, ENJOY YOUR PERFECT TACQUITO!

"Perfection is overrated.  I still strive for it, though, because it makes sense to me." — myself
***Utopia airs on FOX on Tuesdays at 8pm EDT and Fridays at 9pm EDT. Live streaming is available on the website at http://www.utopiatv.com/home and requires a "passport" for people to vote for new members and view videos and live streams.***

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Twelfth Hour Tolls: A Review of "Deep Breath," Capaldi's First Full Episode as the Doctor

            If you're reading this, you might've guessed that I was just scrambling into my seat at the computer, cracking my knuckles, warming up my plunger and whisk, and started engaging in furious writing, eager to share my thoughts, theories and reactions to a new face taking up the role of our most famous and beloved alien time traveler.  And for that, I have brought you the Rogue Dubstep remix of "Clocks" by Coldplay as the optional theme song for this review!

            Once again, our beloved Gallifreyan time-traveling (formerly raggedy) madman Doctor has regenerated, leaving us floundering in painful tears as we try latching upon ANY REASON to love the new "Clock Doc" (as I like to call him)!  And after the few episodes of stale writing left us with a thirst for fresher excitement of the Doctor's adventures, it seemed that we were in need of a new face to refresh the flavor of the series.  Obviously, they went with Peter Capaldi (who himself is a Whovian—THANK GOODNESS!  No need to trust someone who's a stranger to the tales of the Whoniverse!), not because he would be good over the long run, but because they just needed to go in a different direction: a worn-down alien whose been a little reset with a face recalled from his Tennant days in ancient Pompeii and a Scottish accent with angry eyebrows!  Not to mention that I'm pretty sure new memes were born that night!

            Which brings me to my first point:

The Theatrical Entrance of the Two Temporal Travelers

            A Tyrannosaurus Rex in Victorian England choking on the TARDIS…..  Finally, the writer(s) redeemed themselves at Whovian storytelling!  Because nowhere else can there be such an entrance!  NOWHERE!  DO YOU HEAR/READ ME, NETWORK TELEVISION?!  NOWHERE!!!!!  *plungersmacks self*  Sorry, a little ranty, a lot squirrelly during drafting (especially since Fox is doing "Gracepoint," the bastardized/Americanized version of Broadchurch that is apparently what mainstream America is allergic to, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!).  But this introduction and quite a few funny moments really make up for the floppiness in the last Christmas episode, The Time of the Doctor (which I was able to tolerate watching again, noticing a few references to previous Doctors that I haven't seen before).


Character Analysis: The WHO in "Doctor Who"

(Shuddup, critics!)

            The new Doctor is definitely a little more callous, a bit more insensitive and definitely less relatable in an alien kind of way, like, "I'm an ALIEN, with non-ginger kidneys!"  Lots of memories seem to have faded from his mind, and he is less cuddly.  He is a little more angry, and he's got the eyebrows to match!  To me, in that scene in the "escape pod," which turns out to be—SPOILER ALERT!—a skin balloon, he also seems to be a wee bit a of a drinker; I have very few memories, in my time of being a new-gen Whovian ("new-gen" meaning having come into the Whovian "fandom"—hate that word—during the series reboot), of seeing the Doctor with a glass of anything alcoholic ON SCREEN!  Anyways, he seems to dislike the human race quite a bit, much like Eccleston's Doctor (number 9), according to Diane (found on Twitter at @DiHard11).  Capaldi also seems to have difficulty expressing that whole manic, hyper, young, rapid thinking Smith's Doc (#11) had.  He is HAWT in that Kuroshitsuji-esque-butler-looking-but-still-an-outfit-that-can-stand-on-its-own suit ensemble, but another downside (despite the non-ginger kidneys) is that he's a spitter.  YUCK!  I hate that, I just do; in fact, going to one of the worst case scenarios, hawking a "loogie" makes me gag, having suffered through seeing many in high school water fountains and hearing the sound over and over again.  *shudders*  #HighSchoolNightmares

            As for the companion, Clara is still clever, able to think on her feet (or horizontally on her back/front/either side), but the usually sassy confidence was definitely shaken with the change of face and personality.  It was obvious in the beginning, and certainly towards the end, but we were all going through that, enduring the Whovian's Cycle of Regeneration Reaction.  And I can relate to that; in fact, in the aftershow After Who Live, hosted by Chris Hardwick (Wow, is this the reason for the @midnight hiatus?  Answer: NO.), a few celebrity guests (specifically, Wil Wheaton, Alton Brown, Mark Gatiss, et al.) discussed how the companion can be expressing the same emotions we were feeling, which is true: the companion is the audience's avatar in the Whoniverse, albeit one we can't control all the time unless it's in fanfiction written to satisfy our inner desires.  (*eyebrow waggle*)  But Clara still delivered her usual Impossible Girl charisma, talents and skills, looking hawt in Victorian era clothing and delivering a kind of emotionally fueled banter, reflecting our thoughts of "Who is he now?"  (She could be a Bond Girl!  Somebody, please!  Contact Time Lord 007 and inform him of this!)  It is a shame, though, that Jenna Louise-Coleman will be leaving the series by Christmastime, which begs the question: how will she leave?  Will she be killed off, like all her other selves?  Or will she be disembarking at her final destination, with the possibility of a return during some sort of huge epic special episode like Martha Jones and Rose Tyler?  This discussion must be held!

            With these two paired up, and aided by Madame Vastra, her wife Jenny, and Strax (the potato clone with a craving for war and battles and glory, LIKE A POTATO KLINGON!), they were able to provide the core of the episode, the A(liens)-Team that were able to fight what's wrong.  They also were able to provide a LOT of hilarious moments and new memes!  I believe some were tweeted about….

I loved the term "Planet of the Pudding Brains," especially since it could make a GREAT t-shirt!  And the moments with Vastra knocking out the Clock Doc in that way, Strax doing the whole "here's some 'clean' water," and medical examination thing, as well as knocking out Clara with the newspaper and going through the whole "dip him in acid" bit—all that had me cracking up, laughing so hard (much like Phil "Bad Astronomer" Plait did that one time....) that I was worried I was going to wake up my neighbors!  I can't watch it again and again without laughing!

            And, finally….

The Plot—TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD, But Not Really…..

            The plot actually works: grand, hilarious entrance and whole identity crisis, mixed together with the issue of clockwork androids that remind you of Girl In the Fireplace, and the base consisting of the audience waiting for the "I am the Doctor," moment just seems to make it work well like a thoroughly-blended smoothie.  Or perfect-thickness milkshake—I say milkshake, because I like milkshakes better; it's just a matter of preference, I say!  Not to mention the well-done scenes of Clara struggling to hold her breath and passing out, the flashbacks, the lead clock-droid, any other scenes you may like—this one is for the "Excellent Episodes" pile, especially with the new TARDIS interior!  I didn't notice the new windows and I'm pretty sure that the TARDIS is sporting a fresher coat of blue paint, but there are new round things inside (YAY, ROUND THINGS!), and a library area in the main control room, with more seats throughout!  MOAR YAYS, BUT FOR SEATS!  Though, I might add complaints from others such as my parents (classic Whovians, from the Tom Baker era) and Reppy the Republican Dalek, as well as the Deviants in Deviant Art's Devart chat later on after initially posting this review.

            However, questions abound with SPOILERS!  First of all, where the hell is that "promised land," looking a hell of a lot like MY Garden?  Is it part of the TARDIS?  And who is this Missy chick?  I can totally get an Evil vibe from her (even though she's a fictional character; yes, I know, Dad.), but the ethics (Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic) axis is questionable.  There may be an underlying motive for it, and the brief disappearance of the Doctor after the initial conflict raises even more questions, which doesn't help his alibi in regards to this new problem.  I think my current (at the time of publishing this blog post) theory for this story arc can be best expressed in my tweet:

And I loved seeing that familiar face at the end!!!!  It helped make that transition easier on us Whovians!  Well, me definitely; others probably want to speak for themselves.  And when that took place, I could, then, see the previous Doctor in the Clock Doc!  That was quite helpful, and I loved it; I hope this happens again in the future regenerations of Doctor Who!  I also loved After Who Live!  I hope it continues throughout the season; especially since I can see how much of a workaholic Hardwick is—yet another project to add to his pile: @midnight, Nerdist Industries and Podcast, All Star Bowling, and Talking Dead, to name a few.  I think he needs to be strapped down, sedated a wee bit, and given a massage!  IT'S NOT A KIDNAPPING BUT AN INTERVENTION, HARDWICK, BECAUSE ALL OUR POINTS ARE BELONG TO YOU!

            All in all, 4.5 plungers/TARDISes/sonic screwdrivers/Doctors out of 5!  And I hope that the accessory hand thing takes off like Doc Five's accessory celery.  These clockwork droids, along with Missy (and Miss Tasha Lem, Mother Superious of the Church of the Papal Mainframe/Church of Silence), would make GREAT costumes for a Doctor Who cosplay event that is going to take place October 2014 in Bethlehem, PA (which is within my sector).  There are going to be cosplay groups coming from ALL OVER just for this event!  One of the main sponsors is one of my frequent haunts: The Underground Lair, the nerdshop that has "vintage" toys, items that the Santa Time Lord never gifted to you for Christmas in your childhood, games galore, Whovian merchandise and items that were crafted by local residents (whose species have yet to be determined), Potter-things, gay-pride items (all for you, NotGayDalek!), and other items that are for sale for a great price!  They are willing to purchase toys you want to get rid of or help you sell them for a certain percent of the price!  (They are not a pawn shop, therefore they will not haggle over the price they are willing to pay.  Don't even try; Dan told me so himself.)  I plan on being there, taking pictures and doing coverage for the blog and stuffs, but YOU SHOULD TRANSMAT OVER AND BE THERE, TOO!  Your attendance is required by the Sontaran-Dalek Alliance!  Let's make the streets of Bethlehem, PA, bleed TARDIS BLUEMWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!  (For the record, it wasn't my idea, but I do like it and am allowing it to happen!)

            Anyways, I hope the improvements continue (despite the oddly different intro sequence; that's the reason why I call Capaldi's doc the Clock Doc; I mean, come on!  I loved the old smoky sort of timey-wimey wormhole temporal vortex!  But why have the intro focus on clocks?  It makes no sense to me at all!  But now's not the time to rant about it…), because I shall be a Whovian until I am nothing but a timeline in my giant TARDIS-tomb on Trenzalore!  And with that, in the present, Non-Greenwich meantime, I hope you enjoy your regenerated tacquitos!  Because they're Scottish with non-ginger kidneys in need of our love!

P.S.  The following tweet MUST BE EXPRESSED!  And retweeted and overshared!  BEHOLD!

P.P.S.  Where can I get one of those Team Adipose t-shirts?  I must acquire one straight away!  MY DEAR OOD!  I have a quest for you, and you must embark on it immediately for it to be completed (with autographs) in time for Christmas/my birthday!......  *zooms off on hoverbike*

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Confessions of the Tortured Artist: Why Depression Really Matters

            Greetings, readers, with a somber and hollow voice full of sadness.  I understand that you are eager to see what I have to say about Musikfest 2014, but the sharing of Festy fun must wait out of respect for a comedic icon.  Fear not, I will share my adventures, but not this week.  This week is all about losing people to the act of suicide after they fall prey to the lies that depression tells us all.  Which is why I put together this optional "Depression Lies" playlist (which has Blink-182 in it; my apologies to all the haters and hipsters who are rolling up their sleeves and cracking their knuckles to write scathing comments about my choice in music, even though "Adam's Song" does seem to reflect the suicidal thinking.  If you really don't like it at all, JUST HIT THE NEXT BUTTON!!!  Just don't say that I didn't warn you.)

            I'm sure that if you've been watching television yesterday afternoon/evening (August 11th, 2014, a day during which I was doing a bunch of appointment stuff), you may seen/heard a really heart-wrenching headline regarding a beloved comedian, artist and human being:

            I kid you not, this is seriously some sad news, especially regarding someone many comedians and entertainers look up to.  I enjoyed the entertainment he provided, and there has been a time when I'd be snorting with laughter at the blooper reel of movies he was in; I think it should be said that he just wasn't in blooper reels, as he was a living gag reel.  He'd joke a lot, just to make people smile and be silly.  And it wasn't until his passing and the initial release of information regarding his cause of death that many of us realized how truly human he actually was, and how much depth he truly has.  He didn't just act all "crazy" to get laughs out of us, but rather to make us laugh and forget about the pain we were feeling deep inside.  Robin Williams wasn't so much a comedic fool as he was an empathetic human who understood the pain of humanity and wanted to help make living less painful.

            I believe that the first time I saw him on screen was when he was playing that absentminded professor in the movie Flubber.  He was pretty good in that movie, but his comedy really blossomed in movies such as Man of the Year, and in interviews with people on television, which are as unpredictable as the weather!  He was much like Jenny Lawson without the anxiety and tendency to seem really awkward and weird (which many of us have), as he has let people see the wounds he was trying to heal, while still giving that air of "I'm okay, let's laugh about it."  He had an excellent sense of humor, providing a different, more positive light on serious matters, which allowed those issues to become more approachable.  (His IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000245/?ref_=tt_ov_st

           Robin Williams, you made us laugh so hard we must've snorted so loudly bacon came out of our noses!  And I thank you for not only being unafraid of having an excellent sense of humor, but also for being so human in seeing our need to laugh and providing that reason that allows us to do so.  We love you and will miss you deeply.  Keep God laughing up there.

Depression and Its Endgame

             The death of Robin Williams (which I never really expected to be tertiary witness to as he seemed immortal and unshaken to many) really has helped spark a discussion that requires a need to help people realize that A.) depression is a real medical/neurological problem and must be treated as such, and B.) depression, suicide and mood disorders must have that stigma removed, that stigma that says something's wrong with people who have it and everyone should avoid talking about it like I-can't-say-anything-because-people-will-shy-away-from-me.  It's something that cannot get better when left alone; it's not just an emotional phase people go through, so "Cheer up," ain't helping even jack shit; it's something serious that can lead to physical problems such as obesity, heart disease, etc., which is why it shouldn't be ignored; and nobody can go through it alone.

            I, too, live with depression, which seems to enjoy having a fucked-up bullying hoedown with anxiety as its dance partner deep inside my brain for some reason.  It sucks that I have it; I'd rather not be subjected to the world having an overlying shade of blue to it, but it allows me to understand the darker side of life.  Having an anchor (or fifty-two) outside of myself really helps keep me from being down in the dumps: I'm not alone, people care about me and they are trying to help me.  In fact, with treatment, I'm able to get past that feeling of "THE WORLD IS ENDING BECAUSE I MISSED A THERAPY APPOINTMENT!" with the help of both my psychiatrist and my therapist, the latter being a brilliant witch doctor (read: psychologist) who is also a Whovian and a nerd.  I'm also fortunate to say that I have been able to bounce back from that point where even I have thought about taking my own life.  (At this point, it's not serious; I have not made plans, I have not written a suicide note.  It doesn't mean that it won't ever happen, but the likelihood of it happening is very low.)

            Now for an even tougher subject to chew on: suicide.  Taking one's own life out of desperation to escape the pain that people have been subjected to is not a selfish act.  Sure, it may seem selfish to many people (ahem…. Nick Groff of Ghost Adventures and Eric/Terial from Second Life), but a large percentage of suicide victims completed this painful act ("committed" makes it sound like it's a crime) because it seems to be the only answer left; people should keep in mind that these aren't  people going "I'm going to end it all just to spite these motherfuckers," (which is a really small percentage—I doubt that such a group exists but I'm sure it does.) or "You'll never be able to punish me!" (which is a visibly larger percentage than the "spite these motherfuckers" group) but are really people drowning inside of their own emotions, being overwhelmed with sadness, fear, anxiety and are just feeling hopeless and left with no other way out through the fog that clouds our minds.  People attempting suicide should still be approached cautiously by professionals (like cops and firefighters and licensed medical professionals) because they might be so desperate that they would wind up hurting/killing others just to achieve their goals.  But they need support, they need people to be there for them, rather than being abandoned because their actions pissed you off.

            Suicide is a real problem (as is self-injury).  Cyberbullying and bullying is one indirect cause of it as this activity can trigger depression; this pattern exists and it must be addressed.  Another point to make is that it's a real problem, especially in Japan (sorry, Japanese readers), where it got to the point where the word "suicide" is very taboo in the land of samurai and ninjas, which is why they refer to it as "human incident".  It's practically an epidemic over there and the Japanese government is doing whatever it takes to solve the problem, with measures that include training officers, medics and even Shinjuku station employees in such matters.  And yet, people are still throwing themselves into Mt. Fujiyama or completing such an act in the Hanging Forest (which Josh Gates and his crew from Destination Truth actually investigated for possible paranormal activity).  The Japanese sees it as a problem for sure; why can't the Americans?  It shouldn't be an epidemic to be addressed!

There's Still a Ray of Light In This Darkness

            There is help available for people suffering from depression (and/or anxiety), and there is a way out of the really dark corners of life.  For one, please: reach out for help.  Say, "Everything hurts and I need help," over and over in the best way you know how until someone listens.  Talk to someone you trust, like your parents or siblings or a neighbor or a religious/faith leader; let them know you need help.  I can say I'm extremely sure that they are more than willing to help you; if not, find someone else; keep looking until someone takes you seriously.

            Another couple of points to keep in mind is that you're not alone in this war and that DEPRESSION IS A MOTHERFUCKING LIAR!!!!  It tells you that you are worthless, incapable of handling and solving problems, that there is nothing to live for.  DON'T BELIEVE WHATEVER IT TELLS YOU!  It's the cyberbully that lives in your head and thrives on hopelessness.  In fact, that idea—"Depression lies"—is one of the many mottos Jenny "The Bloggess" Lawson has, as she shares her own inner struggles on her blog (which you should read and bookmark and subscribe to and stuffs because it's awesomes!).  It's become such a rallying call that many of her fans who relate to her battles with depression use it in their tweets as a hashtag, #DepressionLies.  I've used it myself, and in the process, got connected to such a sweetheart on Twitter; thanks for connecting with me, @kheliwud!  I look forward to many conversations with you in the future!

            If you are going through a mental health emergency, however, call 911 (or if you're in another country, contact the appropriate emergency responders) and reach out to someone.  It may be rough at first, but it will get better.

            Just put down the knife/gun/rope/pills/car keys, dear, so that no one will get hurt.

Suicide Prevention Internet Resources

            ~~ Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-8255 (US and Canada)

            ~~ Australia: https://www.lifeline.org.au/

            ~~ UK: http://www.samaritans.org/

            ~~ Bangladesh: http://www.shuni.org/en.php

        ~~ CDC on Depression: http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics/mental-illness/depression.htm

        ~~ Mayo Clinic on Depression: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977

            If it's an immediate emergency, call 911 or the appropriate emergency responders!!!!

P.S.  One tip to get through less intense days (as in days where you're not in need of a permanent exit) is to construct a "Good Things list" and list the things in life that are positive in your life; it can be as simple as "I'M ALIVE" and "I'M OKAY" and "I did the dishes today," and "I finished my to-do list with time to spare!" and "I had fun changing the baby's diaper and now we're both laughing in the living room!"  I did it and it helps me have a buffer against the lower levels of that Pit of Despair many of us are stuck inside of, which is much like being in the Pit of Sarlacc only you don't get digested over thousands of years but rather just feel like you're losing more and more hope the deeper into the pit you go—and the Pit of Despair has a rope available for climbing out.

P.P.S.  I'd like to start a campaign on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ to get the hashtag #DepressionLies trending nationwide alongside Robin Williams.  It's time to get people to start talking, connecting and supporting each other.  We don't have to fight our battles alone; it's a lot easier for someone to fight depression alongside you.  LET'S GET THIS TOPIC TRENDING NOW!!!!!

P.P.P.S.  When in doubt, CATS!!!!!!