Under Da Hood!

 

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So a few weeks ago, my 12 year old son asked me, “Dad, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?”  

Initially, I gave him some off the cuff response and then later, after finally sitting down and trying to find that “peace” that had been eluding me for weeks, I thought about it and give him this answer.

"Sadly son, there is really no "haven" for a man like me in this world.  The perception that I fight on a daily basis is the burden I choose to bear so you can find and have that haven.  The only "place" I can go where I feel safe, equal, and respected is my mind, because no one can take that from me."

I knew it wasn’t the answer he was looking for.  But the seed was planted nonetheless and maybe, just maybe, at some point in his life these words will ring a certain truth that will make him smile and reinforce to him that his dad held up his end of the bargain.  =/\=

 

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So 3 years ago today, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ) was shot and almost killed by a nut job, changing her and her family’s lives forever.  Needless to say, (no I take that back this needs to be stated over and over again), gun and anti-gun enthusiasts quickly went to their corners (with their favorite news entertainment channel) and armed themselves with their dogmatic teachings with one side stating “Take the guns”, which ok, I’m making that part up, I’ve never heard those words iterated by anyone other than those on the other side of the debate (and usually news entertainment) stating that the “President” wants to “Take (y)our guns”.  Gotta love fear and ignorance and avoiding root-cause analysis.  Regardless of where you fall on this issue, I’m going to say something that is going to hopefully put a crack in both mindsets of this altercation and stop the droning of the age old firearms debate.  

This country was informally founded on firearms and has continued (for better or worse) because of it.  I’m not a psychologist by any means (and here is where I will whistle instead of giving you my opinion of why the firearm and the fear of losing the “privilege” of having a firearm are so entrenched in American culture and ideology), but there is something (in my opinion) unsettling about that.  But I digress.  The point is this, “your” guns will never be taken by this administration or any other in the near future from what I can tell.  This administration owes too much to too many to even make a dent into addressing “gun control” on a serious level.  We have waaaay too many other problems that this administration and corporations have concocted to deal with.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the socialized healthcare initiative and how long that’s taking to get moving (which was at a complete standstill until the administration conceded to allow the insurance companies NOT the practitioners of medicine and healthcare “adjust” the bill - Thanks Obama) and that was established (initially) to help save lives.  Yes, you can make the argument that guns help save lives too, but usually at the cost of others.

I guess in the end, all I can say is just be glad that Ronald Reagan isn’t still President (yes I know, the holy father of conservatives is lauded as a hero).  The Black Panther party learned firsthand how gun control (on “assault” weapons) and their “privilege” given to them by the 2nd Amendment worked out for them in California during Gov. Reagan’s reign, which I also find funny (not really) because it is pretty much the same plan the current administration wanted to enact for the country, but then again, this President isn’t dealing with the Black Panthers… he really isn’t dealing with anyone for that matter.

I guess the Brady Bill was good enough and Charlton Heston would be proud.  Until something changes, I guess I’ll hold onto my firearm waiting for the next mentally unstable yahoo to cause an uproar and start this whole nonsense again.  Go fig…    

=/\=

Mr. Hood

 

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“Adults have worn their computer illiteracy as a badge of pride for many years now so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that their children share their digital inadequacies. Moreover, neither group is even willing to try to solve a problem when they encounter it.
 

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning stated in one of her poems “How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”  She then goes on to profess her love for this person by numerous comparisons.  We as a culture have listened to songs, watched movies, read poems and stories with love as the topic.  Whether it’s about new love, old love, lost love, found love, falling “in” love, falling “out” of love, learning to love, or any other iteration of love, we all have our idea of what is love and how to recognize it… or we think we can recognize it.

"Love who you wanna love."

"The heart wants what the heart wants," stated Woody Allen in trying to justify his affair with a woman half his age who was also his adopted daughter.  I believe he was trying to simply say, love is not logical.  There is no calculation, algorithm, or formula that can predict, detect, or even postulate how this state comes about.  Some state the feeling or the state of being in love is similar to the same state the brain experiences when consuming large amounts of chocolate.  But the brain can be fooled… it can be placed in a state of confusion, meditation, it can be manipulated by hallucinogens, lack of oxygen or blood, it can be placed into a trance and made to believe what doesn’t exist.  But the heart… that’s a different story.

The heart is not only just a vital organ, it gives us insight into who we truly are.  Sometimes this can be perceived as a good thing and sometimes it can be perceived as bad, but all in all the heart simply doesn’t lie.  It knows what it needs to survive, it knows what it wants to relieve the pain it feels, it knows what it desires to feel complete.  While the trick is to discern if what is being felt is legitimately from the heart or your brain tricking you, one can never dismiss it fully or truly know.  With all that stated, I sit impatiently for the Supreme Courts ruling on DOMA. 

For those who do not know me, I am an advocate for equality in all things and to me, the current debate on same-sex marriage is one my soapbox cannot avoid.  No, I’m not gay or pro-gay or anti-gay for that matter because to me, your sexual preference is (and get this), YOUR BUSINESS.  No, I’m not anti-christian.  No, I’m not anti-conservative or pro-liberal.  No, I’m not anti-America.  No, I’m not anti-traditional families.  I am pro-Civil Rights (privileges).  I am pro-justice.

Now I know some of you are already reaching for your mouse (if you haven’t already) to move onto the next piece of drivel the Internet has to offer and if you’re about to click to something else… that’s fine by me, just feel free to drop an email to me telling me who you are so I can avoid you going forward.  This is a topic that has no areas of grey for me.

"Marriage, it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve."

The institution covertly manipulated and designed for business/strategic purposes to strengthen allies or bring peace to warring factions.  Adam and Eve were never officially married by God, at least I don’t remember reading in Genesis, Exodus, or Deuteronomy that God sent someone or him/herself to perform the ceremony.  God simply made woman from man for man so he could have a companion (yeah, even typing…  I better not finish that line).  I could be wrong and there is some obtuse verse that goes into detail about their “coupling” ceremony and the expectations set by God and this is where the “hoopla” is coming from regarding “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”.  Anyway…

I know some religious leaders who feel that marriage is an institution created and implemented by God and my only response to that is… what about those ceremonies that appeared in those other lands that didn’t have this concept of the Christian God?  Are they valued less than those performed by a Christian leader?  Are they invalid? And if so, does that mean the rules established by society don’t apply?  To me, if this is the case, that argument is extremely illogical and invalid.  So what really is the issue here?

"A traditional family is better for raising children."

Seriously?

Seriously…

Seriously!?!

The troubles any child faces whether it’s bullying, racism, bigotry, hatred of any kind, is all society made.  Yes, I said it.  WE CREATE IT.  We instill these values, these beliefs.  I truly believe if we are being observed by beings from a different world, all they need to do is watch our children as we strip their innocence away.  See how we propagate their minds with fear, loathing, bias, and cynicism, all the while telling them that any decisions or thoughts opposite of what we impart on them is wrong.  

"Well, I don’t want to see it."

Really?  You don’t want to see it?  What don’t you want to see?  Two guys making out in the mall, I don’t want to see that either.  Two women doing the same?  I don’t… wait, I would probably pause, sorry honey.  But anyway, there is a boatload of crap I don’t want to see (FOXNews, MSNBC, Anthony Weiner (strike that ALL POLITICIANS), Antoine Dodson, Sweet Brown, Paula Deen, Westboro Bapist Church).  But guess what?  As an American, I have to RESPECT the FACT they have the right to be who they are - PERIOD.  I may not like it or disagree with their points of view or their lifestyle but I have to respect it, that’s one of the prices that one must pay to be part of this country now.  Maybe 200+ years ago when all the power was concentrated to wealthy white males, things could be (and would be) different.  But that’s not the case now, it’s the 21st century.  America and its people have changed dramatically.  The world culture and its people have changed.  Get over it.

"It threatens the fabric of the traditional family."

Ha!  Yes, the traditional family is consistently threatened by “the gays”.  I’ve sat in on their secret monthly meetings and realized this is one of their top priorities.  It’s right next to acquiring the same privileges you have in the eyes of the government and the American people and figuring out how to reduce the amounts of hoops they have to jump through to adopt a child.  Get over yourself.  My family isn’t perfect and any problems we’ve come across was due to a lack of communication and lack of setting clear expectations.  Nothing more, nothing less.  

"It’s an affront to God and they shouldn’t allowed to be married."

*facepalm*

Let’s be honest here.  If you believe in God and you believe this is a sin, God will take care of it.  If you are minister and feel this way, don’t perform the ceremony or attend one.

"The government shouldn’t be making rules on religious matters."

Solid point.  But let’s take it one step further.  Since marriage (not civil unions) can be equated to being a religious act, let’s take marriage out of ALL government.  Take away the tax incentives, take away divorce courts, licenses, inheritance, blood tests, the works.  Keep a church institution out of government then there is no discrepancies.  If we can’t do that, then take the good with the “bad” and move on.

So in conclusion, in today’s America we are more diverse than we ever were before, which means we are all different and in that lies our greatest strength, but we are treating it as an extreme weakness for whatever reason.  Once we’ve realized every person has the same rights/privileges as anyone else regardless of our personal beliefs, then we’ve taken one step closer to a true Camelot.

I feel better now that I’ve gotten this off my chest and I have probably made a few more enemies in the process and guess what?  ”I can live with it. I CAN live with it.  I can LIVE with it.”  =/\=  

-Mr. Hood 

  

 

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Late last night, I came across a notebook I used in high school at the age of 17.  It was filled with my notes from physics, chemistry, and calculus along with a reminders about Shakespeare rehearsal after school (yeah, I was that much of a nerd) and other extra-curricular activities.  I was surprised that even after 24 years they were still considered (in my mind) well written and I still understood the concepts the notes needed to convey.  I then noticed that my handwriting had changed over time, I also realized that the girl’s name that I doodled on the corners of my pages (and totally obsessed with) was no longer a significant focus in my life, I no longer had aspirations to be in the chemical field/industry.  I had changed.  I realized the rules I played by, the beliefs I had, the goals I had, no longer applied to my current existence.  Yes, those experiences molded me (partly) into what I am, but I could no longer stand fast by those thoughts, rules, etc. since doing so would be as fruitful as wearing the same pants I wore during that time (30/30) compared to what I wear now (34/33).  "When I was a child, I talked… I guess".

So I looked at the notebook one last time realizing over the 24 years since our initial introduction I had changed.  Some of the changes were mandatory, some were of my own choosing but all in all I was/am different and this notebook no longer applied.  Yeah, I can use it when my son and daughter face the task of taking on those courses and maybe it will help, but when it’s all said and done, they’ll have to take their own notes I guess to make it applicable to them.

I flipped through the notebook’s pages one last time and then tossed it aside realizing in doing so, I needed a new notebook.  Just sayin’.  =/\=

-Mr. Hood

 

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dogshaming:

Sleeping beauty

I took Guapa for a long walk so she could have a good run. She had regular pauses by rolling in…

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I need one of these for Jako!

    
 

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As stated before during Black History Month, I have a tendency to change my profile picture on a daily basis to one of the African Americans who I believe were influential not only on the African American community but the American community as a whole.  These men and women are scientists, politicians, activists, industrialists, and educators.  I normally do not select celebrities or athletes (with the exception of Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington) because their impact is usually superficial in nature and not lasting, but not today.  Today, “I’m Charles Washburn”.  

I had the honor of meeting Mr. Washburn a little over 10 years ago at my first Star Trek Vegas convention.  He was sitting alone at his table while the attendees scurried around the other more notable celebrities.  I stood there with my buddy Bill talking to James Darren (who was extremely nice and the complete essence of cool) when I asked Mr. Darren who was the gentlemen (referring to Mr. Washburn) sitting across the way.  Mr. Darren placed a hand on my shoulder and gave me slight not like the father from a Christmas Story showing Ralphie the hidden present.  At this point, I started to slowly walk over to this man who was greying and intensely reading something.  I looked back at my buddy Bill but he was already “flirting” (successfully some would say) with another Star Trek cutie - but that’s a tale for another time.  

As I approached his table, Mr. Washburn looked up from the book I was reading.  I found myself not being able to make eye contact with him.  I look down at his table and I saw this picture:

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Yep, the man in front of me had worked on the original Star Trek series.  Not only had he worked on the original series but he was the assistant director.  And not only was he the assistant director, but he was the FIRST black assistant director, being also the first African American to apply to and graduate from the DGA (Director Guild of America).  

Now I wasn’t a big fan of Kirk and Spock when my dad introduced the show to me when I was about 8.  I was part of the “Star Wars” generation and watching Star Trek was just simply… bleh.  The special effects were sad (in comparison to Lucas’s masterpiece), the acting subpar, the only saving grace was Nichelle Nichols and to be honest, that was only reason I would sit for an hour with my dad through this trying ordeal just so I could see Ms. Nichols.  Yeah I know 8… don’t judge me.  It wasn’t until 1993 when I first saw Deep Space Nine that I started to get it.  Not the Star Trek thing, but science fiction… but as I stated, I was only starting to get it and then I met Mr. Washburn.

I remember stammering on about “Oh you were on the original series.  That must have been cool.”  Cool?  Who the hell says cool to a man who clearly has had some influence on one of the largest aspects of pop-culture in my lifetime?”

He smiled as he saw me recognize my error as I cleared my throat.  He extended his hand, “Charles Washburn.”

I extended mine, “Parker.”

His hands, creased with age and course but not rough from years of some sort of manual labor.  His grip solid but not overpowering.  But his nails, immaculate.  Why did I look at his nails you ask?  I’ve learned you can tell a lot about a person by their hands (and feet).  Gnawed fingernails would tell me the man had a stressful life and didn’t know how to deal with it and potentially had an issue expressing himself verbally, enlarged knuckles and scarred backhand could be the result of fights or smashing his hand into something which would denote a temper… and the list goes on.

"So," he asked, "is this your first convention?"

I replied that this was actually my second with the first being in Philadelphia a few years prior and I was amazed at how large this convention was in comparison.  

"It amazes me how so many people… so many different people, have the same thing in common."  I said looking throughout one of the convention halls.

"Yeah," he nodded, "that’s the secret of Star Trek and Mr. Roddenberry.  It proved that we all may be different but we are all the same."  

"So, why do you think we have so little black people in lead roles or any other race for that matter in science fiction?"  I asked feeling if anyone would know the answer this man would.

"Oh, I don’t know… things are changing." he said looking across the room.  "Look at Avery." 

Those words, “look at Avery” resonated something Vaughn Armstrong asked me when I talked him after recognizing him from Saved By the Bell (yeah, my nerdom continues to grow… but in my defense, my addiction to that show is my sister’s fault.)

"Was is important for you to see Avery in that role (as Captain)."  Vaughn had asked.

"Most definitely, it gave me the hope that not only was the African American male in the future, but we helped mold it and we are still significant without all the shoe shuffling, "N" word dropping, crotch grabbing, "Yo" slanging crap that modern media portrays."  I responded.

So there I sat next to a Hollywood icon… wrong choice of words, an influential African American in television who’s work (which was at times uncredited) was and is impacting to the point that he was dubbed “Charlie Star Trek”.  A person who lived through the Civil Rights movement, while helping portray a galaxy where “Civil” rights were a non-discussion, because it was no longer a concern because everyone had them and everyone understood the concept of justice and equality.  

As I stated before, so I sat there.  We joked and laughed, he expressed his pride in Star Trek as he spoke with others that approached his table.  We took a couple of pictures together and I took pictures of him with others.  In the final moments of my visit with him as I grabbed Bill from the Star Trek hottie so we could see Patrick Stewart, I turned to Mr. Washburn and said, “Thank you”.

He nodded and smiled and gave the average “my pleasure.”  I then stated as I extended my hand, “No, seriously… Thank you.  Thank you for help  bringing a future to me I can dream about and realize.”

He shook my hand utilizing the same grip, but he held it a little longer this time.  I understood what that meant and what I was charged with.

Mr. Washburn died last year after his battle with kidney disease.  There was BET memoriam, no NAACP honor, no SyFy special or Science dedication for this pioneer, but then again, maybe that’s the way he wanted it.  His life… uncredited.  =/\=

-Mr. Hood

 

 

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Ok, I’ve been holding this is in for awhile and now it’s time to let it out.  The following statement will definitely offend some of you as most of my post do and may firmly plant me in the “Tom” category.  Anyway, I digress…

With the President’s re-election and then his subsequent inauguration happening around celebrated day of Martin Luther King, Jr., I noticed many “memes” that have combined the images of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama with a statement along the lines of Martin Luther stating “I have a dream” and with Barack Obama stating “I am the dream fulfilled”.

Let me stop you right there.  First, let me start by saying I firmly believe Dr. King’s dream was not meant for one man, position or one group of people, but all people.  He saw the hypocrisy of the American system and called them out on it.  He showed the world the underbelly of the “American Dream” and did it without throwing a punch, pulling a knife, or shooting a gun.  He showed the world our inequalities, inner fears, inner hatred, and forewarned us as a country to change our ways

So when I see things like this:

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or this:

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I cringe a little.  

Don’t get me wrong, do I understand and appreciate the significance of the U.S. electing its first bi-racial President?  Yes.  Definitely.  But do I believe that this means Dr. King’s dream has been fulfilled?  Hell no.  I look at the President’s drone attacks and the continued war in the Middle East (King was completely against Viet Nam), I look at the President’s stance on social change (King wanted this, but not from a government’s stance but from a people’s stance), I look at the President’s stance on justice and the renewed NDAA (King’s response to justice).  To me it doesn’t matter if the President is White or Black or both, there will be issues I agree with and issues, I will disagree with because I’m judging him on his character not his color.  I voted for him or against him based not on his color, but his character.  I will stand with him or against based not on his color, but his character.  

Now I know there are some Black people who have voted based strictly on race because they may feel this is some sort of justice and to be honest, that makes me cringe even more. Are we as a people so oppressed (and yes oppressed is the word I used because it is still happening, just in a more PC way) that we have reverted to the same mentality that is being utilized against us?  Cannot we not rise above the concept of victimization and show the rest of the country who we truly are?  We do it every in just about every professional sport, why not in industry?  Why not in politics?  Why not in social change?  And how is this fulfilling Dr. King’s dream?

We as a people (all of us) still have in-fighting, to the point of extreme view points, we no longer cultivate the economy AND great minds, while fostering a moral code WE ALL can live by, not one designated by a select minority.  We’ve let political correctiveness and fear blanket the real discussions that still need to be made in order to keep this “delicate” peace among us which is actually fraying at the seams.  

Dr. King wanted us to be responsible to ourselves, to peacefully right wrongs and speak out against injustices.  Stand up for yourselves and help each other every chance you got.  All in all, I think Aaron McGruder is right in his assumption regarding if Dr. King were alive today.  We still have a lot of work ahead of us to achieve “The Dream” and it doesn’t rest on the shoulders of one office or group of people.  It is and should be OUR goal as a country.  

In conclusion, being judged on the content of one’s character and not the color of your skin is just the beginning.  True progress will come when we will all contribute to the American ideal which we have all created.  One where the only limits are the ones we place on ourselves and that can only happen if we all are aboard… and no government office “can do that for us”.  =/\=

-Mr. Hood