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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also a film journalist/critic for Cocktails & Movies and CinemaBlend, as well as the author of several short stories such as "The Devil v. George W. Bush". Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: mikereyeswrites@gmail.com

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Open Bag Doctrine

Working in an office is a lot like living in a house with a bunch of roommates.  There are common areas that everyone gets to take part in, the most important (at least for my own storytelling purposes) being The Kitchen.  It’s where everyone stashes their food, makes their coffee, conducts gossip filled chats, and it’s also an unintentional breeding ground for tension.

Case in point: this bag of Tostitos Scoops chips.  Sitting in the kitchen since roughly the end of last week, it was unopened until yesterday.  Untouched by man or woman, full of potential calories and diet woes, mocking anyone who walked in to acknowledge its existence and open its contents.  But there it sat…destiny unfulfilled.  All the while, anyone who would pass it would think to themselves, “Who’s bag of chips are those?”, followed by, “Are those for everyone?”.  You even see this sort of thing at parties: everyone's standing around afraid to dip in the pool, eat the first Deviled Egg, or scared to start that game of Spin the Bottle everyone seemed soooo keen on playing the day Suzie decided to invite everyone to her stupid party.  (Honestly Suzie, put up or shut up...I'm a good kisser, and you were just afraid you'd be ruined for any other man.  Especially CHAD!  By the way, now's a good time to mention the names I'm using in here are made up.)

In Office Kitchens across America, this debate is raging on quietly in the minds of employees far and wide.  This debate could lead to freak outs such as the following fictitious scenario:

“No, seriously, who’s chips are those?  I have Chili sitting in the fridge that would be perfect to dip them in.  But I don’t want to open them, because if I open them and they belong to someone else, I’ll be accused of food theft.  And food theft in an office is pretty much a vote of no confidence against the employee who is accused, much less convicted by a jury of their peers.  Goodbye plum spot on the Company Softball team.  So long usual table at the office Christmas Party, Suzie (Yes, THAT Suzie!) from Accounting sits there and it was her chips you pilfered from.  No, the most you’re getting out of that crowd is the usual death stares they would give Andy in Marketing after he took the last donut on Casual Friday.  You know, the donut that was saved for our visiting VP?  Oh, will you look at that…Andy’s taken your spot.  And it looks like he’s practiced that death stare to a tee.  Guess that’s to be expected, after all he got that stare for the past three years in a row.  Really?  I’m going to have to endure that stare for three years?  But Jimmy in Accounts Payable was only give two weeks for using someone else’s butter.  Oh god!  The Butter!”
With all of that on the line, a co-worker and I were in the kitchen the other day and she remarked about the bag and how it was unopened.  We wondered who’s it was, and deducing it was actually left out for public consumption, she had wondered why it wasn’t opened?  Thus, the Open Bag Doctrine was born.  The Open Bag Doctrine goes as follows:

“If a food product of any sort shall be left in the fridge, out on the counter, or out on the table; and its owner or origin is unknown, it shall be up for grabs after a reasonable statute of limitations.  (Inter-office policy shall dictate the parameters that equal “reasonable”.  HR should really be consulted in matters like this.)

Should this product be intended for public consumption, it will remain dormant until someone opens the bag/breaks the seal/takes the first donut or bagel.  Once that first portion has been consumed, watch that puppy fly.”

I tested the Open Bag Doctrine’s validity by opening the bag, once it was cleared for public consumption by our coordinated opinions.  From the open bag, I took a handful of chips and savored my philosophical victory.  I even went back later that afternoon to load up on some chips with the Salsa I brought from home.  Sure enough, by lunch time today, the bag was about 3/4ths consumed when I grabbed a couple to dip in my soup.  I think we can officially say that the results are conclusive: The Open Bag Doctrine is now a thing.  So if you see a sealed bag or a plate of donuts just waiting to be opened or consumed in your office kitchen, remember that The Open Bag Doctrine applies.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Born On A Soapbox: My Political Life

I've been known to wax political on this fine blog of mine, and why not? I'm a Political Science junkie, having earned my degree in the field as of six years ago this past June. I've always been drawn to the process our nation has gone through to find itself new leaders and representatives, who are ideally standard bearers to light the way to a better tomorrow.  If you'd indulge me (and I assume you are, if you're reading past this statement), I'd like to editorialize and recap my political life and the experiences I've been through.

My earliest political memory was when I watched, what I assume were, the Dukakis/Bush debates of '88. I was 5 at the time, and between writing fake memos to my mother (I was playing "Guidance Counselor" at the time) I was supposedly commenting on the debates themselves. At one point or another, I said something that made my mother exclaim (with fond comedic value) "Michael, you little Communist". I assume I said something that sided with Dukakis, because my family loved Reagan so much they had to have voted for Bush. (Childhood memory eludes me with some details.)  I grew up in a (for all intents and purposes) Republican household.  As I'd said before, my family loved Reagan.  They still hold him as a standard bearer to this very day.  As much as my mother loved Reagan, my father loved Nixon.  He loved Nixon because he ended Vietnam and spared him the horrors of combat, as he was serving in The Marines during wartime.  I too hold a soft spot for Nixon for that same reason, as well as because of the man's political acumen, despite his ignominious end.

In High School, I was thinking of becoming a Senator in Virginia, and strangely enough my mother said that I sounded like Kennedy in my graduation speech.  Ask anyone in my f\family, and they'd probably recall that at various points in my upbringing I've been called "a born politician".  When I turned 18, I was so upset that I'd missed the 2000 election by a year, unable to fulfill my proud duty as a voter.  Still, if I remember correctly, I voted in a local election that year, and I was proud as anything.
It's no doubt that political thought has always been in my blood.  Especially as I went through college and found other like minded people (whom I'm still friends with to this day). We were the guys that read the paper at breakfast. The guys who would talk about Rassmussen polls when we weren't talking about movies. We were those guys you'd expect to take over the world, or at very least a small part of the campus.  And today, we're still sending each other poll results, political cartoons, and commentary on the election in general. 
Which brings us to today.  My youngest brother, Nicholas, has just turned 18 this year.  He's one of those infant minded citizens Ann Coulter wishes couldn't vote until they were 21.  Apologies to Ms. Coulter's remarks, but I believe otherwise.  I believe that in this country we still have civic minded people of a younger age that want to do something.  Now granted, there aren't a lot of them, but there are still some.  And I would like to pose the theory that growing up in a household of any strong political views does a person good.
Ever since I was a kid, I've had political values instilled in me as a core part of a person's life.  To quote an age old belief, popularly espoused by Aaron Tippin back in the '90s, "You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything".  That's how I was raised.  I was raised to believe that voting is not just a privilege, it's a civic duty all Americans should take part in.  I was also raised to believe that elections aren't the time to sit around and let things pass you by.  I'll admit, there have been times I haven't made it to the polls.  I'm ashamed to admit that.  But we all have our mistakes and our failings, and I never fail to hold true to my beliefs.  I am, however, open to those beliefs evolving along with my tastes. 

This November, it's time for the electorate to once more raise its hands, cast its votes, and continue the American traditions of civic duty.  No matter who you vote for, no matter your convictions, you must vote so that you may be heard.  It's as simple as that.  I'm not going to dangle celebrities in your face, or pander to your fandoms and religious beliefs.  I'm appealing to your sensibilities as an American citizen.  A citizen who isn't afraid to speak their mind, be it on the Internet or at gatherings.  Someone who cares where this country is heading.  Someone who wants to make a difference.  We are living in times where good people should not live in silence.  We are in times where no one should be silent, so as to determine the true nature of the course our country is headed on.  These are trying times, that seem perilous and fraught with worry.  Moreso than we've ever seen, depending on who you talk to. 
I'd like to say that sentiment is false.  This country has been through plenty, and it's been through much worse.  True, we're not living in the salad days that some would tell you came before, but we're not at the bottom of the barrel.  We'd just like to think so, because it justifies our vote for the people we believe can save us.  Which is perfectly natural, in fact it's the way voters think.  But I'd like to think that proper voters, the people with true heads on their shoulders, vote with more than feelings.   They also vote with truths. 
Personal, inalienable truths that people hold self evident.  Truths that balance out with other people's truths, which combine to form one great truth: we're Americans, and we're damned proud of this country.  We're so proud of it, we want it to succeed and prosper as it has in the past.  The major disagreements are with who and how we carry on that greatness.  And if you fit the bill, then your county registry has a ballot with your name on it.  Your ticket to defend the republic for which we stand.  Our nation (you can take the 'Under God' as you may), indivisible, believing in liberty and justice for all. 
Some may see it hackneyed or trite for me to crib from old school political thought, and why not?  It's been used for good as well as bad in our political discourse.  But at least they've been used.  Indeed, the Founding Fathers, and all the great political minds that came after them in our long history, have written words that spoke to the nation.  Those words even built this nation, and those words will forever be the bedrock to our personal beliefs.  They are the ultimate precedent in our cases for where we want to go tomorrow.  Their intent may not always be pure or be just, but they are there to guide.
I'm going to close with another, more foggy memory of mine.  It's of my parents taking me to an Anti Florio rally in Trenton as a kid. (In fact, I think it was this rally here, because I remember signs about taxing toilet paper being present.  It's funny what you remember with things like this.)  Yes, my family was (and is still, for the most part) pretty Republican; and yes, for a time I too was in the Republican way with the family. As I grew up, I started to part terms with those ways, with the final divide being in the 2008 election.  In the end, I'd like to think my parents are proud of the sons they raised. No matter what party affiliation, no matter what politics they hold, I'd like to think that they are proud that we are active and voting.  America, get out and vote.  It's a tradition we should all agree to uphold.  And parents/friends/family?  Be proud to know a voter, no matter what their vote shall be.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker had it right.  "America...Fuck Yeah!"

The Monday GAAH! - 10/1/12

So last week wasn't as productive as I had hoped.  I had a slate of pieces ready to go, but my duties at The Bookish Kind and What Culture kind of have me working in triplicate.  Still, more writing is a good thing, and more places to show it off is also a good thing as well.  I can tell you this though: a new Musical Anatomy is in the works, as well as a new short fiction series, which is just in time for Halloween.  For now though, let's start the week off the way we always do...wishing it were Friday again.

- Anne Hathaway got married this weekend, and that's all we're saying on the matter.  No...seriously.  That's it.  Game over, man.  Game over.

- Also, the Doctor Who mid-season finale was as sad as everyone was hyping it up to be.  ARGH!  No questions on that either.  Jesus!

- R.I.P Michael O'Hare, Commander Jeffrey Sinclair from Babylon 5.  After a heart attack, Mr. O'Hare had slipped into a coma, upon which he never awoke.  J. Michael Straczynski posted a rather fitting tribute to him on his Facebook page.  It's from Mr. O'Hare's brother, and it's as sweet as it is heartbreaking.  Goodbye Mr. O'Hare. 

- The Breaking Dawn part II poster will slowly be revealed over the next 24 hours, piece by piece.  Currently available for view: the shits that I give about Twilight, and my joy for its departure into the annals of "trends that should have died a LONG time ago".

- Hotel Transylvania topped this weekend's box office, with Looper pulling a beautful second place finish.  Here's hoping for a long haul for the latter and a quiet exit for the former.  (I still haven't forgiven Adam Sandler for Jack and Jill and Bedtime Stories.)  That said, here's this weekend's Futile Box Office Predictions:

1.) Frankenweenie - It's a kid's release, it's Halloween, it's Tim Burton...Kindergartners and  Hot Topic rejoice.

2.) Looper - Expect some strong word of mouth, the handsome-ness of JGL and Bruce Willis, and time travel junkies to sell this puppy for another week.  (Hopefully.)

3.) Pitch Perfect - It's very Glee-esque and it had a 6th place soft opening, so I'm expecting a sleeper hit.  Unfortunately, it won't be a smash hit.  Thank Tim Burton for that.

Lovable Loser of the Week: Dredd 3D, because it's not exactly making a killing at the box office, which just leaves us with an awesome cult classic.  (And short hard, awesome SciFi/Action; whilst Len Wiseman is allowed to remake The Mummy.  Fair shake, eh Hollywood?)

Loathable Winner of the Week: Frankenweenie, because when Plain White T's does a cover of "Pet Semetary" on your soundtrack, you've kinda just summed up the expectations of this film for anyone who's above 12.  (The dog's still adorable, so I might give it a shot.)

- MSN's Unfortunate Headline Pairing of the Week: "Bieber vomits onstage | Bonaduce: Fan bit my faceTwo things:  1.)  Does this mean Justin Bieber has been performing all of his shows without listening to his own performances?  2.) What's Danny Bonaduce doing at a Justin Bieber concert, nevermind the fact that he had to have been in the front row to have been Bieber Blasted?  (At least, that's what I'd think Selena Gomez would call it.)

- I don't appologize for that Justin Bieber joke.  I'll apologize for it the day he apologizes for his music.

There's no video in the GAAAH this week, simply because I've already posted Episode 1 of Bumbloods earlier today.  My buddy Joe is the co-writer/co-star of this awesome zombie madness, and if you haven't seen it already head below this post and watch it!  Share, enjoy, and comment on the awe and glory that is Bumbloods. 

Bleeding Hell, or "You should be watching Bumbloods"

Full disclosure, before my gushing: the product I'm about to review is from a buddy of mine.  However, I wouldn't be selling you on this if I didn't think it was awesome.  And quite frankly, it's the tits.  You've been "warned".

A little backstory before we start: Joe Bandelli, one of the minds behind this miniseries I'm about to review, is a High School friend of mine.  We graduated the same class, ran against each other in the Senior Year Class President race, and we've kept in touch here and there.  For some time now, he's been making movies and putting them on the Internet for everyone to watch.  Unlike any celebutard that does the same thing though, his are actually pretty damned entertaining.  And now, with the Season of the Witch upon us, it's time for things to get a little spooky.  Also, a little funny, because every trick needs a treat.  Bumbloods brings the tricks, and remembers to supply the treats as well.

Short synopsis: Dr. Jeremy Madison (Played by co-writer Matthew Wise), along with his roommate Mario Krepeli (played by Mr. Bandelli) are two of the last men standing after a new synthetic drug turns 90% of the world into zombies, or "Bumbloods".  Our story will focus on these two men and their quest for survival, redemption, or at the very least a healthy case of bromance.

I'm going to go out on a limb and do one of those critic comparisons that you always hear with movies.  If you loved Shaun of the Dead, you're going to love Bumbloods.  No...seriously, you will.  Bandelli and Wise manage to recapture the Shaun/Ed dynamic that Pegg and Frost made famous, but still manage to bring something fresh to the table.  Jeremy and Mario aren't just pale comparisons to the work of Edgar Wright, but they are loving homages that nail everything you love about those characters without looking like some kid just changed the names and set it in New York.  (In other words, this won't end up on CBS' line up starring Lucy Liu anytime soon.)  It's fun, it's zombified, and it's something that should have been loading on your computer in the time it took you to read this review.

No worries, I'll provide the embed down below.  (And, if you're all interested, I'll gladly provide the embeds every Monday.  If anything, that works because I always have a Monday video to push anyway.)  So, without further ado, I proudly present to you all: Bumbloods - Episode 1: "Saving Grace".  Don't forget to visit www.bumbloods.com for stills, information on the show, as well as a fresh episode every Monday in October.  (And if you guys like what Joe and Company have provided, you're going to want to be around here on Friday.  Let's just say an idea I've had brewing for last Halloween has decided to re-animate itself.  Yes, for the subtlety impaired, it's a zombie story.)

Bumbloods Episode 1: Saving Grace by Bumbloods