I’m going to try something this year for my birthday. It’s not new. It’s just a drive to finally see a ‘long-form’ creation of mine into completion. I’ve never truly done something for my birthday outside of a few pic collages and a blog post or two. Never have I had a birthday party. Never have I hung out with friends and celebrated my birthday. Never have I really ventured outside of my hometown for my birthday, and if I actually did, it wasn’t memorable. And if it was memorable, it wasn’t worthy of the “Happy” portion of the phrase “Happy Birthday.” So, for some odd reason, I want my birthday to be special this year. It’s not a “monumental” numeral like ’30,”35,’ or ’40,’ but it’s the burning desire to eradicate the similarities between my birthdays and those of one Buffy Summers (If you are a die-hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan then you will get that reference). The only problem is settling on a creative event that will not only become a welcome imprint for years to come, but a positive, goal-achieving, and reflective one as well.

So a quick glance at my Facebook page yesterday gave me the first idea of how I wanted to execute this year’s birthday celebration. Seven years and seven months ago, there was a fad flowing among my college friends’ pages where people wrote lists consisting of 16-25 truths of themselves and posting them for their peers to see. My list was the full 25, because at that point in time I was 25 years old and still in a collegiate melancholic haze about life; confident, but not to the point of knowing where the economic crisis would take me in the next few months. But that’s another story…

The point in why the list caught my eye was because it showcased a different side of me that I, sadly, had managed to lose track of. A lot can happen in seven years and while some of the truths from that persona checklist are still solid rods in the foundation of my very being, an equal or greater amount has morphed into new ideals teetering on the brink of madness sometimes. 

Here’s the list in it’s entirety:

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“A Mark O. Estes Production: “25: Random Edition”

I waited on doing this because I was getting tagged for both 16 random and 25 random things and I didn’t want to do 25 and be called out for being extra so here goes the top 25 things that you might already know. If you didn’t then you just haven’t been around me much, which isn’t a bad thing…

Ok… ACTION!!!!

Scene 1. I believe that no human being is perfect, but laugh when people actually believe the opposite. And they wonder why folks “hate” on them…

Scene 2. I have scoliosis, which for those who don’t know, it is the curvature of the spine.

Scene 3. People need to learn the difference between friends and associates and I believe that it should at least be a required 101 class for all universities.

Scene 4. I’ve been writing stories since the age of 8. One of the first was The Goonies 2 and I also write stories/scripts for me to act out with my action figures by directing and providing voices as well.

Scene 5. I am going through a period now of reading as much thought-provoking black books/essays that I can find. I have read two Toni Morrison books (‘Love’, and her newest ‘A Mercy’), and am now reading Michael Eric Dyson’s ‘April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr,’s Death and How It Changed America’. Next on my list are Toni Morrison’s ‘Sula’ and Ernest J. Gaines’ ‘A Lesson Before Dying’.

Scene 6. A lot of the stuff that I know or have learned in life has come mostly from TV and movies, which has strangely put me at odds with a lot of people, namely my family. The Real World Seasons 1-10 (It got hella skeezy afterwards), early BET and MTV in general and a few others are to blame for my ‘upbringing’.

Scene 7. Speaking of my upbringing, I kind of raised myself in a sense, because my parents and I have contrasting ideals and I am always the oddball on both sides of my family. It was hard growing up to be myself, because my family frowned on just about everything I did, except my schoolwork.

Scene 8. Technically, I attended my parents wedding due to the fact that my mom was three months pregnant with me at the time.

Scene 9. I am constantly ragged on about my taste in music, TV, and movies, because most of it is “white-washed” and “lack color”.

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Scene 10. Out of the over 200+ movies and TV Shows that I own, I haven’t seen more than a handful of them.

Scene 11. I have been told that I can be quite depressing company to be around, which is puzzling because I have also been told that I am a people magnet.

Scene 12. I have a tendency to alphabetize books if they are out of order in a bookstore and replace books in order of their call number in libraries if they were misplaced. Blame it on my past experience as a librarian. My books here at home are in order of their release date as well as my DVDs.

Scene 13. I had a dream about the birth of my son and in that one dream I watched him age to four years. His name was Christian Tobias Estes. Needless to say that was the best dream ever and was hard to wake up from.

Scene 14. I subscribe to the belief that its vacuous to be at every event, club, party, etc and wonder why or how your business is in the streets.

Scene 15. My first/only Spring Break Trip ever was Spring 2007 and it was to Atlanta, which was also my first time ever being there.

Scene 16. MTSU and the University of Memphis were the first and only choices for school. But after both said my grades weren’t good enough (yes not good enough), I so happened to be cleaning my room and a brochure and application to UT fell out of the bottom of a box that I picked up. I filled it out and the rest is history. Or rather God helped me come to my senses…

Scene 17. I initially came to UT for theater, but by Divine Intervention again, I was steered back to my first loves: writing, television, and film.

Scene 18. Growing up I was a social misfit in my own head. I didn’t think that anybody liked me because I thought they considered me too awkward to be around. But by my senior year in high school, I wised up and realized that people didn’t like me because I was a social chameleon and didn’t let cliques dictate my social life. So I told everyone in my last will and testament to go to hell and that good luck making it to our 1st class reunion, which I won’t be attending.

Scene 19. One of the people who helped shaped me into the person I am today, Earline Bynum, died two weeks after I moved to UT. I never got to say goodbye properly because the last time I saw her before I left she was asleep. I knew then that nothing will ever be the same and I still haven’t gotten over it yet.

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Scene 20. I wonder a lot about things that people would be frightened to acknowledge, issues that others only think about when their own being is at stake, scenarios and possibilities that most consider irrelevant or petulant. At all times my mind is operating…

Scene 21. I don’t like it when people measure someone by their achievements/status/merits and not by their complete character. While that might seem either conceited or confusing to some, I feel that if you don’t have some sense of a moral compass then you don’t have shit worth gloating about.

Scene 22. I see my entire college life as a television show (ala Degrassi) and that I am living my own spinoff now, while the rest of my friends have their own spinoffs. I can’t wait for the reunion movie to happen now. Yea, it’s that deep…

Scene 23. I am a big nostalgic person and love anything relating to the 80s and 90s because they remind me of how things used to be so simple and how film, TV and culture in general was much more creative, original and, at times, unique.

Scene 24. My senior year in high school I placed #1 in the nation in the Cranium Bowl sponsored by Channel One News and U.S. News and World Report magazine. I won a $100 dollar gift card to The Gap and had a field day at the clearance rack.

Scene 25. I have a problem with people who go out their way to be pompous and siddity and then declare that they are just “confident” or that they just have “swag” when someone calls them out on it. That’s not confidence, it’s straight up arrogance. ‘Confidence’ doesn’t have to be displayed 24/7 and is ugly and retarded as hell no matter how tight you twist it. But I still love ya!

Deleted Scene: I am a true Gemini to the core.

Commentary: Sorry if my list might sound bitter, but you got to admit that it was random at best. I tried to mix them up but I guess I had to vent a little. But this is my Random Edition so… Plus, I wanted to do something a little different with mine as you just saw. This is the first of three different editions so look out for the other three installments.”

To be honest, I cringed rereading some of those, but it’s just a prime example of youth in motion. It’s astounding to look at this mirror of words and see someone so totally different, yet not really. It’s a beautiful thing.

So here’s what I’m thinking of doing: I’m thinking about updating at least 23 of these ‘truths’ daily and give reasons why I chose to do so or not. This is just one of the challenges I’ve set up for myself. The other ‘provocations’ I’ve set up for myself won’t be listed, because they might change as soon as I hit publish on this particular blog post, which is actually already late technically.

I hope whoever reads this joins me in this journey and makes sure I stay on track on it until completion on May 23rd, 2016. It’s also a way for me to make sure I’m writing something everyday for the next 23 days.

In advance, I thank you. And hopefully this birthday will become one for the annals.

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AHS Logo

As of this writing, it is April 28th, 2016. We have suffered the devastating loss of the Artist Forever Known as Prince. We have learned that Harriet Tubman will grace the front of the $20 dollar bill sometime after 2020. We know Beyonce has dropped her album, her tea, but not Jay-Z after a possible cheating scandal, yet still scalped the heads of the masses like Jesus Christ returning for the Rapture. We have knowledge that half of our favorite primetime dramas are returning this fall, the newest meme trends that will dominate this summer, and we are confident that despite a nice try from Warner Bros. with Batman v. Superman, Marvel Studios is still the undisputed champion of the comic book movie genre.

What we DON’T know is the theme for American Horror Story Season Six. And that, readers, is a goddamn tragedy.

Again, it is 2:26PM, Thursday, April 28, 2016 and we still have no clue whatsoever what Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Lady Gaga, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulsen, etc have up their sleeves for the next season of FX’s unapologetically addictive horror anthology. We have “clues.” We have “rumors.” We have those somewhat blatantly fake (but not to basic fans) posters floating around with the subtitles “Camp,” “Boarding School,” and “Cruise.” But what we don’t have is CONFIRMATION, something we, as fans, should have had by now. Yes, there have been longer wait periods in the past, with Asylum possibly ranking as THE longest. But even then we still had some concrete information of that particular season taking place in a haunted institution and it would be set in the past. Clues from the latter episodes (barring Freak Show, where clues for Hotel were sprinkled throughout the entire season) helped fans narrow down the theme for the next season and while there might have been several in Hotel, the weren’t as glaring as earlier years nor discussed in length this year. If they were, then I missed out on that conversation entirely, which is not impossible. But I digress. We’re going into May with no idea what Ryan and Brad is conjuring and that is nerve-wracking to the core of my soul.

So what’s the hold up? Are Ryan and Brad finally working on giving us TWO iterations of American Horror Story this year? Are they stuck on picking one of said two ideas and trying to figure out if they could (or rather should) merge both into one cohesive narrative? Do they need help in the writer’s room? A colleague and I are available for retainer if needed…

Ryan and Brad

All in all, we’re six months away from the premiere of American Horror Story’s sixth season and while that is an ample amount of time for Ryan and Brad to write, cast, change their minds, and rewrite, I just want one morsel of confirmation on what’s to come so I can prepare accordingly. Akin to the BeyHive members who made passive aggressive videos and memes borderline taunting Beyoncé to drop her album, I’m hoping this post will ‘encourage’ Ryan and Brad to give the AHS stans something to chew over until this summer’s onslaught of teasers/promos gives us much more life than we deserve. It will make up for the lack of info from PaleyFest this year, which I and several other fans are still reeling from.

But knowing the Murphy/Falchuk dynamic, they are probably working on a reveal/press release/announcement video as I type this and by the time this post publishes it will already be too late and irrelevant. And that would be perfectly fine, because at this stage of the game, I just want something. ANYthing. But until I am hit with news that will leave me convulsing in the middle of my work place for three hours straight (I work at a library and they’ve already been forewarned to not interrupt my AHS related freak outs), I will continue to hit the refresh button on Deadline, Entertainment Weeky, Variety, and TVLine’s respective and reputable websites.

Thoughts?

(Editor’s Note: This post was exactly 666 words long and by it being about American Horror Story, I had to add one word to offset the juju. You can tell your thoughts if you want… Or not.)

  
This past weekend was the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. Tons of black celebrities, political pundits, talk show hosts, and more attended the landmark event that drew thousands upon thousands of black men, women, and children to the nation’s capital in order to celebrate not only a significant moment in African-American history, but a current cultural movement within our country as well. 

But I only heard about the Million Man March 2015,this monumental once in a lifetime event, Saturday morning/afternoon. The day of the event. NOT the weeks leading up to it. 

At first, I was slightly ashamed of not hearing one peep about the event taking place. The questions swirling in my head were “Why wasn’t this retweeted, reblogged and shared on various social media platforms? Why am I just finding out about this? Where were the news reports leading up to it?” But after beating myself up for a few minutes and mulling over my lack of knowledge of the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, I realized… how could I search for something I had no clue existed in the first place?

So after coming to that conclusion, I looked to some news on the matter discussing who was all there and the theme/hashtag #JusticeOrElse. A good friend of mine had the luxury of attending the event, as well as several celebrities I follow who shared their pictures, Facebook statuses, and tweets from the event. The pictures flooding my FB timeline were pretty epic in scope; the crowd was massive and it looked like there was and endless sea of attendees, possibly rivaling any gathering in recent U.S. history. 

Meanwhile, there were other posts flooding my timeline simultaneously that didn’t talk about who was at the event or what was being said as much as who wasn’t in attendance. 

  
Several memes and statuses were bemoaning the lack of media coverage in D.C. for the Million Man March anniversary.  Some of these reports were of the “SMDH/should have known” variety and some others were blatantly pissed off and outraged about the absence of the media during a peaceful and noteworthy event. The same angry parties also declared that if there was violence on hand then the cameras surely would have been front and center, ala Baltimore and Ferguson, to get every bottle thrown and any negative image they could possibly collect. 

This blog post is dedicated to those who decided it was more important to repost and reshare the lack of media coverage than the actual events, speeches, and message of the Million Man March, and why they totally missed the point – and opportunity – to actually do something for a change. This blog post is also dedicated to those who didn’t bother to stop to fact check before making these memes, nor come to the conclusion that it doesn’t take an army of news trucks to represent a journalistic presence at an event this size.

Now in no shape, way, or form am I taking up for the media as a whole, because they have dropped the ball on numerous occasions on race relations and other subjects outside of that hotbed topic. But a quick Google search would show that numerous news entities ranging from CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc were on hand to cover the event as it played out. You would think that if one was bothered enough to send out memes about the injustice of the media screwing us black folks again would at least have the time to pull viable receipts to back their claims. No one bothered to do this despite people leaving examples of coverage in the comments section of the memes and blog posts. 

Then another thought came to mind about people maybe wanting to actually see the events transpire instead of reading about them on the net. Maybe they wanted their kids to see the power of unity from the black community and have them be a part of a national movement through their TV screens, not a sea of articles. I understood this new kernel of knowledge wholeheartedly, but it only produced a new seed of questions and observations, namely one that brings me back to my initial qualm about the coverage of the Million Man March: Why did I, and tons of others, not hear about it until Saturday, the day of the event?

  
This is where my ire sets in. And this is where not only the media dropped the ball, but the social media justice warriors as well. 

While trying to make sure people “stayed woke,” the social media activists slept hard on a huge opportunity and they have only themselves to blame mostly.

Something this huge should not have snuck up on us. It should have came roaring; loud enough that it would be have been on everyone’s lips according to the sites who are declaring a complete media shutout of the event.

JusticeOrElse.com was the official website for the MMM 20th and they have a Facebook page, Twitter handle, and an app that promoted this function. By the looks of things they promoted this pretty damn well (as far as April of this year according to their Facebook page). But still it didn’t (and wouldn’t) reach all ears and eyeballs. This is where those blogs and others whom were anxious that the event wouldn’t be covered properly should have reached out to the handlers of JusticeOrElse about a joint venture to have the landmark affair covered properly. If they couldn’t have reached them, then get in contact with someone who was going to be in attendance, had audio/visual knowledge, and could set up a live stream of the event for their organization or website. The event drew people from across the United States so someone knew someone who knew something that could have been of value to the sites/blog. 

Also you didn’t need to have complete videography knowledge. Live blogging or live tweeting the occasion could have been a big help. I’m sure someone did just that Saturday and probably could have uploaded a Storify link with video to boot.

  
The point is that while the MMM 20th promotional train did its thing, it was up to those with the platforms who received the JusticeOrElse’s call to take the baton and continue the race and make sure news of the event reached the eyeballs of as many African-Americans as possible. Creating memes, blog posts, and articles damning the media for not showing up cameras blazing for the peaceful MMM 20th, instead of using that time and energy to actually report on the speeches and events as they unfolded, did not add anything new to the conversation. It only fed on the ignorance of those not in the know and continued to spread the virus known as misinformation during what is supposed to be the Age of Information. We know the media (all forms, biases, and what have you of it) have no clue of our plight and need papers to sell and page clicks to cash in on. 

A great opportunity was lost this weekend, and in that lies a great disservice that is growing monstrously each day. In short, we have to do better people.

  I ride the chaotic pull of your stormy gaze to gain entry into the phantasmagoric wonderland called your mind, seeking something my brain warns me I’m not ready for… But my body and soul begs wholeheartedly to differ.

I’m rendered speechless by the unrelenting thrall of the journey into your eyes and beyond. What awaits the boy with a slight case of the Naïveté on the other side of your guarded fortress? Beautiful madness? Revelatory anarchy? A forbidden landscape only created to engulf me whole?

Excuse me as my soul putt-putts its excitement to the rhythm of the disorderly trajectory that is this vortex leading into a course less traveled. The bumpy ride is only scary if you don’t understand the morse code within it. A code so intricate that only few have learned to crack it. I can hear the clicks among the clatter as I get even closer…

And after surviving the maelström leading into your forbidden, chimerical landscape, still with a slight case of Naïveté, I met the eye of the storm… a beguiling gentleman. A genius wise beyond our years combined. Misunderstood by many for journeying to his own eccentric cadence.

The creator of the anarchic whirlpool surrounding us was simply a man, with human wants and needs like the rest of us.

And yet… you still enthralled me.

When your eyes glinted a mischievous glee with a knowing smile growing slowly across your face, I knew – but most importantly you knew – I was ready for The Perfect Storm.

TBC…

 

 

 

 

Scream the TV Series

In the past seven weeks, the residents of Lakewood have managed to irritate, frustrate, and motivate me to go on a weekly onslaught of reading the brats for filth rampage at the end of each episode of MTV’s Scream: The TV Series.

In other words, I love this show. No. Seriously, I’ve actually grown to love MTV’s take on the popular 90s satirical slasher franchise that revitalized the horror genre (and turned me into an uber fan) so much that it’s replaced precedence over other summer shows. This is huge for me, especially since I was giving the show a severe side when it premiered back in June. My little black heart of disdain when it came to this show has taken on a shade of romantic pink, the kind where there’s a continual love and hate relationship, but I can’t see my world without it on my TV schedule. No matter how much I want to drop kick the shit out of it from time to time.

Yes, there are issues with this ‘perfect romance.’ Issues that are of the plothole or bad delivery variety, where characters either end up in a situation that doesn’t make any sense (how was there not any police officers at the police station when Riley was there by herself?), or when faced with a terrifying loss, the cast goes on after a mini-breakdown and act like nothing had ever happened. Emily losing Maya lasted a plausibly long time on Pretty Little Liars, but after Audrey lost Rachel, she was good (sort of) after an episode and a half. Plus, Sarah Koenig wannabe Piper Shaw walks into a high school bleeding from her head and no one decides to stop her in this post-Columbine era we’re in? Bruh, please…

But with the blatantly bad comes the graciously good. While Riley being left alone at an abandoned police station required a great stretch of the imagination, it led to a damn good chase/death scene that still rivals all the deaths on the show. The recent episode where Emma, Jake, Brooke, and Noah went looking for Will at the abandoned bowling alley offered a great deal of suspense and revelations, easily becoming my favorite episode of the season so far. The mystery of Brandon James/Maggie is actually pretty intriguing, despite its questionable shelf life past season one. Let’s hope that when we find out who the Lakewood Ghostface really is that the reveal will only be a small piece to a bigger picture; one that will not take seven years to piece together. Pretty Little Liars.>

You'll Never See It Coming

So, yes, I’ve (mostly) gotten over the fact that Scream: Lakewood doesn’t coincide with the world of Scream: Woodsboro/Windsor College. I’ve (mostly) gotten over the fact that we will never find out if Kirby really survived the bloodbath of Scream 4. I’ve (mostly) gotten over the fact that we’re stuck with a Ghostface not as menacing as his predecessor(s). But at the same time, I’m just as glad that we’ve got a slasher television show on the air. And if Scream: Lakewood manages to remain a modest, but buzzworthy success, there will be more slashers headed to the small screen. Jason Voorhees, the hockey masked villain of the Friday the 13th series, is already headed to The CW (possibly, since it’s only a pilot and not an official pickup), which, despite a lot of gripes and groans from the horror community, is damn good thing in my book.

And let’s face it. Until the Weinstein Brothers get their shit together over at Dimension/Miramax Films, Scream:The TV Series aka Scream: Lakewood will have to suffice until a Scream 5 or Scream reboot surfaces. So, we just have to make the best out of it.

Although… I’m still holding out hope that the final episode of this season reveals a tie to the original series. Preferably a plot point Kevin Williamson had in mind when developing Scream 4 involving a returning fan fave from the original trilogy. Now that I wouldn’t have seen coming.

Technically.

Fear the Walking Dead

When the first set of early reviews for Fear the Walking Dead, AMC’s prequel spinoff series to the zombie juggernaut known as The Walking Dead, ended up in my inbox and Facebook timeline, a sheer coat of apprehension took hold initially. I worried that the fans and those who have wanted the show to fail since its announcement were going to nitpick it to death, leaving not even a drop of blood on its corpse when the feast was over. Luckily critical reviews never had much weight on the deciding factor on whether I’m going to devote time and eyeballs to a particular program. I thoroughly enjoyed Fear the Walking Dead despite a few issues (fan nitpicks) that can easily be smoothed over in the next few episodes. That is if your patience is akin to a farmer waiting to see a seed come into bountiful fruition.

It’s funny that a lot of the complaints during the pilot were concerning the show being too slow and not doling out a fair amount of scares. While those are valid points of concern, the sense of constant dread (for me) was prevalent given that the audience knows what’s about to happen and that everyone is not going to make it out alive. Especially given the actions and attitudes of some of the characters from gate. That scares me more than a run of the mill “walker” attack. But you have to care for those characters first, and while some of the new breed (meal bags) of series regulars have already ground my gears by the end of their first piece of dialogue, I can see myself becoming attached to them later on down the line. Kim Dickens will be a powerhouse force to reckon with once all hell breaks loose. Her Madison Clark is what Lori Grimes wish she could have aspired to become a semblance of. I wish I could say the same for Cliff Curtis’s Travis Manawa, whose classroom monologue was eerily prophetic, but while he’s no Rick Grimes, I don’t want another Rick Grimes The entire scene of him entering the dead church alone was very stupid and ill-advised. However, in the state of the current situation, this is where the heavy blanket of dread comes in. It was interwoven throughout the pilot in the most subtle moments, especially with the fact that people die nonviolent deaths every day, meaning that the constant back shots of the Los Angeles skyline served as more than background fodder. It is a menacing threat waiting to go to hell at any moment. Locked apartments are probably brimming fresh walkers who the neighbors didn’t bother to check on, waiting for some unsuspecting scavenger to look for a place to stay or loot.

FDW Main Cast

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

And speaking of ‘unsuspecting,’ that particular tone works for Fear the Walking Dead rather than it’s predecessor. There are a ton of mistakes already on the docket for this blatantly dysfunctional family to make, which is where I also think the drama will take its cues from. In The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes came across a mixed bag of people, fellow survivors who were remnants of various backgrounds and homes and learned to become a family unit. In Fear the Walking Dead, the opposite case is present where you have a fractured family, who will have to learn how to survive while not becoming total strangers to each other, which will be hard since they already are total strangers to one another. Seeing this family deteriorate before our very eyes (whether it be by gruesome deaths or life-altering decisions) will provide enough dramatic tension and horror that will stand on its own two feet in the California sun, and not in its predecessor’s woodsy shadow.

In other words, I’m here for Fear the Walking Dead.

DreamScape Mark

The latest episodic dream started with me simply leaving work for lunch.

The day was typical. Nothing out of the ordinary. The epitome of a surreal dreamland setting, complete with the small, telltale triggers of the amiss that went unnoticed, because that wasn’t the message or the mission at hand. I was hungry, in ever since of the word.

Again, nothing seemed blatantly out-of-order, except there was something… odd. I didn’t care. My focus was on leaving through the glass staff door to lunch, outside the stale, static atmosphere that was driving me insane day in and day out. Once my hands touched the door handle, I felt a slight surge of energy pulsating through the long metal knob. This for only a nanosecond, but it felt like a lifetime. Again, I didn’t think much of it. I was hungry.

I opened the door and instead of seeing the vast, empty stadium parking lot that connects to our meek and easily dismissive one that was just there, clear as day, through the glass staff door, I was back on my college campus from seven years earlier. The University of Tennessee. Only it wasn’t the University of Tennessee. Not the University of Tennessee I remembered at least. However, it was the University of Tennessee, and instead of stopping in awe at the sudden mental time warp/temporal shift, I didn’t skip a beat.

I was hungry.

As I walked the campus shifted with me. Nothing stayed the same, except the building I resided in for a majority of my time at school. Also the big pockets of students that inhabited new versions of buildings past remained a constant. They didn’t notice me. Why should they? I didn’t belong and who pays attention to those who don’t belong? I was a lost ghost haunting their pristine existence and my hunger grew with each step. My attention was mostly on the hunger. Anything else that popped up was simply a distraction of sorts. With that said, I noticed the different faction of students usually wore designated colors. Royal blues, satin purples, coal-black, crimson reds. At first glance, I figured these were fraternities and sororities showcasing their colors, but as I got deeper into the ever-changing landscape that I used to call home for four and a half years, I noticed that these groups were coed, eradicating the Greek theory.

I noticed a pang of yearning when I passed these groups. I noticed this yearning coincided with my hunger.

Then suddenly a tsunami of apprehension hit me like a foul gust of wind. An onslaught of long-buried dread followed. My hunger had taken an equally ravenous companion, which possessed me like Hell’s most championed demon. By now, I’m well aware that I’m dreaming, but that moment of crystal lucidity was as fleeting as the metamorphic campus I used to call home not even a decade ago. Because I now had deadlines. I now had places to go and meetings to attend. I was needed and there wasn’t enough time. My dreamlike gait immediately changed gears, going into maddening fast speed. The new gen UT students were becoming an even bigger blur, their gender safe colors blending into some Jackson Pollock inspired madness.

I was Alice’s White Rabbit, and this phantasmagoric version of my collegiate home was my Wonderland.

I was also still incredibly, ferociously hungry.

In my deranged dash across this warped nether-sphere, my frantic trepidations clouded my peripheral view, quite metaphorically and literally. What class was I late for? What deadline was I close to missing? Who am I covering for at work? These thoughts manifested across the campus canvas in fonts that Tim Burton would do a death drop over. Taunting. Menacing. Ruthless in their endeavors to trip me up the first chance it was optioned on the table. Mixed with that was my simple hunger having now morphed into a devastating malnourishment that was impossible due to my current break neck speed. Why was I so hungry and thirsty? Why I was I here? Why did I need to be somewhere…? What had I forgotten?

The melted forms of the students continued about their lives despite their current state. They continued to ignore me and my frantic running. They proceeded with their daily plans and lives as if they had all the time in the world.

Then, without an iota of a warning, the University of Tennessee started to change again, and like the seasonal changes that bring about various emotions among the moody and depressed, my anxiety went with the flow despite my futile attempts to stop it. I immediately needed to complete all my tasks. The chimerical situation had become dire. Then like a symbol of divine clarity among the chaotic landscape I could see the apartments I called home for most of my college experience again. They were the endgame. I had to get there. For some reason I needed to get there. Maybe this will all make sense once I entered the doors. Maybe I would find out what I had forgotten if I could just make my way home.

But there wasn’t enough time. I had to finish before I ran out of time. Why wasn’t there enou-

Then I woke up…

This dream plagued me for days just like all the others of its kind did before it. They always ended with me frantically trying to carry out a forgotten goal, which left unfinished would lead to dire consequences for the rest of my life. I thought about this for some time and a common thematic thread started to form, correlating with my waking hours desire for knowledge.

I was thirsty for more knowledge, parched for more time to assimilate as much knowledge as possible. My time at UTK, while fondly memorable, was a complete and micro blip in the grand scheme of my life’s journey. Paper deadlines, class projects, parties, job responsibilities… One day I woke up and had simply ran out of time.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t acquire a great deal of knowledge during my collegiate career. I gained a lot of new perspectives in every aspect of life, made life long friends, found new types of art to stimulate my soul. But I’d be lying if I said I left Knoxville incomplete in some capacity.

Maybe this is the explanation for my recurring dreams, where I would find myself either on a warped version  of UTK’s campus or any other educational institution that I attended. Some friends have interpreted similar dreams to relive their youth and the best time of their lives. Others advised that maybe I should go back to school. Either way makes sense, but if it’s the former, I’d rather be in control of my dream narrative to live the parts of my college experience I missed out on due to playing the role of Alice’s White Rabbit. Wonder if I would feel complete if I explored that missing piece, albeit through a lucid dream?

Who knows…

 

RuPaul LIAHO

 

When I was a young lad basking in a world of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostwriter, and the latest R.L. Stine thriller within the confines of my Mayberry-esque hometown, a striking new entity entered my life in the form of RuPaul, who had just unleashed “Supermodel (You Better Work)” unto the world and was taking MTV by storm. Basically, I was in awe for more reasons than I could have counted at the time, maybe even some that foreshadowed my future to some degree. For days my sister (who’s younger) and I went back and forth on whether or not RuPaul was a man or a woman. My sister vehemently was on the side of RuPaul being a female imposter, while I was fooled beyond belief by the illusion and it took seeing an interview to get that RuPaul was in fact a card-carrying member of the XY Chromosome Club. No matter where Ru popped up, I was there (albeit shyly and slyly). It wasn’t until Fate (and Ru) intervened and gave the world RuPaul’s Drag Race, which was the culmination of this kindred connection I always had with him. It was here that I realized that it wasn’t the drag, or the catchy tunes and catchphrases RuPaul could weave with the deftness of a skilled hair specialist that drew me to him, but it was his personality and outlook on life in general that enthralled me. Whether he was gay, straight, male, female, or transgender, RuPaul was going to have a positive effect on me in some capacity.

But at that point it was unbeknownst to me just how much RuPaul would forever continue to fascinate me. He would give me the courage and strength to cope after coming out the closet (albeit not the way I’m sure he would have suggested), give me Life’s Bifocals to pay attention to the absurdity that is the world, and would challenge me to do better to improve my current situation in becoming a bonafide, confident individual. In short, I designated RuPaul as my official unofficial life coach, letting his words of truth and discovery be my stepping-stones to leading a productive and carefree life.

So with that personal attachment, I decided to search for Workin’ It!: RuPaul’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style, Ru’s book he’s promoted since Season Two of Drag Race. While on that journey, I came across Ru’s first autobiography titled, Letting it All Hang Out, which chronicles RuPaul’s life up until the publication of the book back in 1995. I had no clue whatsoever this book existed, so I went with it first since it chronicled RuPaul’s life when I first discovered him as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lad. From his beginnings in San Diego, California to his cross journey trek to Atlanta, Georgia, Letting it All Hang Out gives us Ru’s own personal trek to the stars and beyond. Talking about his family life (his mother was a wonderfully, strong woman, who Lord knows most gay kids would probably would have clung for dear life while growing up gay), his quest for superstardom (RuPaul and the U-Hauls was a hilarious chapter of his life), and the rock-bottom moments in his life, you see the building blocks of the modern RuPaul, which gives even more credence to every inspirational quote ever uttered from the Supermodel of the World’s mouth. RuPaul even recounted the birthplaces of some his signature mantras (such as, “Everybody say ‘Love!'” to “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else? Can I get an ‘Amen’ up in here?!”), which are verbal foundations that have been fixtures in my life ever since I’ve heard them. He is the epitome of being true to oneself and didn’t let certain forces of nature (be it Hollywood, personal issues and friends, etc) deter his drive to achieve his goals in life. Again, he’s a freaking inspiration.

The memoir was written honestly and confidently, and you could almost hear Ru’s voice as you read his words, which are still echoing into today’s generation through Drag Race, What’s The Tee with Michelle Visage, and in any of Ru’s recent interviews. Now RuPaul doesn’t get down and dirty when it comes to every aspect of his past, but he’s transparent enough for the reader to understand his convictions about certain aspects of life and how he tackled them. Classy is the theme throughout Letting it All Hang Out, and even when RuPaul talks about several low points in his life, or uses some choice colorful words, they come off as genuine and not shock value filler. Ru also gives his favorite lists throughout the book, along side early photos of him from baby to the adult years ending in 1994-1995 when the book was originally published. It’s futile to take Ru’s declaration of being famous as nothing less than serious, because every opportunity he got, he not only utilized it, he owned it and used it as a platform for his next step on his road to success. How can you not give anyone with that ravenous of a drive the utmost respect?

Letting it All Hang Out is a quick and must read for any fan of RuPaul and even RuPaul’s Drag Race, because Ru isn’t just sprouting catchphrases out of his ass. It’s his way of life and it’s not only addictive, but it’s also refreshingly influential. Even though the book just turned twenty years-old, it’s still just as relevant as it was during its first printing. So as that Mayberry-esque lad has grown into a productive man of many talents, RuPaul has remained an angel in disguise. And Letting it All Hang Out was the confirmation of his role in my life.

 

 

 

Scream: The TV Series Mask

In a few days, MTV’s take on “Scream,” the iconic and game-changing meta-slasher series from 1996, will finally grace our flat screens after expertly timed teasing throughout the last few months. Marathons of the four blockbuster films that followed the trials and tribulations of heroine Sidney Prescott (as she dealt with betrayal of the literal backstabbing kind from her family and friends, who all pegged Sid as the culprit for their societal ills and personal issues) have ramped up across America through MTV airings and personal home viewing parties that would make film geeks Randy Meeks and Charlie Walker blush in cinematic joy. Despite the constant gripes and whines of the film purists, the thirst for more “Scream” is still alive and well, so one would think that MTV’s Scream: The TV Series would be a more viable quencher until the stars of Sidney (Neve Campbell), Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Gale Weathers-Riley (Courtney Cox) align again for a “Scream 5.”

But um… No. Not the case.

In recent weeks, MTV and Scream: The TV Series executive producers Jill Blotevogel and Jamie Paglia have made it their utmost mission to reiterate how their slice of the Scream pie would not follow the continuing saga of Sidney and the The Woodsboro/Windsor/Sunrise Studios murders; a fact that most fans understood once the setting moved from Woodsboro to Lakewood since it would be impossible to land the “Scream” trinity of Campbell, Cox, and Arquette to star in an ongoing TV series (despite each of them being widely available at the moment, but I digress). Plus continuing Sidney’s story would most definitely water down the intricate, fast paced narrative of the movie franchise that we’ve all come to love and adore, so a new locale, new cast, new mystery, and, begrudgingly, a new mask makes perfect sense.

So why the trepidation from this blogger and other “Scream” fans that the TV Series might miss the mark, and huge opportunity? Well this statement Scream: The TV Series Executive Producer Jamie Paglia explains my slight hesitation:

“…It felt like if we were going to do a show — Jill created these characters, and this new mythology and backstory that we have for the series that doesn’t follow any of our original characters — that one of the most iconic things about the series should also change, just to let everybody know this is an updated story line that’s going to have its own world, it’s own characters, and we’re not going to be beholden to any of those threads from the feature films.

Um, what?!

Scream TTVS Bella

Again, I get it. New cast. New town. New rules. New carnage. I’m all for that. I want all of that… as long as it remains within the tapestry of the “Scream” mythology. You can have “new” everything without touching on the original movie franchise, while having another playground to run rampant in somewhere else. The only thread that should tie the two franchises together is its own horror franchise within a horror franchise and that’s the Stab movies, and that there are serial killers all across America possibly dying for a chance at their time to shine. The killer(s) in Scream: The TV Series wouldn’t have to use a “1.99” Ghostface costume, because it’s what? Not original. The Scream movies, all the way up till the final movie with Sidney’s definitive line of, “Don’t fuck with the original,” has prided itself in discussing the concept of originality in horror films, so it would have been a great point to have the Lakewood Killer(s) have their own story to tell and use a totally different mask to achieve their goal. This way, the Sidney Prescott Saga would remain untouched while the TV Series could create their own legend, albeit within the same universe of Scream.

With all that said however, I seriously doubt this will take place within Scream: The TV Series, which is a shame. It could have carried on the tradition that Kevin Williamson, Wes Craven, and the cast and crew of the “Scream” saga have started without stepping on any toes, and not just related in name only. MTV has its own slasher property, My Super Psycho Sweet Sixteen, which Blotevogel could have easily turned into a TV series with this very cast and storyline and no one would have blinked an eye. At least then, there would have been less concern on trying to sell the show to a built-in rabid audience, who feel slighted by a show who seems as if it’s connected by name only.

On the other hand, though, I’m going to not only give Scream: The TV Series a chance, but I’m also going to stick with it till the credits role on episode ten. I love horror movies, and I love a good slasher, so it’s a win-win for me.

Besides, I need something to tide me over until Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens premieres this fall.

Big Brother 17 Cast

Blogger’s Note: I usually blog about all things Big Brother on other blogs/sites besides this one, because Building Mysteries was at one time solely a personal blog that showcased my experimental writings and other intimate effects. However, that has slowly become not the case and I will use Building Mysteries to reflect on things I love the most, including all things pop culture, which includes Big Brother as well.

Well, it’s that time of year again where I become obsessed with all the fuckery that is Big Brother and this week marks CBS’s official press tour for the seventeenth season of the summer behemoth that went from shameful guilty pleasure to must see TV. Usually, I am here for all the new faces, the new design for the infamous Big Brother house, and the announcement of the new twists into the game the fizzle out before sequester starts for the jury members. But this year? I am more than slightly bored of it all.

There are certain stages that I endure each summer with Big Brother. First, is the annual rabid excitement stage where I warn all family and friends to not fuck with me during Big Brother on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights, among checking my BB news sites and live feeds religiously. Then once some of the players are weeded out and alliances become more solid, the next phase I enter is the “bitch, please” phase that lasts most of the summer due to my disbelief that no one can see this huge ass mega-alliance slicing and dicing their way to the final four. Then when said alliance either hits several road blocks and implodes into several mini side alliances, or merges into something even more God awful, I enter my “kill me now” phase which is when my excitement for Big Brother (at least that current season) turns into a plea to end my suffering until the next season starts.

But after peeping out the new cast and hearing what this season’s twist will entail, I’m slick stuck on Phase Two of my annual Big Brother cycle before the season has even aired it’s first promo.

For starters ,the cast is hella bland. Like there are only five people I immediately locked eyes on, which doesn’t mean shit since I can’t even remember their names or their backgrounds while writing this post. I can only remember that we have one gay guy, one black female, the very first transgender in Big Brother history, and one guy’s planned dual personality that only reminds me of the tale of Edward Mordrake. Plus, there is one cast member who clearly was hired to be the hot stud of the summer, because after claiming he was a super-fan he immediately revealed that he binged watched the last eight seasons in the past four months. Not saying that isn’t a doable feat, but it sounds more like research for an actor’s first gig to me.

Also there is this summer’s twist that got a resounding “Womp, womp, WOMP!” when it came across my screen. Special guests and weeks worth of twists throughout the entire summer? Uh, I guess… I mean, maybe it will pan out to work well, that way everyone’s strategies would be fucked on a weekly basis. However, depending on who the producers groom to shine this year, the ‘twist of twists’ could work in their favor, which would get old for the BB17 audience real quick. Especially the one tapping these keys at the moment.

As of this writing, the Houseguests have entered the Big Brother house and have probably formed at least ten alliances right now. Can’t wait to see them all implode once the “Big Brother Takeover” twist goes into effect.

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