As of September 29, 2:00 pm Central Time, the government shutdown is actually possible. Politicians, experts, strategists, and professors are among those who have been providing different examples of what the shutdown will look like. From unpaid TSA personnel to 19,000 unpaid border agents, this government shutdown isn’t as irrelevant as people may think. Below is a partial list of how we the people will be affected (with sources) by reporting the plans that might be implemented.
Cybersecurity and Physical Security Support to the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure: CISA would also be forced to suspend both physical and cybersecurity assessments for government and industry partners. Perhaps more cyberattacks are in the works now that this deadline is looming and the government shutdown has worldwide coverage.
Disruptions to Air Transportation from Multiple Sides: If you have flights to catch, get ready for some “significant delays” if the government shutdown happens. On average, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens 2.5 million passengers every day. There is already a pilot and air traffic controller shortage so if the government shuts down there will be fewer people to work these positions. If they are given the opportunity to continue working they would be required to continue working, but without pay.
“CBP agents and officers working at over 300 ports of entry and protecting more than 6,000 miles of border under challenging circumstances would be required to continue performing their vital missions without pay.” This includes issues like securing borders, seizing fentanyl,combating child exploitation,and arresting human traffickers.
About 1.3 Million Active-Duty Service Members Will Serve Without Pay: With the government shutdown, all military personnel will continue in a normal duty status regardless of their affiliation with excepted or non-excepted activities until such time as Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service.
Hardship for Nearly 40,000 Active Military Personnel: The U.S. Coast Guard may not even be paid for their unpaid work unless a specific appropriation is passed. They are also unique in that they are not allowed to apply for unemployment benefits either. This is not the case for the other military branches. Additionally, unlike civilian employees, they are not able to file for interim support such as unemployment benefits to supplement their income until an appropriation is passed.
Small Business Administration (SBA) to stop processing new business loans for small businesses:
Each weekday the government is shut down, and small business loan applications will be halted, which may cause small business owners to turn to high-interest, price-gouging non-government loans.
Pro-Life? Not After Birth: The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program serves about 50% of babies born in this country and is at risk. Head Start, which supports education for 3- and 4-year-olds across the country, and women and children who count on WIC would soon start being turned away at grocery store counters, with a federal contingency fund drying up after just a few days and many states left with limited WIC funds to operate the program.
Senior citizens may have a hard time getting food too: Meals on Wheels, which brings food to elderly people many of whom can’t drive or go to the store on their own, could also get interrupted.
What is the hold up? The Republicans are demanding that their specific budget cut proposal pass. Members of Congress indicate that this 8% budget cut proposed will result in:
800 fewer Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and officers
50,000 pounds of cocaine, more than 300 pounds of fentanyl, more than 700 pounds of heroin, and more than 6,000 pounds of methamphetamine let into our country due to cuts to CBP
110,000 children would lose access to Head Start slots
65,000 children would lose access to childcare
60,000 seniors would be robbed of nutrition services like Meals on Wheels
2.1 million women, infants, and children would be waitlisted for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
Up to 40,000 fewer teachers, aides, or other key staff across the country, affecting 26 million students in schools that teach low-income students and 7.5 million students with disabilities
Nearly 70 fewer Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents, who are often some of the first federal law enforcement on the scene of a mass shooting to help local law enforcement identify at-large shooters—and 13 furlough days for ATF’s entire workforce
4,000 fewer rail safety inspection days next year alone, with nearly 11,000 fewer miles of track inspected annually—enough track to cross the United States more than 3 times
145 fewer members of local law enforcement due to cuts at the Department of Justice
Nearly 300,000 households—including 20,000 veterans and 90,000 seniors—would lose housing choice vouchers, putting them at greater risk of homelessness
A roughly $500 reduction to the maximum Pell Grant for 6.6 million students
4,000 fewer FBI personnel, including agents who investigate crimes
250,000 American workers would be denied job training and employment services—resulting in 35,000 fewer workers gaining the opportunity of a Registered Apprenticeship
50,000 workers would lose an average of $1,000 in back wages they are owed
People applying for disability benefits would have to wait 2 months longer
A government shutdown should not be a bargaining chip. The congress members still get paid a pretty nice $174,000 salary so they don’t necessarily feel the impact. Maybe it is time to include Congress in one of these categories where if the government shuts down they also have to work for free. Otherwise, there is no urgency to get things done on time, and these elected officials end up harming their constituents and their livelihoods.
Hopefully this article will be irrelevant soon! Congress – do your best.
As political turmoil ensues, name-calling is getting increasingly…convoluted. The definitions of words like “fascist” or “socialist” are thrown around quite a bit, but in many cases, the true meaning of the term is misunderstood or misinterpreted.
These words are the go-to insults to hurl at the other side, regardless of whether they are being used correctly. So what do all these terms actually mean? Here are some examples of the recent rhetoric and topics of discussion that need some clarity.
Words, phrases, and theories that can help in any political conversation
Democracy– Not to be completely associated with “Democrats”. Whether you identify as a Democrat or Republican, the US form of government is commonly called a Democracy in which the leaders are chosen by the people.
Merriam-Webster defines democracy as a. a government by the people especially: rule of the majority, or b. a government in which the supreme power isvested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.
“The First Amendment only protects your speech from government censorship. It applies to federal, state, and local government actors. This is a broad category that includes not only lawmakers and elected officials, but also public schools and universities, courts, and police officers. It does not include private citizens, businesses, and organizations.“
Private companies can’t be forced to publish or broadcast opinions they don’t agree with.
Private businesses can fire someone for expressing political views
Telling a group of people to go commit violence, making threats, knowingly spreading lies, obscenity, defamation – will likely have consequences that could result in lawsuits of millions of dollars.
Here is a short summary of Democracy vs Fascism before diving into Socialism:
Fascism vs Socialism (Fascists and Socialists)
Fascism – A single individual is in control of everything, including the conduct of the people, society, and industries in the country. Private ownership is restrictive, and there is no freedom of speech for anyone. Fascism aims to strengthen the nation in prosperity rather than the people of the nation.
Socialism – Public welfare is the priority of Socialism, with the eradication of poverty as the driver of this form of government. The Powers are owned by the people and control is decentralized and distributed among the states. There is a strong focus on balancing the social classes.
Comparing Fascism and Socialism
WallStreetMojo summarises the differences between Fascism and Socialism in a few charts below.
Fascism vs. Socialism – A Comparison Infographic
What about Communism?
Now that socialism and fascism have been compared, let’s throw communism into the mix for comparison as well.
Communism vs. Fascism – A Comparison Infographic
The more you know
There are surely plenty more forms of government across the world that were not covered here, but at least for now, Fascism, Communism, and Socialism appear to be the insults most often used in a verbal argument regarding the “left” and the “right”. At least now you can be sure you are using the right term to describe the type of political affiliation just in case you may actually be complementing them instead of trying to intentionally hurt them. So instead, be nice out there and all just get along.
Creating entertainment in Hollywood was much simpler before streaming. The writers wrote, the actors acted, the show would air, and everyone would get paid for their part in the project along with residuals if the show was picked up for syndication or re-runs. This was the structure that everyone involved in creating the show could rely on to earn income after the series had come to an end.
Now that theWriter’s Guild of America (WGA) has joined forces with SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), it is not just the writers and actors feeling the pain. The shutdown has a ripple effect that reaches all the workers behind the scenes as well. Lighting, sound engineers, set design, catering, makeup artists, and a ton of other occupations that are crucial to the process may also be out of a job.
At the heart of the strike are two major demands – fair pay and regulations for AI technology that will soon come for all industries everywhere. While there are not many examples of just how far AI could impact Hollywood, the possibilities are endless. AI could end up being the “writers” for movies and shows. Using this technology wouldn’t create anything new, it would take bits and pieces of what exists out there on the internet and make a script.
It is possible that AI could also take the likeness of actors and actresses to where they may be seen in the movie but not actually be acting in the movie. There may not be a need to hire extras if AI can create them. If there were no sets, no actors, no writers, or no crew, everything would be generated, not created.
Meanwhile, the top Hollywood executives made hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 5 years.
Making movies and shows in Hollywood sounds like a very prestigious and lucrative career if you associate the industry with the top 1% of actors making millions of dollars per movie or per episode. But the writers are the heart of Hollywood. The stories are made into scripts by the writers. To get a project off the ground, the script must make the rounds to the production studios, and the actors must connect with the script and the story to want to bring it to life. The directors need to believe that the story can be brought to life. The audience needs to have that emotional investment in the storyline, characters, and progression from beginning to end.
Do the right thing
The giant Hollywood studios do have a plan – wait until the writers run out of money. “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses,” a studio executive told Deadline. Another with inside information about the tactic called it “a cruel but necessary evil.” – Distractify
Without the writers, no story would be told, no characters would be created, and popular culture would barely exist as it is today. Actors wouldn’t have any projects they would want to be a part of. The studios continue to make a lot of money, but without the writers, they wouldn’t have anything to make money from.
You know those people who don’t watch movies so you have to explain the entire thing to have a conversation? Welcome to the Movie Gap podcast, where hosts Chase and Bryce discuss a classic movie that Bryce has just seen for the first time. This week, that move is Ocean’s 13.
Each week, Chase and Bryce invite a guest to participate in the conversation where they break down a movie and discuss the nuances of the film while making top-notch jokes. After the discussion, they recast the movie with other actors that would be also a good fit for the part. It’s safe to say that they have tons of episodes about the best movies ever made.
The Movie Gap podcast has been dropping weekly episodes since 2018 so finding a classic movie that Bryce hasn’t seen yet is a tough task. But when Bella Mars came to be on the podcast she opened the door to the Ocean’s movies. In Bella’s first guest appearance on The Move Gap, she kicked off the Ocean’s trilogy discussions withOcean’s 11. The trio has been reunited for this episode to discuss another movie from the Ocean’s trilogy skipping Ocean’s 12 and going straight to Ocean’s 13.
Ocean’s 13 is one of those standalone movies where it is best to position the movie as a “take it as it is” flick to immerse yourself in and just go with it. Needless to say, some tasks are completely illogical that the 13 members must complete flawlessly which is unrealistic for anyone no matter how experienced they may be.
“You shook Sinatra’s hand. You should know better.” – GEORGE CLOONEY – Danny Ocean
The Ocean’s movies tend to be a love-it-or-hate-it franchise, so there was no telling of what Bryce would think of this one. You can check out the full episode and listen for yourself, and see whose point of view you agree with the most.
Check out the episode below (Click on the Image):
Check out the theme song featuring the guys of Movie Gap here:
Follow The Movie Gap on their socials through the link below!
Not even the hot summer heat could keep Big Time Rush fans away from the Houston tour stop to see Kendall, Logan, James, and Carlos live in concert for their “Can’t Get Enough” tour. After the solid success of last year’s “Forever Tour”, the uphill battle of a transition from Nickelodeon TV show stars to successful independent touring singer/songwriters is working. And perhaps most notably, the fans were the ones who proved that Big Time Rush was ready to embark on their second headlining tour.
New Tour, New Album
After nearly 10 years, 2022 was the first full year of all things Big Time Rush as they tested the appetite of the fans and their reception of the singles that were released and performed during the “Forever Tour” including “Call it Like I See It”, “Not Giving You Up”, “Fall”, “Honey”, and “Dale Pa Ya”. I was really looking forward to hearing those songs, but I’ll settle for the memories from the “Forever Tour” and the music videos.
This year’s tour promoted the new album, “Another Life” released on June 2, 2023. Six songs from the new album were performed, including “Can’t Get Enough” and “Waves” – two tracks from the album that have music videos out now.
Many of the other songs from “Another Life” (including “Party all the Time”) were scattered throughout the set list, but the rest of the concert pulled from the back catalog of the Big Time Rush classics.
The Big Time Rush fans have their own name
Just like the Taylor Swift fans (Swifties), and Beyonce fans (the Beyhive) Big Time Rush fans have their own name: Rushers. When was the last time there was a concert appealing to new fans under 15, Gen Z fans who are now in their 20s who grew up watching the show, and Millennials with kids who are discovering the TV show for the first time? The older songs were received with warm and nostalgic enthusiasm from the crowd of over 15,000 fans who could be seen singing along with the songs.
Big Time Rush Behind-the-Scenes Content
But what Big Time Rush brings that many other artists don’t is their focus on keeping behind-the-scenes content updated. On their YouTube channel, you can see just how committed they are to consistently releasing unique content inspired by the fans. Carlos has been doing a vlog with his family called “La Vida PenaVega” for years before Big Time Rush reunited a few years ago, and he continues to chronicle his personal journey with his family on tour along for the ride.
Although the Nickelodeon show is arguably their legacy, Kendall, James, Logan, and Carlos are proving that they are moving on with “Another Life” with the support of their forever Rushers that will follow and support their new journey while keeping their childhood memories of their show alive in their hearts forever.
Check out all their socials, music, and YouTube content below:
Over the past decade, Twitter has become increasingly toxic. Like very toxic. No one can say anything without some troll ruining the moment, which sometimes negatively affects the mental health of the replies on a non-confrontational tweet. These actions are unnecessary and hurtful, made for no reason except to cause stress and fear. Today we have three major players: Twitter, Truth, and Threads.
Today, that seems to be the entire purpose of Twitter. A completely non-political tweet turns somehow turns political and aggressive in the comments, giving trolls a sense of power to bully others when there are no consequences. To put the toxicity in perspective, there are websites and articles out there that focus on how to deal with Twitter Trolls. Twitter did not start off this way at all. It was pretty much the only player in this form of social media – the type where you put your thoughts out there and respond to posts with text. It started with the unofficial rules we grew up with: Treat others how you would want to be treated, and if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it at all.
Elon Musk’s Frustrating Twitter Changes
When Elon Musk bought the company for $44 Billion, it was the nail in the coffin for many of the tweeters who have been just dealing with it because although toxic, Twitter still had attributes that users find worthwhile. The platform was working just fine before the Musk takeover as he promised a priority of free speech for one and all. The decisions that were to follow, like making blue verification checkmarks pay-to-play (also for Meta), journalists were banned for no reason, and most recently, Twitter limits the number of tweets that one can READ daily.
The initial change regarding limits to just reading was implemented on July 1:
“Users cannot view tweets without logging in to the platform. Verified accounts can now read 6,000 posts per day, unverified accounts 600 posts and new un-verified accounts 300 posts. After that, users will get a message that says, ‘rate limit exceeded”‘”
Musk has said that limit will “soon” increase to 10,000 for verified, 1,000 for unverified and 500 for new unverified.
Thread’s Daily Active Users Decline
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Meta to launch Threads, so much so that the app was released a day early. Those who use Instagram regularly were the first to sign up, and based on the current number of followers I have on Threads, it appears about 10% of my followers have signed up.
Yes, the daily active users have declined. Yes, there are limits that are going to be involved with the early versions of Threads. But that’s how it usually goes. Threads isn’t the most user-friendly platform. Twitter’s existence has been part of the social media ecosystem for over a decade and it will take a longer time for users to decide if Threads is worth switching over to full-time.
Threads has limited features, but users understand that this is a typical part of creating an app of this magnitude. These missing features and glitches that came with the initial launch were noticeable, but the community of the early adopters to this day has been exuding, promoting, and showing the love for a toxic-free experience. So far, the comments have been respectful or have been expressed as individual posts instead of disagreeing with hate and ganging up on one person who has an opposing opinion.
Of course, it is easy to be selective and find the evidence that backs the claim or the point being made. But this sentiment is felt by many on the platform, and so far, there seems to be a community effort to keep it this way.
Twitter’s Negativity and Spam
My experience today on Twitter was exactly what I was used to. Trolls commenting on posts intend to make other tweeters feel attacked and bullied. For example, this initial post had nothing to do with politics. It was about the Women’s World Cup ramping up and innocent questions about predictions on what country may win. No transgender narratives. Nothing political. But here is the tweet and comments that were added to the post.
Hoping for the Best, But Only Time Will Tell
With Twitter’s restrictions on July 1 and Threads’ launch on July 5th, it is incredibly early to make any legitimate predictions on what the future holds. For now, Threads has proven that the app really is updating and fixing issues in real-time, touting an impressive 0.02% crash fixes. The ease of switching between Instagram and Threads so smoothly is a definite plus. There are features that are still coming, but as long as love and positivity remain a priority on the platform, I’m done with Twitter.
It’s summertime, which means it’s time for the movie studios to release their most expensive and hyped movies of the year. “The Flash” was one of those highly anticipated comic book movies from the DC universe. Ezra Miller was cast as The Flash all the way back in 2014, the movie was greenlit in October 2015, and the original release date was March 23, 2018. After a steady stream of setbacks due to script changes, creative differences, COVID, and some PR disasters to clean up from Ezra’s streak of off-screen incidents, the final movie release date was pushed all the way to June 2023. Typically promotion for a giant movie like “The Flash” would be a massive part of the process to get people hyped to see it, but they had to move forward with a toned-down press tour that kept Ezra away from the public eye as much as possible. This likely impacted the success of the opening weekend even though the promotion budget for the film was speculated to be about $65 million.
I am starting to venture into the DC universe now that James Gunn will be in the driver’s seat starting in 2025, which is a blessing for the mess of movies and bad casting up that DC has gone through. Although he didn’t have much to do with “The Flash”, this movie was seen as the reset to a better future for DC. I had the benefit of not knowing anything about “The Flash” or the actor who played him (more on that later), and the only thing I knew was that there were going to be a few Batman cameos. The observations here will probably be obvious to those of you who are familiar with The Flash, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
I couldn’t help but compare this movie to Marvel franchises, so this article will be comparing “The Flash” from the DC Cinematic Universe with “Spiderman: No Way Home” from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Young Superhero Complex
The movie did a good job introducing The Flash (also known as Barry Allen) and the dynamics of his existence within the first 5-10 minutes of the film. Not bad considering the movie run time is 2 hours and 24 minutes. The movie opens in a familiar superhero fashion, with an action-packed rescue scene that usually would be too big of a task for rookie superheroes. The movie starts in Gotham City, where Batman still reigns supreme and The Flash is the kid who has something to prove.
“The Flash” vs. “Spiderman: No Way Home” storylines
If you zoom all the way out, “The Flash” has some notable similarities to “Spiderman: No Way Home”. Both live in a world where superheroes are part of life, and they have fans that either love or hate them. The Flash and Spider-Man (also known as Peter Parker) were warned of the dangers of the multiverse if they pursue their respective missions but they decided to do it anyway.
The Flash travels to the past
The Flash (Barry) is still a little clumsy with his powers, so Batman is still the one to count on to save the day in this Gotham City. Still traumatized by the death of his mother and the wrongful incarceration of his father, Barry wanted to turn back time to save them both. The wiser Batman warned against the mission, but Barry did it anyway.
Spider-Man brings the past to the present day
Spider-Man’s mentor-type figure in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is fellow Avenger, Dr. Strange. His best friends were not accepted into college due to their affiliation with Spider-Man, so Peter felt that the only way to fix the situation was to go to Dr. Strange for a memory-erasing spell. The spell did not go as planned, and instead of traveling back in time, Spider-Man opened a portal to the multiverse, where the timelines ran parallel.
The OG Michael Keaton Batman had his OG gear, and it was awesome
The Michael Keaton Batman brought back the classic yellow and black insignia on his armor and dusted off the old Batmobile to fight alongside The Flash on his mission. The classic theme song from the early “Batman” movies was weaved into the scenes at particular moments that felt organic and nostalgic.
Some of the former Batmen from earlier films make cameos in “The Flash” that longtime DC fans were excited for. While Batman’s part in “The Flash” movie was emphasized in the trailers and promo for the movie, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” took a different approach to bring back former Spider-Men. Although speculation and leaks were hinting that cameos might be in order, it was the where, when, and how the Spider-Men teamed up that took audiences by surprise.
For one of the first DC movies that I’ve taken an active interest in with higher expectations, “The Flash” did meet those expectations for me and I think Ezra Miller did a great job. I waited a week to start digging into Ezra Miller’s past because unfortunately, it did negatively affect my perspective on the actor. I’m not sure if I could watch another movie of his without thinking about the chaotic life of alleged assault, burglary, and odd behavior. I wish him well and hope he learns from his mistakes and works on his mental health so he can come back to the iconic character in the DC franchise.
I give “The Flash” an overall rating of B. With all the other twists and turns throughout the movie, it was fun to watch even with limited knowledge of the DC universe.
Here are the full trailers for “The Flash” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, and let me know if you agree with the comparisons!
Boy Band Big Time Rush just dropped a ten-track album called Another Life, featuring all new songs as the Big Time Rush TV show era of the band is starting to fade further away in their rearview mirror. With updated styles in their current-day music, Big Time Rush brought a throwback jam that Gen X and Elder Millennials should remember. The band is paying homage to the 1985 song “Party All the Time” performed by one of the biggest actors and legendary comedians in Hollywood, Eddie Murphy. The song is completely different from the original, but the infamous hook “I just want to party all the time” remains intact.
“I Just Want To (Party All the Time)” by Big Time Rush is a mix of familiar sounds with new lyrics and has the same BPM (135 beats per minute) as Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time”, so the two have the same pacing. The themes of the songs are almost completely opposite. Big Time Rush’s version is about the band members partying all the time. Eddie Murphy’s version is about a girl who is breaking his heart because all she wants to do is party all the time while he showers her with roses and diamonds. Big Time Rush adds a little 80s flare with a saxophone solo embedded in their song. The first verse (starting around 15 seconds on “I Just Want To (Party All the Time)” has a recognizable style of a simple bassline and drum cadence like in this part of “Circles” by Post Malone (starting around 20 seconds).
2023 vs. 1985
It might come as a surprise to the younger generations that Eddie Murphy dabbled in music. When “Party All the Time” was released in 1985, Eddie was at the peak of his fame and popularity in Hollywood with his stand-up specials, Saturday Night Live appearances, his Grammy win for Best Comedy Album in 1984 and a successful season of Beverly Hills Cop. Toying with the idea of recording a few singles, it has been speculated that fellow comedian and trailblazer Richard Pryor bet Eddie Murphy $100,000 that he can’t create a hit song. Although “Party All the Time” was born with mixed reviews by critics, the fans say otherwise as the song has been called “timeless nostalgia” today and hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985. With the talented Rick James as the producer for the track, it was a losing bet from the start for Richard Pryor.
Big Time Rush’s Upcoming “Can’t Get Enough” Summer Tour
Big Time Rush is getting ready to embark on their “Can’t Get Enough” summer tour, dropping a 10-track album called Another Life – the first full-length independent release in 10 years for the band. Last year’s “Forever Tour” was hugely successful, leaning on their greatest hits with just a few new singles resulting in sold-out shows. It will be interesting to see the enthusiasm in the crowd for the songs on the new album that they will perform this time around and could be a predictor of whether their success has been held up by the greatest hits from the super popular Big Time Rush TV show on Nickelodeon or if the fans are ready to evolve with them and are true die-hard fans of Big Time Rush 2.0.
From “National Dog Dad Day” to “National Pop Goes the Weasel Day”, June is stacked full of awareness and appreciation days. If you are looking for a reason to have a get-together, check out this list of official and unofficial holidays in June that will surely have something for everyone.
Insect Repellent Awareness Day National Black Bear Day National Chocolate Macaroon Day National Egg Day National Prairie Day National Trails Day World Bicycle Day
For the weekly and monthly observances, many are well known, and for good reason. Still, there are more lighthearted topics that make no sense or seem absurd but perhaps make for a really fun theme party.
National Frozen Yogurt Month National Iced Tea Month National Mango Month National Men’s Health Month National Microchip Month National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month National PTSD Awareness Month Pride Month Professional Wellness Month Women’s Golf Month World Infertility Awareness Month
Check out the links below to see the full lists of June 2023 observances. Whether official, legit, or fabricated, these odd and entertaining awareness days gives us a reason to celebrate something.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s impact on Broadway pushed the bounds of when art meets hip-hop and storytelling. Hamilton – An American Musicalopened in 2015 and quickly became a worldwide phenomenon. Well-known public figures across politics, music, Hollywood, and pro-sports have praised the award-winning show for its ingenuity. Hamilton attracted a huge fan following while also appealing to a younger demographic for Broadway overall.
If you listen closely, you can hear the references to lyrics that were written by Mobb Deep, Grandmaster Flash, Jay Z, Notorious B.I.G., DMX, and a number of other well-known hip-hop artists.
Hamilton took seven years to bring to the final stages. In addition to the overwhelming popularity of the show, Hamilton has already earned 11 Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 7 Oliver Awards, and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album. The musical’s film adaptation was originally scheduled for movie theater release, but due to COVID, it was released on Disney +, the only streaming platform where Hamilton can be seen for now.
Here are some of the most memorable lyrics from the songs on the original Hamilton Broadway Cast Album.
“I gotta holler just to be heard With every word, I drop knowledge I’m a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal Tryin’ to reach my goal. My power of speech: unimpeachable Only nineteen but my mind is older These New York City streets get colder, I shoulder…..“
My Shot – “Im young, scrappy and hungry and I’m not throwing away my shot!“
“………..I’m past patiently waitin’ I’m passionately smashin’ every expectation Every action’s an act of creation I’m laughin’ in the face of casualties and sorrow For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow”
“………..Don’t be shocked when your history book mentions me I will lay down my life if it sets us free Eventually, you’ll see my ascendancy”
“Excuse me, miss, I know it’s not funny But your perfume smells like your daddy’s got money”
Continued: [Angelica Schulyer]
“You want a revolution? I want a revelation! So, listen to my declaration: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal And when I meet Thomas Jefferson I’m a’ compel him to include women in the sequel, work!”
“I’m takin this horse by the reins makin’ Redcoats redder with bloodstains And I’m never gonna stop until I make ‘em Drop and burn ‘em up and scatter their remains, I’m Watch me engagin’ em! Escapin’ em! Enragin’ em! I’m—Lafayette”
“I practiced the law, I practically perfected it I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it Now for a strong central democracy If not, then I’ll be Socrates Throwing verbal rocks at these mediocrities.”
Nonstop: “Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners and the saints”
“I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory. This is where it gets me, On my feet, the enemy ahead of me. If this is the end of me, At least I have a friend with me. Weapon in my head, In command of my men with me.”
“Life doesn’t discriminate Between the sinners and the saints It takes and it takes and it takes And we keep living anyway We rise and we fall and we break And we make our mistakes And if there’s a reason I’m still alive When so many have died Then I’m willin’ to—wait for it”
Hamilton-An American Musical will be referenced as one of the most inspiring and innovative musicals of all time, thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creative mind and passion for hip-hop. You can stream Hamilton now only on Disney +, or catch it live in NYC on Broadway. In addition to the original soundtrack, the Hamilton Mixtape has an impressive list of artists covering the originals in this version, which you can check out here.
If you have different favorite lyrics, let me know in the comments!
Based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton
Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler
Musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire
Direction by Thomas Kail
Produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater
On Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (226 West 46th Street) and on tour in the US, in London’s West End, and in Australia and Germany.
Hamilton is the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies, who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Hamilton‘s score blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway – the story of America then, as told by America now.
Hamilton features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.
Hamilton is produced by Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs, Jill Furman and The Public Theater.
Just having a little fun on this one. Of course deemed purely fictional, my escape from the real world is to watch TV and movies about different versions of a post-apocalyptic world that is worse than what is outside my front door.
The true fans of the comic book series and lower-budget movies are likely going to be annoyed that I’m even writing about zombies because I get most of my knowledge from movies, TV shows, and the book “The Zombie Survival Guide” by Max Brooks. Even the CDC has a satirical article about what to do should the zombie apocalypse takes place, which just adds to my love for the culture.
I will cover three of my favorite movies and shows – Walking Dead, World War Z, and I Am Legend – because I am still in awe of The Last of Us. In the meantime, I’ve been putting together a Zombie Apocalypse Survivor Plan. I’m assembling an Avengers-style supergroup to cover the different situations that I assume would be encountered. I have assigned roles to certain friends and they laugh it off, but perhaps I will have the final laugh when any of the fictional scenarios happen.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead called the zombies “Walkers“, which is fitting for the pace of their movements and how their transformation takes anywhere from three minutes to eight hours after death (in the TV version). These zombies can wander in every part of accessible land and are not affected by sunlight, so they can be encountered anywhere either alone or in groups. They are able to see and hear, but they aren’t as strong, and people armed with a simple sharp tool would be able to defend themselves unless outnumbered.
After 12 years of the show (2010 to 2022) learning how to deal with the “Walkers” wouldn’t be the biggest threat to the survivors. Every living person would be raiding abandoned homes for food, weapons, ammo, or a safe haven with water and a good amount of furniture to block the doors and windows. Eventually, one crew will run into another and there is no telling if they are good guys or bad guys. If they are lucky to escape the bad guys, they often have to start all over – finding weapons, food, and anything else they had taken from them. If the good guys find another group of good guys, they may find a nice place to post up until something comes along to add some drama to the mix. This article details the number of zombies that were taken out by the main characters.
The plan to survive: Construct a group that has people with a particular set of skills: gardening, hunting, negotiating, scavenging, weapon training, cooking, doctor, and experts in all kinds of items that can be used for self-defense besides guns.
I Am Legend
I Am Legend is not a zombie movie but I put it in the same category for the purpose of this comparison. Watching the movie twice was all I could handle because I sobbed when Will Smith’s canine partner in crime was bitten and Will had to put him down in the middle of the transformation from dog to vampire. Seeing the post-apocalyptic world where vampires are the enemy is what makes the movie so fascinating. Will Smith’s character was immune to the virus allowing him to work on a cure, but this virus is much more dangerous because it is airborne and people can be infected simply by being in the vicinity of someone who is infected.
Based on the 1954 Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, this 2007 version is the third time that this movie was attempted. This was also the first time that CGI was used for the adaptation likely a huge part of the movie’s success, bringing in nearly $600 million to the box office. That and Will Smith is one of the few strong actors that can carry the entire movie without a large supporting cast.
The movie starts with the typical chaos, dividing families and bombing cities and bridges. Years later and assumed to be the last man on earth, loneliness and unwavering determination to find a cure was Will Smith’s purpose for living. During the day, he lived a pretty normal life, golfing, hunting, cooking, and working out in his house. When the sun went down, the vampires known as the “Darkseekers” were so dangerous that both Will Smith and his dog curled up in a bathtub to hide until daylight. The “Darkseekers” were the most humanlike and intelligent of the other monsters mentioned here, able to do things like set traps and fight like humans – even appearing to have emotions. The most unique part of this movie is that it has two different endings that would have taken the movie in two very different directions.
The plan to survive: Do what you need to do during the day and then hunker down for a completely silent night. May the odds ever be in your favor. You’re on your own.
World War Z
In a matter of minutes, the recently retired scientist/investigator with the United Nations WMD Brad Pitt and his family are all together in the car playing a road trip game when chaos ensues. Brad used his government connections to get to a Navy vessel as a safe haven. He soon finds out that he either participates in the mission to find a cure or he and his family will have to be evicted.
These zombies are the worst. Fast, strong, travel towards the sound, and have the ability to turn a healthy human into a zombie within 12 seconds. Really tall walls didn’t do much if just one of these zombies hear something. That one sound would cause all the zombies in the area to charge towards the sound and get to the source however possible. In this movie, the zombies just climb on top of each other until they reach the wall and continue the chaos.
World War Z shows the really compact city life under siege in a matter of minutes with no concept of how to handle it. The movie (for the most part) happens in real-time, with everyone in charge weighing different options as they arise and acting on them nearly immediately. They didn’t have time to grab a bunch of armor, they acted on what needed to happen and figured out everything else along the way.
The plan to survive: Stay silent in a high-rise apartment and hope things get better, or be a smart scientist and expert in your field so you get special treatment and security from the government in exchange for safety for your family. The zombies are worse, but the odds of survival do seem better because of the speed at which they figure everything out.
It’s World War Z for me
Out of The Walking Dead, I Am Legend, and World War Z, I like the odds in World War Z. Possibly because it seems like the most realistic in how there are scientists and military aren’t completely clueless, therefore neutralized immediately. I’d like to think the military and government would have some kind of plan or would have figured out that zombie bites equal more zombies. The best of the military, the United Nations, and scientists could come together for the priority to find and bring together to have the brightest minds together to figure out a cure as fast as possible. Brad Pitt fits the role of World War Z, and he seems more resourceful and fearless by the way he makes observations in the middle of chaos and rallies everyone to put their trust in him.
Amongst my friends across the country, I’ve jokingly asked for their commitment to join the Zombie Squad that I am constructing that would lead to the best odds of survival if left with nothing but bare hands to start over and navigate to the safest possible place to set up camp. I have no skills besides being able to negotiate, so I should learn how to plant a garden or raise chickens or something. Otherwise, I’ll be the one hiding in the cabinets hoping everything will work itself out.
The Guardians came together for one last time on a mission, leading up to major decisions that would change their respective worlds, and no one amongst these ride-or-die best friends told each other yet.
This Time It Is Personal
It has been confirmed everywhere that this would be the final Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. For Volume 3, their mission was not to defend and save a world that needed help. If there were ever questions about how Rocket became the walking, talking, fighting, and intelligent member of the Guardians, Volume 3 is where the answers can be found.
The movie opens with a bit of a somber look into a regular day of the crew (minus Gamora). Star-Lord is still dealing with Gamora’s death by getting blackout drunk and having to be carried to his bed to sleep it off. No one was expecting any kind of attack, but a villain from Vol. 2, the gold, flying mama’s boy Adam Warlock came in seeking revenge by orders of his mother, Ayesha. Adam Warlock was created to be the perfect Sovereign, one of the strongest in the Marvel Universe. His destruction of the Guardians of the Galaxy’s town was one thing, but the team was immediately activated by passion, urgency, and fear when the attack on Rocket was so severe that he only had 48 hours to live. As he fought for his life, the rest set out to retrieve the code that will disarm the kill switch that was built into his body when he was a young raccoon used as one of hundreds of animals tested by High Evolutionary to make a perfect being for society.
Adorable Animals and Innocent Children Were Still The Test Subjects After Rocket Escaped
This was Rocket’s movie. If you love animals, bring tissues. I cried at least four times when Rocket would have flashbacks while sedated waiting for his friends to come back with the cure. The flashbacks had everything from the scientists operating on him, throwing him in jail, and making friends with three other animals that experienced the same thing – torture for the purpose of experimentation to find the right formula for a perfect being. They were told that they were going to be released. The four failed experiments formed a strong friendship until Rocket finds out the truth about their fate and tries to do something to save his other animal test subject friends. He was unsuccessful, and his friends were killed at the hands of the High Evolutionary.
All Hands on Deck
The Guardians of the Galaxy were on their most passionate mission yet and determined to do anything and everything to do it. I was a little confused about the return of Gamora, but I was too focused on trying to follow their paths around the galaxy to different planets and what each planet had that was needed to keep Rocket alive. Obstacles were plenty, but the determination to save a best friend is a different kind of mission that the Guardians of the Galaxy could not lose.
And then the first ever F-bomb in the MCU was dropped, and Chris Pratt was the chosen one to do it. I think it was said in the safest scene for the F-bomb to be dropped. It wasn’t during an action scene, it wasn’t directed at any particular person. I think it is safe to say that the word was placed in the dialog where tensions and frustrations are high, making it very mild and pretty harmless to young fans.
The actual bad guy High Evolutionary was becoming more obsessed by the day, with finding Rocket to use for more experimentation by taking his brain to continue researching. The Guardians barely made it, but it was touch and go at the very moment they were trying to save him. I was sobbing at this point. Luckily it was the 3D version so no one could really me crying with the dark 3D glasses.
Love and Purpose
I was satisfied with how everything was wrapped up. The Guardians of the Galaxy disbanded on their own accord, the soundtrack was amazing and the little jokes were still sprinkled in. Maybe a little too many considering that they were on an extremely tight timeline for a really important purpose. But when you add innocent animals, caged children, and each of the Guardians discovering each other’s true purpose, it was a sad, meaningful, heartwarming, tale fitting for the last volume of one of the best franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I’ll leave the rest of the storyline out so that this whole article isn’t a spoiler. But seriously, bring tissues. Check out the trailer here!
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s historical data, the federal minimum wage in 2012 was $7.25 per hour. In 2022, the federal minimum wage has not changed. $7.25 per hour isn’t enough to buy a meal at many fast-food restaurants. $7.25 per hour. That’s $58 for an 8-hour day, $290 per week, or $1,300 monthly. At minimum wage, an individual earns about $15,000 a year before taxes. Members of Congressand the Senatemake $174,000 per year.
Childcare and annual earnings leave no money to survive and provide
As a quick comparison, according to the U.S. Department of Labor National Database of Childcare Prices, the first year of childcarefor infants in 2022 ranges from an estimated $8,310 for small counties to $17,171 for large counties. If there is a worst-case scenario, a full-time job at $7.25 per hour is not enough income for childcare for an entire year. This does not include rent, electricity, food, phone, and everything else needed to live.
National federal minimum wages
Minimum wages are set at the federal level and state levels, but not all states have their own laws about minimum wage. Arguably, employers on average probably pay higher than minimum wage, but sometimes just barely. Having two or three jobs is necessary to survive.
Why tipping your server makes a difference
For those in the service industry, tips are the main source of income. In Texas, if you are tipped at least $30 (thirty) per month, your employer is only required to pay $2.13 per hour. Texas Law Help’s websitestates that “If you earn less than $5.12 per hour in tips in a work week, your employer must make up the difference so that you receive $7.25 per hour in that work week.” Hopefully, most businesses are paying more than $7.25 per hour, but the costs of everything else – rent, food, tuition, childcare – has definitely increased over ten years.
One of the most interesting ways to analyze currency exchange rates across the world is using the cost of a Mcdonald’s Big Mac in different countries, known to economists as the Big Mac Index. How much did a Big Mac cost 10 years ago? In the US, a Big Mac in 2012 cost $4.26, and $5.15 in 2022 – an increase of about 21% which equates to less than $1, but an increase nonetheless.
The publication The Economist explains: “The Big Mac index was invented by The Economist in 1986 as a lighthearted guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level. It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP). The Big Mac index has become a global standard, included in several economic textbooks and the subject of dozens of academic studies.”
The point is, Big Macs are about $1 more expensive now than they were 10 years ago, but the federal minimum wage of $7.25 has not changed. Childcare costs as much as a full-time job and we need to change that. It is time for both federal and state to raise this so people can actually afford to live.
McDonald’s provided the costs of the Big Mac over time, and The Economist created the index using data from McDonald’s across the world and with different currencies. The methodology can be found here. The data generated by The Economist are available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Putting all of the data together, the chart takes a look at each state’s minimum wage in 2012 vs. 2022. The hourly wage data was taken directly from theU.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Divisions. The two horizontal lines show the cost of the Big Mac in 2012 and 2022, over the ten years. In 2023, there are 18 states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, ME, MN, MO, MT, NV, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, SD, and WA) that currently have scheduled annual adjustments for their minimum wages based on varying formulas. Most of these increases occur around January 1st. Individuals should consult the relevant state labor offices for information on the particular formula used to adjust the state minimum wage.
Don’t forget to check out BigTimeFresh.com for more content and listen to the Big Time Fresh Podcast!
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” – The U.S. Constitution: Preamble.
Humanity used to be inspiring. In the 90s, the future looked bright and exciting and the evolution of technology was bringing people together to share experiences with each other face-to-face. Decades later, social media evolved into a platform for mean people filled with hate (the “trolls”) to anonymously bully people outside of their group for no reason other than the fact that they disagree with one another. Most of us are just tired of hearing the same news stories with no solutions and the same clickbait clicks on YouTube. Here is a quick recap of what is frustrating and how I interpret each of these situations.
Social Security and Medicare
Social Security benefits are probably not top of mind for Millennials or Gen-Z, but take a look at your paycheck stub and check out the money that the government takes out of your paycheck. That’s for Social Security and Medicare. Personally, I interpret the statement “get rid of Social Security and Medicare” as “say goodbye to the money I’ve been legally forced (like every US citizen with a Social Security number) to contribute for Social Security and Medicare for when I retire”, which is supposed to ensure that I will have a partial income of some sort. I’m not well versed on how these work down the road, but I know money is taken out of my paycheck and it might not be there later on.
“It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it,” Lee said in the video. “People who advise me politically always tell me that’s dangerous, and I tell them, in that case, it’s not worth my running. That’s why I’m doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort and need to be pulled up.” – -Senator Mike Lee of Utah
Why is legalizing marijuana a problem?
According to the National Library of Medicine, “Marijuana is superior to and has fewer side effects than prescription medications. Participants reported that marijuana was more effective for certain conditions compared to some pharmaceutical prescriptions.” We are moving in the right direction, but there are tons of misconceptions about the benefits of cannabis. Pain, anxiety, sleep, and the other symptoms that can be managed by cannabis can be found in the form of everything from tea to chocolate to pills to traditional forms of marijuana. America has an opportunity to potentially curb additions and deaths due to opioids. In my non-medical professional opinion, marijuana should be the first line of defense before moving to opioids where patients will always be at risk for addiction that can lead to heroin and then to fentanyl.
Read: Louisiana Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana Employment Protections For State Workers: “The fact is we have an opioid problem that gets discussed in this building all the time. We are seeing that for a lot of patients, medical cannabis is an exit strategy,” said Kevin Caldwell, MPP’s southeast legislative manager. One of the biggest benefits of all is the billions of dollars of tax revenue for the state. This tax wouldn’t be money that had to be cut from other programs. For example, “As of March 2022, states reported a combined total of $11.2 billion in tax revenue from legal, adult-use cannabis sales.”
The actions taken immediately after a mass shooting – “Thoughts and prayers”
I used to be so optimistic about being able to make changes about this one, but I’m losing hope. It seems like it has only gotten worse and feels impossible to get on the same page with “the other side”, and now my 9-year-old is learning active shooter drills at school. There have been so many of these school shootings that I can’t keep them straight. Public figures responding via tweet with “Thoughts and prayers” is starting to be one of those terms as common as “bless you” after a sneeze. Days and weeks after a gun-related tragedy, voices for gun control grow loud and are pleading for change. The “right” lacks empathy and is tied to gun lobbyists. The “left” is trying to make a ton of changes to gun legislation all at the same time as an ‘all or nothing’ way to go about it. Round and round we go.
Public safety now includes guns and not answering the front doors
I don’t feel safe anymore. Mostly because I go everywhere by myself, so I made some adjustments to how I would fight off someone. Can we go to church? Yes, but they (the bad guy) target churches. Can we take our 6-year-old’s to school? Yes, but the bad guys also target schools. Can we go to the mall or the movies? Yes, but the mall and movies have been targets as well. Back in the 50s, the women who were at home alone all day didn’t really think twice about answering the door when there was someone knocking. They were just fine opening the door to the solicitors selling vacuums or Tupperware and even knives. Today, I don’t open the door. Unless I am expecting someone, I speak through the closed door and tell them to come back later.
What are the benefits of creating laws that make others feel this society has no place for them?
Kids react to different situations based on how their parents are reacting to them. If everyone would just mind their own business, more people would feel like they are part of the communities where they live and work. Kids didn’t think anything about drag shows and probably didn’t even know what “drag” meant until it was brought to the spotlight by people trying to ban it. So the anti-drag people are creating their own problems so they can come out on top as the one who solves the problem – the very problem that they used as a scare tactic in order to appear as an effective problem solver.
I don’t know why we can’t be the role models that we want our kids to be. Congresspeople should go to their district and livestream their town halls to prove that they are doing something to make their constituents feel heard and taken care of. Baby steps are better than continuing to somehow slide back from all the hard work and progress we made over 50 years. When big things happen, people have big reactions that could shift their outlook on life. Just because we have a congressperson representing where we reside does not mean they get to do whatever they want. Congresspeople are supposed to be listening to their constituents, not falling in line behind their Washington D.C. leader just because they were told to. It doesn’t make sense to have a “fall in line” methodology. Maybe “agree to disagree” or just vote “present”, but to get voted in by promising your constituents that you care about them and then abandon everything once they are out of sight and out of mind is something that will not only be a stain on your service to the country but will be written in the history books for the Americans to read about the most hated and least qualified politicians that have ever lived. But if things keep going the way they are going, there won’t be any books to read about it anyway.
Just an opinion, based on my frustrations.
It’s hard to feel optimistic about the future. My daughter wasn’t old enough to know the world before COVID-19 and she knows how to use “Karen” properly, as do all of her elementary school friends. We all literally learned the colors of the rainbow in Pre-K and Kindergarten. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Adults are turning this rainbow thing into such a big deal that kids can’t learn about colors in art class. The art teachers aren’t associating the rainbow colors with anything besides the fact that teaching the colors of the rainbow. It is the crazies that are introducing the concept of “rainbow flags = bad”.
I think we need to go back to the mentality that our parents, caretakers, grandparents, teachers, and everyone else taught us – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. And treat people the way you want to be treated.
Here are a couple of caveats for this article: I’m a moderate democrat and a responsible gun owner. There are things I agree with on both sides of the aisle.
The ‘Big Time Rush’ TV series is leaving the streaming giant Netflix before the end of the month, taking their talents to their corporate parent company home,Paramount Plus. ‘Big Time Rush’ has always been streaming on Paramount Plus with the rest of the Nickelodeon greatest hits. As more and more paywalls go up and crackdowns on password sharing continue, consumers are still narrowing down their personal list of which streaming services are worth subscribing to. If people want to be able to stream all four seasons of ‘Big Time Rush’, that subscription is Paramount Plus.
The CBS – Viacom merger (rebranded as Paramount Plus) does leave a ton of reasons to subscribe with networks like Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, and sports programming courtesy of CBS Sports. Additional mergers can be expected in the future, including a deal with Showtime making its way into the mix in 2023.
A handful of other TV shows and moviesendedtheir streaming this month on Netflix:
“Hap and Leonard” Seasons 1-3
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
“Outback Truckers” Seasons 1-3
“Instant Hotel” Season 2
“Shtisel” Seasons 1-3
“Big Time Rush” Seasons 1-4
“30 Minutes or Less”
To the fans of the Big Time Rush music, you have a few other ways to get your fill. Big Time Rush has their own mobile app where they post all their behind the scenes and messages that they don’t post anywhere else. And although their 2022 Forever tour is over, the band is hitting the road for their 2023 Can’t Get Enough Tourand tickets are already on sale.
Individual episodes of ‘Big Time Rush’ will still be available for rent or buy on a number of other platforms, but you can get an entire month of Paramount Plus for the (approximate) price of one grande vanilla latte with oatmilk from Starbucks, so it is worth a shot to subscribe. Bottom line is… if you want to watch something, you will be able to find it somewhere. You just might have to get your own account and login and subscription to see it.
Here is a partial list for what Netflix is adding in March 2023. For the full list clickhere.
Call it fate, a coincidence or pure luck, the collaboration between Phillip Good and John Stella on their new track “Simon Says” was the magic that made the song something special.
But in reality, the pieces of the puzzle for independent artists are hardly based on good luck. Of the 100,000 songs that are uploaded to streaming services every day by the mainstream heavy hitters like Beyoncé as well as the independent artists taking the leap and uploading their first song, being able to stand out enough to chart #88 on Apple Music’s Top 100 in any of the genres is a feat that should be celebrated.
Phillip Good and John Stella have musical tastes across the spectrum, from country to hip-hop to pop. Phillip just started into music about two years ago, accelerated by a bunch of viral TikToksthat sparked his new passion, leaving the world of sales to go full time into the new career. Relocation across state lines, networking and finding a crew in Fort Myers, FL was only the start to the grind, and he is determined to keep going strong.
John Stella’s musical talents came much earlier in his life, learning to play the guitar and other instruments that set a strong foundation for the complexity that often comes with the territory of producing music. John was able to transfer the musicianship into learning how to produce on his own, making the process of laying down a new track much more streamlined for everyone.
It wasn’t as much about luck as it was about hitting the streets and meeting people in person; that old-school type marketing and promo that was popular back before social media when there were artists handing out mixtapes in hope of gaining momentum to build a fan base that will grab the attention of record labels.
“Let’s just go out and just let’s just try to like manhandle people and just make them download [the song], right there, and I’m gonna give them $1. And worst case scenario, we get 200 people. We don’t hit iTunes, but we get 200 people that are going to be listening to our music now,” Phillip said.
“It’s so easy in this music industry to think that you should be handed everything just because you’re doing this and you’re doing that. But now you got to put yourself out there”, John said. “It takes a long time to be comfortable in your own skin you know, and especially in music. I’m so proud with where I came from but I wouldn’t be anywhere if it wasn’t for my friends and my family.”
As Phillip Good and John Stella forge ahead with more collaborations and individual projects set for release this year, the skills that they are learning from each other, from their peers, from their campaigns, and from their new fans are allowing them to refine their brands and grow them with passion, pride and positivity knowing that they have nowhere to go but up.
Just a reminder for the romantics out there: Valentine’s Day is next week on February 14.
Luxury candle company Wix and Vibeshas created a Limited-Edition Valentine’s Day Box set with an added touch of elegance. The set includes a hand-poured Wix and Vibes candle, a pair of cozy socks by Staffon Eugene, 100 delicate rose petals, a secret Spotify playlist, and a deck of #indexcardchallenges to inspire passion and intimacy. Indulge in the ultimate experience of luxury and desire.
The Houston based small business is partnering with Nordstrom in the Galleria Mall every Friday and Saturday for the month of February starting the 10th with their year-round collection of candles, available in single or multi-packs.
There is still a limited time to order the Valentine’s Day Box Set to arrive in time for Valentine’s Day with 2-3 day shipping.
By day, Melvin Johnson is risk advisor for a commercial insurance company based in Houston, Texas. By night, he is a fragrance connoisseur and founder of Wix and Vibes, a luxury candle company for men.
Johnson’s foray into the world of candles began in 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the lives of millions of people around the world in unprecedented ways, Johnson — like many others — found solace in self-care. The world had been turned upside down and people were riddled with stress, anxiety, and grief. To cope, many sought comfort in the little joys of self-care during their quarantine and found a renewed sense of wellbeing and calm in the warm, lambent glow of candles.
It was this light during a dark time that ignited Johnson’s entrepreneurial spirit. A self-taught candlemaker, Johnson watched countless DIY videos on YouTube to learn the science behind candle making and started experimenting with different formulations of scents.
Inspired by his love for fashion and fragrance, Johnson’s signature line of luxury candles is designed with the modern man in mind. Indulge in the irresistibly seductive aromas of each candle to enhance the mood in any room.
Check out the bonus episode of the Big Time Fresh podcast with Wix and Vibes here!
It’s reported on the news all the time. Or maybe you have experienced it yourself. Either way, the internet has normalized harassment, death threats, doxxing and other traumatic actions committed by people who find it acceptable to do these things as long as they have a computer screen to hide behind. But did you know that depending on the severity, there are laws in place that can result in both state and/or federal felony charges?
Across the country, state lawmakers are actively working to further define what constitutes as a chargeable offense and at what level of severity the charges would result in. Even the lawmakers who are on the receiving end of the threats are starting to share screenshots of their messages which has resulted in the attackers getting fired for this type of behavior.
What is “doxxing”?
Avast, one of the top antivirus security software in the US, describes the potential criminal implications of “doxxing”, which can carry state and/or federal prosecution.
“Doxxing (also spelled doxing) is the act of revealing someone’s personal information online. Doxxing is a form of online harassment that means publicly exposing someone’s real name, address, job, or other identifying data. Doxxing happens without a victim’s consent, with the aim of humiliating or bullying a victim.”
What actions are eligible for federal prosecution?
As summarized by PEN America’s Online Harassment Field Manual, the federal laws apply when the harassments and threats happen across state lines using the internet or other channel of interstate communication (telephones). Below is a summary of the relevant law codes and the potential penalties for these actions.
Online Harassment Resources and Laws by State
Below I have compiled a list states and the laws and resources to provide a high level review of what it means for the victim being harassed online and the potential penalties for the perpetrator. Some links will go to non-government resources and some will take you straight to the state’s statutes, but all are meant to be a quick reference if you are experiencing anything mentioned in this article. You may have a strong case to press charges, so if you think there is a chance something bad could happen, it wouldn’t hurt to see what the police can do early on. You should consult a lawyer for guidance on what can be done, and since I am not a lawyer nor am I giving legal advice it is up to you on how you want to approach.
Click on any of the boxes to see the information for your state.
If you legitimately feel that your life may be at risk, don’t second guess yourself. Take screenshots, pictures, recordings, messages and anything else that can be added into the police report. The police have a non-emergency phone number or you can go to the police station on your own. You never know how many others have come forward with the exact same experience, and talking to the police may assist in finding the repeat offenders.
IMPORTANT: THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ON THIS WEBPAGE IS OFFERED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE INFORMATION DOES NOT, AND IS NOT INTENDED TO, CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE, NOR IS IT INTENDED TO REPLACE THE ASSISTANCE OF A LAWYER OR LAW ENFORCEMENT.
Between the real world and the social media world online, new forms of danger are popping up everywhere. The internet is as harmful as it is helpful especially with all of the trolls and the screens of anonymity they hide behind. As the laws catch up with the current times, death threats and harassment online are resulting in suicides, shootings and things like stalking that spill into the real world. As a reminder: Online cyber stalking, doxxing, harassment, and threats are illegal at the state and federal level.
As a single mom with college-aged sisters and a young daughter, safety on and off the internet is always a top concern of every moment of every day. Living through the days of AOL instant messenger, I look back and cringe of how many dangerous situations I put myself in before I was 16.
For this article I am focusing on the physical dangers that all women could encounter. Some of these tips may sound over-the-top, but after seeing friends as well as myself experience this in real life, I don’t take any chances. Here are 15 tips that I follow the minute I step outside of my home.
Trigger warning: the following content references kidnapping and other sensitive topics.
Who, What, Where, When
1) Safety in numbers
Bring people with you wherever you go, especially once it is dark outside. It is especially important for the young adults who are just now leaving the safety of home to live on their own. If you are going to pick up your laundry from one building over, see if someone can go with you but if not you should be fine in this scenario. But if you are walking home from a bar, from a late class, from a friend’s house, to the gym, or anywhere where there are blind spots away from security cameras or in certain areas where there are less streetlights keeping the areas well lit, the buddy system is a good idea to make a part of your routine.
In this first video, a woman is walking alone in a familiar area and is quickly overpowered. She was missing for a few days, but was found safe.
Females are an easier target, but males can be victims as well. This boy was walking home and was stalked all the way to his house.
Kidnappers are unpredictable and can strike even five feet from their front door like in this video.
2) Location sharing with your trusted friends and family
I “share indefinitely” my iPhone location with a handful of trusted family and friends at all times. In the situations where you may be at a party or on a date or somewhere that the buddy system just isn’t an option, the ability to track last known location makes it much easier to find you should something go wrong (or if you decide to stay the night at a friends house). I share my location with my brother who lives in the same city, so he is familiar with the area and would be one of the first people that would have information if something bad happens.
3) Tell someone where you are going and your plans for coming home
This might be more of a “mom” type rule, but tell at least one trusted person – roommate, friend, sister, etc. – about where you are going and who you are going with. It doesn’t have to be someone local. If you forget to text that you are home safe that night, definitely text in the morning to the same person so they know that you are ok.
4) When meeting for the first time, ask for personal information and a selfie proving they are Real
This one might seem excessive, but I believe this is the most important one for these scenarios since you will probably be on your own for these date-like encounters.
POV: You are getting ready to meet someone from Tinder for the first time in person
Ask for a selfie that shows what they look like right now. I go with “hey can you send me a selfie with you holding up a number 4?”
Get their real first name and last name and address where you will be hanging out. Make it known that you gave the info to your friend/brother/sister etc. has this information in case anything bad happens. It sounds crazy, but every time I’ve asked for this info, the response has been “Absolutely, I totally understand and am happy to”. It lets them know that you are not messing around. If they are weird about it, take it as a red flag. Since I have a child at home, I take an extra step and check out his criminal backgroundeven if there are no plans on coming back to the house.
Meet in a public place with lots of people around and familiarize yourself with the area if you haven’t been there before.
5) Consider keeping an Apple AirTag or something similar that stays in your car that only you have access to
Not only is it helpful to locate you car if you forget where you parked, it also helps as another layer of last known location in case of emergency. In the rare circumstance that you are carjacked, it will be easier to find your car.
Being prepared for a safe night out with your friends
6) CHARGE YOUR PHONE TO 100%
This one is probably the easiest one to do yet easy to forget. Keep a portable battery in the car and have an iPhone and Android cord so that people can use it. Not knowing where you are with no one to call because your phone is dead is risky, especially if you have car or people troubles where you need assistance.
7) Set up a meeting point to check-in throughout the night
Everyone has that someone who wanders off from the group to pursue someone interesting (I am that someone every time). Check in with at least one person in the group that you came with so they can help determine if you are coherent and not too wasted. I suggest having a check-in every 30 minutes with the whole group. If you left the bar and are waiting for everyone else, have a meeting point nearby in a well-lit area next to a food truck or bouncer or and make sure security cameras are rolling.
8) Write the phone number of the person who would bail you out of jail in permanent marker on your body that is hidden from plain sight
This one seems silly, but these days people don’t have phone numbers memorized nearly as much as they used to. If you did get arrested or have to make a phone call using someone else’s phone, you have their number to call even if you have nothing else on you. I suggest writing it on your ankle or somewhere covered with clothes of shoes.
running errands, shopping, and parking lots
9) Don’t pull anything off your car if it is something that wasn’t there before
Sometimes carjackers or other criminals will use those to mark cars that are a target for theft, assault or kidnapping. Wait until you get home to deal with whatever it is, assuming the bad guys don’t follow you all the way home.
10) Locate the nearest police station
If you feel like you are being stalked or followed while driving, your best bet is to drive directly to the nearest police station. If you aren’t too sure that you are being followed, find a few blocks where you can do four right or left turns. If it is very obvious, call 911 and stay on the phone until you get to the nearest police station.
11) When running errands, Park as close to the entrance of as possible
If it is after 8pm and you intend to be in an out quickly, parking in the handicap spot will probably not be a problem to the establishment. You will be within sight of the front security cameras if they have them. Also, try to park away from windowless vans and if possible, choose a parking spot that does not have any obstacles in front so that if you are blocked in from the back, you might be able to go forward.
12) Keep your hands free, wear a crossbody purse and scan the lot for suspicious cars
I rarely go out after dark, but if I have to, I wear a crossbody purse that leaves both my arms free and the purse harder to steal. I walk fast and take a 360 degree look for anyone waiting in their car. If I do see someone, I give them a look that insinuates that I see them and I am not scared. If it gets weird, run back inside the store you just came out of and give as much information as possible.
13) Ask an employee to walk you to your car
I often do this at grocery stores where I will have to loada bunch of bags in the trunk. I’m pretty sure that establishments would be fine with this request, and it is definitely makes it less stressful when someone is there to watch my back.
14) Call 911 first, then anyone else
If you are legitimately scared that you are in danger, call 911 first. In most cases, its better safe than sorry. I had to do this once, and they instructed me to drive to a police station while they dispatched a police car in the area.
15) Trust your gut
Don’t feel like you will hurt someone’s feelings if you want to leave the date because you have a bad feeling about them. No need to keep engaging. Be firm, objective, and clear that you are no longer interested. Leading them on when you already know you are going to break it off but don’t want to hurt feelings could result in some weird behavior from the other person especially if they start obsessing or stalking.
At the end of the day, it is better to be safe than to be sorry
Just a reminder that these tips are based on the experiences that my friends and I have been through, so there may be even better advice out there from others who have been through situations like these. There is little that can be done to change the actions of the predators, and these type of crimes happen more often than not. As for deterrents and weapons like pepper spray, tasers, and guns – do what you feel is best for you and your safety within the law, regardless of the judgement that may come with using them.
After nearly a decade, the Nickelodeon nostalgia has returned for Gen Z in a major way. Now in their early 30s, the four members of Big Time Rush – Kendall, James, Carlos and Logan – made their official return in 2021, with new music and a few concerts to test the appetite of the fans. The stakes were really high to come back as a boy band in a post-One Direction and post-COVID new normal, but their Gen Z fans welcomed them back with open arms – and Big Time Rush may be picking up two generations of new ones.
Where it all started
Big Time Rush was one of the biggest TV shows on Nickelodeonfrom 2009-2013, right in the middle of the “Make it to Hollywood” kid shows. Kendall, James, Logan and Carlos – four best friends on a journey to fame – centered around the actors doing the hard work to get there. Now after almost 10 years, the return of Big Time Rush has been majorly successful, selling out Madison Square Garden, touring all over the world and most notably – being independentof the corporate giants that previously held the rights to the Big Time Rush music catalog.
Looking back, it’s seems like the TV show and music tour combo was acting as a proof of concept for how social media strengthens brands and their fans. *In 2009-2013, Facebook existed and Instagram was just picking up steam. Snapchat was finding its sweet spot in social media and TikTok did not exist. The only way fans of the pre-teen age were able to safely access the off-screen lives of their favorite famous people was through the easily guarded, parent-approved cable TV channel, Nickelodeon. Big Time Rush expanded to live concerts, playing the songs featured in the episodes of the TV show, giving fans the opportunity to see Kendall, James, Logan and Carlos go from the screen to the stage in real life.
The decision to end the show was not due to low ratings or cancelation of the series. Their popularity was still amazing for the show and in the music world. The guys of Big Time Rush were about 22 years old when the show ended, and it was the perfect time to take a break before the world of social media took over (chart 1). The TV show strengthened their credibility as musicians and now the music is accessible at anytime with the rise of streaming music services.
After Big Time Rush went off the air, the guys went on to pursue their own passions, but they never quit the band.
“I really believe everything happens for a reason. First off we really needed to go and explore our own individual artistry whether it’s music or acting like we went off and did a bunch of our own projects which fulfilled us and made us more confident.” – James Maslow
Kendall Schmidt returned to Heffron Drive.
After the Big Time Rush show ended, Kendall jumped back into Heffron Drive(a band he started back in 2008 with his best friend Dustin Belt) without skipping a beat. He started venturing back into acting, and in 2016 did a four-episode run on the Nickelodeon show “School of Rock” (among other acting gigs).
Logan Henderson released music as a solo artist.
Logan took a few years off from the public after Big Time Rush ended. He focused more on music and experimented with a different sound that was described as “dark grunge pop”, and successfully released a number of singles. His first single “Sleepwalker” marked his debut as a solo artist with more music and albums that followed.
Carlos stayed busy with a little bit ofeverything.
Carlos stayed pretty active since the end of the show. He released his first solo Spanish music single, “Electrico” in early 2014 and took on some acting roles while simultaneously taking more of the family route. He and his wife Alexa are parents to three beautiful children who are a sweet part of their life journey that can be seen on their vlog, “La Vida PenaVega”. Other popular roles that Carlos took on was on Fox’s “Grease Live!” where he played Kenickie, as well as as a voice roles on Nickelodeon’s “Loud House” and “Casagrandes” as “Bobby Santiago”.
James went the acting route then started to add music back in the mix
James went on to more acting-focused projects along with a few reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and Celebrity Big Brother. He had some success in the streaming/TV world with “Sequestered” and movies including “Getaway“ staring alongside Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez. After a few acting gigs, James focused on his music and released his first album as a solo artist, “How I like It”.
What the data says
Using Google Trends, data shows growth of social media platform search terms reached its peak of interest when the Big Time Rush show was off the air (chart 2). These past ten years have been the social media post-high school ages for Gen Z leaving little access to any updates or content from Big Time Rush. Today, access to behind the scenes content, streaming the show on Netflix and the music on Spotify are right there for Gen Z to remember those good ol’ days.
TikTok and the Pandemic may have beneficial for Big Time Rush
Another factor that may be contributing to the success of their return was the introduction of TikTok, right in the middle of the pandemic. The stress of the world and the lockdowns of the cities forced a lot of people to find entertainment at home. The return of Big Time Rush was scheduled to be in 2020 but was pushed off to 2021 so the announcement was also postponed. But with the virality of social media today, the short video was instead released in 2021 and the rumors of when they would be back started circulating the internet.
Independence – at a cost
“We had a dream of hey how can we own the brand do it our way,” – James Maslow, Interview with Zach Sang Show
Once the band made the decision to pursue the comeback, one of the first major hurdles would be actually buying the rights to the Big Time Rush music from Nickelodeon, Sony and a couple other invested entities behind the Big Time Rush brand. They were successful in getting those rights back, and now the full creative control was left to the band.
“There was a Big Time Rush Instagram… @bigtimerush …which was ran by these two lovely fans who really did a great job for a long time of posting pictures of us and kind of keeping us going,” Kendall explained. “Nickelodeon or Sony didn’t have the Instagram, the Spotify had been hacked by some kid named Luigi…he was marketing his own music on the Big Time Rush [Spotify]”. – Kendall Schmidt, Interview with Zach Sang Show
The Rushers love the band members no matter what, because their humble, fun and genuine personalities didn’t really change
With the Nickelodeon funded concerts, I remember trampolines, matching outfits and opening the show with the song “Windows Down“. This tour in 2022 had trampolines and opened with “Windows Down”, followed by over an hour of the greatest hits with four new songs. Their newest music videos were essentially free to make, using the videos from existing footage and combined into a compilation of concert moments. Essentally, Big Time Rush is saving tons of money with no negative impact on their brand from the fans. As far as their outfits go… sometimes they dressed like they came straight from the gym, sometimes they were coordinated, and sometimes they all took their shirts off because it was so damn hot outside this summer.
Point is, no one cared. The fans weren’t there for the flash. If anything their low key wardrobe choices worked in their favor, boosting their credibility as the “guys we know and love” and not the super choreographed, matching leather jackets and red accented pants from back in the day with that Nickelodeon money that clearly made them sweat like crazy. They make their own rules – the beauty of being independent artists – and have extended their tour Worldwide.
I’m going to Call it Like I See It; Big Time Rush made some risky strategic decisions making their way back to the public, heavily dependent upon the fans. Even though there were no new episodes of Big Time Rush after 2013, each of the actor’s popularity spiked when appearing on mainstream TV indexing nearly as high as when Big Time Rush was on the air indicating that their fans were uniquely loyal to the actors, not just the show. Big Time Rush has been a big part of Gen Z’s popular culture where watching Nickelodeon was still “cool” and social media was being introduced with age limits. Since the actors decided to end the show in 2013 rather than it being canceled, the nostalgia factor plays a big part in their successful return in 2022. And while the show was airing exclusively on Nickelodeon, the lyrics to the songs had to be free of any explicit connotations. Because of this, they have the potential to capture fans in the adjacent younger Gen Alpha and their Millennial parents in 2022 (chart 3).
*Chart 3/Credit: Big Time Fresh
As of today Big Time Rush is one of the only boy bands to return with huge success in an open market without the other boy bands and returned before it was too late. The TV show was the boot camp that prepared them for this and brought the boys together as a tight knit family who experienced everything together. They continue to embrace learning along the way with the confidence and brotherly support with their self-assembled team – all hungry to do this on their own.
For longevity and multi-generational success, my opinion is that Big Time Rush should lean on the style of their current catalog of music for the young fans (Gen Alpha), and incorporate lyrics with a little more edge and a sound that captures current day trends in any new songs for the Gen Z fans. Fans in Gen Z are adults now, so there are no parents to block explicit lyrics, but if Big Time Rush was to change their music to be too explicit, the young Gen Alpha might have to listen to something else until they are older. The brand new younger fans streaming Big Time Rush on Netflix for the first time are living that very same feeling that Gen-Z is so fond of.
Big Time Rush has a trifecta for revenue potential with the adjacent generations. Gen Z’s beloved TV boy band lyrics are kid tested (Gen Alpha), mother approved (Millennials) and – even if you didn’t watch the show – forever etched in Gen Z pop culture history.
Check out the awesome interview with Big Time Rush on the Zach Sang Show here.
PS: Apologies for the annoying puns but since my daughter and I are huge fans we were trying to find ways to have the name of Big Time Rush songs inserted into the article. Can you find them all?
For the purpose of this article, here are the sources and methodology for the analysis:
Gen Z age = 10 years old in 2010.
Millennials age = 24 years old in 2010.
Gen Alpha (born 2013 or later) are mostly children with Millennial parents
“Social Media” is an average of the combined indices of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Not ideal for comparison, but visually should be relevant enough.
The numbers represent how often the search term was used weighted on 0-100 for months of January 2010 – November 2022. For example, between January 2010 and November 2022, the month with the most google searches for “Big Time Rush” was November 2011
Will Smith took the step back to the spotlight to talk about the new movie “Emancipation“, based on a true story of a slave named Peter and his escape from the plantation to find his family but is hunted throughout Louisiana on his way north where he would eventually join the Union Army. More about the movie on a follow up article, but it is time for him to address the elephant in the room.
Will Smith walked out to Trevor’s desk looking somber and nervous. After talking about the new movie, Trevor shifted the tone to prepare for a very serious conversation with Will about the night of theOscarsand the fact that it was simultaneously one of the best days and worst days of his life.
“That was a horrific night as you can imagine, you know there’s many nuances and complexities to it but at the end of the day I just, I lost it, you know and I guess what I would say you just never know what somebody’s going through”, he said. “Not that it justifies my behavior at all,I guess the thing that was most painful for me is I took my heart and made it hard for other people and it’s like I understood the idea where they say hurt people hurt people.”
Not justifying his actions, but mental health is an complex thing to navigate for everyone. For child actors growing up in Hollywood where it is the only life they know, it is extremely more complex. He admitted in hismemoir (released in 2021, months before the 2022 Oscars) feeling extreme guilt for not protecting his mother when his father was physically abusing her during his childhood. According to a number of experts from thisarticleon PsychCentral who provided their professional opinion of The Slap, witnessing situations as a child like his father’s behavior can most definitely result in PTSD, with one of the symptoms being hypervigilance. Personally, some behaviors Will exhibited that night at the Oscars could have been a symptom of hypervigilance as defined in the linked article, like taking things personally (assuming Chris Rock was offending Jada) and focusing intently on people’s expressions or tone of voice (seeing Jada’s expression). It is so easy to judge celebrities because we see them a few times a year at these events, but as previously mentioned, you never know what anyone is going through.
Will talked about a few of the ripple effects that hit him hard and haven’t gone away. The most heartbreaking questions he had to answer were from younger family members. “My little my nephew Dom is nine and he is the sweetest little boy. We came home and it’s like he had stayed up late to see his uncle Will you know and we’re sitting in my kitchen and he’s on my lap and he’s holding the Oscar and he’s just like ‘why did you hit that man Uncle will?'”
When it comes to his peers who had a part in this movie, Will said “The one thing that’s killing me… so ‘Emancipation’ is Antoine’s Masterpiece…an absolute Masterpiece um Bob Richardson the Director of Photography and Ben Fosterand just all the way down it’s like these top artists in the world have done some of the best work of their career and the idea that they might be denied because of me is like killing me dead. The thing that is so critical for me is that these people came and they trusted me and they were down for me and you know I just I hope that their work will be honored and their work will not be tainted based on you know a horrific decision on my part.”
Trevor Noah did a great job with asking him the right questions without dragging Chris or Jada back in to this mess. Will used his go-to uncomfortable laughter to get through the questions, sometimes with real tears, and did not shy away from Trevor’s very straightforward and honest questions. The interview wrapped up with very introspective final thoughts:
“Over this last couple of months I had to forgive myself for being human and it’s like, trust me there’s nobody that hates the fact that I’m human more than me, just you finding that space for myself within myself to be human it’s like I’ve always wanted to be Superman. I’ve always wanted to swoop in and save the Damsel in Distress, and I had to humble down you know and realize that that I’m a flawed human and I still have an opportunity to go out in the world and contribute in a way that fills my heart and hopefully helps other people.”
You can watch the entire interview on YouTube here.
In the vast majority of cases, I strongly believe that the art (the movie ‘Emancipation’) needs to be separated from the artist (Will Smith) whenever these types of things happen(the recent notable exceptions: Kanye West, R. Kelly due to the nature of what they did). Of course they never in a million years thought that they would have this issue to deal with, but we are all human and Will is the one who is reminded 24/7 of the ripple effects of his actions.
“Emancipation” will be in theaters starting December 2, followed by the global releaseon Apple TV+ on December 9.
Remember that 5 minute videohe released a few months back? I am now convinced that he nor his PR team was behind that. Of the three questions that he answered in his video – “Did Jada make me do it” – that was not something he needed to address at that time and he did not owe that to us. So much therapy needed to take place to really get into the reasons why he did it. Totally speculating here, but what if she knows that one of his protective triggers is to roll her eyes and then he feels obligated to do something about it? The product placement, style of the set, what Will was wearing, how they shot the video – that looks like a “Red Table Talk” produced by Jada. Even her video addressing the slap left Will’s name out of it, and seemed lack of the type of support you should be giving your spouse in the most devastating time in his life. Read my article here where I break down these observations.
Note: The transcript of the Will Smith interview with Trevor Noah was edited to take out the words that were repeated two or more times in a row to make it easier to read.
Remember back in the day when you would go outside of your home in the suburbs, wave to your neighbors and everyone looked out for each other to keep your community safe? Back then, random neighbors would physically stop by to say hi and were invited in for tea. Today, any knock on the door that is completely unexpected is a scary thing, and many women won’t even open the door for fear of what can happen if they do. Unknown phone calls were answered and not sent to voicemail. And now the viral attention and power from being hateful online is suddenly acceptable and even encouraged.
We are all on the defensive at all times for many legitimate reasons. If you are walking on the sidewalk and are getting ready to pass someone, the state of the world makes the interaction so uncertain and stressful. When this person passes, am I going to get yelled at for being a liberal because I have a latte in my hand? Is my child going to be abducted because I’m walking past a windowless van? So it is much easier to put my head down, pretend that the anxiety isn’t there and wait for the person to walk by. And then I feel terrible for having all those pre-conceived notions that every person in the world is against / out to get me.
Like always, social media has those accounts that can assure you that the world isn’t all bad. There has been a trend on social media that has been going on for a long time now, and it is impossible not to smile or happy cry from watching them. There are plenty of variations, but they all highlight the random acts of kindness that impacts the day of random strangers.
One of the most popular accounts on TikTok that beautifully exemplifies the impact of saying something nice to someone you don’t know is @lalalandkindcafe. At first glance, La La Land Kind Cafe is a TikTok account that exudes such infectious positivity and kindness. But digging a little deeper, this cafe with multiple locations all over Texas is doing so much more than making people smile. Their unique business model measures their success not just by revenue.
This amazing company goes above and beyond any other company that supports vital issues to the betterment of the country and shines a light on a vulnerable population that doesn’t get as much news coverage these days: The children of foster care and the lack of resources for when they age out of the system. La La Land Kind Cafe is taking matters into their own hands and created a program to be a supportive and loving transition that is needed after aging out of foster care.
Thank you, La La Land Kind Cafe, for bringing smiles and happy tears to millions of people all over the world through your videos that show how easy it is to make someone’s day. Their mission is clear, and is one that anyone can get on board with as the world navigates post-quarantine social interactions and the country’s polarizing hatred starts to cool down. Normalizing kindness is something that we can all do all year round on and off social media, and if more companies would create programs like theirs, the world most certainly would be a better place.
Rapper/singer/songwriter GrapeSoda Henderson talk hustle, drive and hip-hop trivia. I’ve been working as his manager/publicist for a few years now so we take a look back at the past, present and future of his career and the skills that can make or break an artist’s success in the industry.
On this episode, Bella and Ricky run through the list of the infamous 27 Club members and talk about how fentanyl, heroin, and weed affect substance abuse. Then we watch the Stanger Things Master of Puppets scene right after a heated discussion about why I get scared at the movies which then evolves into an argument about the definition of danger.
This episode is dedicated to the late legendary musician and drummer, Taylor Hawkins.
“Foo Fighters together with the Hawkins family have teamed up with Paramount to take their all-star celebration of the memory and music of a rock legend worldwide: Paramount will present the September 3rd Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert live to the world from Wembley Stadium in its entirety”. –Foofighters.com
If you need help with addiction or substance abuse, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
My friend of 18 years Ricky Vorias joins me to discuss music, politics and other things as we go from deep conversations to debates with the goal of annoying me. He succeeds so I annoy him with random facts about the band Queen.
Here is a breakdown of the conversations:
Pick up the conversation in progress – start
Friends with benefits in your 30s – 5m10s
Noise Complaints past midnight 10m30s
Complaining about the process of making music – 13m50s
Music is business, not for the love of music – 18m20s
Requirements for holding political office – 22m25s
On this very first episode of BTF, I ask my mom all the questions I’ve never asked about her time as a lead singer in a classic rock cover band with my dad. From touring across the country to making $1,500 a weekend, we talk about how the early 80s were part of the good ol days where musicians actually got paid.
Dave Chappelle hosted SNL this weekend with musical guest Black Star. The cancel culture police are already on a roll with this one, but as a reminder, it’s a comedy show. But if you are a Chappelle Show fan, this episode is a must watch.
With so much political chaos in the world, there was plenty of material for Dave’s stand-up heavy SNL episodes. He is one of the few hosts that seems to have been granted a strong hold on the creative control for their episode. He called out that he wasn’t going to be in the particular skit because he was too getting old and played it off as someone else on the cast will be filling in (which ended up being part of the bit throughout the episode). But in reality, knowing how Chappelle is all about supporting up-and-coming comedians, he likely wanted to give the opportunity to the new cast members to get as much screen time as possible to be the stars of their own skits. Well that and he is getting old and can do whatever he wants.
If you are a Chappelle Show fan, make sure you checkout the stand-up monologue, followed by the parody of the SNL parody of House of the Dragon. And SPOILER ALERT: Prepare for the long waited yet brief return of Player Hater of the Year 2002 Silky Johnson, Tyrone Biggums, and the infamous portrayal of Rick James.
I liked the episode. There are always offensive jokes. But comedy comes in many forms, so if this isn’t your speed that’s totally ok. But don’t ruin it for everyone just because you don’t like it.
Your Music is only Half the Battle. Marketing is a MUST.
It’s not about followers or streams or views… it’s about strategy.
These days, making amazing music isn’t going to get you that sustainable money-making music career. As of September 27, 2022, 100,000 songs are uploaded to streaming platforms every day. While it brings an uphill battle for an independent artist trying to make it big, it is not an impossible thing to do, and there are many things that are not being prioritized that can really make a difference. No amount of followers, streams, merch or viral videos can make you famous on its own. There are so many platforms out there that are crucial to develop your brand and grow a true fan base that will actively seek out your music, tell their friends about it, and love your music forever.
It is somewhat of a “chicken or the egg” situation. Should you make content where your music is the focus, or create the music with the goal of becoming the soundtrack of a trend or challenge? Should you post the same thing across all the platforms? Is posting the only thing you have to do every day? Focus on growing followers or focus on growing streams or plays?
Map out what you want and you will see what you need I can’t tell you how many rappers or producers or DJs ask if I can manage them or help them with getting their music out there. They talk a big game saying that they are currently in talks with a record label, but have 3 Instagram posts and 10k followers. Each post has 3 comments. Their story posts say “new music coming soon” for months and it is the only thing they do for promoting their music, expecting the streams to come overnight. Sometimes I’ll ask them, “what do you need help with?” and they say “my music”. So what I’m trying to say is – every independent artist needs a strategy to get to their definition of success. A strategy is just a roadmap of how to get to a realistic means to an end. You can’t buy followers today and then get a record deal tomorrow (I’d consider staying independent anyway). Instead of focusing on hard numbers like number of streams, take a step back and figure out the end goal and put yourself in the shoes of a fan of your favorite artist.
Example brand/artist profile – the good and the bad For this example, lets say you are a rapper from California with an EP and 4 singles out on Spotify. Your lyrics are not filtered and you use a lot of auto-tune and include really explicit lyrics, but more for the shock value. You like streetwear like Supreme and BAPE and you eventually really want to perform at big festivals. You think that your music will make it on its own because its THAT good, so the first impression you leave is that you think you don’t need to talk to anyone because it will make you look like you are not as famous. So we will need to make some adjustments, because marketing is a required part of getting music out there and you want to be approachable to get new fans.
You will want to find something that your fan base can identify with and bring that part of you forward. Clothes and cars are too common. Is there anything else that sets you apart from other rappers? Maybe you are an activist, you wear the color pink with everything, you are super into crypto, you are a big fan of the Office… something so that your fans feel like you are just like them. This will make you more relatable to the people who you want to listen to your music, which translates to them becoming fans – as long as you are 100% authentic to these things.
Figuring out your fan base Unfortunately, you cannot say that your ideal fan base is “everyone”. If you are inclusive of everything than you are generic to everyone. Find your core fans by thinking about who would listen to your music. I’d exclude anyone under 15, anyone over 30 and focus on the ages of 15-30 because they are most likely to listen to explicit music (under 15 might get in trouble with their parents, over 30 might have kids in the car).
If your fan base is ages 15-30, what social media platforms would they use? What content do they like? To figure this out, you can go with your best guess. I’d say TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. They probably use Spotify or Apple over Tidal or Pandora. The most important thing to remember is that going viral on TikTok, Instagram, or anywhere else is not the guarantee to “making it”. For one, that viral video should be seen as a blessing to capitalize on the number of people paying attention at that moment. Make quality content that features your music or reacting to videos or something other than just holding the camera singing your lyrics. Videos that are jumping in on a trend or maybe try a challenge. Whatever you post, use the next 7-10 days and go hard on making the content, posting multiple times a day across platforms, using hashtags, and sharing it across wherever you have people paying attention to you. Otherwise that moment is lost. Independent artists rarely get their big break from one video or one TikTok. Of course it does happen, but I say don’t bet on that being your big break, bet on that being a way to engage your audience.
Out of 1,000 Viral TikTok Songs…
Engagement is hard to do but it has to be done Here is where a lot of artists burn out. If you want to make this your career, you have to put in a lot of effort, like making content consistently and staying in touch with your followers. You have your music, but supporting others with their music as well is good for everyone so find artists similar to you and interact with them. In the comments section, write comments that are genuine and compliment something instead of a few fire emojis. For any followers you get, pay attention to them and their posts and continue to post comments to show your appreciation for the content that THEY are posting. Then their followers will see you comment and more will follow you, then comment on theirs, etc. The back and forth is engagement – which is a ton of effort but a huge payoff.
Networking is everything As you are commenting and following and gaining followers, the engagement is important not only for getting to know your followers but you may also come across people who can have an impact on your career. If you go through and follow booking agents or music managers or bloggers or playlisters, do the commenting here too. Show your interest in what they are doing in their content, and they will pay attention to you. Comments have to be non-emojis and enough to have a reason to respond to you while also complimenting something you feel that genuinely deserves a compliment. Everyone loves to hear them, so not only will it evoke a positive feeling for them, they will want to see who is giving it to them.
The networking will be what sets you up for success.
3rd-party promotional services that advertise streams in return for payment violate our terms & conditions, and using them could result in your music being removed from Spotify. Any service that claims to offer guaranteed placement on playlists on Spotify in exchange for money are in violation of our terms & conditions, and they shouldn’t be used.
No more excuses At the end of the day, you have to be willing to do these things at the very minimum. Some have told me they have tried everything but have yet to comment or follow anyone because they think people should be the ones to follow them. Sometimes they are just lazy and have excuses for everything. Point is, this type of effort is not for the weak. It is for the ones who really truly want to make music for a living and will do what it takes to get there. The music world is tough, so find the people to keep in your network of people you trust. If you don’t do anything else…network, talk to people, and leave a good impression to let people know that you would be great to work with.
Trigger Warning: The subject matter that is referenced in this article may cause distress or discomfort with topics around child trauma, abuse, neglect, assault, and other potentially uncomfortable information.
There seem to be a few justifications that the “pro-life without exceptions” lawmakers like to use on a regular basis: Abortion is murder. Pro-choice somehow equates to child abuse. It can be argued that their laws by their own logic make pro-life lawmakers guilty of their own hypocrisy.
For example, when a mother is literally dying but she cannot get a medical abortion due to the “no exceptions for the life of the mother” clause mandated by the government. Then, if the mother does die because she was not given the abortion she needed for her life, the baby also dies.
The pro-life argument does not stand once the child is born, as illustrated by the spending cuts enacted by the states with the bans. This could mean that if the state concludes that the mother is not fit to raise the child, they go to foster care where trafficking is not rare.
Forcing young girls to deliver a baby that their bodies can’tsafely handle and then have that child get taken away by Child Protective Services because they don’t have the means to care for the child financially because they aren’t even old enough to have a job makes no sense. All the while suffering mental health trauma that will go untreated because it is unaffordable. Like in Texas, where “Texas officials celebrated end of abortion rights after cutting Medicaid extension”.
I’m about to jump into some data on how foster care and adoption currently operate. Before I get into the data and the details, it is worth mentioning the following:
Not all unplanned pregnancies end in giving the baby up for adoption.
Not all unplanned pregnancies are a burden and a strong support system -families, pastors, friends, neighbors – can provide a healthy, happy upbringing full of love.
About 1 out of 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage which can often require a medical abortion.
Adoption services have the best intentions and make every effort to evaluate the home life of the parent(s) to ensure the child has a stable and loving family.
Not all foster care situations are the same, and children adopted from foster care can be just as wonderful and well-adjusted as any child.
The role of Child Protective Services can be very effective in providing a stable life for children.
As with anything published online, one instance or example does not represent the entire population of the subject discussed.
Anything that is hyperlinked will take you to where the data was sourced.
The children are not illegal immigrants. White, Black, and Hispanic children make up the majority of the foster care population.
There are some sarcasm and opinion-based comments.
For anything you read with biased or one-sided opinions, it is good to fact-check from reputable sources if the source itself if biased.
The goal of this article is to provide a different point of view to start the conversation. Never attack anyone personally for their beliefs online or in person. Opposing views are welcome, just be polite.
If someone is looking for a child to adopt, there are official websites that have the profiles of the children needing permanent homes. Potential parents can use the online database where you can handpick the children based on a profile of characteristics and pictures. It is heartbreaking to think that a child would be adopted only if they have the exact criteria parents are looking for. Unless I’m misinterpreting the system, if you don’t like the child you can return him or her to foster care. This is a scenario where it just is what it is, and it is the norm. Personally, I have no clue how to suggest otherwise so I don’t want to attack the system.
Meanwhile, the state of Texas is abusing the abused.
US District Judge Janis Jack has been presiding on the class action representing the children of Texas and the infringement on their 14th amendment rights via a lawsuit against the Abbott administration for the last 11 years.
The Department of Family and Protective Services is overwhelmed in the lone star state so foster homes are at capacity and cannot accept placements of children legally or safely. The children stay with the CPS workers in motels, offices, churches, and other unlicensed facilities which has led to increased cases of sexual abuse, children going missing and children going hungry in the care of the state. During and after Covid-19, many foster care facilities closed either due to cost or failed inspection that proved the existing foster care facilities to be unsafe and illegal.
The situation is not being taken seriously by the Abbott administration.
For example, during COVID-19 1,000 beds were taken away when these facilities closed down with little warning and no backup plan. One of the solutions that Texas provided for foster care overcrowding was to spend about $ 2.1 million (in 2021) to move children out of state. The Abbott administration’s lack of competence and failed promises were all part of the Texas supreme court’s decision to hold them in contempt of court with a 355-page ruling: “M.D.; bnf STUKENBERG, et al, Plaintiffs, VS. GREG ABBOT, et al, Defendants” civil suit CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:11-CV-00084. In this 2020 ruling discussed above, the following steps have been addressed: “The Court finds Defendants to be in contempt of Remedial Orders 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29, 31, 37, and B5”
To show how little progress was made, this is a statement from the same judge from 2015:
“In her scathing, 255-page ruling, Judge Jack reprimanded the state for running a system where children “almost uniformly leave state custody more damaged than when they entered.”
As reported earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a priority to have CPS remove children from their homes and added the classification of gender-transitioning procedures as child abuse.
Gov. Abbott piles on another group to weigh down the system that is actually in happy, healthy homes. Instead of focusing on the dangerous and traumatic situations, Governor Abbott’s priority is now taking focus away from those who need it by hunting down the trans kids in their happy homes.
“Investigating Gender-Transitioning Procedures As Child Abuse because the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is responsible for protecting children from abuse, I hereby direct your agency to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas,” reads the letter. “To protect Texas children from abuse, DFPS and all other state agencies must follow the law as explained in OAG Opinion No. KP-0401.”
– A press release from the office of Gov. Abbott
Abbott Administration is not able to use federal funds because they didn’t meet the requirements of the Family First Prevention Services Act.
It has been reported that Texas was projected to lose $17.4 million in federal support in 2022 and $25.6 million in 2023 because the state is not compliant with the Family First Prevention Services Act. No, there is nothing that can be blamed on the Biden administration. It was actually enacted in 2018 by President Trump with bi-partisan support to “strengthen America’s child welfare system by signing a historic Executive Order (EO) aimed at improving outcomes for children and families. This EO focuses on three key areas of action: improving partnerships, improving resources, and improving oversight”. Although this EO is currently in place, “DFPS is expecting a loss of $17.4 million in federal support in 2022 and $25.6 million in 2023 because Texas is not compliant with Family First, court documents showed.”
This is also worth noting:
“In 2017, the 85th Texas Legislature passed sweeping reforms in response to the crisis of the state’s struggling child welfare system. The landmark reform known as community-based care decentralized the state’s foster care system by giving local private and nonprofit charities primary responsibility for caring for and managing the cases of children in foster care in their region. One year later, the Trump administration enacted the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), which seeks to shift the focus of child welfare toward preventing the removal of children into foster care. Although the effective date for the act was October 1, 2019, Texas elected to delay implementation until October 1, 2021.”
The foster care system in Texas is beyond broken. But requests for increased funding in the state are being granted to Operation Lone Star. Read the report on the Texas Family First Prevention Services Act plan that has quite a few sad realities here.
My message to lawmakers: Be prepared to explain to taxpayers, religious institutions, Medicaid programs, CHIP, food stamps, children taken away from their mothers from lack of funds to keep a roof over their heads at a $7.25/hour minimum wage, and how you treat the so-called “handouts” that you literally are the cause of and then determine how much you intend to value the life of the child.
Now that abortions are nearly totally illegal, the system is preparing for an influx of children to enter the foster care system from mothers who are too young to work, with no money to provide shelter, or some with no options at all. The mothers who had to endure the life “begins at conception” law will result in the state taking the child away to live a life of assault and trauma at the hands of those lawmakers.
A message to the brothers, boyfriends, uncles, friends, and fathers:
Every single person who is on the side of this version of “pro-life” women of reproductive rights should think about what they would do if any unspeakable things resulting in a pregnancy happened to their 12-year-old daughter. Or granddaughter or sister or friend or wife or grandmother. Not even the most wonderful, loving, knight in shining armor dad can save his princess from the government’s control of her body. All he can do is helplessly watch her suffer, because hundreds of old men in the government control her body, and he can’t do anything about it.
For the sources from this article, click on the hyperlinks above. To read more about the topic that is based on the laws:
For a long list of reports, court documents, contempt of court orders against Texas, and legislation that detail the actions taken on child welfare in Texas, click to visit the direct link to the list: childrensrights.org
For the music industry, passing away at the age of 27 is more than just a number. The artist becomes a member of the 27 Club.
Maybe its because the age of 27 is more likely to be at the height of their career, or at the point where the pressure of being in the spotlight has become unbearable. But addiction, overdose, suicide and violence have been the cause of death for some of the most famous and influential musicians of all time. For Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, and Kurt Cobain, the coincidence of their age of death being 27 further strengthens the urban legend as they join a notable list of other musicians who died at the same age.
It goes without saying that musicians live in in a world where the rules are more like loose suggestions when it comes to their lifestyle. Whether its for fun, creative inspiration, anxiety relief or anything else, the accessibility to any substance legal and illegal is always a temptation. For actors, their public image tends to be easier to keep in check where there is a team who is in charge of keeping scandals at bay and being at the forefront of everything from who they date, what jobs they take and clearly defining the implications of their actions miles before they happen.
With the world telling them who they are and how they should act, it is probably hard for musicians to see how they may be hurting themselves, especially if they are surrounded by people encouraging it. This is especially true for those in their 20s. In may cases, the lyrics written about the 27 Club were a ominous foreshadowing. Maybe not the actual age, but the notion that the songwriters wrote about how they might die – and that it happens exactly the way they said they would.
Mac Miller (1992-2018) – Age 26
Mac Miller’s career started picking up speed when he was in high school with his track “The Spins” was released in 2010. Listening to his entire catalog was like reading a diary of his life, for the good and bad. A loveable high school kid dreaming of the rock star life of cars, money and girls with so much universally recognized talent is some pretty extreme pressure to live up to. In 2015, he released “Brand Name”, a track referencing both the 27 Club and what he would eventually die from. Mac Miller died at the age of 26 from an accidental overdose when he wassold fentanyl “mixed” into oxycodone pills.
“To everyone who sell me drugs: Don’t mix it with that b******t, I’m hopin’ not to join the 27 Club.”
Juice WRLD (1998-2019) – Age 21
In an interview in 2018 with the New York Times, Juice WRLD talked about how was working on his admitted struggles with pills. “I have a lot going for me, I recognize it’s a lot of big things, a lot of big looks. I want to be there, and you don’t have to overdose to not be there.” After the death of rapper XXXTENTACIONat the young age of 20, Juice WRLD wrote and released “Legends” withintwo days and dedicated the song to him and rapper Lil Peep, who passed away the year before at age 21. Six days after his 21st birthday, Juice WRLD died from a suspected overdose of Codeine and Oxycodone. The lyrics to his song “Legends” ended up being a foreshadowing of his own death.
“This time, it was so unexpected Last time, it was the drugs he was lacing All legends fall in the making Sorry truth, dying young, demon youth
What’s the 27 Club? We ain’t making it past 21.”
Statistically speaking, 27 is just a number
The superstitions that are widely known as an omen in the music world shows that the 27 Club is just that – a superstition.
27 Club and Other Musicians Who Died Before Their Time (The List)
Still, without looking at the age and instead the artist’s impact on a worldwide scale based on talent and influence, the legend of the 27 Club will live on. What is quite significant is the average age of death for musicians in general versus the total population. The list below is only a fraction of musicians who died before the end of their careers.
Dedicated to Taylor Hawkins
This article and the most recent Big Time Fresh podcast episode is dedicated to Taylor Hawkins, one of the most talented musicians, drummers and human beings that ever lived. The Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert is taking place on two different dates in two different countries put on by the family along with the band Foo Fighters with an amazing lineup that will be streamed on Paramount +.
THE TAYLOR HAWKINS TRIBUTE CONCERTS
PARAMOUNT TO STREAM LIVE WORLDWIDE FROM WEMBLEY STADIUM SEPTEMBER 3rd
Livestreams & Concert Specials to Reach Global Audiences Across CBS, MTV Entertainment,
Paramount+ and Pluto TV
MORE SPECIAL GUESTS CONFIRMED FOR LONDON & L.A.
PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT MUSIC SUPPORT & MUSICARES
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, suicide or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org.