USA Soldiers American Flag

Members of Congress Still Get Their $174,000 Salary During a Government Shutdown. Others Will Have to Work Without Pay. But Wait, There’s More.

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.

government shutdown
U.S. Border Patrol

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.

government shutdown
U.S. Coastguard

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.

Newborn baby

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 months longer
© Vincent Giordano | Dreamstime.com

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.


Political Terms Defined: Fascist, Socialist, Communist, and Democracy

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 especiallyrule of the majority, or b. a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.

Between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, citizens are given freedoms that cannot be infringed upon. Lately, one of the most referenced amendments is Freedom of Speech.

Freedom of speech

This amendment is often misinterpreted as being allowed to say anything to anyone without any trouble or legal implications. However, this is not entirely true.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh states some of the limitations of the First Amendment:

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.

Here are some examples of Permissible restrictions on expression”

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 Democracy – What’s The Difference? – Political Comparison – The Infographics Show

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 Socialism

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 definition

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.

Writers Guild Strike Hollywood 2023

Without the Writers, There Would Be No Hollywood

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 the Writer’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.

NBC TV Show Friends
ID 176589996 © Info849943 | Dreamstime.com

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.

SAG AFTRA Hollywood Movie and Writers Strike 2023
SAG AFTRA Hollywood Movie and Writers Strike 2023

Meanwhile, the top Hollywood executives made hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 5 years.

The top Hollywood exec made $498 million in the last 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.

Hollywood move TV set
ID 111716913 © Ppengcreative | Dreamstime.com

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.  

Hollywood Movies and TV Writers on strike
Writers Guild on Strike 2023

For more information about the Writers Guild of America, where to picket, and how to help, click the image below or this link here.

Writers Guild Reports - The State of the Industry Hollywood
Writers Guild Reports – The State of the Industry

Read The State of the Industry WGA Report.

Threads Twitter

Threads Has Potential, Just Don’t Feed the Trolls

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.

Musk tweet Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls

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.

“Threads saw daily active users decline from 49 million on July 7th to 23.6 million on July 14th, SimilarWeb writes in a new report.” 

Threads Twitter Zuckerberg
Updates from Mark Zuckerberg

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.

Threads 3 Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls
@subdoctamusic on Threads

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.

CNN Sports Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls
Tweet negative Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls

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.

New Thread Updates 7.18 Threads Has Potential, Just Don't Feed the Trolls
These Threads updates were published on July 18th, already adding value to the platform.

This is a developing story.

DC Comics Batman The Flash

Spoiler Alert: Comparing “The Flash” to “Spider-Man: No Way Home”

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.

The Flash DC Movie Batman
Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics.

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.

Batman The Flash
Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics

The cameos

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.

spider man no way home maguire garfield holland Spoiler Alert: Comparing "The Flash" to "Spider-Man: No Way Home"
Marvel Comics and Sony Pictures

Final thoughts

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!

Check out my review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Big Time Rush

Big Time Rush Brings Eddie Murphy’s 1985 Hit “Party All the Time” To Their New Album, “Another Life”

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.

Music Big Time Rush
Eddie Murphy – “Party All the Time”, Cover

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

Eddie Murphy Richard Pryor

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 

btr tour poster Big Time Rush Brings Eddie Murphy's 1985 Hit "Party All the Time" To Their New Album, "Another Life"
Photo: Big Time Rush / Live Nation

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.

Big Time Rush Tour

Read another Big Time Rush article: Big Time Rush’s Return to Music after Ten Years Was a Risk that is Paying Off – Big Time

So to the fellow Rushers out there, what do you think of the new album?

See If they are coming to your city: Tour

Check out different album formats for purchase: Music

Spoiler Alert: Marvel Cinematic Universe: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Review

Spoiler Alert: Marvel Cinematic Universe: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Review

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.

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Marvel Studios – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3

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.

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Marvel Studios – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3
gotgv3 warlock hcm 47901 r Spoiler Alert: Marvel Cinematic Universe: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Review
Marvel Studios – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3

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.

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Marvel Studios – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3

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.

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Marvel Studios – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3

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.

Marvel, MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel Studios – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3
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Marvel Studios – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3

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!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Marvel, MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.
minimum wage It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.

It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.

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 Congress and the Senate make $174,000 per year.

Minimum wage map It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.
U.S. Department of Labor – State Minimum Wage Laws

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 childcare for 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.

Median cost of childcare It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.

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. 

Minimum wage charg 1 It has been 10 years and the federal minimum wage is still $7.25 per hour. Meanwhile, members of Congress make $174,000 per year.
U.S. Department of Labor – 2012 vs 2022

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 website states 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.

The Economist’s Big Mac Index

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.” 

In conclusion

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 the U.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!

Happy Bully Politics

Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

“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.

jfk quote Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public
ID 70673639
 © Heidi Carlton | Dreamstime.com

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

medicare Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

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.

🚨Republican Mike Lee BUSTED in LIE OF THE YEAR

“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. 

weed Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

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

school kids Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

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.

538560203.0 Politics Today Is Everything That Our Parents Taught Us Not to Do: Yelling, Lying, Bullying, and Being Disrespectful in Public

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.

Big Time Rush Leaves Netflix2 1 Gen-Zs Favorite Nickelodeon Show 'Big Time Rush' is Leaving Netflix on March 25. Here is Where You Can See The Band - and What Netflix Added This Month.

Gen-Zs Favorite Nickelodeon Show ‘Big Time Rush’ is Leaving Netflix on March 25. Here is Where You Can See The Band – and What Netflix Added This Month.

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.

Paramount Plus Showtime

A handful of other TV shows and movies ended their 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”

“Brokeback Mountain”

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 Tour and tickets are already on sale.

Big Time Rush Summer 2023 Tour

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 click here.

“Big Daddy“


“Easy A”

“The Hangover”

“The Hangover: Part II”

“The Hangover: Part III”

“Magic Mike XXL”

“National Lampoon’s Animal House”

“Seven Years in Tibet”

“Sleepless in Seattle”

“This Is Where I Leave You”

“Chris Rock: Selective Outrage”

“World War Z”

“MH370: The Plane That Disappeared”

“You: Season 4” Part 2

“Money Shot: The Pornhub Story”

“The Chronicles of Riddick”

“Kick-Ass 2”

“Copycat Killer”

“Murder Mystery 2”

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Season 2

This is NOT a paid promotion. 

Simon Says Independent Artists Phillip Good and John Stella Drop New Track "Simon Says" and Lands on Apple Music's Top 100

Independent Artists Phillip Good and John Stella Drop New Track “Simon Says” and Lands on Apple Music’s Top 100

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 TikToks that 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.

phillip photo Independent Artists Phillip Good and John Stella Drop New Track "Simon Says" and Lands on Apple Music's Top 100
Phillip Good

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.

Stella photo Independent Artists Phillip Good and John Stella Drop New Track "Simon Says" and Lands on Apple Music's Top 100
John Stella

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.

Check out the track here! Listen to “Simon Says”

See the interview with Phillip Good and John Stella on YouTube here or listen to the podcast version here

Phillip Good

TikTok: Phillip Good has over 715K followers on TikTok, making his way into music with his daughter featured in many of his most viral videos.

Phillipgood.com for merch, show dates and more

Phillip Good: Facebook

Phillip Good: Instagram

John Stella

John Stella – Facebook

John Stella: Instagram

TikTok: @_johnstella


Check out my blog and other podcast episodes!



@BigTimeFresh on Instagram

Listen to my Podcast Big Time Fresh on all streaming platforms

criminal 15 Rules of Safety for Women to Consider When Leaving the House

15 Rules of Safety for Women to Consider When Leaving the House

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

Safe in numbers
© Ammentorp

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.

location sharing 15 Rules of Safety for Women to Consider When Leaving the House

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.

text notification 15 Rules of Safety for Women to Consider When Leaving the House
Real text between my brother and me

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 background even 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


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

dreamstimemaximum 242125328 15 Rules of Safety for Women to Consider When Leaving the House

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 load a 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.

Big Time Rush 2021 Big Time Rush's Return to Music after Ten Years Was a Risk that is Paying Off - Big Time

Big Time Rush’s Return to Music after Ten Years Was a Risk that is Paying Off – Big Time

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.

Big-Time-Rush-Fan Photo
Big-Time Rush Forever Tour 2022 – photo by Andrew Rauner

Where it all started

Big Time Rush was one of the biggest TV shows on Nickelodeon from 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 independent of 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.

GTR Search Terms social media Big Time Rush's Return to Music after Ten Years Was a Risk that is Paying Off - Big Time
*Chart 1/Credit: Big Time Rush

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).

Kendall Schmidt Big Time Rush Heffron Drive
Photo by Gabriel Olsen

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.

Logan Henderson on Spotify Big Time Rush
Logan Henderson on Spotify

Carlos stayed busy with a little bit of everything.

Carlos stayed pretty active since the end of the show. He released his first solo Spanish music single, Electricoin 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 HouseandCasagrandes” 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 withSequestered” 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.

GTR Search Terms band Big Time Rush's Return to Music after Ten Years Was a Risk that is Paying Off - Big Time
*Chart 2/Credit: Big Time Fresh

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).

GTR Search Terms Chart Big Time Rush's Return to Music after Ten Years Was a Risk that is Paying Off - Big Time

*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.

But fear not, Rushers. Big Time Rush is Not Giving You Up. Not now, not ever.

Big Time Rush Lily Big Time Rush's Return to Music after Ten Years Was a Risk that is Paying Off - Big Time

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 

generations Big Time Rush's Return to Music after Ten Years Was a Risk that is Paying Off - Big Time
Credit: Joshua Lu

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