I’ve learned via Facebook that one of my cousin’s dogs have just passed away. His name was Gonzo and he was 15 years old. I have a few photos of that dog that I took when I visited my cousin’s home on Thanksgiving Day back in 2013. It was a time when I had purchased my current smartphone the day before (a Droid Ultra) because my previous smartphone had literally died. (In a weird irony, that smartphone totally died a day or two after I received a flyer from Verizon saying that I now qualify for a new smartphone. So I ended up purchasing a smartphone the day before Thanksgiving.) I was playing with the camera feature when I took pictures of my cousin’s pets, including Gonzo.

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Gonzo was an all-black furry dog and he could be hard to photograph at times. Here’s another shot of Gonzo with the other dog, Lucy.

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When I took those two photos back in 2013 my cousin had two dogs and two cats. Since then one of the cats, Cookie, has died and now Gonzo is dead. So my cousin is now down to one dog and one cat.

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Benjamin Franklin

The learned Fool writes his Nonsense in better Language than the unlearned; but still ’tis Nonsense.

A few weeks ago I attended my first-ever focus group movie screening. The deal was this: a local filmmaker was having a free screening of his movie at the Greenbelt Theatre. In exchange we were asked to fill out a survey after the movie ended. It sounded like a good deal to me so I went for it.

The movie was a documentary called Victorious and it’s about the DC Divas, an all-female football team that plays in the Women’s Football Alliance. I found it quite interesting, even though I’m not a football fan. I was amazed at the difference between how female football players are treated compared to their male counterparts in the NFL in terms of everything from sponsorships (you won’t see advertisers hire female football players to appear in their ads hawking beer and other products) to being taken seriously as athletes. The documentary was still a work in progress when I saw it (there was one scene where stock footage of an airplane taking off from the runway that still had the “Shutterstock” watermark in the middle) but I found it quite interesting.

I took a quick photo of the survey that I was given at the end, along with an attached Fed-Ex box.

All I had to do was just fill out the survey and give it and the attached box back to the filmmaker.

It was a pretty interesting experience. I think this documentary has a lot of potential to be something that gets rave reviews in papers like The New York Times. Only time will tell regarding this film’s ultimate fate. If you ever get a chance to attend a focus group movie screening, go for it. At least you’ll get to see a free movie.

I was driving through Mount Rainier, Maryland when I noticed a house located just a few doors away from ReCreative Spaces. Like most of the homes in Mount Rainier, this house is an older Victorian-style home with a picket fence. However, instead of this fence being painted white, this one is painted like the colors of a rainbow.

In addition, this rainbow fence also sports a sign indicating that everyone is welcomed in Spanish, English, and Arabic.

This house is an example of some of the subtle yet creative ways of resistance that has taken place since Donald Trump became president. Last week his second attempt to institute a second travel ban against Muslims from certain countries has been overturned by a federal judge. Of course he has banned Muslims from countries where he does not currently have any business ties.

But that’s not all, folks. Trump is also considering breaking up asylum-seeking families at the Mexican border on the rationale that it will “deter more movement.” That means that children can be separated from their parents.

I’m currently living in some dark times in the United States. At least that home in Mount Rainier is trying to do something that’s colorful yet still indicates that the occupants in that home are resisting the Trump Administration.

Earlier this month I went to the annual women’s retreat that’s held each year at my church. Someone brought some button-making supplies and I did this button.

It’s a Baby Vampire who’s sucking on his thumb and he inadvertently drew blood in the process. (LOL!) It’s a sequel to the button I made at the Intervention convention last year where I depicted a Baby Goat Man. Like the earlier button, I drew this one using colored pencils. The main difference is that the person didn’t bring a button-making machine. These buttons were clear cases that one can manually snap open and close.

I played around with MySimpleShow.com some more this past weekend. Instead of doing yet another recipe animation video, I decided to try doing a biography. Since this month is Women’s History Month, I decided to do a famous woman. I picked Sophie Scholl because she stood up to the Nazis (and lost her life doing so) and I’ve been thinking a lot about the fascist turn of the United States since Donald Trump started occupying the White House. (One example: Donald Trump has actually appointed a known white supremacist named Steve Bannon to his National Security Council.)

With the way the Trump Administration is going, we Americans need to start looking for role models to emulate in resisting the worst aspects of Trump.

I basically used the default graphics for the first two animations. MySimpleShow.com has an option where you can upload your own graphics if you’re not much on what that site has to offer. I ended up downloading a Sophie Scholl drawing off of the Internet and uploading that on MySimpleShow mainly because the default graphic for Sophie Scholl used a female drawing that looked like she has just walked off the set of Star Trek, which didn’t seem right because Sophie Scholl died over 20 years before the first Star Trek series aired on television. I also used a couple of graphics I downloaded from OpenClipArt.org because MySimpleShow didn’t have a decent graphic representing a rose and a guillotine.

So, without further ado, here is MySimpleShow.com generated presentation of Sophie Scholl.

I felt compelled to make this podcast after I heard about this new podcast series that has suddenly gone viral called Missing Richard Simmons. Having listened to only the first episode, I found it highly exploitative. Since I’m reviewing a podcast, I’d thought it would be appropriate to do my review in podcast form, where I go into details on why I find the entire series to be exploitative and why we should all just leave Richard Simmons alone.

I felt so strongly against that podcast series that I even made a YouTube video version of it as well. The only difference between the two is that the video version has visuals that I downloaded from various websites. So if you prefer visuals with your podcasts, then check out the video below.

Glen Burnie Mall used to be one of my favorite places to hang out as a teenager. It had this awesome video arcade place where I played many of the popular pinball machines and video games of the era (i.e. Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Joust, Ms. Pac-Man, etc.). I loved the Record Bar, which was this large glass kiosk that was placed in the middle of the mall where people could buy albums, 8-tracks, and cassette tapes. Plus there were the Chess King and Merry-Go-Round stores, both of which sold trendy clothes for the teens and young adults of a certain era. One of the mall’s big anchors was Montgomery Ward’s, where my mother used to occasionally find clothes for me. (She bought the bulk of my clothes from Hutzler’s and Hochschild-Kohn’s, two now-defunct department stores.) The other big anchor was—and currently still is—Toys ‘R’ Us.

In the years since I left Glen Burnie that mall had undergone major changes, especially after Montgomery Ward’s closed when the entire department store chain went belly-up back in 2001. For a time it seemed like the mall was thriving because it had managed to lure Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and a few chain restaurants. The mall even changed its name to The Centre at Glen Burnie.

It wasn’t until I visited that mall in person in 2014 when I discovered the real story. Despite the arrival of these newer stores and restaurants, they were not only built as separate structures around the mall but whoever designed these newer structures failed to provide a back opening that went into the mall itself. So if a shopper goes to—let’s say—Target and that shopper decides that he/she wants to visit the rest of the mall while he/she is there anyway, that person needs to exit Target then walk some distance outside until that person finds a door that directly leads into the mall. From what I saw, it looked like Toys ‘R’ Us is the only major store that still has a mall entrance and that’s because it is located in a store space that originally was built with the rest of the mall back in the early 1960’s.

As a result of that stupid building plan that didn’t provide mall entrances to the newer stores and restaurants, the mall itself started going on this downward spiral where fewer people actually went inside the mall, which led to more and more stores gradually closing. Here is what the mall looked like when I was there in 2014.

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That entire mall was a shadow of its former self, which made me feel sad since it was once a popular mall to shop at in Glen Burnie.

I didn’t return to The Centre at Glen Burnie until last year, when I had to make frequent trips to Glen Burnie because my mother was staying at a hospital there. I tried making the most of a stressful situation by checking out some of my old haunts before and after my visits, among them was The Centre at Glen Burnie. I rued my decision to visit that mall again because it had deteriorated further than my last visit because more stores were closed. Here are the photos I took during that visit.

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Today I was checking out the I remember Harundale when there was a Mall… group on Facebook and someone posted a recent photo. According to that poster, all of the stores inside the mall are now closed. A security guard is seated in the middle of the mall and, according to that poster, his job is to discourage people from taking pictures inside of the mall. (It’s obvious that this person managed to sneak in one photograph since he posted it.)

It’s sad that this mall from my childhood is now pretty much gone. The whole demise could have been prevented had the newer stores and restaurants been built with back entrances into the mall so people would be encouraged to shop at the other stores located inside of the mall. Sheesh! At least I still have the memories of that mall’s glory days. 😦

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