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I used to watch Bill Maher’s Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO (back when I still had cable) and I enjoyed his documentary Religulous. He started losing me as a fan when he went off on Muslims by saying that they were all terrorists. It’s one thing to be an atheist with a low opinion of organized religion but to paint a whole group of people who practice a certain faith as terrorists is going a bit too far. Not all Muslims are terrorists just like not all Christians bomb abortion clinics.

I was also growing weary of him constantly having Ann Coulter as a guest on his show as his way of having diverse viewpoints. There’s nothing wrong with having conservatives on a liberal talk show like Real Time With Bill Maher but instead of having thoughtful dignified conservatives on his show he invites people like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulis who say outrageous insulting stuff just for the sake of saying outrageous insulting stuff and ultimately have nothing to add to any kind of civilized discussion. When I ditched cable after seeing my bill jump from $80 per month to $200 I found that I didn’t miss watching Bill Maher’s show at all.

Now he’s really done it and the Internet is flaming him in a glorious way. A few days ago Stan Lee died at the ripe age of 95. To say that he was a major influence on the comic book industry is definitely an understatement. He took an industry that once catered mainly to children and expanded that base to adults by introducing superheroes with personal flaws and complex mature storylines that explored issues like racism, sexism, war, pollution, drug addiction, and alcoholism. There was an outpouring of emotion on social media where people came up with all kinds of tributes to the person who was nicknamed Stan the Man.

Bill Maher wrote a blog post that totally rained on that adulation. He basically said that comic books are for kids only and that he used to read them as a child until he gave them up as he got older. It’s this “comic books are for kids only” attitude of people like him that initially led me to read the one or two issues of Howard the Duck on the down low when I was around 13 years old and I ended up quitting reading that comic book because I was having a hard enough time with middle school kids harassing me without giving them another reason to make fun of me even more. The only reason why I even picked up comic books again as an adult was because my college boyfriend (whom I later married and divorced) collected them and he introduced me to The X-Men. We continued collecting comic books for the first few years of our marriage but we stopped when comic book prices rose to $1.50 per issue. (They now cost a whopping $3.99 per issue.) Nowadays the local public library in my town stocks graphic novel reprints of various comic book series so I’m able to borrow them and read them for free.

Bill Maher goes even further where he wrote what I think is the most stupidest thing he has said since his statement that all Muslims are terrorists.

I’m not saying we’ve necessarily gotten stupider. The average Joe is smarter in a lot of ways than he was in, say, the 1940s, when a big night out was a Three Stooges short and a Carmen Miranda musical. The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff. I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important.

It’s so obvious that he hasn’t picked up a comic book in years because he missed the occasional swipes at Donald Trump, such as this panel that was printed in the 2015 issue of Howard the Duck #1.

howardtheduck-irony

Bill Maher says that comic books are for kids only and slams adults who still read them yet he had no hesitation about appearing as himself in the movie Iron Man 3 which was based on—wait for it—a comic book that was co-created by Stan Lee.

I’m currently enjoying the online roasting he is getting in the comments section to his blog post, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

I don’t understand why Bill Maher is getting totally riled up about adults reading comic books. Adult comic book readers aren’t hurting anyone by reading them. What’s next? Is Bill Maher going to go after adults who collect toy cars? Or adults who collect dolls or toy robots or Breyer horses? Seriously, he needs to get a life. If he’s getting riled up over adults reading comic books then maybe it’s time for him to consider retiring from his Real Time With Bill Maher show. Jon Stewart left The Daily Show when he got tired of the day-to-day grind instead of hurling insults at adult comic book readers.

By the way, when I wrote my own blog post the other day about Stan Lee and how I once saw a vendor selling Stan Lee Cologne at the 2013 Baltimore Comic-Con, I forgot to mention another curious Stan Lee-related consumer product that I saw at a later date. Last year I was at Third Eye Comics in Annapolis shortly before Halloween and I saw that they were selling a line of Stan Lee action figures.

I didn’t buy one at the time because of tight finances. All I can say is that, thanks to his latest idiotic musings, Bill Maher probably won’t get a huge outpouring of emotion on social media when he passes—let alone anyone coming out with an action figure based on him.

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All those months of dealing with my ex-husband ending all further alimony payments, getting one job where I was promised that I would eventually get full-time hours only to not being able to even get 20 hours a week after working there for four months while the boss was job hunting himself, and only being able to get freelance piecemeal work began to take a personal toll on me. I really wanted to take a vacation for just a day or two but I couldn’t afford to do it so I was trapped. But then I got my current gig where I was helping a therapist prepare for a series of upcoming webinars that are slated to begin next month so I managed to get just enough money in that I could do something fun.

However the best I was able to afford was taking the Metro to Tyson’s Corner Center in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. It was better than nothing so I decided to go for it. It was raining heavily that day but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. Besides, I was riding a Metrobus to the nearest Metro subway stop so I didn’t have to worry about driving on slippery roads. I rode the Silver Line Metro to the Mall. When I arrived at the plaza that has the entrances that are located the closest to the Metro station, I noticed that it looked pretty deserted due to the rain.

That’s in contrast to past visits where, depending on the time of the year, there is usually some kind of activities for people to participate in, whether it’s playing with a giant chess set or a giant ice skating rink.

I found out that this year is the 50th anniversary of Tyson’s Corner Center and there were signs touting this fact everywhere.

I walked past the Microsoft Store. I can count the number of times I’ve actually stepped inside of that store on one hand. I walked past the entrance but I didn’t go inside on this trip.

I’ll admit that I only went to this mall for a change in scenery. I didn’t do much shopping because money was still too tight for me at the moment. I basically shot photos of whatever appealed to me at the time.

At least I found out that Golden Girls socks are actually a thing this year.

Pez dispensers have always been a bit on the kitschy side but Pez has really outdid itself with pink flamingoes Pez dispensers.

I made a brief stop inside of the Apple Store, where I saw the latest computers with the large monitors.

I also got a look at the new iPhone XS, which has received a lot of press for its over $1,000 price tag. I have to admit that the iPhone XS has nice sharp graphics on its screen. If the phone allowed for people to do their own upgrades (such as adding more memory or replacing the hard drive) it would be one thing but, as far as I can tell, this smartphone is just like all of the others where you can’t even open your own phone and it will ultimately be disposable once it stops working completely. I’m going to stick with my Samsung Galaxy J3 phone for the time being.

I came across this kiosk that I haven’t seen on previous visits. It’s for a store called b8ta and it sells a mix of Google products and technology products that are created by smaller companies.

I made a brief stop inside of Build-A-Bear Workshop where I saw these cute Halloween plushies and a brontosaurus on display.

I eventually made my way to the American Girl Place. I haven’t been there since last December so there were plenty of new things to see. I saw that Felicity Merriman, the historical doll who’s supposed to represent the American Revolution era, has been taken out of retirement and is now available for sale once again. She’s on display with Addy Walker (who represents the American Civil War period) and Samantha Parkington (who represents the first few years of the 20th century that’s known as the Edwardian Era).

Here’s another historical doll, Nanea Mitchell (who represents Hawaii around the time of the Pearl Harbor bombing) with some new accessories available for sale.

Maryellen Larkin, who represents the 1950s, relaxes in her trailer, which is sold separately from the doll. The details of this trailer are pretty impeccable.

Kit Kittredge, who represents the Great Depression, sits behind her newly released vegetable stand.

Last year I saw Z Yang for the first time. Even though she’s a contemporary doll, this one caught my eye because she’s into photography and videography like I am. I learned that she is among the dolls who will be retired soon. I would say that I’m sorry to see her go but I’m still a bit cash-strapped at the moment so there was no way I could afford this doll and her accessories. There is also the issue of space because I really don’t have enough room to have a huge collection of large dolls.

This doll in the next photo was a bit of a surprise. Gabriela McBride was released last year as American Girl’s Girl of the Year Doll for 2017. Usually the Girl of the Year doll is on sale only from January 1-December 31 then she is retired. I was surprised to see that she was still around in 2018. I still remember last year the times I tried to take her picture but the first time I failed because the phone on my previous smartphone (Droid Ultra) began to act erratically and it wouldn’t take any photos while I was at the store yet it finally worked after I returned home. The second time I brought my older Canon DSLR with me but that effort failed because I had to be elsewhere and I shot photos at that other place before I arrived at the mall and I ran out of battery power by the time I arrived. My smartphone worked miraculously until I got to Gabriela McBride and my smartphone camera decided to stop working. The third time was finally the charm when I arrived last December with a Canon PowerShot camera that I purchased used off eBay and I took some photos of that doll and her accessories without a hitch. I thought that she would be retired at the end of 2017 just like her Girl of the Year predecessors but it wasn’t the case with her.

The country singing pair of Tenney Grant and her friend Logan Everett were also slated for retirement but I didn’t bother with taking their pictures. I had already shot them and their accessories on a previous visit and there wasn’t anything new with those two.

I managed to check out the 2018 Girl of the Year. Her name is Luciana Vega, she’s a Latina, she’s into STEM, and her big dream is to work for NASA so she could go to Mars.

American Girl went all out with the space theme. In fact, one of my Facebook friends who works for NASA was posting approvingly about this doll earlier this year. (He’s the father of two daughters—both of whom are now young adults—and I’m sure he would’ve bought this doll for them if they were still kids.)

Seeing this doll in person I have to say that she’s gorgeous and her clothes are literally out of this world. (If there were ever human adult versions of her dresses, I would definitely want to buy them.) She has gorgeous black hair with a purple streak in it. If I weren’t so cash-strapped, I would definitely feel tempted to buy this doll.

Her accessories, which are sold separately, includes things like astronaut ice cream and a replica of an Apple Watch.

There are corresponding books, one of which comes with the doll and the other two are sold separately. A few days before I came to Tyson’s Corner I was at the library where I saw a young girl checking out a pile of books, including one of the Luciana books.

Among her separately sold play sets is one that resembles a STEM makerspace. There is even a cute robot dog.

If it weren’t for the fact that this STEM maker station cost $100, I would say that it would be a cool thing to purchase for the local makerspace in my area for the kids to play with.

I thought that this robot dog came with the maker station but I found out that this robodoggie is sold separately for $35.

There is also a space telescope so Luciana could look up at the stars.

Then there is this NASA space laboratory and a NASA space suit for Luciana to wear. I can understand why my Facebook friend was gushing about Luciana online. In fact, this capsule reminds me of my ex-husband, who works for NASA. If we were still together, I definitely would’ve urged him to go to the American Girl Place with me so he could see this in person. I also would’ve told him that we could stop off at Wasabi afterwards because I was trying to get him to consider the two of us eating there before he abruptly left me just three days after Christmas and three months after my hip surgery in 2011. (I had gone to Wasabi for the first time when I was still married in October, 2011 but I went by myself that time.)

The details of this capsule are pretty astounding. My ex-husband definitely would’ve gotten a kick out of it if he had seen it for himself in person.

Yes, it’s sad that visiting the American Girl Place so we could see this NASA space laboratory together is another thing I’ll never get to do with my ex-husband but that’s the way things go.

My ex-husband was never into dolls and normally I would never have been able to get him to even step one foot inside of that door. I think I may have gotten him to make a rare exception and actually visit a doll store because he definitely would’ve been impressed with the painstaking details of this NASA space laboratory.

Luciana is totally rocking this astronaut space suit.

For families who want to purchase Luciana and her accessories but who are cash-strapped, there are Mega Construx kit versions.

Like other Girl of the Year dolls, the American Girl Place has a designated space where people can have their selfies taken with a standee of Luciana Vegan and a space capsule.

The sign said to turn the handle and look inside but the door handle was broken when I was there.

The best I was able to do was to shoot through the door window.

American Girl sold separate Washington, DC souvenir t-shirts for dolls. They also had matching shirts for their human owners as well but I only shot the doll shirts.


I didn’t spend much time in the store beyond Luciana and the BeForever historical dolls. But I saw this car that looked cool. It reminded me of that Volkswagen that American Girl came out for the 1970s historical doll Julie Albright a few years back.

I also shot these two outfits that were released just in time for the upcoming winter holiday trio of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

After my visit to the American Girl Place I ate a sushi dinner at Wasabi, which is the place that delivers food on conveyor belts and you could pick which plates you want.

After dinner I walked around the mall a bit. I found a temporary Halloween store that was selling costumes. This year they have costumes based on that mega-popular video game Fortnite. (I’ve seen kids play that game and they can’t seem to get enough of it. I haven’t tried it myself as of this writing.)

I did get a chuckle out of this obvious parody of My Little Pony‘s Rainbow Dash, even though I know nothing about Fortnite‘s Rainbow Smash.

They also had two costumes based on the late artist and TV personality Bob Ross. A couple of friends or lovers could dress up together as Bob Ross and one of his paintings, which I find hilarious.

Just a few feet away from the Halloween store is a Christmas store. This is crazy. Halloween and Thanksgiving haven’t even happened yet and there is already a Christmas store.

Just a few days after I took this shot of these Grinch ornaments I learned that someone is coming out with yet another remake of How the Grinch Stole Christmas that will be shown on the big screen. I guess that’s why there was a display of these ornaments. I personally think that doing yet another remake is so unnecessary. I have the original 1960’s TV special on DVD so I can always play that one on my TV screen instead of paying over $10 to see the remake in a movie theater.

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I’ve just read the news about First Daughter Ivanka Trump closing down her fashion line. While I feel bad for the employees who will be losing their jobs, I have zero sympathy for Ivanka Trump.

Actually she was someone whom—under entirely different circumstances—I would have felt sorry for because she didn’t have it easy despite growing up in wealth and privilege. Try to imagine being a kid who’s old enough to learn about the media coverage of her parents’ divorce along with her father’s open affair with Marla Maples (who later became his second wife for a brief spell). Try to imagine growing up with a father publicly saying all kinds of sexually inappropriate things about his own daughter, which The Daily Show has archived in this two-part series: Don’t Forget: Donald Trump Wants to Bang His Daughter and Again, Don’t Forget: Donald Trump Wants to Bang His Daughter.

While I would love to feel sorry for her, I just can’t do it. Ivanka chose to work for her father after she finished college—the same father who said those sexually inappropriate things about her. She has spent the bulk of her professional career working for her father. When her father was elected president, Ivanka moved with her family to Washington, DC in order to serve as an advisor to her father.

I still remember when Donald Trump first arrived at the White House I read about some people expressing hopes that Ivanka Trump would serve as some kind of a moderating force for her father in the White House—a kind of a softer version of a social justice warrior. That was definitely wishful thinking on their part because, to date, I have yet to see Ivanka take any kind of a major stand on an issue while urging her father to support that issue. It’s like this Daily Beast headline says: How Ivanka Trump’s Loyalty to Her Father Killed Her Fashion Label.

The rationale for people hoping for Ivanka to be a social justice champion in the Trump Administration was the fact that she claimed to be a “feminist” while also publishing the book Women Who Work. If these people had read closer about Ivanka Trump, they would have realized that she was never going to be a white wealthy female version of Martin Luther King. There were the women who work in those factories in Third World countries making her clothes and shoes for her fashion line who were paid very little while working in poor conditions with little occupational safety and they were frequently separated from their own children. There was also the fact that she was very reluctant to give maternity leave to her own female employees working in her U.S. offices.

Her fashion label won’t be missed. Her clothes didn’t impress me at all. In fact, I’ve seen better designed clothes at Target. Then there were the accusations that her fashion line has plagiarized the designs of some of the shoes from Aquazurra. Even if I was a major supporter of her father, I would not be interested in wearing anything from her fashion line because her clothes, shoes, and jewelry were mediocre at best and possibly plagiarized from others at worst.

I’ll end this post with this Saturday Night Live fake ad from last year which skewered Ivanka Trump (played by Scarlett Johannson) and it still remains among my favorite parodies of Donald Trump and family.

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I don’t have children. Sometimes I regret not having a child but these days I’m mostly glad because, after the hell that my ex-husband put me through over the past few years, I would’ve really dreaded having to face that asshole on a regular basis regarding the children. I also would’ve had to face the possibility of periodically going back to court over child visitation and custody issues because my husband left me for a seriously mentally ill woman and he married her just two months after our divorce was final. I would’ve been really concerned about exposing a child to whatever drama that would result from having a seriously mentally ill stepmother.

There are too many people who have no business ever becoming parents but they have one or more kids anyway and it’s the children who usually suffer. A case in point is a YouTube controversy that originally started last year but it has continued into this year. Here’s a quick recap.

A YouTube channel was created in 2015 called DaddyOFive. It was a series of videos featuring the real-life adventures of Mike Martin, his wife Heather, and their five children (hence the name). The videos were supposed to be light-hearted entertainment featuring a fun yet quirky family.

One regular feature of these videos had the parents playing pranks on one or more of their children. The videos began to gain popularity and the parents were able to make revenue from their videos.

As time went on, the so-called “pranks” took on a more disturbing tone and they became more and more controversial. The shit really began to hit the fan last year when popular YouTube commentator Philip DeFranco made this video questioning whether these “pranks” are actually child abuse. (This video have a few brief excerpts from the video where one of the kids was targeted in a “prank” that involved invisible ink.)

When DeFranco’s video went viral, there was more public scrutiny aimed at Mike and Heather Martin over allegations that their kids were being abused on video while profiting off of that abuse. The Martins responded to DeFranco’s video by blaming him for the public vitriol being aimed at them. DeFranco responded with a second video where he included more disturbing scenes from other DaddyOFive videos, which included the couple’s only daughter being slapped in the face by her brother after prompting by their father, one of the smaller boys being body-slammed to the ground by his larger brother, and one of the sons asking his father to leave him alone and stop filming him only to have the father continue putting the camera on the boy.

That second video only added fuel to the fire. In time other YouTubers weighed in on this, such as this one by Kavos, which included footage of more pranks child abuse that weren’t in the other videos.

It turned out that two of the children were Mike Martin’s from a previous marriage or relationship. (I wasn’t able to figure out whether he was ever married to that previous woman or not.) They were also the same two children who bore the brunt of those so-called “pranks.” The children’s biological mother soon got wind of the existence of those videos and she responded by getting a lawyer and filing for sole custody of the children, which she ultimately won. Here’s the biological mother’s brief interview on Good Morning America from last year, where she explained how she felt when she learned about her children’s appearances in those videos.

On top of it, the local authorities began to investigate the child abuse claims. What’s really embarrassing is that I learned that these two so-called “parents” lived in my state (Maryland).

Ultimately Mike and Heather Martin removed most of the videos from the DaddyOFive channel with the exception of a video featuring just the two of them where they apologized for their videos. A few months later they were sentenced to five year’s probation for child neglect. As part of the probation, Mike and Heather are not allowed to contact Mike’s two children in any way unless a judge authorizes it first.

So things died down a bit regarding DaddyOFive. There were no new videos uploaded and the couple seemed to keep a low profile for the rest of 2017. Sometime after the controversy and receiving probation Mike and Heather Martin took the remaining three children and moved from Maryland to West Virginia. Okay, I can understand that decision to some extent because that move gave them the opportunity to make a fresh start in their lives and put the recent past behind them. If they had stayed off-line, they probably would’ve eventually fallen into obscurity.

But that didn’t happen. The family re-emerged online just one year later with two new video channels—FamilyOFive and FamilyOFive Gaming. I can understand the name to some extent since Mike, Heather, and the three sons are now a family of five. But I find it mind-boggling that Mike and Heather would give both of those channels a similar name to the DaddyOFive channel that got them into trouble in the first place.

It wouldn’t be long before Philip DeFranco began to devote a video to FamilyOFive, especially since this new video series included footage of one of the sons being hit hard in the groin with a ball.

But, wait, there’s more. Amanda the Jedi made this video featuring more disturbing footage involving the three sons under the guise of “entertainment.”

In addition, local station WUSA9 started to extensively cover the story and they contacted YouTube and the local authorities in the couple’s former (Frederick County, Maryland) and current (Berkeley County, West Virginia) residences for their responses regarding the matter.

In any case, YouTube finally pulled the plug a few days ago and took down all of the DaddyOFive/FamilyOFive channels and banned Mike and Heather Martin from the platform. I applaud YouTube for making that decision. Child abuse should never be considered entertainment and people should not be allowed to profit from it.

While it’s great that Mike and Heather Martin are gone from YouTube, this story doesn’t exactly have a happy ending. If you conduct a YouTube search under DaddyOFive, you’ll see that many of the original DaddyOFive videos have been re-uploaded on to YouTube by people using names like Team Takedown, Post, DaddyOFive Re-uploaded, ToxicFaygo 29, Legendary Posts, daddyofive archive, That One Guy, Fire Phoenix, polly annner, and DaddyOfive ReUploading. And these re-uploaded videos are just the tip of the iceberg, which once again proves the adage that the Internet is forever and it’s the children who will suffer the most for years to come.

There’s something else that I also find concerning. If Mike and Heather acted atrociously towards their children in front of the camera, can you imagine what family life is like when the cameras are turned off? I really believe that the three remaining children should be removed immediately from their parents and placed either with other relatives or in foster homes so they’ll have a chance to lead normal lives without having a camera focused on them while they are being abused by their so-called “parents.”

UPDATE (August 7, 2018): The FamilyOFive channel has migrated to Twitch. So far I’ve only seen one video where the family is playing the video game Overwatch with no live child abuse scenes. There are other videos posted and it seems like they are all of the family playing video games, which are all pretty mild compared to their previous videos. (I’ll admit that I haven’t watched any of their videos in its entirety.) If past behavior is any indication, I wouldn’t be surprised if the parents eventually go back to resuming their “pranks” on their children for more views.

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Ramadan

As someone who used to admire Roseanne Barr and was a faithful viewer of her 1990s sitcom, I am not getting much pleasure from her sudden downfall today. For those of you who haven’t been checking out the news, here’s the basic gist. Roseanne Barr used to champion the working class and the downtrodden (especially the LGBTQ community) on her old TV show and in her comedy routines. At one point she unsuccessfully attempted to get the Green Party nomination for president.

Ever since Donald Trump decided to run for public office then was elected to the presidency, Roseanne began to declare herself a Trump supporter and, before you know it, she began to champion every single alt-right conspiracy theory that was out there (especially the notorious and now-discredited Pizzagate) on Twitter. She would frequently retweet people like Alex Jones, who spewed crazy conspiracy theories.

This year ABC decided to revive her sitcom, Roseanne, which would feature all of the original cast members of that 1990s sitcom. The show would feature Roseanne’s character being a Trump supporter, just like Barr is in real life. There were plenty of people who were less-than-thrilled by this and the show got mixed reviews ranging from mediocre to awful. But the show was a big hit despite the reviews. (For the record, I didn’t watch her new series mainly because I had become so alienated by her blind loyalty to Donald Trump and her championing crazy alt-right conspiracy theories that I couldn’t even gather enough enthusiasm to watch her new show.)

Meanwhile Roseanne Barr kept up with her offstage antics, such as accusing teenage Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg of being a Nazi on Twitter.

But today the shit really hit the fan. Roseanne made a tweet saying that one of President Obama’s former aides, Valerie Jarrett, was the child of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes film. The fact that Jarrett was born in Iran to African American parents only made it worse. Roseanne deleted the tweet and issued an apology by saying that it was a bad joke but the damage was done. Roseanne’s revived show was cancelled by ABC. The reruns of her original 1990s sitcom were pulled from the Paramount Network, TV Land, and CMT. She even got dropped by her own talent agency.

While I feel sorry for the other actors and crew who lost their jobs (and their residuals from the old sitcom), Roseanne gets zero sympathy from me. She should’ve known better that to make that ape comparison with an African American. I used to faithfully watch her show in the 1990’s because she stood up for working folks of all races (her old sitcom had working class African American characters who were portrayed in a positive light) and LGBTQ in an era when both groups were either ignored or, in the case of the latter, discriminated against. I was such a fan that I watched her series until midway through the ninth season when that show began to get too weird for my tastes. I also watched a few of Roseanne’s specials on HBO because I could relate to her and her humor.

Here is why Roseanne Barr resonated so much with me. I grew up in Glen Burnie, Maryland, which was a mix of lower middle class and working class. There were no mansions or upscale stores like Saks Fifth Avenue where I grew up. My family encountered financial struggles at times, especially with the inflation periods of the 1970s, that were similar to what Roseanne’s sitcom family went through. I had high school classmates who married young just like Roseanne’s eldest sitcom daughter did. I had other classmates who joined the military immediately after high school in an effort to escape to a different life. (I remember the military recruiters who used to set up tables in my high school cafeteria a few times a year so the students can talk to them during lunch period.) I knew people in my Unitarian Universalist congregation who came out as LGBTQ in an era when doing so could adversely affect their lives in many ways. (This was in the 1980s and 1990s when AIDS was prevalent and there was a conservative backlash to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.) Roseanne bravely featured LGBTQ characters in a positive sympathetic light in her sitcom back when it wasn’t the trendy thing to do. I am a woman with a less-than-perfectly shaped body while Roseanne became a major star despite being obese at times and she remained a star without having a perfect 10 body. I definitely identified with Roseanne Barr. I even followed her on Twitter at one point.

All that changed when Trump entered politics and she became his biggest celebrity supporter. She totally changed—for the worst. Late last year I decided to unfollow her on Twitter because I felt so alienated from her and the alt-right conspiracy garbage she was tweeting on a regular basis.

It’s just like what Shepard Smith of Fox News said, “Racism is not funny and Roseanne Barr is a racist.” The biggest irony is that the 1990s Roseanne would have gone full social justice warrior mode on the 2018 Roseanne. As for me, I’m done with her.

Fuck you, Roseanne Barr.

Bye, Felicia!

UPDATE (June 1, 2018): Roseanne initially blamed Ambien for her unfunny racist joke tweet aimed at Valerie Jarrett, which prompted this classy response from the drug’s manufacturer.

Oh, SNAP! Whoever at Sanofi came up with that tweet deserves a raise. When the Ambient defense failed to take hold, Roseanne Barr started to blame Michelle Obama for her series getting canned.

Bitch, please! If Roseanne really wants to find out who is to blame for her current predicament, she should just stand in front of a mirror and she’ll get her answer. By the way, I read this blog post from a woman who once worked as Roseanne’s stand-in for three years on the original 1990s sitcom and, boy, does she have a story to tell!

UPDATE (July 22, 2018): Roseanne released this video where she attempted to explain the Valerie Jarrett tweet that got her fired. I would strongly advise you to lower your computer speakers before playing this clip because she definitely screams in this video.

Yesterday she released another video where she’s way more calm about her side of the story.

She implied that ABC got rid of her because she is a Donald Trump supporter. Here’s the thing—it had long been common public knowledge that Roseanne is a Trump supporter. ABC knew that she is a Trump supporter before they decided to put her revived sitcom on the air. If ABC had been so opposed to Roseanne being a Trump supporter that they didn’t want her associated with the network at all, they would have never revived her sitcom in the first place.

So, once again, fuck you, Roseanne Barr!

UPDATE (October 17, 2018): Last night the first episode of The Conners aired on ABC. The Conners is basically the Roseanne show without Roseanne. Roseanne Barr has no chance of ever making a guest appearance on The Conners since the first episode wrote her character off as having died of an opioid overdose.

Serves that bitch right. Bye, Felicia!

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Ramadan

Last month I went to Baltimore so I could check out Light City for the third year in a row. (You can read about my previous visits in 2016 and 2017.) The first year I went I basically just took the Charm City Circulator bus as far as the Shake Shack (which is located across from Harborplace) and I underestimated how big this festival was. The second year I had an animation that was showing at Light City so I took the Charm City Circulator until I got to a stop that was as close to the On Demand area (where my animation was being shown along with other film shorts) and I still have memories of sitting outside for two hours waiting for my animation to show up on screen as the temperature kept on getting colder and colder as time went on.

This year I decided not to submit anything to Light City so I could begin my tour anywhere. I also ended up going on the last night of Light City. I couldn’t get there earlier in the month due to scheduling conflicts so the final night was my first and last time that I visited Light City 2018.

I had the idea of taking the Charm City Circulator all the way over to the other side of the Inner Harbor near where Little Italy is located. When I arrived I found that this area has been heavily built up. There’s a new complex called Harbor East and I took some photos there along with some photos of Little Italy. I took so many photos that day that I decided to break up this year’s Baltimore/Light City entry into two separate posts. First I’m going to show the photos I took when I first arrived in Baltimore before I showed up at Light City.

I drove my car to Linthicum and stopped at a Royal Farms store so I could pick up a chicken dinner and a diet soda for only $7. (I know from previous years that many of the restaurants, fast food outlets, and food tents tend to draw very long lines during Light City. It was easier to bring my own food to Light City.) I parked my car at the North Linthicum light rail station and took the train to the Camden Yards station. When I arrived at the front gates of Camden Yards on my way to the nearest Charm City Circulator bus stop I saw that a Baltimore Orioles baseball game was already underway.

Camden Yards

Camden Yards

Camden Yards

I took the Charm City Circulator’s Orange Line bus to the Little Italy stop. I didn’t do much exploring in Little Italy other than the peripheral area, where I shot these photos.

Little Italy

Little Italy

Little Italy

When I was younger and I still lived with my parents, my family used to periodically eat at a restaurant in Little Italy. (We used to alternate between Sabatino’s and Chipparelli’s—both of which are still in business.) I have never dined inside of La Tavola restaurant but I found their exterior wall murals to be charming.

Little Italy

This restaurant features some cool trompe l’oeil in its fake “windows.”

Little Italy

Little Italy

La Tavola isn’t the only place with colorful wall murals. Mo’s Fisherman’s Wharf also has some cool exterior touches.

Mo's Fisherman's Wharf, Baltimore, Maryland

Mo's Fisherman's Wharf, Baltimore, Maryland

I came across Columbus Piazza where this statue of Christopher Columbus stands. I know that in recent years Columbus has become such an increasingly polarizing figure that some places in the U.S. have renamed “Columbus Day” as “Indigenous People’s Day.”

Columbus Piazza, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I also walked past the President Street Station, which is the oldest surviving big-city railroad terminal but it now houses the Baltimore Civil War Museum.

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Baltimore Civil War Museum

I would’ve loved to have gone inside but it had already closed for the day when I arrived.

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Here’s a jarring juxtaposition between the older President Street Station (foreground) and the newer Harbor East complex (background).

Baltimore Civil War Museum

I remember when that area near Little Italy had a lot of construction going on over the past few years. It was the first time I came upon the result of all of that construction: Harbor East. This place is a mix of upscale restaurants and shops and upscale apartments and condos.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

This place has security, which uses vehicles that looks like a cross between a scooter and a Segway.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Some of the buildings in Harbor East is waterfront property, complete with its own marina. There are also some available activities for the people ranging from sitting at an outdoor bar and/or restaurant to playing with a giant chess set.

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

Harbor East, April 28, 2018

A major high point of my visit to Harbor East was finding out that Charm City Cakes has opened a second bakery there.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Charm City Cakes’ original location on Remington Avenue was the setting for the Food Network’s reality series Ace of Cakes. That was one of the few reality shows I watched on a regular basis because the focus was more on the cake making process with very little of the hysteric drama that frequently plague most reality TV shows. I remember being sad when that show was cancelled because I really enjoyed seeing the employees create those unique one-of-a-kind cakes that were gorgeous to look at.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

The baked goods that were on sale that day looked delicious.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

I was a bit on the broke side so I could only afford to purchase a small bag of chocolate chocolate chip cookies for $2. I found them to be very tasty.

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Charm City Cakes at Harbor East, Baltimore, April 21, 2018

Located in the center of Harbor East is the National Katyń Memorial, which is dedicated to the Poles who were brutally mass-slaughtered by the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD) during World War II.

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

The National Katyń Memorial, Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 2018

I would’ve loved to have explored more in both Little Italy and Harbor East but I had come late in the day because I wanted to check out Light City. I will have to make a return trip to that area at a later date because I have a feeling that there is more to check out in that area.

I moved on to Light City, which I’m going to write about in a future post.

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A few hours ago I found out that 80-year-old Bill Cosby has been found guilty of drugging and raping Andrea Constand. This came after a video of comedian Hannibal Buress did a comedy routine that mentioned Cosby’s past rape accusation went viral and it led to numerous women coming forward with their own stories about how Cosby drugged and raped them (with some of the accusations going as far back as the 1960s).

It created a scandal that hit at the same time that a special exhibition of Cosby’s personal art collection opened at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC, which I visited once soon after it opened and I wrote a blog post about it back in 2014. The biggest irony of that exhibition is that there was a blanket on display that was made from the t-shirts that were once owned by Cosby’s late son, Ennis (who was brutally murdered in the 1990s), and one of the t-shirt panels featured this slogan that’s frequently used by anti-rape activists: “What part of NO didn’t you understand?” (Apparently Ennis was more aware and educated about what constitutes rape than his father was.) The National Museum of African Art kept that exhibit open until its scheduled closing date in late January, 2016 despite numerous calls for the museum to end that exhibition early in light of the scandal.

But then something amazing happened: Bill Cosby was arrested. Due to the statue of limitations, he could only be prosecuted for the 2004 rape of Andrea Constand but it was still amazing that a celebrity of his stature was arrested nonetheless. The first attempt to try him ended in a mistrial. In the wake of that ending, Cosby announced that he was going to hold a series of town hall meetings that would educate people on how to avoid being accused of sexual assault, which reeked of total arrogance and chutzpah. The prosecution wasn’t amused by any of this so they decided to retry him and, this time, he has been found guilty.

Whether or not Cosby will see the inside of a jail cell remains to be seen but at least the women who have accused Cosby of rape have been vindicated, which is a good thing.

I’ll admit that part of me is sad over today’s verdict and that’s because Bill Cosby has been a part of my life for the majority of my life. It started when my parents used to watch I Spy on television when I was very young but I didn’t become aware of who Cosby was until I started watching the Fat Albert cartoon series on Saturday mornings. I saw Cosby on the numerous Jello commercials over the years and I used to watch The Cosby Show with my then-husband.

But I’m pretty much over Bill Cosby now. I still remember back in December when I was eating dinner at a Popeye’s in Baltimore while I was on my way to attending a Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event at The Wind-Up Space (link is NSFW). I was already pretty frazzled from being pulled over by a cop due to a busted taillight so I just wanted to eat my fried chicken dinner and go on to Dr. Sketchy’s. This particular Popeye’s happened to have a big screen TV (which was something I had never seen at the other Popeye’s fast food places I have been to) that was tuned to a local TV station that was airing a re-run of one of The Cosby Show episodes from the 1980s. I moved to a part of the place where I wouldn’t have to see the TV screen so I wouldn’t see Cosby’s face while I ate my meal. If I ever encounter a TV screen showing a Fat Albert cartoon, I would have the same reaction by not watching it.

I’m glad to hear that Cosby’s victims have a reason to celebrate now that he has been found guilty in a court of law.

UPDATE (September 25, 2018): Bill Cosby has been sentenced to serve between 3-10 years in a state prison. How the mighty have fallen! I still don’t feel sorry for him even though he is an 81-year-old man. All this could have been avoided had he simply refrained from drugging other people’s drinks and kept his trousers zipped.

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Yesterday I went to my first training for the Poor People’s Campaign in order to prepare for next month’s activities of protests in order to highlight the plight of the workers, the poor, women, racial minorities, and immigrants. The season of protests is scheduled to kick off nationwide on Mother’s Day weekend and it’s meant to build on Martin Luther King’s original Poor People’s Campaign (which he had just started when he was killed 50 years ago this month).

The training was held at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Maryland.

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

Cedar Lane had some nice touches on the outside that proclaim to the general public how it’s open and accepting of everyone regardless of who they are while taking moral stands on certain issues (such as Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, and gun control).

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

I went inside and saw a few training flyers I needed to pick up. I made some small talk among the fellow participants until the start of the training session.

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

The training was straightforward. We were taught how to behave ourselves in public while protesting in order to not turn off the general public to the message that we were trying to send. (For example, we are discouraged from wearing masks while protesting, drinking alcohol, taking illegal drugs, and uttering foul language.) The most important thing was that we had to remain nonviolent at all times.

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

I took part in the workshop on how to do nonviolent civil disobedience. At this point I’m not sure if I will actually set myself up to be deliberately arrested at a protest because I have just started a new job and my current finances are precarious. I still took the workshop just in case some cop decides to do a very wide sweep and arrest those who aren’t doing civil disobedience as well as those who are trying to get arrested. At least I know how to react if I somehow get caught up in some kind of a wide sweep.

I remember when I was a child my parents used to watch All in the Family and I still remember the episode where working class conservative bigot Archie Bunker happened to go to an anti-war protest in order to retrieve his son-in-law after Edith and Gloria were worried about Mike’s safety when they heard that the protest was getting violent. Mike returned home safe and sound while Archie ended up in jail along with the protesters whom he normally would never have any association with simply because he got caught up in a wide sweep by the police. You can read more about this episode here. There’s a full episode on YouTube that’s available for now but it’s unknown as to whether it will remain online or will get yanked for copyright reasons. In any case, I kept that episode in mind as I went to the training because I want to be prepared for the possibility that I would end up in jail like Archie Bunker even if I’m not doing civil disobedience.

The most memorable part of the training where we took turns simulating a civil disobedience act while other people playing the role of counter protesters and provocateurs yelled in our faces. The hardest part was remembering the chanting we were doing while someone yelled in our faces.

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

Maryland Poor People's Campaign Training

Well, anyway, I learned a lot that night. The only downside of the training was that it rained that day. It wasn’t so bad going to the church but when we left, the rain was pouring down harder. I tried commuting on the Capital Beltway and it was so harrowing with the cars speeding in the downpour like it was nothing. I got off in Silver Spring and I blundered around until I consulted my smartphone GPS app and I managed to configure it to give me a route back home while bypassing all major highways. I traveled along the back routes until I arrived home. The drivers were more civilized on the back routes so I didn’t have to fear getting into an accident. The downside was that I had to stop at so many traffic lights that I didn’t return home until after 11 p.m.

In any case, despite the rain and the harrowing car trip home, I don’t regret going to that training. The Poor People’s Campaign is set to have its inaugural rollout nationwide on Mother’s Day weekend next month so stay tuned, folks!

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I had a pretty busy Saturday at my church. First I went to a memorial service for a longtime church member who passed away recently. I had decided to attend an all-ages party that was being held at that church that same evening so I went to the memorial service, hung around for the reception that followed afterwards, then headed for the nearby Starbucks that is located inside of a Target where I brought my laptop with me and killed time by surfing the Internet until it was time for the second event to begin at my church.

We ended up having a pretty light turnout. The high point was that someone had brought Play-Doh and soon everyone—both adults and children alike—were playing around with the stuff.

I ended up joining in as well. I used to love playing with Play-Doh as a child but I outgrew it once I was around 9 or 10 years old. I haven’t really touched it in years. So I played around with it. I began to remember the old Saturday Night Live sketches featuring The Mr. Bill Show, which satirized children’s TV shows by featuring a character made entirely from clay who would end up getting abused in a gruesome yet hilarious fashion. I attempted with making Mr. Bill’s head but I was relying 100% on memory so I know it’s not that great.

It turned out to be all for naught because only one other person present got my Mr. Bill reference. Everyone else were either too young to remember Mr. Bill’s late 1970s heyday or they were way older than me and they could’ve cared less about Mr. Bill even when he was popular enough to spawn a line of t-shirts. (I still remember having my own Mr. Bill shirt when I was in high school.)

After that attempt, I took out a dolphin-shaped cutter and I began to just roll out the blue Play-Doh then used the cutter to cut out dolphin shapes. I ended up making this pattern of clay dolphins.

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