Legends Never Die, They Just Get Better: Remembering Rowdy Roddy Piper

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I like to unplug from my phone and internet during lunch. If I check my phone, I will have to rewind the TV to see what I missed. So it was with quite a shock this past Friday, after a late lunch my girlfriend Megan called me with a frantic, “Are you OK?”

“What the hell happened?” I asked, going from relaxed lunch to full alert.

I heard her take a deep breath and say, “TMZ Sports is reporting Roddy Piper died.”

What? No, that can’t be right. Not THAT Roddy Piper. Not Rowdy Roddy Piper. Must’ve been someone else. Must’ve been Lonnie Phipher, someone got confused somewhere. There’s no way Roddy Piper could be dead. Not someone with that much life and zeal. But in this day and age, TMZ is pretty accurate when it comes to reporting this sort of story. Remember, these are the guys who outwitted the entire NFL with one well-placed phone call during the Ray Rice scandal. I had to believe the story was true even though as a story it seemed unbelievable.

I talked with Megan for a bit and then read up on it, hoping they were wrong somehow. There are celebrity death hoaxes all the time after all but it wasn’t long before Vince McMahon, the boss with whom Mr. Piper had a long love/hate relationship, took to twitter to eulogize Hot Rod.

I can’t sit here and claim to have been a close friend of Roddy Piper or even that I knew him very well. But as the picture above shows, I did work with Rowdy Roddy Piper. And yes, technically for one night at least, at Chippendale’s in Las Vegas. So I thought I’d share some thoughts and memories.

As my homepage tells you, I worked as a producer on WWE Legends’ House which put Roddy Piper along with WWE Legends Pat Patterson, Mean Gene Okerlund, Jimmy Hart, Tony Atlas, Howard Finkel and Hillbilly Jim inside a house in Palm Springs, CA for a month-long shoot. The resulting episodes can be found on the WWE Network and as a life-long wrestling fan, the experience remains one of the fondest memories of my entire life. And while I did some work as a referee on the New England independent wrestling circuit in 2001, I kept that information to myself. I did not want these Legends thinking I was in their league or their business. I have too much respect for what they achieved to do that.

All of the Legends were fantastic people. They were always telling stories, trying to make the crew laugh and were consummate professionals. If you got to spend 10 minutes with any of these Legends, you’d have a great time and will be happier for it.

Wrestlers are one of a kind people. Roddy Piper even more so. The internet is now a memory lane of a generation’s favorite memories of the Rowdy One. My aforementioned girlfriend never watched or like wrestling yet she knows exactly who Roddy Piper was. Roddy Piper was not just a wrestling celebrity. He was a bona-fide celebrity, an indelible part of this generation’s childhood. I’ve long argued “I have come here to chew bubble-gum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubble-gum” is one of the great lines in movie history.

As a person, Roddy Piper could be a tricky character. I know this because he told us. He was weary of the crew at first. Mr. Piper was a veteran of scheming territorial promoters and Hollywood crews so his weariness was completely understandable. But within a few days of seeing how professional things were going, he became as gracious as could be. When I first met and told him I’d be interviewing him about some of the scenes we were shooting, he beamed and said “ask me anything you want, a pleasure.”

Roddy Piper was an open book to the camera. He would regale the crew with stories from the road, such as the famous night in Fresno with Bob Orton, or clotheslining plants with Ric Flair. And of course, when he was put in warpaint for a day of LARPing, he told us about the time Andre The Giant & Arnold Skaaland made sure he stayed painted half-black for several days after Wrestlemania VI. But also he was happy to hear stories from the crew. One night while waiting before the shoot, we talked about my screenwriting career and my life with Megan back home.

Most nights at 8 PM he’d feel a burst of energy from years of being amped for showtime. Some nights, he’d howl at the moon. He was fascinated by the moon. Many days though, he and his roommate, Hacksaw Jim Duggan would just relax telling stories about their kids. One night I was interviewing Pat Patterson about a scene, but Roddy wanted Pat at dinner with the other Legends. He came over and pulled Pat away from the interview but don’t think he was being disruptive. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You’ve been working all day, you all need dinner too. We’re taking a break.” I could make a quip that one doesn’t mess with this former Intercontinental Champion but I’m guessing this was the father in Roddy Piper, making sure everyone got fed during a long day.

Roddy Piper could tell you stories about a million fights he’d been in. But now in his late 50’s, he was the peacemaker when some heat between Jim Duggan and Tony Atlas flared up. And he seemed to enjoy it. For his wild reputation, Roddy Piper was now a man happy to bring peace to the valley. When another argument between two wrestlers occurred, I conducted an interview with Roddy about it. Maybe in 1985, he would’ve said “Let them fight!” But in 2012, he enthusiastically looked at all angles and perspectives, sympathizing with where people were coming from and trying to come up with solutions.

For weeks, he called me Bambi. One of the executive producers asked him why I was called Bambi. He snapped his fingers, going, “Bambi, not Bambi, Lassie, aha, Timmy” and smiled. That’s how he remembered my name and you know something? Never in my whole life could I be more pleased to be nicknamed Bambi. Only Rowdy Roddy Piper could make that nickname cool. When I got ribbed a little by one of the wrestlers, I told Roddy about it conversationally. He perked up and looked at me very seriously, “Was he mean to you?” And I said, “No, not at all, just playing around.” “OK,” he said. THAT’S when Roddy Piper got Rowdy – whenever anyone was threatened. But don’t think I’m the only member of the crew he had nicknames for or was protective of. By the end of the shoot, lots of folks had autographs, nicknames and stories.

When I tell people I worked on Legends’ House, the first question is “what were the wrestlers like?” Awesome is always the answer. What was Roddy Piper like? Always took a picture with the fans. Always had a great story. Always polite and professional. Never hiding anything.

And more than anything else – Rowdy Roddy Piper was a family man. Many wrestlers have called Roddy a great father in their remembrances and our cameras can back up at that story. One night, Roddy Piper told his fellow Legends his proudest moment was that he was saw all of his kids being born. Considering wrestlers are on the road 300+ days a year, that is no small feat. And while Roddy Piper’s achievements made him a unparalleled figure in the century plus history of pro wrestling, he never ever lost sight of what was most important in his life.

On the last day of shooting, I was busy doing closing interviews with some of the Legends. There was a rush to get things signed by many of the crew. I could only get one thing by each signed because it was so busy. I handed my copy of Roddy Piper’s autobiography to one of the EP’s to get it signed.

Later on after the shoot, I happened to bump into Roddy Piper. “I didn’t know you were a referee,” he exclaimed, “Why didn’t you tell me?” I told him basically what I said above. A guy can play in the minors but that doesn’t necessarily make him a peer of Mickey Mantle. But I’m glad that EP told him the story and that he was glad to hear it. He wished me all the best with my writing and gave me a big hug.

Of course, I’ll remember the dog-collar match, the coconut shot to Jimmy Snuka’s head, Wrestlemania, the match with Bret Hart & They Live. But more than that I’ll remember this kind, generous and unique person who carved his own path in a harsh world and knew how to make everyone smile. 

His autograph remains one of the finest pieces of advice I could think of:

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I haven’t watched the WWE tribute to Roddy Piper yet. I hear it’s amazing and I will. Soon. But not yet. For now, I’ll raise my Scotch north toward Oregon & Canada while listening to “Scotland The Brave.” 

Below is a picture of Roddy Piper preparing his roast. He didn’t know I took this quick, grainy shot. Maybe I shouldn’t have. But I was nearby while this artist was at work. He sat quietly alone taking note after note of what he was going to say . This producer became a journalist, saw a moment and snapped the pic. I’d like to think he’d be pleased.

Safe travels to Rowdy Roddy Piper who was 61 years young…

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Rowdy Roddy Piper’s homepage:

Official Rowdy Roddy Piper Website

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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From The Broom To The Boom: An Interview With Chuck Slavin

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There’s a lot happening in the entertainment industry outside of Los Angeles and New York. One American city that’s become a hotbed of production over the past 10 plus years is beautiful Boston, MA. And one guy who’s been a part of that production explosion is Chuck Slavin. Transitioning from in front of the camera to behind it, Chuck has worked positions from Production Assistant to Driver to Production Coordinator to Assistant Director building his career in the industry.

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When not working on set, Chuck has also been a huge advocate and champion for the State tax credits that are keeping productions coming to Massachusetts. Combining enthusiasm and practicality, Chuck has become a master at networking in New England. This is a great listen on how to network but also a look at some do’s and don’ts when it comes to etiquette on set. Enjoy:

Chuck’s IMDB Page:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2336925/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Chuck on twitter:

https://twitter.com/thedotcom

Chuck on facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chuck-Slavin/39937977095

As mentioned in the interview, here’s Chuck talking to then Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick about the tax credits:

https://youtu.be/iYzaUlvemUQ

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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Once More, With Feeling: An Interview With Daphne Ashbrook

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Daphne Ashbrook is an actor who has probably appeared in your favorite show. With a resume in theatre, film and television shows ranging from “Knight Rider” to “Murder She Wrote” to “NCIS” to “The OC,” just to name a few, Daphne’s honed her craft into an incredibly successful career. She is a favorite among science fiction fans as well for being one of the few people to appear in both “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who.” In recent years, she’s branched beyond acting by releasing several albums “Grace Notes” “All Good Dreamers” and penning a memoir on acting “Dead Woman Laughing.” 

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Daphne’s latest adventure is writing, producing and starring in a new short film, “Once More, With Feeling.” Inspired by a true and frightening turn of events during a trip to Joshua Tree, “Once More, With Feeling” tackles intense issues such PTSD and suicide but with a humorous slant as well. As you’ll hear, Daphne’s indefatigable spirit is sending her on an artistic journey where she has to relive her fears. This is a great and inspiring listen which brings home the courage needed to bring your vision to life. Enjoy:

Once More, With Feeling IndieGogo fundraising site:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/once-more-with-feeling–2/x/3052639#/story

Once More, With Feeling FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/OnceMoreWithFeelingmovie?ref=hl

Once More, With Feeling website:

http://once-more-with-feeling.weebly.com/

Once More, With Feeling IMdb:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4813566/

Daphne Ashbrook’s website:

http://www.daphneashbrook.com

Daphne Ashbrook Official FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/reallydaphne?ref=hl

Matthew Jacobs’ “Doctor Who Am I” website:

http://www.doctorwhoami.com/

The Official “Doctor Who Am I” Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/doctorwhoami?ref=hl

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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Leonard Starr: 1925-2015

Over on social media, I like to write little tributes and obituaries to notable deaths, partly as an industry pro and partly because I find it interesting. I don’t get too personal about certain family events and passings on facebook because for whatever reason I don’t alway find it appropriate. But this week those two things sort of collided.

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Leonard Starr was my father’s cousin. He made his living as an illustrator and comic strip artist. The piece he was most well-know for were Mary Perkins On Stage and the adventures of Little Orphan Annie and her faithful dog Sandy in daily comic strips from 1979 – 2000. He was even given an onset tour of the movie with pictures from the set decorating his kitchen.

What Leonard will most be famous for (and what was often a party topic for me to bring up) was being hired to develop a team of “Supercats” into a cartoon show for producers Rankin & Bass. So impressed were they by his drawings, they commissioned Leonard to be the head writer of the show now called “Thundercats.” So yes, my uncle Leonard was a creative force behind “Thundercats.” Leonard was always bemused by the fame of “Thundercats” especially in recent years as the retro craze swept over pop culture.

His influence on me was rather unconscious. He never told me to pursue a career in movies or TV. But when I was 6 years old, I saw my uncle’s name on TV in the credits. So the idea of working in Hollywood writing movies & TV was never baffling or bizarre to me. It wasn’t a world a million miles away. It was a vocation like any other so for that influence of success I’ll always be grateful. And when I did finally venture forth in 2003, Leonard was always open in sharing much advice from his experiences. Two phrases which have rung particularly true: “It’s an assault” and on how to make it as a professional writer: “Keep doing it just keep doing it because the next thing you know, you’re doing it.”

His home was filled with drawings, paintings, mountains of opera & classical CDs and thousands upon thousands of books. An expert in literature in Shakespeare, when his nephew Handsome Timmy D stopped by Westport, CT on his cross-country trip, I was given an education on Henry V over some expensive scotch until about 3 AM. The next morning Leonard was up before with less of a hangover.

Leonard was stricken several forms of cancer of the past year, finally winning the battle at around 12 Noon EST. Until the end, Leonard was still writing, drawing and listening to his beloved opera. Leonard is survived by his wife, Bobbi. Safe travels to Leonard Starr who was 89 years young.

Mary Perkins On-Stage:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0985928425/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=desktop-2&pf_rd_r=15BGC85FK5PVK3CN4M0D&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=2118400682&pf_rd_i=desktop

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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Blue Skies And Magical Sunsets: Thoughts On Star Wars

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“Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.” – Don Draper in Mad Men “The Wheel” written by Matthew Weiner & Robin Veith.

Nostalgia can be a dangerous trap. I put on the rose-colored lenses of yesteryear plenty but it’s important to remember that 2016 and 2017 are coming. 1976 and 1977 are not.

I had an amazing psychology professor at Emerson named Dr. Peter Corea. I’m hopeful you’ve heard of him. Great teacher, great man. “The past doesn’t exist anymore,” he often said. But we try to keep it alive since the past lives so vibrantly in our minds, our dreams, our remembrances.

As a late 30-something born in the mid-1970’s, “Star Wars” was a huge part of my childhood, like millions upon millions of others. Most likely, like yourself. It’s not really an exaggeration to say that “Star Wars” defined my childhood. You may be able to say the same thing.

I remember when the prequels came out and some folks would ask “Why are people so excited? It’s just a movie.” I felt so sorry for those folks. And still do. Did they not spend countless Sunday afternoons watching Empire Strikes Back while building their own version of Bespin out of blocks inhabited by thick plastic kenner toys? Did they not turn piles of sand in the backyard into the Pit of Karkoon, nest of the devouring Sarlaac? Did they not feel the sheer agony of getting a Kenner toy catalogue only to see some pages blacked out so not to spoil the reveal of Jabba The Hut or the Ewoks? (Spoilers were not invented by the internet, kids.) What kind of bleak nightmarish Star-War-less childhood did they live? Probably one filled with sports, caring friends and other fun things but you get my drift.

I remember in 1998 when this first aired and I just couldn’t believe it. After 16 years, more Star Wars was really happening:

Watching that again, I actually STILL get goosebumps despite knowing what happens next. Now, the purpose of this blog is not cut apart or Monday Morning Quarterback the prequels. The internet is filled with people bemoaning what went wrong to the point where the subject has become a bore. I’ve heard of some intrepid filmmakers endeavoring on recuts for private screenings. And even I myself may one day sit down and write my spec-prequel screenplays that are tinkering around in my head. Not for any public consumption, just to see how they’d turn out actually on paper.

This is post is not about bashing George Lucas, though a criticism or two may turn up. Mr. Lucas gave the world the original Star Wars trilogy and the Indiana Jones trilogy. If I ever get the privilege to meet Mr. Lucas, I would gladly shake his hand and say “Thanks.”

Because I remember.

Try as I might to fight nostalgia, her grip can sometimes be too great to ignore. Because I remember.

I’ve already posted one Star Wars trailer on my Facebook. That and this blog will probably be all I post. I will not be posting Carrie Fisher’s picture which was just released. I will not be posting on-set pics. I will not be posting messages from JJ or the cast. I will not be posting much about Star Wars. No offense to anyone who is. Please enjoy the ramp up. But I will be watching from afar.

Rest assured, I remember.

I remember being unable to sleep because we were going to see “Return Of The Jedi” in the theatres the next day. And I had already seen it like 7 times. I remember the displays of Star Wars toys like an endless sea of cardboard & plastic in the malls. I remember collecting the Topps trading cards and flicking through them as fast as I can to try to recreate the experience of the movies. I can actually remember faint images of the speeder bike from being taken to the “Star Wars” re-release in 1979. I remember glimpses of “Empire Strikes Back,” seeing someone get their hand chopped off. And I can remember the “Return Of The Jedi” trailer before seeing it for the first time.

I remember as a kid playing around pine trees under blue skies and how much it looked like Endor. I remember the magical color of the twilights outside of the movie theatre waiting to get inside to see Return Of The Jedi for the it-doesn’t-matter-how-many time.

Star Wars opened up the imagination and wonder to an entire generation of kids. But it did so at a time of pure innocence so as a result, this is no longer a film franchise. This is something sacrosanct, something precious, something that swells our hearts with ecstasy.

I recently saw a documentary in which a theologian described religion as the search or ecstasy in life. Comparing fandom to religion is a dicey proposition but there are similarities. For example, the concepts of commandments and blasphemy live loud and clear in the world of pop culture.

“Stop messing with my childhood” cry many corners of the internet when a remake of a childhood classic is announced. What baffles me is how a remake can ever mess with anyone’s childhood. I own many of my favorite movies & TV shows as a kid on DVD or Blu Ray. No one is going to take those away from me. And no one can possibly take away your childhood memories from you.

I respectfully didn’t care for Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. Doesn’t matter for two reasons – 1) I own the original Transformers series on DVD 2) Mr. Bay’s Transformers movies have seduced billions of box office dollars out of the general public so he’s not going to mind me passing. And I don’t mind him making whatever weird version of Galvatron he wants because I have my originals. Peace in the valley.

There’s one saga I don’t have though and that’s the original Star Wars trilogy. Oh, I have the special editions rest assured. And I do have the original theatrical releases on Laserdisc. But no, I can’t reach over and grab the blu ray of the Star Wars trilogy that I watched as a kid.

No, The Rock playing Jack Burton will not ruin “Big Trouble In Little China.” Recutting “Big Trouble In Little China” replacing the original effects with CGI and replacing Kurt Russell with The Rock will.

Hopefully one day we’ll have the original trilogy on Blu Ray. There’ve many announcements only to get debunked quickly.

Personally, I think that many people get upset about remakes of their childhood classics because it’s a reminder of the one thing we don’t want to get reminded about.

We’re getting old. We’re getting older. And we’re growing out of the demographic that movies are made for. Pop culture doesn’t belong to us anymore. The tighter we grip, the more franchises slip through our fingers.

That news about Chris Pratt playing Indiana Jones? Those movies aren’t being made for those of us who saw all three Indiana Jones movies in the theatre. It’s for everyone born after 1989 who never got that experience but would like THEIR Indiana Jones.

(Before you email, yes, I know there was a fourth Indiana Jones film. I’ve not seen and based upon what I’ve heard, I probably never will.)

With each passing day, our own childhoods slip further away becoming more and more unattainable. But still we search for as many grains from the sands of innocence as we can.

I have seen an extraordinary excitement for the new Star Wars trilogy. My friends, your friends, possibly you are eagerly and desperately caught up in that wave hoping against hoping that “The Force Awakens” will bring back – even if just for a few hours – those blue skies and magical sunsets.

I haven’t seen this sort of anticipation since…well, since 1998 & 1999 before The Phantom Menace came out. 

I watched the latest Force Awakens trailer. Goosebumps. Excitement. A lump in my throat. Guilty of all of the above.

And then a few hours later, I remember.

I remember driving across New England through rainstorms to get to the opening night premiere of “The Phantom Menace.” All I’ll say about that night and it’s the saddest thing I could say – a father in the row behind me had to explain every step of the movie to his kids. Can you imagine? Kids NOT understanding a Star Wars movie.

I remember my girlfriend at the time being bored into a deep sleep by Episode I.

I remember the audience laughing out loud at the pasture scene in Episode II.

I remember storming out of Episode III when the movie was over mad at the incoherent mess of trying to tie up loose ends as quickly as possible.

I remember the joy that was the return of Doctor Who, and the sadness that was the return of Star Wars.

My social media is filled these days with all manner of Star Wars things. The Princess Leia pic being just the latest. The internet is filled with dissertations and analysis of THE TEASERS. Fluff pieces on the news tell of airplanes designed after R2-D2. That’s how much Star Wars means to people. Even the smallest tidbit or iconography will send waves of ecstasy across our culture.

Like I said, I’m not posting any of that stuff. Not because I don’t like it or don’t think it’s cool. But because I remember the sting of the disappointment. Not going opening weekend. Not doing it. I’m going to wait until Monday to make sure the Force isn’t awakening in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I can’t forget that’s why my optimism and cynicism are neck-and-neck in this one. And at the end of the day, I’m a pragmatist believe it or not.

Being in the entertainment industry, one hears a lot of rumors and gossip from sets. I’ve heard good things about The Force Awakens. I’ve also heard bad things. But again it’s all rumor so not worth repeating here.

There’s no questioning the dedication that JJ Abrahams has to Star Wars. And I truly on & off the record wish him & his team all the success in the world. I’d love it if I meet him one day, shake his hand and say “Thanks for saving Star Wars.”

I will be ramping for the new movies, don’t worry. One can’t or shouldn’t completely quash optimism just so one isn’t disappointed. Though I won’t be joining others squeeing at the sight of an X-Wing or something like that, I’m breaking out the Kyle Katarn video games. Yup, all of them. From Dark Forces to Jedi Academy. I should be able to replay the saga between now and Christmas. And I don’t care what anyone says or what the new movie does about it – the adventures of Kyle Katarn are canon. Mara Jade is in them after all 😉 And these were closest thing, for me, to the rekindling the excitement original Star Wars trilogy since 1983:

But as much fun as those games they are, they still aren’t quite what Star Wars is about. Star Wars isn’t Boba Fett looking tough in “A New Hope: Special Edition.” Star Wars isn’t giant spaceships and funny droids. Star Wars isn’t even Yoda’s wicked cool fight in Attack Of The Clones.

I remember growing up and watching the Star Wars trilogy over and over. As I went from a kid who loved laser-blasts into teenager learning how to write, I realized what Star Wars is.

Star Wars is Luke Skywalker hanging onto the scaffolding under Bespin with one hand, after receiving the shock of his life learning who his Father really is. He has no hope. He has no way out. He is trapped and left for dead. And then he uses the Force to contact Princess Leia. Princess Leia, who has no experience/knowledge of The Force that we’ve seen yet, hears his call. So powerful is what she hears that not going back for him is out the question. THAT is the Force. THAT is what Star Wars is all about.

Underneath all the lasers, explosions and monsters are a group of people who when faced with the worst possible circumstances will do anything for each other.

“We’re home,” Han Solo says. I hope with all my might you are, Han. Because then maybe the rest of will be home for a little while as well.

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History Is Quiet Sometimes

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It’s a regular old Monday. I’m typing this at about 3:oo PM PST. 97 degrees outside as summer approaches. Some folks are unhappy to be back at work. Most of us are worried about our money or finding the time to do what we really want to do. Regular old Monday. “Calendar’s full of them” as L.B. Jeffries once said about Wednesdays.

But something really remarkable is happening in the world. History is happening before our eyes but it’s sometimes hard to see under social media feeds decrying remakes of great movies or complaints about boredom or other mundanity. That’s not pointing fingers at those folks because we call get busy and caught up in our own lives.

Last week, Edward Snowden won.

I know some very smart people who think he’s a hero. I know some very smart people who think he’s a spy. I will be honest, I was always a little unclear on his crusade and for a long time veered more toward the spy camp. Thanks to Jon Oliver’s unflinching interview, I now know his cause.

One thing I did know was privacy was dead. We had given it up and people wouldn’t care about the government collecting our data in mass droves. (What’s up, NSA? Hey, if you like this blog, how about a retweet. Thanks, NSA.) My cynicism told me that battle had been lost.

I’m delighted to say I was wrong. Congress last week voted to limit the mass collection of data by the NSA. Edward Snowden’s personal reporter Glenn Greenwald did a victory lap on many news outlets proclaiming it great steps for liberty.  Let’s not be naive here, if the government thinks your a terrorist, they will be reading your emails. But now they can’t just take everything because you might someday think about maybe possibly in a roundabout way becoming a terrorist.

What’s even more amazing is this Congress that voted to allowed the NSA’s powers to expire was made up of both Democrats and Republicans who wanted the program ceased. Despite the 24/7 news war between Fox News & MSNBC, this was bipartisan governing listening to the will of a great number of Americans who said “Stop it.”

Extraordinary. Truly extraordinary. And when the stakes are this high about an issue this important, one must feel a sense of hope that both sides of Government (sorry, Republicans, but you guys love government too) got this one right.

Over the weekend though some very disturbing footage emerged from McKinney, TX showing a white police officer wrestling a bikinied teenage Black girl to the ground. Police officers certainly have the right to use force when subduing a subject. What danger this teenage girl presented the police is unclear. Considering there were no weapons, lethal or otherwise, present or no assault or crime committed by the girl on the video, it doesn’t look good for McKinney’s Finest. To watch an adult basically assault someone underage in the manner portrayed in the video is at best – disturbing.  Maybe there will be more evidence coming to light to explain the officer’s side of the story but outside of the girl pulling an uzi on him and his partner, it’s hard to imagine who part of the story will people say “Oh now I see why that teenage girl armed with only a bikini was so dangerous.”

Some will say there’s no racial element to the story which is hard to believe. There have been racial tensions between the African-American and/or Black community and white police officers for decades upon decades upon decades. The election of Barack Obama to The White House will not make those magically go away.

But now, thanks to the advent of cell phone cameras, incidents like this are now making national news. The person who shot this video wasn’t some vigilante. It wasn’t the news or an off-duty reporter. It as a 13 year old girl.  Want to bully a Black girl? You better have a damn good reason because it’s going on the 6 o’clock news: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-police-clash-teens-pool-party-about-race-says-girl-who-recorded-video/

Conspiracy theories and far-right extremists warn of Big Brother watching. (Not watching the show Big Brother, but watching out for BIG GOVERNMENT watching your every move.) That’s actually not really happening. George Orwell’s 1984 remains a must-read warning of totalitarianism. But even he couldn’t predict that the cameras would end up in the hands of the populace. (Maybe he did and I missed it, but you get my drift.) It wasn’t Big Brother cameras that caught the Boston Bombers – it was cell-phones like the ones you and I have.

Government overreach like cops abusing their power is being caught on cell-phones.

Corrupt politicians are being caught on live mic’s by the media.

The internet has given the people are permanent record to store their grievances and injustices.

Technology in the private sector is far outpacing much of that used in the public sector – even when it comes to the military. (Yes, I know there are exceptions. That’s why I said some, please save your emails.)

We live in a time when Big Brother isn’t watching us – we’re watching Big Brother. Just like how we just told the NSA “no more.”

For the record, Big Brother is made by a hell of talented TV crew that features good friends of mine, you should totally watch it.

Also, for the record, there’s A TON of good cops out there doing great work to keep neighborhoods and people safe. Good cops whose reputations shouldn’t be besmirched by the ones caught on camera doing terrible things.

And then today, this happened:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/08/g7-leaders-agree-phase-out-fossil-fuel-use-end-of-century

I hope your social media feeds were filled with this news, though I doubt. A Manhunt in New York is leading the news and everyone can’t wait to get to Jurassic World. But this story is History. Sometimes History is quiet, with far-reaching implications that aren’t obvious in the initial headlines. Your grandchildren and great grandchildren will not be growing up in the same world we are. And Thank Goodness they won’t.  Yes, there’s more to be done. No, the right is not over. No, climate change is not fixed. But to see the leaders of the world basically say “Fuck this” to the old ways which got us into so much trouble is nothing short of astounding. This development isn’t good news – it’s great news. Despite cries for more to be done, I celebrate this because my cynicism said we’d never get this far. I’m glad again to see my cynicism proven wrong in such a short period time.

As people we fuck everything up. Our jobs. Our families. Our Money. We can’t stop getting nice things then breaking them. But as people, we also fix things. Our jobs. Our families. Our Money. Once we stop crying that our favorite toy is broken, we pick it up, fix it the best we can and get back to playing.

I don’t believe we can prevent climate change, but maybe as is our nature, we can fix it.  Thanks to some of these recent developments, I dare to remain hopeful.

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

 

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The Accidental Caregiver: An Interview With Gregor Collins

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What happens when you discover a powerful emotional connection to someone three times your age? Gregor Collins tells us in his open and honest memoir “The Accidental Caregiver” which was turned into a stageplay that premiered in January 2015. In 2008, Gregor found himself employed as caregiver to famous Holocaust refugee Maria Altmann. What occurred from there was an unexpected journey which opened up Gregor’s mind and heart in ways he could not have predicted. 

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Gregor Collins is a writer, actor and producer based out of New York City. Like myself, he’s got an extensive career in the world of reality TV. The Accidental Caregiver and other works has propelled Gregor’s career in new directions that have made him realize that living the creative life means taking control of your own destiny. During this interview we talk about the emotional honesty needed to be an artist but also the courage to stop waiting and start doing. Enjoy:

You can buy The Accidental Caregiver here:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Accidental-Caregiver-Legendary-Holocaust-ebook/dp/B0092GS96K

A trailer for the book is here:

https://youtu.be/JSCXfw7l9yQ

For more on the film Goodbye Promise:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodbye_Promise

Gregor Collins on IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1859942/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Gregor Collins on twitter:

twitter.com/gregorcollins

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing

http://thedanandtravisshow.libsyn.com/

and 

The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”

http://www.chronicrift.com/

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