You Have to Vote

On Monday I watched the first Presidential Debate (about as visceral as Monday Night Raw). Later, after the debate ended my roommate came home and I tried to talk to him about it. He said, “you can’t get wrapped up in all that craziness.” I couldn’t even think of a response. How can anybody dismiss this one out of hand?

This is the second presidential election I’ve participated in and I don’t think there’s ever been a more important one.

The prospect of a human monster like Donald Trump becoming the highest power in America is terrifying. The idea that he’s nearly neck and neck with Hilary Clinton is even more so. That’s why I’m making my voice heard to plead to you. If you can vote. Vote.

This post is more or less inspired by the savetheday.vote movement. They’ve released two videos so far. The first is funny and filled with celebrities:

The second one, however, is more effective in my eyes:

I’ve met a lot of people who are utterly disenchanted by the political process. They believe that there isn’t a point in voting and we’ve already failed as a democracy. A decent amount of them were also Bernie Sanders supporters.

The greatest thing the Bernie Sanders campaign did was get a lot of people my age who never wanted to give politics a second glance, and make them fervent supporters of a candidate. Their candidate may not have gotten the nomination but the movement still created a palpable result. Suddenly people were taking a closer look at the democratic process, and realizing all of its massive flaws.

Frankly, any kind of delegate in a primary or the electoral college in the November election is entirely unnecessary in a modern day voting system. I mean dear god why would I want to cast a vote to give somebody else the right to cast a more important vote who may not vote the same way I did in the first place! We don’t live in a time where it’s difficult to count the popular vote, it’s actually really easy, so shouldn’t that be the end all be all?

Because more young people have caught on to this insanity, more are demanding that these things change. The problem is we can’t change these things during an election. If we want to change these systems, we have to bring it up before the general election. To do that you have to bring it up to your congressman or senator. If your congressman or senator doesn’t support your interests, then that’s when your vote matters. You can vote for someone else when those representatives come up for reelection. You can vote for your local government to fix that pot hole in the street by your home. You’re vote can change both the small and the large. But you have to vote.

Jon Oliver, over on Last Week Tonight, gave a whole piece about the insanity of the primary process. He recommended we all email our party leaders on February 2nd 2017 to ask them to fix the primary system.

The republican chair is Reince Priebus, which doesn’t sound like a real name but apparently is. The democratic chair is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or at least is was until we all learned she and other leaders conspired against Bernie Sanders at the DNC. She stepped down, mostly because we the people demanded her to after she was caught, because that’s the beauty of democracy. The new chair for the democrats is Donna Brazile of Louisiana.

Also, devil’s advocate for a second, if Republican leaders conspired against Donald Trump and prevented him from getting this far would any of us be upset? I wouldn’t be. I don’t think it’s entirely wrong for the party to have a preference.

I don’t want to tell you who to vote for, I just want you to vote. Because it really is the most important thing we can do to make our country a better place. Democracy was founded on the principle that a well informed populace could make the right decision on who should lead them, and we live in a time when our populace is better informed than ever before. Let’s use that! Let’s actually change the world. All you have to do is vote.

-JP

PS, but seriously I’m terrified he might win.

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Star Trek is 50 Years Old

There’s this father and son thing in pop culture, where a dad will watch baseball with his newborn baby boy on his lap. My life was like that, except me and my dad were watching Star Trek.

Captain Kirk has been with me for as long as I can remember. He’s my captain. Every trekker has a captain they latch on to, usually between Picard and Kirk, and I was easily swayed to the gold shirted captain of The Original Series. He defined masculinity for me very early on. I don’t mean Chris Pine’s rebellious bad boy version of Kirk either. William Shatner’s Kirk was a military man who followed orders and expected his to be followed. He was a man who believed in his friends and stood by them in the darkest of times. He was a man who didn’t believe in no win scenarios and always found a way to persevere.

It’s actually kind of maddening that Star Trek has made it to 50 years old. When the original series aired it only got to three seasons, and even that was just barely. Yet it stayed in the public consciousness. That bright future, where humanity comes together to become explorers once more, has never stopped being worth striving for. In fact, I would say it’s become even more of an ideal future for us. The Original Series captured that best I think. In The Next Generation the captain and crew were cerebral people, too smart and too good to relate to. But in The Original Series the crew was made up of very flawed people just trying their best.

The time period that sticks out to me strongest when I think of Star Trek is high school. Because school started so early in the morning, I would wind up eating breakfast with my dad each day around 6 AM. There were only two things on TV at that time. The weather channel, a favorite of his, and classic Star Trek, a favorite of both of us.

We went with Star Trek.

I became capable of naming any episode within the first couple of minutes. I got to see some of all of them, from the stone cold classic;  Balance of TerrorArena, The City on the Edge of Forever,  Mirror, Mirror , and The Trouble with Tribbles to the less fondly remembered; Spock’s Brain.

There are the outlandish _____ Planet episodes. The Gangster Planet, the Nazi Planet, the Cold War Planet.

Many people see Star Trek as the overly intelligent sci-fi series to Star Wars so I’ll say it again. GANGSTER. PLANET. Star Trek is dumb fun and I love it.

My favorite episode, if I have to pick one, is Where No Man Has Gone Before. It’s the second pilot, where the first one starred a different captain and crew save for Spock, and probably carries more personal stakes for Captain Kirk than any other. The Enterprise comes across a strange energy that gifts Kirk’s friend Gary Mitchell with god-like powers. Gary quickly lets his powers consume him and Kirk has to personally take on the duty of putting his friend down, when he’s at his most dangerous. It’s thrilling and epic and would’ve been a great choice to adapt into a Kelvin Timeline movie.

While the movies look back to the Original Series to rebuild the franchise, on TV Star Trek will push forward once more with Star Trek: Discovery. Abbreviated that’s DSC, which along with TOS, TNG, DS9, VGR, and ENT makes this the sixth incarnation of Star Trek, boldly going into the realm of streaming television on CBS All Access. Welcome to the future.

There have been so many think pieces on Star Trek today all over the internet, but I wanted to make my voice known among the masses. Star Trek, from the beginning, is one of the most inventive and fascinating series to ever air. No other sci-fi show can come close to it. Star Trek didn’t just bring in TV writers to write its episodes, it brought in big name science fiction authors. Every episode was a new discovery for the characters and audience. Star Trek dared to dream of a future where a crew of people as diverse as Earth itself could explore space, the final frontier, just for the joy of discovery. Who wouldn’t be into that?

Star Trek has played a big hand in making me the person I am today, and this is the best way I know to give back.

The human adventure is only just beginning…

-JP

PS, Star Trek is all on Netflix by the way so get on your butt and watch some.

Don’t Think Twice and the Terror of Life Moving Around You

Don’t Think Twice is a movie about improv comedians. It’s funny, really really funny, but it’s also a painfully raw look into making it in the entertainment industry and what that does to you. Everyone should see it.

The film follows an improv group called The Commune. Its members are Miles (Mike Birbiglia, who also wrote and directed), Samantha (Gillian Jacobs), Allison (Kate Micucci), Lindsay (Tami Sagher), Jack (Keegan-Michael Key), and Bill (Chris Gethard). When Jack gets a part on Weekend Live, essentially SNL in this world, it forces everyone to reevaluate their lives and odds of hitting it big in the comedy scene.

Its stayed with me because of how close it skews to my life. The members of The Commune are much like the kinds of friends I like to surround myself with. When Chris’s dad winds up in the hospital, all of his friends make him feel better by finding the comedy in the situation. It’s great, and it’s exactly what I would want in a similar position.

I see elements of myself in every one of these characters, but the one that stands out the most is Gillian Jacob’s Samantha.

Spoilers follow

Samantha and Jack both get auditions for Weekend Live. When Jack goes to his audition he’s confident, does well, and gets the part. When Samantha shows up she’s nervous, second guessing herself, and winds up leaving before even auditioning. She’s scared and doesn’t believe in herself. She feels too comfortable with her current life to move on to something greater. It taps in to this fear I’ve been feeling recently. As soon as you feel comfortable where you are, everything starts changing around you.

When I got my previous job at a candy store, I was part of the staff that opened that store. It was OUR store. Then within two months out management had changed and people were moving on to better jobs. As the position became less ideal I still stayed. Looking for a job is scarier and harder than staying with the one you have. What if the next one’s worse? These were all the thoughts running through my head. I had to essentially be backed into a corner before I really put the work in for the next job.

When Jack tries to give Samantha another shot at a party, she instead runs off to party with some of her improv students. As she says at the end of the film, “I’m trapped in a well. But it’s okay, I like it here.”

I don’t want to be trapped in a well.

It’s happening again right now. Almost everyone I’ve started my current job with has moved on and I’m still here. My rent price is about to go up and I don’t know if I should stay or go. I’ve had opportunities to send scripts in for competitions or to producers that I didn’t take because I didn’t feel confident. I have to be better.

Life won’t stop moving, no matter how comfortable I feel. I shouldn’t feel comfortable either, not while I’m so far from my dream. So it’s time to get moving at the speed of life.

I have been like Samantha, too comfortable where I am. I won’t be like that any more. I’ve been like Alison, not confident enough to put my work out there. I won’t be like that any more either. I’m going to enter the writing competitions and fellowships available to me. I’ve been like Lindsay, too dependent on my parents financially. I’ll apply and apply until I get the job that allows me not to be.

Hold me accountable to that.

– JP

PS, the hardest part of all this will be doing what I need to do when what I want to do is watch Fall TV this season.