Two years

As I write this, my best friend is rolling around the floor and sternly lecturing a wayward blueberry on the meaning of life and the evils of mailmen and those who love evil kitties. No, it’s not any of my peers from D.C., Washington State, Kentucky, California or elsewhere. Instead, it is my dog. The one who goes by Captain Fluffy Butt, the Plucky Kentucky Floof who is Lucky.

Of course, I speak of Raj. My mixed breed who I adopted around this time a couple of years ago.

Since then, we’ve had a number of incredible and one of a kind experiences. He was with me during my darkest moments in the southern United States, flew across the continent with me to Canada, traveled down the interstate to D.C. (Where he would join me on many a disastrous date) and now shares my studio apartment in the serene and isolated Northwoods region.

Throughout it all, I’ve wondered something, should I call him my friend?

After all, the definition of the word describes a friend as a “person”, and last time I checked, Raj did not have opposable thumbs. So, let’s see if he meets other qualities of this entity in one’s life.

Traditionally, your friends are people who are there for you in tough times.  

As I wrote prior, when I was feeling dreary and fiddling with some seriously dark decisions in the aftermath of some life setbacks, along came Raj with one of my socks in his mouth. His body in a play stance, but wiggling back and forth, I couldn’t help but smile. At that time, I was pulled from my doldrum and spent and evening attempting to recover my Hanes from my canine. Later, he would come to me in moments of my anger or frustration with an arsenal of kisses. So, in this regard, he meets the qualifications. Though I wouldn’t want my male friends to steal my clothes.

In addition, a friend is someone you can talk to.

Though no pet owner would admit it and the “Son of Sam” demonized it, we’ve all had and have conversations with things which can’t talk back to us. With Raj, I feel like he knows what I try to say. With a subtle glance or a few noises, he can convince me to do one thing or another when in doubt. Once, a quiet “wooo rooo woo” led to me going on a date with a wonderful woman. Some call their parents, I go to someone incapable of speech when in doubt about a concerning issue.

At the end of the day (If you’re single), they’re the one you love to see.

When I’ve had a long day, written to the point of exhaustion or just concluded a long session of exercise, there’s nothing better than coming home and seeing my dog get excited at my presence. Tail drumming on the wall, body on the point of convulsing with excitement, it’s a reinvigorating experience which can awaken passion in even the most sedated individual.

So once more Raj, thank you for being there for me. Though the definition would disagree, you are my friend, perhaps my best. To paraphrase a wonderful tune, when I’m not strong, you help me carry on. And to quote another, you’re my number one, you’re the reason I still get up at dawn. I don’t know if I’ll write about you yearly, but when I do, it’ll be to honor your presence.

I love you, young friend.

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On what I do

Hello dear reader, if you’re visiting my public Facebook page or examining this content on my personal site (I like to cross-post at times.), this usually means one of two things. You’re either a friend or an acquaintance who has known me for some time, or you’re a complete stranger brand knew to my work.

If the first is true, it’s good to see you again! If the second is the case, welcome. I’m sure you have a number of questions about what I have chosen to do to make my living and I’ll gladly guess what they are (Since you’re not in front of me.) and do my damnedest to answer quite a few or even all of them.

Let’s begin shall we, and keep in mind these answers are partly shaped by my experiences.

Do journalists print whatever they want?

Contrary to what some ideologues of leftist and rightist political orientations might think, no, we do not get to print whatever we want. More often than not, a great deal of assignments you see making it to publication have come down the pipe from editors and can be changed extensively before being seen by the public’s eyeballs. I’d love to just write about crime and shady financial corruption all day, but sometimes people want to hear about cats and your humble and increasingly balding correspondent here has got to keep eating.

Why does the news ignore Thing X, Y or Z?

Like my earlier answer, this is primarily outside the hands of reporters (Both on television and in other forms of media.). More so than the others, broadcast is the worst offender. At the highest levels, a lot of power is steeped in the hands of producers. Coming from an entertainment background on occasion, they focus on what draws in ratings, not what the society in which they live in needs to know. As a result, things get overlooked and suffer.

What motivated you to become a journalist?

Well, that question, like so many in life, has a lengthy answer. So, if you don’t have anywhere to go. Keep reading and you’ll be treated to some formative moments on the path to where I am.

At a young age (And as I get older the exact time gets fuzzy), I was treated to my first comic or other form of media published by the acclaimed “House of Ideas” that is Marvel. Seeing the work of the legendarily prolific artist Jack Kirby and later being exposed to his vision on the big screen crystallized in me a drive to do the right thing. Like the characters I followed on the page and in the theater, I too could do the right thing. My flaws didn’t matter and nor did my wealth, intellect or physique. If you were a good person, in Kirby’s world you had a role to serve in society. Maybe it sounds silly, but I think I take that to heart, whatever my flaws, I like to help others. If I wasn’t in a job where I could right government wrongs and serve the public at the same time, I would be a restless and wretched man, flitting from one place to the next.

As I got older and began to read more, comics – though thankfully not totally – gave way to large books. Hardcover and soft, my days were spent mentally venturing around with fictitious wizards and criminal 12-year-old geniuses, though, sometimes, I did decide to pick up true stories.

Flash forward, its 2008. I’m in the early stages of high school and, on a whim, I picked up a book by British author David Loyn. The story? A group of men who, in the ‘90s, got together and as a group, shot some of the most infamous conflict journalism footage of the entire decade. The Gulf War, Kosovo, the coup in Russia, the men of Frontline were there. After reading of Rory Peck and Peter Jouvenal, I resolved I would be too. No matter how crazy I seemed to others.

Now, its 2011. I’m nearing moving on to a university education, but at the time I’m in my basement. In front of me, an extraordinary man has just met his end. His name was “Mo” or Mohammed Al Nabbous.

During the revolt against Qadaffi in Libya, this 28-year-old threw away all the comforts and safety of his life to do the right thing. When others ran or succumbed to the temptation to sink to the level of autocrats in their rebellious actions, this gentleman became a reporter.

With lines like “I am not afraid to die, I am afraid to lose the battle,” this fellow had me. In another life, he would’ve been a good friend. I wept at his death, but learned deeply from him. Like Kirby and the men of Frontline, Mo knew what we all know in the journalism work field.

Life, it’s not about the money, it’s not about comfort, and it’s never about playing it safe. Whether you’re an artist making genius work daily and barely scraping by or a reporter in a small town or on the front lines, you have an obligation as a human being to serve others.

To quote an underrated film, “if you can do good things for other people, you have a moral obligation to do them.” That’s why I got into this space dear reader, and that’s why I’ll never quit.

The Good, The Bad & The Verdict: Blade Runner 2049

Hey dear reader, it’s me here with yet another guide through the entertainment dotting our cinematic landscape. Previously, I had thought my work would be published in the paper review-wise when I saw a film, but due to some things I can’t discuss we aren’t doing that anymore.

So, lucky for you. My stuff is here to stay on my personal site. Are you excited? I hope so!

Tonight, I went and saw the long-delayed sequel to the cult 1980s film Blade Runner. Based on a work by acclaimed writer Philip K. Dick, it told the story of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford.) and his work “retiring” human-like synthetics known as replicants. The original production was not a success at the time of its release, but has since gone on to be one of the most acclaimed and influential sci-fi films of all time. When they announced the sequel in 2011, I was worried. After all, how many good films released decades after their original in a franchise can you even name?

Never the less, I braved the confines of the theater near my home, and rolled the dice to see whether 2049 would live up to the hype. In the new story, a character known as K (Ryan Gosling)., gets caught up in an adventure which eventually brings him to Deckard (Ford.) I’d say more, but I am a classy man and don’t like to spoil. So look below for my rundown of the film.

The Good

If you like slow-burn movies and adored the gritty and dreary style of the first film. Then you will like this piece. Unlike today’s California, the one in this world never seems to stop being rainy, snowy or totally sunless and director Villeneuve wisely chose to keep the 80’s brands intact from the original film. I won’t spoil anything, so let’s just say some logos in the film have fallen aside in the years since the original piece was put together in the time of President Reagan.

The Bad

Ultimately, and though it pains me to say this, there’s a little bit of filler in this movie. Had the director shaved 20 or 30 minutes of car rides and lingering shots off of the film, you’d still have a slow-paced piece which would’ve received even more acclaim from critics than it has presently received. For real, there are honestly points in the movie where you can nap and miss nothing.

The Verdict

If you’re a fan of slow-burn detective films with a gritty and grimy sci-fi aesthetic, then this is the film for you. If you disliked Arrival, maybe give 2049 a pass and wait for a Netflix stream.

Yes, scammers are using Hurricane Harvey to bilk people now

Hey kids, it’s me here again with another check-in on my ever curious and irreverent blog. I’m doing well, have my health and am pretty happy with my current job (For the moment, after all, things can always change on a dime.). Like many in the journalism field, I keep my various emails public so that people can contact me at their leisure if ever they have a story or tip on an item of some sort which I would consider newsworthy. But, with that also comes a ton of spam.

And lord almighty, do I get spam. There’s spam for erectile pills, spam for Asian women dating sites, spam for hair growth products and even the odd letter from a member of the Kaddafi family. But, all that doesn’t compare to an item I received in my encrypted email this week.

It begins with the following paragraph…

“If you’re reading this, I sent this email from a hurricane Harvey shelter in Louisiana. A woman in a nearby shelter made numerous emails available to some of us waiting in line for our F.E.M.A applications to be approved, so that we could “take our lives in our hands” and perhaps touch the heart of someone out there individually to assist us in any way they can. I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your probably busy schedule to read this.”

Automatically and because I am a person with a brain, I knew this was bogus. But let’s dissect this is a bit. How the hell does one make numerous emails available for people waiting in line? An email isn’t a physical item. That right there dear reader, is bullshit alert number one. In addition, why would this woman not capitalize the Hurricane in Harvey? She’s seen the news, she likely knows that the various media outlets do it. By that logic she would subconsciously.

Again, this is another indicator that this email is a gigantic load of Hitler’s Diaries level nonsense. But later on, it gets so much more hilariously incompetent. Observe below…

“I have a 3-year-old daughter named Lisa, and we are currently living in a damaged roadside car while waiting on our turn to apply.”

What? How the fuck would anyone believe this. Earlier she wrote that she was at a F.E.M.A shelter, but now that’s dramatically changed to a ramshackle car on a roadside? Bullshit!

And finally, in the last line, the absurdity comes to a head.

“I don’t have a bank account, and my phone lines are generally unavailable around here, but if you can find it in your heart to help, I will find a way to receive what you send as quickly as possible for my daughter’s sake.”  

What person would possibly believe an individual does not have a phone or bank account in this day and age? Yes, some poor individuals do not have one or the other. But I’ve yet to see an individual in my life who in their adult years did not have both. Ultimately, this shit will continue unabated, but from time to time people need to speak out on it like I have. Take care dear reader and if, for some reason you see an appeal for Hurricane Harvey aid in your inbox, do what I do with all of the other spam but also weirdly relevant to my interests emails and delete.

The Good, The Bad & The Verdict: Bojack Horseman – Season Four

Hello friend, it is I, Evan J. Pretzer and I am here with another lovely and hopefully well-written review to provide you with a guide to some of the entertainment out there that I consume and think you may enjoy as well.

Though I wanted to talk about the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s acclaimed novel about a spooky clown/allegory for child sex abuse that is IT, my current employer will be running my movie reviews that I decide to do now and then. So, this week, I’m here to talk about the latest season of Netflix’s acclaimed animated television show about a depressed and sentient horse named Bojack Horseman (Will Arnett) who in a lot of ways reminds me of myself, somewhat.

When we last left the former Horsin’ Around star, his former cast member had died when accompanying him on a drug bender, his friends had all abandoned him save Diane (Alison Brie) and occasional frenemy dog Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Thompkins) was preparing to run for Governor of California.

The Good   

Like seasons past, this season shines with its painful emotional honesty and the brilliance of its various celebrity guest actors. The criminally underrated Andre Braugher shines here in a small but crucial role and Will Arnett continues to prove that he deserves a meaty live-action dramatic role instead of the endless glut of acclaimed and occasionally terrible comedies he seems to be stuck with.

We learn a lot more about Bojack’s family this season, see that things we’d previously thought about his mom, dad and childhood aren’t what they appeared to be on first glance and by the time the season ends, the Secretariat star is an a hopeful, but unfamiliar position to him. Those who have had experience with a genealogist could relate to it. Elsewhere, Amy Sedaris’s cat agent Princess Carolyn goes through one of the most crushing storylines I’ve seen in some time on a television show and Aaron Paul’s Todd grows beyond his slacker past.

The Bad

Though the season is as-usual well-written, I can’t help but describe it as aimless. There doesn’t seem to be a season long arc that pins all the episodes together and storylines just seem to crash into each other with little to no thought. One moment we’re following Mr. Peanutbutter and his quest for power and the next scene we’re slammed into Bojack’s life and his interactions with people from his family before things quickly slam back to Todd and his hijinks. Honestly, it was as mismatched as Nolan’s third Batman film. Too poorly paced and jarring for any viewers.

The Verdict

I liked the season, but I wasn’t moved by it. Season 3 made me cry at points, Season 4 made me just say “Hmm…that’s sad.” In the future, R.B.W and his team would be wise to have less wheel-spinning moments and make sure that a central arc ties a season together. Otherwise, all we’re left with is a hodge-podge of stories and human/animal misery that becomes desensitizing.