SNEAK PEAK: “Obi-Wan & Ahsoka: A World Beyond Worlds” by Jesse aka The Bizzle

SNEAK PEAK: “Obi-Wan & Ahsoka: A World Beyond Worlds” by Jesse aka The Bizzle

Hey BizzleCast fans: here is an exclusive Sneak Peak at my Star Wars new canon book I’m working on, tentatively entitled “Obi-Wan & Ahsoka: A World Beyond Worlds.” I really hope you enjoy it, and all feedback is very much appreciated. Thanks fam!

Obi-Wan & Ahsoka: A World Beyond Worlds

by Jesse F. Brenner

PRELUDE

Obi-Wan was sweating.

The fever hadn’t abated in weeks, seemed liked months. Being a proud Jedi – once proud? – his instinct was initially to ignore it and try and power through it. But as his temperature grew, his Force abilities became nearly impossible to access, and his self-healing capabilities became inaccessible.

Soup broth and water, that became his life. It was about all he could keep down. And it wasn’t exactly easy to get a lot of water on Tatooine. Obi-Wan chuckled into a pathetic cough at how stupidly obvious this was, having narrowly escaped Tuskens and worse in his ten year-and-counting “watch” over the hidden child of Anakin Skywalker, now known as the terrifying and evil Lord Darth Vader, apprentice and slave of the Emperor himself. Obi-Wan’s instinct was to spit in disgust, but no saliva was to be found.

It’s fascinating how the randomness of life inexorably forces one to reexamine one’s circumstances and purpose, pondered Obi-Wan. Before the illness struck, Obi-Wan had already begun to experience a combination of complacence and unsureness about his mission. Luke still had many years to grow before Obi-Wan could even begin to assess whether the son of the supposed Chosen One could be chosen himself to balance and hopefully defeat his father as the Skywalker of the light side. But now that “Old Ben” was living up to his otherwise inaccurate nickname and had been sidelined against his will by nature, he actually felt a renewed vigor about the importance of the mission. More likely, it was actually a combination of guilt and the helplessness of paralysis, but crisis in life can become an opportunity for an individual to evolve themselves and make the important choices ahead of them in a way that hadn’t been previously revealed. Hate may lead to suffering, but suffering can lead to clarity and wisdom. Obi-Wan wondered what Master Yoda would think of that notion.

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The “Judgment Day” for Music (by Adam Dietz)

Skynet’s eventual rise to power is a 90% bad thing for humanity. As self-driving cars and pill-dispensing robots render human labor ever more superfluous, the end is nigh!!! Mechanized Sentinels, however, scare me less than the inevitable zombie apocalypse, hence the other 10% (give or take a percentage point or two (not accounting for any standard deviations)).  

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Stay with me here.  Robot overlords will improve American (the USA varietal) society in two, very distinct ways.  First, there is no way The Machines are going to war against Neo, Morpheus, and Zion with Donald Fucking Trump at the helm (for what it’s worth, I’d probably vote for a machine over Hillary Clinton too, but that’s an essay for another time).  Second, T-1000 and friends would greatly improve upon the music polluting our radio waves, clubs, and the Jersey Shore.

For starters, according to the first law of roboticsA robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm” and thus Hal would have asphyxiated Adam Levine one decade ago (and Dave Grohl too for that matter) so that humanity could be spared from this garbage or this pile of shit.  Full disclosure, I only know of these songs because I Googled “Maroon 5 2016” and“Foo Fighters 2016”, but could have just as easily selected any song by either artist in the past 5 years to articulate my point.  Don’t believe me? Scratch your sadistic itch and venture down that rabbit hole if you dare.  I warned you.

These songs suck.  They’re not interesting. They sound like everything else on the radio.  And it makes me sad.  To say that “pop music today is formulaic” would be an asinine statement for a number of reasons. Yet, pop music today is entirely formulaic! So much so that the songs spanning across genres of Rock, Hip-Hop, R&B, Country, Alternative, and EDM…essentially sound the same.  Science agrees.  

A quick aside, there is amazing music being made today (some of it is…gulp…popular).  And, we may be in the midst of a golden age of hip-hop following a long lull of craptasticness that was the mid-to-late 2000s  (I’m looking at you Ja Rule. Though there are exceptions like this song that will forever kick-ass and innumerable Luda cameos).

Back in my day (yep, get off my goddamn lawn), the Nirvana/Post-Nirvana wave of “alternative” music that flooded radio stations and MTV either rocked or it didn’t.  But lord, when it rocked, it really rocked.  Sure, I am biased as hell, but…obviously the 90s was a golden age for popular music. Rock, hip-hop, and R&B.  And while there is arguably a formula for these tunes too; lyrics, chord structure, and arrangement don’t fit neatly inside any heart-shaped box.

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A Psychologist’s Analysis of Donald Trump – Part 1 – By Mark Brenner aka Papa Bizzle

By Mark Brenner aka Papa Bizzle

trump-nazi.jpg(Note to the Reader: I will refer to Trump by his first name in this blog entry because I experience him as a child, and “Donald” captures this nicely. I’ve been assuming that Paul Ryan continues to refer to him as “Donald,” as well, for some kind of mean, passive-aggressive intent, similar to mine.)

Donald was born in 1946 in New York to Fred and Elizabeth Trump, the fourth of five children. His father, who became one of New York’s biggest real estate developers, was of German ancestry. All four of Donald’s grandparents were born in Europe (Germany and Scotland). His mother was also born abroad in Scotland. Donald has always said that he’s proud of his German ancestry, never citing his Scottish ancestry. So, parse that as you will.

Fred Trump was once arrested at a KKK rally and was also sued by the United States Department of Justice for refusing to rent flats to African-Americans. Ouch. Fred described his son as a “pretty rough fellow when he was small.” Here’s how we might decode this stunning version of parental understatement: He punched his second-grade music teacher in the face and gave him a black eye. (The only child I ever met who had even worse impulse control than this was a second-grade boy who I was evaluating back in the day for some form of emotional disturbance. The first Rorschach card I showed him he started literally to hump it.)  Additionally, I’ve read two stories about why Donald’s parents sent him to New York Military Academy. One was that he was expelled from school at the age of 13 and then was sent to the NYMA. The other version is that Donald’s father discovered that he and a friend had been going into NYC to buy switch blades. Either way, he was indeed a “pretty rough fellow when he was small.” Oh wait, there’s more. While at NYMA, Donald was struck with a broomstick during a fight, and he tried to push a fellow cadet out of a second-story window, but was prevented from doing so by two other cadets. And we thought that Ben Carson’s teenage stories were bizarre and disturbing!

The Donald always goes big, and the Donald also never goes home. He’s been married three times and has had five children by those three women, each time “upgrading” (according to his extremely offensive and incomprehensible “rating” system for women’s apparent looks) when he hits the apparent Use-By Date. He has been involved in 3,500 legal cases in U.S. Federal and State courts. He’s been the plaintiff in 1,900 of the cases, the defendant in 1,450 of the cases, and a third party in another 150 of them. This is a mind-boggling number of cases for any human being to be involved in—unless you’re a warrior, constitutionally. Donald is a warrior, constitutionally (“Darwin” would be a much more apt name for him than “Donald,” truthfully.) If you’ve ever been involved in a single business-related legal case you would immediately recall how punishing, enervating, and distracting they typically are. For him, though? Not so much. I have no doubt but that he is energized by each and every one of them. Let’s also add four Chapter 11 bankruptcies to the list, as well.

(This is anecdotal but germane. Over the years I spent a lot of time consulting in Atlantic City. Back then I wouldn’t have known Donald if I’d tripped over him. However, one would constantly be bombarded by stories of his underhanded business practices and how punishing he was to small, family-owned businesses. He wouldn’t pay his bills, and he would compulsively sue people or be fending off suits. He was like a bad joke down in AC…unless you were a contractor to him, and then he was a nightmare.)

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A Heterosexual Male Uber-Feminist: are there more of us out there? (by J. Brenner)

I can’t possible be the only hetero male in America that not only supported but really liked and got behind Hillary Clinton.  Yes, I’m that guy.  What is so horrible about Hillary?  Seriously, and I don’t want to hear “I just don’t like her,” what is so terrible about this incredibly accomplished woman?  She is a fucking American hero.  I mean for reals.  She is Lady Liberty!  Make a few bucks giving corporate speeches?  Hey guess what you self-righteous peeps: a lot of thinkers and/or speakers you love are making BANK talking to corporations.  I don’t need to tell you.  And I don’t want to, or care to.  Because just getting paid for speaking to a company DOESN’T MAKE YOU EVIL!  You know what else doesn’t make you evil?  Sending a handful of irrelevant emails through a private server.  Hillary sold out our country!  Really?  It seems like we were doing pretty well in terms of foreign policy until about ten days ago.  Barack and Michelle Obama were not lying: Hillary Clinton was the most prepared, qualified and effective presidential candidate of ANY party that we’ve EVER had.  And if you can’t see that, than you are living in a political fantasy that is part of the problem and NOT the solution.

image011.jpgIt’s not just that I’m ready for Hillary.  And it’s not just that I’m ready for a female president.  I AM READY FOR MORE – A LOT MORE – FEMALE LEADERSHIP IN THIS COUNTRY.

Women are more socially adept.  Women are better working in large, cooperative groups.  Women can be competitive against other companies while still being incredibly inclusive within their own organizations.  Women have a much high EIQ: Emotional Intelligence Quotient.  Women have a higher social IQ.  Women have a great understanding of stakes, at all ages, being always aware of the place children play in our lives, even while supposedly brave (i.e. cowardly) men can/do run away from difficult family situations.

Millions of years of evolutionary biology among mammals reveal few examples of females as equals, not to mention superiors, among mammalian species, including (and especially) most primate species.  And yet, our survival as a species homo sapiens SPECIFICALLY REQUIRE that females save all of us from ourselves with care, with subtlety, and with love.

I am not done with this, but this is where I’m going.

Why There Are So Few Women Among The World’s Highest-Paid Entertainers (Forbes)

forbes.com / by Natalie Robehmed

Taylor Swift tops the Celebrity 100 with a $170 mill payday, but women are the minority on the ranking (Image credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Taylor Swift may top this year’s Global Celebrity 100 list of the 100 highest-earning entertainers, but she is one of only 15 women to make the cut. The ranking, which tallies annual earnings for celebrities around the world is comprised 85% of men—who earned a combined $4.2 billion, compared to the women’s $892.5 million. The imbalance reflects the gender pay gap endemic across industries–and national borders.

In this uneven showing, female musicians are best represented with eight singers joining the list. Pop powerhouses Taylor Swift and Adele are the only women in the top 10, earning an estimated $170 million and $80.5 million pretax respectively. They lead musical millionaires Madonna, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Katy Perry on the ranking.

“I’m an entrepreneur…I don’t want to shy away from it,” Perry told Forbes in 2015.

 

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My Mea Culpa on Hillary Clinton (Sort Of) by Jesse Brenner – Part I

Ok the first thing I’m NOT going to do is apologize for my support of Hillary Clinton, which began well before Larry David… er, Bernie Sanders… entered the race, and despite my campaigning hard against her in 2008 while supporting Barack Obama in the Democrati161109151138-04-hillary-clinton-concession-speech-1109-exlarge-169.jpgc Primary in Pennsylvania (for the record, she wiped the floor with him in that primary, winning by hefty double-digits).  I love Barack Obama — hell, I love ALL the Obamas.  Even the Republicans admitted that if he ran for a third term it would be a blow out victory.  And yet somehow Hillary, his elder disciple and a woman he campaigned for in a full-throated roar, a woman who was going to continue and improve upon his legacy, lost the state of Pennsylvania and numerous other supposedly Blue States.  Hillary had a statistical lead on Trump, both nationally and in terms of electoral votes, every single painful day up until Election Day when she got blown out by a dangerous but far from unprecedented mix of angry white people and apathetic young people.

Look, I was wrong.  There’s no two ways about it.  Six months ago I thought Hillary would win by double digits against Trump.  As recently as a couple weeks ago I thought she’d win by 5-7 percentage points.  Even after the fake-FBI-email-scandal, it looked like she would have enough of an electoral vote firewall to hold off the millions of people who were voting AGAINST her, as opposed to FOR Trump, and this turned out to be the difference.  The Hillary camp, including me, thought that the no-votes or protest votes would weigh in against Trump — a combination of women, minorities, and youth who would be so scared of a Trump presidency that they’d swallow their own vomit and vote for the hated Hillary Clinton.

Which brings me to why this mea culpa is only a “sort of” mea culpa.  My prediction of her victory was technically wrong — I mean let’s be honest, she WON THE FUCKING ELECTION by total votes; how insane is it that in the last 16 years the Republicans won TWO elections (2000, 2016) in which they lost the popular vote.  But my confidence in a blowout or even a convincing victory was way off the mark.  Y’all have probably read a million articles in the past week about WHY exactly this happened, so I’m going to keep this a personal narrative for the most part.

I was not at all shocked that a black man would win a presidency before a woman, and I continue not to be shocked that inferior men regularly defeat superior women.  What I’m about to say is going to offend some people, but I’ve talked to TONS of women of all generations and backgrounds who have verified this phenomenon by women that THEY know and have talked to (I think every single one of my close friends voted for Hillary, despite the fact that most of them supported Bernie in the primaries, and for that I am eternally grateful to them).  So here it is: Sexism is so ingrained in our psyches that both men and women, overall, tend to trust men over women in positions of great authority and executive power.  Can you believe that only 13% – THIRTEEN PERCENT! – of the Forbes 400 wealthiest people are women.  Actually, yes, we can believe it.  That’s the problem.  Women are given almost no opportunities to become CEOs, and they are regularly mistreated or abused in various ways in the workplace.  Oh and you can forget about that “Equal Pay For Equal Work” thing, at least for the next four years.

I understand that Hillary was a flawed candidate.  But as a Jew, you learn at a young age to decipher what they call “coded anti-Semitism.”  It’s the same thing for racism in general — not just the N-word but the daily slights and insinuations of inferiority or worse.  And I can’t tell you how many Democrats and other liberals — including women — whose rationales for not voting for Hillary was simply coded sexism.

I’m not saying no female candidate could have won this election, but the fake email controversy, the fake Benghazi controversy, and the (in my opinion) bullshit scathing criticism about her cuddling up with corporations WHEN SHE’S RUNNING AGAINST A CORPORATE ROBBER BARON all smell to high hell of, well, bullshit.

I have too much to say about this, and am still processing, so consider this an opening barrage.  I was wrong that Hillary would win, but I stand by her as a candidate with heart, substance, motivation, and most of all, empathy.  I’d vote for her again tomorrow.

Do We Need to Hit Bottom Before Rising Back to the Top? (by Laura Catana)

As an American living outside of the country, I hung my head in shame on Election Day. Actually, I’ve BEEN hanging my head in shame since Tuesday. Everyone is saying that we shouldn’t be surprised that Trump won, that we should have taken him more seriously — well, forgive me for being hopeful that America wouldn’t be so ignorant, so hateful. Moving forwards, I’m trying to stay hopeful. Maybe its good that we hit rock bottom. Maybe this is what we needed to inspire REAL change.

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Seeing all the posts of hateful graffiti that emerged in the days following the election has made me sick to my stomach. I know that these sentiments are nothing new, and that our fellow POC and LGBTQ communities have been dealing with hate since forever.  But that these hateful Americans feel like they are able to openly express their hateful and bigoted opinions, from the examples that Trump has set, is frightening. That there is so much hate in the world, in our country, is frightening. But you know what — it’s good to open our eyes. To step outside of our liberal bubble and realize that yes, we have a lot of work to do as a nation.

I don’t live in the U.S. at the moment, but I want to be involved. This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt the pull to get involved in politics, because now its personal. My adopted brother could get deported. My gay, Muslim and POC friends feel afraid. I am worried about the future of my reproductive health and freedoms in my country. But mostly, I cannot stomach being from a country that so actively and openly promotes hate. I won’t accept it. I look now to my friends, to my fellow Americans, and I want to know -what can we do? How will we organize ourselves to help teach our country that Love Trumps Hate?