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The Female Perspective: The Walking Dead – Here’s Negan!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website! Or find me on Facebook at @JLMetcalfAuthorArtisan!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


We waited for season 7 and we were not disappointed...Well most of us anyway.
We waited for season 7 and we were not disappointed…Well most of us anyway.

This post isn’t so much about feminism in The Walking Dead because I have touched on that before, but more it’s about me being a total nerd for this show and I wanted to chat a bit about the Season 7 premiere that happened last Sunday and the reaction thus far.

Do you watch The Walking Dead? Did you see it yet? No? Then stop reading, there be SPOILERS AHEAD! Why are you reading a blog instead of watching the show? Yeesh, go, go now!

Okay. Onward and upward.

If you watch the show then you  know that season 6 left us all in a quandary. We had just met Negan (if you didn’t read the comics you had been hearing about him ad naseum for quite a while I assume) and I can say that for me, I had a hard time remember to breathe the entire episode as we waited the big reveal and what it meant for our hearty band of survivors.

If you read the comics, then you know that someone is about to die, and Negan is going to be the one who does it. With Lucille, his vampire bat.

I started watching Walking Dead before I read the comics and I instantly loved the show and very quickly thereafter began to devour the comics as well. I am now currently caught up with the comics but won’t spoil those here.  Sufficed it to say, Negan is still alive and kicking and he is still a very, very, VERY bad man. Can you be a man when you’re a horrible monster in a world of horrible monsters?

Many people knew that someone was about to die, we didn’t know who and season 6 was not about to end telling us who dies, they left us all wondering, as the screen went black and the horrific crunching of bat on head echoed all around us. We waited and we guessed and we worried, and finally, we know. It wasn’t just one character, it was two. TWO! Walking Dead you’re getting greedy now.

Winner of best facial hair on "The Walking Dead" has to be Abraham.
Winner of best facial hair on “The Walking Dead” has to be Abraham.

It was a brutal episode, first Abraham got killed, but not before he got in one last, “Such my b—s” as he collapsed. It was a death worthy of the character and it was sad to see. It was actually really grotesque, but this is a show full of grotesque imagery, I mean, for pete’s sake, the dead and decaying are walking around la-dee-dah like. It’s pretty gross.

What came next was a surprise and a pretty good shock, Daryl gets a good, solid punch in on Negan’s handsome face and voila! We have our second death of the evening, Glenn. Poor Glenn, he got it via Lucille in the comics so he’s who I had my money on to be murdered on the episode. I admit to jumping and yelling when it happened. I admit to crying a tear or two when he finally cries out to Maggie and tells her he’ll find her.

Ugh.

It’s a brutal episode. Not only do we see characters we love get butchered in front of our faces, we see some pretty gnarly zombie death as well. But besides all of that is the emotional toll the show took. We watch as Negan beats Rick down emotionally, brutally, gleefully. After so many years with these characters, it’s hard to see someone as strong, as capable, as kind of cuckoo-pants crazy, as Rick get beaten down to the point of weeping and begging.

I say it again, it was a brutal episode.

Sadness...RIP Glenn Rhee.
Sadness…RIP Glenn Rhee.

So why am I so surprised that people are mad? We live in an age where people can accept gratuitous sex and foul language as par for the course, but violence on a show known for being gory and violent shocks us. People cry out, “My kids were watching!” And I ask, “What the heck were you doing let kids watch this show?” People cry out, “It’s too much,” and I ask, “So why doesn’t the violence on the news get you this upset? Why are half naked women okay, but violence is not?”

To me it’s a mark of a show doing something right. If people have such a strong and emotional reaction that they vow to stop watching the show, then the writers, the actors, everyone is doing something right. It means it’s effecting people (either positively or negatively) and that is what any entertainer wants to do. As a writer, I would LOVE to effect people with my words so much so that they have an emotional reaction so strong as to be angry, sad, happy, etc.

Is the show too violent? I don’t think so, not in the context of everything else that surrounds us. Not to mention the show is on at 9 AND has multiple warnings about violent content. They’ve done their job in warning people, if parents are letting their kids watch the show and the kids have nightmares, that’s on them. I’m sorry, but it’s true. It’s not AMC or The Walking Dead’s responsibility to censor itself because parents don’t make good decisions. I also think that if you don’t read the comics, then this weekends premier was probably a shocker for you, I get that. For those of us who have seen it, we know that Negan is horrible, violent and sadistic. We know what he does. If it was a surprise how violent things got and you are angry, that’s okay, but take a breather and think about the show you’re watching. It’s a show where the dead walk. Where people have been killing each other, sometimes there’s cannibals, always there’s death, and you’re surprised it got violent?

I do agree though that it was still brutal. And brilliant. That was some of the finest TV I’ve seen in awhile. Not because it was violent, but for the quiet moments after the violence was past us. When Rick and Negan are having alone time, when Rick is going through what’s just happened again and again. When we see the look on Daryl’s face when Glenn is killed. It’s those little moments that make it brilliant. The violence is just wrapped into that, it’s the catalyst for those little moments of true brilliance.

I personally cannot wait to see where Season 7 goes. If it’s anything like the comic book, we are in for quite the horrifically brutal treat.

Oh Negan...
Oh Negan…

What did you think of the premier? Too violent? Are you going to keep watching the show?
Yes or no?
Why or why not?
Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Podcasts, My New Love

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


After a week off due to a really persnickety migraine, I am back with a blog this week! I wanted to spend a little bit chatting about some of my favorite podcasts because guess what, I really did just discover them! I know I’m a bit behind but as a writer and transcriptionist, I don’t have time during the work day to listen to podcasts and when I drive or exercise outdoors I like to rock out with some awesome tuneage.

What happened was that with the winter weather I started exercising indoors and all of a sudden I realized I could finally listen to the podcast my super cool friends have been talking about, Serial. I was instantly hooked on it. Though you will notice that Serial is not on my list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great program and I am very much enjoying the 2nd season’s delving into the Bo Bergdahl case, but Serial has plenty of airplay and I wanted to focus on 2 very cool and possibly kind of unknown podcasts that I have been really enjoying.

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The 2 podcasts I talk about below I find interesting for 2 reasons;

  1. I am a writer so anything that gives me insight into the human brain is fascinating to me. Both of these podcasts talk about people, technology, the mingling of the two as well as dealing with the life around us in an informative and fun way.
  2. They host(s) are not annoying or rude. They are respectful to their guests and they ask really great questions, not the typical boring interview questions and what’s more, they listen to what their subjects have to say. In all my transcription work I can tell you that is a rarity. So many interviewers interrupt their subject and that, in my humble opinion, is really annoying.

Anyway, here are my 2 favorite podcasts!

Reply All

"Reply All" - a podcast about the internet ... and so much more!
“Reply All” – a podcast about the internet … and so much more!

Part of Gimlet Media, Reply All is a fun podcast that’s about technology and how we use it in our lives every day. Hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, it was launched in 2014 and claims to be about “the internet” (yep, that’s all they’ll say, that it’s about the internet) but the fact is, it’s about so much more than that. I heard about it while listening to the classic of all podcasts, This American Life and had to check it out.

I recently just listened to an episode where one of the hosts and a friend take micro doses of LSD and it is utterly fascinating. Not because they get tripped out and stupid, but because of their amazingly long thought process about if they should even take the LSD (they do it to see if they can “unlock a better version of themselves”) and their fear around doing so. I won’t ruin the episode for you but it’s really good and fun. I also learned that there is an entire website devoted to helping people who are tripping out handle their high and stay calm. Who knew!?!?!

Reply All is about the internet and what it does for us and how it harms us (the Yik Yak episode is a poignant reminder of the damage words can do, but also how words can help) and how we, as internet consumers, can do a better job of utilizing the technology at our fingertips.

Death, Sex & Money

"Death, Sex & Money" hosted by Anna Sale
“Death, Sex & Money” hosted by Anna Sale

The other podcast I wanted to mention was actually recommended via Reply All and I am glad I checked it out. Death, Sex and Money is fantastic! Hosted by Anna Sale, she has that ability to really talk to people and help them to open up about (what else!?) death, sex and money. As Sale says, her podcast is “about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.”

She did a fantastic series of episodes from New Orleans on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Sale hosted 5 episodes about all different aspects of the Hurricane and ensuing aftermath. She talked to a rapper, a doctor, a coroner and more about what Katrina did to their lives and how they continue to work through the trauma that disaster caused them. Well worth a listen. If you’re interested, click here for the first episode of her “In New Orleans” series.

Sale also did a poignant episode with Dr. Jonathan Clark. If you don’t know who he is, he is the husband of astronaut Dr. Laurel Clark, who was lost in the Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003. As I pumped away on my elliptical machine, I started to cry as he recounted the day she died. An amazing 30 minutes of podcasting about death and starting over.

Sale has a natural ability to get to the nitty gritty of the “stuff” we may not want to talk about, money, sex, death and all that goes into those discussions. Death, Sex & Money is well worth your valuable time if you want to hear how other people handle those conversations.

Both of these podcasts are available for download and have new episodes coming out weekly. I started at the beginning for both and have been enjoying catching up as I make my way through the treasure trove of shows. If you are looking for some new entertainment on that long commute or during your exercise time, check out Reply All and Death, Sex &  Money, then come back and tell me how you liked them!

What podcasts do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: David Bowie

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


January 10th, 2016.  David Bowie died Sunday. He had just turned 69 two days earlier.

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I am not someone who gets emotional when celebrities die, they’re human like everyone else and if I didn’t know them, why would I get sad? This one is different. This one feels so personal. David Bowie changed my musical life, along with Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam and Nirvana I stepped into a whole world of music that was unlike anything I had been listening to up until that point.

I can go back farther than my teenage-hood music. Truth be told I had loved Bowie since I was a kid watching “Labyrinth” over and over and OVER again. He was the owner of the “Bowie Bulge” (an inappropriate joke but one that I think most of you get) and he was so beautiful I wanted him to be coming after me, I wouldn’t want to escape like Sarah did in the movie, I would stay with him forever at the marvelous ball and we would dance and he would sing to me. I thought he was magical. I thought he was beautiful.

Reise ins Labyrinth, Die USA 1986 Regie: Jim Henson Darsteller: David Bowie Rollen: Koboldkoenig Jareth
Labyrinth, 1986

Then I heard Ziggy Stardust and I KNEW he was magical.

These last few days have seen a deluge of Bowie videos and memories from all sides. Some are funny (like a skit Bowie did on Ricky Gervais’ show Extra), some are awe-inspiring (like the acapella version of “Under Pressure” with Freddie Mercury, I got chills, listen to that one here) and some are just plain fun to watch again (his Christmas duet with Bing Crosby is the best). David Bowie was an actor, a musician and an artistic genius who cared nothing for boundaries like gender or sexuality. He paved the way for Madonna, Lady Gaga and so many others.

I got the pleasure of seeing Bowie live once many years ago. He played some random music festival that featured Moby and Busta Rhymes. I was there for Bowie really and he did not disappoint, though he did go on stage almost an hour early because Busta couldn’t make it, so I actually almost missed seeing Bowie if not for my friend and I’s intense desire to see Busta Rhymes in concert for no other reason than we thought it would be pretty dang amusing.

My friend to this day says I started crying when Bowie came on stage. I don’t remember crying but I do remember being completely in awe of this man I had thus far only heard through speakers. He sounded exactly the same in person as he did on his records. He was beautiful, he was art, he was everything I had hoped for and more.

One of the best gifts I’ve ever received is a mirror that same friend made me with pictures of David Bowie all over it. That mirror has moved numerous places with me and I have repaired it more times than I can count. It hangs in my bedroom as I type this. It is a perfect homage to the man that I always thought was immortal and I guess, in that cliche way, he is. His music lives on. His beautiful, beautiful music. His legacy.

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I read an update from author Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook and it helped me clear my own thoughts about why I was so sad about this mans passing, it’s not even sadness so much as being completely in awe, overwhelmed at the legacy he’s left behind. As an artist you dream about leaving behind a memory that thousands (if not millions) of people have. I’m sure not everyone has a David Bowie memory but I can say pretty assuredly that most people know either what song they love or what song they hate by him. They know who he is.

For the last 18 months (we learn only today) David Bowie has known that he was dying. He kept that information private, while spending his final months doing what he’d done his whole life — making outrageously original, beautiful, complicated art. He made a gorgeous album. He created a show, playing right now in New York. And then he released this, his final video, just a few days before he died — on his 69th birthday.

“Look up here,” he sings, “I’m in heaven.”

Can you imagine, to be making art like this (fearless art that both comforts and challenges) right up to the moment of your death? How do you do that? How do you BE that? To work with your death so imaginatively, in order to perfectly time out the last beats of your life? What a magnificent creature of creation, right to the end. 

I am sad today, but mostly I am overwhelmed by awe. This is what it means to be a great artist.

From the beginning, this was a man who showed us how to do life differently than anyone had ever done it before, and now look how he has done death.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Inspiration, to me, is THIS.

Goodbye to the master, and onward for the rest of us.

~Elizabeth Gilbert

For me, David Bowie opened up my mind to a different type of music. He, along with Nine Inch Nails and Pearl Jam, made me see that there was more music in the world than Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. There were people like The Beatles and The Doors, people who may not always sound “pitch perfect” but who’s weirdness was a part of their music, it’s what made them shine so brightly. I remember hearing “Hearts Filthy Lesson” and just about having my brain explosion. The discordant, jangled song still to this day haunts me.

One of the best-worded responses to David Bowie’s death was from actress Carrie Brownstein on her Twitter page, it perfectly summed up the grief that I am feeling.

“It feels like we lost something elemental, as if an entire color is gone.”

If you haven’t had  chance to hear some of his newest work, released as the perfect farewell to his fans just 2 days before his death, take a moment and listen to what’s being called “classic Bowie”, and you’ll find that these songs take on an added dimension when you realize that he knew he was dying and he was still as weird, as off-kilter, still as beautiful and revolutionary as he had always been.

Thank you David Bowie for all that you have given this world and thank you for making my musical world broader and better.

“Goodnight, sweet prince/and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”

Hamlet by Shakespeare


What’s your favorite Bowie song? “Rock and Roll Suicide” is one of mine. Tell me yours in the comments.


 

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The Female Perspective: Selfies, The Silent Killer

Welcome! This is a twice-weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


I read an interesting article today about how Selfies have killed people more than shark attacks in 2015. At first I laughed thinking, well, there you go. Then my laughter took on a different tone, of sadness. Because yes, this is the world in which we live. Where in one year at least 12 people have died while taking selfies (compare that to the 8 that died via shark attack).

FYI, you're still awesome and a part of this world even if we don't see your selfie's every day.
FYI, you’re still awesome and a part of this world even if we don’t see your selfie’s every day.

The fact is, we live in a world now where everyone with a smartphone has a camera and camcorder. Where you can photograph every special moment of your life with ease and then download it onto your social media of choice. Or you can take a myriad of selfie’s to show everyone how hot you are. I’ve taken plenty of selfie’s but not once have I done so while in a dangerous spot.  Others, have not been so luck.

Deaths have been caused by distracted photo-takers falling off cliffs, crashing their cars, being hit by trains, and even shooting themselves while posing with guns. ~ScienceAlert.com

So what’s up with people thinking that even today it’s okay to take a photo of yourself while driving a car? Why is it we forget to “mind our surroundings” when taking a selfie in a potentially dangerous locale? What is it that makes us feel the need to take that selfie at any cost?

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The article from Science Alert goes on to quote from some of the researchers in a study done on the reasons why selfie’s are so vital for some people.

“It’s all about me. It’s putting me in the frame. I’m getting attention and when I post that to social media, I’m getting the confirmation that I need from other people that I’m awesome,” lead researcher Jesse Fox told Reuters. “You don’t care about the tourist attraction you’re destroying; you don’t care about annoying people in your social media feed … you’re not even thinking about the consequences of your actions, so who cares if you’re dangling off the side of the Eiffel Tower?” ~Reuters

The selfie trend is so prevalent that officials in Russia (not a great example) have implemented laws to try and stop people from putting their lives in danger just to get that “awesome shot.”

In June, two men in the Ural Mountains died after posing pulling the pin from a hand grenade; in May a woman survived shooting herself in the head in her Moscow office; a month later a 21-year-old university graduate plunged 40 feet (12 meters) to her death while posing hanging from a Moscow bridge. ~Reuters

It’s fascinating to think about what goes into the mind of someone who takes  selfie in a place that could potentially kill them, or do something that could cause their demise. It’s horrible, sure, but at the same time what goes through someone’s mind when they decide to dangle off of a bridge to get a picture?

selfie-1

Honestly it all seems to be about narcissism and of loneliness.  It’s what makes us want to connect with our fellow humans via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram anyway we can. We are hoping that by putting up such a crazy photo, that we’ll get people “Liking” it and posting comments about how amazing the shot is and how crazy, carefree, awesome, etc the photographer is (*please note, this is only for extreme selfie photographers not for the occasional selfie). It’s a way to get attention because you feel as though you aren’t getting enough in some other aspect of your life. In the end, it’s one of the reasons why our social media obsessed world is flawed and dangerous.

In Yellowstone National Park exasperated officials issued warnings after five separate selfie takers were gored this summer while standing too near bison. ~Reuters

So maybe, before you take that selfie of yourself hanging off your roof with a live grenade and a posse of tigers below you, take a few minutes to think about how this might end. You aren’t invincible, and dying while taking a selfie is both ridiculous and horrific for those you leave behind.

Also, I promise you that you still exist even if we don’t see your face every single hour of every single day. Stop taking so many pictures and live the life you’re having. Connect with your fellow social media peeps in another way. Even better, get out into the world and actually experience it. It’s a pretty awesome place, I promise.

What is the weirdest place you took a selfie? Have you ever put yourself in danger for a good photo? Why or why not? What is your opinion on selfies? Good, bad, ugly? Sound off in the comments.