Saturday, May 25, 2013

The 200th Post

Two years, two months, and sixteen days after moving Caponomics to Blogger from my not as strong a location as Facebook, I have made it to my 200th post and that is indeed something to celebrate. I usually use my anniversary posts (one-year and two-year, 100th post...) to provide statistical information about page views, followers, and sometimes even popular posts. Since joining Blogger, I have had 15,440 page views, 16 followers, and my popular posts are just about the same as those from the second year anniversary edition. The only difference is that my post about my distaste for orange juice pulp has become increasingly popular.

For this post, I am going to do a Q&A with two questions that were asked by devoted follower Kevin Brownlie from Road Of The Month, a blog about roads. I will provide a brief, but thorough answer to each question. I hope to do this more often, but I need questions to order to execute such an idea. Without questions, there can be no answers, and I am not in favor in creating my own questions, because it wouldn't be authentic and I might as well make it my topic of discussion. As for Kevin's questions, here they are and they're quite good, too!

What do you think about the next Super Bowl being held in the Meadowlands?

I like it. I like the fact that the National Football League is changing things up by moving the Super Bowl to a different location with colder weather and in access of the Northeastern United States. Super Bowls are generally held in warm weather, primarily in the southern part of the country, or in domes. It attracts people who are attracted to warm weather, but it's about time that we see a change. The cold weather and cold environment should be the least of your worries as a football fan. If you're going for the experience, then the experience should be what you make of it.

As for the players, if we're going to give you a Lombardi trophy, you should be able to play in any kind of weather, warm or cold. Better yet, how about we have Chicago host the Super Bowl in Soldier Field. Talk about a nippy, grueling football game where only the strongest team will remain standing. What would be even more exciting is a Super Bowl in the snow. It would feel so vintage and just about anything could happen. 

Bringing the Super Bowl to East Rutherford, New Jersey should really provide the NFL with something that hasn't been provided in nearly fifty years of football in the league. It will bring a massive amount of tourism to the state of New Jersey, which is key for a state recovering from economic issues and from Hurricane Sandy. 

What are your thoughts of the Formula One race being held in Hudson County, New Jersey?

In all honesty, I don't know so much about these races, but from what I have read, it is a big event for racing fans and it will likely boost the New Jersey economy, in some kind of way as the Super Bowl in the Meadowlands would. This leads me to believing that Chris Christie, the current governor of New Jersey, has done plenty to attract tourism to his state through all of the strengths we have. The fact that Formula One is being held in the state is only one step forward in the right direction and why Barbara Buono (Christie's opposition come November) is even being considered as a voting option beats me. Formula One is an example of highlighting recognition to New Jersey and the more recognition for a state, the better.

I am glad to have been able to answer these questions and hopefully I can come up with another Q&A during the summer months. There will be plenty of other pieces I will be submitting to this blog during the next few months and perhaps even more... that is, if I am able to balance my other writing activities at the same time. Hope you're enjoying Caponomics after 200 posts. Our next destinations are either three years or 300 posts, whichever comes first. Perhaps I may celebrate earlier when we get to 250 posts, but that'll be a call I make when I get there!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Short Story Review: "The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane

The theme of Naturalism is literature is a simple one: it's a point of view in which nature reigns supreme as its own mind and it just doesn't care. Naturalism began appearing in literature during the nineteenth century until fading away to some extent at the turn of the century, but in another, blended in with other formats of literature that still exist to this day. In this day and age, however, we simply look at literary fiction as its own genre that could be broken up even further. This is a reason I argue that "genre fiction" is about as useful as a ladder in the middle of a sandy desert. Back to the topic of Naturalism, one of the defining stories was Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat," which plays on the topic of nature being an unbiased force in our world and in addition, digging into how the targets of nature respond.

In this case, the targets of nature are four men in a boat, shoved in the middle of the stormy sea like the three men in the tub. The only difference is that the three men in the tub were not in a situation as dire as these four men. The four men in the boat were the captain, who was meant to be the leader of the group, but was battling an injury that allowed him little opportunity to make a leading impact, unless you incorporated the decision-making process. The cook seemed to be the least experienced with regard to any aspect of the direction in which the four men were heading. A cook is meant to provide the others with food, but if they were struggling to make it around in the boat, then you can only imagine how preparing food would be. The correspondent took on the role of a reporter and the reason that he was even there was questionable. At the same time, he would occasionally take on the role as a rower or half a rower. The correspondent was likely Stephen Crane in a previous encounter he had that inspired him to write "The Open Boat" in the first place. Then there was the oiler, who was the most physically able of the four, doing most of the labor when it came to moving the boat in this awful stormy weather in which they were unable to see the color of the sky, but were able to fully comprehend the color of the sea, which was gray during dark and/or stormy weather and green when it was partially decent. The oiler is the only one with a name in this piece and his name is Billie.

"The Open Boat" is simply four men rowing through the rocky waves, trying to reach shore. It's a story of survival that pays more attention to what the four men are thinking and how their emotions mean nothing to the larger realm of things entwined into something that is known as nature. Key moments include a decision not to immediately head to shore in a direction that puts their lives at risk and then ultimately when they have to abandon their boat and swim the shore. Three of the men reach shore, while the oiler drowns and dies, even though he made a valiant effort when swimming to shore. His death was sudden, being described as just  him lying face down. This sudden death strengthens the evidence of the naturalist theme of Mother Nature being an indifferent being, which is mentioned toward the end of the piece, before they abandon the boat that is unable to withhold the waves.

The way man thinks is also examined in this piece. We see four men, united together in a "Brotherhood," because they themselves are the only ones they can rely on in the middle of the rocky sea. The men recognize this brotherhood, but nature does not. They also think of their "sacred cheese of life," which has to do with their goals. In this case, the goal is to make it out alive and "shore" is their "sacred cheese," much like how Dr. Spencer Johnson uses "cheese" to represent what ever goals we have in life with his self-help book Who Moved My Cheese (which, by the way, is not worth $20 for a read no longer than ninety minutes). These men have goals like anyone else, but in the same stance that it would hold for anyone else... nature does not care. Nature does what it pleases and does not operate on feedback and public opinion. Nature just operates and it's up to mankind to work around it.

"The Open Boat" is a defining piece of naturalism and defines the emotional state of nature more than any piece. What is more natural than being stuck on a boat in the middle of the grueling sea? Stephen Crane captures a real life experience and it has since been taught in English classes across America and possibly across the globe. This is definitely something to check out if you're a literature student, but in addition, if you like marine thrillers, such as the work of Clive Cussler, this is a classic sea thriller that may only be overshadowed by Melville's Moby Dick when it comes to literature in the sea during the nineteenth century. This short story can be found in plenty of short story collections. Just keep an eye out for it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Let's Be Brutally Honest: I'm Recanting My Endorsements For "Big Brother" and "Storage Wars"

Through blogging on Caponomics, I have thrown my support of plenty of things while encouraging you to stay away from other things. This does not mean that my opinions on a specific subject are set in stone. In fact, there are plenty of things we either like at one point before realizing that... hey... this isn't such a very good thing after all or the vice-versa, where we don't get something at first before realizing we love it. In this case, I will be taking part in the former and recanting endorsements for Big Brother and Storage Wars, but in more specific minuscules. I endorsed Big Brother 13 when it was on in 2011, then realized I was wrong to do so. I endorsed Storage Wars, then I realize it went to the garbage. So I believe that it would be more appropriate to say that these had expectations, but these expectations were not met... by a long mile.

Let's start with Big Brother, a show that I followed from the all-star seventh season to the thirteenth season, which included the newbie teams against the dream teams. One thing that is bound to be expected with reality shows is that reality shows are not necessarily real. Just because a show may have to do with a subject competing for a set prize and those who advance do so based off of complete skill, it is far from being the case. On many occasions, the production has someone fix the show in some way, shape, or form in order to eliminate some people and keep others. Specifically, they want to keep the contestants... or in this case the houseguests... that stir up drama. You have several examples, such as reports from Hell's Kitchen, where a contestant, J. Maxwell from season five, accused the production of using a switch to shut his oven off. This caused Gordon Ramsay to scold him for not putting the oven on. They also planted a butt of lettuce in his salad. He was not one of the standout contestants, so they tried to knock him off. On Big Brother 13, the strategy was to put together some of the most useless newbie houseguests in ever live in the house with a few stronger new houseguests that were easily weeded out by a strong group of all-stars and newbie houseguests that were played like "jellyfish," as Dominic from that season said. Brendon and Rachel were the primarily source of drama from seasons twelve and thirteen, only they were ousted by perhaps the strongest mega alliance known as "The Brigade." The timing from that season seemed so accurate that it was planned. The goal was to keep Rachel in the house for as long as possible, because she was the key source of drama (she was one of reality shows biggest nightmares).

It goes just like this: they granted her the Head of Household in her first two opportunities, while allowing her to select the putting order for the competition she couldn't take part in. Usually, this order was chosen at random. Sneaky, huh??? Then, they throw a twist in week five that prevents her from leaving... again. It turns out somebody would be allowed to return to the house. It happened to be Brendon, evicted the week before, when we were provided the opportunity to vote for someone to return. Two of the previously evicted houseguests seemed to have the lead and suddenly, Brendon won the vote. Leads me to believe... yeah... The teams twist returned later when Rachel was at a possibility of going home again, followed by one of the silliest Power of Veto competitions (holding on to your stuffed version of your partner) and then in the final four, the decision was in Porsche's hands to evict a competitive Rachel and a not as competitive Jordan, so Porsche sends Jordan out, just because she didn't know her as well. Rachel's victory was a walk in the park. Following this season, I chose not to watch Big Brother any longer. I heard the fourteenth season was quite exciting, but I was just turned off. I realized that the veto winners were just so predictable and that the timing was put together to make all of the pieces fit the way they wanted them to. Drama inducers remained longer in order to induce enough drama and some of the reasons were just so silly. There are just so many holes with the show that are shady that it becomes more aggravating than exciting to watch.

As for Storage Wars, I like the show and would continue to recommend up until the third season. It is at this point that the show has gone downhill. In December 2012, storage hunter Dave Hester, known as "The Mogul" and for running up the bids at the last moment by shouting, "YUUUUUPPP!!!" accused the network of staging the show by rigging the show in ways such as placing valuable items in storage lockers to make the show more exciting. Hester was in turn fired, which followed with him suing the network for engaging in fixed practices. The network, A&E, is defended by the first amendment, which allows them to air what they wish to air. Hester, on the other hand, felt that they were violating the Communications Act, which prohibits the releasing of false information. Hester is on his way to losing this battle, if he has not lost it yet. This season has also seen limited action by the competitive Darrell Sheets (who found a portrait worth about $300,000 at the end of last season) and the Dotsons, who are the auctioneers. Mark Balelo, an antagonist to all of them (primarily Dave Hester) committed suicide, thus his run on the show came to an end. This leaves us with just two bidders, collector Barry Weiss and the not as experienced Jarrod Schulz and Brandi Passante, who make up an important portion of the show, but are bound to turn into a comedy act without Hester and Sheets, who provided a bit of serious action to storage bidding.

There are two sides to the coin. In defense of the network, they have the right to broadcast what they wish and how they wish, because it's protected under the first amendment. On the other side, they are providing false entertainment to the viewer and the moment the viewer realizes they were manipulated and lied to, they will rebel against the network and the show is bound to lose viewers. This may also cause another drought for the reality (or not so real) element of television. In the 1950s, when Twenty-One was caught feeding answers to one of their contestants, the quiz show industry was hit hard in a way that there were no traditional format quiz shows  for forty years, only resurrecting when Who Wants To Be A Millionaire premiered in 1999. Networks also held price caps, only allowing contestants to win up to $25,000, which would expand until a price cap no longer existed. Even a trivia show like Jeopardy! remained capped until 2003, when they uplifted their five-day limit.

While the reality show market has not been caught doing such a thing just yet, we can speculate that there's a strong possibility that there are things going on behind the curtain that covers what we see on television to what really happens. Though networks are known for providing contracts that give them a right to file a lawsuit if broken. On Dancing With The Stars, Hope Solo revealed that when her and Maksim Chmerkovskiy were slated for elimination in season thirteen, he decided to stir up drama with the judges, taking a risky decision that would put a target on their backs. However, since the network loved the drama and felt it would spice the show up, they decided to eliminate Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer instead, who provided natural attention due to Chaz Bono's transsexual decisions.

I, for one, don't like being manipulated and lied to by anybody, whether it be one, two, or even more people. I feel that the moment a visible fracture is shown that is so recognizable that it cannot be fixed, then it will really do a hurting to the industry. Though I don't exactly know what kind of fracture that may be, because plenty of fractures have been made, but they seem to heal due to an accepting group of people. Robert Irvine of Dinner: Impossible lied about his resume, but it didn't take long for him to recover and get right back on his feet and return to the show. The Deadliest Catch had fraudulent elements, but they're still standing. The reality show market has gotten away with a lot, because they have continued to bring in viewers, which is all that matters to them. If people watch, the show still stands. If they don't, then that's the only way you're going to get a show to fade.

As for me, if I see something shady, the aggravation will surely trump the entertainment value I have once seen or never saw in the show. That's why I will no longer encourage the viewership of Big Brother or Storage Wars. For the case of Storage Wars, however, I will continue to encourage viewership for seasons one to three and pretend that nothing ever happened afterward, because the first three seasons DID provide entertainment value, but with the ugly mess that's going on now, it's only setting itself up for disaster.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" and "Through The Looking Glass" By Lewis Carroll

Our initial memories of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland come from the 1951 Disney film, which combines elements of Wonderland and his often overlooked sequel, Through The Looking Glass. While the movie is fascinating... and I'm referring to the 1951 Disney film and NOT the 2010 edition that was obviously meant to put Johnny Depp in the spotlight as the Mad Hatter... the original novel is quite a fascinating piece with a fascinating concept.

In Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, We begin with Alice in the park, paying an ordinary visit with her sister, when she comes across a rabbit who is in a rush and heads down a rabbit hole. Curious, Alice chooses to follow him, tumbles down, and realizes she's about to take part in a wild adventure. When she's down in the hole, she comes across a door that is larger than she, so she has to find a way to shrink to its size. She relies on a potion that says "drink me." We see that her organization and timing is off, because by the time she shrinks down, she realizes the door is locked and the key is out of her tiny reach. Growing and shrinking become quite the common trend for Alice as the story begins.

Her adventures start with overseeing a completely disorganized race by a group of dodos (as in dodo birds, but Carroll could very well be hinting at something else, too) where they plan to decide on a leader through a physical race... a race that features them running into circles. After Alice scares them off, she comes across the caterpillar, the pig and Pepper, and one of the more memorable characters... The Cheshire Cat. This cat has a different thinking, as it growls when it's happy and wags when it's not, and assures Alice that everyone in Wonderland is "mad," because Wonderland is in fact a land filled with madness. As he vanishes, he only leaves a grin behind, adding to the contrast of how life flows in society. The Mad Hatter's Tea Party is next, where Alice engages in an event with guests such as the eccentric Hatter, the tired, often sleeping Dormouse, and the March Hare, who engage riddles that make absolutely no sense and Alice leaves departing on a bitter note. The Mad Hatter has often been explained as a victim of mercury poisoning to the head, common in Britain during that era.

Next, Alice takes part in a game of croquet with the Queen Of Hearts, who demands that anyone who bothers her in some way, shape, or form be beheaded, which is where "off with his head" originates. In the game of croquet with the queen, flamingos are mallets, while hedgehogs are balls. Alice pays a visit to the always miserable mock turtle, who tells his story, before being brought to court as a witness to the Knave of Hearts being accused of theft of tarts. To wrap things up, Alice starts growing larger and larger, allegedly a crime in Wonderland, before finally seeing the royalty as what they really are... a pack of cards. She throws them like they're as worthy as products in a game of fifty-two pick up before being awoken by her sister. From there, her visit to the park continues.

Through The Looking Glass is the highly overlooked sequel to Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, as if anything, the two are often combined. One such element is that of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the stout twins that look like downers. After reciting a poem, they direct her throughout this land through the looking glass, which is set up like a game of chess, which is contrasting to the notion of the book it succeeds. While she doesn't meet as many memorable figures in this book, she does meet Humpty Dumpty, who tells his story AND tells of his "un-birthday," something he celebrates on everyday it is not his birthday, which adds to the madness that Wonderland has to bring. While Alice admits she prefers birthdays, Humpty Dumpty reminds her that celebrating "un-birthdays" means that you celebrate them every other day of the year. The story sums up in a very similar fashion that the original ends, which is Alice confronting the queen before shaking her like she lost a game of chess. The king was put into "checkmate" and Alice returns home.

The ending leaves us with a notion of the meaning of life, which is Lewis Carroll's intended goal when writing his two books. It provides us with a realistic land of fiction and a fictional land of reality and which is which is the question at hand. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland is depicted as being a satire on the British government and examples such as the Mad Hatter being a subject of mercury poisoning (which would come from wearing a hat and go through the head) are evident. Looking deeper into the subject, however, we also have a story of the ridicules of life and how life is so misunderstood. We may question the practices in Wonderland, such as how the Dodos determine authority, how the Cheshire Cat functions, what the Mad Hatter discusses at his tea parties, how the Queen of Hearts plays croquet, and how Humpty Dumpty celebrates "un-birthdays," but how about questioning our own practices as well? What is the meaning behind voting for people who are often unqualified, why do we discuss what we discuss, even if it may not make sense, what's the purpose behind some of the games we play, and why do we celebrate birthdays? We may think the answers are simple, but how about someone else from the other side.

Alice represents an interference between two worlds, which is allegedly someone from reality seeking a world of imagination. What makes the story excellent is that what she comes across is so ridiculous and thinks in such an odd fashion that only a skilled psychiatrist would be able to confirm that there is logic and sanity behind their thinking. Yet at the same time, we are led to believe that there is in fact a method to their madness and that this is how things were meant to be. That the sleeping Red King was in fact the center of the story and he was dreaming of a girl exploring his land.

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass are meant to be a children's story, but with a very dark meaning behind it. It's meant to be about British government and/or the meaning of logic. I would highly recommend this book and then if you find the opportunity and you don't own as many books as I do, read both of them again. It may take awhile to find the meaning behind the psychosis of each of the characters.

Friday, May 17, 2013

American Idol 12 Season Finale

The American Idol season 12 finale was filled with a night of performances and then some. Thought the age of the Internet spoiled many of the names, it was still great to see stars former and current participating in some way, shape, or form along with the other Idol finalists to make for a fun filled night... filler until we went on the learn who the winner was. For the first time since season six, we were bound to have our first female winner, because the men were just an under-performing bunch (though according to them, the women sabotaged them, hahaha...), though Candice Glover and Kree Harrison were the two right selections for the finale, despite the fact that some may argue that Angie Miller could have filled in the slot instead of Kree, but that's debatable.

As for the performances that made up the finale, we should start with the men, who were "sabotaged" throughout the season. They took part in a Four Seasons medley with "Let's Hang On," "Walk Like A Man," and "Who Loves You" before being joined by Frankie Valli, who led off performances of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" and "Grease (the opening song)," showing that he did a fine job for somebody 79 years young. While he sounded older, he still has the execution from his younger days and the guys did a fine job backing him up. Speaking of stars that are aging well, Aretha Franklin showed that she still has plenty of energy, which performances such as "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman," "I Ain't Never (Loved A Man, The Way That I Loved You)," "Respect," and "Think," being backed up by the female finalists. Other performances included The Band Perry singing with Janelle Arthur, Adam Lambert AND Jessie J singing with Angie Miller, Amber Holcomb with Emile Sande, and Kree Harrison with Keith Urban, Travis Barker, and Randy Jackson.

One of the more surprising performances included that of Psy performing his new hit, "Gentleman." The surprise comes in two ways. One, I could hardly believe that he would be interested in coming on to American Idol and two, I held a high belief that "Gangnam Style" was a one-hit wonder and one-hit video. However, it seems as if people like him have longer than fifteen minutes to make an impression and Korean pop music, also known as K-POP, is quite popular. I hold the belief that "Gentleman" is what I believed it would be, "Gangnam Style" with different words and different dance moves. I am not a fan of Psy, even from his Idol performance.

Other big celebrities that sung on their own were Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez with Pitbull.

For the grand finale, it was... Candice Glover... who won the twelfth season of American Idol, the first female winner since Jordin Sparks. Candice remained the consistent favorite as the season progressed and the judges favorite by a mile. Along with being the judges favorite, she was also America's favorite which seemed evident from how the votes came in. Looking back a week when she went home to South Carolina, we could see that she was clearly a celebrity in her hometown. On the contrast, Angie went home to empty streets in Massachusetts and into a coffee house where only her friends were happy to see her. It's true that the champions are produced by the south and Candice is no exception. Candice had three of the most stellar performances, one of which, "I Who Have Nothing," which has become a mainstay on the show, put her over the top for the evening. Kree Harrison, who took runner-up for the night, should have a good career and should adapt well to the radio.

American Idol also said goodbye to its last original judge, Randy Jackson. Known for his use of the word "dawg" and later for deeming that people were "in it to win it" is walking away after twelve seasons. Whether it was entirely his own decision, we are not sure, but he will be missed. Someone that will not be missed is Nicki Minaj, who is leaving the show after one season. While she wasn't afraid to speak her mind, her comments were often immature and inappropriate, and she holds no influential stance in the process besides the fact she has attracted listeners who are into hip-hop music. I will not miss the Pink Pill commercials, either. As the pink pill says, "bye-bye, boo-boo!" I originally heard that all of the judges would be leaving, but now there is mention that Keith Urban will be staying on the show, but we'll just have to see. Nigel Lythgoe is also slated to leave, staying with So You Think You Can Dance and that's that.

American Idol 13 is already setting up, so we'll just have to see what's bound to happen. Though first, I have my eye on the concert with the top ten AND Aubrey Cleland, who was chosen as the eleventh person to take part.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Song Review: "In The Year 2525" (1969) by Zager and Evans

When we look at music and come across famous, top of the line artists such as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Elton John, Adele, among other well known artists, we usually look at them and then we're directed to their songs. When we look at one hit wonders, on the other hand, we will look at the song and then on occasion be directed to their artists. Sometimes we will never be directed to their artist. Chances are most people don't know "The Macarena" was a song by Los Del Rio, "I'm Too Sexy" was sung by Right Said Fred, or if it doesn't caught up with the test of time, "Gangnam Style" was from the album of Psy. One hit wonders have made a drastic impact on our music industry, filling in the gaps with flare and flavor. In 1969, the controversial duo of Zager and Evans came about with a blunt, post-apocalyptic single titled "In The Year 2525," during a time in history where we were in the middle of the Vietnam War and we were revolting against the notion with a peace movement and with Woodstock, a large concert of singers of all kinds.

The music from 1969 was primarily psychedelic and trying to be happy, such as the Fifth Dimension's "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" or The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar," but instead of taking the route of "give peace and chance and we shall seek an era of love and happiness," Zager and Evans did the complete opposite and warned us that we are entering an era of apocalypse and are about ready to dig deeper into hell on Earth with the lifestyle we are leading. They dare us to look at all of the technological advancements we brought upon ourselves throughout the last so many years and then imagine what the next thousand years will bring.

They start by mentioning that in the year 2525, "if man is still alive, if woman can survive, they may find..." before chronicling what the next thousand years would bring. In 3535, they point out that this would be the time that we lose our train of thought. We will no longer be thinking for ourselves at this time, but instead we will be taking pills every morning to determine what we "think, do, and say." In 1969, people were high on different drugs that became popular for the era. Perhaps they were expand on these forms of drugs that would ultimately take control of the way they think. Perhaps with all of the inventions coming about, drugs that provide a somewhat flawless but ultimately robotic thought process would be the thing of the future.

Throughout the next two thousand years or so, in 4545 and 5555, there is warning that our bodies will be just about useless. After seeing WALL-E and how the future will see us in space, unable to live on Earth, and sitting in zip-line machines, morbidly obese, the fact that we will be surrendering our body motions to machines. Granted, it's already 2013 and the level of obesity is increasing. So much to a point that during this next generation, we will not be living as long as those from the previous generation. Specifically, they mention that we won't need our teeth or eyes, and anything that we use our arms and legs for will be taken care of with machines. Let's look at the inventions that have come about between 1969 and 2013 and then go about thinking of what is bound to happen after 2013.

6565 is the period of time that we will not marriage and instead be selecting children from test tubes. This scenario actually came about sooner, but only nine years sooner when the first test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978. The only thing I question with this stanza is the fact that by 6565, people may get to the point that they are so lazy that not only will they not want one another, but they will not want children either. By this time, people may become so self-centered and lazy-minded that not only will they not want to get married, but they won't want to take care of children either. They may rather lie in their car, floating on a zip-line, eager for their strawberry flavored pill that will provide them with their thought process for the day and for the new episode of My Little Pony. The only hanger would be if the pill was what brought the thought of having children to mind.

The next years, 7510 and 8510, are God-related stanzas constructed to form a different rhyme scheme. Zager and Evans (primarily Evans, as he was the one to write the lyrics), felt that a different scheme was in store for these lyrics to decide God's point of view of the destruction of Earth, which worked well with the direction of the song. At this time, a thought is put into God's mind about it being judgment day, followed by whether or not he's satisfied with the reign of man or he should just start from scratch. This may stir controversy into a religious minded person and strengthen the excuse to keep it off the radio unless a special occasion opens up on a particular radio station.

By 9595, we are seeing something that is relevant and has been relevant for the last several years and perhaps centuries. According to the lyrics, man has taken everything from Earth and put nothing back in the process. If evidence of cutting down trees to provide our resources and just about everything else we see around us and our natural environment isn't enough, then I have no idea what is. Our environment is crumbling at our hands and within the next hundred years (fewer and better included), the environment is bound to crumble even more if we don't take action against this negativity. I took an environmental science class in high school, so there are possibilities, but everybody needs to be on the same page.

After 10,000 years, the reign of man has finally been through. The last line, however, leaves a very important question, "...but through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight, so very far away, maybe it's only yesterday...", the fact that is period of time may seem far away is one idea and a warning in a way, but at the same time, this may not even be a warning but the fact that it's too late to stop this form of lifestyle. Perhaps man's reign has already been through and we do not even know it. That line could either be looked like in the warning sense, the "already happened" sense, or the inevitable sense. The song ultimately ends with a reprise of the song before fading out at the, "in the year 3535" bit to the song.

Zager and Evans were known for adding a bit of controversy to their lyrics, as some of their other songs dealt with touchy subjects (such as "Mr. Turnkey" dealing with a rapist), but none of them were able to hit it like "In The Year 2525" did on the charts. The song provided a controversial, but at the same time, honest message about the direction we were heading in throughout time. Come to look at it, the direction we are heading is become quite identical to what Zager and Evans had to say. I can only imagine what is in store for the next several years, decades, and centuries in society. Come to look at it, 2525 is only 512 years away...

Posted below is the video for the song. I am simply sharing this video. All ownership rights belong to the creator of this video.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Short Story Review: "The Lottery Ticket" by Ventura Garcia Calderon

Being an English major, I come across plenty of short stories that range from "A Rose For Emily" by William Faulkner to "The Open Boat" by Stephen Crane to "The Rocking Horse Winner" by D.H. Lawrence. After reading 75 Short Masterpieces last year, I realized that there was a hidden gem that is not featured in enough collections. In addition, there is not a lot of recognition for this short story. This short story is "The Lottery Ticket" by Ventura Garcia Calderon, a Paris born author who moved to Peru to expand on a career in writing and politics. In this review, I will be providing a thorough review filled with the complete details, so if you do not wish to be spoiled, this review is not for you. Moving right along...

"The Lottery Ticket" could fall under the category of a "short-short," because it's only two and a half pages, but what it does in two and a half pages is so captivating and insightful, that it is bound to provide an "a-ha" kind of enlightenment. As the story begins, Garcia Calderon informs us that this a story that has a moral, which for one moment may cause you to think of Aesop's fables and their morals, but this moral is more political and relevant to the events of the time and place.

In the story, Cielito is a gorgeous dancer touring in South America, attracting the men with her rumba and other attractive dances. One evening, the theater decides to hold a lottery. They throw some numbers in a hat and the person whose number is pulled out will be able to take Cielito home with them. In this day and age, we would likely smell a rat called prostitution or sexism. In that time and place, however, this was perfectly reasonable to auction off a beautiful woman. When they pull the number out of the hat, 213, the number belongs to a bitter negro that has been discriminated throughout his life. His slave relatives were worked to death and he finds this whole notion to be ridiculous. After standing there, caring less about what's going on, he takes his ticket and rips it to shreds, smugly, and in a way that says, "take that!" First, the audience stands in surprise, then Cielito grows angry, finally, he is beaten down by the angry Latin Americans  before being hospitalized. Garcia Calderon does not name the theater, providing an interesting open ending.

"The Lottery Ticket" does an excellent job captivating the material appreciation that people, primarily men in this time and place, have and how this is the way they look at Cielito, nothing more than sexual appeal. At the same time, they do not treat everyone equally and that could be said about the way they treat the negro, we happens to figuratively use his prize winning opportunity to shove their belligerence in their faces. Not only does he see the ridicule in holding an auction in order to auction off a female dancer, but he also sees them in the wrong for how he and his relatives were treated for several years. Garcia Calderon obviously leaves the name of the theater out of his writing and clearly states he will not name the theater, because there would be plenty of options to choose from and plenty of theaters to point the finger out. He just doesn't feel like pointing the finger at one particular theater, because this, their pleasures, and their approaches in life are far in the wrong.

"The Lottery Ticket" is an easy read that will surely catch the attention of the literary enthusiast and cultural enthusiast alike, especially if Latin American culture is a strong suit. Garcia Calderon captures the culture and the issues around him and sets up an opportunity where one man treated unfairly can get vengeance for such treatment. I had to let out a chuckle as I finished reading this piece. Now if only a few more literature anthologies would get a hold of this piece to include in their lineup...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Any Suggestions For The 200th Post?

One of my goals for the summer is to be able to reach 200 posts on Caponomics. This post here is #193, so there are just seven more posts until we reach the golden number 200. The question I have at hand is... what do I want to do with my 200th post? I usually go over statistical information about how many page views I have, which posts were most popular, discuss highlights of specific posts, among other things. These are things that usually get done each anniversary (which is every March 9th) or on other post anniversaries, such as the 100th post on November 12, 2011, which I used to discuss my experiences on Blogger.

So what do you think I should discuss in my 200th post? Perhaps a Q&A, which I decided not to push forward on, because I wasn't getting any questions to answer. I could have created my own questions and pretend to be other people, but I find there's something special with having readers come forward with different questions being backed by different ideas that I will then provide feedback to with my own point of view on the subject. Maybe I could conduct another Q&A for #200, because I haven't conducted a Q&A in quite awhile.

If not a Q&A, what would be another idea for that particular post? If you think there's a fine idea, I'm take it into heavy consideration. I do have at least fourteen ideas that will be discussion topics for the next several posts. One thing to expect is consecutive posts or posts that are created on the same day, maybe two, even three in one. There's a lot in store for Caponomics.

Please leave ideas in the reply box or if you have any questions for a future Q&A, put them down there as well and I'll do my best to answer them. If I get at least two questions, then I'll launch a Q&A. If not, we could always do it another time and I'll think of something creative for the 200th post.

Hot Product: Talenti Gelato

I have begun to enjoy the sweet, rich, indulging taste of a delicious, creamy gelato. "Gelato," of course, is "ice cream" in Italian, only it has been looked at in a completely different fashion as regular ice cream. My guess is that "gelato" concentrates more on adding cream, which is essential to the way that Italians enjoy this treat. Also to be brought into perspective is the fact that Italy is one of several countries that is quality above all. The United States does make an effort to create good quality products, but at the same time is about convenience and mass production in order to release mass sales of a product. Talenti Gelato is a gelato that you can buy at the supermarket and eat the moment you pick it up and pay the bill... and find a spoon. It's quite the delicious, all-natural treat and it's meant to be enjoyed.

At four dollars for a pint, Talenti Gelato is costly for its size (it's no Breyer's or Turkey Hill), but it's rich and creamy and rich and creamy is key. I found the opportunity to buy two pints after it went on sale for about two dollars per pint. I bought the Tahitian Vanilla Bean flavor, which is reasonable for a someone like me who will take vanilla over chocolate any day of the week. While it may be a plain way of thinking, in my mind, if you are not able to succeed at the basics, why would you be able to succeed at the more complicated? There was absolutely no issue with Talenti, because it was absolutely delicious.

The gelato is packaged in a clear, screw on jar in which you turn the lid in order to open it. Depending on the freezer in which it resides, the plastic jar is bound to become easily frosted. Granted, many of ice cream companies use a cardboard container to package their product, so plastic is not very familiar. When taking a scoop of the vanilla, the ice cream was quite frosty, but its richness and creaminess melted in my mouth. Since this is vanilla bean we're talking about, the gelato was not as sugary sweet as say a French Vanilla or rich and creamy vanilla would be. Nevertheless, it captivated vanilla as it should be captivated. The object here was to have a product that tasted great and was all-natural and made with authentic, pure ingredients.

Talenti Gelato was founded by Josh Hochschuler, who was inspired by such an idea that came from Argentina. He uses hormone free milk, pure cane sugar, and low temperature pasteurization to execute such a natural and delicious idea. Aside from Tahitian Vanilla Bean, some of Talenti's other flavors include Sicilian Pistachio, Mediterranean Mint, Sea Salt Caramel, Roman Raspberry, Belgian Milk Chocolate, Southern Butter Pecan, and the list keeps going on and on. Chances are you are bound to find a flavor that will suit your taste.

Ice cream has always been meant to refresh. Gelato has been meant to do the same as well. Everything about Talenti Gelato is refreshing and there aren't any worries about mysterious ingredients that may be lingering around. When you enjoy it, you enjoy it, and this gelato does what every gelato should do: take your mind off of absolutely everything that is going on at the current moment and claim your absolute attention in the process. You should definitely check it out in the supermarket. If you're willing to pay four dollars for a pint, then go right ahead. Otherwise, keep an eye out for a sale, but don't wait too long, because I'm sure you will not be able to do so after you taste it once.

Definitely check out, where you learn about the background of the gelato PLUS see a copy of the food label on the back. Talk about some honest business. Buy Talenti Gelato, eat it, and enjoy!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What I Got Out Of The NFL Draft Of 2013

I will start out by affirming that I have several pieces planned for this month and throughout the summer and fortunately, I will have some more time to complete this after college gets out for the semester. What I have planned include television reviews, book reviews, short story reviews, poem reviews, song reviews, food reviews, movie reviews, and anything and everything else you can think of... oh and some "Let's Be Brutally Honest" as well.

For now, the NFL Draft may have wrapped up last week, but there's a lot to go over with regard to who hit it on the money and who did not address their needs and did not do themselves any favors. Going in to the draft, the biggest names included quarterbacks Geno Smith and Matt Barkley, wide receiver Tavon Austin, linebacker Manti Te'o (for good and bad reasons), and offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, though other players have showed their worth and in this unpredictable draft that did not live up to the hype of last year, we saw twists and turns throughout.

To start the draft, the Chiefs and Jaguars selected Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel respectively. The offensive tackle is a role that garners little recognition with regard to individual talent, but the offensive line that is made up of tackles, guards, and the center is what allows the quarterback to shine. This is the difference between a brick wall and Swiss cheese. Not as many flashy names were taken from here, such as the Dolphins trading up to #3 to take defensive end Dion Jordan and the Eagles taking offensive tackle Lane Johnson with the fourth pick. When we got to the eighth pick, the Rams selected Tavon Austin, the top receiver in the draft, in order to provide QB Sam Bradford with some more passing options. The first quarterback would not go until #16 and the Bills decided that E.J. Manuel would be the one that fit their scheme the best. They are bound to be heading into a new direction, but whether or not E.J. Manuel is slated to be a guy is an absolute question mark. Plenty of notable players were left on the board after night number one.

It would be on the second evening that Manti Te'o and Geno Smith would find their new homes. Te'o went to the Chargers, while Smith went to the Jets. This seems to be a sign that Mark Sanchez is on the hot seat and will need to meet expectations or lose his job to Geno Smith. I don't see the Jets as being a contender with the mess they have and the question will be whether or not Smith will help the team into the right direction or not. Tim Tebow has been shown the door as they did not make use of him whatsoever.

Matt Barkley had to wait until the fourth round to be selected by the Eagles, who traded up to get him. Ryan Nassib, another quarterback who could have easily went to the Bills, went to the Giants instead. Chances are the Giants are looking for an efficient backup to take the reigns in an emergency situation and David Carr does not fit that bill. These kinds of powerful backups are becoming hot after what we have seen from Matt Flynn with his time behind Aaron Rodgers on the Packers and Russell Wilson on the Seahawks. Now, Flynn should hopefully see a chance with the Raiders. As for Barkley, we could expect Nick Foles to have no option but to play to his highest potential and for Michael Vick to have one last chance as well. The selection of tight end Zach Ertz by the Eagles was quite the selection, providing whomever is in the pocket with an additional target and pair them with Brent Celek. From what we saw with the Patriots and how they activated Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, two tight ends is quite a combination.

Some of the top decisions in the draft go to the Vikings and their three picks in the first round, one of which coming about after trading Percy Harvin to the Seahawks. Then you have the 49ers trading with the Cowboys to go up in the round and in addition, fill in possible needs.

As for the teams responsible for wasted opportunities, the one that tops the list is the Jaguars. The Jags need a quarterback to lead them and provide the team with a flashy face and neither Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne provide such a face. Gabbert is mediocre at best and Henne was below mediocre with the Dolphins. The Jags picked up quarterbacks after the draft ended, so they will have to hope and pray that one of them will be useful. In addition, Justin Blackmon, a wide receiver, is suspended for the first four games. The Jags refuse to go after Tim Tebow, which is an equivalent to refusing an offer for food on the Oregon Trail with paranoia that it's tainted. The Jags are overthinking, because they need to not only worry about winning games, but also about attracting fans. They are not popular and they don't fill their stadiums. Their next stop seems to be another city. The Panthers showed that Steve Smith is the only wide receiver they need and the Browns seem to be traveling along the same path they have been, but we'll just have to see how Brandon Weeden performs as the future approaches.

I cannot make any predictions about the 2013 NFL season until September, because the draft has little to nothing to do about the official notion as to how a team is going to perform. The only exception is in the event that a star player comes about, usually a quarterback that is ready to take the reigns on day one and lead the team into a new era, like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III (and to some extent Russell Wilson) did last season.

What I got out of this draft was that because we didn't see dynamic players popping up and going immediately, this isn't a class that is going to sway one team in the upper direction. The only projections I can make is that the Jaguars are a good nominee for the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and the Bills, Browns, and Panthers will likely see no improvement (but this doesn't immediately mean regression, either). Should be exciting what we get out of the summer and what the progression of the off-season has to offer.