Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

Last week the Boy Scouts of America announced it will allow girls to join the organization with the following statement released on their official website:

 

“Today, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls, the organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who’ve never been involved in Scouting – to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.”

 

Skeptics claim it’s not really a decision about actually being inclusive, it’s just a publicity stunt to increase Boy Scout membership which has steadily decreased in the last decade. The Girl Scouts of America are not terribly happy about the announcement, either. In fact, the day after the Boy Scouts posted the above statement, the Girl Scouts released their official position on their website:  

 

“Girl Scouts is the best girl leadership organization in the world, created with and for girls. We believe strongly in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides, which creates a free space for girls to learn and thrive.

 

The benefit of the single-gender environment has been well-documented by educators, scholars, other girl- and youth-serving organizations, and Girl Scouts and their families. Girl Scouts offers a one-of-a-kind experience for girls with a program tailored specifically to their unique developmental needs.”

 

The two organizations have never really seen eye to eye. The Boy Scouts were founded a little more than 100 years ago and the Girl Scouts (then called Girl Scouting) approx. five years later. By the mid 1920’s the Boy Scouts of America sued the Girl Scouts for use of the word, “Scouts.”  The traditionalist “manly-men” of the time objected to the term “Scout” being used for girls. That’s right, the lawsuit was all about the manliness of the word Scout and how, if used to describe a girl, the word would be emasculated.

 

Obviously, the Girl Scouts won the lawsuit. 

 

Several decades later and the two organizations still don’t really get along. That being said, the Girl Scouts have been far more progressive for much, much longer. The Girls Scouts have long since championed civil rights, inclusion and acceptance. And to them it wasn’t a big deal. It just seemed like the right thing to do. (It is).

 

The Boy Scouts have been firmly anti-gay membership, anti-LGBT inclusion and 100% -- no girls allowed, until very recently.  It wasn’t until 2013 that the Boy Scouts lifted the open ban on gay scouts. It wasn’t until 2015 that the Boy Scouts ended the prohibition on adult gay Scout leaders. Finally, in Jan of 2017, the Boy Scouts said it will allow members that self-identify as male to join. 

 

So, the Girl Scouts have been way ahead of the Boy Scouts on pretty much all progressive social issues so I can understand the  G.S. leadership annoyance. The Girl Scouts have been all inclusive for decades -- no press. The Boy Scouts finally, finally, finally catch up with the rest of progressive America -- all the press.

 

And maybe Boy Scouts are changing for the wrong reasons. But that doesn’t matter much to me. As long as progress is being made forward I’m all for it.

 

Conservatives around the internet shrugged a collective “meh” at the Boy Scout inclusion news. I honestly thought there would be more faux outrage and I’m glad to report that there wasn’t.

 

And, let’s be honest, the Boy Scouts will still be overwhelmingly male. But now, a troop can form and all boy, all girl, or mixed gender Cub Scout group.

 

Seems fair to me. 

 

And for anyone who thinks this is another liberal, feminist platform “ruining” things for real Americans I offer two things:

 

First: the overwhelmingly conservative Boy Scout board of directors unanimously voted in favor of the more inclusive policies.

 

Second: Samantha Bee and Full Frontal's: Fem Agenda: What to Ruin Next.



 

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Famous indie movie Executive Producer Harvey Weinstein has been fired from The Weinstein Company. Last week the NY Times broke a colossal story alleging decades of harassment and abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Over the weekend, the New Yorker followed up with From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories - detailing two decades of Harvey’s sexual harassment, sexual assault (up to and including rape) and his threats of ruining careers to cover it all up.  

 

Harvey Weinstein, the man behind some of the biggest indie hits of forever. All of Tarantino's films, Kevin Smith's movies, Oscar Winner's - The King's Speech, Silver Linings Playbook, Shakespeare in Love -- to name a few.  

 

Actress Rose McGowan came out almost a decade ago and told her story of being sexually assaulted by a studio head. People took her seriously but didn’t take her that seriously, because, at the time, she refused to name names. Citing the fact she still wanted to work in Hollywood and knew if she named the specific person, he would probably destroy her career.  But this week, as several other women have come forward, Rose finally confirmed her assault was at the hands of Weinstein.

 

Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and several other actresses going back two decades have come forward with stories of sexual harassment or worse, at the hands of Harvey Weinstein.

 

This weekend, Paltrow went on record that, when she was 22 years old, Mr. Weinstein  summoned her to his hotel suite for a meeting about her upcoming film, “Emma,” which Weinstein was Executive Producing (i.e. - putting up the money for) and had just cast to play the title role.  Paltrow says that it wasn't "a meeting" at all. Harvey sat her down and began massaging her (without her consent) and then suggested they head to the bedroom.

 

She said about the incident, “I was a kid. I was signed up (for Mr. Weinstein’s movie), I was petrified" and later, “I thought I was going to get fired.”  She turned him down and fled the room as fast as possible, confiding in her then boyfriend Brad Pitt. Pitt immediately confronted Weinstein and told him to leave Paltrow alone and never bother her again.  Weinstein responded by warning her not to tell anyone else about his come-on or he would ruin her career.

 

Brad Pitt’s people have confirmed both facts that Paltrow told him about the incident and that he (Pitt) confronted Weinstein.

 

Brad Pitt. One of the biggest movie stars in the world. Pitt knew in 1996 that Weinstein was a creeper. Which means, I suspect, that lots of other people have known over the years too. 

 

And nothing ever really came of it. 

 

The Paltrow incident was twenty one years ago. And it’s just now coming out that he allegedly harassed, assaulted and raped women for two decades.

 

I hate to say this but -- a powerful man in Hollywood abusing his position and targeting vulnerable young women for assault -- doesn't exactly shock me. 

 

I’m not even shocked that it took so long to come out. The Onion’s aptly titled ‘How Could Harvey Weinstein Get Away With This?’ Asks Man Currently Ignoring Sexual Misconduct Of 17 Separate Coworkers, Friends, Acquaintances sums this position up nicely.

 

There are probably a lot of people complacent in Mr. Weinstein's abuse but one thing is certain, the man commanded immense power. Do a quick Google search for “Harvey Weinstein” and “careers he’s ruined” and you’ll see what I’m talking about. He bred fear. And so he was able to get away with it.

 

Until now.

 

The assault allegations have rolled in and due to them, Harvey Weinstein’s wife has left him  and he’s been fired from his job -- from the company he co-founded.

 

That’s all good. But it’s not good enough.

 

I would like to mention that all the allegations against Harvey Weinstein are just that, -- “allegations.” Harvey Weinstein certainly deserves his day in court. But just as in the Bill Cosby case(s), when that many women come forward, you can rest assured both men are guilty.

 

I hope Weinstein gets his day in court.

 

And then I hope he goes to jail for a very long time.

 

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The National Sexual Assault Hotline : 1.800.656.4673 available 24 hours a day through RAINN. 

 

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 28 September 2017 18:19

Opinion: Trump and Conservatives vs. The NFL

Conservatives are in an uproar. The NFL, you see, has gone too far.

 

I wish I could tell you the uproar was over the NFL’s concussion issues or the terrifying realities of CTE, or the NFL’s domestic violence scandals or the NFL’s sexual assault scandals. You Google NFL and the words “domestic violence” or “sexual assault” and you will get a scary number of legitimate hits.

 

These are all serious issues; each and every one, and all worthy of an uproar.

 

But no. Conservatives aren’t angry about any of those “silly” things.

 

They have focused their rage on something truly important -- the NFL player national anthem protest!

 

You know the one I’m talking about. The one Colin Kaepernick started last year? Kaepernick, that outspoken, black, male, Muslim who rocks a huge afro (a veritable list of things that make white folks really uncomfortable). Well, as the story goes -- Kap kneels during the anthem, to raise awareness to social injustice and police brutality against people of color.

 

That’s why Colin Kaepernick knelt. That was last year. Conservatives were in an uproar last year too. But this time, it’s much worse.  

 

Last week a few players knelt during the anthem in support of what Kaepernick began a year ago, which led President Donald Trump to say at an Alabama rally:

 

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'”

 

Okay. Whatever. Trump yells weird things that have nothing to do with government or his job is nothing new.

 

But man, did Trump’s comments get under the skin of NFL owners, coaches and players. All but two team owners issued statements denouncing Trump’s words and supporting players right to peaceful protest. The following weekend, hundreds of NFL players knelt during the anthem, while some players stood and linked arms in solidarity and one team did not even take the field until after the anthem ended.

 

The NFL didn’t line up in support of Kap but when Donald Trump calls NFL players, “SOB’s”  suddenly, the shit hits the fan. Or, as former NFL great, Shannon Sharpe said on Fox Sports’ Undisputed:

 

“I’m disappointed. And I’m unimpressed. Because this is the tipping point. Of the 7,537 things that President Trump has said in the last 50 years, him (Trump) calling an NFL player an SOB is what brought the NFL, the owners and its players, together. And while some might be moved by the conscience of these NFL owners, it wasn’t their conscience that moved them. It was the cash.”

 

Sharpe points out that several NFL owners gave “...a million dollars for the inauguration of President Trump” even after they ignored all of The Donald’s racist and sexist comments throughout the Presidential campaign.

 

Sharpe continues, “And now they (NFL owners) seem to be shocked (at what Trump says about the NFL). Every author that’s written a book about President Trump, and they started writing books about him in the 1980s, they say he is exactly today as he was then.”

 

Perhaps Sharpe is right. Perhaps the majority of the League’s owners don’t give a rat’s ass about social equality and instead see free publicity for their team and therefore -- extra cash. Last year, when conservatives were in an uproar over Kaepernick’s kneeling protest, do you recall seeing and / or reading about any such wide spread NFL solidarity for him?

 

I don’t either.

 

But the solidarity is there now. And I’m happy to see it. It’s the right thing to do. Obviously.

 

But some folks are going crazy. As always.

 

How bout them super vocal, rage fueled Cowboy’s fans who screamed into the Texas winds they were “one hundred percent positive!” that “Boys” owner, Jerry Jones will fire any “ungrateful, disrespectful” player who knelt during the anthem?



 

Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, kneels during the national anthem.

 

Is Mr. Jones doing it for cash, as Mr. Sharpe suggests, or in solidarity? Or both?

 

I don’t know. And I don’t really care. But I do know, despite world wide / US issues blowing up all week long -- hurricanes, war threats with North Korea, healthcare reforms -- President Trump had to weigh in on the NFL.

 

Again, and again, and again.

 

Watch John Oliver’s three minute recap of the insanity.

 

As President Trump leads the way, emboldened racist Americans step up across the country and voice their concern over these “ungrateful, disrespectful” -- NFL players. (And we all know that what they really mean is, “ungrateful, disrespectful -- n****rs!).

 

Like Paul Smith, a fire chief in Pennsylvania. He took to Facebook and called out head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tomlin’s Steelers waited in the locker room until after the national anthem ended and then took the field. Tomlin is one of the few black head coaches in the NFL. Smith writes on Facebook:

 

"Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good N****rs! Yes I said it."

 

How about John Valko, WI restaurant co-owner. Valko, again on Facebook, in a now deleted post, writes:

 

 

“Kill the idiot players. Execute them. They are nothing but garbage. The league is screwed up if they think it is their right. It is their duty to respect our country and our flag. They should go kneel in front of a freight train. Shame on these stupid misfits of society. They need to die.”

 

Even semi famous people are getting in it. Taya Kyle, the widow of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle told the NFL off, in a ridiculous condescending and naïve open letter. She writes:  

 

“(NFL…) You were doing your part to bring people together and heal the world … You were doing your part celebrating each other based on skills, talent and a joint vision without regard to color and religion ... You were doing your part and we were doing ours. We showed up cheering and groaning together to as one. We talked in the concession lines and commiserated and celebrated our team together. Did it ever occur to you that you and we were already a mix of backgrounds, races and religions? We were already living the dream you want, right in front of you … Your desire to focus on division and anger has shattered what many people loved most about the sport. Football was really a metaphor for our ideal world – different backgrounds, talents, political beliefs and histories as one big team with one big goal - to do well, to win, TOGETHER … You dear NFL, have taken that. You have lost me here.”

 

Damn you, NFL players! You were just about to solve racism with your next Play Action Pass and you went and ruined it all with your fucking kneeling!

 

Look -- NFL players kneeling or standing during the anthem is not a federal issue. So President Trump can STFU about it. The NFL is a business and is not beholden to the Tweet Whims of President “Tiny Hands.”

 

If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tells NFL coaches & players what they can and can not do during the national anthem, well, that’s one thing, because he’s their boss. And the boss usually gets a say in how his employees behave.

 

Well - Roger Goodell, the man in charge of the NFL, has come out in full support of players protesting during the national anthem. Sorry, Mr. President -- the boss has spoken. End of discussion.

 

But it’s not just Trump and mostly white private citizens that are in a tizzy, it’s also, mostly white conservatives politicians and pundits that are freaking out too. And all of them love to use the words, “ungrateful” and, “disrespectful” about mostly black, NFL players.

 

All of this is what led Trevor Noah of the Daily to Show to ask, “ungrateful to whom” in this delightful six minute Daily Show clip that you should totally watch -- “When is the Right Time for Black People to Protest.

 

Conservatives -- enough with the “ungrateful” -- “disrespectful” BS! As Trevor Noah points out, “That’s some sneaky ass racism.”

 

Though it’s really Noah’s Dr. Seuss inspired closing lines in the above linked video that sum it all up rather nicely.

 

(Since most folks don’t click on links. I’ll recreate it for you here)

 

When is the Right Time for Black People to Protest?

By Trevor Noah (and probably Daily Show staff writers too)

 

“It’s wrong to do it in the streets.

It’s wrong to do it in the Tweets.

You CANNOT do it on the field.

You CANNOT do it if you kneeled.

And don’t do it -- if you’re rich.

You ungrateful -- son of a bitch.

Because there’s one thing that’s a fact.

You CANNOT protest if you’re black.”

 

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President Trump continues to ramp up the war rhetoric with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Last week, GCN’s very own Anthony Varriano wrote about the “dick wagging” between the two leaders in his Opinion: Trump’s hands too small to handle North Korea alone.  

 

Well, “Tiny Hands” Trump and “Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un are back at it. It began last week when Trump delivered his speech at the United Nations saying Kim is on a “suicide mission for himself” (if he continues to build and test bombs) then called Kim a “madman” and later said the US would “totally destroy” North Korea if it moved against the US or its allies.

 

Kim Jong-un responded by calling President Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard.” A dotard, if you do not know, is slang for an elderly senile person. Then, over the weekend, President Trump threw gasoline on the fire with a tweet claiming that North Korea, “wouldn’t be around too much longer.”

 

The school yard insults are beneath world leaders and if the stakes weren't so high I would be a lot more snarky about grown ass men behaving this way. Finally, after a week of the two leaders tossing juvenile threats back and forth, North Korea’s Foreign Minister said:

 

"Last weekend Trump claimed that our leadership wouldn't be around much longer and declared a war on our country...” -- “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make all self-defensive counter measures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers at any time even when they are not yet inside the aerospace border of our country."

 

Dick wagging or not, these are dangerous words for world leaders to casually sling back and forth. I wouldn’t precisely say that Trump, “declared war” on North Korea but, in all fairness, there was a significant implied threat.

 

And if there is one thing that dictators do not respond well too, it’s significant implied threats.  

 

I don’t want a lunatic like Kim Jong-un to have weapons of mass destruction. He keeps threatening to bomb and or attack the US and its allies. Which is why, President Trump, rightfully said that Kim was on a “suicide mission.” Because what other result does Kim expect? If a world leader claims they are making weapons of mass destruction and then openly brags about targets that can be attacked in the US and / or in US allied countries -- then the US has to take that seriously. It doesn’t matter if it’s only “dick wagging” posturing.

 

I wish we in the US and the North Korean’s both had more cool headed, thick skinned adult leaders than we actually do. But we have what we have.  And like all cripplingly insecure men, our two respective country leaders are tossing juvenile threats and wagging the dog. Perhaps Kim doesn’t really plan to attack the US. Perhaps he’s just talking shit in order to look tough. It seems to have gotten to that point where it no longer matters what his intentions are. The US has to take him for his word.

 

Perhaps Kim wants a war with the US. I don’t know and I don't claim to know what that lunatic thinks. So what can be done? 

 

So far, US sanctions against North Korea have proven to be ineffective because 75% of its exports go to China. The Chinese government could stop this war posturing if they stepped up and imposed financial sanctions of their own. And that might be happening as sources around the interweb claim, Top Chinese bank vows to strictly apply UN sanctions on North Korea.

 

This appears to be a step in the right direction. Let’s hope it stays that way. But with two explosive hot heads leading both respective countries, one just never knows.

 

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UPDATED: This is an archived story and may be out of date. Peterson has since been traded from the Saints to the Cardinals. 

 

 

Karma rears its lovely head.

 

Adrian Peterson wanted out of the Vikings franchise. His contract with the Vikings would have netted him several million dollars and, probably, a decent amount of playing time. But that wasn’t good enough for him. So he moved on. Peterson was the face of the MN Vikings for almost a decade and I was sad to see him leave, but it really was time for him to go.  A few months ago I wrote about that very thing in an Open Letter to Bridgewater, Bradford and Peterson.

 

Even at the age of 332 (which is like 55 in running back years) Peterson thought he had a few more 1,500 yard seasons in him. He also though, as a free agent he would command nine to twelve million dollars per year.

 

And so he left the Vikings. He left the franchise that stood by him for nine season. He left the fans that adored him. He went elsewhere. 

 

Okay. Well, this is the NFL and players move on. It happens.

 

So AP took a chance as a free Agent and the Vikings took a chance on second round draft pick Dalvin Cook.

 

Peterson's journey went exactly how everyone, except for Adrian Peterson, expected -- no one wanted to hire a 32 year old running back. Especially, not one that has had two reconstructive knee surgeries. And, of course, they most certainly did not want to pay him -- nine to twelve bloody million dollars!

 

The few meetings Peterson had with NFL coaches or owners went nowhere. Calls from interested teams were virtually non existent. The Patriots passed. The Seahawks may have been interested but -- no, never mind, they passed too.  

 

It was kind of embarrassing. Peterson should have retired. But then, suddenly -- the New Orleans Saints offered Peterson a roster spot for about one tenth of his asking price and all NFL fans everywhere went, “Wait --- what? Who? Why? Peterson will never take a job with the Saints. He'd rather retire!”

 

Except -- nope. He would indeed take a job with the Saints.

 

But ... but .... but .... (you say).  

 

I know! The Saints have built their offense on the throwing arm of Drew Brees. The Saints don’t run the ball! If they hire Peterson it will just be to use him as a play action decoy -- so Brees can pass.

 

As a New Orleans player, Peterson must know he’s only going to touch the ball about six or eight times per game, right?

 

Wrong.

 

Peterson has now played four games as a Saints running back and he is firmly set in place as the third string running back. That’s right, “third string.” Behind starter Mark Ingram and second string rookie back, Alvin Kamara. In four weeks as a Saint, Peterson has produced 81 running yards on 27 carries. That’s 3 yards per carry. So, obviously he's frustrated. But to be honest, both Ingram and Kamara are more productive than Peterson. And both Ingram and Kamara can pass protect -- which has always been one of Peterson's universally known weaknesses. 

 

Peterson has politely voiced his concern to the press with his now infamous, “I didn’t sign up for for nine snaps (per game)” interview. 

 

Well, Mr. Peterson, I don’t know what the New Orleans Saints staff told but, yes -- you most certainly did sign with Saints to get nine snaps per game. And you should be lucky to get that.

 

On the flip side of things, over the same four games, the MN Vikings started rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Cook amassed 354 yards on 74 carries for 4.7 yards per carry. Sadly, Dalvin Cook was injured in week four and will sit out the remainder of the season. 

  

I’m almost certain Peterson could be far more productive in future games with the Saints, but he will never get the game time to develop into the threat he was in MN.  Peterson is not an "out the gate" type of running back. Peterson is a slow burn. His uncanny endurance is legendary. He gets stronger as the game goes on. He needs twenty snaps per game in order for his per average carry to increase because he tends to pick up speed, vision and yards in quarters three and four. Peterson needs time. He needs snaps.

 

But they just don’t do things that way in New Orleans. 

 

For now, Peterson is a non productive team member for the team that headhunted him and, at the time in 2009, his teammates -- The New Orleans Saints Bounty Scandal.  

 

 In closing, Mr. Peterson, if the only team that offers you a contract is the very same team, with the very same owner and the very same head coach, that offered players additional bonus money to injure star quarterbacks including, Mr. Peterson -- your QB1 at that time-- perhaps retirement is the better option.

 

But Peterson didn’t retire. He became a New Orleans Saint.

 

A New Orleans Saint with 81 yards on 27 carries.

 

Again -- something about karma and its ugly head.

 

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JJ Abrams taking over writing and directing duties on Episode IX from ousted helmsman Colin Trevorrow is not exactly surprising. Citing, “creative differences” Lucasfilm sent Trevorrow packing, which makes him the fourth time Disney has hired a director -- had said director work on their Star Wars project (for years!) and then fired said director. That’s six feature films, four fired directors and two fired screenwriters.

 

To be honest, the removal of a screenwriter is nothing new; however, the removal of a director is rare and the removal of a director after shooting some, if not most of the production -- is unheard of.

Unless, apparently, you work at Disney Lucasfilm. Where it happens all the time. 

 

So what’s going on over at Disney Lucasfilm? 

 

The simple answer: They keep hiring indie directors who are used to having enormous creative control. Those directors don’t do well when under the microscope of a colossal tent pole franchise construction where everyone wants a piece of the pie.

 

That being said -- four director replacements in six movies? Are we talking gross management incompetence or are all these changes justified? Or is it both?

 

Let’s take a look at the hit list:

 

Screenwriter -- Academy Award Winner Michael Arndt. Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 

Screenwriter Michael Arndt, (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3), was brought on to Star Wars way back in 2012, and he toiled on the screenplay for almost a year and a half -- and never produced a single complete draft.

 

By the end of 2013,  JJ Abrams had had enough, stepped in as writer but also hired screenwriter and Star Wars vet -- Lawrence Kasdan (writer: The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark). Arndt was out and Abrams and Kasdan hacked out a first draft by January 2014. 

 

It should be noted that Abrams has gone on record to say that while it’s true Arndt never finished a completed draft but Arndt did turn in plenty of notes, treatments & outlines and offered plenty of ideas and input that made it into the final Abrams / Kasdan screenplay.

 

Arndt discusses with Entertainment Weekly, some of his story problems and the ideas that did not make it into the final draft:  

 

“Early on I tried to write versions of the story where [Rey] is at home, her home is destroyed, and then she goes on the road and meets Luke. And then she goes and kicks the bad guy’s ass, It just never worked and I struggled with this. This was back in 2012. It just felt like every time Luke came in and entered the movie, he just took it over. Suddenly you didn’t care about your main character [Rey] anymore because, ‘Oh fuck, Luke Skywalker’s here. I want to see what he’s going to do.’”

 

Fair enough. But still. If you work on a screenplay for a year and a half and don’t turn in a single complete draft -- you get fired.

 

I call this firing: Completely reasonable.

 

Director -- Josh Trank. Movie: Untitled Boba Fett feature film.

 

During the 2015 Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, CA, Lucasfilm set up a panel for directors Gareth Edwards of Rogue One, Monster and Godzilla (2014) and Josh Trank of Untitled Boba Fett feature film, Chronicle and Fantastic Four (2015) to discuss their upcoming Star Wars projects. Mysteriously, Trank no showed. Edwards pushed forward alone. Soon there after we found out that Trank pulled out of the event a two days before when he realized he was getting removed from the Boba Fett film. And, sure enough, a week after the Anaheim celebration, Trank was fired from the Boba Fett feature film.

 

Trank’s statement at the time:

 

“After a year of having the incredible honor of developing with the wonderful and talented people at Lucasfilm, I’m making a personal decision to move forward on a different path. I’ve put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities. That said, the Star Wars universe has always been one of my biggest influences, and I couldn’t be more excited to witness its future alongside my millions of fellow Star Wars fans. I want to thank my friends Kathleen Kennedy, Kiri Hart, Simon Kinberg, and everyone at Lucasfilm and Disney for the amazing opportunity to have been a part of this. May the Force be with you all.”

 

Very polite. But the firing was not surprising. Do a quick Google search on Trank and Fantastic Four and you will find a slew of articles that detail Trank’s erratic behavior on the set of the much maligned F.F. film. It really was no shock to hear he had been fired. In fact, his juvenile antics, his chronic tardiness and absenteeism and, according to many cast and crew members, his unprofessional behavior on the set of the Fant4stic has all but effectively ruined his film career. Trank has had no major studio work since the F.F. and nothing mapped out for him on future charts.

 

With the horrible stories coming off the F.F. set, it’s not surprising that Disney had cold feet about the young director. The Boba Fett film died with Trank’s departure.

 

Okay, so -- several months of crazy, bad behavior by immature director and no one wants to work with him ever again? 

 

I call this firing: Completely reasonable.

 

Directors -- Christopher Miller and Phil Lord. Movie: Untitled Han Solo feature film.

 

The co-directors behind the new Han Solo film were replaced after shooting, reportedly, almost eighty percent of the film. This is totally unheard of.

 

According to the Hollywood Reporter:

 

“Several sources close to the movie and others close to the directors tell EW that ever since filming began back in February, Lord and Miller, who are known primarily for wry, self-referential comedies like 21 Jump Street and the pilot episodes for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Last Man on Earth, began steering the Han Solo movie more into the genre of laughs than space fantasy.

 

According to some sources, the split was a subtle one that became magnified over time: Lucasfilm and producer Kennedy believed Lord and Miller were hired to add a comedic touch; Lord and Miller believed they were hired to make a comedy.”

 

For a more detailed view,  I wrote about it a few months ago.  But, basically, the directors ignored the required tone of the film and began to make a screwball comedy. Some of the actors complained to execs and producers. Director were fired. Ron Howard was hired to finish the film. 

 

Now, the director, not anyone else -- creates the tone of the film. UNLESS -- you are making a franchise picture with decades and decades of backstory and baggage. Then the tone is probably set in stone and with that in mind you do what the studio tells you too. On the other hand, the duo directors were well known for their highly improvisational film sets (both the modern 21 Jump Street films).  It’s hard for me to fathom someone hiring directors that are known for improvising vast portions of their film and then -- fire them for improvising vast portions of your film.

 

I call this one: Partially reasonable.

 

Director: Gareth Edwards. Movie: Rogue One

 

Technically, Edwards was not fired from the set of Rogue One but he certainly wasn’t in charge of the reshoots -- of the film he directed. Instead, Tony Gilroy (writer/ director: Michael Clayton, screenwriter: The Bourne Trilogy) was assigned to retask Rogue One to make it less grim and give it an entirely new ending. There are enough stories leaked from the set and the editing studio to suggest that a full thirty percent of the film was rewritten and reshot, with the majority of the film’s storyline being rearranged in the final edit.   

 

Disney never confirmed much regarding the hiring of Gilroy and on the movie's changes other than a generic, “All movies have reshoots,”  but -- why would you not let the director of your film -- direct the reshoots? Of the film he directed?  

 

There really is only one answer -- Disney was not confident Edwards was the right director for the job (or, perhaps, in the first place).

 

Word on the interwebs is that Edwards just went too far in making his gritty, realistic space war movie and ignored the principal reason he was there -- to make a Star Wars movie. So Disney brought in someone else to do it "right."

 

Edwards worked on this film for three years. I find it unlikely that, suddenly, at the very end of principal photography, execs at Lucasfilm were like, “Wait-a-minute! This isn’t what we wanted.” How the hell did it take execs two years of pre production, an entire year of principal photography and then multiple edits in order to figure this out?  Besides, Edwards delivered the film -- he always told Disney he was going to deliver! From day one Edwards called it a “gritty, realistic space war film.” And then he gave Disney just that.

 

And then they gave his job to someone else.

 

I call this one: A mixed bag but probably; partially reasonable.

 

Director -- Colin Trevorrow, Writer -- Jack Thorne. Movie: Star Wars Episode IX.

 

Back full circle. Another director fired. Another screenwriter fired. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World) turned in multiple drafts but no one at Disney was satisfied with the work.

 

So they brought in another writer, English playwright and TV scriptwriter, Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Skins, Shameless). When Disney decided to let Trevorrow go for “creative differences,” Abrams stepped in and teamed with screenwriter Chris Terrio (writer: Argo, Batman vs. Superman and Justice League), which means Thorne was let go.

 

Disney is being very tight lipped about all the changes up to and including the recent Star Wars Episode IX shake up. No one knows, yet, if any work from the Trevorrow / Thorne drafts will be kept or if everything will be trashed and Abrams / Terrio will start from scratch.

 

Another Disney-Lucasfilm dust up. To be honest, I'm sure there will be many more to come. 

 

I call this one: Not enough information to judge. Yet.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be released December 15th, 2017.


Star Wars: Episode IX will be released December 20th, 2019.

 

--

 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 20:06

Hurricane Relief: How You Can Help

With back to back hurricanes blowing up the south and another two heading towards the Caribbean and Veracruz, many are wondering how to help. The staggering cost to repair & rebuild is predicted to be as high as two hundred billion dollars.

 

Per hurricane.

 

Only wealthy governments and donations from tens of millions of people can come up with those kind of dollars. Donations to the Red Cross are the most popular way to assist but by no means the only way. The Texas Tribune put together a great list of organizations where you can volunteer time or donate money. The Red Cross is a great organization but it’s also very large -- which means bureaucracy, which means it’s not as speedy as it could be. And that’s why I like the Texas Tribune list. Your donations will go directly to the places that need it.

 

The Tribune list compiles dozens of local volunteer options covering need for lawyers, musicians, chefs and medical personnel; to places you can donate blood, or hospitals you can assist at or donate to, or local animal shelters that need help with displaced pets -- their list goes on and on. Even if you live far outside the disaster zones there are plenty of options to assist.

 

PBS news (online) has a similar list to assist hurricane Irma victims. And while there are plenty of food banks collecting non perishables and cleaning supplies, recovery experts all agree that donating cash, not goods, is best. Goods can clog up supply lines and likely go to waste, case in point -- after hurricane Katrina, National Guard destroyed tens of thousands of bottles of water because folks just sent too much of it.


Donating money directly to local food banks operating within the disaster zone is far more beneficial than donating perishable goods to an organization near you and having them ship it. The Texas Tribune link above offers several options for local food banks that accept online donations, the largest being Central Texas Food Bank, while in Florida they have the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.

 

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 19:37

National Blood Donation Week

In 2015, GCN’s very own Dr. Daliah Wachs contacted Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to create a Nevada Blood Donation day to help the state raise blood and awareness.  From Wikipedia:

 

“Uniting with United Blood Services and the American Red Cross, Nevada Blood Donation Day held blood drives across the state and its success prompted the campaign to continue in 2016. During this year, blood shortages were being reported nationally. Dr. Daliah approached Governors in all 50 states to help proclaim state blood donation days, and United Blood Services, the American Red Cross and blood banks across the US joined forces to help bring this national campaign to light. By September 2016, the majority of states had proclaimed state blood donation days.”

 

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, National Blood Donation Week (NBDW) has been declared for September 4th - 10th with most states adopting Friday the 8th as their State’s National Blood Donation Day.

 

Dr. Dahlia writes, “It’s been amazing seeing both Democratic and Republican governors unite, following Governor Sandoval's lead. We're hoping to bring in thousands of pints of blood throughout the country. Thank you!!”

 

Research shows that one pint of blood can save up to three lives. To find a blood drive near you go to the American Red Cross “Find a Drive” link here.

 

And if one pint of blood has the potential to save three lives. Imagine what the whole country can do.

 

 

This fall, approximately one hundred million U.S. kids will attend elementary, middle and high school. Ahhh -- school. We were there once. We remember the collision of boys, girls, stress, homework, peer pressure, sports, academic clubs, social clubs, cliques, teachers and the number 2 pencil.

 

And, of course, we remember the dress code.

 

Dress codes have been a topic for public debate for as long as I can remember. All schools have some form of dress code, in fact many private schools have mandatory school uniforms. I believe it is safe to say that all dress codes are pretty universally gender biased and, frankly -- really odd -- The Atlantic -- Your 11 Weirdest Dress Code Rules.

 

Personally, I never had to suffer a strict dress code but many kids have it forced upon them.

 

Mandatory uniforms have issues as well but their are a whole lot of smart folks that believe a uniform honestly helps students and educators alike.

 

Let’s take a quick look at both options -- the mandatory uniforms and the more general used overly strict dress code and then finally, the school that gets it right. 

 

Some of the most common Pros and Cons of a school mandatory uniform.

 

 

Keeps students focused on education, not on the clothing they wear - vs. - Crushes individuality and promotes conformity.

 

I’m not one to conform so I might be biased here but I am on the side of individuality. Looking back on my time in public high school I can’t imagine certain friends not in their heavy metal tee shirts or not being able to wear their skater punk gear or not rocking their mohawk or not dyeing their hair or not being able to wear their cheerleader uniform as their daily outfit.

 

The entire idea just seems absurd to me!

 

BUT -- if uniforms did indeed keep kids focused more on education and did indeed, significantly increase student grades and improve their quality of education then I could probably be convinced that uniforms are the way to go. That being said, it appears that modern research (within the last decade) has found the opposite.

 

One such -- a 2009 peer-reviewed study found, "no significant effects of school uniforms on performance on second grade reading and mathematics examinations, as well as on 10th-grade reading, mathematics, science, and history examinations... In many of the specifications, the results are actually negative.”

       Ryan Yeung, "Are School Uniforms a Good Fit?: Results from the ECLS-K and the NELS," Educational Policy, Nov. 2009

 

School uniforms reducing peer pressure, shame and bullying by creating a level playing field in regard to clothing - vs. - School uniforms do not stop bullying and may increase violent attacks.

 

It would be great if school uniforms reduced peer pressure and shaming because Lord knows kids are cruel to each other and that bullying is a painful, real thing that affects hundreds of thousands of children.

 

Sadly, it appears as if the research suggest that uniformed kids do not experience less bullying and in fact, in several studies of specific districts, bullying and violence increase. A 2007 peer-reviewed study concludes, "school uniforms increased the average number of assaults by about 14 % [per year] in the most violent schools.”

        J. Scott Granberg-Rademacker, Jeffrey Bumgarner, and Avra Johnson, "Do School Violence Policies Matter? An Empirical Analysis of    Four Approaches to Reduce School Violence," Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, Spring 2007

 

Most parents and educators support school uniforms -vs - Students f**king hate uniforms!

 

Students do indeed seem to f**king hate school uniforms to the tune of 85-90 percent! Whereas the surveys I’ve read suggest parents and educators are less polarized but generally favorable to uniforms. Depending on the specific survey or research, parents and teachers are about 60-65 percent favorable.

 

Who’s right there? I don’t know. I would probably err on the side of -- let the kids and the parents decide what is appropriate for their child to wear or not.  

 

And, of course -- The push for school uniforms is driven by commercial interests rather than educational ones.

 

Like many things in a consumer driven life, marketing and money are the sole reasons behind that thing existing. The school uniform business is a one billion dollar industry in the US alone. JC Penny’s and Sears spend millions of dollars in marketing for specific regions and target parents in order to get that school uniform business.

 

They even have lobbyists. In Washington. Working to keep school uniforms in place and in business. So, if you’re against school uniforms for your kids -- you have that working against you.

 

Perhaps late satirist George Carlin said it best, "Don't these schools do enough damage, making all these children think alike? Now they're gonna get them to look alike, too?"

 

Well played, Mr. Carlin.

 

What if my school doesn’t have a mandatory uniform policy but DOES have a ridiculously overly critical dress code policy?

 

Yes. I was just getting to that!

 

Schools who do not push a mandatory uniform usually have a dress code policy. A very strict dress code policy. Without a standard uniform, a lot of schools, it seems, want to over mandate the dress code policy to create -- well -- a uniform look.

 

Strict dress code policies are shockingly sexist. From overly strict (and sometimes racist) ways a young girl can style their hair to punishing them for wearing a skirt that shows **gasp** their knees! All because that would be too distracting for the boys. The typical story -- boys are not responsible for their rapey thoughts because girls just show too much damn knee skin!

 

Sadly, I write nothing new. There are quite literally hundreds of thousands of articles online about sexist school dress code policies and abominable behavior from adults enforcing punishment for violations. Here is a great piece on Time.com by Laura Bates, How School Dress Codes Shame Girls and Perpetuate Rape Culture. Bates is the founder of The Everyday Sexism Project and the author of Everyday Sexism.  Her project collects testimonies from girls and young women from all over the world; sharing their experience of gender inequality.

 

There are so many stories of harassment, shame and punishment revolving around “dress code infractions”  that Bates concludes, “At this point it starts to feel like such ‘codes’ are less about protecting children and more about protecting strict social norms and hierarchies that refuse to tolerate difference or diversity.”

 

So, what’s a parent and educator to do? Mandatory uniform or dress code policy. You get one or the other.

 

Well, the fine folks over at Evanston Township High School, in Evanston, Illinois have made national news by reworking their existing dress code. Evangeline Semark, Director of Communications for ETHS writes,  

 

“This summer, a team of committed adults worked on revising our school's dress code. This effort was informed by the well-voiced concerns of our students and was in alignment with our equity goals and purpose. As we reworked the dress code, we also reflected on the stories of ETHS graduates who have walked our halls previously and experienced micro-aggressions (or worse) on a daily basis because of their personal style ...

A school can never consistently enforce some of the more nuanced, coded rules, so the result is too often a targeted policing of particular bodies (insert institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, etc. here). I'm looking forward to seeing the interactions among school employees and teens at ETHS shift from "take off your hat!!" to "how are you today?!" We may not get it right all the time during the first year (adult habits), but this new dress code will lead to an important shift in school culture, and will help affirm the identities of all students while reframing the focus to how we as adults can inspire young people to learn, not control what they wear.”

 

That sounds great and I would be really happy to hear all of that if I had kids that went to ETHS. But it’s also very easy to say these things. Enforcement of said policy and violations is also important to the process. Lots of other sources have reported some of the great things about the ETHS policy but since I don’t have a maximum word count I’ll just reproduce the entire dress code policy including their enforcement policy. It’s only an extra page and a half.  

 

 

 

From the Evanston Township High School Student Pilot Handbook:

 

Evanston Township High School expects that all students will dress in a way that is appropriate for the school day or for any school sponsored event. Student dress choices should respect the District’s intent to sustain a community that is inclusive of a diverse range of identities. The primary responsibility for a student’s attire resides with the student and their parent(s) or guardian(s). The school district is responsible for seeing that student attire does not interfere with the health or safety of any student, that student attire does not contribute to a hostile or intimidating atmosphere for any student, and that dress code enforcement does not reinforce or increase marginalization or oppression of any group based on race, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income, or body type/size. Any restrictions to the way a student dresses must be necessary to support the overall educational goals of the school and must be explained within this dress code.

 

  1. Basic​ ​Principle:​ ​Certain​ ​body​ ​parts​ ​must​ ​be​ ​covered​ ​for​ ​all​ ​students​ ​at​ ​all​ ​times. Clothes must be worn in a way such that genitals, buttocks, breasts, and nipples are fully covered with opaque fabric. However, cleavage should not have coverage requirements. All items listed in the “must wear” and “may wear” categories below must meet this basic principle.

  

2) Students​ ​Must​ ​Wear​, while following the basic principle of Section 1 above:

 

  • A​ ​Shirt​ (with fabric in the front, back, and on the sides under the arms), AND

  • Pants/jeans​ ​or​ ​the​ ​equivalent​ ​(for example, a skirt, sweatpants, leggings, a dress or shorts), AND Shoes​.

  • Courses that include attire as part of the curriculum (for example, professionalism, public speaking, and job readiness) may include assignment-specific dress, but should not focus on

covering bodies in a particular way or promoting culturally-specific attire. Activity-specific shoes requirements are permitted (for example, athletic shoes for PE).

 

3) ​Students​ ​May​ ​Wear​, as long as these items do not violate Section 1 above:

 

  • Hats facing straight forward or straight backward. Hats must allow the face to be visible to staff, and not interfere with the line of sight of any student or staff.

  • Religious headwear

  • Hoodie sweatshirts (wearing the hood overhead is allowed, but the face and ears must be visible to school staff).

  • Fitted pants, including opaque leggings, yoga pants and “skinny jeans”

  • Pajamas

  • Ripped jeans, as long as underwear and buttocks are not exposed.

  • Tank tops, including spaghetti straps; halter tops

  • Athletic attire

  • Visible waistbands on undergarments or visible straps on undergarments worn under other clothing (as long as this is done in a way that does not violate Section 1 above).

 

4) Students​ ​Cannot​ ​Wear:

 

  • Violent language or images.

  • Images or language depicting drugs or alcohol (or any illegal item or activity).

  • Hate speech, profanity, pornography.

  • Images or language that creates a hostile or intimidating environment based on any protected class or consistently marginalized groups.

  • Any clothing that reveals visible undergarments (visible waistbands and visible straps are allowed)

  • Swimsuits (except as required in class or athletic practice).

  • Accessories that could be considered dangerous or could be used as a weapon.

  • Any item that obscures the face or ears (except as a religious observance).

 

​Dress​ ​Code​ ​Enforcement

 

To ensure effective and equitable enforcement of this dress code, school staff shall enforce the dress code consistently using the requirements below. School administration and staff shall not have discretion to vary the requirements in ways that lead to discriminatory enforcement.

 

  • Students will only be removed from spaces, hallways, or classrooms as a result of a dress code violation as outlined in Sections 1 and 4 above. Students in violation of Section 1 and/or 4 will be provided three (3) options to be dressed more to code during the school day:

    • Students will be asked to put on their own alternative clothing, if already available at school, to be dressed more to code for the remainder of the day.

    • Students will be provided with temporary school clothing to be dressed more to code for the remainder of the day.

    • If necessary, students’ parents may be called during the school day to bring alternative clothing for the student to wear for the remainder of the day.

  • No student should be affected by dress code enforcement because of racial identity, sex assigned at birth, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural or religious identity, household income, body size/type, or body maturity.

  • School staff shall not enforce the school’s dress code more strictly against transgender and gender nonconforming students than other students.

  • Students should not be shamed or required to display their body in front of others (students, parents, or staff) in school. “Shaming” includes, but is not limited to:

    • kneeling or bending over to check attire fit;

    • measuring straps or skirt length;
      asking students to account for their attire in the classroom or in hallways in front of others;

    • calling out students in spaces, in hallways, or in classrooms about perceived dress code violations in front of others; in particular, directing students to correct sagged pants that do not expose the entire undergarment, or confronting students about visible bra straps, since visible waistbands and straps on undergarments are permitted; and,

    • accusing students of “distracting” other students with their clothing.

 

These dress code guidelines shall apply to regular school days and summer school days, as well as any school-related events and activities, such as graduation ceremonies, dances and prom.

 

Students who feel they have been subject to discriminatory enforcement of the dress code should contact the Associate Principal for Educational Services.

 

 

Friday, 11 August 2017 19:29

GenCon Celebrates its 50th Birthday

GenCon. Sixty thousand attendees. Several thousand unique role playing games, table top board games and PC and console computer games. Several hundred vendors & dealers from all over the world running free demos of their games and selling more bloody games than you can shake a stick at. GenCon is the largest tabletop game convention in the world and this year marks its fiftieth anniversary. 

But it wasn’t always the behemoth game convention it is today. In fact, Gen Con’s origin story is quite humble. And it all starts with the father of Dungeons and Dragons himself -- Mr. Gary Gygax. 

 

Gen Con 0 - 1967 - Location: The home of Gary Gygax, Lake Geneva, WI. Approx. Attendance: 12

 

Gary Gygax is the co-creator of the well known role playing game, Dungeons and Dragons but a few years before he helped write D&D, he was known in the small, but fierce, miniature tactical war gaming scene. I don’t want to get bogged down detailing too much Gygax history, instead I want to focus more on the history of GenCon. But they do intertwine. Here is an excellent piece detailing Gygax’s life and the history of D&D -- Wired’s, Dungeon Master: The Life and Legacy of Gary Gygax.

 

GenCon, was named after Lake Geneva, where Gygax lived. To my understanding there are no known pictures of GenCon O where Gygax invited some friends over to his pad, and they played miniature tactical war-games. For those unfamiliar with the idea -- a game involving two six sided dice and a whole bunch of miniature soldiers. Players took turns moving the miniatures closer to the opposing player and then using dice rolls to determine if a soldier “hit” or “missed” with its attack. This process repeats until one side has no soldiers left.

 



The following year Gygax decided to shell out fifty bucks and rent a room in his hometown’s Horticultural Hall, charging folks $1 to attend. The first official GenCon was born! Gygax made just enough money from attendance to cover the cost of renting the hall.

 

(GenCon 1, 1968)

 

From then on GenCon increased in attendance -- almost every year. There was a dip in attendance here and there but for the most part, a steady incline. Through word of mouth, people came from all over WI and then from near by states -- to game. For almost the entire first decade of GenCon it was at the Horticultural Hall in Lake Geneva, but once or twice was held elsewhere.

 

It wasn’t until Gygax and Dave Arneson co-create Dungeons & Dragons, that the convention really took off. D&D wasn’t a typical miniature tactical war game. It had a lot of similar aspects - you roll dice to determine specific outcomes and there was a lot of strategy involved in the combat but there was a huge, important distinction between the two -- in D&D you got to create and play -- a character. You could create an elf, or a dwarf or you could become a warrior or a rogue or a magic user. And the more times you played your character, the tougher that character became! This idea of "a character" and the advancement of your character become the core of all role playing games to follow. 

 

Gygax formed Tactical Studies Rules (TSR, inc) to publish the smash hit D&D, modules for D&D, supplemental material and even a magazine about D&D called, "The Dragon" -- later changed to "Dragon."  D&D sold out again and again and again. And more people kept coming to Gary Gygax’s GenCon to play D&D. GenCon quickly outgrew the Horticultural Hall and for several years was run at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside. The attendance of the convention had grown to two, sometimes three thousand people. And not just to play D&D, there were other role playing games (RPG) that appeared -- Boot Hill (a western RPG co-created by Gygax), Champions (super hero RPG), Gamma World (post apocalyptic RPG), Star Frontiers (Space opera RPG), Top Secret (spy thriller RPG) and many others.  (Yes, I've played them all!). 

 

But D&D was always the largest, the most well know and, sadly, the most targeted. Religious organizations all over the country spoke out against D&D claiming it was the work of the devil and that it taught children how to cast magic spells and consort with demons and / or would possess your child. Fear mongering, religious silliness, all of it. 

 

Dave Arneson, co-creator of D&D had a charming response to the controversy: “Invite parents to play. They’re going to be so bored. They will understand that anything this nerdy can’t possible lead to devil possession.”

 

Dave Arneson for the win. 

 

But the bad publicity only got more kids interested and in the mid eighties D&D was so popular the number of folks attending the premiere D&D convention in the country, GenCon, doubled.

 

The University of Wisconsin, Parkside was unable to house so many attendees. A new venue had to be found. STAT!

 

Gen Con 18 - 1985 - Location: MECCA (Milwaukee Exposition & Convention Center & Arena), Milwaukee, WI. Approx. Attendance: 5000

 

Throughout its early years GenCon expanded into other states - GenCon South (FL), GenCon East (NJ), GenCon West (CA) and even to other continents but none of them lasted more than a few years. GenCon Midwest kept growing.

 

Enter MECCA. An actual convention center for a convention that started, figuratively speaking, in Gary Gygax’s basement. Now, with room to expand at the MECCA, attendance rapidly doubled from five to ten thousand.

 

By 1992, GenCon’s twenty-fifth birthday, I had finally heard about it. I had been gaming since kindergarten -- approx. 1978. I started with D&D, then moved on to the superhero role playing game, Champions, and then later in high school was introduced to the horror themed role playing game, Call of Cthulhu -- based on the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.

 

By 1993 I was attending GenCon. From that point on, year after year, friends and I would make the drive to beer scented Milwaukee for a week of games. It was glorious. Attendance at the con was now fifteen to twenty thousand strong. Then, in 1997 a company called, Wizard’s of the Coast bought GenCon from TSR.

 

By then, Gary Gygax was old and very ill and had not been in charge of TSR for a long time. So, he really had nothing more to do with the convention he created. 

 

Wizard’s of the Coast was the company that created the extremely popular customizable card game, Magic: The Gathering. In 1999, Hasbro bought Wizard’s of the Coast. So now the multinational toy and board game company that created the iconic Monopoly board game, owned GenCon. BUT THEN -- in 2002, Peter Adkison, former CEO of Wizard’s of the Coast, buys GenCon from Hasbro. So the convention is back in the hands of a gamer. A very, very rich gamer. (Adkison continues to own GenCon). 

 

The convention continued to grow and by 2002 it was clear that Milwaukee no longer had the hotel capacity to house the twenty-five or thirty thousand attendees.

 

It was time for GenCon to move. Again.

 

Gen Con 36 - 2003 - Location: Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN. Approx. Attendance: 25000.

 

GenCon moved to Indianapolis. The very same city home of the Indy 500, which boasts one hundred thousand attendees so, of course the city should be easily able to absorb GenCon’s "meager" thirty thousand gamers. And then GenCon expanded. Suddenly it was not only at the Indy Convention Center, it’s was also at all the surrounding hotels and halls and expo centers and every single scrap of open building space within a several block radius of the ICC.

 

GenCon Indy quickly went from thirty thousand attendees to forty and now sixty. Every August, sixty thousand gamers descend on Indy for one week to hang out with other gamers and play games. Sixty thousand people have put tens of billions of dollars, possibly more, into the Indy economy. 

 

And it’s all because Gary Gygax started GenCon 0 in 1968. In his basement.

 

Gen Con 50 - 2017 - Location: Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, IN. Estimated Attendance: 65000.

 

Which brings me to the end. I am packing and will be off to GenCon soon. I have games to play. I have friends to see. Friends from other states that I only get to visit with once a year, at GenCon. In fact it’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of friends I have is because Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created D&D.

 

Most of the long term friends I have -- I met at gaming halls, or game conventions, or game days in the basement of a VFW, or in the gaming section at a bookstore or at an actual game store. Perhaps role playing games would have evolved, without Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Perhaps they would have evolved another way from other people. 

 

It’s very likely. But, it doesn’t matter because it did evolve from Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and Dungeons and Dragons. And it's because of those three names that I’m a gamer. And that’s why I’m going to GenCon. 

 

Gary Gygax died in 2008, Mr. Arneson in 2009, both from complications of cancer. I never met either one. But their legacy lives on. D&D is now in its fifth edition. It's published in dozens of languages all over the world. And it will be heavily featured this year at GenCon 50. 

 

And I will be there, at GenCon -- where it will be just me -- and sixty five thousand of my closest friends. 

 

Mr. Gygax, Mr. Arneson -- rest in peace. 

 

And thank you, for the imagination. And the stories. And the memories -- past and future. 

 

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