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A Safe Space

Be Constructive, Not Destructive

In which, the first thing I say is issue a warning to anyone looking to bash others.

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

If you’ve looked around lately, you’ll notice that the world continues to be a scary place. A place where people don’t feel safe and secure, where paranoia is survival. If this is how you live your life, there is no shame in it.

However, this is where that way of life and this website differ. I strongly support constructive criticism and the building up of my fellow humans. Tearing someone down, even for a brief moment of relief, remains a constant way in which to perpetuate a painful cycle.

So if you have nothing good to say, nothing helpful, or supportive, don’t say it. Just like I choose to write, you choose to read. Do not like? Then do not read. In return, I will try to be as objective with my opinion as possible. I am only human, I feel things too.

Sincerely,

The PNH

The Toxicity of ‘Boys Will be Boys’

It’s a phrase uttered throughout movies, TV, and music. It’s not just pop culture, it’s pervasive throughout all of modern culture across multiple generations and continents for nearly the last half-millenia. The turn of phrase used to excuse the actions of boys from childhood all way through to the elderly. An excuse uttered to cover for social disgrace or a devastating lack of control, many are not even being sexist when they say this phrase but they unknowingly are.

This phrase, where there is no equivalent for women, is said to originally be used to explain the youthful energy of childhood. This too, did not include girls, who were too often told to be seen and not heard. Yes there are phrases for girls such as ‘big girls don’t cry’, ‘some girls’ and ‘girly’ but none of these phrases are ever used to excuse and explain away disgusting behavior. Frankly, no, the kids will not be fine hearing it. Kids are not born inherently looking to violate another persons boundaries, this behavior is taught and conditioned into adulthood.

Most often times, we see it uttered by parents to state and then brush off improper behavior displayed by a male in public. Sometimes it’s boys roughhousing around with a group of other boys and while this isn’t alright either, the more unsettling aim of this phrase has been to outright justify assaults perpetrated against women.

Regardless of age, or frankly, gender, assault is assault. No amount of boys being boys, or the girl asking for it, or how one is dressed or acting gives implicit permission to act against the stated wishes of another person. This phrase, so often used to end a conversation therefore explicitly indicates on some level that the speaker is aware of this socially unacceptable behavior and is giving license to continue this tradition of toxicity. Frankly, no, the kids will not be fine hearing it, accepting this vision of normal.

Rather than teaching tolerance and acceptable behaviors, parents are teaching their boys that their bad behavior will be excused away while simultaneously teaching girls that the world will work against them at every turn. Some mothers, not even aware of what they are perpetuating, go one step further to tell their daughters that not only is this behavior alright, but is promoted as good relationship etiquette.

This promotion of gender exclusivity changes how little boys and little girls will think of themselves. This his versus her idea from childhood, will lead on into adulthood where teen boys will happily snap girls bra straps thinking they’ll get a slap on the wrist while girls learn that they are once again seen as an object, rather than having a state opinion.

The idea that snapping a bra strap in any setting, let alone a school setting, gets a more lenient punishment than a girl punching a boy afterwards for defending herself is frankly appalling. To speak nothing of other cultures but this idea is not a fiction in modern American culture, it is fact. Girls grow up to be women with great intuition they say and yes some of it great intuition but it is also a paranoia born of experience with assault.

Out there, someone has taken the time to compile statistics of how many women out of 5 or 10 is ever assaulted. Even less compiled, is how many women are assaulted and come forward. Many of them know that reporting someone may end up with greater retaliation against themselves so they remain silent. Calling someone a victim reduces the strength of the survivor, taking something from them that they never get back.

The fact that such a statistic exists to be compiled and calculated into percentages takes away the human element, the pain suffered, and the scars that never heal. Regardless of gender, assault is assault. Defined unwanted physical and verbal behavior perpetrated against another person, a majority are men acting against women, with men successfully getting away with it.

He has a bright future they might say, depending on his race. She deserved it, depending on if she fit the description. That issue of utter inequality aside, it’s even more prevalent for men in positions of power and celebrity to get away with it. Swept under the rug by the media and a pack of lawyers, a popularity contest, and a tirade of loyal-if blind- fans excuse behavior away all the time.

Yet knowingly or otherwise, we shouldn’t. What does it say for our culture, that a female bartender is an especially tempting target for assault because men know she’s female and has cash tips. What does it say about our culture that a female law enforcement agent is seen as less aggressive than an average man on the street. Even more insidious is the female nurse that deals with this trauma as a matter of course for her job. Regardless of whatever statistics can be found, these ideas stay with us because they are the reality.

As a culture, we should teach more tolerance and equality. Some cultures teach their young women how to handle their liquor as a way to defend against unwanted attention but this is only part of the battle. Other young women stay on the phone with friends and family while walking home late at night, ready to shout their location to be rescued in case anything untoward should be happening to them. Those lucky enough have a ride or can afford a ride home to safety but many cannot.

These strategies are measures used to combat the expectation of assault. In a world where the perception of possible assault is the reality of assault, a change needs to be made. This cannot be a singular move, a singular aspect that changes such as safety, sports, wages, and throughout all of culture. It’s fine and healthy to have a positive gender identity but not to the exclusion and detriment of everyone and everything else.

It is not enough that a woman is seen as merely strong, they are in fact already that and so much more. An example to illustrate this example is that in books, all a woman has to be is physically strong and beautiful while her male counterpart gets the lions share of the other compliments. Similarly, in video games, we see where male armor adds to the hulking figure of the character but the female armor is merely a bikini with some arm guards.

The reality that needs to change starts with the parents of today. The perception from generations past, once the standard by which all parents thought, is slowly but surely going away. Already, shifts have begun in the wave of female political figures and a decrease in gender wage gaps we are seeing. Movies, music, food, and the rest of culture will come around eventually but this is an uphill war, not simply a singular battle.

So no, the phrase ‘Boys will be Boys’ has no place in the future culture of American Society. It cannot, if we are to ever have any true measure of equality. Out there, someones’ wife, mother, aunt, cousin, sister, or friend is pondering their safety as they walk home. They are wondering what the next hit might be, or the next unwanted advance they’ll have to dodge. They’ll rely on their intuition and hard-won skills to survive what society has deemed merely acceptable behavior. Until the day we get rid of that phrase and another one doesn’t replace it, equality isn’t a possibility, it’s a pipe dream.

Sincerely,

The PNH

The Impact of CoVid on Retail- Some Future Salt in the Wound

Prior to the Pandemic that will change all of our lives, retailers had been getting by. They weren’t doing great by any means but they were okay. Sales and indeed, the economy itself, had been on a decline since the mid-2010s. Physical retailers were just not doing as well and many had been switching to or starting with a purely online sales model.

Now? This is something some of these retailers wished they had the chance to do. April and second quarter earnings are expected to be bleak for most retailers and large department stores. With stores closed for part of March and all of April, those figures aren’t going to keep stores afloat with so little traffic. Even digital retailers have seen a decline in sales figures as everyone braces for the long haul.

Indeed, there are talks of large retailers considering bankruptcy. Whole executive teams have been let go in one fell swoop of the pen. The reality is that retail may never be the same again. The salt on that wound is where online retailers like Amazon and even Walmart have seen an uptick or near explosion of sales figures.

Those who struggled with a more physical than digital approach to the customer experience pre-Covid discover that life straddling the fence has left them unprepared for this crisis. In reaction, emails about sales are hitting inboxes around the clock. Where before you might see a modest 25% in price reductions, we see fewer restrictions and 50% or more is a common sight. People are still buying, that hasn’t stopped but it’s slowed to a trickle. The lull in the economy, once robust, has taken a turn for the worst.

People who shop spend money, paying money they’ve earned, to stores which in turn pay suppliers, artisans, designers, and sales people. Those same people also go out with their salaries, to spend on things, which in turn promotes a moving economy. If no one is buying, no salaries are being paid, no goods are being produced and thus no movements have been made in the economy. It all just ground to a halt.

The new normal many news outlets and politicians are discussing must, unfortunately, talk about retailers and their place in the economy. In this sense, if any brick and mortar stores do remain in the aftermath, they may radically shift their strategies once some semblance of normalcy returns so this sort of economic impact is lessened next time if, there is a next time. What this will do to already slim profit margins remains to be seen. Perhaps entire stores will disappear from the retail landscape, doomed to be a cautionary tale of financial ruin.

The opposite may also happen, where retailers scale up their prices and products, creating a void in the middle. Here, the luxury goods become truly out of reach of the middle class, further widening the already noticeable middle-class gap. Truly, it may become a system where upward or even downward financial mobility is split between the haves and the have nots.

Priced high or low, spending power is something that dramatically affects the economy and so if no one is buying, there’s no tax being collected, there’s no economy turning the hamster wheel. For it’s part, taxing the rich and super rich has never been more important. Trickle down economics doesn’t work, those at the top aren’t merely against sharing, they’re hoarding their wealth. The current climate especially shows that those of us who make the least money for our jobs are some of the most essential workers during this crisis.

Even as retailers and department stores have stopped taking orders from vendors and fashion houses, one thing which may remain? The ‘house label’ a lot of department stores have direct control over. They may opt, with the in-house financials they’re familiar with, to bank on their house brands rather than immediately accept deliveries from vendors again. It would minimize the risk and see the possible growth of more house brand fashions, not to be confused with fashion houses such as Versace or Dolce.

Yet another thing you can bet on is the slogans coming. The phrases of comfort and the focus on a return to normalcy. For every emotional ache and paranoid anxiety attack this crisis has caused us, there will be an advertised cure coming to a TV screen or Facebook Ad near you. Perhaps public radio and the music executives will cut entire albums focused on healing and relaxation, joy, and laughter. It could be that we see an overindulgence that swings the total opposite feeling of the panic and fear we’re experiencing today. If the worst thing we do is eat some extra ice cream we might be fine but some may cross the line.

This crisis isn’t short term, it’s the new term of things. How and where retailers step back into the picture remains to be seen. We may never go back to how shopping was done before and perhaps that’s a good thing. No one wants to plunge their hand into a pile of clothing other people are messed with to look for their size. That takes time and now, it might mean getting a virus too. Far safer is it, to order your items and have them delivered.

So we may, and have seen, a boom in the delivery business. Even as most of us are working from home, there are those that are making deliveries, filling orders, and checking inventory. Truly, many of them are earning barely minimum wage or better and still risking their lives to do those jobs because they don’t have a choice. Overworked and stressed, they can be pushed only so far and now the delivery systems in the US have come under fire as well.

The increased volume of online shopping when combined with the decrease in manpower, means that many online retailers are issuing notices that customers’ orders are already being delivered with delays. Some as much as an extra week due to fulfillment or production delays, many rightly due to the extra time it takes to maintain safe and sanitary conditions. One bright spot of this virus is that hopefully health and safety regulations see a robust overhaul and upgrade to ensure workers are properly protected.

This is unfortunately, the cheaper option as opposed to providing an increase in healthcare benefits. Having both would be nice but it unlikely to be universally adopted. It is vastly cheaper to provide sanitary conditions that are a stop gap measure than to include long term healthcare for all workers. This is a facet of the American Healthcare system that is under heavy scrutiny and is sadly, a topic for another time.

Hopefully, we begin to value more, those who are working retail and by extension, delivery jobs. Many will see that without retailers, stores remain shuttered, shelves are empty and inventory isn’t ordered. If physical stores really do end up on a downward trend, maybe it’s time to consider a raise for the delivery person, not the CEO. After all, it’s not as if the CEO will go out of their way to personally find an item for you would they? Bet you your lunch though, that we see nothing good will change from this and retail workers will still suffer. Maybe less, maybe more, but suffering will still happen until we can safeguard every job, beginning from the bottom moving upward and not the top down.

Sincerely,

The PNH

The Rise of Ahsoka, What the Rey Trilogy Should Have Been

It’s an understatement to say that the Sequel Trilogy of Star Wars Episode 7-9 has divided the Star Wars fandom. In part, this is because the directors have largely ignored each other and eschewed any real form of character development. Biases aside, Star Wars has shown that it does better as a longer form TV or book series where they can do more development and explanation. The books and TV shows have their own fan bases and this also plays into how both characters have been received.

Spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned.

Post Rise of Skywalker, one of the things that fans were most disappointed by is that she comes from a special bloodline. It took away some of the magic and mystery of who she was and a lot of fans just sighed in disappointment. In this respect Rian Johnson did one thing right, albeit grudgingly to this fans mind, making Rey the people’s champion…until she wasn’t. There were tons of other things he did wrong but that’s up for debate another time.

Originally, Rey was billed as someone who came from nothing and this part made her character very approachable to new fans. She was a scrappy street smart survivor which was appealing but this was short lived. Instead, there was plenty to dislike about her character, in that she seemed to be good at everything. Piloting, mechanics, sudden unexplained force abilities appearing. There wasn’t a build up of any kind that gave fans a glimpse into her struggles or her triumphs. They established she was inexplicably awesome at several clutch moments and fans should just cheer, no questions asked, no thought required.

In the character of Ahsoka Tano, we see an intuitive Jedi, a female lead, and lasty, an approachable character with humble origins all rolled into one person. She doesn’t come from a famous or rather, infamous bloodline. Her only lineages is the Jedi lineage given to all Padawan from their Master. We see, in her, teachings that descend directly through her Master, through his Master, and further through his master and those directly from Grand Master Yoda himself.

Granted, fans did not always like her. In fact, an entire subset of the fan base did not and still do not like her at all. Those mostly include older fans who were and still are, die-hard believers of the original trilogy. Nothing wrong with loyalty to the original trilogy, these were simply not the fans that Ahsoka was meant to bond with and it showed.

She was meant to appeal to a younger audience and in that sense, the animated series succeeded. She was explained as a canny toddler with a strong force connection and a very instinctual sense of justice. At first, she may have seemed whiny and bucked Star Wars tradition while finding her way in the world. The animated series that introduced her placed her as a pivotal characters that new fans could sympathize with and would cheer her successes.

Flash forward a decade later and fans of her are, like Ahsoka, older. Many of them have become adults with spending power and varied opinions. They’ve grown up with her in the age of the social media explosion and TV show streaming era to become a very vocal group of supporters. Older fans have come around too, those who grew up with the prequel trilogy releasing and seeing the potential that the Ahsoka character holds. No longer was Ahsoka a snarky brat, by this time she was world weary battle commander.

She sees that not all, if any Jedi, are perfect and so she really no longer classes herself as a Jedi at all. She has seen the darkness, experienced it herself and learned from it. She recognizes that the Jedi council, once her ultimate authority figure, has become a symbol of the broken system that she could no longer tolerate. She certainly has respect for many of the council members and her Master, but doesn’t let that stop her from getting the the real heart of the issues at hand.

Paralleling real life in this aspect, her character’s rise in the animated clone wars and rebels series gives a voice to young people dissatisfied with the broken systems in their own real lives. They see, like Ahsoka does, that they are not being heard, supported, or respected. They realize, perhaps rightly so, that the time for those in power to protest innocence is a prologue of the past and that future survival is looking them right in the face. They feel that time will not wait for them and so they too must rise up to protect themselves, even from those that should have been protecting them in the first place.

Circling back to the development of Rey, with whom her successes come without any seeming effort and is shown to merely inherit power through blood lineage, she’s nowhere near as loved and respected as Ahsoka. Even if she might be more powerful, Rey isn’t shown to have done any training to achieve her level of connection with the force exhibited in The Force Awakens. She’s only shown training in the latter two films of her arc but even this is brief. A lot of this is because she doesn’t have a teacher but the larger part which fans disliked is because of pacing and development issues.

Putting aside that Rey fighting Kylo Ren on any serious level at first is anything other than plot armor, Rey being strong because of her parents and grandparents can be seen as a rich kid getting rich and powerful because they had rich and powerful parents. It’s a direct allegory for everything that is wrong with the political and economic structure of the world today and many fans hated this comparison. The movies simply don’t give Rey enough time to develop properly and fans will either love or hate her because of it.

Yet, you can say that the same things are true for Luke Skywalker. Powerful Jedi bloodline? Check. Had a rough time learning and didn’t complete training at first? Check. Great pilot that makes clutch moves? Double Check. What made it different is that we cared about him. We were able to build and support Luke’s journey so that when he found out his parentage, fans were shocked and sympathetic. The same attempt 4 decades later with Rey just didn’t work. There were too many missteps with this sequel trilogy, no matter how much you still love the movies.

Missteps aside, had Rey, or even Finn and Poe had enough time to develop like Ahsoka, or Asajj Ventress; we’d likely see a very different fan reaction. We’d probably cheer Rey’s successes if we were struggling along with her, instead of being blindsided by her powers. Even Finn, whom could have been an interesting secondary character, fell flat on his face due to pacing issues.

Ahsoka’s triumph is that we care about her. We want to watch her rise and we cheer for her surprise appearances on screen. Everything about her character is the right combination of formation, development, pacing, and emotion coming together to make one of the most popular modern characters in the Star Wars Universe. The same cannot be said for Rey.

Ultimately, Rey’s rise to power doesn’t push the Star Wars plot forward. Her actions don’t have meaning. Yes her actions save an the rebel alliance from death and destruction and this is commendable but Ahsoka? Her actions save the Star Wars Universe, preserving the Star Wars Legacy for another generation. Ahsoka’s rise to power and exit from the Jedi Order serves to push Anakin Skywalker further into questioning his own role in the order. Her moves after and into the Mandalorian universe will continue to ripple out long after Rey has been forgotten.

Sincerely,

The PNH

In the Interim of CoronaVirus

Many of us would like never to hear the words CoronaVirus or CoVid-19 ever again. I’ll be honest and say that, in the midst of all of this doom and gloom, I’d very much like to go back to before this all happened and stop time so that this never happens. Needless lives have been lost and we are all changed because of this disease.

However, since I can’t do that, I’ve got to wonder about how this virus or any other virus by another name, will change American Society, or society the world over. Some of this will be political, some of this economical, and mostly all of it health-related. This virus has touched ever facet of human society and Americans are uniquely suffering for our vaunted individuality.

For perhaps the first time in a long time, divided we conquer is actually the right way to go about it. Social distancing isn’t a new concept but it is one that Americans, so accustomed to physical touch, seem to have a hard time grasping. We’re told in vague terms, how many feet will be a safe distance to stop the virus from spreading from person to person. In reality, any distance within eye-shot is really too close for comfort.

So where does this leave us, a nation of people who are plagued by a public health crisis that see’s no end to the debt and corruption. The politics of the situation are dirty at best, hopeless at worst. In our time of need, many are seeing that some of their government officials aren’t up to the test of saving lives. At the end of the day, no matter what side of the political spectrum you stand on, the hope is to save the lives of the American people.

Unless of course, that hopeless scenario comes true and more and more, it seems as if it might be just as we feared. This virus has heavily politicized the world and in the US we see that the politics of this crisis is killing the American people. Already, we have had twice the number of lives lost to this virus in comparison to 9/11. That fateful singular day changed the lives of all Americans and New Yorkers especially.

Today, and in the future, this event will be published in books, studied in medical journals and talked about with horror and awareness. More than ever, we are aware that the American Health Care system, lead by it’s politics and capitalism, is broken. There are many facets of the American political system up for debate but what is not up for debate is that our current health care system is killing the American people. We are literally dying before we can be approved for coverage during this virus.

All at once, medical insurance providers have seen a massive uptick in the questions they are getting, hospitals and healthcare providers are getting a deluge of calls and hospitals hit capacity way sooner than predicted. That is to say, if predictions are even possible because the most scary of the models being mentioned state that more than a Million, ONE MILLION, lives can be lost to this disease. The best case scenario being even 10% of that is still an unmitigated disaster.

As with the last major society altering event, this disease will change how New Yorkers look at their daily lives. In measures big and small, people will now hopefully be aware of how they can stop spread their germs. Jokes about drinking from mossy public playground fountains aside, this virus has put the fear of death into all of us. There are no easier fixes such as beefing up airport security and increasing background checks. There is no police dog that can detect the virus or cool slogans like “see something say something” because this is not a thing that you can detect with the naked eye. People all over the world will have to take a good hard look at how they live their lives or else we risk a repeat of this virus or any other virus wiping out half of all human life on earth.

So now, we look to the changes that are necessary. The medical community has many varied opinions on how this will change us. Clearly, anyone even caught not washing their hands again will receive a thorough shaming, perhaps rightfully so. Insurance premiums will rise and medical debt will climb into the tens of thousands of dollars for many families. Some of us have lost jobs, cars, homes, loved ones. What insurance does not cover, we have to pay ourselves if we can. That is, if the insurance industry is ever the same again after this year.

The cost resulted in the economic deaths of millions of Americans, many of them applying for unemployment with partial success. Tens of thousands on furloughs or permanently let go from their jobs where they had already lived paycheck to paycheck. Entire whole industries will shift, many hopefully implementing work from home capabilities for employees who didn’t have it this time around or risk continued collapse.

Even still, some industries are built in such a way that human interaction is a 100% necessary requirement. If as predicted, will we see a shift that reduces the already unattractive nature of a front line job? No longer is a job in the restaurant and hospitality business just underpaid, under respected and over working, it is now also a great risk if another virus should strike again. No longer is a job working in a salon or doing make up, already filled with picky customers and long hours on their feet enough, no the closeness risks a perfume of virus along with it. These are skilled workers, who because of a possible decrease in human interaction, have to switch gears and find new jobs.

How will manufacturing change one wonders? As a country, as a society, as a global economy, we rely on China for many of our manufacturing needs. When parts of China were under lockdown, entire supply chains ground to a halt and faced major delays. Will we see a shift away from overseas jobs to bring them back home or will those at the top double down on cheap labor to save themselves. One

One such industry to highlight are those in the fields of medicine, essential services like dining and groceries, and our first-responders. This area truly highlights how necessary and under appreciated our most basic needs are. Underfunded, underpaid, over worked, these are the heroes that are finally getting the praise they deserve. Yet the cost for the awareness of this praise are the human lives lost. Never again, will we forget how important our doctors and nurses are. How necessary our EMT, Fire, Police and other enforcement units are for the safety of all humanity.

On a lighter note, is is my hope that we look at our lives and see who risks more than others in their work and highlight their industries. The bag boy at your grocery store, the barber or stylist at your local salmon, your mail man, deli worker, teacher, customer service rep, automobile dealership, hotel staffer, and countless unnamed others who stayed open in the name of providing a good or service during this time of crisis while many of us hunkered down, afraid for our lives.

Many of us have had anxiety from this and many more still will feel the far reaching affects of prolonged stress under a quarantine environment. Yes people are stuck at home but some of those homes are not always comfortable. Some of those homes are cramped, hazardous-perhaps abusive places to live. Of course, this assumes that you’ve had a home to go to, as there are boundless numbers of homeless or imprisoned people who are at risk of this illness as well. The hope is that we walk away from this with ideas of how to better protect vulnerable populations of people.

The phrase “Many Have Been Affect by This Virus” will now take a new meaning. Where before, Many was considered just more than a few, now the word Many includes every American life. Every human life has been touched by this event in some way or another, in waves of panic, worry, and pain.

The most tragic aspect is that we have lost loved ones without being able to say goodbye in person. Just because video conference technology has gotten better does not negate what it is, a technology. It will never replace the warmth of real human touch and so for hundreds of thousands of families the world over, they have had to watch their loved ones pass onto the next world from the screen of their phone, if they got to watch at all.

We are at war, this killer a silent cough or sneeze. Never before will such a simple exhale of breathe be greeted with such suspicion and outright paranoia. Will we see temperature monitors installed in public spaces soon? Will we see a society of smiling friendly Americans begin to wear masks, greet each other without hand shakes, and cities empty in favor of more wide far reaching pastures? Will neighbors begin reporting on their neighborhood if someone takes ill?

The concept of trusting wide open space, so long under lock and key, may alarm people. The stigma of being Asian and sounding ill may immediately alarm everyone within a 20 foot radius, the news that they are ill spreading like wildfire. The strange turns that people may begin to exhibit, already evident in the spike in those seeking psychological therapy, shows that people will seek comfort and safety during and after this period of darkness.

The times now, they are indeed dark, bleak. We have hope while we endure our suffering but we must learn from these unfortunate lessons. The loss of human lives the world over has untold costs that can never be tallied, never put into any proper framework. If we do not change the way our societies work, we will perish. It may not be this virus, it may be another. It may not be virus at all, but the environment itself that unleashes it’s fury upon us. If we do not take care of the world as a whole, all of it’s people working together, then we are lost to the future.

Perhaps one day, we will have a perspective of this virus that looks beyond the fear and pain, the doubt and the anger. For now, we must endure.

Sincerely, fearfully, hopefully,

The PNH

The Baker and The Beauty: Episode 1 review

At a time when the world could use a little distraction, ABC sends us the perfect sizzling romantic drama TV series premiere. Based on the similarly Israeli named series from creator Assi Azar, the series has been adapted to follow Daniel Garcia, baker’s son and Noa Hamilton, mega celebrity. Spoilers ahead, this is your warming.

What brings a baker and a celebrity together you ask? An innocent bowl of soup, a botched proposal, and a vulnerable moment. All things that, done poorly, make the show cookie cutter. What could have been trite and well-trode is still …well-trode but what makes this first episode really work is these actors.

Victor Rusak, perhaps best known for his role as best friend Jose in the Fifty Shades Trilogy, is no stranger to TV like E.R and Tom Clancy. Nathalie Kelley, best known for her role in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and multiple TV series roles, brings similar acting diversity to this series. Together, their chemistry leaps off the screen in the first episode to give us a taste of what’s to come for this season.

Given the prime time spot of 10pm (ET) on Monday nights right after the Bachelor Spin-Off series: Listen to Your Heart, the show is slotted in perfectly to appeal to romantics craving a different kind of chemistry. The entire cast of characters feels authentic to the Miami lifestyle, both parts sparkling jet-set and hard working business people.

Deservedly, each of the Garcia family in particular feels very unique, their interactions together naturally like a real family that love each other. Daniel, our male lead character, is placed well, a hard working son helping his parents who have raised a man of character. There are a few elements shoehorned for optics that may lead to some eye rolling further down the road but good guys can be boring if they don’t have a little bad in them.

Less good is the posse of gals and associates surrounding our lead actress. They serve as a backdrop for Noa’s life, often providing insight for Daniel that explains something the audience doesn’t know. This works but only to a point, after which it feels more like narration or voice over. There are better ways to show the reality of Noa’s life that has only been teased about in the first episode.

Still, the appeal of the show hinges on whether these two will stay together. Remember that botched proposal? Daniels ex Vanessa, who bucked convention to publicly propose to him only to get turned down, may not play an extended role in the series if previews are to be believed. Her character serves as the anti-Noa, foil to her lead charm. Vanessa is everything you might expect Noa to be-wound tight, at times over-dramatic, and very much the woman scorned. Noa’s charm is in her ability to change the course of Daniels life but this may come back to bite him later on.

It remains to be seen, just what keeps our two lead characters together. This series isn’t one of those ‘will-they won’t-they’ dramas with great chemistry, it’s an ‘oh they will, very much so-but there are strings attached all over the place’ drama with excellent chemistry. Previews show our lead couple together, carefree and passionate as Daniel traverses her world but be warned, all is not sunshine and daisies in this world of Little Havana.

Also shown is a glimpse of Noa visiting Daniel’s family for dinner. Unlike the scenes where Daniel is a fish out of celebrity Fiji water, Noa seems to crave the family atmosphere and down to earth nature that this hometown bakery brings. Warned that Noa occasionally picks up strays, will this make Daniel worry? Will she bring more destruction than joy to his life? As she said, life in the limelight is hard on a relationship.

The series makes you speculate on just what will happen, which is what the creators and show runners were hoping to achieve. We’ve seen plenty of these kinds of stories in popular romantic fiction and films that offer an escape of regular life to join the ranks of the elite. What keeps and will hold the show together, is the strength of chemistry between these characters. ABC certainly knows what it’s doing so there is great hope for this show but one wonders just how long a show like this will last.

Until next time!

Sincerely,

The PNH

Stigma and Racism in the time of CoVid-19- The Expected Reaction

Leaving aside the disaster that is the handling of this virus in America or indeed the world over, the rising tide of xenophobia against East Asian people during this crisis against all of humanity is sadly expected. Built from fear, stemming from history and covered in a glaze of political one-upmanship, racism is a tool for the haves to wield against the have-nots.

Racism of this kind isn’t new. It isn’t startling and it’s sadly what many among the Asian community have come to expect. For all that the world has progressed into modern technology, old racial hatreds still exist. They are still evident in American society and unfortunately, perpetuated across multiple generations.

The reality is that, any minority that has grown up in the US, whether in a small town or big city, will face racism. Some may balk at this critique, saying that large progressive cities are forward thinking and would never teach their children this but the experience that many Asian minorities, whether they are Chinese or of another Asian ancestry, says otherwise. Even in the year 2020, if you’re an Asian man who walking into an elevator in a nice building in an affluent neighborhood with a bag of food, residents may think you’re a deliveryman. Some may even demand you take the service elevator, never thinking that you too are a resident of this building.

Even before the Virus spiraled out of control in China, there was already talks and jokes among mainstream media filled with slurs. Old slurs joined the new as phrases were coined to push headlines and serve as clickbait. Perhaps not since Pearl Harbor and the Japanese Internment Camp era has hatred and suspicion against Asian peoples been so blatant. Does it matter that there are entire generations of people that descend from Chinese heritage but don’t speak the language or have ever visited China and yet are still a target of slurs and assaults? The reaction by many seem to say that if someone looks vaguely Asian, they should be held with suspicion if not outright disgust.

So too, has the racism spread, moving from whites to those of color who also now regard the Asian minority in America with suspicion. A new reality is beginning to form in places all over the world, one where other minorities have joined with their former oppressors to disparage Asians in their community. Never mind that in the greater world that we live in, Asians make up a significant portion of the worlds population and economy. Never mind that Chinese factories produce an overwhelming majority of the worlds goods. Never mind that many Asian people are working essential necessary jobs such as doctors, nurses, pharmacy techs, fire and law enforcement.

At once both praised and villainized, there is an entire subset of the Asian community, those working in life saving jobs, serving in limbo. Rumors that CoVid patients that are grateful for the care provided by their doctors in overwhelmed hospitals, abruptly turning away when they realize their doctor with a white name is a person of Asian descent. It apparently doesn’t even matter if you an adopted Asian person, just that you are Asian is enough to end all civility. These heroes have risen up during a time of humanities greatest need and they do not deserve the enmity they are receiving.

That is not to say the world hasn’t changed and many more than not are aware that we live in a global economy and that a virus can be brought to our shores by anyone. Most of the Virus in New York has been traced to come from Europe which, given the East Coasts’ proximity to Europe, makes a great deal of sense. Just looking at the immigrant populations of Europeans on the East Coast vs West Coast of the United States is enough to show that, yes most likely, the East Coast strain of the virus did come from Europe. It is likely true that the West Coasts strains came from East Asia.

All of that is to say, that what makes a great deal of sense and is backed by science will still be cast aside by those seeing through a lens of racism and ignorance. It will not matter to Western culture, so used to not wearing a mask, that a huge majority of all East Asian Cultures wear masks even when there isn’t a pandemic. To those who have grown up all their lives wearing a surgical mask in their daily life, it is a mark of respect to wear a mask and not spread your germs to others. In Asia, not wearing a mask is seen as disrespectful and instead is subject to stigma and suspicion. Oh the irony.

These days, it is finally recommended to wear a mask in the United States. Perhaps a case of too little too late, people are finally coming around to the idea that wearing a mask keeps people safe. Will we see a shift in the perception of masks and have Americans adopt masks full time once this is over? Doubtful. Hopefully in the interim, masks will keep people safe from germs but a mask serves as a poor shield against acid splashed on the body, fists beating into muscle, and slurs knifed into the heart.

In the end, racism is not new and this rising trend of hatreds against Asians is just another in the long line of ignorance perpetuated by people who choose to do what is easy, giving into negativity and fear. In many respects this is par for the course, because as long as humanity see’s color difference as a negative attribute rather than as strength in diversity, we will never grow beyond the small minded fear that we once knew millions of years ago, a shivering mass, huddled around a camp fire wearing animal skins and grunting at each other.

In a time of such grief and sorrow, divisiveness of this nature will only fan the flames of further hatred. Our only chance is to work together, tearing down borders and seeing humanity as a singular being, with the goal of making our society hale and hearty. Fear makes a smart person say ignorant things, hope makes a person believe in acts of mutual support and sacrifice. Let us all join together, even while socially distance, to never drift far from each others’ hearts.

Sincerely,

The PNH

Adults Moving Back Home in 2020

Popular culture is full of stigmas about grown adults who have to move back home. It’s in movies and books all over the world, talking about how some adults move back home with mom and dad.

Whether you’re home because of coronavirus, money, or any number of reasons, those are your reasons and no justification is required. There shouldn’t be a shaming of adults who return home. There are some cultures where children don’t move out at all. They merely make the house bigger and start paying the bills when they join the workforce. There’s just a lot of adjustment that has to take place and here is how it should go.

As an adult, whether you’re home for the summer from college, home temporarily while you’re looking for new digs or home because you’re between jobs, an agreement must be made. Assuming you’re a reasonable adult, you realize that you have to contribute to the household. Don’t have a job yet? Take over some of the chores. Have a job? Pitch in with the rent or utilities on top of those chores.

It may be tough for parents to see that you’re an adult now. Equally so for parents to realize their child that they’ve spent basically 2 decades raising is no longer under their control. There has to be an adjustment. Things cannot go back to how things used to be or else parent and child will destroy their relationship.

Parents need to realize they can’t set a curfew for their graduate school age children, some of whom may have children of their own. They need to see that their child has returned home but has a mind of their own. Imposing your thoughts and rules will only result in fights and resentment. Treat these young or full adults with some respect and dignity, rather than command and an assumption of obedience. After all, they may have been living on their own for some time, with schedules and expectations of their own lives that do not gel with yours. Just like you prefer to do things a certain way, they might too. There is no wrong way to do things, unless they’re destroying property or committing crimes.

Similarly, those returning home need to realize that by a certain age, people get set in their ways. They’re used to doing things a certain way and it’s mentally difficult to form new thought patterns, especially associated with loved ones they’ve raised for decades. Give it a little time and some patience but also treat it like a job in that you come to the table with ideas of your own on how to support the running of the household and make an agreement. Do not just sit back and expect to be catered to like before. Similarly, do not bow and take a scolded like a preschooler for rules you feel are written for children. Speak up in a respectful manner that conveys how unfair you find these rules.

It’s really better for both parent and child that a child is never catered to completely to the point that their child is a rotten egg. That’s the ideal but as many teachers will tell you, sometimes, spoiling children runs across multiple generations into creating spoiled adults.

So to avoid resentment, communication is really key. Outlining how the contributions to the household are managed in stated explicit terms rather than vague assumptions is a must. Treat it like a contract if you’d prefer but both parties must have an agreed upon specific and understood guideline similar to how a business would. All families will fight but fights over money destroy families so make sure everything is crystal clear. Compromise is important. You can only get that if you have respect first.

Some key ideas for compromise. Lets say you’re a musician or game with parents who sleep early? Put on some headphones. Lets say your college age child is working on a graduate thesis? Leave them alone during designated times of study, even if you feel like asking if they happen to be hungry. What about living with siblings again? Despite how annoying siblings can be, realize that they need space too.

Boundaries must be clearly stated, respected and understood. Have a family member who has a food allergy to a food you’ve discovered you love? Find an alternative otherwise you risk hurting your family. It’s about being considerate of others. Being mindful costs you nothing and can gain you considerable latitude or respect.

If tragedy has struck, all the more reason to communicate. Talk about the fears, the expectations, and the great times. Revive family traditions now that the family is together again. Do things together to support each other but also give each other space. Tackle chores together, discover new activities or hobbies together. Share in the skills or experiences that you’ve learned since you’re been apart.

Sometimes, space can be a luxury some families can’t afford. Lets say you literally can’t go to another room. This would be an admittedly tough situation for anyone but confided spaces turn that up to 11. Remember those headphones I mentioned? Those will come in handy. Hope you’ve got a spare pair to lend out to a sibling. At least, one of the advantages of living in the age of the internet is having the world at your fingertips. Some how, someway, you can reach out to someone or do something else completely different even while sitting right next to someone who annoys the hell out of you.

Keep onto the thought that living at home is temporary. It will not last forever, though some hard choices may have to be made. Remaining positive and looking to the future will provide a source of stress relief-or at the very least a good day dream. Forgiving the past and finding a new normal should be one of the primary goals. You have one family, love them or hate them.

Just like with many other aspects of life, families take work. Only this time, instead of just the parents putting in the work, that burden is shared with those whom have returned home. Hopefully everyone will find a way to mesh in these troubled times. After all, you’re one household under one roof. You’re literally all in it together.

Love, Hope, Respect.

Sincerely,

The PNH

Jaded Firsts- Romantically

There’s something about getting older that can make someone jaded. Spiritually, ethically, or especially romantically. For our first part of the Jaded series, we’re talking about romance and how even as you get older, having first experiences together can still be amazing and fabulous. Firsts can and will test a new relationship and often tell you a lot about the future.

So let’s say you’re in your 30’s. Not still a kid in high school and you’ve got some miles on your bones. You’ve probably got a steady job with hopefully some decent benefits, you pay your own bills, and you know how to dress. You’re basically an adult, even if adulting is hard.

That doesn’t mean that when you meet someone new, that it’s not exciting. It will always be exciting to meet new people and I hope this never changes for you or me. There’s something grand about discovering a new person and seeing if you fit into each others lives. Make no mistake though, forming a new friendship or something more is a two-way street.

Trouble is, what are your firsts? By this time in your life, you’ve hopefully done a fair amount of living. Romantically, you might wonder what else is on the frontier of relationships and fear being jaded. For both men and women, we might wonder what new experiences we’ll have with this person.

Being in your 30’s means you’ve accumulated some knowledge about life and with that comes preferences for Hobbies. If you and your new boo both like the same hobbies, your next obvious step is to do those hobbies together. Whether that’s snowboarding, climbing, hiking, traveling or eating, arts, photography if that’s your style. If the other hasn’t had that experience yet, even better!

Okay, so you’ve been Celebrating holidays for years right? You’ve probably gotten to go to a few Holiday parties, maybe even hosted a few. If cooking is a shared hobby then great, but if not, getting invited to a party is the next best thing. By now you’ve probably got friends who have kids so here’s a good time to experience Kids together. It’s all about compatibility if you’re going through this particular first. Do you make a good team, how is the other person around kids. Do they even want tiny little humans? Fur babies also apply here.

What about going to and from places? No I don’t mean getting on a bus or train together, though that applies to our list of new experiences to have together too. I mean Traveling, out of state, maybe out of the comfort zone. Putting you and your significant other under some traveling strain can either bond or destroy you. This first is generally considered a strong indicator of if you guys will make it in the long run. Does this person hog the covers, who takes longer in the bathroom, what sense of direction do they have(if any)?

The other generally accepted first that tests compatibility in romance is Intimacy. Life is too short and too busy to waste time on people who aren’t the right fit, literally or figuratively. Central to this idea is Communication, where each see’s if the other listens, if they can be taught the love languages of the other person. More than just physical, emotional intimacy is a key factor and is a cornerstone first of any relationship. Figuring out and acting on those love languages will often determine if a relationship lasts.

Dovetailing from communication is a specific first. Here we’re talking about Fights, which can be a real doozy. There’s an author out there with a book that talks about fighting in relationships and how you should WANT to fight with someone. That is to say, if you’d rather not fight with someone, you’ve already given up on part of that relationship. Specifically, the right kind of fighting shows that you care about fixing the relationship. The right kind here means that you have the will to work through your issues and address the underlying causes of any insecurities, inequalities, or injustices. Perceived or otherwise, slights in a relationship can fester like an open wound that will never heal so talking about things goes back to that first about communication.

Embarrassing firsts is also part of communication. Did you forget to tell your significant other that this was NOT a Costumed Halloween party and they showed up dressed as Tweety Bird? How your Sweet Tweety reacts can either be great fun or a shaming memory. Hopefully, it will be a fun one, presuming you’re with the right group of friends. Other embarrassing firsts could be first farts, first ketchup stain, first accidental scares and first morning after.

A short list to have some firsts, without getting arrested for indecent exposure, include the following: Kissing in Cars-especially cars new to other person, Furniture or other kinds of shopping (groceries don’t count), Planes-after you’ve wiped the screen and tray tables, Graduations-graduate school perhaps or if the other person has kids?

Other more fun ones include Food Fights, Ice Skating, Kissing in the Rain, Snuggling under Blankets, Comfortable Silences, Museum Walks, Brunch, Airport Hugs, Recovering from Illness, Disco Nights, Comic-Con, Drink and Draws, No Pants Subway Rides, Bike Marathons, Spartan-esque Races, and Eating Contests.

The bottom line is that firsts can be exciting as well as useful rather than jaded and painful. They will tell you a lot about how people react as well as what to expect for next time, if there is a next time. Building a strong list of positive first experiences cements the bond between two people, romantic or otherwise. It creates memories that can be drawn on in the future as questions arise and steps are taken. They can be funny reminders of the past to tell as stories for future friends and family. Unless you mean Santa-Con, then NO, that first you can skip.

Sincerely,

The PNH

In Defense of Obi-Wan Kenobi- A TV Show

A Soon to be Old Ben Story- Spoilers Ahead.

Say what you will about the current Trilogy of Star Wars movies. Love’em or hate’em, the opinion on those movies has divided an entire generation of new film goers and fans. So it is with some hope that we see the development of an Obi-Wan TV show. Much like recent Animated series and Mandalorian successes, the TV format seems to suite the Star Wars universe much more.

To that end, we turn out eyes to the Obi-Wan TV series that is coming up. We give it much hope, much hype and perhaps too much pressure. It’s plain to see that writers are feeling the pressure to make the series a success after the recent releases of the films. Now, that is not to say that the new films were flops, not at all. They made a ton of money in theaters but did they make fans happy? No, not quite.

In contrast, the overwhelming success of The Mandalorian and the love shown to the Clone Wars and Rebels series illustrates to fans that with more time to really make the Star Wars universe shine, fans should expect to see the creation of some of the most memorable moments in Star Wars History. We may see Darth Vader, we may see exotic worlds or new creatures.

Throughout the animated series, and much of the original and prequel trilogies, we see Obi-Wan Kenobi in his element. The eloquent sarcasm a perfect example of the verbal sparring befitting the Form III defensive master, able to parry an insult at a moments notice. While his relationship with Anakin Skywalker was far from perfect and indeed there is much to be desired from it, we also see the love they feel for each other. They were truly family, as both were taught by Qui-Gon, no matter how briefly for the younger Jedi.

For fans the hope is that we see, with live actors this time, what becomes of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the interim years between Episode III and Episode IV. Many will no doubt like to see how he mourns his losses-perhaps exhibiting those rarely seen emotions. We have seen him angry, betrayed, exasperated, desperate, and struggling. The Animated series has helped us see him show pride, amusement, determination in equal measures as well. Perhaps we will even see, in this time period, the Obi-Wan who protects Luke from the echoing shadows. Always, we’ve seen in-his-prime Obi-Wan or sand ravaged Old-Ben.

We, the furious fans, want to see the in-between. How one of Star Wars greatest heroes battles the elements of Tatooine -living or otherwise, to become tired Old-Ben. Luke would only know him as Ben Kenobi, while others still would forget him entirely with the wave of a hand. Already talented with animals, the Jedi Master might even show us more of how he masters his environment, just like every other circumstance he encounters.

So, much like Obi-Wan the character, we hope Kenobi the TV show will quietly master the troubles coming its way. From writing issues, to production problems and fan pressure, the best parts of the Star Wars Universe should rise to the top and signify to fans that the TV show is yet another excellent addition to the franchise. To say that Obi-Wan Kenobi is the perfect Jedi or the perfect character would be a gross exaggeration of what it means to be human and so we’ll see him make mistakes, just like we all do. We’ve seen him make mistakes and show his human side before; this is what will draw the fans to the series.

Perfect Jedi are a myth, just like perfect shows are a myth. Give a show enough space to explore though and maybe we’ll get close to a perfect show. A riveting space opera. Not exactly perfect because perfect would be boring and expected but instead show us the trials; show us the errors and make us cheer for them. That is how the show will make it’s mark. With a dash of sarcasm, a flash of superior wit, and the occasional dance of a lightsaber, this fan hopes that Kenobi will be a smashing success and you should too.

Sincerely,

The PNH