Blogologues performed my story on stage, and it was hysterical!

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A few weeks ago, I received this tweet on an assuming Thursday afternoon:

Needless to say, I was both excited and confused. What post were they talking about? And wait, who or what is a Blogologue? Before long, an email popped up in my inbox and things began to come into focus. NYC Funny-ladies Jen Jamula and Alli Gold had stumbled across this site (the one you’re on now!) in their search of material for the next run of their NYC comedy show “Blogologues”- a show that performs funny/weird/downright bizarre content from all over the internet.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when they told me that the 2nd story from my article My Top 3 WORST OkCupid Dates of All Time was what piqued their interest. They invited me to the show for free and asked if I would do a Q&A with the audience after the performance, which I agreed to because, well,  it sounded really freaking fun…and it was!

First of all, GO SEE BLOGOLOGUES IF YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY. The show was hysterically funny and completely weird and if you have a sense of humor you will like it!

Here is a video of my story being performed (along with a Charlie Brown erotic fanfiction -yes, you read that right- acted out in the middle. I did not write this fanfiction…although I kind of wish I had.)

Other than being in awe of watching something I created being performed in front of me (and getting laughs!) I just about DIED when “If You’re Not the One” started playing!

After the show, I went up on stage and did the Q&A:

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And I got my own little annotation in the playbill saying I would be speaking with the audience after the show!

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All and all, the experience was amazing and SO fun! A total dream come true! Thanks, Blogologues!

CREEPIEST MURDER MYSTERIES/DISAPPEARANCES: PART 3

PART 1 // PART 2

4. Benjaman Kyle

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  • Born: ?
  • Disappeared: ?
  • Found: 31 August 2004 (age. approx 70)

At 5 am on August 31st, 2004, Benjaman Kyle was found laying naked and sunburned on the asphalt behind a Burger King dumpster in Richmond Hill, Georgia. The Burger King employee who came across Kyle called the police in a panic, stating that a beaten and unconscious man was laying on the grounds of her restaurant. She thought he was dead. Kyle was rushed to St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah and, upon waking up, discovered that he had no memory of who he was. Without any form of identification, the hospital recorded this mysterious man as “Burger King Doe” in their files. “Burger King” eventually evolved into “Benjaman Kyle,” a name that served as his only form of identification.

Kyle’s case is a baffling one. Although Kyle’s whereabouts are known, he is still legally considered a missing American citizen. From the violent circumstances under which he was found, to his diagnosis of Retrograde Amnesia, (or “Hollywood” amnesia) which many people contest the mere existence of, nothing about Kyle’s case makes sense.

Kyle was found with three deep depressions in his skull to which many attribute his memory loss. And over a decade later, Kyle still has no idea who he was before 2004. He has no clue why he was found laying sunburned and naked behind a dumpster, or why he had severe cataracts in his eyes at the approximate age of 59. Even more disturbing, when Kyle’s cataracts were finally removed and he saw himself for the first time, Kyle was twenty years older then he thought he was.

From the Dr. Phil show to AMAs on Reddit, Kyle continues searching for answers to no avail. In over a decade, nobody has come forward to claim him as a friend, family member, or even a casual acquaintance. It’s as if the man now known as Benjaman Kyle didn’t exist before August 31st, 2004. Who is this he? What caused him to become displaced in the world? And finally, do you recognize him?

Other things of note:

Recently, a film student made this mini-documentary about Kyle, and because of the awareness it raised Kyle has now been issued a temporary Florida identification card, given a job, and moved into a small shack provided by a good samaritan. Before, without any form of ID, Kyle couldn’t even temporarily stay at a homeless shelter. However, despite the publicity, no one has yet to come forward to claim him.

 Personal Thoughts:

Because Retrograde Amnesia is such a clichéd disorder, I have come across my fair share of “he’s faking it” arguments while reading about Kyle’s case. I will only say that, after watching the mini-documentary and seeing Kyle’s sadness firsthand, I cannot believe that he’s putting on an act. Kyle gains literally nothing from pretending to not know who he is. Up until very recently, he was homeless, couldn’t get a job, and was completely alone. Even now Kyle says that there are days when he wishes he “never woke up” behind that dumpster in 2004. He seems extremely depressed that no one has come forward to say they know him. I cannot believe that a man would put himself through over a decade of pain for a little publicity. I can’t guess what caused Kyle’s bizarre circumstance, but my heart breaks for him.

What do you think?

3. Sharon Marshall/Michael Hughes

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Sharon:

  • Born: ?
  • Last seen: Killed in a hit and run accident in April, 1990

Michael:

  • Born: 1988
  • Disappeared: 12 September 1994 (age. 5)
  • Last seen: Kidnapped from Indian Meridian Elementary School

The case of Sharon Marshall, Michael Hughes, and Franklin Floyd is complicated and so sad.

Sharon Marshall was a beautiful young mother raising her son, Michael Hughes, with her husband, Franklin Floyd, when she was killed in a suspicious hit-and-run accident in April, 1990. Marshall worked as an exotic dancer at the time of her death. Her coworker, Cheryl Ann Commesso, also met a foul fate when she mysteriously vanished a year earlier. It didn’t take long for police to start investigating Franklin in regard to both the disappearance of Cheryl and the murder of his wife, Sharon.

Franklin had a history riddled with crime. He was first arrested at 17 for armed robbery resulting in a gun fight with police. Two years later, he abducted and raped a young girl. Knowing Franklin’s penchant for devious behavior, police decided to investigate Sharon’s “accidental” hit-and-run a bit further, but their research raised more questions than it answered. Police discovered that Sharon was not only Franklin’s wife, but also his step-daughter. Franklin had raised Sharon since she was a toddler and married her at 18. On top of that, all of Sharon’s identification was forged. The name “Sharon Marshall” was discovered to be a pseudonym along with many other names all used interchangeably on her documentation. Even stranger, DNA evidence tested the paternity of Sharon’s son Michael against Franklin and discovered that he was not the boy’s biological father.

While police searched for and pieced together a solid case against Franklin, more disaster struck. On September 12, 1994, 5 year old Michael was in the first grade at Indian Meridian Elementary School. He was living with a foster family after Sharon’s death and Franklin’s failed paternity test. Suddenly, Franklin showed up at the school and demanded to take Michael with him. When he wasn’t allowed to see the child, Franklin forced the principal at gun point to take him to Michael’s classroom. From there, Franklin kidnapped both Michael and the principal, taking them to a heavily wooded are where he abandoned the principal before speeding away with Michael in his car. Franklin and Michael disappeared for two months.

Then, in early 1995, a Kansas mechanic found an envelope stuffed under the front seat of a used truck he had recently purchased. The contents of the envelope shook him to the core. Inside were dozens of photos of Cheryl Ann Commesso being tortured alongside sexually explicit photos of Sharon as a little girl. The truck was traced back to Franklin Floyd.

Police eventually found Franklin in Louisville, Kentucky and apprehended him, but Michael was nowhere to be seen. Now, Franklin is imprisoned at Union Correctional Institution, Florida, awaiting the death penalty. He still has not disclosed what he did with Michael Hughes.

Other things of note:

This case is extremely interesting because a huge reveal in the true identity of Sharon Marshall was just discovered in October of 2014. It turns out that Sharon’s birth name was Suzanne Sevakis, she was born sometime in the late 1960s, and was kidnapped by Franklin, her step-father, in 1975. Franklin was married to Sharon’s mother and had been instructed to care for Sharon and her siblings while she was in jail for a minor crime- Franklin took the opportunity to kidnap all of her children. While most of Sharon’s siblings were eventually returned, Franklin kept Sharon for himself to sexually abuse and eventually marry.

*Here* is a haunting portrait of a young Franklin Floyd with little Sharon Marshall sitting on his lap. 

Personal thoughts:

It’s truly horrifying to me that a man could kidnap a little girl, raise her while sexually abusing her, kidnap another woman and rape her, commit a string of violent crimes, and still be left to walk around free. This is the situation that led to Michael Hughes being kidnapped some 20-odd years after his mother was, by the same man. It is so sad to me that Sharon never saw justice and neither did her son.

What do you think?

2. Jesslyn Rich

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  • Born: ?
  • Disappeared: 11 November 1984 (age. 35)
  • Last seen: A country-western bar in Chino, San Bernardino County, California.

Jesslyn Rich, a single mother of two, worked as a security guard at Frontera Prison, a maximum security women’s prison in Chino, California. Jesslyn was a straight-A criminology student by night and a rule-abiding security guard by day. One evening, while out at a bar with some friends, Jesslyn excused herself to use the bathroom and was never seen again. 

Jesslyn’s family was dumbfounded. It was completely unlike her to be gone for days at a time. Police investigators weren’t delving deep enough into her disappearance, believing that Jesslyn probably decided to leave on her own, so family and friends did some sleuthing. While searching his sister’s apartment, Gary Rich found a disturbing, torn up letter in the trash. The letter was written by Jesslyn to another Frontera security guard, detailing the illegal drug dealing that was going on in the prison between the inmates and the guards. The letter also mentioned that anyone working in the prison system who tried to stop the dealings would be “taken care of.” Unfortunately, that was the only bit of evidence found suggesting foul play, and Jesslyn’s case went cold.

3 years later, in 1987, a break in the case finally occurred. An inmate at Frontera Prison named Terry Lucas claimed she knew what happened to Jesslyn. Terry disclosed to Betty Thompson, a former co-worker of Jesslyn’s, that Jesslyn had been threatened by other security guards to keep quiet about the prison drug peddling. Terry and Betty decided to speak again a few days later, but when Betty went to Terry’s cell later that week, she found Terry dead on the floor. Terry’s body had been beaten horribly and left unattended in the cell for three days. There were blades of grass matted into Terry’s hair, but her death was ruled as diabetes-related. Even more disturbing, Betty claims that her superiors at the prison forced her to sign a fake police report stating that Terry had only been left dead on the floor for two hours. As the investigation into Jesslyn Rich’s disappearance continued, Betty began receiving threatening phone calls telling her not to talk about the drug trafficking. Eventually, Terry was nearly killed after being shot at from a moving car. The assassination attempt was followed by another terrifying phone call during which a man growled out, “next time we won’t miss.”

As time wore on, the prison drug dealing became public and turned into a scandal. Betty Thompson, along with five other guards, testified against Frontera Prison before the California State Senate. The Rich family still strongly believes that Jesslyn was abducted for what she knew. Over 30 years later, there has been no sign of Jesslyn Rich, living or dead.

Other things of note:

Friends of Jesslyn who were with her at the bar the night she disappeared say that they remember seeing a man approach Jesslyn as she was heading for the bathroom. They also have said that, in retrospect, Jesslyn seemed frightened before she walked away.

Personal thoughts:

I think it’s pretty clear that Jesslyn was abducted and murdered for what she knew about the drug network in Frontera. My question is, did she know the people who abducted her? Why would she excuse herself to the bathroom if she was so frightened? I also find it despicable how this case was able to be covered up for so long and how many innocent people were harmed. When the bad guys are in charge of the law, who can you trust?

What do you think?

1. Lisanne Froon & Kris Kremers

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  • Born: 1991 & 1992
  • Disappeared: 1 April 2o14 (age. 21 & 22)
  • Last seen: Hiking on the Pianista Trail, Panama

This case is particularly haunting for two reasons. One, the disappearance of Lisanne and Kris took place only eight months ago. Two, there is photographic evidence documenting much of the time leading up to and during their disappearance.

Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers were two Dutch girls who set off on a trip to Panama together and never returned. The girls, both in their early twenties, made the trip to Central America to study Spanish in early 2014. On April 1st of that same year, they decided to take a hike along the Pianista Trail in the Panama Jungle. Kris and Lisanne vanished that day. Nothing was discovered of them until some of their possessions, a shoe with a decomposing foot still inside, a piece of a pelvis, and a series of haunting photographs, turned up 10 weeks later.

Speculation is still high in this case because it is so recent and only so much information has been disclosed to the public. It’s a harrowing case- these girls were young and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding what exactly happened to them out in the wilderness. The only telling evidence released thus far are the cell phone records from each girl’s phone, and a series of photographs taken from one of the girl’s cameras. The camera itself surfaced 10 weeks after their initial disappearance in a soaking wet backpack some distance away from the hiking trail. The cell phone records (helpfully translated from Spanish to English *here*) show that both girls had attempted to call 911 and 112 (a European emergency number) starting on April 1st (the day they began their hike), until the 6th, then three full days of silence, until one girl’s cell phone was switched on and off on the morning of April 11th. Then nothing.

As for the photos taken from the camera, they can be seen in their entirety *here.* Be warned, some of them are VERY disturbing. The photos show Kris and Lisanne smiling and posing on their hike through the Pianista Trail, then suddenly, the photos are dark and depict rocks and a sticks. One is only a picture of Kris’ hair.

Enough bodily remains of the two young women have been found to deduce that they have died, but what exactly happened to them out in the Panama Jungle?

Other things of note:

The backpack that was found belonged to Kris and was still neatly packed when discovered. Both girl’s cell phones were found inside the bag along with two bras, a pair of sunglasses, the camera, and other miscellaneous objects. The backpack was first seen by a local near a river that most likely carried it away from the trail the girls had been following.

There were 133 sequential photos found on the camera in total. Seventy seven of those photos were completely black. The foot found still in its shoe was identified as belonging to Kris; the pelvic bone to Lisanne.

Please visit www.findlisannekris.com for more information about the girls. You can also donate to the girl’s families here if you wish.

Personal thoughts:

This incredibly sad mystery sounds to me like a case of two inexperienced hikers succumbing to the elements. I believe that the two girls decided to follow the Pianista Trail on their own, but were not prepared for the dangers of hiking unfamiliar terrain. The 911 calls started only a few hours into the girl’s expedition, leading me to believe that they got off the trail and quickly became lost. There is little to no cell service along the trail- it makes sense that by nightfall both girl’s phones would have been almost dead. Perhaps they kept turning them on during the following days to use as a light source- I don’t believe they would stay on long enough to make actual phone calls. That would explain the three days of cell phone activity without any actual calls being attempted. Finally, on the 11th day, I believe the dark/black photos found on the camera were taken by one of the girls trying to either use the flash to get the attention of potential rescuers, or to scare away an animal.  I am still unsure what that last picture of the stick with plastic tied to it is about (found at the bottom of this page *here*)…

What do you think?

PART 1 // PART 2

 

Going to Art School! Check out my Art Site!

Hey guys and gals!

Some exciting news! In addition to shedding some old responsibilities that weren’t bringing any joy to my life, I got accepted into Parsons The New School For Design! I will be earning a degree in Graphic Design there starting next year! Considering that I already do a bunch of graphic design work mixed in with my writing work, I am SO excited to learn amazing new lessons from one of the top art schools in the country!

For my admission’s project, I had to make a postage stamp of my “favorite fruit or vegetable.” This is what I came up with:

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His name is Migraine Banana. And he isn’t happy.

Anyway, I started a facebook page for my artwork- “like” to follow my projects HERE!

6 Horrifically Upsetting Cartoon Movies

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Who doesn’t love crying while watching a cartoon animal’s eyes pop out of its head? Nobody, that’s who! Lucky for you, I have complied my top 6 Horrifically Upsetting Cartoon Movies for you all to peruse until the nausea overtakes you. None of these films are intended for children, but I, like most emotionally traumatized people I know, suffered through them as a tyke. So, disgruntled babysitters of the world, take note! These films may look bright and whimsical, but they are not for the faint of heart.

Disclaimer: So many films can fit into this category! I just mentioned the flicks that I found personally disturbing and have seen in their entirety. Feel free to mention more in the comments below!

Honorable Mentions: Felidae // Little Nemo // Akira

6. Grave of the Fireflies // Isao Takahata & Studio Ghibli

Let’s start this list off right. Cataclysmic man-made disaster? Check. Sick, dying, and dead children? Check. Mutilated bodies? Check. What a laugh riot! Grave of the Fireflies may be a product of Studio Ghibli, but it has little in common with the likes of My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle. No, this harrowing tale follows young siblings Setsuko and Setia as they fight to survive the ending of World War 2 in Kobe, Japan. As you can imagine, their story is a grim one. 

Back in the early 2000s, I was one of the inevitable millions who stumbled across this film as a niave, anime-loving tween and was promptly destroyed forever by it. However, I’ve never truly regretted seeing it at such a young age, as Grave of the Fireflies is a beautiful film. Do yourself a favor and check it out, if you think you can stomach it.

5.  Watership Down // Richard Adams & Martin Rosen

I’m going to assume most people reading this list are familiar with Watership Down, as I find that its reputation often precedes it. For those of you not in-the-know, Watership Down is a delightful animated film starring a band of fuzzy woodland creatures who embark on a perilous journey to escape the the world’s most dangerous predator…MAN. Oh, and this happens:

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It’s fun for the whole family! It’s also a classic that you should absolutely watch, if you don’t mind bloody rabbit stuff. Watership Down is the frontrunner on this list for films that myself and many people I knew were accidentally shown as children. Oopsie! Oh well, I’m sure the film taught us all valuable lessons about tolerance, utopia vs. dystopia, and the corruption of man- lessons we all promptly repressed upon the film’s completion. I mean, look at that rabbit’s face.

4. The Little Match Girl // Disney & Pixar

If I had some kind of pull within Disney and Pixar studios, I would just retitle this short film, “NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPENOPENOPE” because The Little Match Girl destroys me every damn time I see it. This incarnation of the classic Hans Christian Andersen story is a dialogue-less animated mini-movie that retells the super fun and not-at-all cripplingly depressing story of a homeless girl who freezes to death in the snow because nobody will BUY A DAMN MATCH FROM HER JESUS CHRIST

I digress. As always, Disney’s animation is on point and this film is a powerful piece. Give it a watch and prepare to feel like hell.

3. Hadashi No Gen // Keiji Nakazawa

For a long time I misidentified Hadashi No Gen‘s depiction of the nuclear bomb “Little Boy” dropping on Hiroshima (above) as a scene from Grave of the Fireflies. How excited I was to learn that there exists not one, but two Japanese animated films depicting the carnage of warfare in horrific detail! (and I’m sure there are more. Mention them in the comments if you know of any!)  

Hadashi No Gen mixes adorable animation with some of the most grotesque depictions of chemical death ever drawn. I have only seen this film once when I was much younger, and am in no rush to watch it again. Some of the scenes depicted still bother me- but, as with everything on this list, I truly recommend checking it out! It’s extremely difficult to watch, but great, and even educational in the most horrible way possible.

2. When the Wind Blows // Raymond Briggs

when the wind blows from mary drome on Vimeo.

I decided to settle in and watch this seemingly harmless cartoon about a cute, elderly couple living through the Cold War after finding out that David Bowie performed its title track. I began regretting my decision around the five minute mark when threats of a nuclear attack began dictating the plot-line, and again at the fifteen minute mark when a nuclear bomb obliterates the old couple’s home and they begin to die from radiation poisoning. Yeah, it’s a pretty cheery film! The couple, James and Hilda, are just so damn sweet and to watch them slowly waste away while earnestly believing they might be saved is absolutely horrible.

The entire film is available to watch for free on Vimeo (above), so give that a watch if you want to feel depressed for the rest of your life.

1. The Plague Dogs // Richard Adams & Martin Rosen

Have you ever meditated on a disturbing memory? Returning to it periodically for years, unable to recognize whether its a vivid dream or something repressed and real? Well, that was my experience with The Plague Dogs throughout my childhood. Fun stuff. Written by the same author as Watership Down and drawn by the same animator, The Plague Dogs blows every other film on this list out of the water as the most messed up animated feature I have ever endured. It’s entire 103 minute run is like one long nightmare and, spoiler alert, the ending ain’t no cake walk neither.

The plot tells the story of Rowf and Snitter, two dogs who live in and eventually escape from an animal testing facility wherein they are tortured GRAPHICALLY. After they escape, the dogs must endure the cruelty of a world that believes they have the bubonic plague and wants them dead at all costs. Both dogs are horribly traumatized from being medically experimented on and often hallucinate terrible things, reliving their trauma over and over as they run for their lives.

Yeah. It’s unbearably sad. But it’s also superb in many ways, as is its source material. I encourage anyone who’s interested to give this flick a chance, but know that it might take a few attempts to get through it all the way.

Oh, and this happens:

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Happy watching!

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 coverage! Right here, right now!

Hey kids! I’m covering this year’s Tribeca Film Festival over at Flixist and would love to keep you up-to-date on all the good (and not so good…) movies of the season! So head on over there if you’re curious and be sure to follow me on twitter at @Izzymagliari!

Happy festival season, ya’ll! I will return to our regularly scheduled programming of creepy things and funny stories next week 🙂

I am Not Dead! I am Moving!

Hey readers!

I promise you I am not dead! I am undergoing a rather large move from CT back to my beloved NY, so I may be a bit slower at updating than usual! But fear not– as soon as I am settled (at this point it shouldn’t be more than a few days), I will put up Part 3 in the Creepiest Murder Mysteries/Disappearances series! Oh, and expect a “I HATE MOVING AND HERE’S WHY” post too!

In the mean time, you can find me over at Flixist and Twitter. See you in a few days!

Top 6 Most Shocking Documentaries

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Honorable Mentions: The Cove / Child of Rage / High on Crack Street

6. The Imposter (2012)

Listen to me carefully: the less you know about this documentary, the better. I went into it knowing the full story, and although it was fantastic, it was akin to watching Fight Club after having the ending spoiled. I would even go so far as to say that you should skip the trailer and watch The Imposter completely blind. Take my word for it, this is a fascinating and chilling documentary about a missing child with more twists and turns then you could ever expect. If multifaceted mysteries pique your interest, this is a must watch.

How to watch: Youtube / Netflix

Here is the film’s official synopsis for people who want to know a little bit more:

The twisting, turning tale begins with an unsettling disappearance – that of Nicholas Barclay, a 13 year-old Texas boy who vanishes without a trace. Three and a half years later, staggering news arrives: the boy has been found, thousands of miles from home in Spain, saying he survived a mind-boggling ordeal of kidnap and torture by shadowy captors. His family is ecstatic to have him back no matter how strange the circumstances – but things become far stranger once he returns to Texas.

Though the family accepts him, suspicion surrounds the person who claims to be Nicholas. How could the Barclay’s blonde, blue-eyed son have returned with darker skin and eyes? How could his personality and even accent have changed so profoundly? Why does the family not seem to notice the glaring differences? And if this person who has arrived in Texas isn’t the Barclay’s missing child . . . who on earth is he? And what really happened to Nicholas?

5. The Woman Who Wasn’t There (2012)

This is another documentary that I wish I had gone into blind, although knowing the basic plot didn’t make the story any less powerful. The Woman Who Wasn’t There focuses on the 9/11 Survivors Network and how one survivor in particular wasn’t all that she seemed. The documentary serves as an interesting look into the human desire to belong and be accepted, and how one lie can spiderweb out of control. From a mystery standpoint and a sociological standpoint, The Woman Who Wasn’t There is overwhelmingly interesting. I couldn’t unglue my eyes from the screen while watching, and I definitely recommend it if you like unsettling, people-centric mysteries.

How to watch: Netflix

Here is the Netflix synopsis:

Filmmaker Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr. discusses the truth about 9/11 “survivor” Tania Head, sharing exclusive footage from interviews shot with Head before her story crumbled to reveal a stunning circle of deception.

4. Jesus Camp (2006)

I was shown Jesus Camp in one of my LGBTQ college courses and will never forget the deafening silence that filled the room after the credits rolled. No one could believe what they had seen. Jesus Camp provides an incredibly disturbing look into the Kids On Fire School of Ministry, an Evangelical summer camp with some intense and highly controversial prosthelytizing methods. The infamous anti-Harry Potter speech comes from this film, and watching children as young as 3 thrash around and scream in gibberish, believing that they are being “touched by God,” only gets more and more disturbing as the film goes on. This documentary is heartbreaking. The children are given creationist “science” textbooks to learn from and are taught to pray for George W. Bush and his Christian efforts. The “preaching” done in Jesus Camp is as close a thing to brainwashing as I’ve ever seen, and it’s both upsetting and fascinating to watch.

How to watch: Youtube for $3. I had a hard time finding this documentary free-streaming, but it’s worth the price.

Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes.

The youngest foot soldiers for the Lord are shown in their native environment in this documentary. Becky Fischer is a children’s pastor who runs “Kids on Fire,” a summer camp for evangelical Christian children in North Dakota. Fischer believes in the political and moral importance of a Christian presence in America, and uses her camp to reinforce the religious training most of her charges are already receiving at home (the majority of the campers are home-schooled by their parents). Using videogames, animated videos, and group activities to help put her message across, Fischer encourages the kids to pray for George W. Bush and his Supreme Court appointees while urging them to help “take back America for Christ.”

3. The Bridge (2006)

For one year, director Eric Steel and a team of filmmakers camped out every morning and filmed the Golden Gate Bridge. During those 365 days, they recorded 24 people jumping to their deaths. The Bridge hones in on the families of four of the deceased, and the only known jumping survivor. Footage of the 24 suicides are interspersed throughout the interviews and, needless to say, it is incredibly strange watching people die so casually. The documentary is unreal and eyeopening. It forces you to meditate on life, death, fear, courage, and how the human psyche processes these things. I felt very disturbed after watching The Bridge, but I highly recommend it.

How to watch: Youtube (Warning: the quality is low and there are subtitles. This is the best streaming version I’ve found, however)

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic structure. An engineering masterpiece. A triumph of human ingenuity and muscle over the elements. A symbol of San Francisco, the West, freedom – and something more, something almost spiritual but impossible to describe.
More people choose to end their lives at the Golden Gate Bridge than anywhere else in the world. The sheer number of deaths there is shocking but perhaps not altogether surprising. If one wants to commit suicide, that is, there is an eerie logic in selecting a means that is almost always fatal and a place that is magically, mysteriously beautiful.

2. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Dear Zachary is an absolutely devastating documentary about the court system’s failure to protect the innocent and how the determined efforts of a few good people can make all the difference. This is another documentary that I highly recommend watching blind. The trailer will give you a good idea of what the story’s about, but I wouldn’t recommend doing any more research prior to watching it. Just know that you will cry, you will be enraged, and you will never be able to forget the Bagby’s story.

How to watch: Youtube / Netflix

Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes:

Shortly after his best friend, Dr. Andrew Bagby, was slain by jealous ex-girlfriend Dr. Shirley Turner, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne was shocked to learn that Turner was pregnant with Bagby’s unborn child. Hoping to create a film that would serve as both a memorial to Bagby and an introduction to the father the boy would never know, Kuenne quickly began production on a film celebrating the life of his late friend. Traveling across the entire continental United States, Kuenne made it his personal mission to interview everyone who had ever known his best friend so their memories would be captured on camera before they faded. Meanwhile, upon learning that Turner had fled to Newfoundland, Bagby’s devastated parents uprooted their entire lives and relocated to the easternmost providence of Canada in order to fight for the future of their newborn grandson, Zachary.

1. Earthlings (2005)

Known as “The Vegan Maker” in some circles, this harrowing documentary chronicles the five ways humankind exploits animals: food, fashion, pets, entertainment, and medical research. I have only been able to sit through the entirety of this documentary once and, although I highly recommend it, don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch it again. This documentary takes an absolutely unflinching look at all types of animal cruelty. You will see animals getting their fur ripped off while they’re still alive and screaming. You will see rooms full of dogs gassed to death, lab monkeys being electrocuted for medical research, circus elephants stabbed and burned, and much, much more. Earthlings shows you everything, and though it’s incredibly difficult to watch, I can’t stress enough how important seeing it is. Earthlings is not hyperbole, it’s actual footage of how we treat animals behind closed doors, and it deserves to be acknowledged. This documentary has stood the test of time for me and remained the most shocking film I have ever watched. Definitely check it out, but be prepared to be sickened, infuriated, and wiser by the time the credits roll.

How to watch: Youtube

Here’s the film’s official synopsis:

EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs.

What are some documentaries you can’t stop thinking about?

My Top 3 WORST OKCupid Dates Of ALL TIME.

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Three years ago, before I met the stinky/handsome man I currently share my life with, I was a twenty-year-old artsy fartsy idiot new to the Brooklyn dating scene. And what better way was there to exact my newfound sexual freedom then to date the most horrifying string of men the internet had to offer? NO BETTER WAY, THAT’S WHAT. My dates were sometimes sad, oftentimes hilarious, and always horrifying. So, In honor of Valentine’s Day, I present to you My Top 3  WORST OkCupid dates of ALL TIME.

Yes, these things really happened to me. No, I wasn’t on candid camera.

Yes, I live a ridiculous life.  

3. The Time a Guy Brought His Ex-Girlfriend on Our Date

I met Jack on OkCupid during the winter of 2009. I had just moved to a small apartment in Brooklyn, changed my OKCupid location to my hip new borough, and was eager to hit the town with some pretty, young thing on my arm. Jack fit the bill. He was a 27 year old graphic designer living and working in Manhattan, and I wanted to make him mine. After a two week courting period, during which time I deduced that he wasn’t a Ted Bundy-type, we decided to go on a date. We agreed to meet at Rockefeller Plaza and watch the lighting of the tree.

When the night finally arrived, my heels were high, my hair was big, and my skirt was short. I was feeling hot as I climbed the subway stairs and walked straight into a torrential downpour of biblical proportions. A flash rain storm had hit Manhattan and I didn’t have an umbrella. Looking like a drowned rat, I mourned the loss of my bangin’ hair and smokey eye application and womped my way toward the throng of umbrellaed tourists and New Yorkers waiting before the unlit tree. 

As I approached the crowed, I heard a female voice shout in my direction, “Is that her?!” I flung my head around nervously and spied a small woman with curly black hair quickly moving towards me. “Jack! This is her!” She was yelling over her shoulder. My stomach twisted into a tight knot as the woman ran up to me. “Come on!” She barked, roughly grabbing my wrist and pulling me forward, “We’ve got a good spot over here! You can see the tree really well but if you don’t move now we’re going to lose it!” Feeling slightly concussed and completely confused, I allowed myself to be dragged to the outskirts of the crowd while weakly trying to introduce myself, “Umm…Hi, I’m Izzy. Are you Jack’s friend? Or…?” It was no use.

I saw Jack standing amongst the people, umbrella in hand, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other as the two of us approached. “Here you go!” the small woman squawked, letting go of my hand and shoving me towards my date, “I found her!” Jack mumbled, “Thanks Sue…” to the woman while I stared at her, bewildered. “It’s nice to finally meet you, Izzy!” Jack said, snapping my attention back to him, “Oh, um, hello…” I forced a smile and awkwardly shook his hand. Silence. We both laughed uncomfortably at the same time. More silence. Sue pointed at the tree. “Look! I think they’re going to light it soon!!” A million panicky questions ran through my head, “Who the fuck is this woman? She’s obviously Jack’s friend…but why would he bring a friend on our date? He didn’t tell me he was going to bring anyone! Maybe he thought I was a murderer and wanted protection …How do I ask him who she is while she’s standing RIGHT THERE?”

Suddenly, the woman turned to me and stuck her hand out, “I’m Sue, by the way.”

“Uhhh. Nice to meet you.”

The three of us stood side by side in silence while the tree lit up. After gazing at the twinkling christmas lights through the haze of rain for a while, Jack invited me out to a diner so we could “get better acquainted.”  Finally, some alone time, I thought– moments before Sue invited herself along. While we waited for our meals, Jack and Sue talked amicably while I twiddled my thumbs, staring longingly at the exit. The waitress brought or meals and I was a pancake and a half in when Sue blurted out, “Jack and I used to date– but now we’re just friends!” She explained, “Very good friends…” My eyes bored through my sunnyside up eggs while Jack picked up where Sue had left off. “She insisted on meeting you! She’s my wing-woman!” I didn’t know what to say, so I shoveled more breakfast foods into my mouth and prayed for death.

The rest of my evening consisted of Sue making fun of me for not knowing enough about Fraggle Rock for her liking, critiquing my dress and shoe combination, and asking me invasive questions like, “Are you still a virgin?”

Later that night, I received a Facebook friend request from her alongs with a private message which read, “I’ll be checking up on you!”

Needless to say, Jack and I never saw each other again. But worse dates were yet to come…

2. The Time a Guy Made Me Read Original Erotic Fiction in His Bedroom During a Storm 

My date with Stephen started out pretty well. He took me to Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., bought me a strawberry smoothie, and gave me a scenic tour of Park Slope. When it started raining and he invited me back to his apartment, I agreed. Stephen didn’t give off any highly detectible serial-killer vibes, so I was relatively sure I would exit his apartment unscathed. When the two of us entered his small walkup, I was in good spirits, until I noticed that the living room, kitchen, and second bedroom all looked abandoned. Only Stephen’s room had any furniture or working lights in it, and they only consisted of one hanging, overhead bulb, a mattress on the floor, and a rickety laptop sitting on top of a milk-crate. Stephen could tell that I was apprehensive about fully entering his modest apartment and quickly explained, “Oh! Sorry about this– all my roommates just moved out! I’m here by myself until I can recruit some new ones!”

At this point, any logical young woman would have hightailed it out of that dump, but I was an impressively dense girl with a penchant for danger, so my internal alarm system was all but muted. I followed Stephen into his sad, sparse bedroom and glanced around me with just a touch of worry. Stephen reclined on his mattress and asked for me to join him, but I said no, opting instead to perch on the floor in front of his laptop.

“Oh! You want to see something cool?!” He asked suddenly, jumping up off his bed and turning on his computer screen. “Look! I’m working on a digital art piece. I’m taking a bunch of different songs I love and illustrating them. I’m going to turn my drawings into an e-book!” Stephen clicked open a picture gallery with a mix of digital paintings and original writing. I flipped through the gallery and worked hard to neutralize my expression as I stared at some of the worst MS Paint art I had ever seen. “I painted this one while listening to ‘Brothers on a Hotel Bed’ by Death Cab…” He said, impressed with himself. “Wow.” I replied, at a loss for words. “Here–” Stephen clicked open a poorly done digital painting of a topless woman with text over it, “I wrote this story while listening to Daniel Bedingfield’s ‘If You’re Not the One.’ My e-book is going to include some original fiction, too. I would like…you to read it.”

“Umm, okay…” I replied, beginning to feel more uneasy. Stephen turned and grabbed an itunes remote control off his windowsill before laying back down on his mattress, his eyes never leaving me. I heard him clicking the remote and the opening notes of ‘If You’re Not the One’ crinkled through his busted laptop speakers.

Now, to anyone reading this, I want you to click on THIS LINK before continuing. It leads to a youtube video of ‘If You’re Not the One.’ I want you to listen to this song while you read the rest of this story. I want you to fully understand my horror.

I began reading Stephen’s story while my ears filled with Daniel Bedingfield’s simpering vocals. Two sentences in I realized it was erotic fiction. And when I say erotic, I mean filthy. Toys of every kind were involved, with multiple people getting in on the action. There I was in this stranger’s dilapidated bedroom, sitting on the floor, reading the intimate details of his fantasy bacchanalia, while he studied me like a vulture from his bed. I meekly glanced out the window and noted the storm raging outside. I had to think of a way out.

“What do you think…?” Stephen asked from behind me. My voices croaked in my throat, “Oh…it’s….a good story…”

“You don’t like it?!” He asked, upset, “It’s not finished yet!”

“It’s okay!” I stood up while hastily pulling my purse over my shoulder, “I  have to get going any way!”

“Look at the weather outside!” Stephen argued, “you can’t leave now!”

Eventually I convinced Stephen to let me go with the promise that I would call him to set up a second date. I walked through the rain and wind to the subway, feeling much safer out in the storm then inside his room. Stephen tried to contact me a few more times with no degree of success and then finally moved on. Now, a logical young woman would have learned her lesson at this point, but, as we’ve established, I’m anything but…

1. The Time My Date and I Got Summoned to Court for Trespassing 

Funny enough, out of all the dates on this list, my time spent with Alan was by far the most enjoyable. Alan was a nice person, and we got along well. His biggest problem was that he had lied about his appearance on his OkCupid profile, and he really liked me while I didn’t really like him, which is an awkward situation for anybody.

Alan and I met up for lunch in St. Mark’s and the first thing I noticed about him was that he was older and much larger than his OKCupid profile let on. As we sat down to eat our falafels, he admitted that the pictures on his OKC profile were outdated and apologized, saying that he was too embarrassed to post anything current. It was unfortunate, because while I appreciated his honesty, I knew from the moment I saw him that I wasn’t attracted to him and wouldn’t pursue a relationship with him. Still, we decided to hang out anyway.

Outside of Alan repeatedly insisting that he would win me over, our day together was nice. We decided to end it by taking a leisurely stroll through Central Park and entered the grounds around 11:30pm. Alan kept making me laugh and would follow it up by saying, “See? You think I’m funny! I’m going to get you to say yes to a second date!”

“No, no,” I would reply, “I don’t want to date you, I’m sorry.”

After a while, I got a little tired of him pushing me for a second date and decided to call it a night. Alan offered to walk me to the subway and we began to make our way out of the park when we realized that we were lost. After some searching, around 1:10am, we spotted an exit and began walking toward it.

Suddenly, a police car came barreling toward us, lights flashing and sirens on. Alan and I jumped twenty feet in the air and looked around wildly, trying to see who the police were chasing. The car skidded to a stop in front of us and a police officer got out and shined a flashlight in our faces,  yelling, “Stop walking! Stop walking and face the car! Face the hood of the car!” The two of us instinctively put our hands up in the air and turned to face the cop car. “What are you two doing out here?!” the cop asked, quickly moving the flashlight across both of our faces. “N-nothing!” I stuttered out, “We were on our way out and we got lost!”

“Have either of you been drinking?” The cop asked. “No sir!” we both replied in a panic. The officer didn’t seem to believe us and became agitated. “Then what are you two doing here after curfew? Central Park closes at 1am! Do you two know what time it is? Were you in the park causing trouble after hours?” “No, no, no!” We both insisted, “We were just lost!”

Suddenly, a second police car came speeding towards us and stopped beside the first one. The second officer leaned out of his window and yelled to the first, “What’s going on here!?” The first officer informed him that Alan and I were “trespassing,” and that he was going to summon us to court for breaking park curfew. Then, a THIRD police officer came rolling up in a golf-cart yelling, “Is everything okay over here!?”

I looked around in disbelief. Alan and I were surrounded by 3 police officers, two with lights flashing atop their cars, and all three pointing flashlights at us as if we were members of a drug cartel and not two lost people on a bad date. The first police officer summoned each of us over to where he was standing and issued us both a court summons. “You must appear in court at this date and this time,” He told us, “or else a warrant will be out for your arrest, do you understand?” Alan and I both nodded. Then the police escorted us ten steps to the exit of the park and told us to scram.

Alan and I stood side by side in complete silence, shellshocked by what had just happened. I watched Alan slowly lift the summons to his face to read the cop’s handwriting.

“I’m due to appear in court May 26th, at 12pm,” He said. I glanced down at my own summons and saw the same date written on mine.

“So am I.”

Alan was quiet for a long time before finally turning to me and saying, “Well, then I guess…we’re going on that second date after all.”

Top 10 Romantic Musical Moments in Animation

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Whether February 14th is your Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, or Palentine’s Day, we here at Misanthropic Tendencies (meaning my beta fish and I) hope that it’s a day filled with love! Now let’s watch some cute, animated creatures sing about getting it on.

From Disney to Don Bluth, musical moments in animated films have provided us with some of the sweetest, saddest, and most memorable romances of all time. So grab a box of tissues, put some chocolate in your mouth, and enjoy my Top 10 Romantic Musical Moments in Animation!

10. Looking Through Your Eyes – Quest for Camelot

There is no denying that Quest for Camelot is a mess of a movie, but Looking Through Your Eyes, save for some questionable animation that doesn’t sync with the song at all, exists as the film’s bright spot. Garrett, though blind, is able to “see” Kayley through the transformative power of love. If that’s not flippin’ romantic then I don’t know what is. Plus, the song is gorgeous. Honestly, it’s too good for this movie (as is another song on the soundtrack)–  The two should have gotten a divorce. Wait, that’s not very romantic, is it? Looking Through Your Eyes, you can do better! Still, Garrett and Kayley’s romantic duet made my heart swell, and that’s really all that matters.

9. Ma Belle Evangeline – Princess and the Frog

I never thought a love song sung by a cajun firefly to a star would make me cry, but hey, Disney has caused me to experience weirder things in the past. Ray’s unfaltering love for Evangeline, a distant star that he believes to be a firefly, is the definition of bittersweet. I won’t ruin the ending of Princess and the Frog for you, but if you don’t sob like a baby when you see the culmination of Ray and Evangeline’s romance, then your heart is nothing but a withered husk, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Ma Belle Evangeline is a gorgeous song sung by a bug in love, and serves as a love song for protagonists Tiana and Naveen as well. The footage is beautiful, the music is beautiful, and their love lights up the sky.

8. Eve and WALL-E’s Sky Dance – WALL-E

I don’t remember most of WALL-E, but this scene always stayed with me. From the gentle instrumentation to the stunning visuals, Eve and WALL-E’s sky dance will steal your heart. As the two adorable robots zip through space, we see Eve showing WALL-E a world he’s never known, and you can tell he loves her for it. It’s amazing how much personality this one sequence can impress upon two robots that don’t even speak, but it does so effortlessly. Plus, every time Eve kisses WALL-E and sparks literally fly I can’t help but squeal a little. Cute robots in love. Is there anything better?

7. Beauty & the Beast – Beauty and the Beast

I don’t need to explain to you how stunningly romantic this song is. The only reason it’s not number 1 is because I don’t find Belle’s relationship with the Beast particularly romantic, but the animation in this scene, combined with Mrs. Potts sweet singing, overrides my distaste for their weird love (at least, until the song is over). When the lights dim at the end and the stars twinkle outside of the castle’s grand windows, my heart aches. Beauty & the Beast creates an almost tangible sense of safety and love. Now that’s a good musical moment.

6.  Kiss the Girl – The Little Mermaid

What’s more romantic than taking a twilight boat ride while surrounded by singing water fowl? Taking that boat ride with Prince Eric, that’s what. Kiss the Girl manages to be deeply romantic while maintaining a clear comedic tone, and that’s pretty darn impressive. The song is catchy, the lagoon is romantic, and even Scuttle’s squawking can’t ruin the mood.

5. Let Me Be Your Wings – Thumbalina

Let Me Be Your Wings has been one of my favorite romantic songs since I was a little girl. The melody is filled with swelling major notes while the vocals exude the excitement and reverie that comes with new love. I also adore the way Don Bluth animates human forms. The way Thumbelina lovingly caresses Prince Cornelius’ face as they fly together seems so authentic that you almost forget you’re watching two cartoon people smaller than your hand. I could watch and listen to Let Me Be Your Wings for hours and never get tired of it. This romantic moment is truly one of the greats.

4. I See the Light – Tangled

I’m a sucker for beautiful nighttime scenes in movies, so a cobalt sky filled with golden, glowing lanterns is just about the best thing for me. Add in a stunning love song sung by two characters I genuinely like and you’ve got a recipe for success. Rapunzel’s shift from being spellbound by the lanterns to being spellbound by Flynn gets me a little choked up every time. The animation is so good in this scene that you can actually see when Rapunzel and Flynn realize they love each other, making their relationship feel all the more real. Plus, Flynn and Rapunzel’s harmony as they sing together near the end of the song is just perfect.

3. Love Goes On – Robin Hood

Speaking of beautiful nighttime scenes in movies, no matter how gorgeous I See the Light is, it doesn’t hold a candle to Robin Hood’s Love Goes On. The idea of a forest hideaway filled with fireflies is absolutely my definition of a romantic destination. From the time I was little I’ve loved everything about this song and scene. I love the way neither character is singing and the music seems to be Maid Marion’s inner monologue. The lyric, “Life is brief, and when it’s gone, love goes on and on” exemplifies the feeling of being comfortably in love so well. Maid Marion and Robin Hood are kindred spirits, and they don’t need a flashy, fast-paced romance. They just want to be alone together in the quiet of the woods, as they’re love goes on and on.

2. A Whole New World – Aladdin

Oh, Aladdin, be still my beating heart! Not only is he the dreamiest Disney prince (in my humble opinion) but his carpet ride with Jasmine is one of the most romantic scenes in any animated movie. What can I say? I love everything about this scene from the song to the visuals. I love the way the orchestra swells as Aladdin and Jasmine fly into the sky, I love the way Aladdin bounces the apple off his elbow. There are just so many little details in this scene that make it so memorable and lovely. Jasmine and Aladdin are perfect for one another, and I don’t know anyone who isn’t charmed by the two of them cuddling on the carpet as it gently floats away across the water. Just tell Jasmine the truth, Prince Abooboo, you’ll be fine! Who could say no to that cute, cartoon underbite?

1. Carl & Ellie’s Montage – Up 

I’m sure you all saw this one coming. The number 1 spot goes to, of course, the entire opening montage of Up. Not only does the opening capture the entire duration of Carl and Ellie’s beautiful and heartbreaking romance, but it does so with gorgeous imagery and instrumentation alone. The montage, like love itself, will make your heart both sink and soar. Up shows us a real love, one that is affected by time, money, and age. Carl and Ellie’s montage makes us cry because it mirrors our own existence, and reaffirms our knowledge that, no matter what we do, love can and will be taken from us. But it’s the memory of that love, the fact that is existed at all, that is important. Carl and Ellie’s love wasn’t perfect, but it was theirs, and they adored each other until the very end, warts and all. That is true love.

Honorable Mention:

This Grill is Not a Home – Spongebob Squarepants

I figured you all might need a laugh after watching the opening scene from up. And really, is there any greater romance than Spongebob and Mr. Krabs’?

 So, what are your favorite cartoon romances of all time?