Thoughts on the Tragedy in Las Vegas

As everyone around the world knows, another tragic event has occurred in the United States. In the late night hours of October 1st, a gunman opened
fire into the crowd of a Country Music Festival. The horrors inflicted there have led to nearly 60 deaths and over 500 injuries. The gunman has
died, most likely self-inflicted while police attempted to capture him. This occurred in Las Vegas, with the gunman opened fire from the Mandalay
Bay hotel, inside one of the top floor’s rooms.

First and foremost, I want to give my heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives and everyone affected by this senseless tragedy.

Secondly, I think we need to acknowledge the fact that we need some serious change in our country. How many shootings must we witness or experience
as a nation before we take action to limit these occurrences. I have no problem stating that I am in favor of gun reform. The laws in this nation
are outdated and need to be updated to fit our current societal and technological environment. I’ve always believed this, but after the last few
days I am more determined than ever to see us move forward and not backward as a country.

This event impacted me more so than any previous event. While I always feel pained and heartbroken by the senseless violence and loss of life that
grips our world, this event hits a little closer to home. Over the last week, my family has been in Las Vegas. My sister went with my parents to
celebrate her 24th birthday. On Friday night of last week, my family was at the Mandalay Bay Casino and Hotel. They went to see the Michael Jackson
show there, and spent a lot of time in the casino afterwards. Personally, I am lucky in that my family managed to leave the city three hours
before this attack occurred. Not knowing that this would occur of course, somehow they managed to get home, and within minutes of walking inside
the house we learned of what was happening.

So many things could have gone wrong to put my family in danger. Leaving a few hours later could have left them stranded in a dangerous place with
the gunman. I also think about the 1600 people that were trapped for hours inside the Michael Jackson theater after the event. My family could have
been with those individuals in the theater. What if the gunman had opened fire on Friday, when the festival was first beginning? Would my family
have been caught in the crossfire? This, along with the knowledge that my family could have been standing or walking past this gunman at anytime
on Friday cause my heart to race and anxiety and terror to settle into my very being. On top of this, Las Vegas has always been a second home
to me and my family. We go there multiple times a year, and some of our fondest memories are from this city.

Knowing all of this and seeing the possibilities that could have put my family on this list of people brutally taken by this madman, it makes me
wonder what it’s going to take to make the government see that our laws do not work. This man purchased his weapons legally, and was able to get
several automatic weapons into one of the most popular and populated cities in not only our country, but the world. It’s one of the biggest
tourist attractions in the United States, and while many have focused on the possibility of foreign terrorists attacking this city, it was the
actions of one white man with an arsenal of legally purchased weapons to send the city into a fear-instilled chaos. Is the cost of “freedom” really
our lives, and if so is it worth it?

As much as I hate guns, I could at least understand a person wanting a handgun for home safety, but why is it legal to purchase automatic weapons?
Why is it legal to carry these weapons openly on the streets of Las Vegas? Look at the names and pictures of these victims. Look at the tearful
faces of friends, family and loved ones as they have to say goodbye to the person ripped out of their lives forever. Look at their faces, and
tell me that your right to own a powerful and deadly weapon is more important than the life of a wife, a father or a child. No one is saying you
can own any weapons to defend yourselves. Please, just help meet somewhere in the middle and help make the changes needed to prevent what happened
in Vegas, Orlando and Sandy Hook to happen again. We are better than this, and I don’t want to keep watching news reports and Twitter headlines
telling the world that more innocent people are gone.

I hope you guys are OK with me posting this. It’s just a tragic event that requires more open discussion about things, and it hit closer to home than
ever before, so I needed to get this off my chest. I am going to leave below some link(s) to websites where you can donate money and get info
on how to help the victims of this tragedy. If you can afford to or have the means, let’s help those affected. Thanks for taking the time to read
this guys, and I hope you are safe and with those you love tonight.

https://www.gofundme.com/LoveArmyLasVegas

Advertisements

Facing Fear: My Reaction to the U.S. Election 2016 Results

Fear. Shame. Anger.

These are just a few of the emotions I’ve been dealing with over the last few days.

Why? I’ve felt these emotions because beyond belief, Donald Trump has become the President-Elect of the United States.

This election wasn’t just about the first female President possibly becoming a reality. It wasn’t a Democrat versus Republican race either.
This race pitted a well qualified, empowered and intelligent human being against a bigoted, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, alleged
sexual predator and all around awful human being, and people gave into their fear and voted this awful person into the most powerful office
in our nation, and one of the most powerful positions on the world stage.

Let me clear a few things up. I respect everyone’s right to vote for who they want, and I do not hate Trump supporters. In fact, I pity them.
I know they came into this race out of a place of fear and distrust of government, and I am so sorry they have allowed that fear to blind them
to the hatred and violence this man has spewed throughout his life, not just his campaign. I also know that not all Trump supporters are
bigoted or hateful, and that is why I do not hate his supporters.

I also want to make a point about the voting process. While I wholeheartedly respect everyone’s right to choose and vote the way they want,
I do have a problem with the Electoral College. According to the results, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, meaning she got more votes
than Donald Trump did. However because our President is elected according to the results of the Electoral College, Trump somehow won. I find
the Electoral College to be an outdated system. How can a system created in the 18th century remain relevant for a nation that has grown in
population, and has evolved in terms of technology, diversity and more? It makes no sense, and it upsets me that our election system is
so flawed in this day and age. I also found out that if the millennial vote had been counted only, Hillary’s Electoral College count would have
made it a landslide victory, (all information can be verified through non-partisan sources). This both upsets me and gives me hope. Upsets
me because I feel as if the votes of my generation will be hindered by older generations for several years. However this also gives me
hope because it means that my generation is learning from our past mistakes and looking towards a future filled with acceptance, hope, and
a more progressive outlook on life.

Obviously, you guys can tell that I am a more progressive, liberal minded person. I have no problem with anyone who calls themselves a Republican,
as long as they do not demean, ridicule or put down anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs. This is an outlook I’ve shared on most
subjects in life. This election hurts me on so many levels, both as a liberal and as a human being. I could fill a book with the problems
I have with Donald Trump, but I cannot put it all in this blog post. This is just an outlet to express my frustration.

The bottom line is this: I do not acknowledge Donald Trump as my President. I know what a lot of people are saying, even liberal voices and
personalities whom I truly respect. Yes, legally he is the President, (unless by some miracle the Electoral College votes against him in
their December vote. I don’t expect it to happen, but it would be historic and awesome). However I cannot accept him as my President on a
personal level. I can’t do this because I am half Hispanic, and love my Hispanic culture. I am disabled. I have a mother and a sister whom
I love with all of my heart and soul. These things are a part of who I am, and they are also things that Donald Trump has attacked and
humiliated throughout his campaign.

He created a campaign of fear and hatred, and that cannot be ignored. He has attacked hard working immigrants, calling into question their
character and threatening to deport them. He has attacked people with disabilities, mocking their ailments at his rally’s. He’s incited
violence, and has even had the disabled thrown out of his events for daring to question or voice their opinions. Worst of all, he’s
made lewd, unspeakable comments towards women. He has no respect for women at all, and the horrible things he’s said on audio tape and the
things that he’s accused of doing to innocent women make him one of the most despicable human beings to run for this office, and it makes
him unfit to serve.

So while he may legally hold the title of President, I do not acknowledge him as my President personally. I can’t do that because to do so
would be a betrayal to my mother, to my sister, to my family, and to myself and my beliefs. He is a con artist who played on people’s fears
to get elected on a campaign of hatred, and he chose a running mate who’s loathing of the LGBT community has me fearful for the loss of
all the amazing progress we’ve made over the last several years. I will not hate either of these men or their families. I will not hate any
of their supporters. I do not  believe they are all hateful, racist, misogynistic, homophobic people. Yes, some of them are, as evidence
by the rise in violent crimes against minorities since the election. Yet not everyone is like this. For those of you who are taking to the
streets to peacefully protest this election, I applaud you. Stand up for your rights and never stop fighting for what’s right. However, we
must be careful not to cross the line into being a riot. We have to be better than that. Violence and hatred won’t solve anything. It will
only add to the problem. We have to be willing to stand up to hatred with peace, love, and hope. Let us stand together in peace, and show
“President” Trump and his upcoming administration that we won’t back down. We won’t accept his campaign of hate, and will use our words and
hearts to fight the good fight and stop discrimination and hatred in its tracks. Trump won’t beat me. I still believe that the future will
belong to the accepting, peace loving generation I belong to. I believe that the future will be brighter, and so I will endure the next
four years, not by accepting him, but by defying him and not giving into the same hatred he peddles to everyone else. This is my promise.
Will you join me?

The Political Talk: A Much Needed Conversation

Let me start off by saying this: I hate talking about politics.

In this day and age, it has become impossible to talk calmly and openly about politics. This has always been an emotionally driven topic, but
with the power of the internet, people have come to abuse their right to the internet by using hatred, threats of violence and bigotry on a grand
scale to fuel their opinions. I dream of living in a world where we can state our opinions, and talk to someone who doesn’t share our opinion in
a calm manner, and yet even as I write this, I know there are people ready to curse me out, call me all sorts of foul names and flood my comments
section with all sorts of hatred. Yet I must write this, because I cannot let this coming election to happen without knowing I spoke my mind and
hopefully will have reached a few open minds.

So much controversy on both sides of the political divide have ruled this election. Let me say this because I believe in total honesty: I’m a
Democrat. I don’t know what the Republican party may have once stood for, but in recent years, (and especially in the most recent electoral
process), I have come across several Republican candidates who hope to rule a diverse country that have spewed some of the most vile, homophobic,
racist and sexist comments I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing. The worse among them unfortunately is now the official Republican nominee,
and that’s Donald Trump.

The fact that Donald Trump is still in this election both does and does not surprise me. I can’t believe we’re living in an age where a hateful
and violent man and “reality TV celeb” is actually a possible US President, and yet I have seen the fear that has bred hatred and violence among
some of the people of my country, and it saddens me to know that this man has preyed on that fear, and has used it to his advantage to gain a
cult-like following. No matter what happens in this election, even if Donald Trump wins, I will never acknowledge him as my president. Some may
say that it is our duty to respect the office, and yet I say to those people that not only has President Obama, (a man who has accomplished a great
deal in my opinion), gotten disrespect every single day from people who don’t agree with his policies, but I believe that respect is earned, not
a given, and I cannot respect a man like Donald Trump, who would rather build walls and instill a system of violence that will make us one of the
most hated countries in this world.

Now I know that a great deal of controversy surrounds Hillary Clinton. Let me be clear: my first choice for President was Bernie Sanders. I don’t
know if Hilary Clinton is a fully trustworthy candidate, and to be honest I’ve never believed every single promise a presidential candidate
has made during an election process. Yet the sad reality is that Hilary Clinton has been chosen as the Democratic nominee, and like Bernie Sanders
himself, I believe and stand with her in this election. Not because I trust her wholeheartedly, but because unlike Trump, (whom I wouldn’t trust
with my life, let alone the lives of every citizen of this country), she has not run a campaign of hatred. She hasn’t spoken of stopping immigration
for people of certain nationalities. She has fought for women’s rights, gay rights, and more. As a half-Hispanic, half-Caucasian man, I have
seen life from both sides of the world. I have family who has lived normal, non-oppressed lives, and I have known family who has faced the glancing
eyes of those who distrust members of the Hispanic culture. I fear for a country run by Donald Trump, who would have his hands on the nuclear codes,
an entire US military at his command and an already heavily Republican US Congress. I fear that the hatred we’ve seen from him will only grow in
the years to come, and soon we could be faced with some horrific future filled with violence and horrors I can’t imagine.

I don’t know what we will see from Hilary Clinton as our president, but I know what we will get from Donald Trump, and it’s not pretty. We cannot
go back as a nation. We cannot let this man push us backwards in time, to a place where oppression reigned supreme and hatred was the catch of the
day. No one in this world would ever respect the United States as a major world power with him as President. We need a leader who will respect
the people of this nation, not disparage entire groups of people because he deems them unworthy of our country without any sort of evidence to
back up his claims. Criminals and terrorists come from all sides of life, not just the ones Trump says. There have been plenty of violent white
people in our world that have committed some horrific atrocities, and we cannot discriminate against a group of people based on their race, because if
we did, we’d be facing an extinction level event in our country. We cannot support a man who would rather show support for an alleged sexual
assailant rather than the victims of the crime, (or even remaining neutral until the facts are known, if you can’t show support for the victims).
We cannot support a man who would rather victim blame and show violent and hateful tendencies towards the women of our country rather than be
polite and respectful. We cannot support a man who judges people based on sexual orientation, race and gender on a daily basis. He is the
opposite of what America is supposed to represent, and its our duty to elect someone who represents the future, not the past.

So if you are of voting age, please do your research and vote. I’m voting for Hilary Clinton, and urge you to think for yourself and vote based
on facts and not popularity or fear. I am prepared for the hateful comments coming my way, but know this: I can handle it. It is not only a waste
of your time, but all your comment does is showcase your own hatred and ignorance. I also urge those who share my opinions to calmly debate and
leave comments. I know how frustrating it can be to come face to face with hatred and bigotry, but we have to be better than that, and I urge you
to rise above the hatred and speak calmly. I don’t normally talk about this stuff, because it’s such a heated topic, and I will go back to normal
blog posts after this, but I am passionate about this because I refuse to sit down and let Donald Trump win without a fight. I chose to fight
not with my fists but with my words, and with my words I chose to use love over hate. For those who are sad or disappointed that we don’t have
Bernie running, I feel your disappointment, but I know that this election is too important not to vote, and we cannot have this hate monger running
our country, so please, go out and vote for Hilary. I am with her, and I hope you will be too. Thank you everyone for reading this post, and I
hope you will take what I have said to heart. Long days and pleasant nights my friends.

Anthony Avina
Author

The Netflix Theory: How Streaming and Premium Shows Have Changed How We View Television

Someone once said, “The times, they are a-changing…”, or something like that. I think this applies greatly to the world of entertainment, in
particular to how television is viewed. When cable television reigned supreme, we took on shows and appreciated them for what they were, even
if that meant poor writing, cheesy one-liners, and poor special effects. However, with the invention of premium and streaming services, shows
such as The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Daredevil and Jessica Jones have provided a new standard for groundbreaking television. With these shows,
have we as a society entered a new realm of entertainment?

I pondered this recently as I watched the premiere of a show on the newly dubbed ABC Freeform, called Shadowhunters. Based on the acclaimed book
series by author Cassandra Claire, after watching the show I found myself kind of taken aback. As a fan of both the book series and the film,
I had high hopes for the change to a television format, and yet I found the dialogue, the special effects and the many changes to the story too
difficult to enjoy the show. The changes to the story, several of the characters and the uneven pace of the story itself just made it
uncomfortable to watch. Then I began to think about the shows that are succeeding and have succeeded in recent years, and I asked myself, are
the high standards of these shows making it difficult to enjoy others?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming the actors on the problems with the show. I can give you an example of what I’m talking about. Everyone
knows Shailene Woodley from her incredible work in films such as The Descendants, Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars. However, she had a
massive role on the ABC Family original series, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager, and that show was another example of cheesy lines,
unbelievable plot developments and more. Everyone has seen what an amazing actress she is, but because of poor writing, the show and the actors
on the show suffered.

Writing defines great television, as does most entertainment projects. The expertly crafted works of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Daredevil and
Jessica Jones have brought some amazing performances from the actors on these shows because of deep and invigorating writing teams that have
perfected the art of television. Not only that, but maybe what has made these shows breakout is the fact that they are less restricted in their
content.

What I’ve noticed as a consumer of these shows is that when a show restricts itself in some way, whether it be time constraints, dialogue choices
or just how realistic and gritty the visuals are, (i.e. sexual scenes, blood, violence, etc.), the show tends to suffer in production and
character growth. One cable network that is leading the charge to compete with the streaming and premium channels is The CW, which has their shows
push the limits with smart writing, strong visuals and not as heavy restrictions, allowing their shows to prosper and grow, and lessening the
amount of cancellations the network suffers.

So the question remains: Has the rise of premium and streaming television changed how we consume and enjoy shows? It certainly has for this
writer, and I think it’s changed for the better. After years of seeing great television shows get the ax from big networks because of an old,
outdated way of viewing numbers, its great to see higher forms of art taking shape on streaming and premium networks. 2016 looks to expand
these amazing types of shows, and it’s no wonder big screen actors are now flocking to television shows for their next big roles. This is my
Netflix Theory!

Top 10 Horror Movies to Watch on Halloween:

Hey there everyone! Halloween is fast approaching, and if you guys know me at all, you know Halloween is one of my favorite all time
holidays. I love all things scary, frightening and horror filled, and one of my favorite pastimes is to watch horror movies. On Halloween,
I pick a handful of movies to watch, grab some tasty snacks, and then settle in for a scary night. So in that spirit, I thought I’d share
my top 10 favorite movies to watch around Halloween time!

10) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Before you say anything, I know this is not the scariest film in the world. Yet I love
watching this because I love music, I love musicals, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton together is awesome, and the serial killer/comedy vibe is
just so addicting to watch. From beautiful scenes like the “Pretty Women” song sung between Johnny Depp and Alan Rickman, to the rage fueled,
emotional performance of “Epiphany”, this is a true masterpiece of horror comedy and musicals, and one of my favorite films to watch around
Halloween.

9) Stay Alive: One of the best parts of the horror genre is watching truly cheesy, poorly acted horror movies and laughing and jumping at the
film. One such film for me is Stay Alive, a horror film based on the video game industry and the legend of Elizabeth Bathory. While I love
the video game aspect of the film and the twist on a true serial killer like Bathory, the acting, the script and the pace of the film are
odd, challenging and downright silly at times. What makes this great though are the creepy atmosphere, the terrifying jump scares and the
brilliant integration of the video game scenario. If you want a film to make fun of and enjoy a few jumps, then watch Stay Alive.

8) Silent Hill: One of the scariest video games got a truly scary film adaption, and that is Silent Hill. While some of the acting was
choppy and the backstory wasn’t gripping, the creature of the film and the scares were definitely creepy, and there were some good actors
in this film that brought out the scare factor. Definitely worth a watch this Halloween.

7) Rob Zombie’s Halloween: This film became an instant hit for me when it came out. I’m a longtime Rob Zombie fan, (shoutout to House of a
1000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects), and getting to see his take on the classic film franchise was something I was excited to see. Bringing
a realistic, brutal sense of murder to the classic serial killer, Mr. Zombie took Michael Myers, gave him a terrifying origin story and then
brought true terror to a group of teens who’s innocent holiday turned into a nightmare. Beware of the brutal violence and nudity guys for
those who are squeamish, but it is worth the watch I promise.

6) The Houses That October Built: A new edition to the Halloween slate, this film really did a great job of capturing my attention. The
found footage style of the film was always a big draw for me, but the setting of the underground horror maze scene was a great change of
pace, and the film did a great job of building up the suspense. The film follows a group of friends who are trying to find the scariest
underground horror maze, but as they go through the circuit of horror mazes, they begin to see that certain “dedicated” horror actors are
taking the mazes to a whole new level, leaving behind the maze and bringing the horror directly to the friends. The characters are creepy
as hell, and the scares are definitely legit, so be sure to check this film out this Halloween.

5) Insidious: One of my favorite new horror franchises began with the first, Insidious. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrn were great in this
film, bringing a connective feel to the film, but the paranormal entity in the film is terrifying, and the jump scares definitely will have
your heart pumping. This is one of my must watch films for sure.

4) 28 Weeks Later: While I love the Walking Dead and the slow zombie trend, what truly scares me is the fast paced, running zombies of the
28 Weeks Later film. A sequel to the popular British horror film 28 Days Later, the film features powerful actors and set an emotional tone
to the series overall. The character development is great in this film, as are the heart-pounding action and scares that come out of nowhere.
This is one of my all time favorite zombie films, and is a must watch for me.

3) Paranormal Activity: I am one of the people who personally love the entire Paranormal Activity series, but the first is something truly
special. I remember the hype about the film beforehand, in which the trailers showed horror-stricken audiences screaming at the shocking
scenes of the film. The low-budget film packs a might punch, bringing a real fear of the killer ghost that can’t be seen or fought. It is
one of the best films to truly scare me, and I watch it every year.

2) Scream: The late Wes Craven created what is truly one of the best horror films to date. The twist on the horror genre in which previous
horror films serve as a handbook to survive a real killer was and still is the greatest inspiration for future horror films. The cast is
amazing, and the pop culture references sprinkled throughout the script make this one of the most delectable scary movies that one can watch
on Halloween night. So grab the popcorn, get your drinks, turn off the lights, and be ready to watch the legendary Ghostface come to life!

1) Halloween: The original John Carpenter film is still the best horror movie to watch on Halloween. The legendary Michael Myers remains an
enigma for much of the film, never going in depth on his backstory or the cause of his killer nature. With nothing but his heavy breathing
to warn you, audiences cringe in terror as the monstrous man stalks his victims, walking casually as if sure of his kill. He never hesitates,
never speaks, and never runs away. He is a force of nature, a force of evil, and the essence of the things that go bump in the night. Plus,
the title kind of makes it the obvious choice for the number 1 spot on this list.

There’s my list guys. These are my top films to watch on Halloween. I could watch horror movies all day long, so there are a plethora of
films that didn’t make this list that will be watched on the day of or up to the day of Halloween. Yet these 10 films are something special
to me, and I hope they are to you as well.

What is your favorite film to watch on Halloween?

Love’s Historic Victory: A look into the legendary victory for LGBT marriage rights everywhere!

I wanted to talk about something that the entire United States is currently talking about. I’m talking about the historic moment when the

Supreme Court made it a law that the LGBT community had the same rights as straight couples to get married nationwide. Now, so that I’m
straight up honest with everyone, I myself am not a part of the LGBT community, so I cannot speak of any personal struggles I’ve suffered.
I’m also not a religious person at all, so I cannot speak as a religious person who opposes this decision. This post is strictly my thoughts
on the subject.

I couldn’t be happier for this ruling. While I haven’t struggled with this subject personally, I’ve always been a big supporter for equality
and the fight to have the LGBT community viewed as equals. The bottom line is this: we are all equal. No matter what your race, gender,
sexual orientation, etc, we are all human beings.

More than anything else, I relate to this ruling as a romantic. I believe in love, and it has always saddened me that we as a nation had
failed to bring equality to the forum of love. This ruling has given me hope that our country is not doomed as most people have implied over
the years. With hard work, real change is possible. The time of ignorance and hate needs to stop. The bottom line is that even if you do
have a religious reason not to support this law, think about this: how does it really affect you? You are not being asked to marry someone
of the same sex. You are not being forced to be a part of a gay wedding. This has not effect on you whatsoever. Let people live the lives
they want to live. Who we are attracted to and who we love is not a choice, it’s an internal feeling that we are born with.

So I don’t need to be gay to appreciate this incredible ruling. Equality between us all should never be this big of a fight. Love knows no
bounds. I’m a fan of true love, whether it’s between straight couples or LGBT couples. This week, love won!

P.S.: For you judgmental people out there who are saying on social media that you are going to move to Canada because of this decision,
gay marriage has been legal in Canada for the past decade. In fact, a lot of countries now support same sex marriage. You are the minority
now. Either learn to accept people for who they are and be nice, genuine people, or be ready for a lonely life. Just know that the rest of
the world that you are rejecting will be here, ready to welcome you into our lives with open arms if and when you are ready to stop judging
others. The more you know…