A Writer's Tribute To Chester Bennington

A Writer's Tribute To Chester Bennington

Saying goodbye to an inspiration
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It was right at the end of my work day when I found out that Chester Bennington, lead singer for the band Linkin Park, had committed suicide. My initial reaction was disbelief, but this soon gave way to heartbreak.

I have been listening to Linkin Park for almost a decade. I discovered them in eighth grade and, as a new writer just barely starting down a path of creativity and dedication to the arts, their music was one of the single most inspiring influences I had. I acquired whole albums at a time; Meteora, Hybrid Theory, Minutes to Midnight and in later years, songs from A Thousand Suns and Living Things. It seemed they couldn't make music I didn't like. I dumped it all into my many novel playlists, and I wrote crazy-fast whenever one of their grungy/screamo songs came on, and with passion whenever one of their softer/electronica songs would play.

Linkin Park music makes up a large part of the playlist for one of the novels dearest to my heart, my science fiction book Blue 15, which I have been writing since 2013. Back when I had graduation and freshman year of college to face, songs like Somewhere I Belong, Easier to Run, Nobody's Listening and Figure 0.9 were helping drive my characters. It gave me something steady and reliable. I remember plugging away at this huge, mysterious project and just falling in love with it more and more each day, partially thanks to its soundtrack.

Without Chester Bennington's voice and Linkin Park's love for music, I don't believe I would write science fiction. I don't believe books like Blue 15 would have ever gotten past Chapter 1. I don't believe my identity as a writer would be anything like it is today. I owe much of my creative growth to this amazing band, and in many ways, to Chester Bennington. The world is a dimmer place without him.

Cover Image Credit: Google

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'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Is NOT About Date Rape, It's A Fight Against Social Norms Of The 1940s

The popular Christmas song shouldn't be considered inappropriate.

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The classic Christmas song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" has recently come under attack. There has been controversy over the song being deemed as inappropriate since it has been suggested that it promotes date rape. Others believe that the song is another common example of our culture's promotion of rape. You may be wondering, where did they get that idea from?

The controversy has led to one radio station, WDOK, taking the song off the air and banning it from their station. Some people believe that this song goes against the #MeToo movement since it promotes rape. However, people are not considering the fact that this traditional Christmas song was made in the 1940s.

People are viewing the song from a modern-day cultural perspective rather than from the perspective of the 1940s. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was written in 1944. Many people have viewed the song from the perspective of our cultural and social norms. People believe that the song promotes date rape because of lyrics that suggest that the male singing is trying to stop the female singer from leaving, and the female singer is constantly singing about trying to escape with verses like "I really can't stay" or "I've got to go home."

When you first view the song from the perspective of today's culture, you may jump to the conclusion that the song is part of the date rape culture. And it's very easy to jump to this conclusion, especially when you are viewing only one line from the song. We're used to women being given more freedom. In our society, women can have jobs, marry and be independent. However, what everyone seems to forget is that women did not always have this freedom.

In 1944, one of the social norms was that women had curfews and were not allowed to be in the same house as a man at a later time. It was considered a scandal if a single woman so much as stayed at another man's house, let alone be in the same room together. It's mind-blowing, right? You can imagine that this song was probably considered very provocative for the time period.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is not a song that encourages date rape, but is actually challenging the social norms of society during the time period. When you listen to the song, you notice that at one part of the song, the female states, "At least I can say that I tried," which suggests that she really doesn't want to leave. In fact, most of the song, she is going back and forth the whole time about leaving stating, "I ought to say no…well maybe just a half a drink more," and other phrases.

She doesn't want to leave but doesn't really have a choice due to fear of causing a scandal, which would have consequences with how others will treat her. It was not like today's society where nobody cares how late someone stays at another man's house. Nowadays, we could care less if we heard that our single neighbor stayed over a single man's house after 7. We especially don't try to look through our curtain to check on our neighbor. Well, maybe some of us do. But back then, people did care about where women were and what they were doing.

The female singer also says in the lyrics, "The neighbors might think," and, "There's bound to be talk tomorrow," meaning she's scared of how others might perceive her for staying with him. She even says, "My sister will be suspicious," and, "My brother will be there at the door," again stating that she's worried that her family will find out and she will face repercussions for her actions. Yes, she is a grown woman, but that doesn't mean that she won't be treated negatively by others for going against the social norms of the time period.

Then why did the male singer keep pressuring her in the song? This is again because the song is more about challenging the social norms of the time period. Both the female and male singers in the song are trying to find excuses to stay and not leave.

On top of that, when you watch the video of the scene in which the song was originally viewed, you notice that the genders suddenly switch for another two characters, and now it's a female singer singing the male singer's part and vice versa. You also notice that the whole time, both characters are attracted to one another and trying to find a way to stay over longer.

Yes, I know you're thinking it doesn't matter about the genders. But, the song is again consensual for both couples. The woman, in the beginning, wants to stay but knows what will await if she doesn't leave. The male singer meanwhile is trying to convince her to forget about the rules for the time period and break them.

In addition, the complaint regarding the lyric "What's in this drink?" is misguided. What a lot of people don't understand is that back in 1944, this was a common saying. If you look at the lyrics of the song, you notice that the woman who is singing is trying to blame the alcoholic drink for causing her to want to stay longer instead of leaving early. It has nothing to do with her supposed fear that he may have tried to give her too much to drink in order to date rape her. Rather, she is trying to find something to blame for her wanting to commit a scandal.

As you can see, when you view the song from the cultural perspective of the 1940s, you realize that the song could be said to fight against the social norms of that decade. It is a song that challenges the social constrictions against women during the time period. You could even say that it's an example of women's rights, if you wanted to really start an argument.

Yes, I will admit that there were movies and songs made back in the time period that were part of the culture of date rape. However, this song is not the case. It has a historical context that cannot be viewed from today's perspective.

The #MeToo movement is an important movement that has led to so many changes in our society today. However, this is not the right song to use as an example of the date rape culture.

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12 Tips and Ideas For Secret Santa Gifts This Holiday Season

How to keep the most wonderful time of the year just as wonderful.

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The holiday season is a wonderful time for friendship, family and community. But, nothing can cause as much stress and overall joy-reduction as the anxiety and fear of gift shopping. I love working alongside my fellow teachers, and nothing excites me more than that finding that perfect gift for someone. Seeing that, Secret Santa is understandably something that I am looking forward to in the workplace.

However, that same fun event can go the wrong way down the chimney if you don't know what to do. Secret Santa gifts can be especially hard if you don't know the recipient. Even choosing whether to go with a handcrafted or store-bought gift can be tricky. The holiday season also lends to a feeling of expectation and desire. Adding both of those together can make for less of a very merry experience. However, what I have before you is a collection of jolly good tips and present ideas from my own toy bag of experiences from the last few years of being a Secret Santa. I ho-ho-hope they help you out! (Take a sip of hot cocoa every time I make a terrible Christmas pun.)

1. Learn just one new thing about your person

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I learned that just knowing one little fact about an acquaintance or coworker can change the trajectory of your Secret Santa gift-buying. In the past, I've had a couple of recipients who I have not known quite as well as my friends who might have been in the mix. However, I calmed my frustrations by remembering or figuring out just one little tidbit about them. I learned about a favorite book here, or a favorite album there and crafted an idea around knowing just that one thing.

Then, you don't need to know their entire biography and still whip out an unforgettable present.

2. Opt for a gift card

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I know that there are some out there who fiercely resist the idea of giving a gift card as a present. However, especially when you don't know someone and don't want to make a choice for them as to what they'll receive, a gift card is a no-brainer. It actually shows some thought, as well, because you made the smart choice of allowing your recipient to have some freedom with what they really want and need. A standard Visa or Amazon gift card can go a long way and you can even monitor exactly how much you spend on it.

3. When in doubt, be practical

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I personally love practical gifts with a bit of thought to them. I am an amateur hoarder and have a lot of, just, things. I don't mean that I particularly have a lot of clothes or electronics. But, I have too much random stuff kept from how many years of "Well, I shouldn't throw it away so soon." Therefore, I have grown to particularly love pragmatic presents.

I have spoken to a lot of my other friends and coworkers throughout the years and they concur. Getting a practical gift, based on noticing what someone is in need of or picking out something that we always require in the day-to-day is incredibly thoughtful.

4. Figure out what they can eat

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When I say figure out, I mean just know if they have any allergies or intolerances regarding food. Then, go for it! I know very, very few people who would say no to some lovely snacks or even a gift card (hint, hint) or voucher to a nice restaurant. If you even know your Secret Santa recipient well enough, you can treat them to a meal and surprise them.

5. Almost everyone likes the movies

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I know that I love going to the movies, especially in the winter when everyone has come back for the holidays and the big blockbusters come out. Receiving movie tickets can be essential to this, and actually gives someone an incentive to go to the theaters. This could be an otherwise impossible fun because it's easy to argue out of going with how expensive tickets can be.

And really, this could work with tickets to other events, too. I believe that some other ticketing sites have gift cards (hehe see the theme?) or vouchers that could allow someone to rationalize spending the money.

6. Ask a mutual friend

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Be a secret agent and a sneak. If you have a mutual friend or a co-worker who may have worked at your workplace longer and knows your recipient, then you could extract some information out of them.

7. Find something in common

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I love figuring out when someone else that I know loves Buffy, Harry Potter, Parks and Rec, or Jurassic Park. I also love when I learn how much someone loves to bake or read as much as I do. When I figure this out, regardless of how well I know someone, I feel like I have made a new friend. Applying this same (weird, I know) logic to gift-giving works so well. I know that I will be able to give a great gift if it is related to something that I love, too.

This information can be obtained through the above-mentioned "mutual friend" tip or from the below-mentioned "eavesdropping" trick.

8. Think about the children

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Okay, what I really mean by this is think about their children. This may not be the case necessarily if you are not yet in this stage of friendship type, but as an almost Adult™ I now have friends and co-workers with children. This may be much more applicable if your recipient is in the workplace and if you are aware that they have children. If you do know this information, you could always end up getting something necessary for parents or parents-to-be. This can be super helpful for parents who might not have the priority or, really, the energy to want anything for themselves.

9. Then think about the pets

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There's always the other kind of child that you can consider, and this is the fluffy or scaly or four-legged (most of the time) kind. If you know that you work with or are friends with someone who has a pet (in which case, isn't it the best ever?!) you can always opt for getting their pet something special.

10. Consider their career

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This mostly applies to those of us that are part of the Adulting™ persuasion who are working with other people in jobs and such. Sometimes the easiest guess to make is that your recipient will always need things for work. This could result in a gift related to fancy stationery or even a nice briefcase (depending on the budget and the Secret Santa rules).

11. Be an eavesdropper

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For this case, and this case only, (mostly) stay aware of what your recipient might mention to you or someone else. May keep track of what they express interest in or disinterest in. (Although, don't keep an actual log of that because that could be really weird.) For the most part, this is just a simple practice of awareness. If you stay aware of what your recipient seems to want or need, you have ready-made ideas for a killer Secret Santa gift.

12. It's the thought that counts

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This is always the most important part of not just Secret Santa, but the whole holiday season. Regardless of the handmade quality or the on-the-shelf price, ignoring the pressures of elitism, and most importantly, ignoring your own doubts and fears, your gift will always be appreciated.

Secret Santa has an additional heaviness to it because of the nature of opting in. It can seem that way because you chose to give and receive a gift, that your contribution must be brilliant and unique. But, in reality, this is isn't always the case or in any ways reasonable. So, if you have truly tried to be the best Secret Santa you can be and you love the thought you have put into your gift, that's all anyone wants to know and feel.

So, this lovely holiday season have a peppermint bark and an apple cider on me! (I don't like eggnog. I know it's an unpopular opinion. Don't @ me.) Have a beautiful wintertime regardless of how you celebrate, stay warm, and enjoy that break coming up soon. Also, good luck to all those out there with those last remaining finals. You got this!

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