The Need For Adversity

Sometimes when I walk into my comic book store, I’m asked if I have a ‘pull list’ with them. For those who are unaware, a pull list is a list of comics you want set aside so you can just pick them up when you arrive. Now I see the logic behind this. People want to come in, get their stuff and go. That’s fine and if that’s your thing, God bless. As for me, I usually turn down the offer. I tell them I like the hunt, and I do. I love to search through the titles and find my prey. Sometimes I even discover something new or find something unexpected. The randomness o f the unknown is too much of a temptation for me.

This got me to thinking about society in general. When I was growing up, we had to wait until the next week to see the following episode of our favorite shows. Now we can binge the entire season in an afternoon. We would have to wait days, sometimes weeks, for items we ordered through a catalog. Now you get your Amazon order the next day. Same day in some cases. We have grown to resenting a wait. We’re always looking for ways to make things come faster. We want it now and we want it perfect. Why the rush? What happened to the joy of anticipation? I know it seems like torture to have to wait, but that’s when you truly savor the experience and that makes getting what you want even sweeter and more fulfilling. Being able to get whatever you want on demand is like empty calories and the satisfaction fades away so quickly.

I think, as a species, we require adversity. We honestly crave it and by trying to eliminate it, we’re losing a basic part of ourselves and I also see how this can affect the real world. Look at what eBooks have done. It’s easier, cheaper and faster to buy a digital book, but where have all the bookstores gone? I don’t see any new ones opening. Those jobs are gone and are never coming back. I’m not saying digital books are alone to blame, but you can’t say they weren’t a component of the situation. I mean, look at the music industry. Now that we can buy music digitally, music stores have gone extinct as well. Even some stores l like Best Buy and Target are shrinking their music selections or eliminating them all together. We need to be challenged, even in these urban environs. Our hunting instinct still exists, but it has no outlet. I think that’s why some people are ‘shoppers’. They enjoy the hunt, but instead of food, they’re hunting for bargains. I believe this because I know when I am out for something, I will not stop until I get it. I have spent entire days tracking down my treasures not intending to go to such lengths. It’s a drive in me that goes beyond rational thought. It’s instinct. A hunger for some kind of satisfaction and when I find my ‘prey’ I am happy. I feel as though I have accomplished something. I’ve been know to collect those Pop Vinyl figures and while I do purchase many of them online, there are times I go out and seek out some of the harder to find ones and when I do find them, the satisfaction is noticeably higher for me. I could have stayed home and ordered them online, but being out in the world and finding it myself was a  much richer experience. Quicker and faster is not exactly better. I know many would disagree, but it’s true.

Picture a world where everything is yours the second you want it. You don’t have to wait until that new movie comes out, you can just watch it online now. You can shop for your groceries online and have them delivered. You don’t have to wait for anything or go out for any reason. You get to just sit on your ass all day long while people bring you things and you download whatever you want online. This is not how we were designed to live. I’m not saying innovation is evil, but I think it needs to be restrained. It may seem archaic in some cases, but I don’t think we should be trying to make EVERYTHING so easy. We have to work for it a little bit. Someday we’ll have robots making all of our cars, serving us food and movie theaters will be a thing of the past, and that will pretty much deep six the entire entertainment industry, believe me, it will. All we’ll be left with is YouTube videos and whatever homemade crap people are still uploading. I don’t know about you, but I see the way things are going and I don’t want it. I long for the days before the internet and before same day delivery. I honestly believe having to wait and learning to be patient made better people. Kids are now growing up in a world where they get what they want right away and look at them. Over-privileged douchebags who spend their days developing apps so they can sell them to Google for a billion dollars before they graduate high school. Life is getting so mushed up and warped around. We’re losing the foundation and it’s all falling apart.

I know this isn’t going to change anything, but hopefully if someone actually reads this, they’ll at least walk away with something to think about.

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Final Thoughts For 2016

The end at last. 2016 has been arguably the worst year in recent memory. Gauged by how much bad stuff went down. We had over 100 celebrity deaths and lost many icons. We acquired a bridge troll for President. We’ve had terrorist attacks and mass shootings left and right while our governing body chose to instead deal with gender bathroom issues. That’s just the public stuff. I won’t even go into the personal stuff. Needless to say, I haven’t had many good years, but 2016 is still managing to stand out as one of the worst.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why 2016 was so terrible, and I came to a theory that seems to make sense to me. Now I only speak of this as a theory. Think for  a moment that this bad year is totally on us. The concept of getting what you give seems to be a true universal law. It makes sense. You give good, you get good just as if you give bad, you get bad. Has anyone wondered if we’re just giving out too much bad? Culturally, I seem to notice a subtle trend. Pride in being an asshole. So many people take such pride in being obnoxious and rude. They say they are just being honest and speaking their mind. They angle it to make themselves look almost noble for being a terrible person. This isn’t a sudden trend. We can see how this has been brewing for some time. I think the clearest indicator of this is television. Think for a moment about the current TV  landscape. So many shows on the air today seem to celebrate being the worst person you can be. We’ve created a culture that looks at awful people as some kind of anti-heroes in our society and because of that they are worshiped and admired while people who stay on the side of the angels are looked upon as weak and boring. People too afraid to offend someone, but I wonder what is so wrong with not wanting to offend everyone? Can you not still communicate your point of view without offending someone? What’s wrong with showing other people respect? I don’t want to censor people, but I don’t know why considering the feelings of others is so terrible. You can think whatever you like, but it pays to be diplomatic.

I think this started at about the time of Married With Children and Rosanne. These shows and many like them showed the characters as we really are instead of how we wished we could be and that was great; but somewhere we crossed a line and instead of telling the truth, they started to create another level of society. There came more shows showing the characters acting ‘real’ but as they got worse, our society got worse. Now shows that fully embrace the worst of everything are runaway hits. Case in point: Game of Thrones. I’ve read and seen enough to know that there are virtually no redeemable characters in the GOT world. The people, I suppose, act as the writers would assume anyone would act in their positions. Kings screwing around all the time and siring legions of bastard children. People who kill, rape and steal and looked upon as heroes for doing so. Shows that make awful, amoral people the heroes of their stories.

Maybe the time is coming that we should look into celebrating what’s positive about our world. Revealing that being good doesn’t mean you’re some boring, naive simpleton. Trying to be a good person isn’t being naive. There is good in this world. We just simply choose to ignore it because it isn’t as much fun as negativity. It’s more fun to tear down than to build up. There was a time when our culture was a bit more moral positive, and in those days people were better. More polite and just nicer as a whole. It isn’t just that we celebrate bad behavior, but we also stigmatize good behavior. We label so-called ‘do-gooders’ as lame or boring. we created a narrative that those who work with the rules are bland and overly sensitive, not wishing to hurt anyone’s feelings in some hope of being accepted. I just wonder why this has become the case. What is wrong with being nice? More people should be nice. Maybe if more people were nice, this past year would not have sucked so hard. We’re creating a world where we are expecting everyone to be a bastard and by expecting them to be bad, we behave badly as well.  Maybe we should start expecting the best, because usually whatever you expect of other people is what you get.

I leave you with this for the coming year. Try and swim upstream and be nice and think of others over yourself. Take a moment to realize you aren’t the only person on Earth. Don’t be afraid to consider others first, because it doesn’t make you weak, but rather it strengthens us all. The power to have a great 2017 is within us. To quote the wise Jerry Spring, please be good to yourselves, and each other. Make 2017 the best year yet!

Happy new year!

Why Him? (Not the movie)

Okay. So my mind is mingled with many issues right now. First, I’m moved by the story about the man who told Ivanka Trump her father was ruining the country and then was removed from the flight along with his husband and child. There’s the short version. Let’s being: Since when would a Trump be caught dead traveling on a commercial airline, and in coach no less! Feels to me that she was baiting people into a confrontation just so it could get the kind of press it has been getting. In this instance I side with the hero who had the guts to speak his mind and shame on the airline for backing Ivanka. Her father is ruining this country. Hell, her whole damn family is chipping away at the U.S. My big issue here is the amount of threats of physical violence this man and his family have received. He  simply spoke his opinion. He didn’t threaten her or anything. Just stated his opinion, which according to the Constitution is his right. You can disagree with him, but to hurl threats of violence seems like a disproportionate response. It’s disturbing to me how so many Trump supporters are so quick to such anger. Of course, I would also say suck it up. You bitches have been ragging on Obama and his family for 8 years. Now it’s your turn. How dare anyone on the Right say anything about this incident. The insults I’ve heard thrown at the Obamas pale in comparison to what poor little Ivanka went through. I guess it’s different when it’s your guy in the White House right? When you disrespect Obama, it’s okay, but God forbid you speak against Trump. Screw Trump and his whole brood. They are the worst family since the Mansons. Hey! There’s an idea. Charlie in 2020, right? The fact of the  matter is you cannot expect after 8 years of degrading our president that we’re going to just embrace Trump and treat him with any kind of respect, and for you to whine like children when he or his ‘family’ are confronted in public just shows how pitiful you are. The classic ‘you can dish it out, but you can’t take it’ comes to mind. That’s just too bad. Get used to it for the next 4 years. (And if you think Trump is going to be a 2 termer, you really are an idiot.)

Now, what else? Oh. Right. The Right urging us to get behind Trump and support ‘our’ President. Just like they supported Obama? It’s amazing how the Republicans don’t see how their actions can affect how they are treated. They think they can treat everyone like dirt and still expect to be treated like royalty. We should respect him because he won the election? Because the people voted for him? No. He won in part from interference from Russia (17 Intelligence agencies confirming this is good enough for me) He also won because he mobilized the disenfranchised of this country who have felt left behind. He appealed to their fears and hatred and it lit a fire in them. They saw him as their hero. He would save them from, uh, something. Not sure what, but Trump is going to save them, or at least he promised he would. So far, he hasn’t held up his end of the bargain. That swamp is getting bigger and deadlier by the day. Where’s that wall? When do all the Muslims get taken away? When is any of that going to happen? Never. That’s when! Never! He  is going to use his position to fill his pockets every chance he gets at the cost of this country. His bff Putin is going to hold his hand all along the way too. Trump took the White House because he sold them what they wanted, but they should have looked in the package first. I think another element was simply because most Repubs are just dumb. I mean, they are. They’re leaders tell them to vote for someone and they show up in force, no questions asked and vote. Democrats are a little too smart for their own good because you tell them who to vote for and they think it over. Over-think it, in fact. Another aspect is, and this is also just a theory, that most voters don’t like smart candidates. They resent them, or envy them; not sure. It just seems the candidates who get the furthest are the ones who pander to the lowest common denominator. The ones who think and explain and give sound reasoning for their decisions are attacked and demonized. I think it’s time the people put on their ‘big boy’ pants and accept that most of us don’t know everything and that there are people out there who have experience and knowledge about things we know nothing about. I don’t know jack squat about foreign policy, I admit that and I would gladly allow better minds than mine take the wheel. To be blinded by your own pride because of your own anger over your limitations is pointless. Now Trump is in charge and he’s pissing off China, buddying up with Russia and is so in love with himself he can’t see what he’s really doing because of all the folks insulating him from the truth.

Also, why are the other Repubs afraid of him? No Republicans on Capitol Hill have the guts to slap that orange baby like he  needs to be. They seem to fear his supporters lashing out at them if they speak against the Donald. Do they fear physical attacks or are they just afraid of nasty letters and tweets? If that’s the case, I’d tell them to grow the fuck up. Absorbing the hate of those who disagree with you is part of your job, which you get paid insanely well for btw. Just ask Obama. He and his family have spent 8 scandal free years in the White House, yet for some reason I don’t think any Presidential family has endured more scorn than they have. (He saved the economy, got Bin Laden, insured America and they say the country is in shambles. Now we get to hear about how Trump has inherited a financial disaster from Obama, yet in the same breath they try to take the credit for the improved economy.)

Bottom line here is Karma is a bitch, Repubs and you’re fools if you expect to receive anything more than the exact same treatment you gave to Obama during his administration. All the obstructions, all the backstabbing and jabs. All of that will be coming home to roost for you. Stop acting like you’re surprised or that you don’t deserve it. Did you really think 8  years of acting as you have would hold no consequences? I know. You ‘know’ that you’re right and because of that we need to bow down and obey, right? No. It doesn’t work like that. It never has, it never will, and so far you haven’t been right. About anything. I realize the Democrats are no angels, but at least when they fight they try to fight for others. You only ever fight for yourselves. I’ll close this rant with one quick little history lesson. 1928. Republican President, Senate and House. 1929 Great Depression. Repeat again with George W Bush. Great Recession. Now we have Trump and a Right controlled House and Congress. What financial catastrophe is coming? It’s only a matter of waiting now.

La La Land

I know it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a movie, but after seeing La La Land, I decided it was time to return.

I have  been looking forward to this film since I first saw the trailer several months ago and last night I finally saw it. The movie, which seems to be a love letter to Hollywood and classic musicals, revolves around Mia and Sebastian. Mia is a struggling actress working for her big break and Sebastian is an equally struggling musician who seeks to open his own club. They seem to keep running into each other and finally realize their feelings for each other. It seems to be going perfect until Sebastian, upon the urging of Mia, sets out to do what he must to make his dream of owning his own club a reality. It soon seems that their dreams and the currents of life are drawing them apart.

The music and dance sequences throughout the film maintain a dream-like atmosphere and  makes you wish that kind of magic and wonder could be found more readily in the real world. The music itself is memorable and almost addictive. The tunes will linger in your mind long after the final credits.

As I watched the film, it felt like someone had scooped out some idealized version of Hollywood that has only lived in my head and splashed it up on the screen. The struggles of Mia and Sebastian echoed in my soul and I don’t think I have ever  been so invested in an on-screen love story. Ryan Gosling is just about the most perfect leading man to come along in a long time and Emma Stone shines as the strong yet vulnerable ingenue. There’s a haunting beauty to the whole film and it seems to try to recapture some spark of life that many natives to Los Angeles seem to have lost, or simply ignore. This film is a reawakening with vibrant colors, beautiful music and a story that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

I enjoyed this movie and I can’t wait until it comes out on Blu Ray so that I can own it. This movie should be made the official film of Los Angeles. That’s all I’m saying.

Audience: The audience was good as gold in this one. Not a mutter or flash of a cell phone for the entire movie. Will wonders never cease?

NC GOP Revolt(ing)

So, McCRory finally conceded his defeat, but now the Repubs are pulling another shenanigan. Trying to strip incoming Governor Cooper of nearly all his power so they can retain control. They say they’re doing it because the legislature is closer to the people than the Governor, yet this argument wasn’t made when McCrory was in office. I think the party has finally and completely gone over the deep end. They, the party that constantly sings about how they love America and all that jazz, are now making one of the boldest moves to completely upend democracy. The people don’t want HB2 and they don’t want McCrory. They voted him out and voted Cooper in. Put on the big boy pants and suck it up. It’s amazing to me every time they lose, instead of examining their positions on the issues, they instead try to change the system to suit their interests. They need to be stopped because if this gambit succeeds, it will set a dangerous precedent for the entire country. The chain of command must be respected and if other states see that they can literally take away the power from the elected officials and take the reigns of power away by force, it will spell the end of America as we know it.

When did the Republican party become such a bunch of whiny little children? Always throwing these hissy fits each time they lose. It’s sickening and we  have to put our collective foot down and demand an end to this childish behavior. They system only works when we all play by the same rules, but somehow Republicans have gotten it into their heads that there’s a different set of rules for them. Which of course there aren’t. If I could address them directly I would tell them the reason they keep losing is because their policies are out of touch with the real world. They keep choosing to stay on the opposite side of progress. They preach this false morality they expect the world to live by, yet they themselves don’t.

Trump seems to have ushered in a new era of corruption. Maybe that’s why they defend him so much. As long as he’s on top, they think they can get away with anything. I don’t know what kind of world they are looking to live in, but I can’t imagine that it will be all that great, based on the issues they fight for. I see for them a world where all minorities are subjugated, the environment is expendable, and all the wealthy live in a beautiful Utopian city while the rest of the country struggles as they serve their rich masters. How that is a sustainable future, I have no idea. They want to rule us rather than legislate. We are not here to serve them, but rather they are here to work for us. No matter the title, from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the ladder, they are and always will be civil servants. It’s time they started acting like it.

Stupid Lists

I recently found a post of a top ten list that listed all the ways people waste their money and offered solutions. On the list of money-wasters was concessions at the movies. It even addressed the fact that the concession stand is the primary income of the theater but still suggested sneaking food in to save $$$. First off, no. No. Speaking as a movie buff and someone who actually enjoys the theater experience, I hate seeing people sneak food in. If you come to an establishment, it’s only right that you at least try to support the business. If everyone started smuggling food in, it wouldn’t be long until the theaters would start losing money and would have to close. The truth about a capitalist system is you have to put into it if you want to get something out of it. Sneaking food into a theater is wrong. Yes, it’s overpriced, but everything is these days and that’s how this crazy world works. You pay, they make a profit and stay in business and you can continue enjoying the services provided. You try and cut corners like sneaking food in, the business suffers and they close. Now no one gets to go to the  movies. Thanks a lot, douche-rag. Besides, if the cost of a soda and popcorn at the theater is going to break the bank, maybe you shouldn’t be going to the movies in the first place. Of course this list also includes cable as another money-waster, so this list really puts you in a bind.

Here’s a tip on how to really save money. Don’t go anywhere, do anything or eat. Ever. You’ll save thousands.

In The Name Of The Author

Lately I have encountered some people who are fellow artists and inevitably the conversations would turn to our work. The first topic of course is, for me, the lack of readership. The fact is my books are not commonly read and that’s mostly because I can’t afford to market them effectively enough to reach a larger reader base. After lamenting this, the person I’m talking to invariably asks if the work itself shouldn’t be the main focus and anything past that is just not that important. I have grown sick of this idea. I am a writer and yes, writing is a very important thing for me but isn’t enough. I admit that. It’s getting people to read my work that holds just as much importance. It’s not about vanity. I don’t expect people to read my stuff and go on about what a genius I am; although if that should happen, who am I to argue? It’s just the same with painters and singers. If their craft was enough for them, they would just paint for themselves or just sing for themselves, but they don’t. They post pictures of their paintings and upload videos of their singing or actually sing in public. Sharing their art with an audience is an essential part of the process. They aren’t doing it for glory or for worship by the masses. Creating something is just part of art. Another large part of it is sharing your work with others. It’s just like in life. It means more and is more precious when you share it with other people. I don’t like being made to feel like I’m some egotist just because I want people to read my books and scripts. I could sit in my room and write until the end of time. I could write piles of books and scripts  until the day I die and then be entombed in a hut made of those books and scripts, but what is the point of writing if your work is not shared with anyone else? Writing in itself is NOT enough, I’m sorry. It’s not. It’s like you keep loading your gun with bullets but never shoot it. The sharing of art is part of the artistic process. There is the artist and the audience. Two equal parts and one cannot exist without the other. The proof of that is museums. If art for the sake of art was such a thing, why do we have museums? Because it needs to be expressed as well as created. Art is like a living creature and  it needs to be appreciated. Being created and then thrown in a dark room never to be seen is like killing it.

That’s all I have to say about that.