Visiting Old Friends

funny_best_friends_in_fingerAva Reynolds is one of the first characters I ever cooked up. She was the wife of my (then main) character, Lewis Reynolds and she was meant to be part mother part investigator. Somewhere along the line I made her into this bitter, horrible person that ended up grating on all of the readers who happened to get to read about her.

She was partially based on a friend I had at the time. A lot of the basis faded away and a lot of it was just kind of based on a sugar coated version of what I thought that this person was. It was kind of my first venture into writing characters based so heavily on friends and part of my feeling toward that person later might be what caused Ava to transform from the character I originally meant her to be into what he became.

With the recent loss of most of my old writing notes and me being forced to write a lot of those things over I actually ended up re-thinking how I had treated the character and what I could do to make it better. Inspiration hit me this morning and I went back and did something with this character that I hadn’t done in a long time. I wrote her in first person. To be honest, my first attempt at first person ever was with Ava and it was a whole novel.

Back then I didn’t know well enough to realize that I was writing utter shit, but the work was my first try at something I felt really uncomfortable with. Coming back to Ava and first person again in this new…piece (I’m not sure what it’s meant to be) is kind of nice because I know her so much better and I’ve done some refining and improvement on my work.

Can’t wait to see how this turns out.

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The Doctor Who Fiftieth and Internet Fandom

998102_10101161246295165_1890128532_nThis past Saturday night I rushed home to catch the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special when it was replayed on BBC America. Despite the fact that they shoved forty five minute of commercials into an hour and fifteen minute long show and despite that I was seeing it almost ten hours later after the dust had settled I don’t think I’ve ever been more satisfied with something as it was presented to me. I was blown away. That’s the only way to describe it.

I spent the months leading up to the show not consuming anything Doctor Who related. I didn’t read the news articles or watch the mini-sodes and trailers. It made the experience that much more special and meaningful because it felt untainted and pure. It was Moffat at his best, Billie Piper at her best, Tennant better than I think we ever saw him in the last season of the show (except maybe for Midnight) and Matt Smith doing some of his best work. There was a lot for Jenna Coleman to do this time, but she never seemed to be taking up space or occupying the screen just to be there.

One of the most impressive things Moffat does is write in a way where time seems to actually have passed. The effects of a stronger relationship between the Doctor and Clara are all over the place. The Doctor has moved past where we saw him last and it honestly feels like we’ve had distance between his last outing at the end of season seven.

9506_10101165853557175_1722492652_nI loved everything about the show. I absolutely can’t stress how awesome John Hurt was. But I’m still upset and perhaps it’s partially my fault. I should know better by now. The comments section of any site is no place for the kind of person who wants to remain happy about whatever they’re reading about.

And there’s nothing more disgustingly venomous than an upset Doctor Who fan. They’re mad that their favorite actor wasn’t in it. They’re still mad that it’s not the David Tennant show. They’re mad that Moffat would dare replace young attractive men with an older one. They’re pretty much upset about anything that Moffat does at all, they blame him for every small fault in everything from the advertising to the timing of the show and all that falls between.

It’s weird to want to be done with the community surrounding something you love because a lot of the people in it sincerely embody all that’s wrong with fans of media. Sites like Twitter and Tumblr have made it so that everyone has a voice and people have chosen to bitch about the most miniscule details in everything.

Not too long ago it got so bad that Moffat pulled his Twitter account offline. More recently I think he has put it back up (don’t quote me on that), but it doesn’t matter because he still felt the need to take it down because of the fans and their reactions to every little thing that he did. There’s something to be said for how awesome it is being connected to the creative people who bring us the shows, music, movies and books we love, but at the same time I think we abuse them and make it hard for the to do their job by being more than just critical…by basically being utter fucking assholes and ramping up the asshole behavior when we think it might get us more attention.

For those out there who want to enter the business someday and write for the rest of us it’s kind of harrowing, I’m sure, to see the treatment of other people who really only want to entertain. Death threats, insults, threats against family and while these are some of the extreme things that people have done any one of them is enough to discourage those who might want to try their hand at writing in the future.

Level Playing Field

assertiveDespite being fed up with most of the stuff in the sections you get by default on Reddit I still choose to visit the site. There are some funny and insightful things on there once you get a little ways off of the beaten path. There’s also utter lunacy—both the funny and scary variety.

Instead of sticking around to complain about what I was seeing I just unwatched a lot of the sections I disliked and went on about my business. Some of them slipped by unnoticed though and the worst of these was the Okcupid section.

Okcupid has cultural problems that stem mostly from its membership. The site’s design is clean and functional. When features are unpopular they just become harder to find and don’t have to vanish entirely and the site isn’t afraid to blatantly be what it is: a dating website.

The other day on Reddit one of the top posts in the Okcupid section basically amounted to some girl bragging about how she overcame her fear and sent her first message out ever. She was greeted with pats on the back and celebration of how she finally did it and how good of a person she was for participating in the site the way it’s meant to be used. This wouldn’t be so odd if I hadn’t seen more than a few men make the same kind of post when they first joined Okcupid (she had been a member for months) and get torn to shit in the comments about how they weren’t doing anything until they hadn’t heard back from hundreds of messages and the like.

Of course I stepped in and asked did she want a cookie or something. Did she think she had mastered the site just by sending a single message. There are thousands upon thousands of women out there who do send messages first and who do so often. She accused me of being mean and not understanding that she has social anxiety disorder. Guess who else does? But that excuse would never hold up for me.

We have all got to stop treating women like they’re Labrador Retrievers and they need constant positive reinforcement. You can take the initiative and message guys first. Do you have to do it always? No, but the guy shouldn’t always have to either.

Shyness is a sweet trait to a point. But if you can’t send a message over a semi-anonymous website to say “Hey, I see you’re really into Hannibal, who’s your favorite character?” then maybe you’re not ready to be dating.

This gripe really isn’t at women, it’s at society. Because society tries to say it enables groups to be on equal footing, but it really doesn’t. For the same reason that blacks can talk all we want about Civil Rights and how awesome Martin Luther King was, but don’t dare let some of these same people catch you not consuming exclusively black art or doing exclusively “black” things because they’ll turn around and make it about how you’re not acting black enough. And a sincere sentiment like that is pretty fucking racist. The same way that telling someone she’s too feminine or not feminine enough is pretty sexist.

But there’s nothing saying that either sex is unable to initiate communication. Everyone is capable of being nervous under the right circumstances. Let’s not treat it like only one sex’s nervousness is validated.

Liberalism Online Edition

6a0120a5962426970b012877a46f33970c-800wiOne of the trends I have been noticing over the last few years when it comes to people online in large groups is the special kind of “liberalism” that seems to be prevalent. A lot of these people quoted Barack Obama and swooned over his political speeches for years online, though a lot of that has stopped because these same people are more worried about the government skimming through phone calls and emails for keywords—even though Google, Facebook and loads of other companies do these same things and then give you ads based on what you say.

You can tell this special little snowflake breed of liberal a few different ways. They’re usually bright eyed, optimistic Millennials (which is already enough reason for me to kind of be sick of them) who value their privacy so highly that they have to post photos of everything they eat on geo-tagged Instagram and Tweet any deep sounding stray thoughts they have whilst taking a shit. They’re free-thinking and enlightened (see: Atheist), unless of course you hold feminist views—then they’re going to sound like the most sexist preacher imaginable. Or unless you’re a black person that’s had anything wrong done to them, because we all know the West stopped being racist years ago.

Bonus points to the person being identified if at the mention of women’s rights they bring up “the friend-zone” or the special privileges women in society have. Because somehow there’s nothing more desired and valuable in the world than someone occasionally holding a door for you for an inordinate amount of time or

A lot of them care about life so, so much. Well they care about life enough to protest the use of drone planes, even though the drones are more accurate and less bloody than a ground assault or traditional bombing. They champion people like Snowden and Assange without considering the huge amount of hypocrisy these kind of individuals typically display.

Expect them to meet any talk about religion with smug comments, even if the person making the comments about religion does so in a perfectly polite and non-threatening, non-forceful way.

These types seem to run wild on sites like Reddit and there’s even a large amount of them on Facebook making groups that claim to offer free thought until someone who doesn’t think like the rest of the group has something to say. 

Then Why Even Have a Rating System

iPad_Air_vs_iPad_mini_2_3For some reason I was reading tech reviews for different products and when I came across some stuff on the iPad Air I noticed that most of the ratings were five out of five or ten out of ten or whatever the system deemed perfect, but the product had cons. Obvious cons. What you’re getting for the price. The lack of an option for external storage. There were others, listed there on the site, but the point is that with cons like that it probably shouldn’t be ten out of ten.

Videogames have the same problem on a lot of review sites. The reviewers are often critical of titles for small reasons but give larger named titles huge passes in regards to things that should be held against them. And when one reviewer dares to step outside of the box and give what they think is an honest assessment of the game it can net them death threats and all manner of harassment.

A game like Grand Theft Auto did have a lot going for it, but there were some glaring weaknesses. Especially in terms of story and when it comes to the online game. A lot of people were waiting for the online component of the game, but now that’s come out it leaves things to be desired. Like the character creation. Or the mission system.

This isn’t to say that we should be trying to get mad when we read a great review, but we need to stop blowing smoke up the asses of companies that don’t deserve it for the work their doing. When writing a review we need to try and approach the the subject of the review with fresh eyes and not give concessions just because we’re a fan of the company or product or series or whatever may be the matter at hand.

When it comes to anything new coming out we need to stop swallowing buzz words like faster, more fun and other things that really have no concrete proof. Consumers are so stupid that they only just stopped buying Call of Duty games despite there being no new ideas since Call of Duty MW2. And they haven’t figured out that it’s not considered “budget conscious” if you update your phone or tablet out of a need to be stylish.

There are people out there who like different things and there are all manner of consumers, but the people reviewing things and the people buying them need to actually learn to think without bias about what something can actually do and what it’s use is.

Daddy Issues

worlds_best_dad_medalFor as long as I can remember actually feeling like I wanted kids of my own I’ve liked the idea of having a daughter more than having a son. This is apparently not normal. Whenever it somehow comes up in conversation people look at me like they just realized I was Keyser Söze the whole time. I guess I can see why.

But then there are those people who obviously shouldn’t have had a kid at all. I went out to the bar with a friend from out of town the other day and expected things to just be kind of run of the mill. I wanted her to see the places where we hang out and meet some of my friends.

While we were there I started talking to a bar tender I didn’t know as the person who is usually there was off that night. We were joking about her piercings. She had these two in the dimples of her back. I don’t remember how it even came up. The thing is that it wasn’t really that I was flirting with her, but I know from being in this bar before and having been in other bars that if you’re the girl behind the bar you’re going to get hit on by guys who might be well into their sixties.

The whole thing is a little gross. But it’s also not anything abnormal. It’s the case in bars all over the westernized world more than likely.

In the course of our conversation about various piercings I told her that she should avoid any guy who’s dumb enough to pierce his dick. It might not show from this blog most of the time, but I don’t have a filter or much of a wall to hold that kind of stuff back. I can if I want to, but I typically don’t.

It turns out that a guy who I had been talking to earlier was the girl’s father and he was just in the bar drinking and hanging out. I’m already a little creeped out by the idea of people coming with their kids to the bar unless it’s not a regular thing. But when you come see your daughter in a place where she works around dozens of guys who are looking at her like a piece of meat  you kind of have to expect that.

The guy seemed so hurt by the whole thing and was just upset whenever I was around for the entire rest of the night. And if he had been there any amount of time with her at the bar he had to have seen worse stuff than what I did. The leering. The comments.

I figure that he was either there for free drinks or to try and keep guys away from his daughter. Either way it seems like a pretty sad existence. I think it’s good to want to stand up for your kids. But how long do you have to keep doing it? And how do you take on everyone that makes off color jokes as if they’re insults?

One thing that someone made a point of saying (I don’t remember who) is that the guys who have the most to fear when they have a little girl are the ones who remember the horrible shit they did to women when they were younger and single. I think that’s not true, even guys who didn’t do all the bad still know guys who did. They still saw the effects on a girl or two, Or they witnessed it first hand at a party or gathering or bar.

Though it’s sexist to think that bad things only happen to little girls (because they don’t). I’m sure that being a parent is scary in general. Even then, there comes a point where you need to be ready to let your kids think for themselves and do for themselves and let them laugh with other people and have fun and all of that good stuff.

Ripple Effect

ripplewater1Small changes can ripple out from where they start and really make a big difference. Since starting work in a new place I already feel better about a lot of the things going on in my life. The levels of stress I’m experiencing have gone WAY down on top of that. Next week I have a house guest from the Netherlands and I’m pretty excited about that. Given how restrictive my old job was a situation like this would have never been possible.

Freedom to do these kinds of things and pursue these sorts of ends is exactly what I need. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

Not going out so much really has helped too. I spent a good deal of my time worried about being alone and not feeling comfortable with being alone with my own thoughts. It’s pretty liberating to lay around this house (albeit with a cold these last few days) and not have to over analyze everything I want or think about.

I’m even managing to get some writing done.

Oh, I’ve also started using my Pinterest board again to hold ideas for writing that I hope to do in the future. There’s nothing to really see on there right now, but I think that tip could be helpful for others out there. That site’s not just for overpriced wedding planning, there’s a pretty practical element to it too.

"The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated"

Mark_Twain,_Brady-Handy_photo_portrait,_Feb_7,_1871,_croppedNot that anyone has been doing that or anyone has been wondering where I’ve been. I’ve done this shit before and vanished for months at a time…I think…I’m too lazy to check back and see, but let’s take what I am saying as the truth for the purpose of this post.

This new job has been keeping me busy and I love it. I haven’t liked working at a place this much ever before and I don’t know if it’s the high of coming from such a terrible workplace environment. I believe in our product, I like the people I work with and I don’t dread going to work at all. It’s nice to feel like that and I wonder how much of my depression was caused by feeling trapped in shitty circumstances. Most of that dark cloud I felt like I was living under seems lifted.

That having been said I’ve been more prone to spending time alone due to a lot of other things that have happened and my writing is basically dead in the water. I happened to meet a girl who helped me sort out some of the psychological issues with my main character because she grew up with a mother who had the same issues and that insight really tied everything together. But there’s still some fear for me in writing the characters and plot out. I know I can do it somewhere inside. I’m a decent writer and I have ideas that seem to interest people. But self doubt is a pretty powerful opposing force and once you let it gain traction it’s hard to stop.

This month is National Novel Writing Month, which is something I usually scoff at because I feel that if you’re going to write something nut the fuck up and do it today. Don’t wait until November because there’s a month to do it. But it looks like this month will have to be my month to get back on track. With me going out less it might be easier. I need to save money now. I need a new car. I want to start picking up some other stuff that if I don’t have by the time I’m thirty it becomes a bit of a sad-case.

I have the time to write and do what I need to do. I mean, I’m the fastest writer I know when I sit down and do it. Fifty thousand words in a month is what National Novel Writing Month requires. Those kind of numbers were child’s play to me. I could do that in a week. But I need to actually sit down and do that. Lissette and Annemarie and the other characters have a story that needs to be told and I need to stop this meticulous planning and just write. It’s now or later, but now seems better when this has been something I’ve wanted since I was eleven.