Ch-ch-changes

Bowie_ChangesI’m getting into that wonderful age category where being “the single guy without kids” goes from being said with a tone that would suggest you’re cool and starts being said as if you’re a sinister pedophile. Also, when I say that sentence in my head pedophile is said in the British fashion; don’t ask me why.

A fair number of my friends are married, engaged to be married, divorced and have kids. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things and they don’t particularly ruin a friendship, well, not in and of themselves. These important life changes are usually treated as if they end your social life for ever or as if they’re the end of you having friends. I’m determined not to be the shortsighted kind of friend who doesn’t call someone because they can’t sit in a bar with me until we’re too drunk to distinguish people from house plants. I don’t have many friends these days and I need to cherish them, because as anyone will tell you another symptom of getting older is the dwindling number of people you can trust.

This all leads up to the mistake I made today. Without really meaning to I didn’t speak to a friend because she just had a baby. It wasn’t because of some kind of “eww babies” sentiment. Babies can’t do anything I haven’t already seen on the internet. It was more because I felt that she would be too busy for whatever trite bullshit I had to say. Maybe I was correct, but text messages are hardly invasive and they don’t demand an immediate response. That’s what makes them so great. I thought about all of this much later when I was laying down for bed and realized this is probably how it starts. All of the people who vanish when someone gets married or when someone has kids—it begins with them just assuming this. Or with them actually wanting to have friends with more “freedom”. Those last people probably aren’t going to fall into that friends you trust category.

My friends mean a lot to me and I’m going to do whatever I can to keep them and keep up with them. There are plenty of good reasons not to text someone, but I’m not going to let the fact that they might be too busy to answer immediately be one of them.

Reading for Inspiration

I’ve been having issues getting words on the page and it seems like the only remedy to this kind of thing is more reading. Probably going to end up re-reading some things. I’m feeling like I want to take another look at Gone Girl, because the book blew me away. And then I have been wanting to re-read the John Cleaver series for some time now. It feels like the only trilogy of books I have come across recently without a lackluster drop off at the end and Dan Wells isn’t afraid to take risks with his characters and situations.

Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl, also has some other books out there I might need to look into. I read Sharp Objects, but she has one called Dark Places that I’ve yet to check out and I have heard it’s not as good as the other two, but it has it’s moments. She has a biting way of writing things that should be boring to read in a way where they’re not.

Most of her books are outside of my wheel house, but when a friend suggested Gone Girl I looked into it and saw all the praise. I couldn’t resist. Part of me wonders how much of the character of Amy made her way into Lissette.

There’s a backlog of books I should be reading here that I haven’t actually read yet. I might need to start with those.

How can anyone disagree with #YesAllWomen

yesallwomen (1)Hash tags are one of those things that really took off and found a use. They’re an example of something that can be used to quickly link thousands of different ideas together and give them purpose and direction.

I admit: I’m not very good with them or knowing which ones to use because I’m usually not looking at what’s trending on Twitter. But I did notice the #YesAllWomen tag that rose up in the wake of the shooting in California. Most of the time I ignore the origins of such things, but the other night I looked it up and was kind of shocked by how it started. This quote sums it up:

YesAllWomen

What does it say about the kind of men who would be upset about this sort of thing? Is it the every single day part that bothers them? Or is the part about male violence, even though we can clearly see that most violence done to men and women comes from men. Or is it the fact that they don’t want to admit that there’s something still deeply wrong with our society as a whole?

When you read the stories shared by women it’s hard to really feel like there’s not a problem. And while I don’t agree that rape is a totally off limits topic, I do think that things like this are pretty damning:

What I see when I find other men mocking it are men who are proving the very point that these quotes are trying to make. While they might not be doing violence against them directly, they’re scoffing at the fact that these things have happened and everyone experience that is being shared could be used as a learning experience—even if it seems trivial to you.

One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, summed up how I felt about the whole thing with his comment on the whole thing:

The #yesallwomen hashtag is filled with hard, true, sad and angry things. I can empathise & try to understand & know I never entirely will.

Another Shooting

Bpx-0sjCcAAh5LYA wall of ambulances and police cars outside of high schools, aerial shots of everyday people darting away in tight lines with their hands covering the backs of their heads, an exposé on the gunmen where we find out that the warning signs were there. This all seems so familiar because it’s becoming a part of everyday life.

Reynolds High School in Oregon has become the fourth location to experience a shooting in the past three weeks. Fifth if you want to count the one that happened in Canada, but it really isn’t part of the same trend; these things don’t happen nearly as often there.

It’s safe to say that we’ve got a problem here. A problem with gun registration and the flow of guns onto the streets and how easily one can get a gun and a problem with the the mentally ill not being properly looked after and cared for. People can complain that their gun rights are at risk, but in all honesty nothing has been done to their gun rights at all to stop this from happening.

We can at least say that there was something done for the healthcare issue with reforms being put up that could have effected the mentally ill. Even then, it’s not enough. The issue of what to do about guns isn’t hard to deal with—the issue is that we aren’t even allowed to have the discussion.

In full, my a friend of mine said this:

There is absolutely no contradiction between upholding the Second Amendment, and providing a robust regime of time, place and manner restrictions on that right. So let’s close the gaping loopholes in our gun laws. And to that end, let’s give states and local governments the ability to tailor the rules to their own need.

The point gun law should be to make compliance the only reasonable option. So let’s treat guns with the same regulatory regime that we treat motor vehicles with. If you can prove you’re not a moron, congrats, you can have your guns, but their registered to you, and you’re responsible to report when they’ve been lost or stolen. Hell, we’ll even let you do it when you get/renew your driver’s license, and we won’t make you renew that part. Ensure that all new guns being manufactured in a manner that makes it very hard to remove registration information. And give people tax credits for doing their civic duty to the militia and being a responsible gun owner so they don’t bitch too much.

You would be able to cut down on gun-violence and would in no way interfere with the second amendment right to keep and bear arms.

One would think that was the kind of comment to end the whole discussion, but nope. I think there’s about twenty more comments after that and most of them ignore the intelligent things stated above and how easy it is to make these things seem reasonable. We do this for cars. I mean we make you bring your car to a place every year and get it inspected. Then we make you legally responsible for the upkeep and mechanical failure of the car, the insurance and registration.

This all seems reasonable with cars because we’ve dealt with it so long, but there had to be a time before all of this. New things don’t usually come prepackaged with their own set of ready made laws.

Until we actually make an effort to do something about guns this is going to continue to happen because we are doing nothing about it. How do we expect it to stop or change when we’re just sitting on our hands ignoring the larger problems?

Much Undead About Nothing

Can we stop all of the zombie/zombie apocalypse bullshit?

1074200_705985706094257_825991454_oMaybe that was a bit lacking in tact, but so are the ways I see zombies ramrodded into everyday conversation. They’ve been a common subject of jokes for years, the news has mentioned them when describing cases of people gone insane from drug use, they’re commonly talked about by people in the interest section of dating sites and there is even rumors that the United States government has contingency plans for how to deal with a zombie outbreak.

That last one might be a joke, but let’s face it something that was an underground cult movie topic has become a front and center thing. Two years ago when the world was ending and there was people out there talking about what they expected to happen when the Mayan Calendar ran out (this sounds even stupider now than it did back in 2012) the most popular answer seemed to be Zombie Apocalypse.

I’ve watched most of Walking Dead and years before that I played very Resident Evil game I could get my hands on. Hell, I even read the campy tie-in novels for the series. And when I thought that I was done with zombies and liking them Zombieland renewed my faith in the genre.

I’m not saying that I hate zombies. I’m not even saying that something being too out in the open isn’t good. I like it when things are popular and I’m not one of those people who has to have everything they like be some strange niche thing just so that they can feel special.

Zombies-aheadMy problem stems from how people are bringing it up all of the time as if it’s a badge of coolness. Zombies are getting mentioned the same way that people talking about music used to tell you all about the awesomeness of Radiohead even though they never listened to the band themselves outside of a few times. They’re just name dropping zombies and talking about their zombie plan and telling you their favorite type of zombie. It just seems too much like someone’s attempt to force themselves to appear quirky and different.

This kind of behavior wouldn’t be shocking from someone in the middle of their high school career, but we’re talking about people older than me—in their early thirties doing it with regularity and without anything insightful to add to the conversation.

Probably the saddest thing about all of this is that people like this tend to miss what makes the zombie story so interesting. They’re not monsters in the same vein as vampires, werewolves or even Frankenstein’s monster. They’re husks of humanity reduced to the most basic of needs with little to no personality.

What makes the zombie story interesting is the characters caught in that world and the way they deal with it. All of the zombie stories that have been popular have pretty much focused on this. Night of the Living Dead, Zombieland, The Walking Dead and World War Z. Sure there are fun kills and gore some of the time, but there’s also a character piece that can be told in a unique way where the antagonist won’t always just be the monsters and the monsters won’t always be the only antagonist.

In memory

1095058_10201045331809215_693155361_nI’ve been having trouble finding the words to write for a while when it comes to my blog. But I just wanted to make a quick post to say that my Uncle is slipping away. He suffered a stroke at the end of 2013 and he’s been in the hospital since then.

I’d like to ask anyone out there who reads this to keep him in their thoughts and prayers. He and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but he was a good person and helped out in his community whenever possible.

Uncle, jack, you’ll be missed.

The so called “Slenderman stabbing”

20140602__slenderman~1So this is the kind of madness we’ve come to? Blaming a horror story spread around the internet by some guys from Something Awful for the stabbing of an individual. The thing about this that is worrying is that the stabbing itself would have never made it to my ears, but with this kind of click-bait headline who’s not going to see or read it?

We’re at that point that we ignore a news story until the media can create some kind of fear or buzz around it. I’m not saying that them doing this to make us pay attention is good. It’s more likely that this is actually bad and that we’re being made to care about the wrong part of the story.

So when we hear that two girls have stabbed someone because of something they saw on the internet, are we going to concentrate on the girls and how they were raised and other factors or the victim and how they’re doing, if they made it out alive, or are we going to latch onto to this internet part of the story?

I think it’s going to be the latter. People are always looking for a chance to censor something and to make us afraid of what’s out there. There’s a whole generation of people scared of technology and unable to use it because of that fear, I see those people nearly daily now.

What do you think someone like that will think when they read this headline: “’Slenderman’ stabbing: Girls, 12, accused of attacking friend to please creepy character”? 

It’s pretty easy to tell right where this is all headed.

And See What Sticks

1e705391618c797cc50883a281e1450b (1)I have an idea about twins and ghosts bouncing around in my head, but I’ve also had an idea about something modern and dieselpunk. Let me explain that last bit.

“Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a near-future setting. Noted for its focus on “high tech and low life,” it features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.”

Thank you Wikipedia. I define this word first because dieselpunk got its name from cyberpunk. “Dieselpunk is a lowbrow art genre that combines the aesthetics of diesel-based technology influenced by the interwar period to the 1950s with futurist postmodern technology” (Thank you again, Wikipedia). It might be called “Decopunk” sometimes, but this is the same thing and just denotes a difference in tone.

For some time I’ve wanted to do something set in a world that was our own with an alternate history. Maybe the Roaring Twenties and the Prohibition era is still going on on today and maybe the Depression never happened. Huge changes like that as a backdrop for another story entirely.

Every time that I think of a new story and characters I have to hold it up to this other stuff that I want as a setting and decide if this is the place those people finally fit. I did it with the story that started out as Keep Austin Safe and I’m doing it again now with whatever the Hell I’m going to call this.

My natural reaction to going into a story like this is to say that “it’ doesn’t fit”, but something is telling me that it does and that this might be an interesting thing to put in a world where people still have to frequent speakeasies and someone might call a woman a “dame”. I have characters and part of the action down and the more and more I look at it I’m just feeling like this might be the chance to finally do this when before I was just throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks.

The First Step…

9535352If the first step is admitting you have a problem then I am going to go ahead and take it now. I’ve been having issues writing for a while now. A lot of it has to do with the extra time put into work, but some of it comes from being unhappy with where I am. Not in the life, more like in location. The adjustment to living in a small town has been something that should have happened over the last several years, but it just hasn’t and I’m not even sure what other people see in this kind of life style.

The other thing is that I’m having issues quieting the ideas in my head for other things. The other day I basically got slapped in the face with the idea for a book (when I met two real people who seemed like they were starring in a book already). Planning the next thing always seems more attractive and stimulating than actually working on the thing you’re already in the middle of.

One of the things I said I was going to do did happen. When I’m not writing I am reading more. The other day I finished Texas Gothic and oddly the worst thing that I can say about it is that my hatred of all things rural kind of made those parts of the book a little less enjoyable. It’s not bad writing, actually it’s very good. The things seem authentically like the kind of bullshit that really happens around here. People can’t keep their mouth shut about other people’s business and have to go off blabbing all of the rumors they hear right away lest someone else get to tell everyone first.

It hits kind of close to home and, while that’s a personal gripe, it still effected my enjoyment of the book.