Struggling with Social Media

Some people don’t have a problem with social media. They breeze through the different sites and navigate the waters easily, never offending anyone and sort of helping to make the world a nice place in a way. We decry them for living “perfect” lives, lives that cannot be that great off media as well.

I’m not here to analyze that. I of course do have my opinions on that, (I have a shit ton of opinions) such as no one’s lives are that awesome lol. But that’s an opinion and I know it’s probably wrong. The reason I know it’s wrong is because everyone’s lives are different.

Some people go through life and it’s a breeze compared to others. They are born into affluence, no one dies or gets sick around them. But that’s chance. Another person leads the same life except their brother gets killed in Iraq or their loved one dies from illness. One change is all it takes. Now there are hundreds of thousands of personalities.

That person that you see on Twitter or Facebook or whatever, they don’t look like they have the perfect life because they haven’t, they don’t. Their words might seem angry or bitter, they may sound accusatory or even hateful. Are these people, with legitimate issues, to be lumped in the same category as what we refer to as trolls?

I was having a discussion with my brother, as we often do, about the nature of punishment and it’s alignment with morality. Their are different levels of punishment, if a person speeds they get fined, if a person murders, they go to jail, or even worse. This is an important distinction to note as it applies to all the spectrums of morality and personality. If we can acknowledge that their are levels of punishment for levels of criminality can we not also explicitly state that there is a spectrum of morality and that on the ok side of it there is room for billions of varities.

I for example have a very tough time. On Twitter I constantly fight the urge to reprimand and fight. My opinion, which while only an opinion, can carry a significant amount of power, even if no one reads it. Those that need to read it will, that’s how I choose to believe.

What inspired this post was personal, as so many things are. I recently reactivated my Facebook and had a few people unfriend me within a few days. That in and of itself is nothing special, I deleted about 20 or 30 people who I didn’t really know anymore.

But then I got messages from two different people. One told me that I had essentially abandoned them by leaving Facebook and the other was a family member essentially claiming the same thing, that I had denied them in some way access to pictures of my daughter or whatever stupid fucking insights I might have.

But you know what, it’s hard for people like me to be on social media and I’ll tell you why. It’s not a secret. See, at some point today a few years ago, I realized that there was a man, and many of his extended family, on Facebook as well. No surprise, most people are on Facebook. But this one gentleman, who we will call Yisroel Meyer Shapiro of Oak Park MI lol, molested me when I was about 8-9 years old.Everytime I would open the browser I was reminded of something so painful I had literally erased it from my memory for about 15 years. Because of a stupid fucking app. 

So many of the people out there that are filled with bitterness and hate, they are like that because we as a society let them down. In America, we as a nation move inexorably forward in our March towards hate and anger. It’s everywhere. The reason it is everywhere isn’t their fault, at least, not all of it. 

I’m not interested in assigning blame, who is more at fault. The broken are out there. They litter the streets asking for “handouts” to survive. 

There is no bigger way that we have failed as people than by not helping those that needed it. When we walked away from that responsibility as a nation we also lost any moral advantage we had. I don’t know when or why that happened, that would be a post for another day.

I also don’t want to harp or preach or say that there aren’t good people. It’s the opposite. I still believe that the good people are the majority of people. But it’s not good enough to be good in your heart, goodness requires action and sacrifice. That’s where the failure has happened. 


In defense of Homeland

Over the past ten years or so I’ve read a number of articles, and in most cases agreed, that Showtime has a habit of keeping shown on past their prime, sometimes well past. Now I may not be the best person to posit this theory because the Showtime shows that I enjoy in general are few and far between. However Homeland is one show that I will rise to defend.

Homeland would have been an excellent mini-series if there had been only one season. Even the first two seasons combined would have still made for a strong showing. But life isn’t about strong showings and ever escalating violence. Life is a series of ups and downs, and to borrow from another excellent show, Low Winter Sun, morality is perhaps at best a flashing strobe light. These are the issues that Homeland chose to confront in its inexorable television march forward. 

Homeland never did quite recapture the glory of its first two seasons but it’s writers and producers chose not to fade into obscurity either. Any casual viewer can find relations to modern day events within its themes. If people tuned out Homeland it was because it was indeed too relevant. Its themes strike just a little too close to home and remind us of the very flawed and very real world that we live in.

If I had to compare another show on TV to Homeland it might be Mr. Robot. The difference is that Mr. Robot was so wild and fantastical that it becomes exactly that – a work of fantasy. Homeland chose to stay in the real world. In the real world things don’t stop once the more exciting bits are over. Life keeps going. Vigilance against evil requires it to be a part of a national conversation. It deserves that.

So close

Whirlwinds of thought can make the mind so unsettled.

Focusing on those one or two things that bring you joy can bring quiet calm. No shame in what those things may be.

Whirlwinds in my mind leaving debris everywhere, but each thing finds its new place. 

There is, after all, only the one way to get to Carnegie Hall.


The Writing Process Pt.2 – The Blank Page

The Blank Page is another little something that I hear about enough to the point where I would call it both a syndrome and a symptom. A syndrome in that one writer actually probably had it and others fixated on it. There is certainly no shame in it. Merely perhaps a re-purposing of perspective to that of an artist facing a blank canvas.

Personally I have the opposite problem, to me the most intimidating thing in writing is editing; staring at a page full of beautiful, heart-wrenched words and knowing that I must now go in and alter them. There is perhaps no greater fear that I have, that in needing to strive for completion and comprehension for the reader I will destroy something, alter it to the point that its elegance is lost, that its cohesion will ooze away with every edit.

So I can relate to the fear of the blank page. But fear is just the first step in beginning something new. Once you begin the fear fades. As long as you can translate your idea onto the page before you, as long as you posses the necessary instruments then the blank page, or the full page, represents just another step in the process of translating your idea. 

The next post will hopefully give some tips to help translate.

Writing Process Pt.1 – Beginnings

This first post will likely be short and not very sweet. I know no one that reads and if that is to not be taken literally than I would say that I know even fewer that write. Of those few that write, some pursue the idea of being a writer with little else to guide them. The symptoms for such a pursuit are not limited to the following: a general lack of knowledge and grammar, a lack of imagination, a lack of means to take a good imagination and transform the ideas therein into something resembling a story that has not been written by someone in late stage dementia.

Writers block is a perfect example of this. Writers block is a perfectly legitimate occurrence but it can also be a prime example of someone who simply isn’t meant to be a writer. Most writers don’t have the time to write all the projects they would like to get to. I myself have an almost endless supply of notebooks filled with great book and short story ideas that I will NEVER get to if I want to focus on writing the things that are most important to me. Some writers hit a mental roadblock of sorts, unsure what their character should do next, how to keep them in character or how to transition to the next scene or introduce a new character orororororororor and so on, ad infinitum. These things require careful consideration of the human condition.

Now here’s where things could get sticky but won’t. There are those people who shouldn’t be writers and yet try anyways. Are these people to be ridiculed or shamed? Or are they to be lauded as people who are trying to do something that doesn’t come easily to them. Should they be recognized as people who want to share their own condition? Should they be applauded for their courage to try in the face of something that doesn’t come easy to them?

The answer is simple and self-evident. If it isn’t you don’t belong, you aren’t part of the human condition, you are simply observing. Observers can only judge, they cannot create. And what’s the point if not to create? Who will remember your name if you don’t put it out there?

All power goes to the people who try.

To try is to have an idea.

There’s only the one way to get into Carnegie Hall.


Intro to ALIVE

I have a sinking feeling that this post is going to be me rambling more than a cohesive one. As a writer, there are moments when the writing must be shared with the world and hopefully the writing will engage people. Hopefully they will have questions, comments, and dare I say it; praise or criticism. Either is valuable so long as it is the truth.

It’s difficult to be a writer. Self-motivated people only need apply. Not only for sitting down and actually putting words on paper or screen. If your vision is not singularly clear than others will chip away at it. Not just the subject you are writing about but you. Why bother writing, they will ask. On an intrinsic level this is most often a knee-jerk subconscious jealousy. That does not mean it will not affect the writer. The writer must write and has little choice in the matter. The ideas become an overwhelming and unstoppable flood. Everyday matters are the ones that matter most to a writer, they are the moments that are dissected for understanding and relevance and incorporated into the writing.

So, ALIVE is born from these motivations on a personal level for me. For the record, it began with Star Wars, proceeded to Star Trek as well. I began reading the Star Wars novels and then moved on to other science-fiction. I became inspired. Wordsmithing became a way of life for me the moment I wrote my first short-story, That very short was the core idea of ALIVE and I began to plan out a future-history of my own.

True Detective Season 2 Review

Brace yourself, this is not going to be a negative review. It will, in point of fact, likely come close to being a glowing review. True Detective is an anthology series, a hurdle in and of itself for some people, something that is magnified by how the first season was received by most. Here is where my story begins to diverge from the norm. I found nothing spectacular in True Detective season one. Sure, the acting was good, the directing was great, yet somehow everything else was mediocre. Nothing that hadn’t been done before, here it had simply perhaps been perfected in a very commercial feeling sort of way. A sprawling story that centered around one simple ideal; two men who were indeed at heart – True Detectives. Yet it felt like it was being force fed to me, something that was a combination of so many elements that I simply couldn’t not watch. But that didn’t make it any better in my eyes, no credit is given there. Credit is only given for end quality, the end being me, the viewer.

Season two is a different beast with the same ideal behind it. Three characters who find themselves pushed to an extreme but who at heart remain detectives, attempting to solve a case long after they have all been reassigned. The characters in this season are even more damaged and in the end have more to lose, and do lose it. They fight a good fight and they make their enemies pay, but so do they. That is another key difference between the seasons, season 2’s protagonists don’t get to walk away with the relatively happy ending that the characters from season 1 enjoyed. We see them pay dearly for their choices and the ideals that they decide are important to them as individuals. Even more enjoyable, to me, was that I could see all the key moments that led them to make those decisions, rather than having them be recalled a la season 1.

I think that HBO and the creative team of True Detective got comfortable with the idea that they could make a smart show. Perhaps HBO forgot the sting that was actually airing The Wire, something I can understand because since that show went off the air it has received nothing but praise, from myself included. It is fans of The Wire who will find the most to enjoy in the second season of True Detective, its political intrigues and personal relationships are its driving force, accompanied by action, humor and everything else that comes along with a replication of life.

I also found the characters to be much more sympathetic and was able to relate to them as real people. I don’t know what that says about me but I know what I’m saying about the show. It touched me on an emotional level, something that a handful of other show have been able to do; The Wire, Mad Men, Ray Donovan and so on. Needless to say I hope that there is another season, but finding a storytelling medium between the two seasons. If anything my only true worry is that HBO will overreact and change directions too far and drive the fan base even further away.

Our obsession with the post-apocalypse

Warning: I’ve already put a bit of thought into this subject. My own book series primarily takes place in a post-apocalyptic environment that gradually evolves into a form of utopia.

But, clearly, I am also far from the only fan of this particular brand of material. I will list but a few such popular influences, The Walking Dead, The Leftovers, The Strain books and television series. The 100, The Road, The Book of Eli, even The Matrix films. Mad Max. Fallout. Noah.

What is it about this genre that so captures our imaginations? As a national past time we have become almost obsessed with the post-apocalypse and the different genres it contains.

Seeing as I’ve put a number of years of thought into this, I have my theories. There seems to be a common thread that ties much of this literature and media together; the apocalypse is cause by an external force. Humans are left blameless for the end of civilization. Take The Walking Dead, an incredibly popular comic-book and the even more popular TV adaptation. Most any zombie film can also stand in. We as people still living in modern civilization are afforded a glimpse of the end of that civilization without the guilt of knowing that we had done it to ourselves.

The particular genre of apocalyptic fiction where we are at fault for the end days tends to be less favored and popular. To me they are all the more horrific because we had been exposed. Human nature had finally gotten the upper hand. Novels like A Canticle For Leibowitz and films like The Divide are difficult to swallow not because they contain more gore or violence than the rest of the pact. They are remembered because they show us a true, dark side of ourselves that is easy to ignore until its too late.

In the end these shows and books remind me to enjoy life and be thankful for what I have. They serve as a warning, whether or not we choose to acknowledge them as such.

The past, present and future of Destiny.

I think that Bungie has been pretty upfront with the public as a whole about their plans for Destiny, which is something that not many companies can really say that they do. They are engaging their audience on different social media and across gaming platforms. Bungie and Destiny have become a part of popular culture. My wife knows what Bungie is and their corporate culture, AND SHE STILL SUPPORTS THEM. After all, how many corporations can you vouch for?

All of this draws attention away from the game itself. Destiny was planned as a 10 year game. Did perhaps people misinterpret that ideal, thinking that they would pay $60.00 and get a game with 10 years of value? Expansion packs and micro-transactions have long been considered a norm for video games to show a profit, why is the Destiny community suddenly balking, nay, up in arms, over the price point of the next expansion?

Let’s discuss that expansion for a moment. The Taken King will be roughly three times the size of both previous expansions put together. Does Bungie have to release it as Destiny 2 for gamers to get the hint? Bungie is not in the business of extorting its customers. I am often shocked at the abuse Bungie puts up with from the Destiny community, whom I have found to be most gracious and understanding to each other, but not the makers of the game.

It is simply put, time to make a decision. The truth is that I don’t really play any other video games anymore. Destiny is a constantly evolving and growing game that will seemingly never end. I never have to put down the controller and move on to the next game. It has become a way of life in much the same way that playing video games had originally been. My friends and family play it, we can keep in touch through it and discuss its many details and rich lore.

So am I willing to pay $40.00 for The Taken King? The real question is do I want to stay in this community for the next 10 years and at the same time support a company I believe in. And the answer is yes.

Why we all need Larry David

Between Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, we invited Larry David into our homes for over 18 years. At times it was so awkward that it was painful. An old friend of mine was left weeping in the corner after HBO aired a Curb marathon and I wasn’t much better off.

So why put ourselves through such misery? What is it inside of us that identifies with Larry, the writer and the character? Do we fear his idiosyncrasies or do we admire them and his stubborn refusal to go with the flow in a world that increasingly demands just that.

Larry the character does not set out with the intent of changing the world, and more importantly, our minds. He is rude, obnoxious, at times plain nasty, as previously mentioned he is stubborn, he is narcissistic and perhaps worst of all is that he is self-aware. He knows he is all these things and he practically revels in it. He does not sell his personality as a lifestyle choice for others.

Larry the writer is a product of his childhood and environment, just like the rest of us. His shows take place in “Larryland”, a universe where our ugly sides come out all too often and our mistakes are compounded by others mistakes, resulting in a world where our past mistakes define us.

That is where reality diverges, thank goodness. Rather than live in the twisted web that the denizens of Larryland can never hope to change or even understand we can sit back and laugh at the antics Larry conjures up for us. And we are entertained by this twisted and dark representation and interpretation of our own lives that we are shown because we all want to be Larry sometimes. We don’t want to care what others think. We want to act on our impulses. Larry does these things and shows us just how foolish acting that way is and what it costs on every level. And that’s why we need Larry, to show us just how foolish our modern day societies problems really are.