Monday, December 31, 2007

Spiral Reverie First Year End Extravaganza

Time for another entry with a title to properly build up your excitement in anticipation of drama, free prizes, and penguins!

Unfortunately, this entry will contain neither of the three. Save your tears for a more worthy cause! Instead, you get to enjoy one of the no doubt millions of tired "Year in Review" entries that no doubt clog the "blogosphere's" arteries like much bacon grease right around this time.

Except instead of something well organized like you'd expect of such an entry, instead, you're going to get a bunch of jumbled ramblings and rantings from me. Everything you ever wanted that no one would give you for Xmas. Enough of your childhood hangups!

Speaking of children, let's start on a positive note! Congress tried repeatedly this fall to pass children's health insurance legislation to ensure that poor children could easily find healthcare. George W. Bush - who obviously loves children and couldn't be more concerned with the health of America's future - vetoed it both times. Why? It covers too many kids. Ya see, we want kids healthy, just not too many. It's called Darwinism, the rest of us need other kids to call 'Sicky' and make fun of on the playground, heheheh. They're not my kids! Of course, Michael Moore released a documentary earlier this year about the issue of what HMOs and the whole insurance system is doing to the American populace at large. But let's not take him seriously, oh no, he may be a political documentarian with a point to make, but because he's not conservative, he's just one of those evil communist types that we should all ignore - even if his message is one actually worth considering. We'd be a nation of the dirty reds if we dared to support the poor and made health care anything but a privilege! We'd have to hunt each other in submarines with Sean Connery if we ever hoped to see a bright tomorrow! (Okay, so I never saw that movie, nor read the book.) Corporate interests are America! Buy. Sell. Buy. Sell. Buy. Sell. Reaganomics!

Okay, I kind of scared myself with the turn that last paragraph took. That's definitely a state of mind to avoid there. Getting back to politics in general, the 2008 election season began earlier than ever - and who can blame those campaigning? Everybody wants to get past the Bush administration and their policies. (Except most of the Republican candidates, who support Bush and seem to effectively be basing their campaigns around being George W. Bush II: And You Thought He Was Bad!) On the Democrat side, we have Hillary Clinton, who seems to be the strong frontrunner and thus possibly the first woman president. She's pretty moderate, with a number of conservative tendencies - as the Democratic party's seen much of lately, as they've had to slide to the right from the left in order to get much attention at all these days - but the Republicans are trying to paint her as an evil socialist reformer for presenting a radical healthcare plan that would ultimately serve as a step towards socialized medicine - which despite its flaws, would certainly be far better than the current system if handled properly. Their efforts to paint her as that are failing, anyway, as their own candidates continue to flounder. (Yeah, everyone's going to rush out to vote for Mike "I believe there is duck hunting in heaven!" Huckabee.) Then there's Barack Obama, Illinois' golden boy senator, who used to be neck-in-neck with Hillary, potentially being our first black president. He's fairly moderate as well, and criticized largely for his lack of experience. (Though Hillary doesn't exactly have tons of it either, she's been hit with that criticism too.) He's a charismatic guy with a lot of good ideas, and as it looks likely to come down to one of those two, I'm prepared to vote for either Hillary or Obama, despite my reservations about both. John Edwards is a nice guy. I've actually met him, having watched him speak live at my high school - the same where his kids went, and his son died - on community service, selected by the local Food Bank for my work there in my senior year, rather than watching his talk on live TV broadcast around the building like the majority of the school. He has a lot of good ideas too. But after the 2004 election, he never really had a shot. (It's hard not to miss him in the senate. Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr have never represented the real interests of North Carolinians. They've only been Bush administration enablers.) If only Dennis Kucinich had a chance. But on the note of candidates without a shot in hell, there's no not mentioning Ron Paul. He's a constitutionalist! What does that mean, you ask? It means getting rid of everything not in the constitution. Public education? See ya! Healthcare? Not for you! Any kind of central federal government vested interest in the people? Not anymore! Not in his ideal world, anyway. The free market will take care of everything! No it won't. But that's still what the nutty Ron Paul supporters on the internet would have you believe. The way these people foam at the mouth over him, you'd think he was some sort of religious figure. It's nutty enough when people actually convince themselves that the free market will take care of everybody, let alone anybody other than the already wealthy and connected. It's incredibly naive. And handing over power to the states over the federal government? You may as well dismantle the nation as we know it. Far as he's concerned, states can do whatever they want. Which would make it relatively easy for political extremists in each area to take over and act as virtual dictators. Want segregation back? It's possible! Don't you just hate women having abortion rights? It's finally easily done away with! Do you not only hate people supporting same sex marriage, but gay people themselves? There's hateful legislation for you too! Ain't no fed'ral guvunment gon' protect you now! If you ladies want suffrage, you can move to Massa-CHEWsetts! Of course, his ideal America is never going to happen. And his supporters make the rabid Reaganites almost look sane by comparison. Almost. Some people sadly just don't get that there's more to this world than establishing your individual economic value and competitiveness. If life and government came down to nothing but economic value, competitiveness, and property rights of individuals, we may as well all just kill ourselves. That's obsessive consumerism, capitalism, and materialism to the Nth degree. Stripping away everything that makes us what we are, and turning into a civilization of self-destructive greedy little pigs. But if a day comes when the majority of humanity thinks that way, we absolutely fucking deserve what we'd get for all that. The final emptying of what little soul we have left - and I'm not talking about soul in the religious sense here, but the very essence of our existence as complex three-dimensional creatures capable of bonding with others outside of ourselves and truly caring for one another. Not to mention, this Ron Paul guy? He's had no qualms with taking and keeping campaign contributions from white supremacists (In his ideal world, these people are A-OK, racism is just an opinion!), and he thinks Lincoln should have bought all the slaves, ignoring the rest of the reasons behind the Civil War. Good thing most people realize what a load of disgusting greed-aggrandizing bullshit Ayn Rand's writing and philosophies are. (Libertarians aside. Yeah, I really laid into them here. It's just too easy, and they're too irritating and self-important on the internet to ignore.)

On news impossible to make light of (Without being a total fuckwit, anyway.), popular politician, former Prime Minister, and leading opposition in Pakistan's upcoming generation election Benazir Bhutto was assassinated just days ago. Al-Qaeda is amongst the groups claiming responsibility for her death. There's no telling which is actually responsible, but regardless, this is a tremendous tragedy for both the Pakistani people and the world.

On a more irrelevant note, in pop culture, a bunch of movies came out. Some were good, a very few were great, and most were pretty terrible, as usual. We got a bit of a new TV season before the WGA strike started in early November, and now the late night talk show hosts are all coming back in the next few days. (As an update, David Letterman and Craig Ferguson are actually returning with their writing staffs. It's hard to know exactly what to make of that just yet.) Pushing Daisies is the best new show of the season, and you should all be watching it. And for some reason pop culture couldn't get enough of harping on that really effeminate gay guy's temper tantrum on Youtube about everybody making fun of Britney Spears, as she continues to fall from what popularity she used to have. I'd like to say that obviously there were a few neuron misfires in there - Britney Spears is a national treasure? Are you really sure about that? - but that guy was just further evidence of the truth in SomethingAwful.com's motto - the internet really does make you stupid. Blogging is bad enough, given that most of it is empty, meaningless, irrelevant, self-important ranting and rambling. (Much like this blog, and even this entry!) None of it really means anything, and tends to just serve as an indication that sure, just about anybody can write, but that doesn't mean what you have to say is actually worth paying attention to. (Hence why I'm also working half to death to make sure my novels are vastly better than my ramblings here - even the stupider novel ideas I've had.) And sadly, since the networks've cracked down on Youtube to try to consistently kill any and all copyrighted content not uploaded by the copyright-holders, they've effectively reduced much of the site to garbage - like vlogs. It was the copyrighted content that made Youtube popular. Not Jimmy Schmuckleton and Sally Boringville staring into their webcams and rambling about nothing. You are not Jerry Seinfeld, dammit!

Kurt Vonnegut died back in April, which was a real loss to the literary world. No one will ever be able to fill his shoes, but he's left behind a hell of a memorable legacy in a large amount of worthwhile short stories, novels, and essays. My gut feeling is that there's probably plenty of aspiring novelists out there who want to fill the gap left by his death, but none of them will ever be able to. I know I won't, so I'm not even going to try to pretend that I could. If I can just get published and perhaps one day even be considered good by somebody, my work touching them in a meaningful manner, I'd be astonished by just that. I'm enough of an obsessed perfectionist with my novel work as is - especially with what I'm trying to say to someone with this first one, in which I am probably begging to crash and burn and end up plunging into a deep, lifelong depression. (Think of me as the Eviel Knievel of literature. Except a lot more likely to be killed by this first literary jump, at least giving people something to laugh at in the process. "Hey, look at this jackass! He actually thought he might have been able win a woman's heart! What a rube!") So it goes.

Here in North Carolina, our usual summer drought never ended, and so we're seeing it spilling over into the new year now, and likely to continue on into - and worsen vastly - this next summer. Hooray for a likely future declaration of a state of emergency. We're conserving our water as much as we can here in this household. But on the whole, people around here aren't really bothering. It's more important to have that perfect immaculate green lawn, free of trees, insects, or any sort of life. Covering your lawn with poison and obsessing over its color makes you a perfectly normal, healthy, well-adjusted human being, after all. You should never even consider doing the rest of humanity the favor of killing yourself, no way, no how.

Harry Potter finally came to an end back in midsummer. Though the phenomenon won't be over till the last book has been made into a movie and released on DVD. (Let's not bother pretending HD-DVD or Blu-Ray is replacing it anytime soon. Sorry, high-definition tech-obsessed people, most people don't care about whether the image on their TV is perfectly crystal clear. Most of us have more important things to spend our money on - like food, and paying bills so we can enjoy the things the economically privileged take for granted. Those TVs and disc formats are far more expensive than they're worth. The black and white TV to color analogy fails here. It's just not that important.) Pip pip, cheerio, chim chim chirroo, and other stereotypical cockney babbling, as it's important to mentally associate that sort of stereotypical thing with Harry Potter and the British. (What?)

And thus, that is 2007. Well, all that and all the other things I didn't think to mention, largely because it's early in the morning and I need to go get some sleep now. I hereby declare 2007 The Year of Wii. Just because the new Nintendo system rocks, and was one of my favorite parts of the year. Because I'm a huge nerd that needs to do more with his life. But hell, at least that's not all I spend my time on. Spiral Reverie's first year has officially come to a close. Hopefully I'll get Project 27 Days published in 2008, and hopefully you'll all give it a look. Thanks for sticking around, those of you that have, and I'd appreciate any and all who continue to in 2008. I'll no doubt write something else in here later this week. But I make no promises about it not being a stupid comedy piece to kick off the new year. You gotta take the bad with the good.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Hammered Strike and Writing Reflections

Yes, it's a given that you all missed me once more, but as little as I tend to write in here (And I attempt to compensate for that by making it worth reading, obviously. Even if that more often than not amounts to rambling until you want to pop in the mouth.), I felt it better to take a little time off for the holidays. (It's not exactly as though I'm employed anyway, but the holiday season can be a rather busy, stressful time, as we all know.) I contemplated writing something for Xmas, but opted to pass. It was a full moon around then, and the best I could come up with was some directionless shtick about a Santa Claus werewolf. I opted to spare you, figuring you'd all probably had more than enough of that kind of crap after the Frosty story.

At any rate, that's it for the holiday season stupidity for '07! Stay tuned in '08 for even more tumor-inducingly stupid garbage! With a laugh or two thrown in now and then for good measure. I can't have you sobering on me now, can I? Hopefully, I'll be a little more consistent in writing in this thing next year. Ideally, I'd like to write two entries a week, but so far, that obviously hasn't worked out so well. Some days, I'm inspired. Some days, not so much. Inspiration is fleeting. As is motivation. These are both things I wish I could simply snap my fingers and create out of thin air. But tragically, I am but a mortal human fool. And kind of absorbed in Super Mario Galaxy right now. Not that I've let video games kill my imagination or anything.

Er, anyway, without further ado, I'd just like to say I hope you humans out there didn't have too bullet riddled an Xmas. Or any other holiday you might celebrate, whether Festivus, Crimbo, Hanukkah, Ramadan, or Kwanzaa.

Onward to the meat of the entry! (Which is more like a side blurb compared to how much empty rambling this entry's already bogged down with. You'd think I'd be better at trimming the fat, so to speak, but then, I'm a novelist. Trimming the fat's what editors are for. Something'd probably seem wrong if I suddenly turned into one of those blog-people sticking with bite-sized paragraph entries. This thing? It's more like eating a stack of pancakes. You'll want to take a nap afterwards, maybe hook yourself up to a heart monitor.)

The Writers Guild strike has yet to end. The writers are heading on into their third month with no end in sight. All they're asking for is the royalties they deserve and have all along been thus denied. One by one, strike supporters have been forced back onto the air. Ellen Degeneres never stopped doing her show during the strike and took much flack from the guild for it. Carson Daly was the first late night talk show host to return to the air in early December, and he too has seen a backlash for resuming the show. On as of January 2nd, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien will be returning to their respective late night talk shows as well, under pressure from NBC. Both Conan and Leno are continuing to pay their writing staff out of their own pockets as the strike continues, however. And just now, it was announced that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will be returning to their respective Daily Show and Colbert Report in January. Stewart and Colbert were, like Conan and Leno, both strong supporters of the writers. Both of their shows - like Conan and Leno - will be returning without writers, and thusly rely largely on improv comedy from the respective hosts, leaning more heavily on the interviews. Being a longtime fan of both shows, I'm certain that they'll be able to make the shows entertaining, given their tremendous talents, but without the writers, a major part of what makes the shows what they are will still be gone. No matter how you look at this, that's troubling.

The strike rages on with no end in sight and little in the way of negotiations. The networks have taken hits from the strike already as is - no, shitty reality TV is not a good replacement for the shows people want to see - but still refuse to budge. The writers are hellbent on getting what is rightfully theirs. The networks are similarly hellbent on seeing to it that they don't get it. Hosts are being forced to return to their shows, rather than sticking entirely by their writers, lest they find themselves without a job. Even Fox is continuing to produce and air new episodes of Family Guy into '08 without creator Seth MacFarlane's consent or support, in an effort to undermine the writers. Right now, the writers are losing. Corporate greed is winning. And once again, we're seeing the whole damn critically-important union system being undermined once again. An ongoing and disturbing trend we've been seeing in recent years, one the conservatives've been pretty happy about. After all, a system under which workers can organize by vocation and strike when they're mistreated is apparently entirely unamerican. You should kowtow to the corporations and be glad they ever gave you a job! This is the America we live in today. It's an unnerving time. All we can do is continue to support the strike and unions in general, as major corporations try to disassemble all that they can, and as many retail chains now to, ban unionization amongst their employees. In a conservative dominated America, we're watching the progress clock turn further backwards. While they insist that the liberals have all the power, and that those of us on the left - y'know, with a real social conscience - are destroying everything. The truth is, we're all being strangled by a corporate chokehold. And those hands? They are not left-leaning. I'm still trying to figure out where this world is that the conservative pundits always rail on where the left has meaningful political voice and power.

Aren't you glad this one's over? Now you can look forward to my next entry. I'm going to try to get something written on New Year's Eve. No idea if it'll be something stupid and pointless or actually worth reading yet, but only time will tell. I'd like to end 2007 on a good note. It didn't end up being quite as big as I'd hoped - in terms of finishing Project 27 Days and making real progress in finding publishing, anyway. But I've got hundreds of pages written. It's the longest, most important and meaningful project I've undertaken, and I will finish it and get it published next year if it kills me. Getting this blog started and even the tiniest bit of recognition on the internets is certainly a start.

I'd like to end this entry, at least, in taking a moment to thank all of you who've bothered paying attention to this thing at all. Whether you comment or simply lurk, whether you're a first time visitor who may never show their face here again after hoping to find a more exciting blog or a regular, as few of you as there are, from what I've seen of my traffic reports, thanks for giving this little chunk of internet data and these musings of a hopeless fool and aspiring artist of words a look. I appreciate genuinely your allowing me to steal even a moment of your time, and hope you'll continue to come, read, and comment in the coming year. Maybe even give my novel a look when it hits shelves. It's better than anything I've written here, I can promise you that. Here's to hoping I can figure out some more ways of getting this thing out there and draw even more peoples' interest in the coming year, and that I might stand the tiniest chance of breaking into even the periphery of the mainstream of the literary and blogging worlds once I'm published. Everybody needs to read about evil self-aware snowman zeppelin rampages, after all, am I right?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Love in a Sad, Sad World

After several stupid humor-oriented entries, lacking in inspiration for topics otherwise, it's time to pull out a topic I've meant to muse on for a while now. Earlier in the fall, some vlogger on Youtube drew attention to it, and the GBS forum posters on Something Awful asked themselves the question posed by Miranda July's short film, Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody? (And yes, that is John C. Reilly, Dewey Cox himself.)

It's an interesting question to pose, and for many people, it's depressing as hell. Anyone would like to think that they at least measure up as somebody's favorite. But in this day and age, many aren't any such a person to anybody. In realizing that they aren't anyone's favorite, the next question is inevitable: Does anybody even love me? That question often does not have a particularly cheery answer either. You have to think about why this is. And if you aren't anyone's favorite person, if you aren't loved, it can leave you feeling rather deflated and insignificant. And the question is posed of how you can be sure of any of these things one way or another. In some cases, you can ask. But in most, it isn't that clearcut. Many people - especially in the western world these days - are not quick to announce attachment. I know I'm not. Attachment is often perceived and portrayed as a weakness. Especially if it isn't mutual. And making one's attachment to another public? Through doing such a thing, you expose a vulnerability. People can and will take advantage of your vulnerability. They will hurt you. Not always, and not necessarily. But chances of it happening are very good - especially if the feeling isn't mutual. The more you like - or even love - someone, the more attached to them you are, the easier it is for them to cause you pain.

Love - really being in love with someone - is difficult to explain in words. For as long as there have been means to write, people have tried to find ways to sum it up. But no matter how you look at it, words cannot do justice the experience of being in love with someone. But most people are not acquainted with this love. They may think that they are, but they're not. This is especially the case with young people, who do not yet realize what love is (And obviously, I am not claiming to be any sort of master of or expert in the subject myself, but at least, I think I've got the right idea - that I'm on the general right track here. Even if I'm probably not headed anywhere good or happy, judging by my usual fortune, anyway.), bandying the word about freely and draining it of meaning. To many young people, a relationship amounts to this - having someone you consider your girlfriend or boyfriend, hanging out with them a good bit, and having sex. Sound dull, empty, and listless? Of course it does, as that's exactly what it is. These relationships often do not last, though some end up turning into loveless marriages - especially when an unintended pregnancy becomes a factor, with all the social stigma placed on abortion.

Many people - the young people especially, obviously - don't know what it is to really connect with someone. To feel a spark with them, to experience chemistry, sitting down with someone, having a really interesting conversation, looking into their eyes, and it's magic. The "in" thing? It's being shallow. Not that this is anything new. Shallowness has been a predominant factor in youth culture for a long time. And in our increasingly over-commercialized, materialism-happy culture (And it's only getting worse, without exaggerating. This is a very observable trend.), the shallow is infecting everybody, little by little. Attachment bad! Sleeping with a hot person good! But if you get close to anybody, attachment is pretty unavoidable. College kids hook up because that's just what's done in college - meaningless sex by the boatload. (Or so shallow popular culture has glamorized and pushed as a major linchpin of the college experience. Personally, I passed.) But people are not creatures that can exist alone. We naturally, instinctually seek connections, relationships, with emotional depth to fulfill us. We are woefully incomplete creatures by nature, and without others, we inevitably crumble. (A reality I admit hating having to face, isolated as I tend to be.) After having your cheesy awkward college hook-up sex enough times, unless you have some sort of emotional disorder preventing it, you will inevitably begin to feel attachment to a person. Dude! Stop acting like a chick! That pretty face you liked seeing on her knees is suddenly someone you begin to miss when they're gone. Even if you have little to no chemistry as individuals. Humans are often far lonelier creatures than they realize. Naturally, this only impels them to seek a deeper relationship with others further, as there are distinct limitations to what one can gain from family and friends, painful though a realization that too can be.

No doubt one of the most pleasant things in the world would be to be someone's favorite person - especially if they are yours - and even more so, were you in love with one another. But you still have to think through just what this means, lest it mean nothing, considering how many use the L-word without much thought behind it. Do you bestow your favoritism unconditionally? Do you even love unconditionally? These days, many call out unconditional feelings as damned unfavorable - something to be condemned. And to an extent, they're right, unconditional love, for someone to be your favorite with no strings attached, is absolutely foolish. But without the fools, would not the last of the romance in our already vastly unromantic modern world die off completely? Love - and favoritism - with strings attached seems entirely questionable in and of itself, conversely. Call me the biggest of the fools if you'd like, but I'd call any conditional love into question. Love should come naturally from within, flowing outward and consuming you with its warmth. The sort of feeling that can't come with sets of means by which to immediately kill it completely. It'd be stressful to no end to be someone's proclaimed "favorite" if recognized on some sort of sliding scale where all it'd take is saying or doing the wrong thing at the wrong moment to fall from favor. I've harped on it before, but it bears harping upon once more - there's no barometer for one's feelings for someone quite like your capacity for sympathy and forgiveness.

Over at Cracked, David Wong's written an article worth reading as well, "7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable." He discusses, and articulates well, various aspects of the modern world that are only leading to people becoming more and more isolated - I don't need to exaggerate when noting the increasing loneliness of people in this world - I am a part of a pretty damn well documented trend, myself. Studies've even found that roughly one in four people have no one to confide in these days. Telling, that's for sure. And as he notes early on, in the past 20 years, the average number of close friends people consider themselves as having has dropped sharply. Hell, I can believe it. I can probably count my close friends on one hand these days. Maybe even with a finger or two amputated.

Technology's a major culprit in this trend. I know it certainly has been in my case, given that everything just feels off if I'm separated from my PC, there's so much of myself - my thoughts, feelings - recorded on this machine. Far more than I've ever given to other people in my life. Hooray introversion. As he hits on first, tech has certainly made it easier to filter people out of our reality. Keeping a CD player, iPod, or game system on you when you're out and about is a surefire way to discourage human interaction, save for those whom you actively seek to interact with, anyway. (And I don't know if I could could make that sound any more mechanical than I already have here now. Let's talk human-human interfacing! Pardon me, would you care to exchange data!?) We aren't as thick-skinned as we once were. It's not so easy to connect with one another - let alone really meet anybody - when we can't even deal with strangers so well anymore, with all that entails. Being out and about more in college, this was admittedly something I had to adapt to. I'm no small talk prodigy, and I'm sure I never will be, but at least at this point in my life, I know how to develop a repoire with a stranger I may have to deal with consistently - as I did with clerks in all the little stores, food areas, and the post office on campus, in addition to a few classmates here and there who opted to talk to me one day or another. It's pretty sad when people are starting to need to relearn how to deal with strangers. But I find it's best to assume they feel just as awkward striking up random conversation, even if they don't, and try to sympathize with them, even if you don't exactly "click" or anything like that. And it can't be stressed enough - don't be an asshole just because someone's unexpectedly trying to communicate with you! You're still human!

The internet allows us to filter our social circles more as well, with people who share our tastes and interests just a few clicks away. 'Sup, guys? You like forehead-needlepoint too? Hardcore! Screw all those other people. Goodbye variety! I'm fortunate, at least, that despite a number of mutual hobbies and interests as the geeks we are, that my circle of friends from college was pretty diverse overall, and we didn't cut ourselves off from people who weren't much like ourselves, just as I didn't when taking classes and meeting new people. It's all important experiences to have, even if you don't end up making lifelong friends or anything. Genuine lifelong friends are hard to come by in this day and age anyway. Best to enjoy people's company while you can. Odds are, your time with them is limited. But I've harped on this before as well.

Yes, "ZOMG THISE IS AWSUM LULZ" is not high communication either. Chatting online, texting on cell phones, these sorts of methods of communication are replacing, in large part, that good old sitting-down-and-talking thing people used to do, back in the days of yore. 93% of communication is non-verbal. Most of us, stuck in our technology as we are, are only getting 7% of what we really need as human beings in terms of communication much of the time. As such, we're only getting the dumbed down version of communication, connections, and so forth here in cyberspace. It's hard not to long for the experience of real conversation (With someone outside of my family, anyway.) with someone, to be able to sit there and get the whole experience. The internets, they are a cold, cold place.

Without this sort of experience, this sort of connection with someone, odds are you won't ever get comfortable enough to truly be completely open and honest with each other - especially about the bad stuff. As Wong gets into better than I am here, we all need criticism. Someone to sit us down and tell us when we're being stupid, maybe slap us around a little with a frozen trout for good measure, knowing that it isn't going to wreck your friendship or anything. Criticism can't be emphasized enough, both in the capacity of being able to take it as much as you can dish it out. But people are getting more thin-skinned. They aren't connecting like they once did in real life, let alone online. And overestimating when it's safe to criticize someone you consider a close friend, when you have something to say that they really do need to hear, can be easy to do these days, sadly. I've been burned badly for trying to help someone that way. As is made obvious by this blog, I am a master of all that is rambling. And often, this comes off as lecturing. I try not to talk down to anyone, as I sure as hell am not better than anybody else. But the difference between talking down to someone and merely rambling too much can be difficult to discern. In part, of course, thanks to that it's hard to tell how someone is exactly communicating when all you're going on is internet text.

People are unhappy. Frequently depressed. Negative feelings feed on further negative feelings. And the internet is, far more often than not, a thoroughly negative environment. Enough said.

Our self worth drops as we become more and more digitized, as there's less depth to online friendships. Less expectations from one another. We mean less to one another, and so, all things considered, we really are much more worthless in that capacity. Self-esteem is lower and lower on average, and suicide rates are on the upswing while we desperately try to push self-esteem on people when they can't develop it when you just tell them to have self-esteem, confidence, and all. That only makes them feel worse. It's all about doing things for others worth noting. Actually striving to be a good person, not just a neutral one. To be likable for a reason, and not just for the sake of wanting to be liked. Whatever it yields, positive or negative, I'm going to finish this book I'm dedicating to the woman I've been in love with for all these years, and I'm going to get it published if it kills me. I'm not expecting anything for it, and I don't think I deserve anything for it either. But it's the grandest gesture I could ever figure out to make for someone, whether it falls flat on its face or succeeds in meaning something. It's all about the attempt - making the gesture for the sake of making the gesture, regardless of whether I reach her heart and she ever feels anything for me like what I feel for her, or I only touch her heart just enough that she knows how loved she is, and nothing comes of it. It's all about breaking out of the daily melodrama and misery and living life. Doing something for someone you care about.

People, however, rarely take the healthy, honest approach to facing these issues. Instead, we see things often as sad as people seeking out cheesy-bad internet advice on how to get women. Even when written by women, it seems to always be black and white, shallow and oversimplified, and harping on the same old theme - be confident! But most people aren't confident. Those who genuinely are? More likely than not, they're pretty damn dense. Confidence does not flow well with thinking through what you do. With questioning yourself. Which is certainly important to do as a person. It's far too easy to be overconfident when faking it. And that's not attractive. But at best, that's all confidence really does - attracts someone. Confidence and charisma only go so far if you're looking for more than just a bed-partner for the night at a local bar or club. These things are not the meat of who you are, after all. And if they are, then there just isn't that much to you, sadly.

It's a conundrum - love, attachment, and all that comes with it in this modern world. If you're someone's favorite person, don't take it for granted. And don't take them for granted, whatever you do. I'm certain that I'm nobody's favorite person. My family loves me, sure, and that's cool, but we're fairly disjointed and dysfunctional in our own ways. I'm thankful for that in my own twisted way, as I don't consider myself all that close with my family overall either. I may still live at home - though I won't for too much longer - but I'm off in my own world most of the time, alone. I don't think I've ever been anyone's favorite person. But if I have, I always gave them a reason to change their minds. I, however, do have a favorite person, as I've mentioned her in here before often enough. I haven't spoken with her in a couple of years now, and am sadly stuck facing the question of whether I'll ever be able to tell her that she's my favorite person, after years of missed connections and no clue if we'll ever see each other again. Losing her is my biggest regret in life. And this book, the gesture I'm making with it and the long-standing feelings I'm finally giving a voice, it is my absolute effort to reach out to her. To speak to her, and to her heart, in hopes that she'll yet see the book on a library or bookstore shelf, read it, and in the least know how much I've loved her all long, and how much I miss her now. Even if, for all I know, I'm long gone and it's far too late by the time she finds out about it. This is my grand, foolish attempt at romance. Where for all I know, it's probably not wanted. Not from the likes of a fool like me, anyway.

Hopefully all of this made some modicum of sense. I'm going to sleep. I need to get up in a few hours to start my Xmas shopping.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Frosty" the Festive Holiday Zeppelin

I know you all missed me dearly while I was gone - ached for my next entry, even. It's been a long week, finishing up some assorted work, assorted seasonal stress, and so forth. Took a while for inspiration to strike me. Obviously, it's often more scarce than I'd like, but I got some more work on Project 27 Days done, which I'm still hoping to finish relatively soon and finally get published sometime in 2008, if I can manage to find an agent willing to represent me, and they, in turn, can manage to find me a publisher. At least, if all works out, I finally graduate today.

I hope none of you have been grievously injured or killed since my last entry - though my writing does tend to have that effect on people. I need readers, after all. ... Or do I?

Uh, anyway, without further ado, after the long wait, I now present to you a new enchanting tale of holiday cheer well representative of Christmas (Or Crimbo, as some call it.) in the modern world. Pass it down to your children, and in turn, their children. Burn it - scar it into their memories. This is a story of holiday cheer not to be forgotten. Or questioned.

---
"Frosty" the Festive Holiday Zeppelin

These days, the holiday season seemed to be officially starting sooner and sooner every passing year. This year, it began in July. Families in America spent July 4th gathered around their televisions, taking in the splendor and wonderment that was the new holiday special, "Santa Sinks a Commie U-Boat." It was pretty violent and tasteless, but then, without these thematic elements, where would American family entertainment be? Fraggle Rock? They had to bomb that after hearing allegations that they might've been harboring some of the gays. (Later, it turned out someone misheard the last part of "Dance Your Cares Away.")

Behind as ever, Amherst, Massachusetts' local NFL game preparation team at the newly constructed Bart Simpson Stadium toiled away, hoping to make a memorable mark on the sporting television world at the Amherst Noam Chomskies' debut football game, just a few days off in early November - critically late in the holiday season, as Robot Santa No. 3 would soon be making its rounds in the AmericaDome. (Following mass global nuclear fallout, every nation sequestered its citizens from the rest of the world in a massive dome spanning the nation. Not that this did much to protect anybody from the nuclear zombie armies that rose up in America's southwest but weeks after the war began and ended - largely due to the growing boredom of all sides involved. These zombies did, however, make construction of the southwestern quadrant a real pain in the ass.) Nobody really liked Robot Santa No. 3, as it was voiced by reviled comic-beast Jeff Foxworthy, one of history's greatest monsters. But nobody really knew how to reprogram the Robot Santas - a minor inconvenience when Robot Santa No. 2 became self-aware and began eating children instead of dispensing gifts. Nobody had stopped him yet. That might have required using a baseball bat. And a small amount of force. That would constitute exercise, which Emperor Bushie IV decreed treason back in 2112 before he fell into an eventually fatal thirty-year coma from alcohol poisoning.

To celebrate the 2222 NFL season, the Amherst team planned to send the crowd on a trip down memory lane by flying an old zeppelin painted to resemble famous historical figure Frosty the Snowman over the field at halftime. At this point, everything was just about good to go. The zeppelin had been painted white, and the front had been painted to resemble a snowman's face, though the Earth hadn't seen snow in over seven hundred years, so there were some mild concerns that the zeppelin may only confuse and anger the spectators when they were expecting to be entertained. It wasn't going to be easy outdoing the Denver Dinosaurs' halftime show with those girls and their magical musical orifices. That just took talent. And in modern America, talent involving various uses for one's orifices was the only kind worth having. Sigmund Freud might have had a stroke, were he to behold so many sexual psychological fixations displayed at once.

With Project Frosty nearly complete, Red Dodger and Dave Forkington were looking forward to kicking back with some brewskis and watching a human air hockey tournament. Manufacturing had just delivered the all-important giant hat to complete the Frosty-zeppelin, and for once, things seemed to be going according to plan - this rarely happened, as by 2222, most people had no attention span to speak of. Red was a rare exception, but then, he'd always been considered a bit slow in the cognitive faculties, and that's how you end up working for the NFL in the first place.

"I can't believe this is actually working out," Red said, as he watched Aaron the overseer direct the lowering of the hat onto the Frosty-zeppelin from the command center window at the Amherst NFL HQ.

"No kidding, looks like I may get to get this cancer treated a bit this year after all," said Dave, between walkie-talkie command relays to Aaron.

After the crane finished lowering it, the field technicians spent a few minutes securing electro-fasteners to the hat, ensuring that it wouldn't go flying away or falling off and killing anybody when airborne, and reinforcing its sonic defenses to render the giant mutant bats that filled the skies harmless.

"Beautiful," Red smiled somewhat sincerely. "This is the sort of thing that got me into this business."

"I thought it was because you couldn't find work anywhere else, what with people hating the way you talk - complete thoughts, and all. I know that's what got me here. I wanted to be a doctor. Maybe see if I could actually help some people. Maybe not die of cancer," Dave mused.

"We're all dying of cancer inside, Dave, we all are," said Red, watching the scene outside. He was right. Ever since the fallout, most people had at least one form of cancer at all times, but most had mutated enough to ensure their long-term survival. Cancer was just a real pain in the ass. Nobody got any cool side effects from their mutations either, just extra nipples or testicles, occasionally a secondary brain they'd have to carry around in a petri dish, lest they forget how to breathe.

Moments after the hat was secured, things went awry for poor old Red and company. The painted face on the front of the zeppelin sprung to life, and Frosty began to scream, "YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" And just kept screaming that over and over. Up close, judging by the technicians' state of panic, it must have been a terrifying sight to behold. But from the relative safety of the command center, it was really just kind of annoying, like a kid throwing a fit in a grocery store.

"Well, this is different," said Red, interested enough to raise one of his eyebrows - but only the one. Even the sight of Frosty shooting laser beams from his eyes and mouth, vaporizing everything it could in the area wasn't enough to make that second eyebrow budge.

"Hey, looks like there was a bit of magic in that old hat!" Dave exclaimed without a sense of irony.

"Shut the hell up, Dave," Red spat, "It's not old, we just got it in from manufacturing two days ago! You know how much trouble this's gonna cause?"

"Should bring a bit of cheer to the kiddies, don'tcha think?" Dave said, always the optimist. "If it doesn't traumatize them for life, that is. Or kill them."

"Well, they're not my kids," Red said, picking up the phone. "Keep an eye on Aaron, will ya? It'd be better if we could keep initial casualties to a minimum."

"Too late," Dave observed, "he just got vaporized by one of Frosty's eye-beams."

"So much for worker's comp - hey, Hank?" Red got through to manufacturing. "Yeah, yeah, we've got a bit of a problem here. I'm not sure what you guys were thinking, but this hat you sent us - yeah, that one - seems like it'd pose a bit of a thread to the spectators.
"No, I don't particularly like spectators, that's true. I'm more of an epic-porn man than a live sporting events fan, myself. Well, it just seems like killing them would still be a pretty bad idea. I'm no saint or anything, but I don't see how we can let Frosty fly now in good conscience. Anyway, Dave had an idea, so I have to ask - you guys make any new hires in the past month?
"Zarlock the Planet-Tainter, huh? You guys didn't, perchance, run a background check on the guy before hiring him, did you? No? Yeah, I get it, he sounds like a cool guy. I wish the dimwits I work with knew how to grow pot. Anyway, I'm pretty sure he's one of those evil wizards - you know, warlocks? - that kept turning up in the news a few years ago. No, I'm not being judgmental, I just think he might've put a curse on the hat, or some kind of black magic anyway. Yeah? Yeah, it does look pretty badass, but my job's on the line here. We want the stands full of children who'll grow up to be big boosters for the Chomskies, rather than distance themselves like what happened with the Philly Fuckwads last month. I'm not sure what they were thinking with that name either, don't ask me.
"Let's get back on topic though - could you ask Zarlock to maybe come out here to get rid of the spell? It's getting kinda messy and I've got a wife and kid to feed. No, I haven't tried calling the fire department yet. What're they gonna do, really? Come on, water has never beaten laser beams. Geezus, what movies do you watch? That has never happened - Napoleon was proven to have powerful optic lasers at Waterloo. Yeah? Shut up. I'm running out of options here, what do you expect me to do?
"What do you mean send him up without the hat? Without the hat he's just a big white smiley face! You know how many supremacists that could incite? Yeah, I know what happened in Charleston. That's what I'm trying to stop from happening here. What? Repainting it in blackface is entirely inappropriate. This is the damn twenty-third century, you think I want to reopen those wounds yet again?
"Great, just great. Well, I wouldn't even know how to suggest we get that hat off again - it's killing everything in a ten mile radius and nobody's even flying it yet! I'm not sure how we could even get a pilot over there in one piece. A bunch of lead shields, maybe... regardless, you guys are assholes, you know that? Yeah, fuck your mother too! Next time try doing some background checks before you hire even more warlocks, huh? Some of us have advertisers to placate!" Red angrily slammed the phone down.

"Any luck?" Dave asked.

"Nope. Apparently somebody already got in touch with corporate and they're blaming us for not checking for magical traps before installing the hat. Looks like Christmas is ruined. Again."

"Well, I was planning on jumping the Canadian border anyway. I'd rather take my chances with the giant beavers than stick around and risk losing my health insurance again," Dave shrugged.

Red simply glared out the window at Frosty, as it continued to devastate the surrounding city blocks. "This was a big waste of everybody's time, you know that?"

---

Didn't you feel your insides just warm up and pickle from holiday cheer in reading that? If they didn't, you may want to contact a medical professional. Right now. And also do the same if your insides did pickle too. Better delicious than sorry.

What?

Anyway, that's enough from me for now. Hopefully you didn't end yourself after reading that. For this is an important story. You must remember that.

Yeah, I need to find some more worthwhile things to muse about rather than just writing even more stupid comedy. It's been a while since I last wrote something here that actually meant something. At least this entry was better than that last one, though, eh?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wait, that's not a Yule Log at all!

"At last!" you all just exclaimed to yourselves, "a holiday season themed update! Surely but the first of many to come!" You sit there shaking giddily in your seats while those around you become genuinely concerned and wonder if you have blood sugar problems. But that's okay. What do they know? They may be thinking that you're diabetic on the outside, but secretly, they're all diabetic on the inside.

And thus, the holiday season - much like Santa Claus when he first came to Earth, riding the meteor the killed all the dinosaurs - has arrived. You'd better believe there've been casualties. Sure, I could harp on the occasional news story you hear every year where someone abruptly dies when out in the madness of the holiday shopping season rush, whether trampled on Black Friday or simply dropping dead from exhaustion later into December. But these stories are relatively unimportant. After all, these are humans we're talking about here - they're always just dying for one reason or another. I'd wonder why someone hasn't addressed the whole species yet with the one statement that could probably put an end to that - "Cut it out already!" - but humans dying is a good thing. If they didn't, the whole planet'd be even more clogged up with various biological flotsam, and another popular mythical figure would have to come crashing in to destroy us. Then all that will be left is a dead, lifeless rock for the giant monster-Santa and space-Krampus to duke it out on. Sure, it would be awesome, but with everybody dead, nobody'd be there to film it and exploit the chaos for magnificent riches. And isn't that all existence is about? Then again, that seems to be the Libertarian philosophy, and I have to say, no thanks.

The best we can hope for here as citizens aboard Spaceship Earth is to re-enact these battles each holiday season, by constructing gigantic twelve-story Santa robots with giant Fists O' Fury(tm) and real working eye laser beams that could level a city block, and having them battle it out with our neighbors' corresponding Krampus-bots. Which will be traditionally lazily constructed, by piling hundreds of full trash bags atop one another from May onward - with beard clippings glued to them, as Krampus' facial hair was pretty spotty at best - and take to the streets in jubilation every December 25th as we attack our neighbors and fill the streets with filth! After five years, the world will be consumed by complete holiday dystopia and we'll finally begin to celebrate the cyberpunk classic, Blade Runner, year round. I forget exactly what the point of this rambling was, but I guess when you get down to it, it's that there's a distinct deficiency of robots and chaos in the holiday season. This is 2007. Get with the program, people!

Holiday traditions. Pretty nutty stuff. Comedian Jim Gaffigan's pointed out well himself that many of them sound like the actions of a drunk man, bringing a tree into the house to decorate for Jesus, or hanging up some leaves so you can get some action. But these traditions? Antiquated. Archaic. Forgettable. Even bull-plop, as individuals afraid to use actual curse words might say. It's time we adopt new traditions. New traditions for the new millennium. The following are just a few ideas.

1) Naked Caroling - A new age spin on a tired classic that nobody does anymore because carolers are annoying. Mind you, if you're even moderately attractive, you might be better off not doing this, as it may titillate listeners instead of traumatize them, producing the opposite effect to the ideal. Anybody can do it. Just venture outside into the chilly winter night clad only in the horrific fleshsuit you were born in and give your friends, acquaintances, and neighbors reason to have you thrown out of the neighborhood. You might not even have to pay to venture to new places and meet new people! Even if they have to sign a form when you first meet them acknowledging their awareness of your status as a registered sex offender. Someday, that'll just be another story to tell the inmates.

2) Yuletide Propagandizing - Politics, politics, politics. Who doesn't love to talk politics, engaging in a rousing debate with people of opposing beliefs for whom you once held respect, and ultimately ended up in a screaming match with, resembling deranged toddlers? This holiday season, try wearing your political beliefs on your sleeve by engaging everyone you know in angry, aggressive political debate - because you're right, and they're wrong - then ending it by shouting "Merry Christmas, motherfucker!" as you stomp off and slam the nearest door you can find. If you're one of those dicks who goes out of their way to openly state controversial political beliefs for the sole purpose of inciting people - things like, "racism is just an opinion! Freedom of speech! You can't judge me for having an opinion!" and "Ayn Rand was a genius!" - you probably are a Libertarian, and we all hate you and your precious Ron Paul. Your participation in this newly cherished holiday tradition is unwanted.

3) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Vandal - Petty vandalism is always fun for everybody. It's a victimless crime! (Unless you count the people whose stuff you messed up. I don't.) Instead of merely writing obscene messages or questionable '80s cartoon references on bathroom stalls, why not write them on your neighbor's tacky plastic Santa/sleigh display out front? They need to know that Jem was not that outrageous after all, and that like many rock stars, she suffered later in life for the same old mistakes made at the height of her fame. Double-necked guitars just weren't cool anymore. Also, bonus points if you can arrange their light displays into something obscene while they're at work.

4) The Eyes of a Christmas Elf - Most of us get invited to holiday parties. Not me, but I don't like parties anyway. Too much noise, too many humans. Regardless, this is a fun game you can play at any holiday party. Upon arrival, pick a stranger - any stranger - and proceed to stare at them from some corner for the rest of the night. They will inevitably notice and become uncomfortable. If they smile or return you look with any sort of positive expression, you must narrow your eyes - almost glower, but keep the rest of your face blank and expressionless. It will ruin their evening, and possibly the rest of their holiday. If they try to approach you, duck behind some people and make your escape to another corner. If they make a big deal out of it and draw all the attendees' attention to their predicament, run up to the second floor of the house - assuming it has one - and jump out a window. Speak not a word during the entirety of the party, and speak not of it afterwards, as though the incident never happened. If successfully executed, you will ruin the entire party. And if you attended said party with a date or spouse, one can safely say that your relationship is over. You had gotten into kind of a rut, anyway.

5) Holly Jolly Freedom of Expression - It's high time the conservatives got what they had coming to them, wouldn't you say? Enough of these "family friendly" holiday displays. Your unique and original commissioned Christmas sculptures are works of impressive art an beautiful displays of human sexuality! If the neighborhood kids' parents want to shield them from the Santa/Mrs. Claus/Frosty three-way and animatronic elf orgy, they can blindfold the little tykes whenever they set foot outside! This is America! They've got to learn about the birds and the bees and the alligators sometime. Think of it as an educational holiday this year.

As you can see, at their core, all new holiday traditions re really about one thing, and one thing only - hate. Specifically, making everybody you have ever been so much as acquainted to despise you. And possibly getting into all sorts of legal trouble. But what a rush! What a thrill! When they come to take you away, at least you can be honest about snorting snow to get into the holiday spirit!

Yeah, this one was mostly incoherent rambling till it found direction later on. I wasn't feeling too inspired this time, and it shows. Haven't come up with a good subject for a more meaningful entry in a while either. I should do that before there's nothing left to this blog but the insane babblings of an inane weirdo. Maybe the next holiday one won't be as terrible.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Important Business Meeting

Now, I know you're all wondering why I called you here... just kidding, you already know why I had to call you here, I just always wanted to say that. Now, if there are no questions - no, Wayne, there won't be bathroom breaks - let's get down to business.

Productivity is down 72% in the past month. Study figures show a continuous downward trend ever since I was transferred in to be your new boss nearly a month ago to the day. Obviously, there's some friction here, so we're going to hammer this out here and now, or else I'm going to have to find a new staff, got it?

First, let's take a look in the suggestion box.

"Who the hell do you think you are?"
"Fuck you."
"Why won't you die already?" - I'm assuming this one's from you, Reid. I get that you're the office joker, but putting arsenic in my coffee is getting pretty played out, don't you think?

These are but a few of the notes I've received in the past week alone. These are not constructive, people. Sure, some of you may doubt my capabilities in this position, but I am the boss for a reason - because I am better than all of you. I'm stronger, I'm smarter, I'm faster, and I have what it takes to move this division of Stillborn Staplers forward after that unfortunate incident that took Joe Gumbo's life. I know you all loved him, heck, even I looked up to the man, but it's time to start looking ahead. You can't go on mourning a freak stapling accident forever. I may not be Joe Gumbo, but like him, I am still better than all of you. This is why you should listen to me when I tell you what to be, what to think, and how to most efficiently eat your sandwiches in the break room. But you're looking at me the wrong way. You shouldn't resent me. You should look up to me, for all the guidance I can provide in your lives. Gentlemen, you should see me as a father. Ladies, you should see me as that cool, hot older brother your feelings for whom would be incestuous if not for that you're adopted. Trust in me, and I won't steer you wrong. And ladies, I can go all night if needed. By which I mean you should call me if you ever need anything, I'll do the best I can to make things right. And right can entail sexy. We should have that kind of workplace bond - it reduces sexual tension and brings offices together. I cannot, however, extend the same offer to the gentlemen - I'd be flattered, but I'm just not into that.

As your boss, it's my job to motivate you and get productivity back up. I'd promise some kind of profit sharing program, so you guys could earn a commission for every sale, and get a bigger raise when profits are up all around, but I spoke with someone in corporate just the other night, and he said he'd kill me himself if I made any promises relating to your income. That's old Bob Arkham, though, always foaming at the mouth over something. First his secretary gave him the clap, and now he's raving about possible layoffs. That old card.

I may not be too good at this whole motivating thing yet, but I can at least relate to you the meaningful words I've been granted in my life. My dad, for instance, always used to tell me "never do anything halfway," when I was growing up. Granted, I haven't seen him since he smashed that public mailbox and fled to Canada, but his words still hold true even now. Then there was my mentor, Cooper Burtham, who's still wanted in Wyoming for a misdemeanor involving a toaster oven. He always told me, "Ed, if you want to get anywhere in this world, you have to do it for the sake of doing it." He never did explain what "it" was, or get my name right, but he still amazes me when I visit him in the home on weekends with the incredible wisdom he has to share. And I'll never forget the important lessons of Socrates - specifically, legendary motivational speaker Bill Socrates, who wrote That Ain't a Monkey in Your Sock! and Turnip-Llama: Build a Better Future through Animal Hybrids. I bumped into him at a business convention at the Sheraton in Spokane four years ago, and five minutes before he died of a coronary in the lobby, he imparted to me, "There's nothin' sexier than the baby Jesus on a platter of cookie dough." I'm not entirely sure what this means, but I'm pretty certain it's the secret to maximizing our profit margins.

I know that the water cooler is a big issue, with all those angry, violent notes in the suggestion box that specifically mention it. But if you want full water cooler privileges back, you have to earn them. But at the rate you're all going, not only will I not be having the paper cup dispenser refilled, but I may have to have the cooler taken away entirely - the building owners are complaining about water damage to the rugs. What did I tell you about learning to catch the water in your mouth? Joan, as you'll recall, tried to cheat and used her coffee mug. And as you'll also recall, I had to fire her. She was a troublemaker, that one. Not a team player at all. If you don't shape up, you'll have to drink from one of the restroom sinks when you want water. No, I don't care that Perkins molests all the faucets. There's nothing in the company charter about that. If you have a problem, you can bring your own faucet from home.

Recently, I spoke with the nightly maintenance crew, and they aren't happy with things here either. As you can see, we're all unhappy, when we could be one big happy family. Someone's been leaving an unidentified white powder on the toilet seats in the men's restroom on friday nights. This can only mean one thing - one of you is suffering from a compulsive powdered doughnut addiction. Whoever you are, you should admit it and we'll all embrace and help you through this difficult time. I used to have an addiction too - I spent most of the '70s playing air hockey for hair gel. I just loved the way it smelled. But that was wrong, and after three years in rehab and several relapses, I finally beat my personal monster. And I know you can too. If you're not comfortable talking about it, however, at least leave a courtesy doughnut for the guy who cleans the bathrooms, would you? They're part of the Stillborn Staplers family too, after all. Just kind of like that uncle or cousin who always looked at you funny growing up and isn't invited to social occasions anymore.

You want things to get better? We need to learn to work together as a team and beat this productivity slump! Above all else, I want you to think of the customers. We're saving lives here! Sort of. So you want to treat them like kings. Then, if they were to meet us, they'd hug us and say, "Thank you, you've changed my life for the better like no one else could. You helped me hold my papers together." Who else can say that they've accomplished that? Not the paper clip people, that's for sure.

What do you mean "some people prefer paper clips?"

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Seven Stages of Grief

Yes, what a productive November it's been. It's almost over already (What's that whooshing sound? Oh, right. Time. Slow down, dammit!) and I've barely written over half of what I did in here last month. I keep trying to pick up the pace with this thing, but it's hard to find interesting and worthwhile things to write long posts about on a regular basis. Makes people's sensationalized personal plots and ADD-oriented bite-size-entry-filled blogs plenty understandable. You write something daily - sometimes even several times daily - and the readers, they will flock. In theory, at least. Doesn't seem to work as well for some of the ones I see advertising on the Google group's blog-sharing board. But then, how many of these "Make Money With Your Blog!" blogs do we even need? That's people for you, though, the avaricious lot we are. Find something interesting to write about! Write about cheese! Write cheesy humor! Do the world some gouda! (Okay, maybe I deserve to be shot for that one.)

Anyway, enough of my finger-wagging. Not like the internet's bound to listen anyway, even if I do know what's good for it. (More sites featuring monkeys wearing little hats. MORE, I say! But only if said monkeys consent. We can't have humans violating their right to choose not to wear a little hat, after all. Even if America seems to be all about forcing people into things these days.) The challenges of writing meaningful - or even consistently funny - blog entries are only growing more apparent in time. Makes it easy to understand why humor sites like Something Awful keep a large enough stable of writers and columnists around, ultimately having them write probably 2-3 articles a month, tops, so there's plenty of regular new content in the rotation, and nobody has to push themselves. (Except with the Daily Dirt section, anyway. But that's pretty purposefully half-assed and retarded.)

I'll quit my grousing this time, really. Not much good for me to lecture the rest of the internet to write more interesting and meaningful content when I'm not exactly doing that enough myself. (Next time: I discuss quantum physics and how I don't know anything about quantum physics and kill about 8-10 paragraphs saying nothing whatsoever - sound and fury, in fact, signifying nothing.) So without further ado, my clearly-incredibly-long-awaited latest blog entry. The subject this time? As the subject indicates, the seven stages of grief. Of course, you may have read some other set of seven stages of grief, say, in a psychology textbook. But those things're outdated. They don't know what they're talking about. Hell, some of them even claim there's only five. (What does Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross know, really? Maybe people only grieved in five stages back in 1969. How far we've come.)

Of course, I can't explain these seven stages without giving you proper context in regards to my own personal grief. And my tale of woe, it is a heartbreaking one. I'll give you a second to grab some tissues. You'll need them, when you start sobbing uncontrollably, having been emotionally rocked to your core by the sheer magnitude of my loss. Well, here goes. Don't say I didn't warn you.

It's dead. Gone. Kaput. Finito. Conversing with da fishes clad in a brand spankin' new pair o' cement shoes. Ghastly, I know. My poor Gamecube memory card. Over 20 games' save files, three and a half years of nerdly addiction and accomplishment. All down the tubes. Why? Who knows why! The gods are cruel - cruelest of all to those of us who believe in them not. Though it's said that many of the first run of the 1019 block cards were known for corrupting, though later runs did not. And it's hard to tell whether or not the heat from my Nintendo Wii's WiiConnect24 feature had anything to do with it either, though people like to jump to blaming it for things it often doesn't cause. But nonetheless, something to be taken into consideration anyway, given how much I've relied on the motion-detecting happy-box since I finally acquired one on Ebay months ago. But in having been relying on its backwards compatibility, I hadn't anticipated such a malady, calamity, even catastrophe! (Though if I'm lucky, I may be able to salvage some of my saved data and transfer it to a new card when I buy one.) Well over a thousand hours of work, gone. A blow to one's daily functioning not unlike abrupt loss of a hard drive after failing to properly keep your files backed up. At least, if you're like me. Perhaps it says too much about me - and doubtlessly in a negative sense, considering how society tends to frown upon those too closely linked with their electronics - but upon losing a hard drive in such situations, years of everything, it's like losing a part of yourself. As though it just abruptly evaporated into thin air, leaving you feeling incomplete. Writing, music, games, links, all my connections to friends on instant messengers, info I'd need to be able to contact them at all - POOF. Gone. Like someone just shot you with a cannon and you somehow miraculously survived, leaving only a gaping cartoon-like hole where there is nothing. To someone like me, an embarrassingly admittedly isolated, withdrawn individual sorely lacking meaningful human contact and connections, it's an incredibly painful loss. And all you can do is grieve your loss, whether human, pet, or digital data. (With as much as I game, three and a half years is a hell of a lot. Especially confounding when Baten Kaitos Origins was really starting to get interesting at its 40-hour mark. And this was the card I got with the new games I'd received the day after my major jaw surgery back in June 2004, so it does hold some amount of sentimental value, having been part of what little connection I had to my daily routine back then, I was so drugged up, coping with the psychological trauma of surgery and inability to move my jaw, let alone lie down and sleep back then.) Perhaps this connection simply says that I need to back up my data more (Easier said than done with gaming data.), and that I need to get out of here, make some new friends, start a new life, and maybe even find love. (Hell, that's part of what I'm trying to do with my novel. But will it win her heart? Knowing my luck, probably not. But I need to make the gesture and speak what's in my heart in the most meaningful way I know how. Even if letting my emotions out - particularly in that regard - is one of the most difficult things for me to do, given my experiences.) There's not even a perhaps about it, really. But that doesn't take away from the pain and grief.

And so, the seven stages of grief.
1) Denial (Not Just a River in Egypt) - At this point, you aren't even ready to be uncool with things. Instead, you get to flip out and refuse to even acknowledge the possibility that something might just be the case. "NO! How can pogs be a terrible random '90s pop culture reference!? Pogs are hilarious! Check out this slammer! No! Don't walk away! This is funny!"

2) Denial Part 2: The Bloodening - Stage two is the natural progression of stage one. People will tell you to calm down and face facts like a normal, rational adult. This is a lie, of course, as most adults are not rational, despite what they tell themselves in order to get by. Being a bearer of truth and justice, you expose their lies by lashing out - with violence. (For comedy purposes, attempting to garrote them with dental floss will result in many hours of family fun in the midst of your suffering. For more serious Bloodeners, a lead pipe is recommended for the musical sounds it might rhythmically produce as you cave in their skulls, one by one.) "What do you mean eating Cheerios for breakfast can help me reduce my cholesterol!? I'll kill you! I'LL KILL ALL OF YOU!"

3) Gambling (Formerly Bargaining) - Upon realizing that their gods were cruel gods, people gave up bargaining a long time ago. Those assholes don't care about you. These days, there's only one way to counteract the reality of the grief you're dealing with - by risking your life (Or money) against all odds to prove that if you can pull that off, they must be wrong about what's upsetting you. Approaching the source of your grief with even the slightest suggestion of accepting it might be a reality that you just have to face is a trap. That's just what they want you to do, so you'll let your guard down and cry like a small child while they steal your riches and sleep with your girlfriend. (Or boyfriend, as the case may be, obviously. These stages apply to both the sexes, after all. And even the hybrid ultra-sexes.) "I bet if I can jump this two-mile gorge with my motorcycle, Elvis will never die!"

4) Intensive Care - So you've been severely injured. So what? That doesn't mean they were right. Disco's comin' back and nobody's gonna tell you your ABBA records aren't hip! This stage mostly involves lying around in a body cast, being pumped so full of morphine that you can't tell what's what anymore. And crying. Crying a lot. Even though you can't remember what you're crying about. Maybe someday you'll learn to do basic math again. Someday.

5) Denial Part 3: You're Lying, Dammit! And I Can Prove It! - You regain enough of your capacity for cognition to start realizing what's been going on all along and how you ended up hospitalized in the first place. It hits you one day, five years down the line in physical therapy. Everyone else has moved on, and thinks of you as a sad, sad case, wondering if you aren't perhaps in some way mentally disabled, and if perhaps you shouldn't have been living in a special home all alone. So sad, you used to be so normal. But now? Now you think the Blue Collar comedians are actually funny. What the hell, man? Seriously - what the hell? You're wrong. You're wrong about everything.

6) Depression - There's no running away anymore. The cards are on the table. The dice have fallen - they were loaded, anyway. The dog's still rolling around on its back. You can't escape the truth. Your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles memorabilia just isn't holding up as well as you'd hoped. Life has no meaning now. You could seek help. Maybe reach out to family. Yeah, like they actually care about you. And friends? What friends? You drove them all away years ago. What's wrong with you? Why did you always have to be such a hateful creature? Why couldn't you ever be nice and just tell the people you loved that you loved them? Remember that one? Yeah, you remember them, and the way you two used to look at each other. If only you'd said something and actually acted, they could've been yours. You could've been happy. But no. You had to be an idiot and hide your feelings until it was too late. You deserve this. You deserve all of this. Maybe the world would be a better place without you.

7) Suicide (Sometimes Known as Uncle Bob's Happy Fun Time) - The final stage! This is what you've spent your whole life waiting for! The bright lights, the spectators, the cotton candy, the clowns, the tumbling act! Welcome to the circus they call self-inflicted fatality! So many methods, so many means, so many ideas, so much potential! So many buzzing bright lights. The heady high, the lowest low, the burning that consumes you from the inside out. Should you do this? Or shouldn't you? No time for indecisiveness, young one, you've a grave or urn to fill! Seal your fate, cross paths with the grim reaper, dance with the death monkey! It's not like any of us have much reason to go on anyway. We're all insignificant specks in a poorly sealed snow globe - that water's all gonna evaporate yet.

I hope this entry has been an enlightening experience. As you can see, modern grief is truly the stuff of tragedies. Stupid, stupid tragedies. (But isn't the stupidity just part of what makes it all so tragic?) So if you can avoid such a tragedy, it's highly recommended. Don't grieve like these people. Turn to loved ones. Failing that, seek counseling. Get some candy, rent a movie you like. It's a rough ride, this life, and the best any of us can do is hang on before we're too weary and battered to go on. So if life's got you down, do what you need to in order to survive - though ideally not heroin, you'll never stop grieving then, if you know what I mean - and if all else fails, cast your eyes skyward and shout profanity. Not only will it let off a little of that steam, but you'll get to enjoy freaking everyone else around you out. Simple pleasures. These too are important to seek when suffering.

Keep an eye out. With any luck I'll come up with another good post here before the end of the week, to bring November to an even five. I was going to do a Thanksgiving post days ago, but only came up with a vague overall routine in my head for it. So I'll put the inevitable "things I'm thankful for" parody entry off until I can give you, dear (And yet also pitiable, by the very token that you're reading things I've written.) readers, something at least semi-funny. And really, isn't that the true meaning of life, procrastinating and embodying mediocrity? Or am I wrong to get that from looking at the human species as a whole? November's been a rough, stressful month anyway, finishing my graduation project papers. Do me a favor and keep your fingers crossed that I finally get to graduate in December. After suffering this inherently nerdy but still quite painful loss, I could really use some good news. Like all in this transitional phase, I'd really like to get on with my life. Especially to the parts where I get published and move somewhere else for a new start. As I'll doubtlessly ruminate on much in the future, I'm certainly one in sore need of escape from the rut he's been in for much of his youth. (With any luck, I won't get yelled at too much for my continual spamming of the Google group every time I write here, too. All part of the process of trying to build a reader base, after all. One of the toughest trials for the aspiring writer. Especially when you're kind of an eccentric, as I am.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Advize from El Sexperto

Hey, what up, bitches?

You can tell from my hip and witty opening that in the time since my last entry, I've become much more relevant and in tune with today's youth. You might even say I'm slammin'. I'm not entirely sure what slammin' means, but at least it's better than being the shit, right? Nobody wants to be excrement.

You may recall a confession made in here a little while ago that I'm not quite a scholar in the pleasing-womanly arts. In large part due to the fact that I've had few relationships and all of them were terrible. This, however, is no longer the case. I've become quite the Lothario since last week. In fact, you might even say I've become something of an expert on the matter of monster-battling - and by monster, I do mean genitalia, for those of you who weren't entirely clear on that.

As such, I am now just as qualified to write a sex advice column as that girl who goes to your college and is okay with talking about how much she sleeps around and feels that she's so knowledgeable and not-at-all-shallow in regards to the matter that she should be writing a column on sex for your university newspaper. (Note: She's actually quite shallow, and the utter meaninglessness of her relationships is regularly reflected in said column. Apparently 'nice guys' will never win because they're not 'bad boys,' and therefore they'll never be "hott" enough to sleep with anyone.) One might even say that I'm quite the sexpert now. In large part because women frequently refer to me as "teh smex," or "the sex," for those of you not quite as overly familiar with today's internet lingo. (Note: No one has ever referred to me as either of these things, nor is anyone ever likely to. People who use these phrases in real life are frequently killed for completely unrelated reasons.) Of course, "sexpert" may be copyrighted by someone, so you can refer to me now as your resident El Sexperto. (Because all women are apparently extremely attracted to all Spanish-speaking men. Except for the white guys who speak it as their second language. Funny what internet research can turn up. But not really.) Das caliente, non?

(Also, in order to improve the hipness quotient of this blog by 35% - a real figure that I just made up - I had to misspell "advice" in the subject. Studies have shown that today's youth demographics on the internet are way into improper spelling and outright incorrect grammar. Tubular, dudes. I can dig it.)

At any rate, without further ado, I'll be addressing some totally tripped/whacked/trundlebed'd out questions from readers. After this column, you'll be so enlightened about the ways of the horizontal spasm party that you might just go out and get yourself a piece! (Note: Advance studies have indicated that reading this column will not make you a better lover, and may in fact make you sterile instead. 89% of test readers went on to die alone. These are figures to take into account.)

Q: Der Smexperto,
lulz, I'm like, totally mackin' on my girlfriend and she won't gimme sum. Itz liek shez rooted 2 the ground. Wut do I do, dued?

- Angus in Albuquerque
A: Angus, you're probably dating a tree stump. It doesn't have a gender and it will never put out. I'm also certain that violating said tree stump would constitute some sort of abuse. As such, in the interests of being eco-friendly, I suggest seeking help. Professional help. And please, stop writing. I ran out of bad 'wood' jokes a long time ago. Your fetish for all things tree is deeply troubling.

Q: Hi,
My boyfriend and I have a really healthy sex life, and all, but I do have one complaint - the splinters. What we have may be hot, but I'm considering breaking up with him because I'm in so much pain after sex. It's hard to even find where to use the tweezers.
- Stacy in MA

A: Stacy, I hate to break it to you, but you may be dating a piece of plywood. Have you been reading Angus' letters? This isn't Wood Fetish Anonymous. Seriously, only write to me if you have a serious question about sex - but only with another human being.

Q: Sup?
How do you know if you're HIV-positive? I do a lot of needle drugs and this is a pretty pressing concern. Back when I was growing up - in the mid-90s - it was generally said to be okay to share needles. 'Be a pal, shoot up together!' Remember that slogan? How those marketing wizards came up with that (expletive deleted) is beyond me.
- Dan in Lizard Lick

A: You know, this is a sex column. What is wrong with you people? Do you not believe me?! Anyway, it's a good idea to take the initiative and go to your local clinic for an HIV test. If you're a candidate for the AIDS, it's better you be careful not to risk spreading it, at least until you know for certain. By which I mean you'd be especially certain not to spread it then. I don't want another backlash like I got from my science column ten years ago, "You Can Fly!: An average human's guide to defying gravity through sheer willpower." Nobody seemed to object to all the crippling and death that resulted from people jumping off of buildings, but you make one off-hand AIDS joke and you're an outcast in the science community for life. Also, that slogan you referenced? It never existed. Are you on dru- oh, yeah.

Q: I'm a little concerned,
Whenever my boyfriend and I make love, he calls out his father's name upon climax. How can I get him to call out my name instead? Or at least stop this. I'm at a loss.
- Catherine in Idaho

A: Wow, Catherine. That is one grade-A creepy situation you have on your hands. From my vast knowledge of the human psyche gleaned from a couple of basic level Psych classes in high school and college, I can diagnose that without a doubt, your boyfriend is actually transgendered, and has one hell of an Electra Complex. I'm not sure what to suggest beyond either breaking up or therapy. Or maybe he could get a sex change and you could become a lesbian. At least a temporary one, like those Girls Gone Wild chicks. They sure don't agree to be exploited and end up regretting their experimentation on tape for the rest of their life in any case, no sirree. Why do I hear from all the weirdos?

Q: Pfft,
D00d, check out my grandma-

A: NOPE. Not doing this one.

Q: I'm bleeding pretty badly here,
Sexperto man, how do you sew your mangled genitals back on after losing them in a freak wood chipper accident when trying to get to those sweet, sweet tree pieces?
- Bleeding to Death in Boise
A: That's it. I'm done.

So, were you enlightened? I know I wasn't. In fact, I kind of feel like killing myself now. What the hell is wrong with you people? You're all sick freaks. Stop screwing around, we don't need any of you accidentally reproducing!

That said, I'm never writing one of these ever again. Not only will I never be able to be intimate with a woman ever again after reading your letters, but I burst into tears whenever I see a tree. Especially those poor conifers.

If there were a god, you'd all be dead.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to cry myself to sleep in the fetal position.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Struck Out and Synthetic Love

The political right wing here, as of recent years, has not been overly fond of respecting people's rights. Workers' rights in particular seem to be especially uncool, with all their efforts to support the dissolving of unions. It would seem that they'd like us to believe that workers' only right should be to do what they're told by their employer, as so to remain employed and receive a paycheck at all. Clearly, these fellows are the epitome of decent, sympathetic human beings, like many on the right, valuing gigantic companies far more than the common man and woman in our workforce. But this isn't exactly an uncommon sentiment in our blindly capitalistic, consumeristic society. After all, there's happiness in those thar products! Open your wallets, lasses and knaves! Give us enough and we'll plug the joy right into your veins! (Please note: Nothing purchased will ever bring you happiness but we'd like you to continue operating under that misconception so that you'll continue giving us your money in pursuit of a fantasy at the end of a rainbow.)

Despite these union-stomping efforts, they couldn't stop the biggest strike in years - the Writer's Guild of America strike that began on Monday. Writers weren't getting a cut of the profits on DVD sales and internet viewings of episodes. The networks liked this - the less people there are getting a cut of the profits from whatever they can separate them from, the more money the network gets out of it - so instead of settling, here we are. The Screen Actors Guild is supporting this strike as well, with its outcome affecting what shares of the profits actors receive as well. Of course, the networks don't want to shell out said share of the profits, and once again - it's strike time. (Which is kind of like Hammer Time, but more important in the scheme of workers' rights, while Hammer Time really only affects a mostly-forgotten rapper from the early '90s and internet people who won't let the joke go.)

So far, the strike has hit day-to-day programming the hardest. Talk shows of all kinds, late night comedy, things like that. With the writers not getting the appreciation they've deserved in their cut of the fruits of their labors, the networks are taking hits already. People like fresh programming, as do advertisers. The reruns they're falling back on will only stymie their losses for so long, and they know this. When the time comes, they'll sit down, and they'll settle. But as writers are largely unappreciated in daily life, this strike underscores their importance. Without them, television effectively falls apart, after all. And primetime programming is just beginning to see the strike's effects. Without writers, sitcoms are halted, as are ultimately dramas as well. (Luckily for myself, nothing I watch has run out of scripts yet.) Though for some, this strike may come as a reprieve. Fame can have a creepy cost at times.

At times like this, all one can do is hope for a swift and just end to the strike, and in the least, take a minute out to appreciate the importance of these writers in our daily lives. Even if most of what's on TV is garbage.

---

Oh boy, just what you were hoping for! The second half of this entry is going back to the shorter one from earlier this week.

For those who've been by the link in the past day or so, the guy finally found his "dream girl." Conveniently.

It's something alright, when someone sees a woman and creates a whole fantasy in his head where he must know her and have her. Though it could just as easily be seen as rationalizing wanting to sleep with her, when faced by the fact that he doesn't know her or anything about her. A moment of what is effectively no more than lust - pure physical attraction - romanticized by those sucked into the scheme on the internet.

After a moment like that, most people move on with their lives and don't think about it. But the guy's a decent looking hipster, so instead of being weird or creepy, it's romantic. (And let's not forget the part where he doesn't take any kind of realistic approach to the issue. Instead of using one of any number of missed connection services easily found for free online, he makes a staged video hosted on a Youtube knockoff just now conveniently hoping to take off and become a solid competitor, in addition to making a cheesy little trendy website.) This was all about the spectacle - the viral effect, the attention, the fifteen minutes of fame everybody's seeking these days, through the "Look at me!" internet effect.

If this guy were ugly, he wouldn't get away with this - it wouldn't have gone viral. Instead, everyone'd be calling him out, and looking at this whole situation as unhealthy. But there's good marketing in here, tapping into people's overt sentimentality - typical of people, but there you go - just taking a moment of lust on a subway and trying to repaint it as love, when even in reality, that's nothing to go on, let alone enough to call someone the "girl of your dreams."

In this real life place where most of us live, it doesn't matter how good you look externally - someone can be perfectly gorgeous and amazing in bed, but utterly worthless and incompatible with you as a real lover, as a companion, and all that love actually entails. In love, you yearn for someone for who they are, not some pretty stranger you know nothing about. That's when you just move on, normally. Rather than re-enacting a terrible Lance Bass movie to promote a website. Nobody's the anything of your dreams just because you stared at them on a train. But vimeo and the magazine (At which the woman is an intern.) involved have obviously done their work - they got these kids on the national news. (And oddly enough, it's hard not to feel kind of old here, being older than both these people, when even at my age, plenty of people aren't finding the magical perfect entirely one-sided (Though that's clearly irrelevant here, it's romantic, after all!) love. Even less so at that age. Most people spend their early twenties figuring out just what love actually is.)

They've succeeded in creating their spectacle - a media circus, in which everything's far too convenient and unreal. While the saps just keep cheering them on. "Hooray complete strangers who only just met in a stunt, indulge our fantasies of an ideal and unrealistic love!" Actual love doesn't get made into a spectacle like this. (At least, assuming your love is real and you respect the genuineness of said feelings, as well as the other person involved. And also assuming that you aren't obsessing over a stranger on a train.) I just have to hope like hell no one misinterprets what I'm doing as a cheap stunt to sell a book, as that absolutely is not the case. I'm not slapping it in everyone's faces or trying to make that a selling point or using it to garner attention as is. It's just a matter of something I'm tying to quietly do, with meaning and dignity. A stunt like this "girl of dreams" one would effectively cheapen it. In real life, a long shot grasp at a stranger would rarely if ever work out. There's a million things that would have gone wrong, complications. This is all obviously manufactured. Everything is too convenient.

In my case, I actually know the person I'm reaching out to. It's a matter of reconnection, as opposed to calling on a stranger to create one that never existed before. As it's only natural to do in this guy's case, my love has been questioned plenty of times before - both by myself and others. It's something you really should do, ultimately, as questioning yourself is typically the best way to break down that which should be, while likewise reinforcing that which is true. And I have tried to get over her and move on - you don't stay in love with the same person unrequited for over half a decade without putting up one hell of a fight. While there's plenty of beautiful, interesting women out there, I do not meet them, and people, whether women or guys, who have any chemistry with me as friends - let alone as lovers in the case of the women - are extremely rare. I don't meet lots of people, I don't talk to lots of people, I don't make a lot of connections, but I've made enough regularly enough in my lifetime to realize how little chemistry I have with most people, and how incompatible I am with nearly everybody on the love wavelength. I tried to feel things for others I couldn't feel. I tried to create connections that couldn't last when of artificial construct. I tried to stop thinking about her entirely, and to focus on other things - it's a matter of love, not obsession here, after all. I can live and function without her. And even go many stretches of months without thinking about her. But regardless of my efforts, my heart won't change. I have to be honest and realistic - and try as I might, I can't just walk away from this rare, precious connection. I've learned the hard way how few real connections you will make in your lifetime. In the very least, I owe it to both her and myself to be honest about my feelings. If it all blows up in my face and nothing good ever happens as a result, then that's what'll happen, but at least I'll have been honest, even in self-destruction. It's not as though that's my end goal here, but beyond saying how I feel here and putting that out there, I have little control over where the outcome goes from there, at least unless things take some turns I'm not expecting.

Call me a cynic if you feel that you must, but I simply prefer to temper my perceptions of love with a little realism, in all its perceived negative trappings, rather than give myself over to the illusion of a perfect, far-too-convenient fairytale romance. The world may be full of suckers for them, but these are not real love stories. The real thing's a hell of a lot more difficult and complicated than that, and if anything, it's our preoccupation with the unattainable perfect fairytale romance that leaves so many people alone and miserable with our ever-climbing divorce rates. As old Robert Frost put it best, "Nothing gold can stay."