Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This Week on Celebrity Autopsy

Thrills! Spills! Chills!
Looks like that baby bump was a tumor after all!
All the news you never wanted on your favorite celebrities and more - from beyond the grave!

Naturally, you realize that give or take another year or two, a real TV show like this is inevitable. You thought you loved them before? Love them more as we make the lifeless meat puppets they've been reduced to dance around for your entertainment and pantomime public service announcements! Prepare to save 15% on your car insurance - OR ELSE.

Did you get chills? Did you?

So, America has one thing occupying its mind as of late, and it's a heavy, heavy matter - celebrity deaths. Yeah, gnarly, right? (Well, there's also the effective Political Fistfights! the news media's trying to make the primary process out to be, when what we're seeing is the usual political bickering and some worthwhile commentary on how ridiculously oversensationalized election coverage is becoming - to the point at which it's hurting our democracy. But then, let's face it, democracy's been essentially dead in America for some time now. But don't worry, world! If you feel like criticizing us, we'll come "liberate" you with our increasingly-exhausted military and try to force you to be just like us with our broken patchwork government system! The future is bright! Democracy flourishes when you wave around a bunch of guns and say it does! Also, much of America is still laughing about some dangerous cult.) Sure, we could be focusing on more meaningful things, like finding a real answer to our economic crisis (Yes, Bush, all we need is another tax cut for the rich and for you to flip the rest of us the bird, that'll slap a band-aid on our problem.) or actually paying attention to just how much this administration has lied to us to push this war alone, maybe start calling for actual accountability and oversight, maybe a little of those old-fashioned laws that used to apply to the people in power. But then, what do I know? Hey, look, a dead celebrity, let's mourn their passing as though it's 9/11 all over again! If only we had another nation to blame and bomb!

Was that overdramatic of me? Maybe a little, maybe a little, but what cynic isn't fuming these days?

Earlier this month, Brad Renfro was found dead, with the cause of death still undetermined. Some sort of drug overdose is commonly speculated to be the cause, as he fought his own addiction demons throughout his life, and like many, it looks as though he may have succumbed to them. It's a shame, as he wasn't a bad actor - I'll just remember him for playing one of the few relatively sane characters in Ghost World, which was a fantastic movie. His fans continue to mourn, the media gave him a little time, and then moved on.

A week later, and now just a week ago, Heath Ledger was also found dead in his own apartment, with an official cause undetermined as well. Going on report and talks, however, it seems he either overdosed on sleeping pills or took them with something he shouldn't have by accident, as it seems more likely it wasn't a suicide. Ever since one of the world's favorite bisexual cowboys kicked it, little else in the news has mattered. Admittedly, I was never a particular fan of Ledger's, though I have nothing but sympathy for his family and friends, and on a more human level, there's no denying the tragedy of his passing. (On a professional level, I'm admittedly feeling particularly sympathetic to Terry Gilliam, who was nowhere near finished with the film he was working on with Ledger.) I'm especially sympathetic to Michelle Williams and their kid, as what they're going through now is a kind of pain I know I'm not familiar with, but that it must be devastating. Even now, a hate group's planning to picket his funeral. (A church hate group - y'know, that special kinda hate Jesus gets behind. At least, according to these depressing loonies.) And hey, Brokeback Mountain may not have been the end-all, be-all of cinema by any stretch of imagination, but it introduced something positive into the mainstream here. Sadly, it figures we'd see something like this even in Ledger's untimely death, simply because some hate-filled individuals have no sense of respect or human decency.

Both of these guys weren't that much older than myself, certainly still in their prime in life. Going on what seems most likely, one simply couldn't beat his own addictions before it was too late, while the other's death was an accident that any of us could easily make - especially when exhausted. When young and living such an active life, it's not uncommon for many to feel like they're immortal. But in the end, those of us in our youth have been given something of a memento mori by these two - a reminder that we're still human, that we still not only can, but inevitably will die.

There's no thinking on this without reflecting on one's own mortality some, never knowing where Death lurks upon his pale horse, ever vigilant to our various personal deficiencies. As humans, we're all inherently flawed creatures on many levels, and death comes far more easily than we like to think about or appreciate. In and of itself, death is inherently tragic, but without death, life loses much of its definition. Life itself is precious by the very token of the fact that it can and will end. We don't know the when, where, or how until it's too late in nearly all cases. But we can learn this much from all this - don't take your life for granted. Death may have taken two talented actors from cinema in recent weeks, but you? You're still alive. Take time out to appreciate everything and everyone you can. Even the little things, like hot chocolate in winter, or a cheesy in-joke between friends - especially things like the curve of a loved one's smile. These are things to cherish and remember, for someday, we shall all be gone. It is best, if you can, to live as openly, honestly, and fully until that time. To enjoy all that you can and die with as few regrets as possible, given that it's virtually impossible to pass on without at least some regrets. Human existence is in and of itself a flawed and bittersweet symphony, after all. Get out there and celebrate.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Harrowing Notions of Happiness

Hello there again, "blogosphere." Did you miss me? Of course you did. But it's okay - I'm here now. And I already have general ideas for a very few upcoming entries in my head now. So while I'm sure you panicked after reading that last entry and seeing my terrifying writer's block, I'm of sound mind to babble in your general direction once more.

The subject this time? Awesome Hats Across History!

Or it would have been, but sadly, George "Rufus" Carlin hit me with a restraining order after I wouldn't stop bugging him about that time machine phone booth of his. He keeps claiming the Bill & Ted movies weren't documentaries. Who'd have thought he was such a nutjob? Bill & Ted? Not documentaries? Pshh. Yeah, right.

In the meantime, you'll have to settle for something else. You're accustomed to settling for things, right? Yeah, That's what I thought.

As I talked about a bit in the last entry, I've been trying to get the readerbase for this blog to grow naturally, organically, rather than trying to shove my url down every internet-person's gullet. (My blog is not a food!) As such, this thing? It does not get a ton of hits. Though that's not for a lack of trying. All I can do is keep doing this thing where I keep writing unusual things someone might want to read. Then maybe, just maybe, they'd be compelled to read through all of my archives here and stick around. That's called salesmanship. (Note: No, it is not.) Anyway, getting to the point, I joined one of those social blogging sites where people pimp their word-filled wares, so to speak, and work hard collectively to convince themselves that blogging is still hip and relevant. (It's all about interpretive dance on Youtube now - get with the times, nerds!) It's hard to find people with similarly odd blogs and all that, but I've apparently made enough of a splash (See: Still effectively almost none at all.) to have been tagged with a meme. (A meme!? Me!? ... No, don't give me any pity laughs there, I know, I earned that look of contempt with that one.) So, without further ado, instead of my usual stuff, I say to you, "Meme me up, Scotty!" (This one makes more sense if you know how meme's pronounced.)

You Are 56% Happy

You're definitely a happy person, even though you have your down moments.

You tend to get the most out of life, though there's always some more happiness to be squeezed.

How Happy Are You?

So, that thing. Yeah. Blogthings is pretty popular online. (How 'bout that color theme clashing with this blog, huh?) Never really thought I'd drop one into an entry on here, what with my main focus on my stupid ramblings and literary aspirations. But hey, content is content. (This blog is not jumping the shark! It's just doing something a little different, that's all.)

Anyway, looking at the results and the actual factors they took into account, I have to turn my nose up with a self-important "Harrumph!" (I'm actually a 19th century British gentleman, for those of you who were until now unaware. With a monocle and everything.) Happy is one of the last words I'd use to describe myself. I'm an irate, misanthropic oaf, after all, who's excessively stressed out these days and has been quite displeased with much of the usual goings-ons in life for many months and years now. Future in returning to academics? Unclear and somewhat anxiety-inducing, and will be until I manage to get into a grad school, actually start school, and adapt to a comfortable routine, as I eventually did at my undergrad school. Love? All I'm doing in regards to that is a pretty ridiculous long shot that I certainly can't hold my breath over. That's another important aspect of life I'd hardly call happy. Career? Finishing this book is stressful enough in and of itself, though I'm pouring my heart into it, and even thinking about how hard it'll be to get published within this year is even more stressful. Am I a happy person? No, of course not.

What I am, however, that fits the test's criteria better, is an individual who isn't certainly hopelessly optimistic or naive, but who has learned from their experiences. Like anybody else, I've faced my trials and tribulations and overcome much. Of course, I've fallen flat on my face just as often too, which is simply another part of the human experience - if you haven't suffered painful failure, you're still missing something important. Though it's not so fun suffering it repeatedly. And I wasn't about to lie, as I certainly would have had to, in order to get better, higher results on the test. I'm as flawed as anyone, I have my own baggage to carry, and I have my own hangups that naturally come with experience, particularly of the unpleasant variety. But ultimately, while I don't agree with my results - and hell, what good are internet tests and memes beyond giving us a little extra blogging fodder anyway? - I don't feel bad about it, either. I may not be happy, but frankly, what's wrong with being unhappy? Most people are unhappy. Very few really ever know what true happiness is, or experience even a hint of it. We exist in more neutral, subtle shades of gray. At least I'm making an effort at pursuing my dreams, as ridiculous as my writing aspirations surely are, and still taking a chance in hopelessly pursuing someone I love, even if odds are damned good, I'd say, that we'd never end up together, and I'll never know true happiness myself - though spending time with her was the closest I've gotten. Even if I end up destined for complete failure in everything important to me, it's important to at least make the attempt - the statements, the gestures, the effort. It's better than just giving up entirely, like so many do.

And in the end, what is happiness, anyway? How easily can we define it? Is it not something more specifically tailored to the individual, as opposed to a mere universal ideal that no one can agree completely upon? More shades of gray. More complex equations. Life and the human emotions that come with it are complicated matters. Far more so than a cheesy, cute little blog quiz like this even attempts to adequately approach.

At the rate I'm going, I'm risking this thing turning into a philosophy dissertation.

There was another part to the meme, I think - a love/hate thing. But I'm not sure if I was supposed to do that too, haha. I'll pass for now, I think, having rambled your eyes off enough. Hopefully this was satisfactory enough for all interested parties, anyway. This meme thing isn't an every day sort of thing for me, after all. And I don't know enough people out here in this blogging world to really pass it on to anybody in particular. So hey, if you feel like taking the quiz and rambling about happiness yourself, knock yourself out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is Your Winter Discontent?

Writer's block - don't you just love it? No, this one's not going to be a random stupid humor one, or a love one, though I know those seem to generate the most hits - at least from the handful of people who know this blog exists.

As a writer, it was inevitable that I'd have to sit down and write one of these writer's block entries at some point. And who doesn't love surfing the blog-o-hexagonal-prism for entries written by jackasses essentially babbling about not knowing what to say, or what to write. Spiral Reverie's been active for a little over half a year now, and every once in a while, when I'm lucky, a few people here and there will drop by and put up with my ramblings for one interval or another. (That or they took a wrong turn in one of those cyberspace-tubes. I did that once and ended up stuck in the belly of a whale. I had to keep commenting loudly and obnoxiously on where I was at the time - I'm in the BELLY OF A WHALE! - until the pitiable creature took it upon itself to end its life and thusly rid itself of me. The things we do for survival.) Over half a year in, and what sort of internet presence have I established? Not much of one, that's for sure. (I can hear all the seasoned bloggers laughing at my acting for a moment as though that weren't standard faire.) I've joined some communities, tried posting on blogging sites, and so forth, but predictably, I haven't found my niche. I'm not sure where on the internets there'd be a convenient little community of some sort or another for blogging aspiring authors to convene and converse. Let alone if there'd be.

This blogging thing is tough - hahaha - always trying to find something unique and meaningful to say. Sure, there's plenty of other blogs out there that focus on things easier to generate content on - show business, video games, music, blog-profiteering, llama farming - but when the core of your blog is off-beat writing and reflections, coming up with things to write about is no walk in the park. Sure, I've written some stupid stories now and then, but far as I can tell, those haven't gone over too well. A Something Awful writer, I am not. Political rants can be satisfying, but they're exhausting, and rarely seem to do anything for the blog and its few readers. And writing on love is incredibly emotionally draining. Cynical as I am, I have to get into a certain state of mind I rarely find to write that way. Though writing on that seems to be my most popular subject, far as I've been able to tell. It's a challenge, though, finding your target audience when writing a blog of this variety. Many days, I'm entirely lacking in inspiration, and most blog readers out there like to seem to focus on single-minded blogs that focus on filling a need in a certain particular subject. I'm almost envious of the bloggers who can sit down and stick to a single subject. When it comes to the subject of writing itself, I'm never quite sure what to say. Hey kids, I'm an aspiring novelist! This whole writing thing sure is swell! So I'm left drawing a blank, just trying to find something, anything worth writing about that others might want to read. But I'd imagine there probably isn't a huge crowd out there thinking to themselves, "Boy, I'd sure like to keep up with the aimless meanderings of a blog written by some loser aspiring author who might not even be published anytime soon!" When granted, this blog was largely started to try to cultivate a bit of an early audience and eventually keep up with readers after establishing myself and getting my books out there on shelves, advertised and such by then so that a few more people in this world might've heard of me and what I'm doing. Almost a shame I'm not trying to obnoxiously commercialize or trendify (Which is now a word!) my romantic or professional situations. I'm not that hip or cool. Just a nerdy, awkward guy at a strange place in his life - trying to finish this book, find an agent and publishing, and get into a grad school in New England this fall to pursue something in creative writing.

The grad school thing is daunting enough alone. I haven't taken the GRE or GMAT yet, so I'm going to have to look into more details so I understand exactly what they entail and how I can prepare for either. Then, I'm not entirely sure how the standard grad school thing works, beyond going back to school for another year or two (Or more depending on the degree you're going for.), taking some more challenging classes, and eventually writing another big paper so they can slap you with another degree. I have, naturally, concerns in regards to getting into a creative writing program, when I took few writing classes in my undergraduate years, largely due to a less than stellar program at my undergraduate school - though at least the courses were interesting, and taught by good professors. I don't have anything close to any kind of English degree, and my first inclination is to assume that grad schools want their students to generally continue pursuing a higher level of the subjects they got any and all degrees in. (And honestly, while International Studies was very fascinating and I gained a lot of interesting knowledge about Asian history and the working of the world, if I ever have to listen to another lecture on globalization, I might just shoot myself. And while I loved Japanese, I'm far too rusty now to pursue anything of that on a graduate level, I'd imagine - especially when the program at my undergraduate school only went through a minor.) So, at least, I end up under the impression that I'm probably screwed in regards to getting into a grad school and studying something I'd really like to, polishing my writing even more. But then, I've heard that plenty of grad schools like to admit students with diverse backgrounds, studying all sorts of different things, and in and of that, I might actually have a legitimate shot at getting into one of these programs - which I'd really like to. It's a confusing, frustrating situation, and the time element has me stressed out - especially with my efforts to finish Project 27 Days in that time and begin the agent/publisher hunt. My relative cluelessness about all this leaves me feeling very young and small, an odd juxtaposition to how often I feel like a bitter old man in my cynicism. It's an odd place to be in one's life - getting into your mid-twenties - caught between higher education and the ever-brutal "real world" just waiting to tear you apart and trap you in the same kind of soul-crushing 9-5 work-obsessed lifestyle so many waste away in. The sort of atmosphere that would simply wither an already exhausted creature like myself.

And so here I am, an awkward aspiring novelist hoping to - against all likelihood - get his first novel published before Spring 2009 and struggling in late January to find meaningful subjects to write on. The pressure online is that you must write regularly, and quality content, no less, if you hope to keep the readers coming, to maintain your reader base, and to find new ones. But with my sort of blog, coming up with meaningful and funny things to write about once or twice a week is easier said than done. It figures that once I really started making serious progress on finishing Project 27 Days, I'd start blanking out on things to write here more often, for the few of you who stick around. Advertising is key too, and I've never been spectacular about that - I'm never sure of where to go to advertise to get my traffic up, and services I've joined, while they've undoubtedly helped, haven't exactly produced the "crazy traffic explosion" I always hear about. I feel like an obnoxious ass trying to get people to come here, too, though I know advertisement is an important part of success as a blogger. "If you build it, they will come" doesn't quite cut it. Nor my general idea that "If I write it and get it on bookshelves, they'll eventually come."

Not to mention, it's late January. As much as I love winter, this is one of the tougher parts of it, leading up into the Valentine's season, choked with that painful, commercialized "You're nobody unless somebody loves you" attitude that I find downright depressing. I love, though I'm undoubtedly not loved by the one I love. (Now that's lovely sentence structure, isn't it?) But I'm sure as hell not nobody. I'm just somebody who's still effectively nobody in the grand scheme of things - and in the end, that's what we all are. But at least, I'm hoping to someday, within the coming years, be somebody - even if it's the most insignificant somebody - in the literary world. I want to write stories that make people feel, whether they laugh, or cry, or feel anything else on the grand spectrum of human emotion. I want to do something good and worthwhile for this world. Something worth noting - even if I don't really amount to anybody in the eyes of the one I love, in the end. I want to make a meaningful contribution to literature, and culture, and I'm tired of feeling like I don't do anything for anybody. I want to do something profound, like I'm trying to do in love - even if it's stupid, and in my cynicism, I know I probably won't succeed. It's important to me that I attempt this, that I keep trying until I succeed, even if it kills me. I just can't stand being one of those mopey people who spend their whole life in this world taking from it, and others. I want to give something back - to live, and love. Rather than resign myself to spending the last of my days as a meaningless background character in my own life, as I have for far too long.

I really wish we'd get some snow here - some real snow, rare as it is for North Carolina. We had a light dusting on saturday, after I saw some of my friends on friday for the last time until who knows when - isolation again, huzzah! - and enjoyed just hanging out, talking, and watching lots of comedy on the Wii Internet Channel. The dusting of snow we got that next day, however, didn't cover much, and melted the next morning. There aren't any further signs of snow on the horizon. New England seems to get hit with snow and ice often enough, much as a nuisance I'm sure it is to some people. I've always loved the weather, though. A factor in my wanting to get to that part of the country, in addition to the political climate and general regional culture being of interest to me. I've always been out of place in the south. And I'm not expecting to conveniently find my place up north. But it'd be a step up - a start to getting out of the rut I'm stuck in within my own life in general. Snow has a certain magic to it that no other weather can match, hence my focus upon that sort of snowy environment in Project 27 Days. The harsh winter air stings as it winds around you, and leaves you feeling alive. It can be cold, lonely, painful, and desolate. I've known these things much firsthand. But coming in out of the cold and warming up is a wonderful feeling. Enjoying snowy weather with friends can be incredibly fun, and it's something I miss. And though I lack firsthand experience in that regard, I've always imagined that winter would be the best time of year to be close with a loved one. To warm one another and your hearts, and truly take in the magic of the season and weather. Sad as it probably sounds, it's a dream of mine, though not one I'm expecting to come true. As much as I'm putting into what I'm attempting with Project 27 Days, even if I manage to get it published and out across the country within 2008, I can't hold my breath and pretend there's any guarantee of it reaching her heart.

Ah, sorry to bore you with my prattlings. And vent at you, as well. I'm in a blogging rut at the moment, and dealing with all kinds of stress and pressure in my daily life, so I'm a bit on the downcast side. And that gets worse when I'm tired as I am at the moment. I need to find something interesting and worthwhile to write about that people might actually read, just maybe. Got any suggestions? Anything in particular you'd like more of, or that you'd like to see my thoughts on in general? This place isn't exactly the most popular of blogging corners of the internet, so I'm not expecting any responses, but in the off-chance that one of you random passer-bys reads this, how about leaving a comment? Any sort of thoughts, really. Hopefully I'll get out of this and be back to bringing you interesting reads before too long. (If you considered this place at all interesting before, anyway.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ambition and Unrequited Love

Another entry on love - don't you all just love these? Seems to be one of the subjects I'm capable of writing somewhat more compellingly on, anyway, so pull up a seat, grab your snack of choice, and hopefully enjoy.

In life, we've all our own aspirations - owning that house, having those kids to live vicariously through, winning that lottery, beating up that celebrity - and sometimes, every now and then, people's aspirations turn to something soft and sappy. Specifically, I'm talking about that love stuff. (Because everyone reaches that certain point when they're too old to be anything but pathetic in searching for meaningless sex, and when that time comes, you've gotta begin that desperate search for someone, anyone, willing to settle for you. That way, you don't have to feel so alone and can pretend you're actually in love with each other. Pop out some kids, while you're at it! Nothing strengthens an already fundamentally broken relationship like chucking some children into the equation!) Yeah, that junk some of the people you slept with along the way might've felt for you - and that you also might've felt for them. (Yeah, remember that time you wanted to see someone you slept with again, and not just for more sex? Clearly, ignoring and dismissing that impulse was your finest hour.) Or hey, remember that friend you had that you flirted with and had this unspoken and unacknowledged romantic tension with for years that maybe one of you should have said something about? And instead you let yourselves get out of touch instead of trying to stay in contact and really be open and honest about everything, because you might risk making yourselves vulnerable to one another, let alone perhaps even risk falling in love. There was always something more that needed to be said, something more to be done. Instead, you both stubbornly kept your traps shut in hopes that if anything were to happen, you wouldn't be the one to initiate it. Now that's love in the modern world.

As people become more afraid to truly open up to one another, to reach out and connect on the deepest levels (The kinds that actually don't involve genitalia.), unrequited love becomes all the more common an affliction. In my case, this is compounded by a history of scarring experiences with love and intimacy and my own introversion and general beta maleness. (Opposite the stereotypical alpha male, we live quiet, unobtrusive lives and tend not to do remarkable things, with risk evasion a central pillar of our character. Though obviously, both of these classifications are oversimplifications of individual character, simply going on sets of traits that tend to go hand-in-hand with many people.) These matters quickly turn something important in life, as we woefully incomplete creatures by nature ricochet around like pinballs, searching for someone to love and be loved by, into one's own personal Mt. Everest. And we humans? Most of us don't have it in us to climb - let alone surmount - a personal mountain of that scale.

Now, I'm not exactly a bag of sunshine and puppies myself, let alone any sort of optimist. My experiences with love have taught me firsthand that if I'm to use my brain at all in matters of the heart, it should be to suppress any impulse to say anything or act on any feeling. You fool, do you want everything to go horribly wrong again!? That's just how it is. Never anything along the lines of: Hey, she actually likes you as a person! You might just have a shot! Just imagine, what if she has feelings for you too! Going on experience, my brain immediately dismisses that possibility. Yeah, whatever, douchebag. My brain is kind of an asshole, but sadly, that's the product of my experiences. Traumatic love experiences do not beget confidence or optimism. I've been openly cynical and skeptical of all things love for a very long time now, even to the point of suspicion of my own feelings until I can ascertain that they are what I'm really feeling beyond the shadow of a doubt. That usually isn't too difficult though, at least, having learned to trust my own feelings more in recent years, and for some unfathomable reason, having actually developed a modicum of self-esteem - believe it or not.

Despite being that sort of person - hardly the picture of what women typically find attractive, going on firsthand experience and what I've always been told - I'm breaking beta male character, as I've touched on here before, in dedicating my first novel to a woman I've been in love with for nearly 6 years now and never confessed my feelings to. (I am finally doing so through plot subtext in this novel.) Despite plans to finish it by the end of last summer falling flat, my efforts to complete it by this coming spring (ETA sometime in March or April) are coming along smoothly. In fact, just the other day, I completed my full, polished draft of the first chapter and began sending it to test readers. I tend to be my own harshest critic at all times, in all aspects of life, but my readers so far, they have had no complaints in regards to the chapter. In fact, they apparently loved it, and are looking forward to the rest now. A bit of an ego booster to be sure, as I'm hardly used to being complimented, and never know how to take compliments. (Hence my not exactly responding to complimentary comments on here, though believe me, I do appreciate the kind words. They're quite encouraging.) And with that important milestone reached, I'm beginning to feel a bit of a nervous adrenaline rush. I've never gone so far as to do anything of this scale for anybody, after all. And as I've established, I'm no optimist - even at best, I'm expecting embarrassing rejection in front of the internet and world, in having publicly written at all about what I'm doing here. (Not with any goal of making this a spectacle in mind, but to personally challenge myself to admit things publicly I generally struggle with, and simply be honest with myself when effectively facing my entire bad history with love and standing up to it and all the baggage that entails.) I've already begun to lose sleep over the very thought of what I could be facing by later this year or sometime next year whenever the book hits shelves - as I need to find an agent and publisher within 2008 if it kills me (In the least, I've been getting good encouragement from readers, which definitely helps to spur me along in finishing this project and beginning the aggressive search for an agent, as I am writing this to be a story people would get something out of and want to read - something professional, that would sell. Of course, every other aspiring author on the internet says this, no doubt, but I will not allow myself to be knocked down. There is far too much at stake to settle for less, especially when working under a somewhat limited time frame.) - since as you can imagine, in going this far to express one's feelings for someone that you've kept buried for so long (And I can pretty much guarantee that this is the grandest thing I'll ever do for love. I don't know how I could top it, personally, and if it fails as it likely will, knowing my luck (Though it'd be fantastic if I were wrong for once, and something incredible came of my taking a risk like this, breaking out of my usual shell.), it just cements my being an epic failure in love.) tends to produce a great deal of anxiety. But I'll learn to deal with it.

(That last paragraph was a real mess with all those parentheses. I promise you my novel writing is a lot cleaner and easier to read than that. Best if you take the parentheses and the madness they make reading that paragraph as an indication of the havoc the complexities of love can easily wreak upon one's thought processes grammatically.)

At any rate, as I move further into 2008, the completion of my first novel - which is easily the best work I've ever written - and move towards the agent/publisher hunt are so close that I can practically feel them at my fingertips. It's both terrifying and exhilarating at once. Overwhelming, even. Having finished my undergraduate half-decade of college, the real world is coming at me full force as I juggle looking into grad school with getting a driver's license, establishing myself financially so I can manage loans for grad school, all while finishing up and moving to publish my first novel and pour out the contents of my heart to a woman I've owed that much to for many years now. I feel like I've just jumped out of a jet, and am caught in the free fall, keeping my fingers crossed that my parachute opens and everything works out before I hit the ground and gloriously completely self-destruct. Life, the real world, love - these are all terrifying things. But if you don't face them all head-on, then what is life?

There we go, a first blog entry of '08 that some of you might find worth reading. If you are interested in seeing the first chapter of Project 27 Days posted as a teaser in here, leave a comment, as I am quite tempted to post it here sometime in the coming month or two in order to see if I an drum up a little more interest before publication. I need this to succeed one way or another if it kills me, easily being the most important thing I've set out to do in this foolish, awkward life of mine. At any rate, it's always nice to get a little feedback, rarely as I do. And as usual, thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Primary Pandemonium

No matter where you go, no matter your efforts to hide away from the truth, it's inescapable - we're in an election year. We're all eager to get rid of George W. Bush, sure. In fact, if American democracy were healthy, the system of checks and balances functional, and the American people not easily manipulated by fear-mongering, we'd have rid ourselves of this corrupt lot in charge years ago.

Primary season has begun, and the ranks of candidates in the running have thinned. (The Democrats more than the Republicans - Republican candidates have a hard time admitting when they don't have a chance, after all, they can always pull a few strings, if push comes to shove. You voted for Mike Gravel? Looks like you're an Alan Keyes booster now! At this point in time, we still need eight rich guys waving their hands, going "Ooh! Ooh! I can be like Bush too!") Of course, as many issues as we've seen bandied about between the candidates in the battle for our votes - and in turn, our nation's future (Before we become one big Starbucks franchulate, anyway. Would you like some coffee, Canada? Try our new banana nutmeg flavor! It's Americalicious!) - one important issue has gone practically ignored by the media. Rarely have they questioned any of those running on this issue at this critical juncture.

Just what is this issue, you ask? The definitive question of whether they're going to stand up for a woman's right to choose as misogynists continue their campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade? Whether they'd ever agree to dissolve the electoral system and allow every individual's vote to mean the same? If they even cared about health care access for the impoverished - including cave trolls? None of the above, I'm afraid, important questions as they are. No, the issue I'm speaking of here is none other than the looming threat posed by cyborgs to not only America, but the world as we know it. These cyborgs have permeated our society for far too long. First they came to eat our brains and steal our identities and precious, precious knowledge of infomercials. Then they began to make our coffee, drive our combine harvesters, fly our spacecraft, even steal our wallets! These cyborgs walk amongst us - and they must be stopped.

But a few candidates have spoken on - let alone acknowledged the existence of - these cyborgs. And so, you should peruse this information when voting in your state's primary and ultimately casting the deciding votes in November. Will we be a nation at war with itself? Or will we simply let the cyborg menace continue on unnoticed?

Let's start with the Democratic candidates:

Mike Gravel - When asked what he thought of the cyborgs, Gravel simply said, "What? Why was I not told of these infernal machines sooner!" He then proceeded to stare blankly into a webcam for five minutes before letting loose a passionate tirade about direct democracy and the importance of educating people about cyborgs, allowing grassroots campaigns to protect the human race from these confounding machines to gain legislative voice. Gravel himself has on several occasions been accused of being a cyborg, however, testing has shown him to be 100% human, and simply awkwardly staring into webcams before speaking because, and I quote, "Old people are always bad with technology. Always." The individual I am quoting here has asked that I withhold their identity for their own protection.

Dennis Kucinich - "I believe these cyborgs to be of an earthly origin," said Kucinich on July 23rd, 2007 at a sparsely attended press conference. "The one time I witnessed a UFO, its propulsion mechanisms were clearly of an origin so advanced that they could not have come from the same source as these awkward, clunky cyborgs we're dealing with." He was the first politician to point out how easily identified cyborgs are in everyday life, from their unsteady gait to their tendency to fall down frequently and often take up to half an hour to return to their feet, in addition to their characteristic tin can ears. Kucinich feels that while the cyborgs themselves are not much of a threat due to their own incompetence, it would be in the best interest of the pursuit of world peace to uncover the source of the cyborgs, so that we may yet learn to deactivate their killer instinct and bring them to a more docile state of consciousness. "Only then," says Kucinich, "can we look forward to naturalizing our half-mechanical brothers and sisters, becoming the world's first nation where humans and cyborgs may live together in peace." Kucinich's ideals are beautiful, but as they do not involve wanton violence, it is unlikely that the American people will ever embrace them.

The more popular candidates have declined to comment on the issue. Tabloids, however, are claiming possession of photographic evidence that Hillary Clinton may be a cyborg. These same tabloids, of course, brought us the miracle of Bat Boy just years ago. America's love affair with Bat Boy has yet to end.

Conversely, many more Republican candidates have spoken out loudly on the cyborg issue. Many, however, suspect a distinct lack of sincerity in their words, raising the military budget and engaging in acts of slaughter happens to be a popular Republican pastime, after all, and for many, a rite of passage.

Rudy Giuliani - Giuliani started on what he promised would be an epic condemnation of the cyborgs on October 17th, 2007. However, he was drunk at the party at a time, and his ramblings dissolved into slurring "9-11" repeatedly under his breath. Like many prominent politicians, this incident led to his being accused of being a cyborg. Giuliani refused a Human Authentication Test, but despite this, many have given up on the Giuliani-Cyborg theory, resigning themselves to the likelihood of his simply being another two-dimensional one-issue candidate.

Mike Huckabee - Open fundamentalist Christian and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who frighteningly pulled off a win in the Iowa primary, spoke only once on cyborgs: "I believe that there is cyborg hunting in heaven!" Unfortunately, Huckabee was neither drunk nor at a party when he said this, and no one has asked him to clarify since. Common interpretation by the right-wing media has been that god has spoken through Huckabee and asked us to commit cyborg genocide. But every time god supposedly speaks to a politician - and it's always a Republican - he seems to be asking us to slay one race or creed or another. It begs the question: "What's so great about white people?"

Mitt Romney - When popular Mormon candidate Mitt Romney was asked about cyborgs during a Republican presidential debate back in Fall 2007, he was captured on film simply running away from the podium. He did not return to finish that debate.

Fred Thompson - The reaction of television star Fred Thompson to questioning about the cyborg issue was a most curious one. He simply stared into space and proclaimed "I'm on TV!" repeatedly. Then simply left on the note of "No more questions." Whether this indicates Thompson's status as a cyborg or his inability to answer simple questions is still being debated.

Ron Paul - The Republican "I'm cool on the internet, even if my aims are pretty much all horrible" candidate simply stated when asked that he supports cyborgs like he does humans - as economic entities. He went on to say that he believed in giving them a voice in the government process, but that if states voted to exterminate them, that was perfectly okay with him too, as the market would thusly have spoken. He also feels the same way about non-whites, homosexuals, women, children, and astronauts. So take that as you will.

This cyborg presence in our world is a frightening one, isn't it? But perhaps I was being too hasty. Perhaps I couldn't see past my own cyborg prejudices, as so many people in this world have their own prejudices they're afraid to admit - making it impossible for them to overcome them. Writing about all this has given me a lot to think about. Maybe Kucinich is right. May underneath their diamond-stealing, brain-eating ways, cyborgs are just humans with tin cans for ears and antennae sticking out of their foreheads! Maybe we just need to stop their grand overlord and allow these individuals to begin life anew as humans like the rest of us, and exist as more than mere brain-munching commodities, as the Libertarians would prefer.

In this crazy world, it's easy to get caught up in fear-mongering, particularly involving those different from us - women, any race other than white people, gays, atheists, communists, Muslims, cyborgs - they've all been victims of this demonization. Instead, we should face our fears and realize that they aren't so different from the rest of us. They're not so scary when we can understand them. Even if they do walk the streets at night looking for another identity to steal.

At least they're not those damn zombies.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Making Women Putty in your Meathooks

Well, it's finally 2008, and I know what you're all thinking: "Why haven't I gotten laid yet?"

Yes, such creepy, shallow thoughts to begin the new year on. But you know who you are. This comes as no surprise. James Brown is dead and you are not a sex machine. Time to get over it.

Of course, in accepting that there might just be more to this thing called life than the mere tedious pursuit of self-gratification on the body of another, you might start to feel a little depressed. The world exists in shades of gray!? Who knew?! I blame Istanbul! Now, now, before you start picking random geographical locations to vent your frustrations on - that's how wars get started, you know - chin up, lads! That last sex advice column gig might've gone horribly, disturbingly wrong, but this time? Being the existential pimp that I am, having nothing better to do, I'm here to guide you along down the path to a woman's heart, and eventually, your real goal - her nethers. Why would you want any sort of connection beyond a physical one, after all? Don't you know that love is a myth perpetuated by corporations to sell greeting cards, so you may as well just bone? Ignore the centuries of love stories and emotional tales of meaningful connections between human beings - some dude just wrote those in his parents' basement last month while high on PCP. He also has a time machine. Thus, everything adds up.

By now, you're wondering whether or not to expect a sequential list of things to do to make the opposite sex quiver. Of course there's going to be a list! With numbers, and everything! I'm hardly a predictable writer, you realize. Pish posh. Even though those aren't actual words. If I've learned anything from these internet love advice things online, it's that all women are exactly the same, and all you have to do is learn a set of specific tricks to lie your way into bed that will work on everybody! How do you think those things like the Mystery "Distract her and stick it in before she changes her mind! Make her feel bad about herself first!" Method work? And how can an upright gentleman like "Mystery" or the hordes of anonymous individuals on the internet who claim to know how all women function be wrong? It's science.

1) The Candy Factor - To get the ladies, you must take to heart this first key element of "seduction artist"/creepy guy-dom: Be more like John Candy. It's up to you to figure out what this means on your own, and if you can't, you're a lost cause and should surrender to a life of celibacy now. The ladies love them some John Candy. To all the ladies reading this now, just look at that picture - are you feeling it? It's futile to fight it. And try as you might, guys, you will never rock as hard as John Candy.

2) Awkwardness Protection - We human beings sure are an awkward lot of creatures, aren't we? You weren't supposed to answer that - it was a rhetorical question. Sheesh. Anyway, it's inevitable that somewhere in the courtship process - say, every part of it - you're going to experience some awkward moments. Timing is everything, they say, so how you handle these moments is critical. Sure, some people use these moments to look into one another's eyes and let the romantic tension flow through the both of you as you unite in some rapturous kiss as the background music dramatically crescendos like in old movies. Others, like myself, look away nervously and maybe say something stupid in order to completely ruin the moment and help ensure that you won't talk to your romantic interest for years. There's a fine art to destroying perfect moments like that, but only if you do it without actively trying. In this modern world, neither of these options are particularly good. What I'm getting at here is that you should always carry drugs. And I'm not talking legal drugs like ibuprofen or anything like that in case one of you gets a headache while you're around each other, or even mild recreational drugs like pot - don't be a lightweight. I'm not suggesting you raid the local hospital for morphine either - that's too much work. Basically, just carry some heroin or crack cocaine on you at all times. If carried properly, a good crack pipe can even be used to accentuate your male features - no woman can resist a guy desperate to impress her by shoving things down his pants. (Extra points if they're sharp objects that may wound you grievously and leave you impotent and/or sterile!) There's no icebreaker in an awkward moment quite like "Hey, wanna shoot up?" or "I got some of this crack here - what say we smokes it together?" Remember these things and you'll be a regular lothario in no time.

3) Proper Linguistics (For the sake of being hip, let's call them "lings" ... on second thought, let's not) - You can tell my rating on the class-o-meter is off the charts by the way I refer to all women as "the ladies" at least 90% of the time. (Actual figures may vary.) It lets them know that I may only know one term for what they are and to lower their vocabulary-related expectations of me. (And if you want to succeed with the ladies in life - and especially the bedroom - you want them to keep all their expectations of you as low as possible.) But then, it's not my grade-A reserve of word-knowingness that draws the ladies to me to begin with. If you're really good, you can communicate in a series of grunts and still score a hole-in-one, if you know what I mean. (Golf metaphors are important when degrading women. Eagle! Birdie! Putt! 3-Wood! So much scathing sports satire!)

4) A Cool Name - According to the internets, women - and when they say this, they mean all women, because they're both psychic and also all women are the same, apparently - decide within the first five minutes of meeting you whether or not they would ever have sex with you. In my case, this decision is always no, but my purpose here is to help you. Maybe if they got to know the real me, they'd learn to regret being so hasty in their - let it go, just let it go, you're writing something important here. Sorry about that, I don't know where that came from. Getting back to the point, you don't care about making a good first impression, and being that you are male, you can't make a good first impression. If you do, you're probably a liar and a jewel thief, and there's too damn many of you clogging up the subway system as is. There is an effective cheat code - not unlike in those television game-box things - to circumvent the entire first-impression hurdle. A deceptively simple one at that. If you tell women that your name is Humphrey, they will want to get on you instantly. It's half your name, after all. Even if you are an unscrupulous liar. You're only in it for the bedroom romp anyway. You make me sick.

5) An Escape Plan - Yeah, you don't care about women anyway, do you? All you want to do is use them to your dirty ends. To gratify yourself like the sociopath you are. Die in a fire already! If you've already learned how to use these other tips to your advantage - and I hate you if you do - you're practically guaranteed action anytime you want it in this and any century. An oft forgotten and still critically important element in the art of action-getting is formulating a good escape plan. As soon as you've finished gratifying yourself - you friggin' bastard - you need to get out of there, pronto. They say women all fall in love after sex, that that's where the attachment begins. (If you're looking to important internet advice, anyway, and ignore every Lifetime movie ever made. And also the parts of said movies where the guy always ends up beating the woman with a curtainrod, which just plain isn't cool behavior. Remember kids, misogyny is bad!) You can avoid these trappings like a leaf on the wind if you go in well prepared - and come out feeling proud and empty. The method to go for here is to ultimately carry smoke bombs on you at all times. Upon completing your copulation, you must immediately throw one of said bombs while shouting "Ninja Vanish!" When done properly, it will be as though you were never there to begin with. If you've taken all the previous advice to heart, you'll have women so dizzy with hormones that they'll burn for you even more when you make it openly apparent that you're so resourceful, you'll be getting the fuck out of there as soon as you can - regardless of whether she's satisfied, as she probably won't be, even remotely. No woman can resist a man so resourceful and confident. Not even the smart ones. Especially the smart ones.

There. Now you know all that you need to know to ruin pretty much everyone's life but your own and I personally hope that now that you've absorbed all of this information, you're hit by a speeding bus the next time you look out the window. That's right, a whole friggin' bus, right through your damn window! Way to make my first post of 2008 a heart-rending, painful one that will only cause everybody more misery than they're properly equipped to handle. I've created an army of monsters! ... or going by this blog's usual hits, a small handful, maybe!

So, there you have it. One of those kinda stupid posts to kick off the new year. Maybe I'll write a guide for you ladies reading down the line too, so you'll finally know what's really going on in men's minds that those magazines and their endless reprints of "PLEASE YOUR MAN!!!11" articles don't know. (Hint: It's mostly one of those wind-up toy monkeys slapping cymbals together. Those things rule.)