A Point? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Point!

I was thinking about doing a post on writing today. A few ideas have been chasing themselves around my mind, and I was looking forward to developing one or two of them. Of course, those damned ideas managed to chase themselves around until they got all tangled up and derailed what passes for my train of thought…

FAC5F2EB-C5EF-4DAC-80F3-F8D89A7AC9BBAhem.

Derailed may, in fact, be putting things (more than) a bit lightly. They derailed me in the same way the Hindenburg was “derailed”…

Why is it that I find it so damned hard to remember that first, most crucial rule of writing? When an idea comes — everyone say it with me, now — YOU WRITE THE DAMNED THING!!!

Yeah, I forgot/ignored that one. Again.

*sigh*

It would’ve been a great post, too.

Ahh, well…maybe it’ll come back in time for Friday’s post.

Of course, another problem cropped up while I sat in the shade today, trying to recover from hiking in the unrelenting, hot sun and flipping through articles and editorials on my phone…

FF48DB56-1970-4187-86FB-6EDF6C47A8F4Now, it’s not all that often that I run across something that makes me nod and go all agreeable. Very, very rarely has the phrase “Amen! Preach it!” ever crossed my lips (other than as a joke), but today I ran across one of those few.

I love it when someone else gets it. I especially love it when they “get it” from a totally different perspective from me. Things like that give me hope for the future…which is something in short supply in my cynical little corner of the world.

Saritha Prabhu has a great editorial in USA Today that you can find here. Read the whole thing, and take it in the spirit in which it is written. For those that want to short-cut the actual reading, this little pull-quote gives a good sense of things:

“Politicians from both parties have gotten away with letting down ordinary Americans for decades because millions of Americans are culturally wedded to their tribal political identities of Republican or Democrat, and can’t think outside the box.”

Amen! Preach it, sister!

Her conclusion does a good job, as well:

“I see myself as a political independent these days, who’ll opine based on what she sees and thinks, not along party lines.

For what it’s worth, renegades like me are like that canary in the coal mine: We’re trying to warn Democrats when they’re tone-deaf or still don’t get it.”

Now, look, I don’t want to go all political — and I especially don’t want to veer off onto some libertarian tangent — but holy crap, could we use some independence from the two-party-rigmarole* nowadays. I’ll let Ms. Prabhu’s piece stand for itself with her criticisms of Team-D, but for Team-R…shit, don’t get me started on Team-R. Can we PLEASE just do away with the whole, damned “social conservative” thing? Pretty please?!

*And if you think I didn’t have to spellcheck THAT particular word, you’re nuts!

I can’t think of anyone more problematic to a functioning, vibrant democracy than aggressive social conservatives. I’ve said it many times on this blog, but it bears repeating: my morality is none of your business, and yours is none of mine.

1365C924-B5E2-4C89-A6D7-1F992C8D6A51Look…I’m a libertarian. I don’t give two shits if you smoke a pound of pot every day, marry your lampshade, and attend full-moon orgies in the middle of a National Park. I don’t care who you love, or what you do, so long as you aren’t hurting anyone other than yourself. Adults are responsible for themselves and their own choices, and that includes the right to make decisions that others might consider “bad.”

And that’s where the Republicans and their “team” lost me — the social conservatives who drive that particular bus want freedom and libertarianism in some (very limited) ways, but in the truly important ways,* they want to control every single aspect of folks’ lives.

*The areas where NO ONE should have control…

No. Just…no.

Financial conservatism? A pragmatic — dare I say, Bismarckian — foreign policy? A strong military? A system that focuses on equality of access rather than equality of results?

Yes, to all of that.

But a system that dictates who you can love/marry? Or what you can do? Or that elevates one religion, or one interpretation of that religion even, to ideological and political supremacy?

No. Not just “no”, but “HELL NO!”

I agree with the Founding Fathers that our rights are inherent in us as human beings. They are rights that cannot be alienated away from us…and especially cannot be alienated away by any government or controlling power that “knows what’s best,” whether we agree or not.

Okay…crap…this is starting to turn into a screed, so I think it’s time to stop.

Ahem.

The next time I start to go all political, I’m gonna skip the problem and just post excerpts from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  All hail Douglas Adams!

Mead Cures All Ills…?

So, I thought about writing a “current events” post. Maybe something about Congress’ complete abdication of its position & power as a co-equal branch of government. Or perhaps something about the growing power and influence of elitism and technocracy. Maybe even a piece about the all-but unbridgeable divide between urban and rural folks.

Or I could just go with something less frustrating and repeatedly hit myself in the head with a hammer.

Look, I can’t be the only one who gets these periodic urges to just take off and spend a few months somewhere completely off-the-grid…can I? Crap, I’m thinking Iceland and the Faroe Islands look kind of neat right about now…

Okay, so sure, it’s mainly because I want to go immerse myself in Vikings and work them (somehow) into a fantasy story…but there ARE worse things to do, you know! Plus, in the Faroes, maybe I could have a whole day without hearing how the current president is a traitor, or the previous president was a traitor, or THIS policy is evil, no THAT policy is evil…

I know it’s human nature, but can we just stop with the goddamned over-the-top “end of the world” bullshit for a few days?

DDF6559B-4E86-4947-AF2F-C9A38219BA41Trump won’t be the end of the world (for D’s), just as Obama wasn’t the end of the world (for R’s). Not everything is a crisis of epic, world-shaking proportions. In fact, the urge to label every single political disagreement and spat as such does nothing more than numb folks to the point where terms like “crisis” and “emergency” mean absolutely nothing.

If everything is an existential threat, then nothing is.

Honestly, all of the screaming and yelling, all of the paranoia and over-reaction (on both sides), just makes even the legitimate arguments meaningless. Personally, I no longer give a damn about anything happening in DC because, well, it’s all just noise.

C59FA6C7-B7F1-4DC1-B48B-AFAB5ABB41FCI’m sure that, in a few years, I’ll find this last decade fairly humorous. I’m sure there’ll be a story somewhere in all of this nonsense. But, for now, would someone please wake me when the adults come back into the room and stuff starts to matter again?

Or, better yet, find me in some Viking bar and join me for a big horn of mead…

Random Ranting

img_0011Okay…so, being the committed slacker I am, I failed to prep a post for today.

*sigh*

I wish I could say that was terribly unusual, but, well…

At any rate, I’m sitting on the patio of my local(ish) coffee shop, soaking in the sun, and then it hits me: no post went up this morning.

Goddammit.

IMG_0155So now I have to throw one together at the last minute, with all of the impulsive writing, grammatical/spelling errors and squirrel-moments that means! Thankfully, this quickie-post will be based on the nice caffeine-jag I have building, rather than drunk-postin’ from the taproom.

Keep in mind, I also have a scene I want to write this morning, so I don’t actually have the patience to think of a useful topic. Nope, instead I’m going to cheat. I’m going to resort to a low-end freelance writing trick. If doing freelance “content” work for websites is the writing-equivalent of selling your blood plasma to buy food, then doing lists and quick-takes are pawning your TV to pay the bills.

Ah well, sometimes you gotta do what…well, you get the idea. So, some quick-takes* on news items that stuck in my head over the past week:

1) No, a teenage girl wearing a vintage cheongsam to her high school prom is NOT cultural appropriation, for fuck’s sake! “Cultural appropriation” is, by the way, one of the the biggest farces on the face of the Earth — ALL culture is appropriated in one way or another. Hell, I’m (sorta) a mix of English and German in my ancestry, so just what is MY culture? Anglo? Saxon? Norman? German? English? I also speak fluent Japanese, and admire the hell out of that culture — is owning woodblock prints and calligraphy “appropriation”? Is my passion for Czech beer appropriation? How about my passion and proselytization for Russian writers and movies? Like I said, this whole fad is nothing more than the purest farce.

2) Shad Khan’s effort to buy Wembley Stadium, and the NFL’s desire to hold a Super Bowl there. Just…no. Okay, so that’s the polite response — FUCK NO is the more accurate one. I know Roger Goodell said, a few years ago, that he did, in fact, want to hold the Super Bowl in London, but not even the NFL could be that stupid…could they? The biggest day in American sport…an event that is essentially a national holiday…and he wants to hold it in London? The Brits feel about American football the way I feel about the English Premier League — kinda neat as a distraction, but fuck me if I understand what the hell is happening.

3) No, for the last time, the Yellowstone Supervolcano is NOT “about to blow”. No, we are not on the verge of an extinction-level event. Shit, I lived in Yellowstone, I talked to the geologists running the damned volcano observatory. I even got drunk with a couple of ‘em. When they give answers to questions like that, they are working in “geologic time”, not human time. “Soon” and “imminent” are measured in millennia, not months!

4) Any state, governor, attorney general, or congress critter thinking about “cracking down” on medical and recreational pot needs to go re-read themselves some Don Quixote…he had a better chance against that damned windmill than their “Reefer Madness” efforts. I don’t the use the stuff and even I know just how pointless the whole prohibition-thing is. You might as well try to ban — again! — alcohol. Look, temperance is a good personal trait, it is NOT good governmental policy. If you don’t like pot, or booze, then don’t partake. Shit, in spite of living in Colorado, I don’t partake in marijuana…because that is my choice. See how that works, folks?

*Okay, so this turned out to be more of a rant than a list — it was more fun that way!

Ten Years Ago

I want you to think back ten years. Think back to where you were, and what you were doing. Think back to what you believed, and what you thought, and what you knew to be true.

Now, I want you to talk to that younger self. C’mon, c’mon…just do it. If I can talk to my (fictional) characters, you can at least talk to yourself!

Okay, now that you’re talking, I want you to tell yourself a couple of things:

1) Bill Cosby is going to prison for rape.
2) Donald Trump is president.

Congratulations, you just gave your younger self an aneurism.

Look, in all seriousness, if some physicist discovered time travel tomorrow and sent3C6C2F46-2C1E-4CB7-9DF0-B691D26A89C8 a note back to his younger self, who the hell would actually believe any of that? Idiocracy was NOT supposed to be a documentary!

I’ve been asked about the “predictions” and assumptions I make in my writing. I’ve been doubted and debated about them a great deal, in fact: about endemic poverty and exploitation, about drugs and sex, and about hopelessness and despair. The future, folks have said to me, is going to be different, it’s going to be better.

E67DAEED-FFE6-4200-91F0-546E04C7F8B5So, just which of my assumptions are in any way less likely than #s 1 and 2 above?! Reality is — always has been, and always will be — far stranger than fiction, but humanity…humanity is even worse.  We always find new and improved ways to screw things up.

One day we will have spread throughout our solar system. One day we might travel, even, to the stars. Hell, one day we will very likely beat the diseases and disorders and problems that so plague us physically today. But even with all of that, even with all of the technology and advances, we won’t change one bit just who we really are.

To refer to a previous post, we humans will always bind ourselves with Marley’s chains. Whether our chains are those of greed, or of ignorance, or of hate and intolerance, that clanking and clinking will follow us not just for the rest of our days, but also for all the days of our children and grandchildren…because, like every generation before us, that is the legacy we have left them.

And people wonder why writers drink…