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…

Dear Prophets of Doom…

ABC775D0-040F-49EB-B67F-9F2ABEAE7FBBRepent, for the End is nigh!

It’s the end of the world as we know it!

We’re all doomed! DOOMED, I say!

Why the hell can’t the disaster-predictors ever get it right? I’m sitting here on April 23rd, typing this post on the patio of a local coffee shop while soaking in the warmth of the sun and savoring the last of my parmesan & spinach bagel.  Soooo…wasn’t the damned world supposed to end today? Again?

Look, if at least one of these stupid prophecies isn’t right fairly soon, I’m gonna have to start paying bills again, and no one wants that!

Let’s check the recent record, just for shits & giggles:

Today’s “expected” apocalypse – fail1447AA18-52F8-4A96-A6A9-3270935A3937

Last year’s Nibiru extinction – fail

2014’s blood moon – fail

2013’s “Rasputin storm” – fail

2012’s big Mayan doomsday – epic fail

And let’s not even start on Y2K…

C’mon, prophet-guys, it’s like you’re not even trying! Can’t I have at least a good asteroid strike? Or an LA mega-quake? Or the Yellowstone supervolcano? You gotta give me something!

No?

Dammit.

How is a guy supposed to throw off all responsibility and care if you keep getting it wrong?!

Crap, I write sci-fi and fantasy — what if all the prophets and doomsayers in my stories were this freaking wrong all the time? Can’t you just picture GoT if it were that way? “Yes, Lord Stark, the prophecy says you should become the Hand of the King, and that you will die peacefully at home in your bed…”

356CFC36-4B98-445C-9C0C-CE45CC163946Okay, fine…I’ll give you folks one more try. But — and I mean it, this time! — if you’re wrong again, I’m going back to Miss Cleo for advice and life-coaching…

Random Squirreling: Politics By Other Means

most-interesting-squirrelHey, I went on a politics kick a little while back, so why wouldn’t I go off on some other tangent?  Even better, a tangent that’s almost as divisive and vitriolic as politics itself: professional sports.

What’s funny about this (at least to me) is what it is that actually gets my nerd up and going when it comes to sports: the off-season.

Yeah, yeah, I know…that’s just crazy talk.  No one gets excited about the off-season.  And, sure as hell, no sane human actually likes the off-season.

I never claimed to be all that sane.

Anyway, the off-season.

Now, with the exception of the NHL, I don’t particularly follow any sport in detail.  I don’t sit there on Sundays and watch NFL game after NFL game.  I can’t spout stats like ERA and OBP off the top of my head.  I barely know the difference between a striker and a midfielder.  And God forbid we so much as touch on golf — what the fuck is the difference between a “brassie” and a “mid-mashie” anyway?!*

*For my part, the only way to play “golf” is with a couple of frisbees and a six-pack.

link_CRUqKZKKFRGAlAFTlfPdN5TEw3cvwdL4,w1200h627But the stuff that goes on behind the scenes…the stuff of deals and trades and negotiations…even more, the stuff of hope and dreams (in the form the draft)…

Yeah, for all that announcers and fans like to talk about the tension and drama and storylines of the season, the off-season just has so much more.  Not even our own “beloved” Mordor-on-the-Potomac can match the level of back-stabbing, power-gaming ruthlessness that goes on in the off-season for the NFL…or the Premier League, or even the damned PGA.  And — God forbid! — we get into the sheer, matchless corruption of FIFA or Formula One.

I study and follow and enjoy the off-season of the major sports in the same way I study and follow and enjoy the politics and conflict that led to the transition of Rome from Republic to Principate, and then to Empire.  And, yes, you are right: I’m a politics junkie, even if I can’t stand the bullshit of the last 15(ish) years in the US.

Right now, I’m completely nerding out on the NFL…and especially on the storylines of ac079b69982d288ffaa217c0987f6a1cfree agency and draft. When a player can go, with a flick of his pen, from being “the greatest ever” to an evil son-of-a-bitch who obviously abuses old ladies and kids…well, hell, that there is the roots of a story!  Cruella Deville and her dalmation coat ain’t got nothing (apparently) on Richard Sherman if you’re a Seahawks fan…

Or take a reasonably “normal”  college kid — you know: naive, narcissistic, and completely ignorant of consequences and the wider world…just like all of us at that age — and make him a first round prospect.  All of a sudden that very normal kid is either (a) the great hope of salvation for an entire state, or (b) a complete freak who should be sterilized and exiled to a speck of rock in the South Atlantic.

I once talked about how entertaining are the folks who get themselves worked up (on both sides) about the flat-Earth thing, but they’re nothing compared to the columnists and commenters who write about the NFL draft.

Look, I could go on for hours (and pages) about sports as a microcosm for politics, and for life itself.  Could go on about the lessons and examples and warnings that come out of that concentration of wealth, privilege and complete OCD-ness, but that means I wouldn’t have time to get read one more column about a 21-year-old kid saving — or destroying — our entire society and the fabric of the universe…