Category Archives: Politics

Tippity-Tapping While the World is on Fire, or I’m Here & I Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere

Do you want the general update first? Yes? All right.

I received my Master’s Degree in May. I am officially a master. I get a seat on the council without whining. So there’s that. I’ve been catching up on reading that I put off while reading for the graduate program. Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog and The Cartel…holy shit! These are good books. Stephen King rewarded me for the Master’s by publishing The Outsider in May and kicked my ass with it. Jeremy C. Shipp’s The Atrocities was a hallucination nightmare and recommended. There are other things, too, but we’ll worry about them another time, if at all.

I’ve been writing, too. I’m editing Echoes on the Pond and should be doing revisions next week. I should be able to begin submitting to agents/publishers by August. I also started a new novel, which is a middle readers novel. My youngest daughter loves novels as much as she loves picture books. At five years old, she’ll sit and listen as her Mom and I read a chapter or so a night. This has been going on for about a year. While I was still in grad school, she asked me to write something for her. Well, it just so happens that I had a story I came up with when I was between 10 and 12 years old, I even drew a picture of it. Funny enough, I found the drawing about four or five years ago in my parents’ attic and brought it home. It’s a slightly revised version of that original idea but I’m writing it now. I also wrote my first (good) short story in a few years and submitted that. It feels good to be back on the horse.

And that’s the thing, that’s the real topic of today’s post. It feels so good to be writing again for me and, by extension, you.

I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years writing academic papers with only a few small forays into my own writing that I feel like the world is mine for the taking. But it has also led me to think about (or rethink about) (or re-rethink about) some things. This blog is one of them. Now, before you get all sweaty and freak out, having waited oh so long for a new post from me and now you’re afraid I’m about to say I’m going to stop, calm down. If there is anyone out there reading these posts, I assure you, I intend to keep them coming. I’ve thought about several topics to write here on the blog in the last few months. They include:

  • How the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Margot Kidder made me realize how their characters taught me about women when I was a child
  • Writing about keeping the dream alive when everything seems to be working against it
  • General observations about the world
  • A remembrance of Harlan Ellison

The first and last things especially have hit hard. The thing is, though, as I look at the time that I have, it’s limited. I can either work on my novels, stories, general fiction that I hope to submit and get paid for, or I can write blog posts about things that I’d love to talk/write about but there’s no chance of getting paid for it. Money is very much in my mind right now. I owe over $100,000 in student loan debt. And even though on paper my wife and I make a pretty good income, the cost of living is rising ridiculously. This past month alone, I’ve found myself tight in the wallet, and I foresee next week is going to be really hard. Part of this is that changes will have to be made, and I dig that. But I also need to be able to earn some extra income. So while I’d love to be able to write more here, I think I’m going to look into turning these ideas into essays, columns, whathaveyou.

Now, I may look into Patreon at some point, once I’ve hit my writing groove again, and if I do, you will be the first to know. I may pitch some ideas for columns, too. Maybe bring back American Gauthic or something else entirely. I don’t know. But if going through grad school taught me anything, it taught me that I can juggle some of these things more than I ever thought I could. And if the last three weeks have done anything, they’ve lit a fire under my ass.

What happened in the last three weeks to do this? 1) The money thing. 2) The death of Harlan Ellison

If you’ve been a longtime reader of mine, you know how much Harlan Ellison meant to me. Since his death, I’ve been watching commentaries and listening to his lecture CDs put out by Deep Shag Records. It has reinvigorated me. I’d like to write more about Harlan but I think that should be its own post, and I also have another idea. You’ll know when and if I pull that other idea off.

So there we go. As the world burns around us, I am doing my thing. Writing, telling stories, and watching. I will report back, I promise. How and when is the real question.

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“When I was a kid…”, or Why Your Childhood Doesn’t Mean Much to the Matter At Hand

When I was a kid, my father would say, “When I was a kid…” and I’d roll my eyes, sigh, and be the snot that I was. I often reminded him that it was The Eighties, which is just about how I thought of them, capital- and italicized. I blame bad sitcoms and teen movies of the day that were all over HBO. When I was a teenager, I was only slightly less obnoxious. After all, it was the nineties. Most of the time, when Dad spoke of his childhood, it was to complain. He’d be complaining about the costs of things (he’ll still go into that spiel if you bring up costs of anything). He’d be complaining about how I behaved. He’d generally be complaining. My father was born in 1941 and basically grew up in the country, in a lower-to-mid-middle class family. Life wasn’t perfect, but when he talks about when he was a kid, you’d think it was.

This has been on my mind a lot lately because of the snow. Since January, eastern Massachusetts has received a lot of snow. Boston says it’s about 8 feet, or maybe 10. Down my way, not much better. We haven’t had a full week of school since the week before Martin Luther King, Jr Day. The last week of January, we had two days of school, Monday and Friday. The following Monday and Tuesday were no good. The Monday that followed was no good. Now it’s February vacation and, depending on how the weather goes this weekend, we may not have school again at the start of next week. I’ve had a lot of time to think, to stew.

And you’re annoying me.

Not you, you’re fine. But you, back there. The one standing on his/her own memories and ego. Yeah…you. You posted this on Facebook and/or Twitter:

When I was a kid, they didn’t cancel school until snow actually started.

Or:

When I was a kid, it took more than cold weather to stop me from ______.

Those aren’t the only things you’re posting either. From religion to politics to pop culture, everything was better when you were a kid. My response:

Bullshit.

This especially annoys me from people who are around my age (I was born in 1977). Look, I do think we played outside more, with less rules, than the kids of today have. We didn’t have play dates, we played. By ourselves. Meaning, no parental involvement. But I’m not here to talk about that today. I want to talk about the weather.

You’re right, you old fart. When you were a kid–when we were kids–school wasn’t canceled until the snow fell. There was a certain alarm to listen for at 5:30/6:00 AM, and a specific radio station to listen to. I spent many sleepless nights in elementary school gambling and losing on the chance that we would get walloped by snow and I’d have a snow day.

That’s gone because science.

Have you noticed that in the past…oh…ten years that weather reporting has been pretty goddamn accurate. Maybe not 7 or 10 days in advance, completely, but it’s gotten pretty good. Chances are, if the 7-Day says that snow is coming at the end of the week, by the fourth day in, they know for sure and it’s only the matter of how many inches we’re getting, which they’ve gotten pretty good at predicting, too. It simply makes more sense now to close school the night before than to chance it at 5:30 AM. It allows parents to make accommodations in advance.

Science isn’t the answer for everything, of course. Your insistence that kids were better when you were that age is just plain bullshit, because I was a kid at the same time, or know human nature better than you, and it’s simply not true.

Look, there are always things we long for and changes to culture and the world around us that take us away from the good. I’m not denying that. Republicans have systematically shot down regulations that gave us better things and replaced them with cheaper, crappier stuff. Democrats have been too nice to do what’s necessary to get those regulations back. And all sides have been bought off a little too much in the places that count.

For the most part, though, things aren’t any worse now than they were. They’re just bad in different ways. And there’s still a lot of good, if not great, out in the world.

So stop it.

My Political Post

I’m a little weirded out by how things are going. I don’t remember things being so polarized when I was a kid. I mean, I know people had their favorites and everything, but I don’t remember the vitriol being so bad. I also don’t remember people being so…extreme. Ronald Reagan did some pretty terrifying, fucked-up shit, but he never let on that he would do so in public. But now we have Santorums and Palins and Ryans who say fucked-up shit and people actually say, “Right on!” He may be wishy-washy, but at least Romney is trying to be moderate in what he says, depending on who he’s talking to when.

A friend recently posted something on Facebook that said people of the opposite political views should “do their homework” and research before they cast a vote. That was two weeks ago. In the weeks since, this friend has posted several links to websites made by obviously racist, crazy people. Is this the homework this friend means? Am I offended because I hold diametrically opposite political views than this friend? I’m sure I have done the same but on the other side (except, the websites I post aren’t racist. Crazy maybe, but not racist).

I don’t know. I know who I’m voting for and I know why, so I’m pretty much trying to block the rest of what I see. I like to preach that we need to be more tolerant of other people’s beliefs, but I have trouble when I see things that are wrongheaded and derogatory toward people spewed by modern politicos and then see people actually rally behind that person (or the person who represents them).

The modern world frightens me, more than any of the horror novels or horror movies that I love so much.

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