2.143. On the Punisher

The Punisher is good. It is the type of good that allows me to sink into the myth of post-military action and PTSD. In other words, it is as good as we are going to see in a situation that needs to bear the not-quite-real scent of a Marvel show. In truth it feels like a version of a wonderful Cinemax show I used to watch called Banshee. It has that same tough feel to it and borrows heavily from action shows like Banshee to develop its own brand of action sequence. The show makes clever use of analogy to shout the deeper thematic messages and by doing so is able to string them out across the season in a very repetitive way that doesn’t feel entirely repetitive.

I have to admit bias here. I’ve been waiting for the Punisher since season 2 of Daredevil, and what I got was more than I bargained or hoped for. The Micro character is a revelation. His own character arc is strong and built around a supporting cast that is not only surprising in the action sense but in the character development sense as well. Micro’s children in particular were well developed.

Finally we come to Frank Castle. This is a great and nuanced rendition of a character who has been called psycho, sociopathic, terrorist, and even a great hero. He is a dark hero indeed and the writing here indicates it. The Frank we see this season is haunted and angry and really goes all in on combating the darkness built up around the private military and their relationship with the CIA.

Watch this show. It demands a second season.

2.142. Freewrite

“I think I might be done or close to.” Brody said. He was pushing a cart through Albertson’s, eyeballing couples as he walked. Hank, his roommate, walked alongside him head bent forward, eyes transfixed on his cellphone. Brody wondered how he didn’t walk into things always looking down like that.

“mm.. So we out of here, B?”

“That isn’t what I meant. I think I might be done with women. relationships. The whole thing, you know?”

That made Hank stop walking, but he still didn’t look up. “What, you switching teams or something?”

“No. I’m serious. I don’t want to deal with any of it anymore.” And he meant it. Ever since Kim things hadn’t felt right with women. For one thing, he looked at every woman who walked by him and it wasn’t like he was checking them out. He was imagining a life with them. A woman would walk by and he’d follow her with his eyes and and his thoughts would trail off into a quickly spun fantasy about what life would be like with them. It never felt right. It never felt like Kim.

“What you need to do is get on one of these online sites, get a quick hookup, and forget about Kim.”

“No, thanks. If I see one more picture of a chick standing on a hill she thinks is a mountain, or by a waterfall, or one more mirror selfie…”

Hank laughed and looked up from his phone. “You already check all that out?”

Brody nodded. “Like I said, man. I’m done with all of it. When you find what is right it works or it doesn’t. When it doesn’t maybe that is a sign you ought to pack up and call it quits.”

“What does that even mean? You’re a man and we men need women!”

“Maybe we don’t.”

 

2.141.

There is this book that sits under the table beside my bed. It talks about taking back the power in your life, being in control, and tapping into your own inner badass. This feels so separate and distant from the love and kindness and the mindfulness of buddhism as to be a foreign entity. It is an entirely different kind of energy and one that I am beginning to discover is attractive to a body of people in a way that metta is not. I’m learning this as I am starting to learn what does and doesn’t draw people towards me. It is a factor of why I dislike the dating world, because I feel like I’d have to become that badass person in order to garner any sort of attention from someone who doesn’t already know me.

In short: I’m not the kind of guy women fall over each other trying to meet. I am a person who people tend to enjoy knowing (or utterly hate, as I am polarizing). It is getting to that point that requires work on the part of both parties. I have no interest in the work.

Still, the topic continues to float to the surface, largely due to the ‘L’ word. No, not the four letter one. Weekends are especially tough for me in that respect and I find myself wondering time and again what it would be like if it were not as it is. Still, the way I want it to be is a dream deferred.

 

2.140. Reflections on a Friday Morning

If I look at my posts from a year ago, that version of me is focused on NFL football and the impending thrill of Black Friday. A year before that likely the same and before that–for years, likely, I was about the books. For a period of my life it was normalized that I would be at the NCTE conference at least every other year. These last few years I have not gone to the conference at all, severing that already tenuous connection with the professional writing and academic writing worlds. Add in my now decade plus hiatus from GenCon and I don’t really go anywhere as a writer. That is not a tenable situation.

The key here is to embed into the community of writers. I’ve noticed that when I embed–when I am around a community of people who write–it provides a bit more of that spark to write. As importantly (or perhaps moreso) it gives me the connections necessary to get writing work. Being around that crowd once landed me a textbook gig. It is how I became so deeply entrenched in Shadowrun and was able to freelance for other organizations as well. As things have turned back towards longer form fiction I find that need to be part of the community even more compelling. If I want to publish stories I need to be surrounded by those who are doing that work. On the back end of that I need to be supported by a strong partner who cares about that work and cares about me as an individual as well.

Writing is often characterized as a solitary act. Perhaps the act of putting the words on the page is solitary, but like most things it requires a lot of other people around you to get the words to the page and from there to a wanting audience. I’ve allowed that support system to largely erode. I do have that all important backbone piece. I know she is going to support my dreams so long as she is able. That matters. It is up to me to start reassembling the rest.

Perhaps this is my Tony Stark/Bruce Wayne moment after all.

Some Thoughts:

  1. Starting the morning with music is a solid idea and an excellent way to get energized. I ought to throw in some arm curls or something, but little by little, right?
  2. Life still feels not quite right. As if I missed the turn off or some exit to where I should be and now I am driving off into the path darkness of what shouldn’t be and trying to find my way back home. Perhaps I don’t. Perhaps I ought to stop looking for what I know to be right and start learning to be comforted by that darkness and trying to accept that this is how it is for the majority of people and I belong as part of that majority.
  3. Or maybe I ought to keep looking for that chance to exit back unto the right path.
  4. Women wield the word ‘fine’ like a cudgel.

2.139

Recently I’ve thought a lot about what it means to date and to actually try to be involved with someone. For starters you need to be open to a multitude of things including accepting the intricacies and oddities of a person and accepting that sharing a life with them means that you are opening yourself and your life up to scrutiny, expectation, and change.

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

It shouldn’t. The idea of joining with another person ought to be a good feeling. I think if you’re looking you ought to be looking for a chance to expand and become part of something else and or something new. I’m not, which is probably why I am not dating. I feel very much the rocket locked in the launch bay and unable to fire up the engine. In other words, I have everything I need in life right here, but it just isn’t how it ought to be or in any way that supports a deep and lasting state of happiness. So I wind up catching glimpses of what my life should look like or caught up in a world of swipes and disappointment. If there is a third option I’ve yet to uncover it.

I’m a slave in a sense to more than love. I’m a slave to hope. I’m a slave to my biases and tastes. I’m a slave to the story of it all and to the idea that you only leave something behind for something else that is right and good and better. I am a slave to all these things but I function in the web of a society that is a slave to none. And it is because of who I am that I am where I am. Looks like it will only get worse.

2.138. On Obfuscation

Recently John Oliver reminded us about the term Whataboutism. This is the practice of avoiding what is happening in the moment by shifting focus to some other, often marginally related controversy. This is a key tenet to how at least one major news outlet (Fox News) deals with situations that distress their viewer base. They obfuscate. They make what is a clear situation unclear. They ‘muddy the water’ so we can no longer get to the bottom of what is real. The problem is we are, as a whole, allowing small entities to direct entire narratives down a path that ultimately furthers their own goals without any interest in the truth or any sense of fairness. This is happening time and time again and what was once a burgeoning double standard is now the core standard for how stuff is.

I’ll just start with Kaepernick. The QB has (un)officially been blackballed from the NFL. The sheer number of trash QBs starting in the league is proof of that. I call this the NRA effect. That is to say a very vocal minority of individuals has taken control of the narrative and made it so no team is willing to absorb the social pressure of having him on their team. It is worth more to them to lose and stay away from him than it is to win and see his circus come to town. What is that circus? He took a knee during the national anthem and became the polarizing voice of that protest. Of course, the protest was seen by a small number of people as anti-american or, specifically, anti-military. Here is a quick fact: We don’t pledge allegiance to the military. We never have. The pledge, which is also performed at schools across the nation, did not become about soldiers until Kaepernick took a knee and someone wanted to redirect the discourse. Take this quote from a Sports Illustrated investigative report on the situation, “the Defense Department paid over $700,000 to the league between 2012-15 to be its propaganda machine. In the process, the national anthem at NFL games has become synonymous with paying respect to the military.” Here is another of the facts behind the situation: Kaepernick was not at all attempting to disrespect the military. He stated,  “I have great respect for men and women that have fought for this country,” before going on to explain why exactly he was taking a knee and what that represented.

It didn’t matter. People are sheep and are often herded by the loudest voices. Those voices instantly made this an attack on the military. Though the embattled ex-qb has repeatedly said that this is about injustice in America. Think about that for a second: the US Military doesn’t maintain peace in America. They handle threats from abroad. He has been talking about internal issues from day one. So how is this at all about them? If it is about them then it is about their ability to make the flag raising about them, which it also is not. The military serves the flag and we are honoring what they serve not them in are salute to that flag. I have great pride and respect for our military and I honor them. I don’t do it by saluting the flag. I do it by saluting the service and saluting the individuals.

More to come here.

 

Some Thoughts:

  1. Love is hard. real hard.
  2. Still worth every moment.

2.137: Reflections on a Tuesday Morning

I woke up in a daze. I was cold and tired and wanted to do precious little beyond a perfunctory tapping of the screen on a phone video game. I lay there for nearly three hours before I crawled free of my warm hovel and set foot to earth. This is not like me. Generally speaking I don’t stay in bed in the early morning. Call. Coffee. Write. I only managed the first part and that after a considerable amount of time locked into the fetal position. Yet here is the rub: I’m not sick. Not that I can tell.

I’m not depressed either. I’m far from a happy, healthy existence, but I’m in last and survive mode, which ought to be able to sustain me until the end of the semester. Yet here I was in the bed–in 2 yr old mode–at 5 in the morning. There are a number of causes that contribute to such things. In my case I think the world just got a good shot in. I didn’t even see it coming. I think I spend so much time covering up and trying to avoid taking shots that eventually the world being, well, the world, landed a solid blow and it knocked me on my ass–right into a cold empty bed.

I’m awake and moving around now. I’ve recovered largely from the wear of the world and I am slowly shaking off the after effects of the blow. In other words, I’m back to it again–working hard and trying to be the best version of myself. Today’s inspiration?

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.”
– Swami Sivananda

Some Thoughts:

  1. Love is the most amazing gift and the most dangerous.

2.136

The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor. – Vince Lombardi

Looking at the Amazon best seller list I am am not surprised to find Dan Brown at the top and 6 of the seven Harry Potter books on the list. The New York Times doesn’t have things much different. Both lists also feature Micheal Connelly, the Owen and Stephen King collaboration, John Grisham, and Ken Follet. This is important, because I am talking about writers who are, by their nature, committed to excellence. You rarely make it to the top of the world without that level of commitment. This is something I’ve notably lacked for the majority of my writing and teaching career. I rely largely on talent and a modicum of charisma to push through and find success.

Basically, I’d be a bit of a situation if I could focus solely on writing. It is like that old saying, ‘If I dropped out of the world for 15 years and did nothing but train, I’d kick Batman’s ass.’ Okay, maybe that is derivative of a saying, but sensible nonetheless. The vagaries of life create limitations that prevent me from dropping everything and just being a ‘riter, but I can devote more time to the craft and more of that commitment to excellence that made Lombardi teams and Lombardi himself such a staple bad ass.

2.135

“Life is at its best when everything has fallen out of place, and you decide that you’re going to fight to get them right, not when everything is going your way and everyone is praising you.” – Thisuri Wanniarachchi

The default is to quit. Roll up your kit and surrender. Tell life that they have this one and you’re good with finding something a hell of a lot easier and more likely to end in success and safety. I am not living that life. In truth, I am living a life and dealing with situations that are almost certain to end in failure for me. I’m not taking all the risk, but I am feeling quite a bit of it on my narrow shoulders. In the end, I’m the one who ends up alone. Still, I would rather be alone than be stapled to the wrong person again for the rest of my days. So, the risk is worth the reward and the now is a fine balance of happiness and a few days a week of raw pain.

I’m trying to find ways to mitigate those painful days. In a perfect world I would drown myself in stories and write my way back to the surface. Unfortunately, I’m not motivated at all those days. I find myself extremely and increasingly unwilling to leave my dark corner until the following day. Then I get stuff done.

2.134.

“We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.” – Santosh Kalwar

If anyone asked me how I feel today I would’ve responded, I feel the way a man is expected to feel when life shits in his mouth and calls it chocolate. That is to say everything in my life feels either false, fucked up, or increasingly temporary and unsustainable. Then I would ask how they expect me to feel or even if they do. I think the question itself is meant to be little more than a gratuity that puts people at ease and perhaps opens the larger conversation.

Here is the thing though: We are programmed to fall into these patterns of thought and operation, which move us towards simplistic lives where we serve some larger false ideal be it religious, political, or both. We are, in the end, trained corporate sheep who live lives based on the idea of what we are supposed to think and feel and do in order to power the machine and keep the lights on.