Archive for July 2013

Be thou not half-assed

July 30, 2013

I had a dream last night (the last thing you ever want to read or hear from someone) where I was part of a production with Zooey Deschanel, only it was pretty clear that she considered it a career evisceration to be partnered up with me. In the dream, I attended the production meetings, where I was constantly questioned as to why I was there. Nobody bothered to check to see that I was on the “talent” sheet, and I obviously wasn’t a big enough name for them to say, Oh, that’s Renpiti. That dude is really going places. So I latched on to Zooey and followed her everywhere…until she ditched me in a food court. She’s dream-wily like that.

It dawned on me when I woke that my brain was fighting with the imaginary friends who’ve been created by (and now plague) me. The biggest and most powerful of these is (ironically) The Lazy. Dude is all about naps, snacks and video games…and death to all aspects of hostaged Creativity (not including new and ever more vitriolic curses while playing video games). The thing is, The Lazy’s got a point: why stress?

Writing, for me, is rather like going to a supermarket without a specific agenda: you wind up all over the place, easily distracted with lots of stuff you don’t need. I’d like to have more structure and direction when I write, but then The Lazy forces a signed confession out of Creativity stating that true genius for me comes out of the gooey ether of my unfocused mind. I can see the sub-text, though: Creativity is just struggling to stay afloat in the tank The Lazy is holding him in. Any mediocre port in a bland storm.

Self Doubt, who delights in supporting The Lazy in his brain-couch campaigns, tells me that either way I look at it, I’m screwed. If I write, it will suck; if I don’t write, I’m the epitome of loser. The Lazy coos into my ear at that point and tells me that Self Doubt is a whore, that he’s all about making me feel bad about any choice I make, but that it’s okay not to make a choice at all.

At this point in the mental debate process, something shiny catches my eye and I’m off to forget what I was fighting myself about in the first place. But it does give me a moment’s pause. It makes me think of all of the things I’m interested in and how I’ve really only put marginal effort into each of them. I wont blame it on a cracked skull, but it does make me wonder if I was more motivated before that.

I got a friend of mine interested in SCUBA last year. Now he’s a Master Diver while I hold on to my advanced and nitrox certifications like they’re the pinnacle of diving advancement. I started out freeflying (skydiving) with a young lady who was about my same skill level who now is requested to organize freefly jump loads at big events, while I still flail around in the air like plate of spaghetti (minus the plate). The list goes on and on, but you get the point.

The reason that all of this has become so prominent in the general chatter of my brain is that I’ve started taking the first steps toward planning to possibly think about writing a book…maybe. It’s quite a departure from anything I’ve ever even remotely conceived of writing before, so it’s taking some time to coalesce into a few key points to start from. To help me stall prepare for this gargantuan-seeming task, I’ve gone back to read some of my favorite authors, not the least of which is Paul Neilan and possibly my favorite book ever, Apathy and Other Small Victories. This process actually helps me to iron out issues that The Lazy and Self Doubt collaborate on to get me to quit by showing me what modern entertaining writing looks like.

It’s going to happen. Maybe not soon, and maybe not efficiently, but it will happen. I just felt myself flinch writing that, as if The Lazy was scouring the Internet for something to create a monumental distraction so I don’t make a fool of myself. Self Doubt just crossed his arms and shook his head in a condescending way. Both of those bastards can suck it. I’m going to try.

Now, back to dreams of chasing celebrities off of production sets and into dense crowds where they can lose me easily.

Gooftacular Tales

July 23, 2013

***Having Brett guest post really got my gray matter oozing awesome, and now I must share. Thanks for the brain-boost, buddy!***

Remembering how one of my best friends from high school and I met  and became partners in The Silly triggered all of these other memories of how awesome we thought we were. Granted, few others agreed with our self-assessment, but that did not deter us from forging geektastic paths in those days.

Brett, being the humble guest blogger that he is, failed to mention that he was (is) a genius when it came to making costume replicas of some of our favorite characters from movies. Since we had the dangly-down human parts, we were enamored with the thought of being Mad Max, Han Solo or his 1940’s other-galaxy alter-ego Indiana Jones. Interestingly enough, neither of us was interested in being Luke Crywalker. Maybe we sensed his parentage before Lucas did, or maybe we just weren’t into kissing our sisters. Either way, Brett paved the way for me to explore all of the avenues I had to keep girls at a safe distance…for them.

I’ve never been much use when it comes to building things that aren’t comprised of squiggly lines on paper or computer. I’ll spare you the tired cliches about having a birdhouse condemned by government agencies, but I will say that my most brilliant accomplishment of the hand-made variety at that time was the lizard leash that Brett mentioned in the previous post. More on that some other time. Suffice it to say that if you wanted to look like an Imperial speeder bike scout on that teddy bear planet, he was the one to make it happen. And did.

Since he lived at one end of the national park and me at the other, it was usually a 15-20 minute bike ride for me to get to his place. Or, if I was lucky and feeling brain-dead, a 5 minute ride on the cargo trains that frequently passed by my house on their way past his. After nearly shredding myself on unforgiving crushed rock as I leaped to safety on one such ride, bikes became the more viable option to reach Brett’s house. Not to mention, it meant I had a way home that didn’t mean a 30-40 minute walk.

On one particular visit to Brett’s house, he showed me the aforementioned speeder bike scout helmet he made. It was so authentic that I immediately pledged my undying love and devotion to the plastic and cardboard construction and begged Brett to let me wear it on my bike ride home to show the world what a super-stud I was. I think Brett knew the actual outcome of such a solo-parade, and was likely curious to view the results. He capitulated gracefully and I plonked the helmet down over my ear-to-ear grinning face. I rode home like the winds of goofy change and just knew I was the envy of everyone who saw me.

Eventually I had to return the helmet, but not before infuriating my mother by wearing it constantly around the house. While I was busy dorking it up with the inanimate love of my life, Brett was busy re-creating other heroes of ours. Our next adventure would be a little closer to our home planet. Okay, ON our home planet. A little adventure I like to call “Indiana Beckett and the Snakening”.

Brett made himself an authentic Indiana Jones costume, and even was allowed to purchase an authentic whip to make it complete. I think his parents thought he would likely not be able to master the skills necessary to do more than flop that leather rope around like a soggy noodle. They were mistaken.

We would venture out into the national park, Indiana Beckett and his Baltimore Aquarium shirted side-kick, where he would rapidly acquire the skills to pop that whip like he was tearing open peep holes in the universe. He got good enough that he could snap leaves off of trees and even move small rocks. The best I could do was leave myself stinging welts all over my legs, neck and head, as is proper for the goofy side-kick. Knowing our respective roles, we ventured out into the searing heat of southern California summers in the national park and vowed to take on all of Nature’s “villains”. We were certain we could stop a coyote, bobcat or angry jackrabbit. Snakes would run in fear of Brett’s prowess. Or not.

As we ambled along the railroad tracks, Brett practicing his fear inducing whip snaps, me begging for the chance to scar myself further, we suddenly encountered our venerable hero’s biggest nemesis: a snake. Finally! A chance to showcase Brett’s prowess with the whip, and a chance for me to showcase my egging-on skills. Enter situational excitement and panic.

As I extorted Brett to show that snake who the boss of the railroad tracks was, it started rattling, turning Brett’s whip action into a tossing action mid-whip. Yep. He gave that snake the animal kingdom’s equivalent of a blow up doll, and it showed its appreciation by winding itself around the whip, daring us to try to regain our lost treasure. The snake standoff would last only until Brett realized that the whip’s handle was far enough away from the geometric tryst going on between snake and his paramour to allow him to grab it and make the jump to light speed.

Most of the rest of that afternoon is lost in the haze of screaming flight while shaking the snot (snake) out of that whip and hoping snakes can’t give accurate descriptions to the serpent authorities. We ran. Like the wind.

Once we had ensured our safety and distance, and checked to make certain we wouldn’t require changes of undergarments, we would embellish the tale of our encounter to anyone who would listen. To hear us retell the ordeal, we faced down a prehistoric demon-snake the size of a pick-up truck and lived to tell the tale.

We were heroes of our own imaginations.

We were also having the time of our lives.

Snafu

July 22, 2013

*** My name is Brett.  One of Kevin’s high school friends.  He asked me to be a “guest writer” on this blog.***

*** First of all, I am not a writer.  Just because I struggle with writing I am not a struggling writer.  Secondly, through all of Kevin’s other posts, you are most likely familiar with his past work.  I would like to lay claim to some of his success as a comedy genius, but please don’t blame me. When approached by Kevin to write a story, recalling a memory of our oh-so-mature childhood days (because let’s face it, when boys are fourteen, fifteen, or forty they are cool know-it-alls) a few stories came to mind, but honestly, since I have not partaken of each blog post, I decided it behooving to stray from the stories of lizard lassos, snake whips, and pond drains for fear of boring readers with repetition, redundancy, or superfluousness.***

Being a middle school teacher, and parent, I feel I understand adolescence, primarily that of the twelve to fourteen year-old.  I have been instructing seventh and eighth grade students for somewhere around fifteen of my twenty-three years in education, the last six of which have been in Multimedia, a class which, in our district, focuses primarily on movie production (speaking of movies… although I have stayed in the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida, I have yet to visit any mansion with said moniker resembling the likes of Versailles (other than Versailles)…and have been advised not to).  Now, having taught middle schoolers for so long, having two (currently) middle school daughters, and having been a middle schooler myself, I believe that upon finishing the application process and being hired, any and all middle-school teachers should be granted a knighthood, sainthood, riding hood, or any kind of hood available to those courageous (gullible) enough to voluntarily enter the position.  This philosophy is based mostly on the fact that I was a middle schooler myself and that my position as teacher now is not one of nobility, but one of karma (Karma= God’s “I told ya so.”)

As a middle-schooler, (and by the way, I am tired of my word processor’s red line indication that the word schooler is not in the dictionary.  It is.  If it isn’t a word, it should be.  Schooler: 1. an adjective describing a specific age of child, 2. a synonym for teacher) I was not as popular as I had hoped to be, but luckily, I was in middle school so I didn’t care. I entered seventh grade in Rapid City, SD, son of an Air Force Captain and entered the second half of eighth grade in Riverside, CA, son of an Air Force Major.  All of the moving, as any military brat can attest, leads to the development, honing, and perfection of certain adolescent survival skills; skills that most children do not learn until adulthood.  Among these skills are “if you don’t want people around you, don’t shower after gym class,” and “if you want people around you, be humorous.”  I learned to master both by the time ninth grade was over, and then spent the rest of my life trying unsuccessfully to practice more of the latter than the former.  This, combined with the fact that I had only been in California for five months, resulted in a lack of friends by the end of the school year.

The summer between eighth and ninth grade was boring, even for a newbie Californian.  That being said, and tying this together (finally) with the topic of middle-schoolers, adolescents are very easily influenced, as exampled by my trip to Universal Studios at the age of 13…I now am a walking filmography resource.  Generally speaking, adolescents do not have direction in the world yet, they don’t have a complete set of social graces, and they are gangly and clumsy; all the ingredients for what we call “goofy.”  This, not surprisingly, is the state in which Kevin and I began high school.

I met Kevin in 9th grade I believe, and our shared affinity of all things goofy, silly, stupid, ignorant, dumb, and dangerous was the magnet that brought our friendship together; well, that and English class.  Mrs. Polite (Saint Polite), our English teacher, “put up” with our shenanigans for an entire year, or possibly two.   How she ended each year with a full head of hair I’ll never know.

Riverside, California seemed to have a pool in every other back yard.  My next door neighbor had one, one of my friends down the street had one, and Kevin’s grandparents had one in their yard as well.

There was one particular night over the summer where Kevin invited me to spend the night at his grandparents’ house.  Not to belittle our friendship, but the selling point for me was the pool.  Even though I was not a good swimmer (to this day I pinch my nose when jumping in), I loved being in the water.  I accepted his invitation, even though I had never been to his grandparents’ house; nor had I ever met them.

As it turned out, Kevin’s grandparents had to go out for the evening.  I’m not sure I told my parents that they would not be present during our “sleepover.”  They might not have let me go had they known that we had access to a pool with no adult supervision.  Even so, it wasn’t the pool that would be the cause of fun for Kevin and I that night.  Instead, it was the food and the videogames.

We went to Kevin’s grandparents’ house, and immediately got into the pool.  (I believe it was after dinner-time as I don’t remember eating a meal there).  While swimming we played the usual games (all with snorkeling masks on) like Marco Polo, and one of our favorites, Spiderman; a game in which you can observe each other underwater clinging to the side of the pool as Spiderman would to the side of a building, then watch each other launch from one side of the pool, glide through the water, then land on the other side of the pool, clinging to that “building.”  Over the next year or two we would play this game again many times, especially at Club Mud, Palm Springs.

After swimming to the point of raisin toes, we decided to treat ourselves to a well-deserved snack.  I distinctly remember Kevin opening and closing the kitchen cabinets and the fridge and freezer pulling out items to include in our teenage smorgasbord.   Included in these were the staple of ice-cream (I want to say it was chocolate of some sort with marshmallow), chocolate covered cookies, whipped cream, cherries, assorted chips or crackers, maybe some licorice, and so on.  We piled all of our food onto large bowls filled with mountains of ice-cream and headed to the TV room.

Apparently, Kevin’s grandparents had everything that a growing teenage boy could dream of as there was a video game system hooked up to the television in the sun room.  I believe it was an Atari.  After a while of playing Space Invaders and PacMan and eating ice-cream and cookies to the point of misery, Kevin had a new game that he wanted me to play called SNAFU.    I had not heard of this term before and had certainly not heard of any such video game.   Time, being the greatest teacher of all, taught me what the acronym SNAFU means, and to this day I still don’t understand what it had to do with the actual video game that we played, which, if memory serves, was a basic “snake” game wherein the objective is to trap the opponents snake within the trails of the tails; very Tron-esque, light bike game.

The conversation was simple and went as follows:

Kevin said, “I have a new game that you need to play.  It’s kinda cool.”

“Sure. What is it?” I asked.

“SNAFU.”

“Gesundheit.”

Now, it may not sound like much now, nor may it even make you smile or smirk, but back then, at the age of 13, on the tallest sugar-high ever imagined by two water-exhausted, pruny, goofy ninth graders, “Gesundheit” was the funniest comment in the history of comments that anyone could have made at that particular moment.  We must have laughed for over an hour.  It was the worst (best) case of the giggles that anyone has ever witnessed.  As a matter of fact, if Guinness was there, it would not have been recorded as the longest, funniest case of the giggles because the record keeper would have lost track of time due to his own excessive giggling.

When we were finally capable of collecting ourselves, we had tears of laughter streaming down our faces and the worst stomach aches any teenage boy could ever deserve.  So, we ate more ice-cream.  Honestly, other than playing that video game, I don’t remember anything else that happened after that.

It was one of the greatest times of my goofy childhood that I’ll never forget.

Thank you Kevin.

Sky-flyin’ Friday

July 19, 2013

***I’ve been informed that I must strive to write about something besides not writing. My blogging Sith Master has spoken.***

You wouldn’t know it from looking at me, but I have over 500 skydives…and about 8 cutaways (what you do when your main parachute throws a temper tantrum in the air). To the people who claim that skydivers are reckless adrenaline junkies, I won’t bark at you like a junk yard dog to convince you otherwise, but I will pee in your shoes when you aren’t looking. It’s what I do.

To the average person, with their feet firmly lodged in their mortgage, white picket fence and overpopulation dreams, skydiving is seen as frivolous at the very least and downright insane at the worst. Both assessments are about as fair and reasonable as spinach-oregano cake at a kid’s birthday party, though you likely won’t get punched in the junk for offering a slice of free skydive. The truth is, skydiving is as fun and as safe as any activity that peels asses from couches and puts them more than 50ft from a television.

Me…trying to slow down for the cameraman.

Achebeyo and I met back in 2002 on a canoe trip to the outer banks. Since we were the only two people on that trip not in adult (or child) diapers, we naturally gravitated to each other and hung out extensively while camping on the island. Beginning a trend for our impending relationship, we traveled all over the island together and even discovered the herds of wild ponies…and nearly got trampled when they rallied to protect a foal from the friendly nose-kisses of my dad’s dog. This sort of adventurous outlook on life would set the pace for our leisure activities in the years to come.

Long before we met, Achebeyo had been on a tandem skydive. For those not really savvy on the terminology, that’s the kind of skydive where you are strapped to another biped with a massive parachute that can easily accommodate you both, and that person spooning you in the air controls everything on that skydive except your vomit reflex. It’s kind of like the test-drive for the sport, where you can try it out and possibly decide to make your next jump a 1-parachute 1-person jump, or you can flip the sky a trembling bird as you empty the semi-fluorescent and chunky goo from your innards. Sometimes it’s a little from column A, and a little from column B.

My buddy Barry realizing he’s fallen out of an airplane with someone on his belly.

After we had been together for a while, Achebeyo and I began to notice parachutes landing near the freeway every time we would make our way into areas of civilization with more than a well-known supermarket and a buffet or two as the main attractions. We decided that we would make an effort to find out where they were jumping from and how much it would cost to start jumping ourselves.

We ventured into an area where you’d expect to hear both the sound of banjo music and your sphincter slamming shut permanently, and found a nice little grass-strip dropzone with plenty of non-rapey, helpful people. We learned quite a bit about the sport simply talking and observing. Though the price for starting the Accelerated Free Fall course, the one that eventually leads to you becoming a licensed sky-jumpy-jumper, was a bit steep for us at the time, we vowed we’d find a way to make it happen without selling internal organs or fluids. And we did.

New skydiving student leaving the plane with her two instructors.

We pooled our resources, and with a little help from my unsuspecting father (who likely would have bought me cement shoes and a strait-jacket if he knew what the inheritance money he gave me would be used for), we began our adventures in the air.

Understand that you aren’t just slapped into clothing you wouldn’t even wear for Halloween (unless your family was being held hostage, and then you’d REALLY have to like your family), saddled with a parachute rig and shoved out an open airplane door the moment you pony up the cash. No, there’s a life-saving, but near coma-inducing, 6-7 hour classroom and equipment instruction, where you learn all about the essentials of body position, comprehensive equipment functionality, canopy (parachute) flight, altitude awareness and emergency procedures….that you will promptly forget the moment you step off the aircraft for the first time at 12,000ft. That’s why you leave the plane with two instructors locked onto you like they’re transporting Riddick across the cosmos to face temporary justice.

It’s not that you aren’t smart enough to absorb 6-7 hours worth of data for something you’ve never experienced before that will require you to save your own life. It’s the tunnel vision. Seriously. You can be the best student on the planet, someone the rest of us secretly hate (you teacher’s pet), but once you step off of that plane, everything you learned is reduced to a singularity from information overload. There’s so much to see and take in that new students tend to only see what’s right in front of their face, which hopefully includes instructor hand signals to get you to alter body position, check your wrist-mounted altimeter or deploy your main parachute NOWNOWNOW! Whether or not you pay attention in class and can apply what you learned in ground school in the air determines whether or not your instructors feel you are ready to move forward in your training, but don’t worry, they’ll deploy your parachute for you if you exhibit signs of waking air-coma.

See? They don’t leave until your inflatable wing is out and…inflating.

With a 2-way radio strapped to your chest, and turned on before you leave the plane, it’s now up to you to fly your inflatable wing to safety. The instructor on the ground gives you a few commands to follow so that he or she knows you’re paying attention, then proceeds to direct you into a safe landing pattern that will bring you in comfortably on your butt, or your feet if you’re just that good your first time, show-off. I think I gave myself a grass enema on my first jump, but nothing that required anything more than a quick brush-off. At that point, Achebeyo and I were hooked.

We completed all of our student jumps in a few weeks (we had great instructors who took the time to make sure we weren’t air-tards), and soon moved off of student status and on to exit solo-land solo jumper status. Not long after that, we passed both our written and practical tests for licensing with the United States Parachute Association (USPA), or as I like to call it License to look THAT good…in the air. We’d keep jumping together for a year or so more, until I was lured away by the dark side discipline of freeflying.

Most of what you see in movies and television for skydiving is what Achebeyo once accidentally coined as “belly-w”, or relative work (RW for acronym-nazis). It’s the kind of skydiving where you link up with others and make shapes together as you freefall; all in belly-to-earth orientation. Freeflying is the kind of skydiving that looks like badass aerial ballet…without the tights and tutus. It’s typically in feet-to-earth and head-to-earth orientation, and it’s much faster than RW. It also requires you to have much more minute awareness and control of your body positioning and movements. Back when I started skydiving, these people were the rock stars of the sport. And I’m all about being in proximity to perceived greatness. I was enthralled, but it took time to even be mediocre at it. Didn’t stop me from having a blast and making friends from all over the world.

My brother in law making me look good as the cameraman.

Me and some friends on what is known as a “zoo dive”. (Photo credit to Arvel Shults)

Achebeyo and I have traveled quite a bit, and have made some truly wonderful friends from all walks of life in our skydiving adventures. I was even fortunate enough to help plan, organize and execute an event at our home dropzone, The Raeford Parachute Center, where jumpers from all over the globe come to share air and time. We call these events boogies. They’re a concentrated serving of fun the likes of which you’d be hard pressed to find at home…or anywhere else people are rotting their brains on television and salty carbs. Heck, even the spectators seem to really enjoy sharing in the excitement and fun…from tables, chairs and bleachers, of course.

Whether or not you skydive, whether or not you even view skydiving as something other than people “jumping out of perfectly good airplanes” (which don’t exist anywhere, by the way), you’re likely to be at least a little bit social and sociable. If you ever wanted to meet a wide range of professionals and slackers alike, people from all walks and stages of life who enjoy what they do with their free time and love talking about it, go hang out at a dropzone and politely express interest at the level you are most comfortable with. People will jump (heh) at the chance to tell you all about their experiences and get your own blood pumping at the prospect of flinging yourself across the sky. And who knows, maybe you’ll get all infected with the idea that skydiving isn’t as crazy as, say, wasting away at a desk five days a week so you can afford to spend your weekends gathering tales of couch lint and bed sores to share with everyone on Monday.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Go catch the sun in the sky, like my buddy Joe.

Brain bursts

July 15, 2013

Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a novel, but with the same enthusiasm as my 3 year old niece being told it’s nap time. I love the idea of writing something more involved and comprehensive, but then The Lazy starts broadcasting everything else I could be doing, and how difficult all of the research would be, and my resolve crumbles like cheap drywall to the wrecking ball of  my easily distracted attention. Plus, there’s screaming and crying for no apparent reason. I don’t simply have issues, I have whole subscriptions.

Several key ideas about how my brain works have presented themselves in various, and ridiculous, ways lately, and I’m struggling to determine if I’m amused or irritated with what I’ve found. Here’s a partial list of thoughts I snagged on their ninja stealth-rampage through my brain-box:

1 – If lightning strikes this house while I’m peeing, will it travel up the contact my fluids are making with the toilet water and fry my nethers?

2 – I wonder if my cat thinks I’m an idiot for trying to speak her language… mrrrrow.

3 – Do you think Darth Vader ever used The Force to choke himself? For practice? Or, you know, David Carradine style naughtiness?

4 – If the news media are owned by big corporations, and big corporations have a financial stake in what news makes it to the public, isn’t it safe to assume they care more about sensationalism, hype and money than true journalism?

5 – I want to crop dust the ISS. Farts probably  permeate an area faster in zero gravity, and I won’t be able to sleep until I know for sure.

Those are only a few of the random bits of flotsam bumping around in my personal mental pond. I’m not entirely sure how much background noise they would provide if I tried to make myself write an entire novel, but my guess is “some”.

Recently at work, I vehemently denied it when a co-worker said I was OCD…then I proceeded to move everything he touched on my desk back into geometrically pleasing parallels with the edges of my desk. Touché, douché. The funny thing is, I’m not that way with everything around me all of the time. Just my desk at work. And sometimes other people’s desks. And any table I’m sitting at in a restaurant. And my kitchen counters/table at home. And magazine tables in businesses I visit. I need help.

I’m itching to travel again. We usually take at least one trip to a familiar location for a 3-4 day weekend, but our schedules have been a bit chaotic lately, so that’s been a factor, along with my 20% pay cut from furloughs. I had been looking forward to one of Achebeyo’s teaching gigs that would take her back to my home town so I could tag along and hang out with friends while she slogged it out in the educational trenches, but it was canceled, leaving me a lazy, pouting mess. We’ve got plans to go to Europe’s thigh-high boot later this year, and then, if I’m really lucky, Boracay for some of the best SCUBA diving of my life…I hope. As long as I don’t piss Achebeyo off between now and then, it should become a part of my traveling history.

Until my life gets more interesting and blog-worthy, I’m going to hook the video game IV back up and swing a digital laser sword at digital “bad” guys for social validation and geek prestige. Try to restrain your rampant jealousy.

What? The Funk

July 13, 2013

I wish I could say that this title means that I’ve reconnected with my P-Funk loving self. While I’m one of a limited number of bald white guys who can get down with Bootsy and George, this is another boring tirade on why I haven’t written. Hang on to your adult diapers everyone, it’s going to be a Matlock kind of ride today.

The word “surly” is fairly prevalent in my daily life lately. Between a government that wants ME to take a pay cut to save the country money, but won’t lead by example, and increasing pressure from my brain to be a lazy sack of protoplasm, I haven’t had much to say that wouldn’t spark immediate, ridiculous, conflict. And that’s not what this place is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about self aggrandizement and fun.

For those of you paying attention all these…months, I have a mentor, someone who keeps track of my writing and lets me know when I’m being a slack-ass.

Her: Hey, did you give up, giver-upper?

Me: No, I’m on an extended procrastination break, my master.

It’s tough being an apprentice to a blogging Sith.

She’s got a point, though: why am I not writing? My well thought out answer? Because.

I’ve been wrapped up in any number of inane activities that mean I have no time for writing. At least, that’s what The Lazy whispers in my ears when I feel guilty. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been focused on more than a few other endeavors lately. Since you’re reading this now, I’ll assume you want to know what has kept me enraptured like a 12-yr-old girl listening to talentless teens.

Neil Gaiman has written many books that I’ve devoured like fried goods at a southern buffet, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane is by far my favorite. I’ve read American Gods, Neverwhere, and Good Omens, which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett, but Ocean left me feeling like all of the childhood fantasies I created in my own back yard were true. It’s the kind of tale that leads you as an adult to the mystical door you created as a child, but denied once you started paying rent…or mortgage. I never wanted it to end, but at least it gives you hope.

The next piece of distraction I’ve buried myself in is from one of my favorite authors, Max Barry. My first introduction to his work was a loaned copy of Syrup, which I thought would be a sappy love story for girlie-girls. Turns out, it transcended bullshit gender roles and took me for a nut-slapping ride through Marketing 101 and Douchebaggery 201. I liked it so much, I not only bought that one, but proceeded to purchase Jennifer Government, which is a lovely tale of a dystopian future where corporations own everything…including you, if you have a job. Not too far from the mark now, huh?

His next offering, Lexicon, took me by the DNA and essentially imprinted itself on my soul. This is one of the few books I can honestly say I was sad to see end. Most books, the story is told, the battles are won and the characters you identify most with (if you’re not a sociopath) get the girl/guy/gold. With Lexicon, Max weaves so much of modern society and current events into it, that you don’t even have to look for parallels in today’s concerns: they’re slathered like butter on southern biscuits. This is the kind of book that will make you feel vindicated when you say, “I KNEW the media was lying to us.” While it is technically science fiction, the premise is more sciencey than fictiony. And it’s spooky. All I’m saying is, if you don’t read this book, you’re more lazy and frightened of success than I am.

Aside from those two offerings, my time has been filled with work, games and guilt.

Work is what it is: crap on a furloughed cracker served by a corrupt government to further their own greed.

As far as games go, all my free time has been spent in one of the popular MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) out there. Since I won’t advertise for free, let’s just say that it isn’t the one based on elves, dragons and trolls. It’s the one based on laser swords, bad guys with matching uniforms and giant slugs with slaves. I think it’s safe to say I’m addicted. If some Imperial sniper ganks you on a desert planet where those aren’t the droids you’re looking for, blow me a kiss.


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