Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sometimes You Just Gotta Fucking Do It

Years are crazy when you think about them.

The way the media was going earlier this year, I thought George Zimmerman would be beheaded by now.

Now, no one cares, sort of. At least Zimmerman is hoping no one cares.

It's amazing how things just...fade in time.

The way we perceive the fading applies as well.

Year planning also messes with your head when you think about New Year's Resolutions. As you grow older, you realize New Years is a lot more important than Christmas. Think about it: What would Jesus rather have? A holiday where we just give people things, or a holiday where you try to plan about how to become a better person? Christmas just throws money at the problem.

I don't know, I'm thinking too much.

It's funny to look back at resolutions too.

I didn't get everything accomplished this year that I wanted to, but I also got a bunch of cool stuff I didn't expect.

The novel didn't get done, but I got a writing gig for an awesome webseries.

(Feel free to help us out here:

This difference in expectations is something to consider when you think about the future. Some things you just cannot plan for. Opportunities come that level out your dreams. You don't get the car, but you get the girl. Sometimes, anyway. And that's not bad.

Which comes to what I find to be the biggest hurdle in my life right now: marketing

Marketing is odd for a couple of reasons. One, is that I've seen the Rocky 3 opening scene too many times and fear getting my ass kicked by Mr. T. There's a lot of artists who blab in interviews (*cough*Lil Mama*cough) despite not being relevant in ages. Marketing and promotion have made them soft. An artist might hide in the shell cause they think it might affect the craft.

Two, is fucking time. 

I honestly want to listen religiously to every podcast I come across. But I got two jobs, multiple writing projects, a blog/Tumblr I'm neglecting on top of something I'm forgetting. So it's not that I don't care about the journalists, I just don't have time. And it sucks. Cause I wanna listen, comment, and genuinely build a connection to promote my wares.

Three, is subjectivity.

How much marketing is too much marketing? How come photo shoots make me feel like a piece of shit? How many interviews is enough? Am I worthy of some publications and unworthy of others? Where the hell can I find the answers to my questions?

Subjectivity is a pain in the ass. Do you listen to people who have failed you in the past? The world changes minute by minute. Should you just experiment day in and day out?

That's where frustration comes from.

It's hard when you wanna go all out like every damn Nike commercial only to have people to tell to go at half speed. Then they resent you near the finish line.

I get a lot of spam in my Twitter timeline. Not going to lie, I plug myself from time-to-time. But, some people just chucking cans of spam all over the place. They don't say anything fun, they don't really interact, they just chuck spam. There needs to be a ratio.

Jeremy Laszlo. I ain't hating. But...he had an ad that went like this "A vampire saga without sparkles, where werewolves rape and murder, not have crushes on melodramatic teens".

Now, I get Twilight hate, but the need to embrace rape struck me odd.

But the thing was, he told me people loved the ad. So, I guess selling rape works to sell his book.

I don't wanna sell rape, but I have now been successfully alienated in terms of marketing.

I wrote Weight Loss Terrorists earlier this year. I had a vision of trendy women who would like something like this. I've met a couple of people like this, but the struggle wasn't enough to be worth the while from a business perspective. I tried to mesh with the YA crowd and it didn't feel right. I was lost.

Would I publish the book again? Absolutely.

Life is short. I'm not gonna wait seven months on a publisher for a "no" when I can say yes to myself and have the book bloggers diss me instead. Publishing Weight Loss Terrorists has opened doors regardless.It was the difference between walking and talking.

All the fears that people talked about when going out into the unknown never happened. I can't really think of a tangible low-point of the experience. I also love punk rock too much not to have played around with something like this.

I've learned that marketing is evil and it's evil cause it's necessary. But you can do it your own way. I love podcasts. I love good blogs. I love good anything. Why can't there be good marketing with good interviews?

Like Nardwuar:

The business of entertainment is a sport. And some of the athletes stink. But that shouldn't affect your love of the game, and your need to get what you came for.

This might be the last post of the year. Or not. I don't know.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cuteness And A New Hatred For Humanity

Cat videos.

Cat pictures.

Videos of animals cuddling together. Double points if said animals are usually sworn enemies.

Videos of pigs saving baby goats stuck in a petting zoo pond while the cameraman does his best impression of the bystander effect that'll make anyone turn into an antihero vigilante.

We as a society have taken a liking to adorable animals.

Of all the things the Internet allows us to do, we've decided as a global collective to dedicate our time watching cat videos.

It could be that we as a global people want some cuteness to unwind and be distracted with at the end of the day.

But why is that?

Why does it seem like people would die for these goofy animals that love the taste of their own feces?

Not to mention that people love throwing human babies in the garbage on a daily basis.

It would seem that human nature engages in evil acts while clamoring to their pets.

Dictators playing with their pets while they commit atrocities. It's even a scandal of the election.

What looks on the surface to be a contradiction in humanity actually presents an interesting issue on why people are the way they are.

Kittens, puppies, etc. are pretty much the most purest forms of innocence on the planet.

They aren't lying about it. They are not putting up a front with you.

They are authentic.

Is there a downside to authenticity? Yes. Animals can suffer a lot of abuse as a result of their loyalty to people. It's what makes those abused pet commercials so effective.

Now, this isn't to say all animals get a pass from people. Unfortunately, all of this is determined by an animal's cuteness.

Mythology is filled with heroes slaying demonic draconian creatures. No one cries when an iguana is "abused", at least not most of the time.

With animals, adorable is key. Like a baby. A baby who doesn't look his father. The one you hate so much.

Cause they need us. Taking care of someone can give a person reason to exist. It's the same relationship most parents (most, key word here) have with their children. That isn't to say have kids and it will fix your life. Become level-headed when available. 

To go back to Catcher In The Rye (again, I know), the main thing that held Holden Caulfield together by the end of the book was his love of innocence, shown by watching kids play baseball in a park.

He wanted to make his world a better place for them.

Of course, fans of said book have interpreted this and acted on it in very morbid ways.

But, a lot of people will tell you that they don't like children, for a lot of reasons. Kids cause vandalism.

Domestic pets help fill the emotional void.

They are also innocence to the ongoing humanity hating public.

If they can do some anti-social behavior they're not aware of, curling their paws in a way that it looks they're flipping you off, it would make them even more adorable.

The need for cuteness might be a reaction against the ubiquitous digital age we live in.

The lack of "healthy" social interaction may have added to this. Talking to the cat while waiting for someone to text you back. That kind of thing.

Have people loved their animals through the ages? Sure.

Could it be that the Internet has shed light on what was once a less noticed subject? Possibly.

But, one aspect that has been largely ignored by this phenomenon is that adorable animals bring out the good in people.

Human beings spend as much time and money caring about animals as they are abusing them.

There's a balance to humanity, a balance that often goes unnoticed.

There's a website called The Good News Blog. It's dedicated entirely to delivering good news. That being said, it's not very popular.

Not being happy can get a lot of things done.

Too much optimism is not good for production.

Anyone with an agenda is probably not happy. And if they are happy, they are either tired or looking for more happiness. Or they're naive. Whatever.

People don't hate big eyed furry creatures for being happy. Kittens chase bugs when it's tax season.

It's better for house pets to be idolized than babies. There's a lot of evil people who were idolized as babies.

Nowadays, it seems like there are two different kind of people: People who wished they did more in school and people who think they missed out on things while they were studying.

Or, in parents, those who want to shield their kids from the real world and those who prepare them so much that kids find a malaise in living.

It's a weird place to be. Do you break your back planting seeds of the future, or do you always smell the roses? Even when you smell the roses, you just stress out over how much is not being planted.

I guess the grass is always greener, even if one's colorblind.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Commoner's Cents

I've been thinking about money lately.

Who hasn't?

What I mean by this, is that I've been trying to handle my business better.

This little journey has opened a lot of questions and perspectives on life.

For one, I think finances are burdensome, and I'm approaching this from an enthusiastic perspective.

You gotta wonder how everyone else does it.

When you find yourself tempted to buy things, and you choose to be cheap and frustrated, how do people do it? When your brain melts from all the delayed gratification.

I've seen people gorge money on stupid things when they can't pay for utilities.

One of the biggest trending Twitter topics lately has been #ButYouGotThatIphone5Tho

As in, "Your kids are starving #ButYouGotThatIphone5Tho"

This is a big problem.

Does everyone live in constant denial all the time? Am I the world's party pooper?

And it brings me to the next point:

I think the concept of what "wealth" is needs to be redefined.

Nice cars don't equal wealth. They equal debt, paying with interest, high gas prices, and depreciation.

I think it was Dave Ramsey who said "Don't keep up with the Joneses, they're probably in debt".

Wealth means spending less than what you take in.

That's it. Nothing else. No champagne wishes, caviar dreams bullshit. Even if you're homeless and you made five dollars. If you only spent a dollar, that's wealth.

Now, onto another element of finance:

A bunch of personal finance gurus discussing investing always bring up risk. They talk risk like they're conquering Australia.

This is confusing as hell since all the previous chapters in said book was about saving. Now we're talking about blowing it all.

Have I figured it all out yet? No.

But, this is my own little adage.

Spend money on things worth spending money on.

The middle class buys junk. The rich buy investments.

Treat your time as you do your money. Hobbies should be constructive.

Debt sucks. But, if you have to go there, go into debt over something worth going into debt over. Again, maybe there's someone in a lot of student debt right now that wants me to go fall off a cliff, but hey, student debt is noble, at least in theory. That startup on your bucket list, for example, is also noble. Something worth being homeless over is probably noble.

Again, maybe my opinion will change later on depending on circumstances. But that's what I'm getting from all this finance doublespeak.

In Best Worst Movie, filmmaker Michael Stephenson chronicles the fanbase of the movie Troll 2 (which he starred in as a child). He reunites with many of the cast from the movie to see what they've been up to.

One segment shows the actor who played the grandfather in his retirement house. A lot of clutter occupies his house, and he goes into detail about how he regretted his life.

He regretted life cause he didn't take the risk in moving to the city to be a big time actor.

I ain't dealing with that shit. The only regrets that should exist come from trying too hard.

It's just a matter of going into debt over noble things getting into debt for.

All of this is subject to change.

Mass Media Is A Bad Babysitter

Culture is a funny thing.

I mean, we will all talk about how stupid it is. How this thing is chewing gum for the brain (despite the fact that chewing gum can help cognitive behavior), and how TV rots the brain so much, you'd think it give you brain tumors.

But somehow culture is the scapegoat for society's problems. Always.

Some psycho goes on a rampage. Tarantino and video games.

A riot goes on. Ignore ethnic strife. Find a movie to blame. 

Someone invents a cure for a disease. It's the power of our educational system.

Outside of little kids learning the Heimlich maneuver from Mrs. Doubtfire, pop culture gets a lot of flack for a lot of things. 

I think there's a media bias. I'm not speaking in the left-wing, right wing, chicken wing way either.

Do you ever look at a sunny day outside and say to yourself "oh boy, I'm gonna write a book on this shit"?

You wouldn't.

If you did, there's something wrong with you.

Even if you decided to paint a picture of said occasion, you would do it once. To keep going when people are partying, to have it consume you, to destroy relationships over said thing, takes a person with a different perspective on things.

Cause you can explain impulse. We all do things impulsively from time to time.

It's when impulse ends that "crazy" begins.

Crazy is going past impulse.

Going through after the thrill is gone, knowing what you're doing is complete shit, and doing it anyway.

That's why serial killers scare you so much. There's a moment (and this is documented) where a serial killer would face hardship, or what Steven Pressfield calls the "resistance".

In this case, resistance is a good thing. Resistance is in that one comic book run where the Joker is the good guy cause the new villain is so much worse. A serial killer has a moment of doubt where he knows what he's doing. And he decides to keep going.

Resistance fails, and that's why serial killers are scary. There's a moment right before they put the chloroform in their shopping cart that they wonder about what they're doing. And they keep going.

Goal obtaining is hard. Getting motivated is hard. For it to succeed in evil and fail in people with amazing charity ideas is a sad thing.

To keep going in art is hard.

There's a lot written on the subject.

There's a lot written cause people always want a magic bullet for all their problems. But, they could have it all done for them and still flee from doing what had to be done.

People flake. A lot.

To stay is to not be normal.

To stay for years when no one shows up is crazy. Like a dog with its deceased master. Hachiko.

That's why things in the media seem odd. All the level headed people left a long time ago.

All that's left is ego and insanity. That, or substance abuse. Insanity in a bottle or a Ziploc bag, if you wanna see it that way.

Combine an artist's insanity with a global audience's short attention span, and a lot of what's wrong with the world starts to make sense. 

The issues don't sell. Scandal sells.

Again, this isn't nothing new, but it has probably effected you in ways you didn't imagine. Arguing about stupid shit, for example. Arguing about really stupid shit, better example.

It gets to a point where we think words alone cause actions. Where we equate a politician's promises (which never happen) to a comedian's rape joke (which also never happens).

And then the podium comes out. And you do the in-the-suit-cause-you-have-to-do-be thing asking for forgiveness in an awkward way. Your haters will call you fake in your moment of sin. They were lucky, something was going on in the news cycle when they had their court appearance.

Their crimes were not national calamities.

When you think about it, a lot of heists aren't really posted in the media. They might say that a famous painting has been stolen, but they don't really go into the perpetrators. Stealing rich people stuff that doesn't harm anybody isn't that big of a deal to the media. It might be to the insurance companies, but maybe there's a fear we will root for the "bad guy".

A slow news day might be the most dangerous to society. We need time to fill, so let's make former friends fight over evolution. We need more time in this reality show, make the whores get drunk and hit each other again

A slow news day guarantees no peace. In his book, Life and Def, Russell Simmons explains about how the so called East Coast-West Coast rap war was just something that expanded with a Vibe magazine article. A little paranoid spat between Tupac and Biggie Smalls mutated into this regional war. Over nothing.

If we cannot stop a little hip-hop beef with the media, how do we stop global conflicts in different languages?

Not saying it won't happen eventually, it probably will. But the media will be social, not programmed.

Peace will come from people, not Pulitzer Prize wanters who will set a fire so they can be the hero and put it out.

It's hard to deal with thousands of years of emotional baggage and anger expanding faster than the compound interest of most wealthy people.

Look at it at a smaller level.

How many stupid arguments have you gotten in? Did anything get accomplished?

Do you ever lose three hours of your life and energy over it?

It's an election year. Do you think anyone will get anything done? It probably won't. It's not the purpose of government to solve problems. It's the purpose of government to delay tyranny. But now it feels like it's accumulating.

Things take time. We should expect that.

Normal people don't write books. They don't sign up for reality shows.

Of course, some people would equate normal with mediocre. It's all a matter of perspective.

But, I think as a standard rule, no art is inherently normal on the basis that it's made by abnormal people by default.

Even boring art made by serial killers is an odd thing to consider.

Then again, people are assigned to work on things they don't enjoy.

A lot of people get hired to write torture porn. They don't enjoy it, but it's a step on the way to success. And then, some teenage girl decides to have a marathon of torture porn movies and wonders what's wrong with the guy who wrote it.

But, who has the bigger problem here: the guy who wrote these things as a money making gig, or the person who willingly sat through a seven hour marathon of it?

A lot of people wanna put deranged in a category. They wanna point to some far off fringe as the cause of the problem. That thinking makes them feel secure. The monster under the bed grew up to be the disgruntled postal worker next door.

That's scary.

Society says it "wants to help" after disaster occurs, but that's coming from the cries of psychologists trying to save their jobs and anti-video game politicians trying to gain a foothold on the campaign trail.
And of course, you can blame culture. If that silly movie had not been made, there'd be peace in the Middle East. People dying had nothing to do with it.

Truth be told, blaming the Bible, the Quran, or The Catcher In the Rye all comes from that same place. Atheists don't understand Christians. Soccer Moms don't understand The Hunger Games.

I don't think the book someone reads has anything to do with it. It's something else. Something that society doesn't wanna hear.

Better yet, let's look at some basic murder literature. You have the Bible and the Quran. Books of morality in absolutes. Holy texts.

Now, Catcher In The Rye. What's that about? Prep school dropout. Why would Mark David Chapman and John Hinckley carry something like that? Goddamn phony sonofabitch. Holden Caulfield loves calling society on its bullshit.

Chapman thought John Lennon was fake. A man speaking against material possession living in a mansion. So did Hinckley.

Rage by Richard Bachmann (a pen name of Stephen King) was the choice book for teen killers in the 70s. Most people who have never read the book will say it was the graphic nature that caused the teens who read it to open fire.

But people who have actually read it will tell you what makes it intriguing.

The book, written from the point of view of a teen who opens fire in a classroom, explores on what goes through the mind of teen opening fire on his classmates.

The protagonist states it quite clearly: "My father says kids today have no balls. They might blow up an outhouse outside of the pentagon, but they won't take the steps necessary for revolution"

Propaganda of the deed. Teen angst edition.

Anyone who mocks Rage Against the Machine for being sellouts understands this form of rebellious resentment.

Except of course, they don't act out their violence. Even if they wanted to.

Some commentators have mocked the OWS for comparing itself to the protestors of the Arab Spring. They don't "have the balls".

Again, the people who acted out are the select disgruntled few of society. It's hard to realize that in a 24 hour news cycle.

It's hard to materialize mass media psychologically. Our cavemen brains still have a hard time grasping it. Like putting your things in a cloud.

And what did cavemen do to understand things that they could not truly understand?

They invented myths.

They made the rain personal. They made everything personal.

They made failure personal. The Gods are out to get them.

Our brains still function like this against things we don't understand.

Continuous failure makes us personalize it.

In The Anatomy of Motive by John Douglas, FBI profiler John Douglas states that most disgruntled murder cases occur when an individual "loses it" and realizes that they can no longer advance in life.

The dream dies, and the degenerates want to take people down with it.

Consider it the mid-life/quarter-life crisis from Hell.

That's what makes people kill. Not video games.

But this is a hard thing to address for society. Why? Cause there's too much money at stake. 

Hell, lifestyle commercials might make people kill more than culture.

Then, of course, said shooters hated the "fake" world they live in. But here's the thing: anyone who has been lied to feels the same way. To the point where "realness" is a fine compliment.

People love being full of shit. It can be argued that I'm being full of shit right now.

I think it has to be argued that people by default are full of shit. A bunch of lying, infidelity love-making, bad credit having assholes.

Most people are full of shit. Most people are liars.

Even people who don't wanna be full of shit have moments. Bad days. Distractions. And it sucks.

And the worst thing is, the full of shit people don't admit this.

Actually, the worst thing is that full of shit people get hired cause they don't admit this.

And it's hard to find comfort in the world when people are full of shit.

But I don't think random people should be killed for that.

That sounds like a really basic statement, but society has proven this to be a hard thing to do.

It is said that less than one percent of all Muslims are violent extremists.

Do you know what those one percent Muslims are thinking?

They're thinking "these sheep are fake, they don't adhere to the word of God". They show off their realness by blowing stuff up and shooting ambassadors who helped the people.

It's been a summer of murder. What's scary is how much politicization has gone on with the violence. A shooting in Colorado becomes a rallying cry for gun control. A dead U.S. ambassador becomes a sign of showing weakness in terms of foreign policy.

It's like you can play a game out of looking at life's personal tragedies and seeing which political party benefits the most from it. And some media outlet will profit from it.

Mass media is still this new emerging thing sociologically.

What do you think of when people say the media?

You can criticize it as a group, but they never really go up to Tom Brokaw and ask him what the deal is from a non-partisan point of view.

It's like when people say "Hollywood". Society never pays Hollywood a compliment.

No one is happy about Hollywood. No one. Not even Steven Spielberg.

Hardship is ubiquitous. Everywhere you go.

Even when you don't go places hardship is there. 

And that's totally fine.

There's no accountability.

Make a movie that angers some people, and it's your fault.

It's a movie. A really bad movie.

Do you know how much stuff would be destroyed if I wrecked stuff every time I saw a bad movie?

I don't even think the rioters have seen the movie.

Any excuse will do.

And of course, we love this. This is the "mass shooter video game" thing on a global scale.

And we talk about it cause we need time to fill. I need fresh new content. Nothing says "this article was not written eight months ago" like current events.

When you think about it, the Slows News Day will be the death of society. It's a diva looking for drama. It makes accusations and comes in many shapes and sizes.

Do you care about any gossip from three years ago?

Why do you criticize the lives of celebrities when you don't have your act together?

So, people get angry about this media, this journal of so called loose people trying to change their message to handle short attention spans of the world and we wonder why things are the way they are?

And culture is reflecting it.

Art, if you call this art, becomes this odd self-fulfilling prophecy. You hear society deals with teen pregnancy. So you make movies on teen pregnancy. And then people point to the numbers. But the numbers were already like that.

Obviously, this is more about the example than the real statistic. Teen pregnancy is down. You can't feed yourself in this recession, let alone kids. You can't even afford a date to get someone pregnant to begin with.

Point is, a lot of what is "out there" is not a reflection of society at large. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar, not a microcosm of big tobacco.

And we think killing people over a bad movie is acceptable behavior. To the point where we have to apologize and watch what we say.

I get hater comments all the time. Doesn't mean I kill people.

What is the solution to all this pent up rage in society?

I think people need to be constructively genuine.

Admit your faults, take the front down from time-to-time.

Limit the bullshit you force on others. Don't give false compassion. False compassion is like a false orgasm, people can tell.

And to the wannabe spree killers out there: Calm the fuck down

Understand that fake people are all overcompensating. Be compassionate.

It's hard to be real all the time.

And if you're still sad, go to a strip club.

And if one of your ultraconservative/feminist friends complain, take them with you. 


Friday, August 24, 2012

How We Value Work

Do you ever have something breakdown in your house and you have no idea how to fix it?

Do you have a mini-heartache when your car makes strange noises?

Did you ever fix it on your own or have someone else do it for you? Did you feel good afterward?

There's a weird relationship we have with what is essential and what is scarce. Sometimes we get them mixed up, but they are not the same thing.

We might mock the idea of being a plumber as a job, but when something breaks down, we need them and thank them, as long as they can show up to do it. 

That's more than most celebrities can do. And yet we put them on a pedestal.

And at the same time, we kind of have reality shows about people doing their jobs. Dirty jobs even. And they are kind of stupid. 

I guess it can be argued that repairs are expensive, and we resent the people in charge of these repairs for said reason, but how that makes the athletes we look up somehow better baffles me.

The funny thing is, we all acknowledge that the so called role models are not good role models, and yet it still continues on.

We complain about how much athletes make while continuing to watch the game. Watching it cause nothing else is on. Complaining about anything really. All tabloid drama as the sign of not just a slow news day, but a slow news cycle in general. Quest for filler. And somehow, we avoid actual news that matters. You're probably reading this to distract yourself from something else.

And then we complain about how much stuff can kill you out there.

I mean, GMOs can kill you, but so can reality television. Life kills you, but we don't want to acknowledge it, so we find scapegoats. Heaven forbid you die for being human.

Lately, it seems like people (myself included) have treated the Internet as their own customer service center to the world, with the exception of course to the fact that we haven't really invested or bought anything to make our complaints justified.

We go on, complain about things, someone gives us a schtick, and nothing really changes. 

Entitlement is a funny phrase. It's funny cause the people who criticize about the so called "entitled people" tend to want things.

There have been a lot of times where you can try to be content with your life, and people will give you crap for it. And that has backfired on society.

You tell kids to ask for more, and they'll want stock options. 

When I was younger, the threat of being a janitor or flipping burgers was a fear instilled on us by teachers who wanted us to rack up some nice student debt and get a good "decent job".

And now that those jobs haven't come in, all these college grads feel offended that all they have as an option are janitor jobs.

Now, truth be told, janitorial work does not pay off student debt, but that's never really addressed by OWS. Now people are losing their minds cause they find that their life is an expensive lie they can't pay off. Hoping they can be a professor over a janitor.

Even though a janitor does more honest work cleaning stuff than most teachers could. Notice the word "most". All I'm saying is tens of thousands of dollars is a lot of money.

Again, to complain about what I said is to call the customer service of the world.

I can't blame people for wanting more. It's been said that all war is for land. And now this recession is over real estate.

No one wants to be a sucker. You could be totally content with your way of living till someone shows you another life that makes you wanna kill yourself.

Right now as you read this blog, you live a life of indoor plumbing that was not accessible to any of the Pharaohs or conquerors. And we are still depressed because they want us to be depressed.

I don't care what anyone says, happy people don't go to work and do amazing things. Look at the lives of legendary people. They've been bankrupt, depressed, if not suicidal.

I'm not saying go out of your way to be depressed. It's just a symptom of living life to the fullest sometimes. If you want to live to your full potential, you stand the risk of breaking yourself. And yet, if you don't do this you will feel broken later on.

It's like when you hear about celebrities dying in debt, and they try to make it this sad thing. I don't think it's sad. Who wants to die with extra cash in the bank? Now the leeches who sucked you dry have to work to pay your expenses. Lucky you.

If you are happy, you would not need things. You wouldn't have to go to work. You could be content being who you are. And society will hate you for it. Cause society is fake. It has to be fake. That's how it functions. A macrocosm on the duality of man, if you want to get hoidy toidy about it. Society needs contradictions in moderation to function.

The funny thing is, you can get to a weird place comprehending all this. Having your heart broken cause a girl does not find your salary admirable while she does nothing for society/hating all men cause you caught your boyfriend cheating. You feel sad, and yet you think about victims of genocide to cope with it. Or someone would tell you how bad they have had it in the hopes of making you feel guilty.

Isn't that what we do? Look at the unfortunate to feel better about ourselves?

And even though you know you should be happy, you are still hollow inside. Because you never addressed being emotionally vulnerable from the breakup, you just filled it with this bizarre form of compassionate schadenfreude.

There's an Internet meme somewhere that states that "saying you shouldn't be sad cause someone has it worse is like saying you shouldn't be happy cause someone has it better".

I used to feel bad when I gave up eating nasty food cause I thought about the starving kids who couldn't eat it. But now, I realize that giving starving kids nasty processed food could only make their condition worse.

You ever have a long term goal that you're determined to get to? You ever get close to it? You ever get emotionally numb when you treat this goal like some daily habit? You're two months into a year project, bored out of your mind?

This is what you wanted. You're used to it and feeling nothing.

It might be said that boredom could be enlightenment. There's no conflict in boredom. The bad guy is dead, the protagonist is developed, and life is like a game with all the cheat codes. No challenges. A dead fish for a cat.

There's a lot of refugees of violence who become adopted by fortunate parents. Their adoptive parents spoil them due to the memories of tragedy. And those kids grow up to be just another Xbox playing jerkoff.

Imagine if you had everything you wanted. Not just materials, but emotional needs. Relationships became healed. Wouldn't you eventually get bored? Isn't that why people start things to mess with people? Boredom.

What if Heaven and Hell are essentially the same place made different by how the person there sees it?

Just pontificating. Eternity is a long time. Plan for the future.

We live in this weird place that both hates rich people and poor people. We hate the homeless, we hate minimum wage workers, and we hate those at the top.

I wish people would make up their mind on where all the anger is.

I never understood treating a waiter like shit. I mean, if the service sucks, maybe, but I don't understand going out of your way to make someone's life miserable.

I mean, I understand eating the rich. I think rich kids go out of their way to piss people off. They wanted people to be jealous, and now they find society angry at their parents success as a result of it. I don't think anyone in the higher tax bracket who openly asks for envy should be surprised at the current state of affairs.

All the same arguments can be made about the Royal family. It's all the same, isn't it?

And people in the middle class spend money on stupid things anyway while voting for the same stupid people, so it's hard to feel sympathy for anyone. 

Maybe everyone sucks when it comes to money.

Maybe anything can become pointless when you think about it long enough.

Society can be weird sometimes. Things are popular because they are scarce.

But in due time, unpopular things become scarce. And then they become popular.

See what I mean?

Rich people will complain about things. Things I don't really comprehend. Like aesthetics of a golf course. They pretend to vomit when they see a McDonalds in the horizon. Saying it's globalization. It's a crisis. It's an eyesore. A form of visual pollution killing them inside. 

And poor people don't really care. Maybe that's why they're poor, maybe not.

I wonder what would happen if everyone took a step and realized how much time they're wasting.

Wasting on absolutely nothing.

So of course, I had to blog about it.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


A lot of the time, we have visions of greatness. We dream of it.

We talk about doing things, but doing things is hard. Which is weird, cause you think all the formulating would be the tough thing to do.

You don't stop working out when you become skinny. It's a hard thing to wrap your head around, but things that you want in life can be obtained by correlating your actions.

If you want a job, love job applications.

If you want to be skinny, love exercise and celery.

And sometimes, we get stuck in correlation. Johnny Bravo mode. You need to deal with rejection, but instead, you love rejection. Rejection is normal.

Which is fine, but when you find an opportunity, you find a way to mess it up. You get what you wish for. And it scares you. Cause you can lose it. You look at an attractive man/woman and you get scared thinking about what it takes to keep her.

When you think about your dreams, think about the side effects as well as benefits and how to deal with them.

If you want to be rich, look at the habits of rich people. They are often busy in their business. Are you ready for that? Is there one thing you need to do before the jump? One last lost weekend?

A lot of times, it's not finances or a "real" obstacle that stops us. Usually, it's something that we think would sound goofy if we told someone. So, figure out what it is, and find a way to overcome.

This blog was started to promote my writing. And in a way, it sort of worked. So much that I don't always have time to do it.

I would like to say that I could followup with the blog in the future, but I'm not sure.

So don't hold your breath, but I will return a couple months in the future.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Why Nostalgia Is Killing You (And What You Can Do About It)

Childhood nostalgia can be a lot of fun. It's nice to look back at who we were before life got complicated and embellish in what we used to do.

There's an old Twilight Zone episode called "Kick The Can" where a group of senior citizens regain their youth by playing all the games they did when they were kids, particularly a game where they kicked a can for fun.

But sometimes, too much of a good thing can be quite bad.

We've played kick the can so much that we can no longer grow.

                                                 Some of us are more retro than others

Considering what we had to enjoy in the past, who could blame you?

A lot has been said about the past century and its seemingly categorized decades with regards to popular culture. In times of uncertainty, times when popular belief says that our days on the Earth are numbered, we like to look back onto what human civilization has accomplished, whether it be good or bad. This need to look back has started since the 90s (with Y2K fears) and continued pretty much since.

Looking at all the things that have come and gone, it's fun to cherish things that have come and gone.

A person on their deathbed may wonder about what the world will be like when they are gone, but their main thoughts are often the memories they had of the life before them.

Nostalgia can be a sign of declining civilization

If you were to look at moments in history with society on the edge of decline, you will see that many of them involved a lack of artistic innovation, a repeating of old ideas, and a resistance to new developments.

Of the various symptoms that illustrated the end of the Roman Empire was the lack of creativity that Roman entertainers had. The Romans were no longer hungry to do things differently. They became vain. They knew the past already worked, so they stuck with it. And the barbarians, hungry with different ways of doing things, stopped them. Nostalgia is a symptom of something larger. You love the past cause you're afraid of your future.

A lot of the items of pop culture that are adorned are part of the nerd culture. Isn't nerd culture the center of being innovative? Only if they reach their full potential.

When we think of nerds in the modern sense, we like to think of innovators who get rejected in high school only to grow up and change the world

This David turning Goliath story motivates those of us who find ourselves on the short end of the stick in our lives with only our long-term goals to help guide us through the storm.

This can work. This has happened.

Then there's the other side of it. There's wasting your life in the culture hoarding.

Is there a pride in being culturally literate? Absolutely, all the greats do it. But, they use their knowledge of the past to change their future. Sometimes, people get so caught up in the love of the chase, they forget what they're running after. 

In any Page 2 article Slashfilm has ever done, you will see talented artists create various parodies of every movie, television show, anime, comic book, or otherwise. All the hard work that these people do is done in living in other people's dreams. Which is fine, unless they wanna change the world.

Cover bands don't change the world.

If you're an artist making original work, maybe you can do one "cover" to grab people's attention and use that to link them in.

We have all this technological capability, and you're saying the only thing we can do is write old articles about our childhood and make Star Wars parodies? We are capable of so much more. We have the ability.

If you're going to look to the past, it better be because you want to know how it can help you with our future.

Do you ever have an old obscure movie that you think would be great for a remake, and then they remake it, and it's horrible? You thought it would be great if they could somehow modernize this underrated gem, and they gave you a teal orange carbon copy of recent films that came before it.

Again, you can be a hoarder of the past.

Yeah, you think it's disgusting when they don't throw away pizza wrappers, but if they were dusty trading cards, you'd still hold onto those things.

Imagine what kind of world we would live in if Spielberg and Lucas only made remakes. If there was no Star Wars, just a whole lot of Flash Gordon.

Could it be good? Maybe, but we would have no Darth Vader or Han Solo. No Indiana Jones. That's scarier than any dystopian future.

So, if you're an artist, make something original. Experiment. Make the muse go through puberty.

And if you're a collector, try something new. There's a lot of bands that have elements of what made the 80s fun for a lot of people. Or, you can watch a movie like Drive (with the oh so dreamy Ryan Gosling) and have cinema that emulates those influences with said soundtrack.

There comes a point where enough is enough. You can only collect so much of the past. There's only so many dinosaur bones that you can dig up.

As much as we'd hate to admit it, there's a joy to liking the past. Your own little website as a secret shrine to what you think is important. It gives you belonging. But, the Internet is quick to take that away. When all knowledge is a Google search away, it's hard to be on the inside.

This is why hipsters seem as confused as they are. They need to be in seclusion, and they can't be. This is why people on the Internet need to tear everything down. The drama is an attempt at an identity.

But there's a problem there. Contrarianism lacks autonomy. You might stand out, but you don't know who you are if all you do is say the exact opposite of everyone else. If you were forced in isolated confusion, you wouldn't know what your favorite band would be.

When something becomes bigger than us, it bothers us. Again, part of our identity is gone. It's like a politician who panders out of his base. You hate that they no longer represent you. 

When you run out of things to collect, you can make your own. That's where a real identity can come from. It takes time, but it's more fulfilling than trolling. 

You don't need nostalgia. If you did, you would welcome remakes. But you don't. Why is that? Because, you have mistaken the past with quality. Sturgeon's Law states that 90% of everything is crap. The past allows us to cherry pick. With the present, everything happens all at once, and we don't get the good 10% on the first try.

All I'm saying, if the sky is falling, now's the time to get your art project off the ground, whatever that would be. The future ain't here yet, so you might as well start now.

We like the past. And if you truly love the past, you need to let it go. Like Indiana Jones with the Holy Grail.

Why do we love what we've done before more than what we're going to do?

Cause we know how that story ends. It's a rollercoaster. And why do we like rollercoasters? Because rollercoasters have thrills with safety restraints. We even have a track to see where we're going and how we're ending. Even though we're scared we know it will be okay.

It's controlled chaos. We like that. We need fire to cook the food without burning the village down. And if the forest burns in the horizon, we hope to watch it at a safe distance.

Theatre is always fun, as long as the players stay on the stage. When they leap out to us, we don't know what's going on, and that scares us.

If UFC fighters jumped out of the octagon and started beating up people in the crowd, it might be fun to watch on pay-per-view, but that's only because they're not beating down your door.

One of the counterarguments to this is of course that, "if people watch someone being murdered, how come they have no desire to call the police?". Because conflict is watching a car accident. There's not much we can do but see the impact.

The entire "sport" of Nascar exists so people hope and wonder if someone will get into a bad accident and yet regulations, barriers, and the whatlike have been created to make sure the bystanders don't get hurt. Which makes sense, but it's really scary when you're the driver. Everyone wants the trophy, but nobody wants to die.

There's a spectator effect with the past, and that doubles when it is personal.

Life is not a rollercoaster. Life is like Mario Kart if you died when you fell off the tracks or didn't pay the bills. And that's scary. Not scary in the horror sense, but scary in the wasted life sense. All the horror movies about violence, but none really explore the fear of losing one's job and way of living. Cause it's not fun.

Controlled chaos could be Darwinian. It might help us cope with sabretooth tigers and teach us how to kill them. We admire the technique as a way to know how to deal with them when they are in our face.

A lot of things come into our lives that try to establish themselves as the next big thing. When we embrace them early on, we are in the know. When we embrace them early and they fail, we look really foolish. Myspace. Prequels. 

Sometimes it's a fad and sometimes it becomes a cultural staple. There's a fine line separating them. But the dance people do in between trends might come out to be embarrassing.

That's what Hollywood does now. Except, it's not street credibility, it's millions of dollars. And when they look foolish making a board game movie, they look really foolish making a board game movie 

The current state of dirty south hip-hop. They seem like Bret Michaels in the late 90s.

Could there be a comeback in the future? Sure.

But they need to bring the quality.

Draw the picture, don't copy and paste.

Does everything come from somewhere? Yeah, but that's not so much about creativity but more a property of matter. Matter can be modified, never created or destroyed. You can still make it in your own image.

There's always a twenty year nostalgia rule. What was popular twenty years ago always has a resurgence. Happy Days. That 70s Show. It happens. Only question, how can you be nostalgic about a decade of nostalgia?

Every once in a while, I see someone, of the Comic-Con demographic, who brings out the worst in enthusiasm. I call this the Peter III effect.

Peter III was an Tsar of Russia who nearly destroyed his country because his nerdy obsession with his Prussian enemies stopped Russia from winning the war. Peter III played with his little Prussian soldier action figures when he was way older than the "considerable age" for playing with them. He took over control of the military as Russia was close to winning the war against Prussia and made his men wear Prussian-like uniforms and draw up a treaty. He was assassinated by his wife for his Prussian fanboy ways.

                                                            Cosplay, circa 1700s

Is this an extreme example?


Is it still a fable about what unrestrained fan-dom can do to destroy people? Absolutely.

I love guys like Kevin Smith and Patton Oswalt, but sometimes they act like they should be wearing togas the way they love the past. Sometimes it feels like the empire is burning. 

It's not enough to be a consumer. You need to put your money where your opinion is and be a creator.

Do we need consumers? Yes.

Do we need creators more? Absolutely. 

And there are bands and films that do that.

Nostalgia is the television screen of our life. 

All the struggles from the comfort that knowing you'll get out of the story alive make you enjoy it. But now, the reruns are starting to take hold. It's not fun anymore. All a reaction against an undesirable identity.

Do you really remember the past as it was? Think about it. Dig deep. There were a lot of shows on Nickelodeon that were not that good. You can't remember them cause they got canceled.

All That isn't what you used to remember it as. 

Kenan and Kel is kick-in-the-pants comedy painful.

Better than Drake and Josh? Sure, why not.

But is the fact that they came later a sign that it's better, or is it just memories? They were both created by the same producers, so I don't think they would argue either way.

Don't mistake a greatest hits album for a lifetime's worth of work. The past has a lot of filler.

Nostalgia was first prescribed as a sickness. It was a way to mock soldiers who wished they could go back home and live the past cause they weren't cut for the battlefield.

Watch Al Bundy long enough and you'll become Al Bundy talking how you had four touchdowns in one game.

Do I love the past too? I do. But, like Aristotle says (how's that for past admiration) we need things in moderation.

You ever have the Internet go out at your house? Try it for a week. Now imagine it's not a week, but ten, twenty, thirty years. Welcome to the past.

I had a paper due via online course, almost went into convulsions when the Internet went out.

I hope this never happens on a global scale.

That will be the real end of civilization. Ironically, the only thing left will be our dusty CDs of musicians past.

Everyone wants to live in this fantasy version of the 1950s where we can erase the mistakes of the past and have a racially mixed group of friends in a malt shop while playing around with cell phones that have a retro design. I'm not gonna lie, even I wanna live there.

But even then, there would still be the atomic fear. 

When you were in high school, you were worried about the future, about essay deadlines and college applications. It's easy to forget that now. 

We should know where things come from. It's better to be attached to the past then to be an uninformed youth listening to some hip-hop remix sample of some 80s hit.

But understand that time is limited. 

At any given moment, a car could smash into wherever you are living and end your life. What would you have to show for it?

We're reaching a bubble. Something's gonna give, and it's gonna give soon.

You want childhood because you don't want to be a grown up. You want a level fifty Caterpie because you're afraid of what people will say about your Butterfree. Doesn't that reference just come off as tacky? You might think it's cool for a second, but then it sets in how cheesy it really was.

Do I love Community. Yes, I do. Do I love Star Wars? Yes, I do.

I also love it enough to let it stand on its own and let it go.

I guess it's a postmodern paradox. Learning from the past and making something new from it.

Somewhere along the line, people forgot that you can make new memories after you feel sad about the old ones.

Truth be told, reference jokes are easy, and they don't have the stigma that penis jokes have. I might use them in future works. But don't mistake technique for talent.

The difference between what Lucas and Spielberg did was that they used what they had to fulfill something they needed, to create something that was similar to what they loved but had not yet existed.

There was an appreciation, but they still found their artistic identity in their works.

Make new things that look like the past things if your heart so inclines, but make it new and make it you.

History will repeat itself, but it doesn't always need a remix.

There was once a marketing campaign that talked about how "everything is a remix" and while the goal of the project was well intended, it seems to miss the point.

It's one thing to copy and paste the Mona Lisa and mess around with the color scheme in Photoshop. It's another thing to take the time to have a model pose for you, to mesh all the ingredients together to paint the picture. That's not to say the entire art of "remixing" is a lie, there's a lot of people (DJ Earworm comes to mind) that make new things amazing things from remixes.

But there's a talent involved in that.

                                         Da Vinci took what he learned from nature

                                               And incorporated it into his work

Sometimes, playing a song from the heart differently can give it a whole new meaning. Other times, it just sounds like karaoke.

Now, if we can somehow all find a way to still exist after December 21, 2012, 2013, 2045, whenever, we might as well try new things. The Mayans predicted a "new era" arriving soon, and yet we fail to prepare with all the technology we have to counter it.

Then again, maybe this is what the Mayans were talking about. The Internet is growing, Moore's Law is in action everyday, cloud computing is finding it's way, maybe we are changing for the better and this is the new era that the Mayans were all predicting.

Maybe we can all try different things after that.

But, if, for whatever reason, you feel like that could be it, that could be the big one, you might as well take this as the opportunity that it is and get working on that one thing you've always wanted to accomplish.

Anyone who visits this site has come here with a need to celebrate the things that have made an impact in their lives.

How could we have enjoyed what we had if the people who made those things decided to reenact their childhood instead?


Monday, May 28, 2012

Why You Are Sad With Your Career (aka My American Psycho Review)

I think a lot has been said about Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho both in the novel form and in the film adaptation starring Christian Bale. It has even been reviewed on a parody of Reading Rainbow on FunnyorDie. While I decided not to review the film (that will be for later), there is a lot to be said about Ellis' novel that doesn't involve a comparison.

American Psycho traces the life of Wall Street yuppie Patrick Bateman and his extravagant lifestyle as a member of the privileged elite. As we progress deeper into Bateman's life, we see that he is not all the promising young man we are first led to believe that he is.

A lot of the narration and dialogue focuses on the brands, types of alcohol, clothing,  electric toothbrushes, and other accessories that Bateman cherishes.

As anyone who has seen Mad Men can tell you, what you own determines your lifestyle. Bateman finds more value in his consumer goods than he does the people around him.

The sad part is, most of Bateman's colleagues, with their backstabbing corporate ways, would probably look down on Bateman if he were to be compassionate.

He even joked about saving the whales to his friends, only to be jeered in response. His colleagues see empathy as a sort of weakness. As we progress into the story, we see that Bateman is in fact a serial killer who kills with a diversified portfolio's worth of weapons.

There's a reason why Patrick Bateman is not the sweetheart we wish for him to be.

Bateman has been rewarded his entire life for his behavior, and encouraged to see others as worthless if it helped him compete.

There's even a real life counterpart to Patrick Bateman. Wasted: The Preppie Murder by Linda Wolfe details the real account of the murder of Jennifer Levin in Central Park by prep school burnout Robert Chambers. While Chambers, who dropped out of multiple prep schools, can appear to be more like a cocaine addicted Holden Caulfield, there is a lot that happened in the case that echoes of the work of Bateman.

Chambers had everyone protecting him from his friends to his mother and their deep denial of events is something that they both share with Ellis' novel. Bateman's open declarations of violence are met with silence and quick changes to other subjects. The denial that the Chambers family had in face of these allegations show the coverup mentality the elite feels when faced with their own dysfunction.

Patrick Bateman has the need to acquire his surroundings and control them in his own image. Gordon Gekko said it best in Wall Street "I don't create things. I own". Bateman utilizes this ethos not only in his work but in his way of living.

He needs to dominate things and control them. Only by controlling things does Bateman show release. He can't make music, so he will go into minuscule detail deconstructing Genesis albums or the career of Huey Lewis and the News to show his worth.

He can't love, so he will kill to control it.

With all of the parables of restrained primitive violence, consumerism, and hallucinatory self-worth Patrick Bateman has a lot in common with Tyler Durden, the "protagonist" (if you will ;) of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club.

In a way, it feels like Patrick Bateman and Tyler Durden are the same person separated by a tax bracket

Now, I will admit that I am in the middle of reading Fight Club as a novel, I only have the movie as a real reference point. Same way I haven't seen the movie adaptation of American Psycho as of this moment.

Tyler Durden spent a good portion of his time questioning life, about what happens when we do good, go to school, and get a good job. He always asked "Now what?". In a weird sense, Patrick Bateman is the demented answer that Tyler Durden could have been looking for.

Bateman went to a prep school, graduated Harvard, and worked at a great job.

There was nothing left for him to accomplish.

Both Bateman and Durden are reactions against the advertising-as-lifestyle consumer culture that they were born in. They both have violent impulses from the attempts at social engineering to silence their primal needs.

Both have problems feeling other people and need to do drastic things to achieve their sense of fulfillment. While Durden felt that society ignored him and he had to do things to be noticed, Bateman created acts of violence only for the world to be in denial of it.

Durden thought he was part of " a generation raised by their mothers" and we see Bateman talk to his mother, not entirely sure what his relationship with his father was like.

It can't help but be wondered if Bateman would stop going around killing people if Durden asked him to be a part of Fight Club. It couldn't help but be wondered if Durden might have stopped Project Mayhem if Bateman could have talked him out of it.
Tyler Durden would probably make the soap that Patrick Bateman would wash himself with as part of his morning ritual.

Since the soap was made from a sinister means, he might have taken even more joy bathing in it. 

David Fincher said it himself "We're designed to be hunters and we're in a society of shopping". Patrick Bateman decided it would be better to kill when he ran out of things to buy.

If we can get even deeper, it seems that both characters were created by LGBT writers and elements of homo-eroticism occur in both works, whether with Tyler Durden and male bonding with the narrator or Bateman's relationship with Luis Carruthers. Chuck Palahniuk is said to be influenced by Ellis, so the parallels might even be intentional.

Consumerism plays a big part in both stories.

Whereas Durden revolted against the consuming culture society presented him, Bateman embraced it. Bateman's love of ownership got to the point where he saw people as something to be owned, an accessory to be put in a locker to make him feel better about himself.

Durden is the product of self-loathing while Bateman is the product of constant admiration all throughout his life.

In a sense, the end result is disastrous in both works but the approach couldn't be further apart. I wouldn't be surprised if there's fanfiction out there pitting these two against each other.

Don't think lifestyle advertising isn't some paranoid delusion either. It's real. Companies that want to connect customers with their brand go to extreme lengths to present how they should live.

Beer commercials for example.

A false sense of lifestyle helps one brand of toothpaste sell over the other even though they're both basically the same thing.

Patrick Bateman associated himself with his brands more than he did with other people. That was okay when he was wearing expensive Armani suits. Not so okay when he was renting violent movies from the video store. He became what he associated himself with.

Sort of reminds one of cosplay gone wrong. Dress up is fine, but have some respect for yourself. Cover bands don't change the world.

If anything, Patrick Bateman serves as a bizarre marketing fable.

A lot has been said of violence in culture. There's been a lot of fear about this. On the surface, conventional wisdom says that the fear is regarding protecting "the children" and how we could encourage bad behavior through culture. But the root of the problem has never been openly addressed for the repercussions that could occur if it was openly discussed.

It is rather simple: Place your product in our outlet and people will go to you.

There's a lot of examples where this works. When people think E.T. they are reminded of Reese's Pieces. Shawarma restaurants got an 80 percent boost from Tony Stark's endorsement.  

It can work.

I'm hoping you'd check out my ebook when this review is over.

However, this can be a problem with sex and violence, because advertisers wonder "If I place my product out there in hopes that people will buy it, wouldn't people kill each other if violence is also advertised?"

Culture makers must always play this balancing act between both extremes. 

Things can get complicated when you realize sex and violence is an attractor for ratings and people will pay more attention when you raise primal urges.

But there's a difference between buying candy in a vending machine cause you saw it in a movie and killing people cause you watched Sylvester Stallone do it as Rambo.

Most portrayals of violence show that negative consequences can occur to people who act in that manner.

So, getting back to the title of this post, what does this have to do with you?

I'll tell you.

The world we live in is evolving. I probably won't be on Blogger ten years from now. Google will probably force me to engage in something else. There will probably be a struggle, and I will reluctantly agree in the end because there's nothing I can do about it at this point. My audience and my "brand" will have to change.

I don't know. I don't like the term "brand" for this reason. I like doing different things. I'm not Mike Tyson. I'm not a fan of pigeonholes.

Branding is for cattle. I could mention the term for lack of finding better words to connect with the audience as far as identity goes, but "brand" sounds like all creative decisions were made by marketers to squeeze out the last cent.

Weight Loss Terrorists was not approved by a focus group, and no matter what I do in the future, right now I will enjoy it because of that.

There's footage online of Drake talking about how he would love to work with Sade. He talks about Sade declining for whatever reason, and he points to the fact that Sade needs to "respect her brand" and how he respects that. Now, I wasn't there. Maybe Sade really wants to keep her brand intact. Maybe all those songs about heartbreak are done to promote the "Sade lifestyle".

I'm all for an artist understanding the business side of things, but being that this is an article about books about unstable men reacting to consumerism, there's a time to do things and there's a time not to do things.

If the suits can't understand this, I will speak in MBA talk: it's not good business to make your customers feel like a cog in the machine. Might work for people you pay, but not so much for the people who pay you. Doesn't it piss you off if something you like was part of some marketing scheme?

Like all those kids who realized the 1986 Transformers movie killed off all their favorite characters so they could be forced to buy the toys of all the new characters. Did they buy the new ones? Nope. They had to bring Optimus Prime back from the dead in order to bring business back from the dead.

When you get to the root of it, this is why people don't like corporations in the first place. Little shops where the owner and the manager are one and the same in the front line (as Seth Godin explained in Linchpin) are much better at addressing the immediate needs of the customer.

Giant bureaucracies that raise ticket prices, get rid of the ability to sell used games, and do other things without caring too much about the customer because "those idiots will keep coming anyway" often find their big heads on the chopping block.

The same can be applied to what can only be called mainstream superhero comics in the 90s. When diminishing returns hits, it hits hard. Combined with backlash, it makes for a bad combination.

When we think about the positive competitive nature of capitalism, we like to think about two companies working hard to find the cure for a disease.

When we think about the negative competitive nature of capitalism, we tend to think about two companies working to sabotage cures in hopes that they can profit more from treatments.

There really is no way for the rebellious at heart to stop their lifestyles from being capitalized on. Rebellion can be a lifestyle that is ripe for marketing to disillusioned youth. It's impossible for a movement of substance to move forward without the suits seeing it as an opportunity. 

Some might even find being off the grid as a welcome invitation to grab more resources from the so called "voluntary poverty".

So, to anyone who finds themselves disillusioned with the world at large, now is the time when it's important to look inside and figure out how you want to live the rest of your life.

Both Durden and Bateman struggled to find identity in a world that didn't want them to have identity on the grounds that it interfered with their ability to consume. Having a sense of who you are and what constructive goals you wish to accomplish helps make things better.

A lot of violence in the world occurs when people don't have an identity. When you don't know who you are in life, you'll join a gang, whether it's Project Mayhem or something more real and deviant. Extremists of religion want to show their devotion by doing drastic actions as a way to prove who they are. 

You shouldn't be depressed if your life doesn't match up to the image of life portrayed in beer commercials. Ever play the Fight Club video game? It's not as good as the movie.

Unfortunately, if you want fans by the teen idol volume, it seems that you have to make some fake fanfare archetype for your audience to handle. People can't handle the truth, that's why writers make up stories for a living. 

It's weird to think of being depressed over something that doesn't exist. If James Bond were real, he would be in a VA hospital struggling with syphilis and alcoholism.

While the media projected a desired target of a life to make you consume, social media seems to amplify this in its extreme till you succumb to a depressing effect. It's important to understand that a lot of people do feel this way from time to time, and what you're going through is not an individual case. You can't be everywhere at once.

As you miss out on their fun, they miss out on yours. Sit and ponder on that one. Green grass growing greener.

Technological connection can lead to emotional disconnection. 

Bateman serves as a personification of all that could be seen as an evil of the 80s. Bateman's actions have been said to be "alien", which is funny considering John Carpenter saw most yuppies as aliens.

It's interesting to think about where a person like Patrick Bateman would be in regards to modern society. All of the things that Bateman worked hard to possess: giant cell phones, VCRs, stereo systems are all in a way obsolete. You can go to used electronics store and find everything you need to feel like Patrick Bateman.

It doesn't cost a lot to be 80s rich nowadays, as far as the technology is concerned anyway.

And all the while showing how silly the shallow world he represented really was. What was deemed so necessary a couple decades ago is now shown to be laughable. And where would they go from there?

It's weird to think that someone who has achieved what most people dream of would succumb to misery and violence as they went through with their lives.

There shouldn't be a lot of tears she for the ones who got everything they wanted, but it is a question that should be pondered when thinking about what you desire out of life.

The Charlie Sheens and the Lindsay Lohans of the world seem to be in this stage in life. Now, Sheen might have never got to be a baseball player, and Lohan never had parents who she could depend on (and Charles Foster Kane never got his sled) but society sees them as pretty well off. They get paid to show up at parties, and people wonder why they don't show up to movie shoots.

The money that people save to retire and live the rest of their lives in bliss is only a fraction of what people like Patrick Bateman make in a year, if that. And the money most people make is much more than what a lot of third world families accumulate in a year. 

A lot of the working up to achieve your dream can give you purpose in life, as long as you can one day accomplish it.

There's a lot of drama on the way to your goals.

Planning, action, setbacks, and adversity are all things to be expected in the path to your dreams. Some people sabotage themselves for fear of reaching their dreams since it can change their life and what they're used to. But when someone reaches their goals, as Bateman did, the result is to want more. Only thing was, he already had everything society could give him.

Homeostasis can be a drag to a lot of people. Some people would rather die than be bored.

All entertainment, especially when it deails in fiction, is built around conflict and drama. There have been a lot of theories to why people act this way. Freud came up with the theory of the death drive, the idea that we all have a yearning to not only handle death, but welcome it. Entertainment might be seen as a form of that.

I guess life comes down to finding a way to do what you love for the longest time possible, and hopefully getting paid for it.

It's when people don't know what they find joy in that things start to come apart. That's when people start committing felonies in the hopes that it will entertain them.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How To Get Fans In Other Countries

A lot of people (including fellow writer Nicola Palmer) have been wondering how they can expand themselves from their domestic boundaries out into the world and create a worldwide fanbase. 

As you have heard from my past exploits, I have had a lot of experience in this area. While it was not all glory, fortune, and fame I have learned a couple of things. 

Go To Them 

This sounds really obvious (you may have heard similar advice here, here, and here) but the gist of it comes down to this: You need to know where your audience hangs out and find them. 

Even if you're publishing books about hillbillies that live off the grid, you can find them somewhere on the Internet. It might be a little weird when trying to find it in terms of country, but if you take the time on Twitter and in the forums, someone is about to show up. 

There might still be a chance you are still unsure who you are writing for. You like to experiment and play around with things, so it's hard to find the right age or gender that defines who your core audience is.

If you're more right brain, don't think of it in terms of statistics and demographics. Think of it in terms of who do you wanna write for. 

One time, I was at the gym when I saw this blonde, borderline preppie woman on one of the exercise bikes reading something. I asked her what it was about and she replied with a smile "It's about an airplane that crashes in the mountains and the survivors have to eat the dead to survive". 

For whatever reason, I decided not to continue my conversation with said person, but when I think about my body of work, she is my imaginary audience member. Maybe pandering to a mysterious blonde possibly borderline psychopath is not a good indicator of success, but knowing she exists helps me when I deal with people who think "you're writing for women, they won't get it" and all the things people say when they think too hard about stupid things. 

Dabble In Local Culture

One of the wonderful things about the Internet is that we can now communicate with people in other countries freely whenever we want. When you think about how it used to to cost a thousand dollars to send a transatlantic telegram back in the day, it is really something to ponder from time-to-time.

The comments on Yahoo articles have the occasional foreigner in between the common redneck riff raff. When you ignore the trolling and misspelled words, it's really a wonder.

If you allow yourself to dabble, you can find out a lot about people. A lot of stereotypes I have had about British people in their posh etiquette has withered away and been replaced with images of godless drunken hooligans and the exploits of Charlie Brooker. I'm actually glad this has happened, it's made me like British people more.  

As for Americans, all I can say as a writer is you have to get our attention. You have a lot of competition. Americans like to get to the point and do things. I tweeted a while ago that I would actually watch soccer (futbol) if they had a shot clock. A shot clock, for those unfamiliar with it, is a device used in basketball that forces players to make a shot in under 24 seconds unless they want the ball to go to the other team.

It always makes the game exciting. I can't stand a bunch of guys running around a field for three hours. So remember that if you wish to grab a Yank's attention. A lot of Americans still fear this elitist perception the they of Britannia, so if you can be down-to-earth and unique, you should be okay.

Then again, these are the same people who created and embraced Twilight out in the southwest. Something happens when you are alone writing manuscripts in the desert that makes you think of rain and shiny vampires.

Sometimes it can be the way things are distributed in one country that can mean all the difference. In Rip It Up and Start Again, Simon Reynolds chronicles the history of the postpunk movement where he discussed the state of British radio as compared to American radio.

American radio has a large selection of radio stations to choose from in any regional area. Because of the large number of stations, the musical choices are often stuck with Top 40s hits mixed with classic rock. Now, I'm not entirely sure how English radio is, but apparently it's different with single channels that broadcast nationwide. That's why MTV was a big deal in the US. It was the only thing that broadcast music nationwide.

That's why all those reality talent shows are big deals here. This changes how both sides of the pond perceive culture. Once Americans find a comfort zone they in it, whether it's rap or anything else. But in England, you can take risks. You can have Ellie Goulding. America would have rejected Ellie Goulding if she came here first. Same with Adele. Same with Amy Winehouse. 

In a Hitquarters interview with either Marcus Beese or Nick Gatfield (I can't fully remember which one it was) it's small rule in England that if you replicate what Americans do best, it won't work. British rappers seem goofy over here. But, Amy Winehouse worked because there was nothing like that here. 

Same thing with Danny Boyle movies and Tom Hardy in Bronson. Bronson has to be one of my favorite movies about criminals American/British or otherwise, and a lot of that has to do with the unique voice the film is presented in. You might see him as some local buffoon, but I thought it was an interesting character study.

(As an aside for a second, I wanna say that if someone can write a Harry Potter/Narnia/Tolkien story with pottymouthed British melting pot immigrants as the main characters, I think that would be awesome. Like Attack The Block mixed with magic)

Change Your Sleep Cycle

This is a little thing you can do that might improve your chances for a foreign fanbase. I like to write at night. Writing at night is fun. All my best essays as a kid were slung out at 4:00 AM. Late night typing is a sign of greatness. You can keep your goofy Folgers coffee morning routines. 

Anyway, my nocturnal writing habits means that I am more aligned with Australians, Kiwis, and Limeys (saying Aussie, Kiwi, and Limey makes me want to put a lime and a kiwi into a Victoria Bitter) whenever they pop in on Twitter. This gives me the chance to interact with a group of people I normally wouldn't talk to if I had a normal sleep cycle. 

So, if a foreign fanbase is something you desire, take a night (if your work schedule allows) to play around with when you tweet and see if you can chat up your overseas fanbase. 

Trial and Error

Taco Bell is an American fast food outlet that serves Americanized Mexican cuisine. They have expanded into a bunch of different countries. 

They tried to expand into Mexico.      

It didn't work. 

They tried again, this time selling American food. 

Still didn't work. 

Disneyland Paris. Took a couple tries and a lot of money before they made it work. 

I wanted to chat with people in different languages. It's a funny story I tell people now. 

In wanting to quench your imperialistic thirst for recognition, you will encounter a couple pitfalls. It happens. 

If you want an exotic omelette, you have to climb a tall tree, get some weird eggs, and crack them. 

For whatever reason, the country you might want could be hesitant. But that could be okay. The Darkness singer Justin Hawkins once said that his favorite band was Aerosmith. He acknowledged that Aerosmith was not that big in England as they were in America, but he felt like it was his own little popular obscure band. 

Chances are, there could be someone who sees you as that awesome little cultural secret. So embrace it