How A Writer’s Brain Works- Moving a friend

This weekend I will not be relaxing all cool, shooting some b-ball outside of a school because I graduated and I don’t play basketball.

What I am going to be doing is driving to Colorado to help a friend out. You see, I hate moving people. I did it a lot when I was younger but as my body has been ravaged by the sand blastings of time the idea to perform manual labor for a payment of pizza doesn’t have the same exchange rate as it once did. The only exceptions to this rule are:

A. Family that I like

B. Friends who haven’t utilized this service and that I like

C. The Hulk, as he packs light

Jon is a friend of mine who is in a tough spot, having moved to Colorado to live with his girlfriend the relationship did not end well, and now his stuff must be moved back to the dry wasteland that is California.

Seriously, everyone, stop moving here. I want a house.

What does this particular scenario have to do with a writer’s brain? When a writer goes anywhere they have a narrative spinning in their mind, or at least I do, and begin to see multiple storylines as actual possibilities. The elements that shape these storylines are:

A. Who is at the location?

B. What is their mental state?

C. What is the possibility of things happening?

This particular trip has a few elements in play, lots of moving parts, but here are the possible scenarios that could occur:

A. Jon and I go to Colorado, we get the stuff, and come home.

B. Jon and I go to Colorado, we are ambushed at the ex’s house and are forced to watch Frozen, and only the scene with Let It Go, till we crack and tell her where the Nazi gold is buried in Poland.

C. Jon and I go to Colorado, we get murdered, no one ever hears from us again (If this happens, know the butler did it).

D. Jon and I do not get to Colorado, but are instead forced to join a dangerous airboat gang that haunts the swamps of Louisiana.

E. Jon and I find The Neverending Story book from the movie, read it, and kill ourselves after re-living the horse swamp scene.

Of course, some of these are fantastical, but none-the-less are possible. I thank you for joining me through these hyper realistic scenarios and wish you a good day.

MustacheVenture presents a LocalVenture: Harbor House

When you think of Orange County, California you think of beaches, The OC TV show (Is that reference even any good anymore? Please say no), and some other bullshit that was on TV. Frankly, the place has a bad wrap for being the most vapid of the vapid as LA has tried to shrug that mantle off on to us.

I say nay to this! There are places in Orange County that are badass and you are going to hear about them on these LocalVentures from MustacheVenture.

The VO from this video comes from a frustrated place, where my microphone refused to work with me and never listened to my story! It was truly traumatizing, but after going to therapy, we have reconciled our differences. Check out the video, if you like it, hit the subscribe button and share it!

 

September 11th, 2001- How Mr. Rogers is still teaching us

I was going to write about another topic, one that is funnier than this one, but it’s September 11th and that is a date that is relevant and today I felt a need to talk about it.

To talk about this day you either take one of two routes:

A. Reverent

B. Asshole

It’s either one but never both, I am going to be a little serious here, it’s an experiment, so bare with me.

The events of that day in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania will never leave my mind. I will never forget waking up that morning and seeing the “really fake” news broadcast from whatever B-movie was being shown at 6 am. Only thing was it wasn’t fake, even though I really really wanted it to be, and we have seen images and videos that make sure the weight and horror of that day are remembered.

Those who sorted through the rubble, who ran toward the trouble, and those who are currently serving to protect us all are wonderful and I do pray that you are safe and come home soon.

Do most of you remember what it was like the days after this event? There was confusion, sadness, and great loss. We came together over this event and were just American’s and it didn’t matter your politics, religion, whatever, we mourned as a country. We felt one another and knew we had to support our neighbors and our communities.

It’s something that is missing today and needs to make a come back. Most people go outside and see enemies. They walk around in a state of fear. People look up in the sky and wonder what tragedy is coming next? They talk about it over kitchen tables, preparing themselves mentally so that they never feel that feeling again.

14 years ago something happened to us and we are still recovering from it.

I remember a quote from Fred Rogers and it’s a quote that many of you probably know by now, but it applies to us still today, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

In order for us to get a world that is better, we have to do it. God gave us two hands and a brain, we should use them for something better than being angry over things that we cannot control or effect.

Be a helper, be a doer, do something for someone else because that is how we rebuild and move forward.

10 Reasons why lists are bullshit

We all love a good listicle (a blog composed primarily of lists) and while they can be fun, fact of the matter is they are the worst. This isn’t because these lists are a sign of the moral decline of independent thought, no, if you’re looking for that you can watch the news; the reason why these things usually suck is due to these 10 things.

1-They are lazy

Nothing says, “Shit, that deadline came up fast” like a listicle blog. As a writer, formulating thoughts into a cohesive little package known as an article takes time. Usually these are initially plotted out in note form and then morphed into a seamless thought. Now, if a writer doesn’t have to do the morphing but instead just has to input their notes into a blog, that is really easy. Just be sure to make a sly comment at the end of each point to keep your audience engaged, because really, this is just a glorified grocery list.

2-Usually they’re about a thing you already know

3-They use click-bait bullshit titles

4-They contain only opinion

5-They are inspired by pure evil

6-They are killing long form articles

7-10-Underwhelmed? Angry that the last few points are not what they seem to be?

Welcome to 95% of listicles on the Internet! They always start off strong but eventually peter out toward the end. By point 4 the writer can visibly be seen crying into a greasy taco bag as they drum up some kind of connection between the last few points.

Hell, I even made one, and even this blog is one! This is meta as hell! I am in your mind now!

More exclamation points!!!!

P.S.- If you don’t like list blogs, don’t read them. The fact I’ve seen multiples of this same kind of article online really chaffs my ass, because guess what? The writers having to write these things have a quota to meet. If they do not meet that quota, they are fired. Gone are the days in which a writer worked on maybe five or ten pieces a month. Newspaper style work is the name of the game now, and if you’re not producing, you better hit them bricks.

These things work because they cater to a specific time frame and medium in which they are being read. Online, a writer has, maybe, 15 seconds to catch your attention long enough to have you read the entire post. These have to be punchy, fast, and entertaining.

Oh, and they have to be original-ish. Copying ideas , now that part is bullshit, but really, they are a product of the audience who is reading them. The reader, you, controls what content is king. Fact of the matter is if you wanted puppet shows in the street to give you the information you wanted, all the socks in all the stores would be gone, drawn on, and terrible voices made behind the cardboard stages.

You want better? Then read better. Find better and post that on your social media. If you’re sick of seeing guilt trip bullshit filling up your feeds, firstly, just drop the people you are following/friends with, second, don’t re-post it. Stupid spreads like a spark in a match factory out here on the Internet.

Now buy my book.

Why do we watch video games?

The 21st century is full of oddities. Who knew that we would one day have computers in our pockets and at the same time most Americans still do not know where Timbuktu is located on a map.

Also, who knew watching video games would become a thing? Growing up during the rise of video games from 8-bit to the current almost photo realistic graphics that are almost the norm today, an entire generation of people have grown up waiting their turn. Originally, that’s why you watched video games, because home consoles had a maximum amount of players capped at 4.

So, if you had a party with six people, two of them would just sit there on their butts, eating their ice cream cake, as the rest of the expensive cake melted while the rest of the party played Turok 2.

Today, millions of people watch other people play video games and the people they are watching are making a crazy amount of money from it. Many would blame this new trend on the downfall of mankind’s mental ability to actually do something productive with their lives, but this is a falsehood.

Humans have been watching sporting events for eons. Many obsess over it to the point where they have a fantasy game that doesn’t involve a 20 sided die. Fact is, we love to watch other people doing something difficult or skilled because we either:

A- Can’t do it

B- Are too lazy to really try, because that box of Entenmann’s doughnuts isn’t going to eat itself

This also goes for video games, because let’s face it, many people are not going to play 5 Nights at Freddy’s, no, they are going to watch Markiplier do that because of two reasons:

A- He’s hilarious to watch

B- Most people will still poop their pants as if they had their first cup of coffee in the morning

Just like sporting events or anything else that requires people to put in hundreds of thousands of hours to become masters of, we love to watch video games because of the same reasons. We have empathy with other people, and for many that is a sign of our humanity, but because of this bond we get a huge surge of emotions and chemicals in our brains that make our hearts jump or our chests explode in laughter because we connect with those who playing these games.

Fact of the matter is this, the future is a strange and bizarre place. Where it is going, no one knows, but let this be a lesson to us all: Anything and everything we do can possibly be sponsored by Mountain Dew some day.

A worn world is best: Introduction

Whether it’s a leather jacket or a two door sports car, worn and used things are better in terms of storytelling.

I don’t make this statement lightly, I, like most people, love new things. I love to get new things on holidays and birthdays or simply buying them myself (though I usually don’t, it’s a conflict between myself now and my inner 5 year-old. Sometimes he wins and I get the Lego set).

Eat it adult me! Picture credit: reliableindex.com
Suck it adult version! Now I’m going to drink ecto cooler… wait, too much sugar, maybe a nice smoothie. Yeah, eat it adulthood! Picture credit: reliableindex.com

Something that I’ve noticed is that the shiny, the nice things that you have in your life do not stick around well in a story. Sure, your character could use that new phone throughout a story, but by the end it will be seen as worn to the audience; and that’s great.

What brought about this blog was my insane driving today on my way to work. I was driving my truck and was bobbing and weaving in and out of traffic the best a humpback whale moving at 85 could do, and as it flew up on a box truck I narrowly weaved in front of a semi-truck before I was pierced by Ahab Moving Company. I then slowed down and took account of my life and my mind in that moment hurled to the chase scene in Bullitt, a scene that was ingrained in me because my Dad had the 68′ Dodge Charger that explodes at the end of that scene.

He continues to remind me how that car could easily outrun the Mustang, as he had done so in real life many times. Fireballs excluded.

And it was then that I thought about how we have had hundreds, if not thousands of car chases in film since Bullitt and yet, everyone looks back on that film and The French Connection as being the best out there. I would chalk it up to the fact that they were the first films to really do the modern car chase, but I think there is something else to those films that keep them up on the pedestal; they feel real.

When you finish seeing those two movies, you think you could be Steve McQueen or Gene Hackman and barrel through the streets like it’s Black Friday at Wal-Mart.

That PS4 is mine, you sonofabitch! Source: telegraph.co.uk
This is your face as you enter the parking lot. Source: telegraph.co.uk

I blame the cars from these two films. Starting from the beginning to the end they are dented, beaten, and obviously used daily. Today, you see the car from a movie and that thing is so shiny you can see the Meguiars product placement billboard in the paint’s reflection. Dodge would shit itself if they saw their car being beaten and cast as the villainous bastard that it was in Bullitt. 

When you watch a movie these days you see the shiny and nice car that the production was provided by whoever threw them the most amount of money. I eye roll at the amount of camera swishes and dollies that accompany the car’s entrance on screen. We get it! This is the bad-ass car that will drive around the closed course by a professional driver so you can double down for both the film and the commercials for the car.

This beaten bond is not strictly tied to cars. Objects, clothes, almost anything a character uses in a film should have some sort of worn texture to it. Props from Alien, Blade Runner, Mad Max, Dredd, Harry Potter are lovingly re-created by fans or bought for massive sums of money. Sometimes a shiny thing might slip through, but really, nothing a character uses will ever be alien or new.

The human touch makes an object something more; we love touching stuff, I mean why do you think clothing stores are setup the way they are? Because they love putting that shirt back where it is supposed to be after you carried it across the store and dropped it? Hell no, they do it because by touching something you create a connection to it, you create a sense of ownership with the item.

Reading about that lucky rabbits foot that’s been rubbed to bare skin, seeing the comic panels erupt from the lightning guns, experiencing the magic of the untuck/tucked thermal of Nathan Drake are all things that tell us about the character we are following. They show us their tendencies, their ticks, and their humanity.

Seriously, that is some magical shit. Source: Giantbomb.com
Seriously, that is some magical shit. Source: Giantbomb.com

We can extend this to the world they inhabit, but that’s another blog for another day, maybe even Thursday. To end this blog, the things that are used, beaten, and loved will stick with your audience a lot longer than the complex and cold thingy that just sits around and looks pretty. You might think this is a rather obvious observation, but there is such a thing as trying to make something cooler than it really is, but that’s, again, another blog for another day.

Pipe and Book Industries- Book 2- Chapter 1

Out of left field comes a glimpse, a sneak peak, of the next Pipe and Book Industries book! I can’t go into details, but know this, it’s a road trip! I wanted to show this world a bit more and also show off Rocinante a bit more than just being parked in a parking lot.

Not too exciting, that.

The first book is still in the running for the Nerdist Collection on Inkshares! Go here to cast your vote with a pre-order!

So, without further ado, here is Chapter 1 of the next book! No title yet, that usually forms toward the end of the process, so be ready to read that reveal here on this site!

Prologue

“Pipe and Book Industries, you got Trenton Rennick… Yeah, we do that. When?.. Tonight?” Trenton looked out of the porthole of Rocinante 2 at the early evening sky. “Where am I going for pick-up?… I can be there in an hour. What is it? How much does it weigh?… Huh, okay… It’ll cost you around 3k. You okay with that?” He waited for the customer to haggle him down or reel back in shock over the price tag of moving a desk. It didn’t come.

“Okay, that is acceptable. Please, do be careful with it.”

A curious smile crossed his stubble covered jaw. “Alright, where is this thing heading?

“San Francisco, specifically Tower 5.”

The mover let out a low sigh, “Better make that 6k.”

Ch. 1

A crisp wind tickled the back of Trenton’s neck as his leather work boot stepped onto the warped Seal Beach dock and carried him away from the pitted tan hull of his tug boat Rocinante 2. The job was last minute, the distance far, and his mood lousy; hence the jump in price that was agreed upon before he hung up the phone.

It was then his phone rang from his inside pocket.

He saw who was calling, shook his head, and greeted Clark with a tone reserved for solicitors, “Clark, do you have the ability to know exactly when I step off my boat?”

“Yes, I do, I stalk you.”

“I’d consider that to be a real threat if I didn’t know you and know that you wouldn’t expend the energy it would take for you to actually sit in a car.”

“True, but I also have your phone set to alert me when you leave your Boatress of Solitude.”

It was a comment that made Trenton stop in his tracks. “You, you can actually do that?”

An audible sigh escaped through the high-definition speaker. “My God man, you live in the future! Of course that is possible. Now, what has you in a foul mood?”

“What’s got my goat is that I got a job to drive up to San Francisco this evening that is paying me six thousand bucks.”

“Aren’t you your own boss? You could have said no.”

“Yeah, I could have, but I was looking forward to being forced to sea over my unpaid slip fees. So, I decided to be a jerk to myself and take the job.”

“I see, that is a predicament I haven’t found myself in for a long while.”

Trenton pinched the bridge of his nose. “Why did you call me, Clark?” He began walking up the ramp toward shore.

“I need you to do a favor for me and since finding out you are already heading north, I figure that this is serendipitous in nature.”

“Can you push past your dictionary and just tell me what you want?”

“I have a record that needs to be delivered and I need you to drive it up to my client in San Francisco. Specifically, an original pressing of Iron Maiden’s first album.”

The mover gripped the door handle of Rocinante, his green Dodge truck with matching camper shell, and hopped behind the wheel. “Why don’t you just drone it?” He put the X5 glass in its resting spot on the dash, pressed speaker, and hundreds of tiny blue holographic balls appeared and formed the round but concerned face of Clark. “I mean, didn’t you buy one for this specific purpose?”

“And have Jacques be shot down by a hick with a grudge against technology? I think not! Local deliveries only with him.”

A small smile crept on Trenton’s face as he pulled up the sleeves on his long-sleeved gray henley. “No. You bought that piece of tech to do your dirty work. Use it. If it breaks then I may consider giving you a discount.”

The tiny head’s mouth sat agape. “After everything I have done for you!”

“Excuse me, I have given you more than your fair share of free work. So, either you trust your piloting skills and hope that the good people of the valley don’t shoot down that four blade whirlybird or you pay your way.”

Trenton laid his face lazily on to the open palm of his hand as the small blue hologram did tiny math equations in its head. Clark’s face solidified from confused to annoyed as he let out a deep sigh and muttered, “What’s the price?”

“For a friend, and it being a rush delivery, I’ll do it for 100.”

“Jacques could do it for 10.”

“Yes, but Jacques doesn’t have what I have.”

“And that is, what? A chip on a shoulder?”

“A gun, to keep bad guys away.”

Please stand by

Technical difficulties have made it not possible to post my blog post this morning. Will attempt later tonight.

Tune in later tonight for the piece that is supposed to be here!

Hurt, it just does

I am not talking about an emotional hurt. No, that is not the case, the hurt in question comes in the form of muscle ache.

You see, I exerted myself in a 4 inning game of softball that was themed after the movie Hook; so Pirates v Lost Boys.

And I wasn't Kiefer Sutherland as it wasn't these lost boys.- photo credit: Wikipedia
And I wasn’t Kiefer Sutherland as it wasn’t these lost boys. Also, I don’t have the hair for it.- photo credit: Wikipedia

It was a blast! It flashed me back to a time that I hadn’t thought of since I was a kid, when I played baseball. Everything came back to me, the catching, I had to modify my throwing as I hadn’t pitched a softball ever, and also the heat. Difference between kid me and today me is that I could cool off with a beer while playing rather than a Capri Sun.

Bats were broken and the game called early because we didn’t want any of us old-ass bastards to die of heat stroke… or alcohol induced heat stroke, if that’s a thing.

The normal celebrations continued at a house with AC, because we live in a country that has such a thing, thank God for evil machinations of industrial science.

Then I slept and awoke, which was a huge mistake.

Granted, I am not completely out of shape. I walk most weeks and do some form of physical activity, one way or another, but I haven’t had my muscles feel like this in a long time. They feel like a rusty screw being forced out of a swollen plank of wood. It’s like a the Tin Man, pre-Dorthy, tried to walk without oiling up his joints.

Point is this: stretch.

It’s interesting how even though laying on one side of me for longer than 5 minutes makes things ache, I am actually enjoying it. This is pain that was earned through laughter, fun, and good times. Sure, it’s a sign of age and lack of doing some sort of insane cross-fit throw-up session, but really, it’s a sign that I did something.

I exerted myself a little physically and it hurts and thank the maker for it because that means I am alive still today. You see, you can find yourself in a lull at this stage in your life. People in their 30’s are like people in their 20’s, they can go a little bit insane but not because their bodies feel invincible, but rather because they are forced to take stock in their life.

When you reach a 10 year mark, you have to look back, you just do; and many people look and see nothing but regret. They haven’t done anything of note in their lives, meaning achieving anything close to a personal goal of making Moon Shoes actually work the way they were advertised.

Poor kid must have jumped off a 6 ft ladder to get this shot. She broke both legs, maybe.- Photo credit- toptoyskids.com
Poor kid must have jumped off a 6 ft ladder to get this shot. She broke both legs, maybe.- Photo credit- toptoyskids.com

Most people I talk to hate exerting themselves anywhere else other than a gym or the opposite, which is never do that as it is stupid.

Life hurts, just does. Sometimes though, it’s a good hurt, so never ask for a life that is painless because you miss out on the good stuff… like Advil.

Why radios are cool

When it comes to communications, we have an endless buffet of ways to tell someone they owe you $2. I could list them, but you are probably reading this blog post from one of those devices right now. And even with these lines of communication, the radio is still probably the coolest one of all (When I say radio, I mean the one you can talk through and wear on your belt, not the one with commercials and stupid political shows).

When I say cool, I don’t mean that it is fashionable, chic, or even sexy (which oddly enough is how most smartphones are advertised, some more overt than others). When something is cool, it climbs over what it was meant to be and into a different realm. A realm that is reserved for exploding cars, and close calls. A place where the action lives, it’s rather destructive in there, but it can take the heat.

Here is why the radio is cooler than any other communication device.

Radio vs Computer

Ever since the advent of the computer, movies and TV have tried to make it into this magical box that can hack just about anything. Then Minority Report came out and now all computers must have some form of touch screen technology or as I call it “Conductor Vision.”

Minority-report
This control scheme would make porn impossible.

The consumer has a computer in their home to either game on, go on the Internet, do graphics work, and pay bills. In short, the computer is now more mundane than it ever has been in its entire existence.

We have taken a machine that was once seen as a world destroyer and turned it into a product that allows you to trash talk your friends from thousands of miles away  as you cave their virtual skull in with a +3 Hate Mallet.

The radio is probably not in this home, because it is off diving out of buildings that are exploding or finding a lost civilization or something else that is interesting because radios don’t have time to dawdle. It is purpose built, and that purpose is to do something.

Radio vs Smartphone

Your smartphone can play games, calculate tips, and take a near endless supply of selfies; oh, and make calls. It seems like it is pretty cool with it’s highly breakable screen, components assembled in sweat shops, and its constant monitoring by the NSA.

Hi-smiley
Hi NSA!

I pose this question to you: Can your smartphone call space?

We all know that calls go into space and bounce back, but what I mean is can your smartphone call the infinite void? The answer to this is no, unless space has a antenna setup on the moon.

A radio, it can call space, specifically the ISS orbiting around the Earth as we speak. Using a HAM radio, a person can call the ISS and hold a conversation for about a minute. That might seem like a short call, but it is cost free, and if the astronauts are not busy, they will actually answer your call.

Also, radio waves can travel into space, which could then make contact with alien life, maybe, and probably help to enslave all of mankind… which is super metal.

Radio vs Morse Code

Ummm, Morse code is, uhh, really cool as the emergency communication of choice in all forms of entertainment. Also, have you ever noticed how there is always someone in the room that knows Morse code, but they have zero involvement with the military or emergency relief efforts? They’re always just some dude, and I know for a fact that most of the people I know don’t even know what More code is.

So, if I am stuck on a mountain and try signaling with Morse code and my friends are on the other end of those dashes and beeps… I am dead.

Conclusion

Radio is cool because of a single feature. A feature that no other communication device has or if they do use it, doesn’t have the weight in which it has in radio. The ability to say “Over and Out” or “Over” is super cool and doesn’t exist in other mediums of communication.

Over and out.

…yeah, just doesn’t work as well.

Inkshare

Also, check out book here: https://www.inkshares.com/projects/wheres-monsters-lie-other-tales  pick up a copy and help it become a part of the Nerdist Collection!