Why the Oxford comma is the best

The future is an interesting place to live because while we have magical techno-wizard tablets in that fit the palm of our hand, and contain the sum of human knowledge, we are still puzzled by questions like: “Why does it rain right after I get my car washed?”

No matter how ‘progressive’ you think you are you probably still have a foot in the past in some shape or form.

My old timey love besides working with my hands, no bloomers on the beach, and bottling my man tears in case of a drought is the Oxford comma.

For those of you who do not know of this simple yet elegant tool, the Oxford comma is the comma that appears before ‘and’ ‘or’, or ‘nor’ at the end of a list. It is used to keep the universe of words in order and to allow a reader to time their voice with the end of a list; which can give them a more natural sound when finishing a list rather than a dead stop. The Oxford comma is the human element in a medium that can be cold and black and white with no gray in-between; unless you are reading on a Kindle.

It’s been around for a century and for some reason modern style guides for ‘professional’ writers state that this comma is an abomination, and must be snuffed out. They claim that the comma causes confusion and ambiguity and should be done away with so that the simple ‘and’ can act as the break to a list. They see the narrative as a cleaner state without it and it saves space.

They claim this because they are stupid.

The Oxford comma is, like I said, the human element in writing. I say human because humanity is messy, crazy, beautiful, and awesome. Our lives are bizarre messes on the canvas of the world and each piece completely different from one another. We should be embracing this mess rather than suppress it, and that’s what the Oxford comma does, it allows humanity to appear on the page.

Granted, in the 17th and 18th centuries, grammar and punctuation usage was out of control (See The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman). Through the years we have figured out the proper use of punctuation and have paired that down into the simple and elegant forms we have today. The Oxford comma is one of the last outlandish punctuation’s out there.

Why outlandish? Because it is technically true that you do not need it. It is a flourish. An extra keystroke that is unneeded in today’s world of foodie blogs and unchecked facts that circulate as news.

Just because something is technically true doesn’t make it correct, at least in writing, in science not so much. The beauty of writing is knowing the rules so well that you can break them in tiny pieces and watch those who love rules cry.

I’m not saying that the Oxford comma is this renegade punctuation or something, but rather it is like that old man sitting on his porch and flipping off people who are trying to tell him that bacon causes cancer. He knows that he can do without it, but life wouldn’t be worth living at that point.

Back to the Future- Why we need it

The Back to the Future series has a special place in my heart, and in the hearts of millions of fans around the world. It is a film series that has struck a cord with anyone who has ever set eyes on it. The music, acting, story, and car make this series an amazing mix of awesome that we have yet to see again. After 30 years, this film still gives kids and adults alike chills when they are watching it, which begs the question: Why?

Back to the Future sticks around and is so good because it has hope for the future.

We live in the future, it’s 2015, and in a few days it will be the 21st of October 2015. The film predicted that we would have flying cars, Pepsi would be perfect, and yes, we would have the damn hover boards too. When it made these predictions the film was looking at how humans came to the present when it was made and assumed we would keep on dreaming toward this better tomorrow.

Only, that tomorrow never came. Granted, the movie didn’t see the events of September 11th coming either, but neither did we as a country and world. Since that day, our future has been one to be afraid of in film, books, and comics. The future isn’t a gleaming ball of hope, and granted in Back to the Future 2 it had its problems with gangs, terrible neighborhoods, and cross-dressing Michael J. Fox’s; but the difference between BttF and today’s films is that the future is something to be excited about and race toward.

You look at most of the sci-fi genre today, you are looking at teenagers in awkward haircuts and strange love triangles (Seriously, how is this still a thing? Just pick the dude who doesn’t suck. There, you win.). The Martian is the closest, in my memory, to a sci-fi film that wasn’t completely depressing from beginning to end.

Booting up any of the three films, you immediately get the sense that we are going on an exciting ride. That we are going to go on some amazing adventure that will never forget. We live in a world that would make Marty and Doc Brown depressed to see, and to me, making these fictional characters depressed just saddens me. That level of sadness would be on par with disappointing Mr. Rogers, which would be crushing!

The world that made this movie was looking forward to innovations and technology that would push humanity toward a better future. At some point, that world changed and we have been worse off ever since. Every day someone somewhere is talking about the end of the world instead of the fact we found water on freaking MARS! People fret over elections with people running in it that talk about nothing and are surrounded by a media that spins everything into a doom storm of lies.

We have electric cars that cost pennies to run. We have power plants that are run by wind, solar, and water. We have fuel sources from hydrogen power to gas made by algae. We are currently finding out more and more about the human body, our planet, and the universe at a rate that is gonzo!

And yet, we will worry ourselves into the smallest corners when something bad happens. When new ideas come up, we shake our fingers at it and smash our heads into the sand.

Today, more than ever, we need Back to the Future. We need it because we need to be reminded that the future is worth fighting for and that it should be a hopeful one and not a bleak landscape. We need these movies to remember that even when we make a mistake, we try our damnedest to fix it.

This world can do with more Doc Brown’s and Marty’s in it.

Buy my book.

On Writing- Writing Shit

Writing, like any other art, takes loads of practice in order to improve and by practice I mean writing lots and lots of shit. You can be a veteran writer and still churn out crap like a year one typist. You can pound at the keys for hours and forms words into logical sentences, but it will still suck.

And that is part of being a writer and it will never go away.

This kind of process, the process of knowing that you can write well but when you press your fingers into the spine of the keyboard you find the stuff on screen isn’t even fit for a garage sale sign.

Though that would be a bizarre sign, “Come on by for the shit! Lots of it!”

What breaks many people from doing this job consistently is what happened to me last night. This very situation occurred to me as I was trying to finish a short story. I got about half-way through, looked at the words, and was just disappointed in what I had written. I wrenched myself from the keys, looked over the moors, and threw my glass of sherry against the manor window as I pondered what kind of God would give me such a curse!

It wasn’t porn or anything, though I sometimes wonder what that would look like, maybe people having sex on top of balloons or something? That would have been an improvement because it would have at least made a laugh and the one thing I pride myself on is the ability to make myself laugh at my own writing. This may sound either psychotic or extremely prideful, but a good measurement of any kind of comedy is whether or not the writer creating it can laugh at it. You are you’re first audience and if you aren’t laughing at the scene with the scuba driver running a driving school in full underwater gear because he is afraid of his students driving them into a lake and drowning, then no one will.

Last night I wrote terribly, does this mean I am done with writing? No. If I was so easily broken I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have in my career. This goes for you all too, because if you hit the wall, which we all do, it’s your choice whether you are staying glued to it or peeling yourself off and having another go at making a hole in it!

You are going to get torn down by anything with a set of lungs, including yourself, so if you ever stop because of any of them then you never were a writer in the first place. Writing is pressing on, and those who don’t become telemarketers!

Dystopian Job Titles

As the world marches toward its Calvinistic end, where Applebee’s is fine dining, new economies will emerge and with these economies new jobs will become available. In this blog post, we will cover just a few of these job titles and what their duties will include.

Influencer

Description: A person who goes around and influences decision making by taking on the role of being a friend you will never meet.

Method of delivery: Video, audio, social media and blogs.

Statistical chance of this being real: 100%, because it is already here. You can find job titles with this name in it and these people do exactly as it sounds, they influence you. They tell you what they think and influence you to think along with them so that all of mankind thinks rompers are a good idea. Usually they are very personable and come off as being genuine as they talk to a camera lens and think the object to be human.

Fact Engineer

Description: Someone who creates facts.

Method of delivery: Anything that will make people see their viewpoint is wrong.

Statistical chance of this being real: 95%, this is different than an influencer because a Fact Engineer is trying to make you change your mind on a core belief rather than make you buy something. They will do this by using statistics they’ve made up and by writing hyperbolic articles that will cut straight through the Spam and into the point of their argument. They will post this information on websites, in emails, and in newsletters that look professional. Professionalism is the weapon of choice and the ability to show people’s opinions as fact in order to push an agenda that means nothing.

Social Terrorist

Description: A person who is hired out by corporations to go into a rival’s community and cause unrest by either spreading misinformation or getting people upset over nothing and dissemble an online community.

Method of delivery: Community forums and social media

Statistical chance of this being real: 85%, the first thought is to think that this is a paid trolling job, but it isn’t. This is something more than mere trolling, these people will come into a community and make it turn on the people who put it together. Their job isn’t to joke and have fun, but rather to destroy. And as more and more business are trying to create an online presence, this type of corporate sabotage will be highly sought after.

Dietary Regulator

Description: A person who tells you what is poisonous for your body today and great for it tomorrow.

Method of delivery: Short video clips on social media sites and blog posts containing infographics.

Statistical chance of this being real: 75%, because we already have this flip flop mentality of what is good and isn’t already in our modern media channels. This position would make that information appear and change at an almost constant rate, making the idea of cooking seem like an ancient Mayan ritual. The person in this position will just tell you how eating a specific brand of frozen food will just make life easier and better. Coincidentally, that brand will also be a sponsor of their show.

Guilt Layer

Description: A person whose job it is to make you feel bad and not want to do anything.

Method of delivery: Social media and video posts with some haunting piano music.

Statistical chance of this being real: 70%, and the reason for this high percentage is that many of us already deal with this guilt. It comes in the form of seeing how your pithy problems are well and truly bullshit, even when they are not. Granted, dying in a 3rd world hell hole sucks, and so does getting your hand cut off in the 1st world, but that kid looking at the camera has given up on life and you’ve done nothing for them except lose your hand in a bread slicing accident. How dare you feel bad for the loss of your limb when you’ve done nothing for those in countries you’ve never heard of you piece of shit. Now go watch some cat videos to make yourself feel better while real issues that you can actually do something about slip past your guilt ridden mind you selfish ass!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour through a possible dystopian tomorrow! If you want to know more about the destroyed future, please read my blog post on THREE SIGNS THAT YOU’RE IN THE APOCALYPSE!

Get a Job! Santiago- Old Man and the Sea

Name: Santiago
Job: Fisherman

Santiago is a fisherman in the strictest sense of the word, he makes his living at it, but for 84 days he hasn’t done this very thing. Looking over the story of the formerly banned book The Old Man and The Sea many a reader would think that this evaluation is an open and shut case, be that as it may, let us see if Santiago should keep his job.

1. Patience

A fisherman must have patience when they are out at sea. Start fishing too soon and you scare the fish, too late and you miss them completely. The fact that so many people hate doing this is why they stay away from it entirely. Fishing, while peaceful, isn’t for everyone.

Santiago has patience, almost too much, after 84 days of not catching anything he should have moved on to another profession like becoming a cobbler or maybe a social media manager.

2. Strength

Leaving industrial fishing to the side, actually fighting a fish on a line takes a lot of strength. There’s a reason why most fishing line can hold 500 pounds, its because physics is a bitch, and that fish doesn’t want to go where so many have never returned.

Santiago fights this giant fish, single handedly, for three days. Three days! To train for something like that today would take weeks on a Shake Weight, because our modern bodies are spongy and soft.

3. Luck

A fisherman can stack the odds in their favor by using technology to track the fish down and bait the hook, but no matter how many times they radar the water, they still might not catch a fish.

Santiago is carved from a slab of wood that was unlucky enough to be cut down in the first place and was sent to a mill to be made into boards, but the place burned down during the cutting process. Luck ran away from him like an atheist from church and it was so bad that people from the village were afraid of catching it.

Should he keep his job?

Santiago sure as hell should! Why? Because he is a fisherman in ever sense of the word. Sure, he didn’t wind up being able to profit from the fish (spoilers), but he still caught it and brought it into town.

Now, get this man a Bass Pro Shop sponsorship and a tie-in video game!

How to ellipses

In our modern day world, we use typing and writing now more than ever in our daily lives. The average person texts more than 3 billion texts a week, I know this as a fact because I made this figure up, but it doesn’t lessen the fact that writing is very important.

Now, clearly showing the facts that writing is important, I have a bone to pick with a lot of you. You see, you think you know everything, you know the stock market will yo-yo and yet you are surprised when it dips? You know every single time we have a presidential election the people running in it are going to say, do, and say some more, the shit you want to hear; and yet you get up in arms about who it is you aren’t head over heels in love with during this rinse, lather, and repeat process.

What you do not know is that when you improperly use an ellipses when you text me, I get just that much closer to sending your ass off to Krampus for Christmas!

Ellipses is a form of punctuation and it is used for a number of formats:

AP Style- To show a quote continues either before or after the mentioned portion.

Fiction- To show a pause in conversation, unease in the person talking.

Anime- When the translation cannot translate the Japanese word for Gasp or Surprise.

Video games- Because the writer couldn’t think of a good one-liner to put in that scene where your best friend turns out to be your mother who was murdered fifteen years ago.

Now, in texting land the rule for ellipses has changed since the introduction of texting itself. When you use an ellipses today, you mean the following:

I’m apprehensive

Example:

“Hey, you coming to my mother’s?”

“Sure…”

I’m angry

Example:

“Sorry I missed fixing your dog.”

“It’s fine…”

I’m secretly trying to destroy the world

Example:

“Hey, they have a discount on Self-Drilling Nuclear Technology. You want one?”

“Okay…”

When I text you, “Hey, we’re going to be at your house in 15 mins.” and I get back, “Okay…” my spine stiffens and my brain runs through a million scenarios that begin with “Maybe that just means ‘Okay'” to “Ah shit, their going to murder me when I get there because I forgot their birthday and texted them a hour later than when they were actually born!”

Just stop. You want to respond to a message, try just saying your word and using a period at the end of the sentence. Using more than one period does not indicate excitement over the ending of a statement, it means utter doom!

Thanks for reading…

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.