Just Another Night


So, I have a bunch of stuff I should probably write about, I’ve even started several posts, but I just had an interesting experience and I want to write about it.

Tonight was my first philosophy class.  Woohoo, I know.  It’s really cool that I got back into school.  Anyway, the class didn’t start until late so I didn’t get back home until late.

I pulled into my parking spot about ten o’clock at night.  As I walked toward the apartment building I noticed that there was a light on in the car beside mine.  It wasn’t a big light, it was almost invisible from outside the car, it was one of the little ones for the back seat in a sedan, but it was definitely on.

Now, I don’t know where you grew up, so what I’m about to say might sound weird, but in my home town if you see something like that you make sure to say something about it.  Where I’m from, a dead car battery is, no shit, a life or death situation.  And with the cold temperatures, someone leaving their headlights on (or dome lights, or whatever) can kill a battery way faster than you might think.  Sometimes it only takes ten minutes and the car won’t start.

But where I live now it’s definitely not a life or death situation.

I hesitated, I’ll admit it.  It was late at night, I didn’t know those neighbors, and most modern cars have circuits that will turn off lights before the battery dies.

((A quick side note: the reason I don’t know these neighbors is because they’re renters that just moved in.  That unit has a really high turn over rate.))

I only hesitated for a moment though.

Now, nobody likes having a stranger show up on their doorstep after 10 o’clock at night.  I know that.  I also know what’s worse than having a stranger show up after 10 o’clock is having a big, strange, white dude with a shaved head and tattoos show up.  (What made it slightly easier for me was I’d just come from class and was dressed nicely, a polo shirt instead of my usual black T.)

Another relevant detail, while we live in a gated apartment complex the neighborhood outside gets pretty sketchy when the sun goes down.  We all lock our doors.

So, with all that in mind, I struck a pose as submissive and apologetic as I could and knocked on the neighbor’s door.  This is America, I assume everyone has a gun.  And, honestly, I’m one of the most easy going dudes you’ll ever meet but if I was home with my family and some stranger knocked on the door after 10 I’d be tempted to answer with gun behind my back.  So, as the person knocking, I want to try and put whoever answers the door to ease as quick as I can.

A very cautious, young, black woman answered.  Now, I knew that the reinforced screen door (“bad” neighborhood) was locked because I tried to open it so I could knock when I realized they didn’t have a door bell, so I wasn’t surprised when she opened the inner door but made no motion towards the outer door.  Smart woman.

From her body language I’m sure she was alone.

I quickly apologized for interrupting her evening and explained that there was a light on in her car.  She looked like she was still in shock over having a white dude on her porch, either that or she thought I was trying to pull something over on her, so I ended up explaining the car-light-battery thing a couple times.

It was a very quick conversation.  When I was sure she understood what I was talking about I said good night and turned to leave.

I was listening for it, she didn’t leave her apartment to check the car until I was halfway to my place.  She wasn’t going to step outside until she was sure I wasn’t anywhere near her door.  Smart girl.

Now, part of me found this whole thing totally ridiculous and at the same time totally justifiable.  It’s almost hard to explain.

I was trying to do this family a favor… but I was scared I might get shot for being a strange dude knocking at night… and she’s scared because there’s a strange dude knocking at night.  (The Luis C.K. joke comes to mind, “Men are the worst thing that ever happened to women.”)

For both of our safety we have to do this established dance.  I make sure I leave at least an arms length between me and the door so I’m not in their face immediately, keep my hands visible, communicate clearly and make no moves that might be taken as too assertive or aggressive.  For her part, keeping a locked door between me and her, making sure she didn’t leave any openings or vulnerabilities, waiting for me to leave before opening the door, etc.

I mean, those are the kinds of practical precautions that I would teach my son or daughter – for both sides of the situation.  I did what I could to keep a potentially tense situation from escalating, she answered the door but took practical precautions.  It makes sense.

And yet, at the same time, it’s really kind of ridiculous that a two second favor requires that dance.  It seems silly but I can’t think of an easy alternative.  Ridiculous but justifiable.

Just had to share.

 

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Gimmicky BS


I wasn’t planning on writing anything tonight but I’m so pissed off and disappointed that I needed to get this out before bed.

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it here but I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead.  It’s literally the only show I watch on TV each week.  Or, at least it was.

**Spoilers ahead, kind of**

This last season has been a fucking circus of shitty writing, bad directing, and idiotic characters.

What drew me to the show in the first place was the quality of the writing.  They didn’t play to the lowest common denominator, it was dramatic but also thematic and smart.  You cared for the characters, which was why you tuned in every week to see what happened to them.  And the characters were consistent.  They might make dumb choices sometimes but they made sense in that moment.

But this season they traded all the quality and smarts for bigger explosions and gimmicks.  Rather than the plot being driven by necessity (as it has been for much of the story, based around surviving), it’s being carried by supposedly smart survivors making stupid decisions and getting themselves into deep shit.  Over and over.

(A couple examples real quick.  Rick outsmarts and traps the Terminus gang that’s stalking them a couple seasons ago, fucking clever and unexpected.  But this episode walks over and over into a massive trap set up by Negan?  Or Daryl being stupid and suddenly losing all his ninja skills in the woods, getting caught by Dwight… twice.  How many times have these ‘badass survivors’ been trapped or captured this season?)

As fans, we already care about the characters.  That’s why we watch and why the show has been #1 for so long.

So, why have the producers and writers stooped to idiocy and cheap tricks?  Because the writing has gone so far down hill.  Good writing hooks an audience into the story and the characters, no tricks needed.

It reminds me of Jurassic World, which is really fucking sad (wrote a scathing review here).  If you take away the dumb decisions and you don’t have a story then your writing is crap.  Anything else is just excuses.  Sorry Gimple and Kirkman, but your explanations on The Talking Dead rang hollow and LAME.

Shit was bad enough with Glenn’s “death”, leaving all of us hanging for a month without knowing what happened.  Blatant emotional manipulation, intentionally bad camera angles and a poor explanation.

But this?  The end of this season?  This is fucking bullshit.  It’s gimmicky, cheap, manipulative bullshit.  There were two soft, fluffy, wussy episodes leading up to… what?  A mystery ending that won’t be resolving for six fucking months?  We deserve better.  This is not the show that most of us fell in love with.  They took a quality show with good writing, good ratings and reduced it some soap opera style, cliffhanger, #WhoIsIt bullshit.

If some other show did this than they’d have a massive, furious audience that would be leaving in droves, but because this show is already a behemoth they’ll probably get away with it.  That’s sad.  I really hope that enough fans are pissed that this cheap shit will stop… but it probably won’t.  Just like Jurassic World.

If this is what we have to look ‘forward’ to in Season 7 then I’m done.  There’s enough crappy programming on TV already, I don’t need this.  I never thought I would say it about TWD, but it’s rapidly joining the ranks of average, shitty shows… that I don’t watch.  It’s saddening, depressing and frustrating to see something so loved fall so far.

Sorry Devon


About two weeks ago I got a very nice email from a reader through my Contact page:

Hi There,
I happened across your blog yesterday and have been reading voraciously
ever since….what can I say it’s been a slow couple of days 😉 I wanted to
compliment you on
1. the quality of your writing. I have been by turns, inclined toward
introspection, brought to tears, laughed uproariously, aroused to raunchy
musings, and impressed by your taste in music! Well played Sir, well played.
2. Your ability to bare your soul, and ask yourself the difficult questions.
3. Your genuine love and appreciation for women despite the difficult
situations you’ve been through.
So, that is all. I feel like some odd sort of groupie now, but wanted to
share my appreciation.
Best of luck with, erm life I suppose?
Devon

So, that gave me a big smile.  I don’t write specifically for an audience, I write because I love to and need to, but it’s always, always nice to hear from someone who enjoyed reading.  I’d also wondered why my stats had jumped so high for one day.

Unfortunately, the email got lost in my inbox until recently.

I replied… or I tried to.

Hey Devon,

Apologies for the slow reply.  Somehow I missed the contact email from
WordPress until I was cleaning out my inbox today.

First off, thanks for reading and then writing to me.  When I started the
blog it was just a confidante, I didn’t really see any benefit except for
having an outlet to vent my feelings.  But over time I’ve come to
appreciate the community of writers and readers out there.  It seems almost
silly in this day of 140 character tweets, but being able to write in-depth
posts is such an important aspect of reaching real connection with people.
There isn’t really a short cut to building that rapport.

That said, it’s a lot of work to keep up with a blog, so it’s always a
boost to hear from someone who’s enjoyed it.  That’s what keeps us going.
I’m so glad that you liked what you read, I’ll attempt to keep it up and
hopefully you’ll enjoy future posts as much.

-Johnny

PS: And don’t be a stranger.  There’s a lot of cool people and good writers
that hang out in this digital dive bar.  Grab a seat, join the
conversation.  You never know what might come of it.

For some reason my reply was returned as “Undeliverable”.

So, Devon, if you’re reading this I did try to reply and I do appreciate hearing from you.  If you’re still around, hit me up again.

Enjoying Bachelorhood


With my current single-hood, and with the lack of interest in dating, I’m aware that the blog hasn’t been particularly interesting nor will that probably change much any time soon.  That’s part of the reason I did a drunken post over the weekend about how much I love eating p*ssy.  Just because I’m celibate at the moment doesn’t mean I can’t relive some fun memories.

The thing is, I’m really digging being single right now.  I’m not looking around.  At all.  I even took down the only dating site profile I still had up.  Nada.  And it’s awesome.  It’s given me plenty of time to work on a few things, get my head on straight, and stop worrying about a lot of stupid shit.  If I feel like being a lazy ass and sitting around in sweat pants on a Saturday drinking cheap beer there’s no reason why I shouldn’t.  Fuck yeah.  Or putting up drunken blog posts about going down on women.  Why not? Continue reading

New Project


Regular readers know that I also moonlight as a writer.  I’ve got a couple novel length projects, some shorter stuff, some kids stories.  None of them are ‘finished’, they all need some serious editing, but I’m getting better at it.

On writing s

Anyway, I finished a first draft of a novel last month and I’ve been kind of wishy washy over what I should do next.  I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year, which starts in November.  According to the rules we’re supposed to start a new project on the first day and finish the draft by the end of the month, equaling 50K words.  I’ve done a couple before, they’re fun.

But the dilemma is, what do I do in the interim?  I don’t want to start some serious project that might not be done before NaNo, but I also don’t want to waste the time by not writing. Continue reading

Know the rules


This is not a blog about writing, however, it is a place for ranting.  Many of the bloggers that I follow also write stories, some even write books, but over and over I see the same mistakes and it’s driving me nuts.  If you’ve been following me for long enough you might remember the series of posts I did about poets last year, I’m just as hard on fiction writers.  What bugs me is how few of these writers really focus on learning their craft before putting it out for the world to see.


I’m not talking about a missed comma here and there, I never pay much attention to them and as long as it isn’t frequent it’s forgivable, I’m talking about the style rules.  If I see a book blurb, a first page, or the beginning of a post that violates these rules I don’t even bother reading further.  Nope, it’s not worth it, the rest of the story/poem/book is probably just as bad. Continue reading

Nothing is Permanent


“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.” ~Dalai Lama

Two weeks ago I got a phone call from my mom, my Grandfather had passed away.  This morning I got a phone call from my mom, Grammy passed away a couple hours ago.  Before you get any warm fuzzy feelings about the timing, they’d been divorced for some 35 years because she cheated on him.  When he remarried soon afterwards and managed to be happy, that was like an ice pick in her gut that never went away.  She made some half-hearted attempts at dating after the divorce but as far as I know nothing serious ever happened and she spent most of the next 35 years alone. Continue reading

The Writing Bug


Inspiration is a strange thing.  A week ago I finished the first draft of my latest fiction project.  Yay, go me.  My regular pattern is to immediately start the next project.  You see, it’s really difficult, almost impossible, to edit something you’ve just written.  It’s too close, everything seems right because you just wrote it.  It’s more effective to finish the next project then go back to edit the previous one, it’s easier to see the errors and things that need to be changed.

So, as soon as I was done I started brainstorming the next project.  I already had a couple ideas bouncing around but nothing that jumped out.  I’ve found it’s better not to try and force a project that I’m not feeling at the moment, so I kept looking. Continue reading

Writing as introspection


Blogging has always been in some form or another a kind of introspection for me.  I never wrote for an audience, I wrote for myself.  It was all about finding a way to understand and explain myself to me, dig into my life, my feelings deeper.

More recently, I’ve found interesting parallels in my fiction writing.  By interesting I mean borderline scary.

Several months ago I went to see a therapist for the first time.  It’s something that I’d wanted to do for a while, I hoped that it would be like an interactive form of writing…  me finding ways to explain things to someone else (like writing) but then having that person ask questions that might give me another perspective in a safe environment.  In case you hadn’t noticed, I take my anonymity, my secrets, quite seriously.  The only way I could really talk to someone about anything, everything honestly was in a situation where I could trust their discretion. Continue reading

Two Weeks


Jeez, time flies when you’re having fun, right?  I was looking at my reader today and realized it has been almost two weeks since my last post.  Not so long ago I was posting daily, what happened?  Well, I’ve been busy writing, just not here.

Some of you know that I’ve been working on some projects that are little more involved than blog posts.  For the last two decades I’ve wanted to be a published writer and I’m finally putting in the elbow grease.  A large portion of my free time is no longer free for blogging but other progress is being made.

For the last two weeks I’ve been neck deep in a short novella (or a long short story, depending on your perspective).  It would be easy to say I’m excited about this piece but I’m excited about every piece.  Every project is a little better than the previous one, there’s always something to learn, and the next will be even better.  That’s the goal at least.

Last night I finished the first draft.  There’s something amazing about finishing a first draft, a terrific feeling that is quickly countered when I re-read it and realize how much more work still needs to be done.  But for tonight I’m basking in the warm glow of vodka and accomplishment.

Cheers!