January 31, 2014

One Down

The Drifter Detective stories are probably one of the best things going in Indie crime fiction right now. From the beginning, I’ve been saying two things: this needs to be a TV show and we need a longer story from Elliott.

One down!

January 29, 2014

There's Nothing Fucking Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding

I saw this picture of Henry Rollins the other day. I’ve been a fan of Uncle Hank’s for a long time, but I don’t think I’d ever seen his hair with this much length since his Black Flag days. To me, he looks a little like an aged Superman and a Clark Kent that put himself through community college working a crap manual labor job.

The more I looked at the picture, the more I liked that idea. Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics followed these lines somewhat—Superman as more of a socialist, working class hero—and then went down weird New 52 multiverse lines with aliens and future Supermen and some other stuff that I suspect most people found confusing.

I’ve never made any secret of the fact that my favorite superhero is and will always be Superman, despite Warner’s attempt to kill my deep affection with that depressing and hopeless movie they called Man of Steel. He’s probably the comic book I would most love to write. Looking at Rollins' picture, I thought, if I ever got that chance, even if it were only for a limited miniseries, this would be my Supes:

The Last Son of Krypton raised by two farmers, themselves the last of the Southern Democrats. Pa Kent fending off corporate buyers while struggling to keep the farm afloat as it constantly hemorrhages money until he finally drops dead of stress, not carried off by a stupid tornado. Clark and Ma living in public assisted housing after foreclosure. The future Man of Steel and his widowed mother barely surviving off a meagre insurance policy and death benefits. Clark seeing poverty first hand so he later understands fully what that does to you and he can give that silver-spoon Bruce Wayne that look because that boy will never get it. But still his mother makes sure he always knows and never forgets that he is loved, even as he acts out and runs along the knife’s edge with the bad crowd, propelled faster than a speeding bullet by a strange torrent of feelings that are part teenager and part alien with a triple dose of grief. Until he has that moment of awakening where it all hits him. I’m not going to describe it but that moment is very clear in my head now, I can see it penciled out. It’s that moment where real hope is born. You see, when you’ve been pushed farther than you’ve ever been pushed, suffered loss after loss, and seen the feeble and hollow things wrought by anger and wrath you either crumble or your rise. And when you rise that way, there is nothing dark about it.

 And that is what would take us to this image.

Punk rock blasts through a Fortress of Solitude filled with books and music. Our aged Superman wears Doc Martens, Dickies, and a fair trade t-shirt. His arms are covered in tattoos from Kyle Rayner and that specially made Kryptonite-tipped tattoo gun. There are a lot of them, probably one for every time he feels he failed, but there’s definitely one for his home planet, one for Pa, one for Ma, one for Barry, and one for Bruce’s parents since their loss hurts him too because, like he keeps telling the entire Justice League, there’s nothing fucking funny about peace, love, and understanding.

January 10, 2014

The Problem I've Come To Have With Realism

Realism tends to be used the way a lot of people use religion in their lives, by picking and choosing when to apply what’s convenient to their purposes while ignoring everything else.

In realism’s case? That’s usually the glaringly unrealistic.

Worst of all, though, realism has become the propaganda phrase that means: "thoughtless slathered in dark and gritty." That’s then often twisted into some kind of merit badge that’s supposed to automatically convey worth and also “excuse” genre work—as if genre work needed to be excused.

January 9, 2014

The Super Hero Craze, Part II

Read Part I

Even the quickest google search on humans and storytelling will materialize reams of fascinating information covering everything from the history and evolution of the process to how a story affects our brains and why. To me though, the interesting thing has always been why we tell stories in the first place. Why is storytelling so central to the human experience? All that research shows our brains are hardwired for stories on an evolutionary level. I mean, no other sentient being on earth tells stories. And, without even realizing it, you’ve probably told several yourself today or used information you remember only because of a story someone else told you.

I think, at its most basic level, telling stories has always came down to three things working in concert:

1.) Understand something
2.) Convey Information
3.) Entertain

If you stop and consider each of these, you can trace them both through the broad experience of humanity, cave-fire to boardroom, and the individual experience of a human, birth to grave, in whatever form a story takes.

But I think there’s a deeper purpose fueling those three and I think it’s has to do with comfort.

Stop and consider it. Really think about it. Because I think I’m right and I think, other than money, that’s the other reason for so many superhero movies right now. En masse, we need a little comfort from our modern gods.

January 2, 2014

About Those Posts...

It’s that time of year when everyone is making posts about the previous year and the upcoming year. Here’s my thoughts on what I've seen:

“2013 was awful!”

According to my Facebook and Twitter feeds, last year sucked for a lot of people. It’s not surprising. There was a lot of suffering going on in the world.

I know last year was fucking terrible for me. I feel like I could easily write out a list as long as my arm detailing every awful thing before I ever got to the legion of general worries and fears that threatened my thoughts almost constantly during the past year.

I don’t want to do that though.

Why? Well, it’s probably not for the reason you think.

The problem is that it’s not helpful. That type of thing always leads to some sort of comparison in our minds, even if we don’t say it aloud, and I don’t want to compare anything because we almost never compare things in a helpful manner. Plus, I don’t want you to do it either.

Look, sometimes I am going to have it harder than you. Sometimes you are going to have it harder than me. And sometimes that guy over there? He’s going to have it harder than either one of us could ever imagine in a million years. And while he’s suffering so intensely in ways we cannot imagine, there’s someone else, somewhere else in the world going through something even worse. However, that doesn’t make my pain or your pain any less painful to us…because we experienced it and when we were experiencing it that’s what we know—our individual painand that’s all we can deal with at that time. And pain, even if we attempt to quantitify it, is still pain and being pain means it is terrible.

When we compare those sorts of things, like our pain to someone else’s pain or even our terrible event to a worse event, we’re discounting what we went through in a way that does nothing for us but make us feel worse: “I can’t believe I let all that stuff bother me, man. My troubles are nothing…just nothing.” Or “Why can’t I be like X, if I was more like X I could deal with this better?”

That starts our minds going and it causes a whole snowball effect of thoughts and worries and fears and desires. Then, inevitably, something else bad happens, because bad things happen, and the whole nasty process either begins again or the snowball becomes even larger and our suffering grows and grows.

"2014 is going to be awesome."

Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. I bet at the start of 2013, you didn’t write: “2013 is totally going to blow ass!”

The truth is that you don’t know anything about 2014. It could be an awesome year! But it could just as easily be another shit year. Or it could even be just a year, a regular old year, neither good nor bad. The only thing any of us know is that 2014 will be.

We have no say over how the year is going to go. The only thing we have control over is ourselves, our actions, and our thoughts. And that’s where we can make the difference in 2014, not just for ourselves but for everyone else. When we recognize what we do have say over and what we don’t, then we can begin to deal with things as they are, not as we want them to be and not as we think they should be.

“I’m tired of living in the moment.”

I’ve seen all these people making these posts about how they're tired of "living in the moment" or "trying to live in the moment."

The thing is though, it's clear from their post that they weren't doing that anyway. Being present and engaged with right now is NOT the same thing as trying to turn every single experience and second that ticks by on your clock into a Basho poem to be mulled over and plumbed for deep philosophical insight.

You know what that is?

Well, it's spending your time and thoughts and energy trying to turn every single experience and second that ticks by on your clock into a Basho poem to be mulled over and plumbed for deep philosophical insight.

That? That you should totally give up.

A list of resolutions

There’s anything wrong with a list of resolutions. Making a list of resolutions can be helpful….If you keep your list honest and manageable.

This is probably by favorite list.

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