Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I had plans, such magnificent plans he said.

I had such magnificent plans, he said, minutes or seconds before the rain stopped and he was dead.
How can one scene in a movie that I would first see in awful resolution and framing on a VHS tape on a 22" TV in a college dorm room have such a profound effect on me?
It did. It changed how I wanted to see movies, it changed how I wanted to see life. I was nineteen when I discovered Ridley Scott's masterpiece in all its chopped up and edited glory complete with Harrison Ford's (Deckers) added Noir narration. By this point, the movie had been floating around for quite some time. It is, at once, the most haunting and beautiful movies I have ever seen. it holds the number 4 spot in my top 100 favorite movies. Nothing has displaced it since I made the list.
The reason that it has remained there in that spot is because of this one scene. It was perfect, in every cut of this movie. There have been 7 versions to be seen.
If you haven't seen Bladerunner then you might want to stop reading here and

A) watch one of the versions of it. I actually got to see the 1991 Director's cut in widescreen in full glorious resolution in Theatres. Sadly, unless you have major connections, you will only be able to see it in a limited frame. I would recommend the Final Cut as it is the truest to its Director's vision as any of the others.
Ironically the worst cut of the movie (which has some merit to me) is the hardest to find. I mean other than the Laserdisc version. I haven't seen all the DVD versions...a person must have goals, I suppose.

B) find a thorough synopsis of the movie or at very least watch some if not all of it via youtube.

C) Warning, the movie is violent and a bit gory (I mean it was by yesterday's standards)

D) Skip it, either read on or go look at Cat pics on your favorite social media.


That being said, let's return to my point.
The "Tears in the Rain" sequence has had a profound impact on me, as a writer, screenplay writer, filmmaker, Dungeon Master and video gamer.
The scene is set following the climatic desperate strangely realistic battle between Decker and the vastly superior Roy Batty. I say strangely realistic because Decker is very human in his abilities to battle a combat replicant (think Android/clone/synth/robot if you must). There are no Hollywoodesque combat maneuvers by the combatants only a desperate struggle of man vs. machine as the two struggle for supremacy or rather for survival. Both men having their own motivations to win the fight end up on the rooftop of the gloomy mostly abandoned building in which the battle has occurred.
Decker finds himself trapped and cornered by Batty, knowing that he is going to die there, he decides to chance escape by jumping to a nearby building to buy himself enough time to come up with an alternative to dying. He almost makes it, too. When he does not, he finds himself dangling over an abyss hanging on with wounded hands. There is a moment, when I am still sure that he falls.
Batty comes to Decker's rescue. What follows is this scene.
One, or rather I find myself feeling that, in the end, the executioner decides that all life, even the life of Decker, the Bladerunner, is worth saving. This is an irony since Batty is about to lose his own.
Roy speaks the words that would remain frozen in my memory for years until I would find I had my own voice and would begin to dream of writing this scene over and over again every time I sit down to write.
It's not just Roy Batty's words that draw this emotion, this metaphor out of me, but the whole scene, the rain falls without ceasing. The soft blues and grays reinforce that this is truly a tragic conclusion to Batty's life. Scott is without mercy for either of his heroes in this scene.
Yes, I said either of his heroes. I suspect, that this idea drove the Hollywood suits mad, since Roy is clearly the villain and Decker is not. I found that the two represent and mirror each other throughout the movie until they cross and in a sense become one on this rooftop.
The juxtaposition of the two men, human and replicant, law and order, emotion and logic spins around me each time I watch Bladerunner. I should watch it more. I use to watch it, at least once a year. I haven't done that much in the last 5 or more years. This scene and indeed, the entire movie rests in my sub conscience every time I sit down to write.
Also, yes, I know that Decker is a replicant or probably is.
Why do I say this (I have read the arguments for and against this on numerous blog, videos, websites)?
Simple, I feel that Ridley Scott wants us to question what is real and rather than feed us and answer that we all crave, he leaves us to make our own conclusions.
For years, I found myself going back to the original Hollywood Detective Noir cut because it does just that. It gives a definite answer to the overriding question.
Do they survive?
At present, I like the idea of there being no answer. We are left, not knowing who is the human and who is the replicant. We are left with the definitive idea that no one knows that life has meaning and no meaning that all these emotions can be summed up on a rainswept rooftop while holding a dove symbolically as the last moments of our lives slip away like tears in the rain.

Before anyone loses their minds over the blog title or the opening lines. They are my own. It's how I summarize what my heroes are thinking at the moment of perfect clarity.

and that...
Actually, I have to stop and give a shout out to NerdWriter for inspiring me to start to use this blog to do just a little more than talk about life according to me.
you can find him making thought provoking videos here the Nerdwriter

and that- is life changing movies according to Mike.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Modern Dating According to Mike

When it comes to modern dating, I am about as good at it as I was back when I actually tried doing it.
It's amazing on how little has changed even with the rise of the internet and my own self-confidence.
I mean I want to socialize/date but I still can't even get out the starting gate.
I am considering updating my Ok Cupid profile (yes I am getting to that point again)
I think it has happened to me because I am writing a novel about 5 relationships (fictional) that happen in the late 90's.
What follows is really just some points and reflections on my research so far.
1. make sure you are not related, even distantly- it's weird.
Kenneth Wilson @writtenbyken
#WorstFirstDate @jimmyfallon @FallonTonight
Sitting on the floor. Kissing. Talking about life and family. Turns out. We are cousins.
2:51 PM - 6 Jan 2016 source: Follow Kenneth. He's funny.
It's a weird, weird world and you never know who you are going to run into. Even with a galaxy sized story, you can always get this...
So, it might not be your sister...twin sister at that, but "kissing cousins" is not just a cliche these days especially with all the divorces and remarriages. you might not be blood kin but I suspect if I fall for a woman and we kiss and then she says you remind me of my cousin Sam Coker, I might freak out just a little. Also, I suspect Sam is a good kisser- but I am not going to verify that personally.

2. Knowing when to call it quits:
Jennifer Mumme @MummeWummie
Date was so bad I gave the waiter 20 bucks to spill my drink on me to get me out of there.#worstfirstdate
10:54 PM - 25 Apr 2016 source:MummeWummie
Because Reasons:

  • make sure you scope out possible exit points in the restaurant like back doors.
  • verify bathroom in not in direct line of sight from where he is sitting.
  • have a friend standing by for a convenient "butt dial of SOS"
  • Have a friend call you mid-date in case you need an exit clause.
  • If she checks her makeup or takes a selfie, calculate escape trajectory vs. velocity.
  • Complain about the food and insist on taking your steak beck to the kitchen yourself, apologize to the chef and blow him a kiss on your way out the door.
3. Practice your compliments with your sister or a female friend or adversely your brother and male friend
M for Magnetic! @MariangelicaA

@jimmyfallon While at dinner, date looks at me and says "If you just lose 10 lbs, you would be a ten." I asked for dessert. #worstfirstdate
11:47 PM - 4 May 2016 source: MariangelicaA
10 bad compliments:

  1. Those jeans don't make your butt look big.
  2. You remind me of your sister
  3. I love boobs, yours as well.
  4.  usually, I don't like girls who are as short as you, but with you, I'll make an exception.
  5.  You are so bubbly/perky/spunky
  6. I can just be me when I am around you
  7. your (insert body part) makes me (adjective) that I (action verb)
  8. I like your (facial feature) it really makes you more sexy/beautiful/etc.
  9. I like it when you remember to be a gentleman.
  10. you are so much fun when you are (state of being- drunk/tipsy/high/etc).
Final note here: Google search only returned all the things you should or shouldn't say to women (it's epidemic apparently) when I found one site that reported good compliments for men they were all like this.
"I trust you"
"I'm listening"
"You're buff"
"I'm on your side"
Apparently, men are not vain, fickle, or in desperate need to know they can pick the right clothes, be the right weight or have nice body features. 

4. Vary your Dating Grounds.
Jessie @JessieB365
My date took me to a nice restaurant. Our server leaned into me and said, "You're the third one this week" #WorstFirstDate source: JessieB365
Dante's Dating Service
source image flip

  • when the waiter knows what you are ordering by the time you and your latest date sit down.
  • when you see the bus boys (or girls) setting up a betting pool to see how long your date lasts.
  • when you get a thumbs up from the bartender or a thumbs down from the host.
  • when your table is taken and you get upset about it.
  • when you find out your last date liked the restaurant more than she liked you.
  • when your smartphone notifies you audibly that there's a frequent diner coupon
  • when she tells you that your last date looked bored and advises you not to order the seared tuna again.
5. Make sure you understand what going DUTCH means:
K. @kittykaresless
He had a $35 steak and several drinks. I had a $8 salad and water. He demanded I split the check 50/50. #WorstFirstDate
5:52 PM - 27 Jul 2016 source: kittykaresless
what it doesn't mean:
  • Going native (or integrating yourself into dutch society/culture)
  • dating dutch men or women
  • asking for one bill, then doing your own math.
  • smoking weed
  • something about dutch ovens that I really don't want to know (WTH google!)
6. Tinder. Google dating or bad dates or anything variation and the number one or two hit is something about tinder dating backfiring.
top 5 search results on tinder (google and youtube):
  1. getting my tinder date high
  2. tinder date experiment
  3. dozens of Tinder nightmare stories (a lot of women)
  4. catfishing stories like crazy
  5. guys looking for quick hookups
  6. people pranking those guys
The truth is:
The truth is, I was never good at asking a woman (or girl) out on a date- this turns out that I was really good at falling for the wrong kind of woman (given my needs at the time). My line of dating rejections is long. 
For one thing, I was forever getting involved with women who either had decided they would NEVER sleep with me (usually before I had any say) or that I was best friend material.
I feel like I missed learning the pickup lines (I know it sounds cliched and corny but just getting someone to talk to you is hard enough but damn near impossible if you have no confidence and you are trying to do this in bars and at public dances.
Online dating was worse. 
Advice like being honest is a waste of time since I never fit in with my age group - I laugh about it now but people who are like me are older or younger. My peer group and I have nothing in common except high school and I hated high school.
The truth is, dating scares the hell out of me, it's too much pressure and after years of getting laughed at, mocked and made fun of- I quit. I literally stopped asking women out (men too). 
Now I haven't kissed a human being in nearly 20 years. Not even sure I would know how. 
If you have to ask about sex then my answer is Porn and masturbation will keep a person sane.
I still dream/desire love but the odds never seem to be in my favor. 
worthless advice:
  • meet someone at work (this never works) most employers get antsy at "workplace dating" or happens but where I have worked for 14 years is NOT a good place to get into a relationship. Also, if you have time for workplace romance there is something wrong with your ambitions.
  • meet someone where you work out. This is easy in movies and youtube. I work out at a church, a gym where no one frequents (like the Rush or whatever it's called now) and a pool/therapy place where the bulk of the people are in horrible physical shape and/or a LOT older than me. 
  • meet someone online: Dating sites suck and take money- even the ones that are supposed to be free (but aren't). My history here has been an expensive failure (of epic proportions). I sympathize with women on these sites since they are often besieged with offers, messages, matches, trolls and worse. I really can't see how they manage to make it work (some do, so I am told). I never had much luck with dating sites. 
  • personal ads. I ran a couple and radio silence.
  • prayer. I want to believe prayer works then I hear Garth Brooks' song Unanswered Prayers and I do a lot of cussing, then some more praying to thank God for sparing whatever disaster that must have been, in the end, I gave up praying.
I suspect I am just too weird/different a person to ever find someone who would find ALL of me that appealing. 
I still want love, but I am unwilling to compromise or give up being what I am in order to be more appealing to a potential mate/date (if you have to ask, you just haven't been there).
So still single and not gay (why this is still a thing, God only knows).
This is dating according to Mike.

Feel free to disagree.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Things that don't really bother me (warning extreme WIT ahead)

Read the title or just go back to youtube and watch video game feeding frenzy.
That being said....
This blog is ultimately a reaction to Wisecrack and Nerdwriter.
I say this, in case, you are planning to blame me for what follows.

  1. Sexism. Why? The answer is simple, I'm fucked but not literally- I mean no woman is waiting to have sex with me...but I digress.  Why are you fucked, Mike? You might ask unless, of course, you are swiping at your phone or trying to call my mother to inform her that her favorite son is cussing again.
    Well, I will tell you. I am a 47-year-old, white male who is tall, middle class and overweight. I think I am gorgeous but I suspect most women would disagree (at least, none of them have agreed with me yet). I am technically middle class but only by default, not actual salary.
    What the fuck does that have to do with anything, you might ask (assuming a lot here, but go with me and we can save the asides).
    Because I am a white male who is middle class and overweight I fit the profile/archetype/stereotype of the "average" misogynist that seems to proliferate the internet and world at large. So, by default, pretty much everything I say or plan to say gets force fed through the various filters that end up branding me as such. Case in point, years ago I wrote a romantic poem called The Passion and the Hunt. Most of the women who read it hated it and because I wrote- hated me or really disliked me verbally. As I recall, only one woman read it, looked at me for a time, then grinned and said something like "I see what you are doing there, very smart." In retrospect, I should have married her- despite that, too, being sexist.
    2 things to note about the poem.
    First, it was a romantic poem in the sense of rhyme scheme and format, I was emulating the literary style not trying to be romantic. Sadly, this was lost on most of my critics. Second, it was a poem about rape and how our society has "romanticized" it. It proved to be a disastrous thing to make a poem about. I was immediately villainized as a sexist pig and misogynist and no one would even discuss what I was trying to do (I wrote this in a poetry class at the college level).  I can write a blog about this, and I might one day, but I bring this up to make this point: as a white man (insert descriptors) I am not allowed to be sympathetic to sexism by the very defaults that feminists tend to classify and categorize their opponents by and adversely are fighting against.
    That's not to say all feminists or women just most (like 95%) of the women I have encountered along the way whenever I bring this up or inadvertently get involved with. What this means is because Of what I appear to be, I am disqualified for being beholden to the stereotype.
    I could be wrong but so far my experience has been that I am ignored, discredited, abused, disavowed, etc. if I even suggest that I have an opinion on it. Ironically, the misogynists are even worse assuming that because I am a man I must share their views on the same standards.
    So, my only recourse is to keep silent, give moderate approval limited to strict nodding and shaking of my head, click like and keep quiet as the experts on the matter have their say. I mean, if I were smart enough to keep my mouth shut, of course. Fortunately, for me, it no longer bothers me that I am labeled and branded by others as such because I am finally comfortable with being the odd man out. In a perfect world, everyone should have an equal opportunity to state where they stand on sexism without someone prejudging them or not actually listening to what they say or want to believe. So, that's the long answer. The short one is I am fucked and there's not much I can do about it. I have never republished the Passion poem because of this.
  2. Racism. The short answer is: I'm White. It doesn't matter that I was born African because to be considered African- you have to be born Black (or some shade of Brown). There's a paradox for you. There are no White Africans. I do, however, claim that I have an African soul. It doesn't matter that in High School they called me the N-word or referred to me as a white N-word (no, I won't say it, I made that decision along with the K-word. Words have power and I decided about 3 years ago there would be several words I would no longer say, even to myself- again material for another blog). In this case, I was labeled as such by a predominately white school with 1 Black person (African-American, if you must) and when I used the word in a poem about coming to America and being called such a name, what happened but that I would be branded a Racist by the very people who called me the "White N-word" for daring to write such a thing in a poem (which as luck would have it be edited by the school literary magazine so the context of the poem was left out). I was sixteen at that point.  I can say that I am not a racist but I would be lying to myself and everyone else. Why? I was brought up in two very racist cultures in two moderately racist households (I say moderately because the racism there was subliminal- no one was overt about it, they just showed the markings of their own racially biased upbringings). In the end, it was inescapable. As long as Racism is classified by the company you keep, then most of us are screwed. How many white people have black friends? This is a loaded question since it can be applied to any "racial" group. How many (insert ethnic group) have (insert ethnic group) friends. The answer is a precious few have both, at least in this country. We are so ethnic and racially charged that to even have people associate with other people brings out a bias against such interactions. I am an active non-racist for the record. What do I mean by that? I actively fight against my ethnic/cultural/familial bias that would make me racist. It doesn't matter since I cannot take part in most conversations because I am not Black (despite being told I was by two very different people in my life - but that is another blog altogether). So that's the long answer. The short is, it seems that the world (at large) disqualifies me from not being racist because I look like a white man (yes, even as I write this I smile at how racist that was to write). 
  3. Not being a Heterosexual. Yep, I am not straight. I am not gay either. I am just a weird guy, I guess. Someone out there probably has a term for it. When I was in my late teens, I had a few homosexual encounters, nothing really happened, I did suddenly feel the compulsion to come out of a closet or join a monastery but I did give into the fear that by having these experiences that somehow this would condemn me as a 'Fag' and I would be ostracized by everyone I knew- especially women (who I did really like the idea of being with). I even cried one night after a particularly unsatisfactory experience and told my mother I was afraid that I was gay. I had reason to be afraid, AIDS had been declared a "Gay Plague" and anyone who had it or even was suspected of it was one of them and deserved to die. Then my Uncle who I adored "died" from it (yes, I know now that AIDS didn't kill him directly). It changed everything. I didn't even know that he had been homosexual (it was one of those weird family secrets that are not really a secret but was). I was terrified in my complete ignorance of sexuality and it would take close to a decade before I would have a clue that no matter how hard I tried to be a heterosexual I would fail to meet the entrance requirements.
    For one thing, I was horrible at being heterosexual, I froze up around women, I could not get a date, women did not ask me out, I was clueless to body language and signals. I had no luck in the singles scene (and still, don't). I never got the understanding on how to do pick-up lines or those other heterosexual tropes. So dating was out.
    The other thing, the homosexuals weren't interested in me either. I should have been relieved; instead, I felt as rejected as when the women would figuratively toss their wine in my face.
    It would take a thorough immersion and knowledge of internet porn for me to understand my sexuality.
    Ironically, a bisexual woman who had gone straight (nope not naming names) would inform me that I was, in fact, bisexual because homosexuality did not repulse me. Her definition of being truly heterosexual was that you only wanted women and everything else was so repulsive that it would make you ill (she based this on the fact that her husband was one of these "true heterosexuals). People have weird ideas. She may have been right. No, I am not really bisexual, before you get your proverbial torches lit. Neither am I into men, sexually. It's way more complicated than that. To put it in context, I did not throw up or even get upset at the end of The Crying Game, and therein lies the clue to my understanding, that- at least, for me, I am just sexual. Trying to classify or categorize that for Porn Hub, I will leave to porn hub and my future lover - should I be so lucky.
  4. I have a small penis. I say small by modern definition- if you have to ask- go google it. I would say without grabbing a ruler it's 4 inches. I suspect if you are still reading this, you are going WTF Mike, TMI! TMI! I sympathize, I do- all you 10-inch men out there should have to put up with losers like me, robbed by the gene pool and such. Also, there must be like a dozen of you sitting there nodding your heads, probably thinking well that pretty much explains the sex thing. The reason I say this kind of thing, is here in America, it's a topic of conversation on and off the web, men from my generation (at least) and onward all (and I mean many or a few) bring up their penis size on a fairly regular basis especially online or in D&D games or sporting events or any place where having a large penis seems to make all the difference in our society. Men lie about their penis size all the time. I don't know if I will say anything about women but if you believe the internet and magazines, having a big penis is key to relationships and sex and marriage and world "peice." I have a small (average size) penis and it doesn't bother me a lot- mostly because I will probably die a virgin anyway (another blog I suspect- also I will be completely smashed for that one). Now you can go back to yelling TMI and the women (should there be any can declare that they knew something was wrong with me.
  5. Mac vs. PC. it has to be said. I used to really care about this. I am typing this on a MacBook Pro. I own a PC Gaming Rig. I write on both. I used to take the side of PC being better than Mac. Now I just laugh whenever it comes up because it is SUCH a non-issue. Which is better? Short answer, whichever one you like better. Which is faster? Whichever one you think is faster. Why? Because the long answer goes like this. People assume better is something measurable like specifications or benchmarks or boot time or stability. They argue, they make dumb but amusing ads, they make parodies of those ads, they call themselves the master race, they go on and on until they have insulted everyone and what for? Nothing but their own pleasure. If a PC makes you happy, get one or keep the one you have. Viceversely the same goes for the Mac and the droid. You Linux peeps can go to hell (kidding, you are already in hell- you just don't know it yet). I have had them all and my learned opinion is: if it makes you happy then ignore all the idiots and experts and do what makes you happy...assuming you can afford it and your wife will let you have it.
  6. Patriotism. I am not a patriot. please deport me somewhere nice and cool. The truth is I can never be blindly patriotic. I tried once, it didn't work. I am forever, that guy who raises his hand in class and points out to the history professor that the acropolis is not next to the sea, it's 3.5 miles give or take if you walk in a straight line. The professor threw me out of class. I wanted to place my hand over my heart and swear allegiance to a flag and be considered a true American and I did, then someone pointed out that if I didn't believe in everything Bush had to say that I was a traitor and even to question the Bush presidency was treasonous. Then Clinton is in office and it's the role of the American Patriot to quest everything and even call the president of this flag a traitor to the crown- err I mean country. Nothing changes, hypocrisy runs rampant in the "greatest country in the world." So no, I am not a patriot because I won't take part in how it is defined. Patriotism is for those willing to defy reason and good judgement and shoot first and never question anyone.
  7. Freedom of speech/expression. I had stronger views on this once. I no longer do. We need to have complete freedom of expression (assuming that it doesn't involve hurting or killing other people) [I mean you can say that you want to hurt or kill people if you must]. I would rather live my entire life stuck in a closet with Vanna White than have ideas banned.
    That is what Freedom of Expression is. It's ideas. Good ideas or bad, right or wrong, good or evil or neutral or otherwise.
    We need to have it all, banning one is as bad, if not worse than banning the other. I am for ideas. Without the ones I don't like I cannot see how to overcome them with the ones I do.  So, Mike, why doesn't Freedom of Expression really bother you? (If you are still here, I applaud you, I'd have gone to see if I could talk my husband into a good backrub if I were you)
    Short answer. As long as we have the freedom to express ourselves it doesn't bother me.
    Long answer. Take away of limit freedom of expression and I will be very bothered by it. I think Pink Floyd put it best. As long as my wall is up and I can be comfortably detached from the reality of oppression, I am fine with that. Well, I want it to be comfortably numb anyway.
    I'm sure some Pink Floyd expert will be coming after me with a brick in a minute. So let me just says, don't rock my idea boat- i.e. this is my place, this blog, for ideas. 

Remember I said WIT ensues. Before you lose your mind and call the Dean or my parents or my brother- actually please bug my brother- he is stuck in the closet with a stuffed shark- reread the blog.

and that is stuff that doesn't really bother me according to Mike.

So, the world is on fire, but all I want to do is dance with you.

We were victims of the night,
The chemical, physical, kryptonite
Helpless to the bass and the fading light-

Welcome to the world, it's a harsh, cold and often cruel place. At least, the world that man has created on what and in what the creator- be it a primordial super being or a scientific phenomenon on the galactic scale made for us. In short, you are born here (probably), you will live here (however shortly), and chances are you'll die here (if you don't I want to know).
Life is HARD. It is almost never easy. It may look easy for some but usually, those people are faking it. 
What to do about it?
I think that for many of us, escapism is key.
She took my arm,
I don't know how it happened.
We took the floor and she said,

"Oh, don't you dare look back.
Just keep your eyes on me."
I said, "You're holding back,"
She said, "Shut up and dance with me!"
(walk the moon credit)

This woman is my destiny
She said, "Ooh-ooh-hoo,
Shut up and dance with me."

I confess. I can't dance like that. I am a big guy who is clumsy and awkward and kind of shy.
I do my best dancing in my daydreams. Turn on some music and my mind whirls away to nightclubs that aren't packed, to dance studios with low lighting and good sound, to a park where there are flat spaces and no one to say "stay off the grass."
Add someone who is needing  an emotional release- usually a pretty or beautiful girl or woman, but not always, in my mind- I have danced with all kinds of humans and a few cats. Add the music, the music you want to dance to. I always have certain songs or musical numbers in mind. Certain songs that when I hear them- my mind slides away to one of those dance spaces. As long as the song lasts, we dance.
Somebody out there in the real world asks why I have a dreamy smile and a glazed look every once in a while, but I ignore them. 
I do know how to dance, just truly never had the opportunity to pursue it. Well, that's not quite true.
"Una vida vivida en el miedo es una vida media duraciĆ³n."
Fran: A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.

So, this morning as I was catching up on the news and social media, and Trump was sharing his latest bit of self-congratulatory wisdom, my mind slipped away to a world far simpler and I danced with the King of Siam and did the two-step with Debi Reynolds.

Sometimes, I run away to this place of dreams where there is a foregone pattern to daily movement. A place where dancing can solve problems, crises, and likewise disasters. Where Michael Jackson can end gang violence with a group line dance or Weird Al can exhort Mac 'n Cheese over Pinto Beans.
Sometimes, I have to take a mental departure and go for a groove across the dance floor of my mind. Finding my red shoes and low rider socks, a pair of slacks, white shirt, and a poodle skirt, grab a girl and do some hand jive all the time ignoring the angry tweet wars that play out behind me as I wait for the jury selection to begin.

Escapism is key to maintaining balance in my work with play. When I am dancing in my mind, I am writing the next story, feeling the wonder of movement. This is how I escape.
and that is Life and Dancing according to Mike...
ps. I know I need a dance partner.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Life According to Mike Manifesto Part 2

Okay, it's not a  manifesto as much as it is a new statement of intent.
Also, there probably was at least 1 part 1 somewhere back in the past where I declared that I was now going to do X and not Y.

So why now?
After suffering through the RNC and observing the general state of the world, I have decided to reconsider what I write here. This is, after all, is where I write non-fiction. I am a fiction writer who started by writing what amounts to non-fiction.
Second, I finally after years and years of posting stuff on the net received my first real constructive criticism from a non-relative.
"You have potential but I don't understand you."

I didn't say that it was particularly helpful. It was well timed. It made me stop and ask myself. What are you doing?
I replied I am wasting an inordinate amount of time amusing myself with a wit and will that mostly only I get. Everyone else just scratches their heads or thinks that I am a weird dude with a weird POV or worse call me a troll (without knowing what a troll actually is- I suspect) or that I am pedantic- which is mostly true- I do have a real need to always be correct, to the point of spending tons of time running down the truth on the internet.

Third, I accidentally posted a video where a well respected white lady tore down the whole argument of racism very prolifically. I went to delete it then saw it was reaching a lot of people and foolishly left it there on a comic book fan page. Then the real trolls appeared to make it into a Hillary vs. Trump post. I as the admin of the page spent an hour running down the facts and pointed them out to the troll who then wanted to know which of my friends he had insulted instead of the real issue. I kicked him off the page following that. This may seem extreme but the whole point of the page is to challenge POVs without getting mired in political agendas and such garbage. Then the next troll appeared, although he may have just been trollish. His point of attack was to discredit the speaker as a fraud or hypocrite. Both of these trolls were white, for the record. I did point out he was wrong as well. It didn't matter to him or at least it did not appear to matter to him. In the end, I removed the video as it really didn't belong on a comic book fan page.
What's the lesson here? I made a mistake. I thought that the accident wouldn't take away from the page or how I felt about posting there. It did. What I should have done is remove the video immediately with an oops and moved on. It made me painfully aware of how we Americans (and Humans) seem irrevocably divided and that there is little hope we will ever be able to have a discussion where everyone's opinions and POVs are respected. I found this very sad.

Then I started listening to:
The View from the Cheap Seats
Selected Nonfiction

by Neil Gaiman
The View from the Cheap Seats. if you want to buy it.
 And then I realized I wanted to do something else with my time on the net. I want to get back to what I really want to do with my life. First and foremost being: writing. Stop engaging in social media warfare with the trolls and close minded and find my enlightenment somewhere else.
I probably am going to start using this blog to explore things and places and ideas I am interested in.
I may come back one day and write about guns and ideas and social justice, but for now,  I am going to chase rainbows and ideas and words.

If this disappoints you, then I apologize.
Also, I do apologize about the web page. It's been a thorn in my side and I have found myself questioning why I have it. Do I even need it? Is it worth having? Is anyone using it?
Finally, if you read my other blogs, there will be changes on them as well as I change their formats into something more writable.
I just recently restarted a short story blog only to discover that I am, in fact, writing a novel and what is there are more character studies than stories.
So that one will change as well.

I will continue to use this blog as a mirror of my personal reflections minus a political agenda.
I am through with writing about politics. It does not bring me peace of mind or happiness of spirit.
Until the next time this has been, as always and continue to be, life according to Mike.

Friday, July 8, 2016

I really hate to say this but.... I will.

What the Hell?!

It was bound to happen.
Ever since Ruby Ridge, and maybe even before that, this country has this semimythical sense of balancing "the scales" and the events of last evening (Thursday night) prove this to me.
Let me take you back (if you are old enough) or fill you in (if you are young enough) to the time when this country was largely and blissfully unaware that problems with law enforcement were limited to sparse media coverage and the old age of civil rights (which most of us who grew up in the seventies missed....unless you were black).
Let me stop here and make an apology. I am a white man who grew up as a white child in a "mostly white" world. I was blissfully unaware, that there was even a problem with race until I was 6 and refused to hold a black girls hand in gym class and someone said some word that made no sense and everybody just nodded as if you could expect no less from me. It didn't matter to anyone that the girl had been mean to me or stolen my pencil in class.
But I digress.
I am going to stop myself here. Let me just add that there was a lot of bad things that happened in the lull between the press coverage of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's and the rude awakening of the early 90's. I do not mean to imply that nothing happened, lots of things happened. What I mean to say was there was a subtle shift for someone growing up in the white man's world.
The shift showed up slowly, mostly because it was treated as this faraway problem of unrest and uncertainty as human went about doing inhuman things to other humans and calling it one thing or another. For some of us, it was an ignorant sense of bliss as we were able to grow up without a constant fear dogging our lives.
What is this shift, you might ask (while the rest will jump to conclusions and declare anything I write to be wrong)?
The shift was perception. The perception of law enforcement.
(someone, somewhere just jumped up and yelled "Finally! He gets to the point!")
The point is this. We, as Americans, grew up with preconceived ideas of who and what Policemen were and what they did. What unified this for many of us was television.
I grew up with small amounts of exposure to this phenomena unlike I suspect many of my peers. I did not have a tv in our house so all my exposure to tv came through seeing it in other places. Places like the after school sitters' houses and during a visit to one of my mother's relatives.
I saw law enforcement through the gilded shows of Andy Griffith, All My Sons, and Barney Miller.
The pattern was set and I believe in the idea that the police were well meaning individuals who seldom ever used their guns, spoke plainly and seldom ever resorted to violence. In fact, I did not refer to them a police or law enforcement, I referred to them a peacekeepers or keepers of the peace.
The Peacekeepers
It was a wonderful concept that was largely attached to the old west of yore and legend. Men who dedicated their lives to being fair, honor bound and preserving the peace for the public trust.
It never occurred to me that there was a complete or nearly complete lack of race in these shows. It was never mentioned or brought up, in fact, until Archie Bunker reared his ugly head and reminded America that it wasn't all "Father knows Best" and you couldn't leave it to the Beaver.
In short, I was first exposed to TV in the south where 1950's TV was still king.
I really believed that the policeman was to be respected and honored for keeping the peace. It never occurred to me to doubt it until I went home to South Africa in 1980 to a very different world, a world much more like the civil rights world of 1960's America. The illusion was shattered but not the ideal.
I still hold to that ideal. I have been on the other side of that shield (albeit in a much lesser capacity as a security guard for a campus police force). It was eye opening and I needed to see that the police were not as bad as they had come to be, in my mind growing up in the 90's. (I will come back to this at the end, I promise).
What happened to change my perception of law enforcement?
One Word.
I don't have time or energy to go over how everything went wrong in Waco but let me say that it was as some of my peers call it- a cluster fuck (sorry but there is just no other word that occurs to me at this point)
I know what some of you are going to say:
Mike, this wasn't the police.
It wasn't the police but it was law enforcement agency (in particular the ATF and the FBI).
Mike, this wasn't about race.
It wasn't race, it wasn't even religion. No, it was about a group of law enforcement agencies overstepping their authority and mishandling a volatile situation that went horribly and tragically wrong. It was about a group of men and women believing they were doing the right thing and just how badly their decisions turned out.
Ironically, it didn't actually happen in Waco.
But all I have to say is Waco and every white person (at least) will immediately remember that FUBAR.
Everyone has analyzed Waco to death. Well not everyone, but the media certainly did.
The problem with Waco was it was actually the middle, although it was the beginning for me.
By the time I learned aboutRuby Ridge- I had discovered that what I perceived as the causes of Waco had been going on for a long time (mostly without media coverage).
Bear with me.
Ruby Ridge happened before Waco but I had missed it or not realized how much trouble we were in.
It was bad and it made a lot of people very angry.
It made one man extremely angry.
I suspect he had lost his appreciation and respect for law enforcement a long time before me.
On the morning of April 19th, 1995. Timothy McVeigh let the US and 848 people directly how he felt about what was going on. Right or wrong, justified or not. Timothy McVeigh found it necessary to kill 168 people and injured/damaged 680 others in what appears to have been a terrifying act of retribution, this country has ever witnessed from one of its citizens.
I am not going to say anything more about this except to point at this as the basis of my point.
One man (with help) decided to do this - he did not apparently feel as he had any other recourse.
Again, right or wrong or somewhere in between, he committed this action because his perception of law enforcement had changed to something very ugly.
So why go on and on about this awful stuff?
Because Dallas.
Because of what just happened in Dallas.
5 policemen are dead, 12 more are injured in what is the deadliest direct attack on law enforcement in a long time. Retributive attacks are not new things and the police have suffered losses like this before but not at this scope, that I know of.
Right or wrong, there are some very angry Americans right now.
This is in a wake of 2 recent, execution style murders of African American men. Not criminals, just ordinary men trying to live in this racially charged state of the USA.
What is more, is these kinds of deaths of African American men has almost but not quite become a "normal" thing (which is utterly horrific in and of itself).
What makes this so much worse is what has happened after each of these killings. The outcry from the victims and many Americans and almost no penalty to the perpetrators (police/law enforcement) of the killings.
The disparity between this and all these "white privileged" criminals getting unbelievably light sentences for the often unspeakable crimes they commit shows that we have not gotten very far along from all that was wrong in the 1960's.
It's going to get worse, possibly a lot worse before it gets better.
It hurts.
As long as Law Enforcement- as a whole is perceived as the purveyors of this kind of racism and violence, it won't get better.
I know policemen, personally.
I don't know any racist policemen. Pretty much all of the ones I know right now, I would describe as good men and women trying to make their towns and communities safer for everyone, not just the "privileged white folks."
I don't have any solutions that anyone will even consider.
Guns are not a solution and yet everyone will be using them as such
(if you don't understand this, refer to my earlier blog).
Killing someone should not be the solution either. We, as a country, really- really need to stop referring to killing someone as the solution to any problem.
It doesn't work in any case other than the extremely short term.
If you disagree, then I am surprised you have read this blog this far.

To the Police, I would ask for perseverance and calm. We need you. We need you to be leveled headed and use good judgment before you use your guns. We need you to find a new or old definition of what you are and what you are trying to do that doesn't become a slur for overreach or synonymous with brutality and racial violence.

To Law Enforcement (whoever sets the terms in this country) get a name changed to Upholding the Laws we all voted for or something else that conveys that we should trust you to do what is best for everyone.

To the victims. especially, my brothers, I leave you with wiser words than any I could come up with.

"The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these." and "Forgive your enemies." and "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
                                                                               A man who came from Galilee (or "the wrong side of the tracks") said these things and changed the world. Not just any man, of course, but he would not have been one of the privileged men of his time.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
                                                                             Another man said this,  he was also from the wrong side of the tracks.
If you don't know about those two men, I am referring to,  I am sorry but I can't help you.
Otherwise, that is all I have today.
Pray for peace, forgiveness, and compassion for all men and women (and everyone else)
Be kind, if you can; love everyone as much as you can; hate no one, if you can; and think carefully before you speak and/or act, if you can.
I can and I will.
And that is life according to Mike.

addendums to the fact.
See? I am not the only one who feels this way.
Okay, I hear those three conservatives who finally made it to the bottom of this blog grinding their collective teeth and sharpening their knives.

and then there is this:
At least two cops killed, many wounded in Baton Rouge
and it continues.
I dread what happens next.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I had a better title but I am going to call this My semi coherent gun rant

As the U.S. reels from the deadliest shooting in American History and everyone seems to weighing in. The Media has jumped in with both feet to make this the story of the year.
As if this doesn't happen over and over.
I stop and think about another massacre that everyone all but ignore until it was an epidemic and now that it's not, we went back to ignoring as if the thousands had not died. Ironically, the victims of that massacre were also gay- at least, initially.
There was a famous quote used, a book written around that quote and even a movie made.
To what am I refering?
"And the band played on..."

  • from whence: And the band played on is an expression used to describe the deliberate masking or downplaying of an impending calamity by authorities.
  • sometimes is used in reference to the band playing on while the Titanic sank.
  • In 1987, a journalist by the name of Randy Shilts would use it for a book that chronicled the discovery (creation), development and subsequent epidemic of the AIDS virus.
  • My mother read the book, I tried to read it, but I could not finish it as the disease took away an uncle that meant the world to me, even as the hatred for the disease was only displaced by the new found hatred for Gays who many believed were the cause of it.
  • In 1993, the book was made into a movie. 
  • The impact of the book was profound and helped push the ignorance around AIDS out, things got better, but in the end we still have the disease and the ignorance that scared everyone into believing all kinds of wild ideas about the disease returned to pretend we beat the disease and now it's safe to go back to unprotected sex again and so on.
This blog post is not about the book or the movie or AIDS, it's about the title of the book in reference to the problem that we all face. A few people, will recognize the problem(s) at hand while just about everyone else (or so it seems sometimes) will do anything and everything to deny or pretend that this problem(s) does not exist and the minority who believe in such a thing is delusional or communists (socialists) who need to be silenced or shamed into silence.
And the band played on.

We have another shooting. 49 gay men and women (and I suspect straight/pansexual/transexual/etc) people were gunned down by a man filled with anger/hatred and violence. Who found that the easiest way to express his feelings/intentions/beliefs/purpose was with the problem that everyone will debate until no one really wants to talk about it anymore and we will rail against each other until we are hoarse and our own fears and hatreds will destroy the rhetoric that really matters here and we (as a whole) will ask the band to play on until someone else goes on a shooting rampage and kills a lot of people at once.
The problem is guns.
Many of us like them (lots of reasons). Hell, I like them.
But people do horrible, terrible things with them.
Almost everyone who handles one will do what should be unthinkable with one. I know what you are going to say, but hear me out.
You may not shoot another human being with it. You might never shoot anything with it but a target.
You might never even shoot it at all (you would be almost unique for that) but you are more than likely to fantasize shooting someone or something alive with it. I know what you are going to say, and  you are right, it's just a fantasy. 
But let me ask you this.
When you went to the shooting range or out to the woods (I hope it was in the neighborhood or next to my house) to shoot your gun (that is any firearm) to shoot that target you didn't imagine it was a human target. This means you with the human silhouette target, Frank.
Bottom line, a firearm is designed to do one thing: KILL. 
It's not designed to paint pictures or make music. Yes, it can do these things. A fork is designed to help you eat food but you can, with enough effort kill someone with it, but it wasn't designed to kill someone. There is also the argument that people kill and guns don't. The answer is you are right it takes a person to use the gun to kill someone...unless you drop it and it goes off and kills your best friend or wife or child. Gun accidents alone account for a great many deaths in the US each year.
I could present my proof, I could spend pages and hours pouring over the evidence only to have some self righteous gun owner or troll debunk it with a single phrase.
The Second Bloody Amendment.
A right (not a law) originally written to prevent the government of 200+ years ago from abusing its citizens as the British were commonly believed to do. The amendment is dated and retranslated over and over again so that it pretty much means that anyone who wants to claim anything about guns or WMDs has a right to own one and strut around preening with it.
Today marks yet another defeat of reason against this madness as the same group of Republicans kill yet one more attempt to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. My own state's elected cronies are headliners on that one.
One Day, though, the tide will turn.
I have to hope it does, because believing it is too hard.
I have a dream where this country will stop believing in the lies of a handful of angry white men and start believing in the the hands of all its citizens regardless of gender, sex preference, race, economic availability, political philosophy. On that day, we all will finally become Americans, not just the privileged easily bought out white male agenda driven loud mouths that are running this country into the ground.
It is so hard not to give "Them" a face and believe that they are a real threat.
We don't have to ban guns.
We should ban guns.
But we don't have to, just to find a place where proliferation is not a problem.
The law should read that you can only own as many guns as you can carry while outrunning a raging bull in your underwear.
Sure, some ingenuitive gun owners will hook extra weapons to their underwear, but since the majority of them are overweight lazy deer hunter types, they will be hauling ass butt naked.
It's a nice metaphor that makes me smile.

This is just a rant.
I hoard firearms in Fallout 4. I can be caught carrying at least 8 at any one time in this videogame.
In case you are unfamiliar with Fallout, it's a post apocalyptic video game where pretty much everyone and everything is hell bent on killing you. Like a liberal journalist at a Drumpf Rally.
But it's just a game.
I don't own a gun.
I do own a Daisy single cock Buck model BB Rifle. Which I don't use much anymore, it turns out to be useless against skunks.
I suspect it wasn't designed to kill much more than wood bees.
I can hit the broadside of my barn with it.
I have been tempted to point it at people. this scares me, because I can recognize the lure of power a firearm presents.
The main reason I don't own a firearm is that I have Clinical Depression and there is a history of suicide in my family.
I like my ugly mug in it's mostly original shape, in other words.
I call this a responsible decision, for myself and others.
Yes, by the argument of so many detractors who will read my blog (or at least the headline) and then call me names and write me off as another liberal kook, I say this.
I could probably do myself in with a spoon. I might even be able to attack someone with one of the knives or swords I own or the machete I have for chopping undergrowth or with the chainsaw- assuming I can ever get it going.
It's true.
Chainsaw deaths in this country are equal to the number of grown men crying in the backyards with raw hands, cramped biceps, screaming incoherently at their fucking tools for not working. or stalling mid cut
Oh the Humanity!
But my argument stands (the grammar nazis can bite my butt- I am going to keep using but to start a sentence! It's a Rant, get over it...I think Stephen King said that).
If I had a gun and bullets, it makes shooting people and things so much easier.
And it is the ease that scares me.
It's so easy to get a gun.
buy bullets.
and then go out and take all the frustration and anger and hurt and resentment and fears out on a group of people or persons who have gone out of their way to hurt or torment you in some way.
or just some random target or targets because you can't find another solution to your problems other than taking the easy way out.
I know someone will say it's not the easy way out.
I agree. It's the easier option.
Surviving, overcoming, living with the horror that your life has become is much much harder.
It's a given, as a seemingly average white middle age man who lives with his mother, I am painfully aware that I fit the stereotype of the psychopath, rapist, abuser, mass shooter profile.
I also have a history of being abused.
I could easily generate a long list of people who have treated me poorly, made me a social outcast, gone out of their way to harass me, hurt me, ruin my prospects with any number of women, destroy my reputation, make me into a self loathing overweight monster filled with such rage and despair that taking up a gun seems like the only way to show the world who I truly am.
It's a nice lie to tell yourself while looking in the mirror before you go out and do the unthinkable evil that is done in this country on a daily basis.
Kill someone.
No One is Immune.
We all have this potential to be that shooter.
We all have the same potential to stop that shooter.
We all can stop the potential for any and all shooters.
What is the answer?
I suspect it's the same answer that changed my life. It's the reason that a man who has so many negative attributes is also the same man who to those who actually bothered to get to know him realize that he is, in fact, a good man.
It's love.
It's why I am a Christian.
I do it for love.
It why I am a liberal, a social democrat, American and South African, a geek and a dork and an erstwhile nerd, a best friend, a good son, uncle, cousin, would be significant other.
I have potential (as we all do)
I have love.
It is that simple.
Find love and by that I mean the real stuff.
not some hot chemical human reaction to bliss but the stuff of godliness.
I found it in the words and deeds of a lowly man from Galilee.
You might find it in the words and deeds of a lowly man from India or Spain or Central America.
You will probably find it in the way your mother looks at you (assuming your mother found it as well).
The real stuff comes from the Creator of life (the universe and everything).
For me, it is in the Bible (along with all the other stuff, but it's the point of the whole book)
For me, it set me free, with it I can be who I want to be, not a product of my culture or past or present, or upbringing or religion or lack of such.
With love all things are possible.
with guns, nothing but death awaits.
If I were to dream a dream, I would wish for a world free from the need for such a tool as the gun.
It is a tool, there is no denying it.
So, instead of preaching on- which part of me wants to do, because that part believes if I can just make you see my point then surely you will join me in a weapon free world; I will, instead offer this olive branch.
Come up with a reason to love that is not as important as a reason to own a gun.
If you do, it is time for you to look in the mirror and ask yourself the hard questions.
You probably know them a lot better than me.

and that is the rant according to Mike.