Monday, October 17, 2016

Piracy is NOT killing Modern Movies, so getoveritalready

Fair warning. I will be rambling. a whole bunch.
Some Person (somewhat identified later on) stated in a youtube video that Piracy was killing the modern movie industry (i.e. making movies produced bland/bad).

Alright, I am one of the 200k Napster users that were first blacklisted by Metallica when the whole piracy thing began. It's a claim to fame, I championed Pirate Bay not as a means of stealing content but more as a voice of challenging the price gouging that the music and film industry (RIAA and MPAA) were going about doing. I was there to see the extortion and remember how many of these anti-piracy groups were more interested in scare tactics and fine gathering then making sure the artists were getting their due. It became a little guy versus the big industry issues as the lies and misrepresentations abounded.
That being said, a lot was wrong, and Piracy was, ironically, less about stealing content as it is now. I know it sounds crazy but it was a proven fact that many of us leechers and seeders ended up paying for the DVDs and CDs and MPEGs when the industry finally changed their tune. But it did set a new wave of piracy in motion. I stopped my own piracy of music when music streaming finally became a thing. For me, possessing the music was less important than having access to the music on demand. I jumped on board with Pandora as soon as it hit the scene. Also,  my 500GB music hard drive died and along with it the thousands of songs I had acquired from piracy, legit purchases, and CD-rips. In the end, most of my music collection was legitimate as much of what I pirated was crap in the quality rating. Flac formats pushed me to find the original CDS to make the files up to snuff.
I have switched streamers several times. I own more legitimate music now than I ever did before. The same is almost true with movies - mostly because movie streaming has yet to catch up. They are making progress but it is very slow. Platform control is still a roadblock. If entertainment companies would realize that slaving their content to a broadcast platform is going to kill them, in the long run, they would at least follow HBO Go and the others.
I can remember talking to Dish Network and trying to convince them that true A La Carte programming was their only hope of true survival as a platform. They denied it then and still seem to not get it even now.
Entertainment (all forms) needs to be available on demand, regardless of platform or device. If you did this, most piracy users would drop the hassle of pirating material along with the need for VPNs and all the jailbreaking/hacking that goes with it. It won't eliminate it completely but it would go a long way.
Saying that "Hollywood" won't change their model may be realistic but it should point to that the Hollywood model is not the only game in town and there are ways to go about this differently. The same is true of saying that everyone is in this for the money so no one is going to take a chance on changing it.
It is true only until someone does.
It's happened before.
Last Week, I watched a video from a Youtuber I had liked. Their content was nice and I had gained much info from their videos. The video in question then went on, at length, to blame piracy as the primary reason why Hollywood plays it safe resulting movies that are bland, cliched, action models that lack creativity, edginess or dare to break out of the mold.
It's just wrong. Hollywood knows that even the worst movies make money. It's been true since the beginning. In fact, there is an entire industry of bad filmmakers in the world (i.e. people who excel at making bad movies). It is partly true that some filmmakers and the studios are not trying to be edgy or break from the mold may be true but to hold up piracy as the sole cause or even the main cause is just wrong. It could be attributed as a cause but I just don't buy it as the main cause, there are so many other factors. The main one Hollywood has always seemed to stick with is "hold to the tried and true" until someone braver does it differently and it works and then copy them.

What I have to say to the Youtube Channel that published this garbage is WOW.
I would have thought people knew about how Hollywood works.
I would have assumed anyone who reviews or even makes movies would have some film school background and have read books like

  • The Player by Michael Tolkin
  • The Big Picture: Who Killed Hollywood and Other Essays by William Goldman
  • Monster: Living Off the Big Screen by John Gregory Dunne
  • Fiasco by James Robert Parish, I haven't read it, but I am told it's very good.
Maybe I expect too much, I am a former film student (my University in their infinite wisdom closed the film school while I was still in it). Even so, I would expect anyone who would come out to say such a statement to be aware or, at very least, done some research. 
To say that Hollywood has suffered a loss of originality or edginess from the Piracy Phenomena is just wrong.
I ended my subscription to that youtube channel, it just colors everything that they have to say from there on. It's willful ignorance and smacks of the variety of rich musicians who complain regularly about being robbed of their content by pirates as if the recording industry doesn't exist or take advantage of them with binding contracts and other means of keeping them from being rich. 
I remember a musician I went to high school with who did make it fairly well, she is well known in many circles and is a really good musician. I like her work. What broke it for me was a rant over music piracy in which she basically called anyone who had ever leeched (technical term for sampling/downloading music) scum and not worth anything because they were robbing her of her just due. I took offense, at the time. When I pointed out my argument, I believe I got blocked and banned from whatever medium the comment was on.
No one wants to talk about how little the Recording Industry pays out to musicians for play time compared to how much they charge for it.
No one wants to stop and consider that if you make a recording from the radio- you have just pirated that music, or a live recording at a concert, or copied a cassette/CD from a friend, etc. But, if you download the music from anywhere but the approved sites, you are a villain of the first order.
But I digress.

I know it sounds harsh but theYouTuber(s) in question didn't say anything like the well established fact that Hollywood isn't known for creativy in film. It does happen but rarely. 
Making a movie involves a lot of factors.
Making a good movie involves similar factors and often more than just making one.
The problem with Hollywood and the film industry is very basic.
Hollywood and much of the film industry are out to make money. That's rule one. It's absolute and will ultimately dictate how a movie is made or even if it is made. 
There are books on this.
Lots of books....and ironically movies.
You can argue that Piracy is ruining movies if you want, it's your prerogative but Rule One supersedes your argument. It's true of the recording industry as well. If you don't believe me, consider B-sides or filler music that is on so many, many albums. I will use Jane Child as an example (one-hit wonders are common) She had one song. She had one album that I know of.
What I mean is that she had one song I liked, the pop charts liked it too, but that was it. I bought her album and hated it. The rest of her music was completely different and definitely for a non-pop crowd. I don't know if she had success, I hope she did, the world moved on although I see several others covered her one "top 40" song. What stands out for me was that I felt like the album was filled with filler music in order to sell that one song. (this is my opinion and I apologize to Ms. Childe and her rabid core of fans- assuming they are out there somewhere). I use her as an example of this phenomena. There are far more popular musicians and groups who have filler music on their albums. As a general rule of thumb (again for me) most of the albums from bands I like (not love) are filled with filler music. Daft Punk's Random Access Memories and Red Hot Chili Pepper's Blood Sugar Sex Magik are commonly held up for the amount of Filler Music that's on them.
Moreover, much of the industry that still produces albums use filler music to pad out an album that commonly contains 1-4 hit songs or at very best 4-6 songs I want to listen to. I found this to be true with Country Music (which is often written by someone other than the singers or bands).
I have very few musicians and bands where I pretty much love everything they ever recorded...right now I can't name one. Queen has albums where, in my opinion, every track is awesome.
So why go on with the music industry?
Because Hollywood makes movies with tons of filler content. It's when you are watching a movie and think- Hey! this movie really ended 10 minutes ago! Then the movie goes on for another 15-20 minutes while you sit there scratching your head. Well, that's part of the reason anyway (Tom Jones, I am not looking at you).
There really is so many reasons that modern movies lack that creative drive, the edginess that makes them stand out. I could go into a long bit about Janet Evanovich books here and why I love them even though they are formulaic as hell and repetitive but I will read every one of them. FYI, the movie adaptation sucked but it still made money. 

 One of the things that strike me as detrimental is how Hollywood presents trailers. Many trailers not only reveal too much about the movie they also are often from cut content and show how much a movie can be altered from the early trailers to the late release trailers. So many of them feature what ends up being the best parts of a movie and all too often the only good parts of the movie (an exaggeration but not an entirely untrue one).
Trailers now come is various forms:

  1. Teasers (which I prefer), release trailers which often show too much and extended trailers which might as well be movies on their own (2-6 minutes long). It's crazy. It annoys me so much that after the teasers come out I ignore/avoid trailers as much as possible on movies I intend to go to.
  2. "quick" trailers (I guess regular trailers), which are okay, but often show too much or show stuff that ends up being cut from the final movie, MIB I am not looking at you per say. These trailers are technically early release trailers, so early that sometimes the movies they are made for- get canned and don't come out. They are grabbed from the first available footage and pieced together by the promotion teams and seldom have much in the way of directorial control or influence, Fantastic Four (latest one, for instance).
  3. Extended Trailers (which I hate) which grab as much film as possible to hopefully draw people into seeing the movie but sometimes provide the whole plot thus ruining any surprises that the movie might have in store for us. It's personal but I like the idea of seeing the movie on the promise/premise that the film will be good. Rogue One, is an example of having too many trailers and thus getting a "final" extended trailer is basically unnecessary as pretty much everyone who likes Star Wars is going to see it anyway. Personally, I take a quick glance, these days at the Rotten Tomatoes ratings, check on my youtube reviewers and then make a decision to see the movie or not. I am seldom disappointed that way... I almost always do this save when a neice or great neice talks me into seeing a movie that I haven't checked out and usually it's a DUD.

Well, that's all I have.
I might even disagree with me if I have to reread this blog again.
I will still insist that Piracy has little to do with why Hollywood movies suck- er I mean aren't awesome...I like bad movies, myself- some of them. (Masters of the Universe).
And that is something like a long rant according to Mike.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Internet security help:
(for those of you who desperately need it) (don't panic, they can't track you, just put in your password...then panic when it takes 3.2 seconds to reveal how pathetic it is) will tell you how many times your data (email/username) had been breached with when and where, also how many email lists you are currently on.
watch for bogus "fake" wifi access sites, purge your network lists on your phone/device, always watch out for commercial wifi sites that don't have access portals (i.e. take you to a welcome page before dropping you on the net)
if you need to use an email address to register for a site or service that you don't plan or want to be part of permanently, use it will give to an email address that lasts for...10 minutes or 20 if you need longer before self-destructing. (just found this one and I am laughing in true machiavellian fashion) 
on another note:
you can opt out of credit card offers by going here (warning it will ask for sensitive info) can reduce junk mail or eliminate it in some cases- also stop registering for free catalogs unless you love that junk. (again personal info is required)
there is still the option to return to sender most junk mail especially if it is asking for an address correction or return postage guaranteed, - this will mean it will cost whoever sent it to you money. small victories.

finally, the current advice is cycle your passwords. you don't have to change them frequently - just periodically ( I cycle mine about 6-12 months or when a website demands it) be password loyal -pick a pattern and stick to it, if you try to be random all the time, your passwords will be weaker. 
use a password manager. I use roboform- it has it's problems (such as browser updates) but overall, all I have to keep up with 99% of the time is the master password. I have the everywhere set up and flash drive option. It's invaluable.
On passwords, do not use just numbers or birthdates or favorite  singers etc.
I do passwords 1 of 3 ways. Dead Languages. like Classical Greek or Latin. An alphanumeric password can work well if your spelling follows a language that is no longer in regular use (I used to write in Klingon or Elvish but then suddenly everyone was writing in elvish and klingon.)
2. Use a phrase 3-6 words strung together that makes sense to you or your cat. ironically this can work with straight-out spelling. such as "thebrowncatchaseswhitemice" the password site say that a password hacking program would give up after a decade and go out for sushi instead (5 quintillion years to be exact).
3. password generators like the one roboform uses. 
like this one R9Zgs0!zv*hNhm4Je (93 trillion years) almost as impressive.. However, these are only worth using IF you have a password manager. It would take me at least 5 billion years to memorize that one.

this conclude mike's fast internet security advice

credit to for some of the info.

and that is internet security according to Mike.

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.