Fox News vs. Mister Rogers

fox vs rogers

May 16, 2013

I’ve had my fair share of gripes about Fox News. They went after the Muppets and Sesame Street. They’ve championed the Second Amendment despite overwhelming evidence of the dangers of firearms without sensible gun control. They’re an unabashed arm of the Republican Party, if not the controlling force behind it. In every way, shape, and form, Fox News represents dishonesty and an antithesis to journalism.

But now they went after Fred Rogers.

Misters Rogers…

This… will not stand. I don’t care if the clip is a few years old. This is a crime.

If you have the stomach, check out the following clip.

In essence, the Fox hosts here are reporting on a study (actually a single professor just talking) on how Mister Roger’s message of “You’re special just the way you are” has created generations of lazy, self-interested little socialists and he’s also the reason American children don’t do well in school.

It couldn’t possibly be because of far right-wing hijacking of history and critical thinking or a culture that promotes mediocre achievements and fawns over anyone who’s “famous,” could it?

Fox going after Mister Rogers is another piece of evidence that shows the American Far Right has lost its collective mind in the last several years. Things like compassion and empathy have already been vilified on the Right, but to overtly say that a man like Fred Rogers is evil is a bit like saying the Dalai Lama eats puppies and can’t achieve climax without thinking of the Holocaust.

The Right has been hijacked by Randian “ethics” in that a person’s worth is tied to his or her bank account and how much he or she resembles the “superman” who cares not for morals but only self-interest. Modern American conservatism has been led down the path of the Tea Party, of might-makes-right, of thinking businesses are people and people can be shot simply for not being citizens. Mister Rogers’ message is a splash of cold water on those beliefs.

Charity? Sharing? Togetherness? These have no place on the American Right!

Mister Rogers is the closest thing this world has had to a physical saint in a long time. The man had a message of hope and peace that endures after his passing. He taught millions of children, myself included, that we are special. Every child, every person, is a unique individual.

Of course, there’s also a major difference between “You’re a special person,” and “You never have to try to achieve anything.” The second is a strawman by Fox. Mister Roger never implied anything like that. He never said you should get things just for asking. He said you should have a feeling of self-worth no matter what.

And on a personal note, I was raised on Mister Rogers, Sesame Street, and Doctor Spock, all things these brain cases complained about. Guess what? Dean’s List in college, am in a loving, long-term relationship, and I’ve got the drive to publish my work on Randomology.org, here, and in my upcoming book. And I teach college and middle school courses.

I know I’m special. Mister Rogers told me so. Fox News? I’m sure even Mister Rogers would hesitate before telling them they’re special.

Actually, I’m pretty sure they are “special.” They’re a very special channel with very special people.

Let’s all remember Fred Rogers for what he was: one of the most decent human beings to ever live among us.

Science Fiction? Fantasy? Does it matter?

They should have sent a poet...
They should have sent a poet…

May 13, 2013

I just finished a major project: a fantasy novel. Now, I’m seriously considering a new venture for next year: a science fiction novel. Anyone who’s known me for more than five years should know that science fiction was my first great literary love. It’s what pushed me to become a writer. It’s the genre I read and saw and instantly thought, “I want to do this for the rest of my life.”

It’s also why some people wondered why I would possibly write a fantasy work.

I never really considered the genre when writing Charcoal Streets. In fact, given some tweaks, I could see it adapted as a science fiction story instead. I recall once reading about a version of The Hobbit that was rewritten as a space opera. The methods of getting the fantastic into the “real world” or introducing strange concepts really just depend on window dressing. Maybe telekinesis is due to mutations or maybe it’s due to magic. Science fiction has robots and fantasy has golems and animated statues. What’s the difference?

That being the case, I’ve realized I write fantasy or science fiction specifically based on the kind of story I want to tell. I write fantasy to show something about people. I write science fiction to show something about the world. I’ll admit it’s not always the case, but it seems to be a general pattern.

Fantasy allows me to introduce something strange into a person’s life. It’s not so much how it happened, but rather just that it happened. Does it really matter, for example, if the monster in the closet is the boogeyman or a mutant escaped from a lab? Maybe. Maybe not. In the grand picture, the important thing should be the story. Am I trying to say something about the nature of science and the world? Science fiction is probably the best way to go. If I’m trying to analyze culture, fantasy is probably the best option.

In the end, really, I’m just trying to show something about the world. I just have to pick the best vehicle for that message.

And now, let’s enjoy some science fiction becoming science fact. You are about to watch a man on a space station record a song and transmit it to your mind using light processed through a silicone chip.

Writing Up a Cliff

writing up a hill

May 9, 2013

I’m a professional writer.

That means that I make my living through my knowledge of the writing process, my own writing, and my paycheck hinges on my ability to communicate through little symbols on paper.

Not everyone is a professional writer. And I know this.

Most of my students learn as much writing as is needed to write reports, essays, or applications. That’s fine. I do, however, expect them to try and learn basics like sentence structure and critical thinking skills. Over the years, I’ve had students who learned barely enough to do this. They complained, year after year, that writing was hard, but they never made the effort to change that.

Recently, though, I helped a new student.

While she’s an English Language Learner, she’s from South America, meaning she doesn’t have the tether other ELL students have by having Mexico so close. As such, she had to deal not only with a new language, but also with cultural adaptation. Her first essays months ago were choppy, barely-legible series of sentences. She wasn’t dumb. Far from it. She could speak well enough, though it took some translation to get her ideas across. As she continued to visit us, though, and as I tutored her a few more times, I noticed a definite improvement in her writing.

Her last session with me was her reflective essay on how she’s improved as a writer. It was actually a well-written essay and had a line that I’ll never forget.

“I still think of writing as climbing up a hill, but at least I get a great view when I finish.”

That right there is the sentiment I wish EVERY student held close.

The writing process, like I’ve written before, is HARD. I’m not sure many writers actually enjoy the process, but we all love the final product. It also highlights the kind of attitude I wish more people would foster.

Yes, the ride may be rough. Yes, you’re not going to have a blast pouring over notes. Yes, the headaches and lost free time suck.

But guess what? You’re better for it at the end. I hear so many students complaining about this or that being hard. They don’t have enough time. They have too much to study and it piles on later.

Wake up earlier. Learn to make quick meals. Make a schedule.

None of these things are particularly fun, but I’d rather have a little annoyance spread out over my day than one HUGE problem later. Good grades, or whatever the goal may be, don’t just arrive at your doorstep. They wait for you. I didn’t decide to wait to just meet some publisher who would give me a huge advance so I could sit and calmly write my book. I’m working part time and taking odd teaching jobs so I could write it as I saw fit. And that’s what she and other students have done. They’ve taken the initiative.

Few things in life get handed to you. The things you really want? You have to go after them yourself.

Learning How to Spell: Post Writing Stress

It makes sense if you write.
It makes sense if you write.

May 6, 2013

With Charcoal Streets undergoing final editing, I finally have a little bit of time to get back to writing these articles, reading, and not stressing about the book.

Of course, I just spent the last week not writing as much because I was stressing about the book.

It’s not the first book I’ve written. Back in high school, I wrote a science fiction novel I hope to polish up and publish someday. I’ve ghostwritten a book and a half. Each and every time, though, I end up feeling like I just got back from some jungle war zone. I notice the little things more. I feel twitchy when I don’t type, but I feel like I should still be working on said novel.

I have Post Writing Stress Disorder.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but the writing process is hard. Really hard. Anyone who says writing is easy has never really done it, and it only gets harder the better you get at it. I remember writing a lot more when I was younger, but that was before I knew how to really do it. Now, I may write less, but that’s because I take the time to draft, check, edit, proofread, rewrite, and check my work like I was looking into a specific grain of sand on a beach.


Hopeless by ~tasteofomi on deviantART

Now that the warzone is behind me (mostly), I have to try and move on to another project. I’m still going to keep writing here and I’m putting videos out on the YouTube channel. I’m also thinking of what the next big project will be. Maybe I’ll keep writing Charcoal Streets stories for the next collection. Or maybe a full novel?

What about “The Divine Anomaly?” Should I expand that into the full novella and put back the subplots I cut out for length requirements? Or maybe I’ll get the other stories I’ve been tossing around in that universe and the next anthology will be science fiction.

Once the initial brain-drain is over, it’s always important to get right back to work. I’ve found that if I spend more than a week not doing serious writing, I tend to just not do it for weeks at a time, and I really want to avoid that. Writing, I’ve found, is a lot like working out. It’s fine to start steady, but go hard and push yourself. After you give yourself time to rest to make sure you don’t burn out or hurt yourself, jump right back in and go even harder.

Time to  get back to work on lift those linguistic dumbbells.


The Mind by *SavvyShark on deviantART

Evil Dead Review: Worthy?

Yes, the chainsaw's back.
Yes, the chainsaw’s back.

April 29, 2013

Mary and I finally saw Evil Dead on Friday and were not disappointed. Of course, since this is a remake, everyone’s going to want to know how it stacks against the original, and let me tell you that as someone who grew up with thoughts of Ash kicking zombie ass for many years, this movie does not disappoint. In fact, I welcome it to the Evil Dead family.

Basic Rundown

Evil Dead is about Mia, a young woman trying to kick a serious drug addiction, and her friends and brother who have taken her to an isolated cabin in the woods to help her detox and quit cold turkey. As usually happens, they find an artifact of ancient eldritch power and one of these people is stupid enough to read from a book bound in human skin and filled with images of dismemberment and demonic possession.

Cue an hour and a half of five people trying to figure out how to stop the demon possessing them one by one until it claims all their souls and can escape into the real world.

The Good

Is it the same plot and characters as the original?

Of course not. It’s a retelling, a modern take on Raimi’s original idea. The special effects are updated and make as little use of CGI as possible. Actually, that’s a lie. While I know CGI was used, it’s not noticeable. It’s subtle make-up as opposed to a mask. Not to mention that practical effects just make the kills that much more painful to watch… in a good way.

Best of all, the music and gore are an homage to 1980’s horror movies. Think of it like an old, classic car that’s been given a new paintjob and wax job. Even better, the sound system is updated and the seats got new covers and cushions.

It’s pretty much what I wanted in a horror movie. It’s brutal and bloody without being cartoony. Okay, maybe a moment or two are cartoony, but the movie does a good job of creating tension and using gore to create an unsettling effect, not just for gore’s sake. It manages to keep raising the stakes and still feel believable. The tension keeps mounting for the last two thirds and it works.

Combined with good sound effects, the movie is scary, creepy, and it plays its few jump scares right.

The Bad

No Ash.

Okay, this one isn’t really the movie’s fault, but it’s following in the footsteps of a very famous movie series. Comparisons are bound to come up, but I say let the movie stand on its own. It can do it. As a horror movie, it works.

As a remake… well, I think it works as well as a remake can work. It takes some elements from the first two Evil Dead movies and strips the comedy, something that really made the originals memorable. Gone are the quips and the one-liners, though, which could really have helped move the movie from good to great.

Final Verdict?

Much like The Thing, this movie is a good attempt at trying to follow a series of movies that have colored the horror genre for more than thirty years. This remake/ retelling is its own animal, and by itself is a very creepy, very atmospheric horror movie, if formulaic.

The fact that the people who made the original worked on this as well, and there are hints that this remake may crossover with the original films (and Ash!), there’s a lot to be hopeful for if this series continues.

Check out the red-band trailer below and tell me what you think if you’ve seen it. You can also check out the original on Netflix instant right now if you’re so inclined.

Charcoal Streets cover

eCover

 

Here’s the deal. Charcoal Streets is going to go live in two to three weeks. This is the cover for the ebook, but I still want to make sure it’s as good as possible. I’m already adding a third pair of wings since this is supposed to be a seraph and I got the lines confused.

Anything else you can think of? Any and all suggestions or critiques are welcome, but be quick!

Being Strong

April 16, 2013

I’ve been away writing the final story and editing the manuscript for Charcoal Streets. This is my baby. It’s what I’ve worked for years to create. I’m a bit on edge and have devoted more time to it by neglecting the site and my other writing. I haven’t felt this nervous since I presented my thesis. I feel hyper-vigilant and tense.

This weekend, my family endured another tragedy.

Sometimes it feels like it’s all I do. I remember those who are gone. I look back and the future looks hazy, like a dream I’m trying to remember. Other things happened recently, but I really don’t want to go into them. Suffice to say, it ended with me on the floor, unable to move, and completely numb for the better part of a day.

I’m not a perfect person. I’m not a world-renowned writer. But I want to be. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that keeps me going.

Keep trying. Keep moving. Don’t ever stop.

They’re lessons I learned the hard way. I’ve seen what complacency does to people. I’ve seen what wallowing in the past can do for a psyche. It’s not pretty. I don’t want to live in the past, but at the same time, I want to honor it. I have keepsakes from my uncles, my grandfather, my aunts, friends I’ve lost… I keep them close, but I don’t want them to weigh me down.

It’s that balancing act that’s hardest around days like this.

How do you keep going when the past pulls you and even the thought of changing, of going another day, is enough to make your heart sink?

You just do.

Fear can be a healthy thing, but it should never rule you. Courage is acting in the face of fear. Being strong doesn’t mean not feeling. It means acting despite what you know are irrational, self-destructive feelings.

I’m not a perfect person, but I’m trying to be a better man. I’m not a world-renowned writer, but I’ve never stopped practicing my craft. I’m not even the world’s greatest husband, but I will never not love my wife and stop trying to be better for her.

The world doesn’t stop when bad things happen. We do. Whether or not we eventually catch up and keep moving is up to us. Maybe we’re not as strong as we should be, but we can fake it long enough to actually become as strong as we need to be.

The Final Randomology Post

I GIVE UP!
I GIVE UP!

April 1, 2013

After a long week of soul-searching, I’ve realized that I’ve made a terrible mistake. This entire website has been an exercise in futility and I’m going to pack it in.

I’ve realized that it truly is impossible to fight against the forces of conservatism and ignorance. They are just too strong. They have talk radio and major news outlets and they can scream really loudly. And that scares me. I don’t want people to think I’m a baby-killing pagan communist anymore.

To that end, I will do the only rational thing. I will shut up. For good.

This website will stand as a monument to my stupidity and hubris. How could I have thought for a second that I could make a difference?!

I should apologize to Glenn Beck for years of mocking him and thinking he was insane for thinking there was some vast conspiracy at work. There has to be. It makes perfect sense that he alone would have the vision to put together this web of lies that are ruling our lives.

I should also apologize to Fox News. I know I’ve said they’re the spawn of evil and deception in the world, but they’re not. I mean, they say everything so loudly and repeat it over and over again. It has to be true, right?

I’d like to apologize to the American Right Wing. I know you guys just want to make sure others can’t worship or lives their lives as they see fit, so I think you should just go ahead and do that. It’s exhausting hearing you.

But most of all, I want to apologize to my students and everyone who thought that writing, and critical thinking and expression could make a dent in the world. This is a cold, hard reality and it needs equally cold and hard people. Compassion, understanding, and curiosity have no place in it.

So, there you have it. Randomology is dead. And it failed. I’ll see you…

Well, I won’t. Just…

Bye. I’ll be leaving on a bus later today and heading to Alaska so that I may sit at the feet of Sarah Palin and learn a thing or two.

Gay Marriage Final Word?

Enough is enough, people!
Enough is enough, people!

March 29, 2013

I was going to post a video of this, but I’m going to just write it.

Gay rights, or rights in general, are of concern to every single one of us. Not just the gay community. If we say that we can deny rights to one group of people based on what makes a few people feel icky, then it opens the floodgates to a LOT of oppression.

I’ve seen four general arguments against gay marriage in the last few days, and, quite frankly, they’re fraking stupid.

Gay marriage is against the Bible.

You know what else is against the Bible?

  1. Tattoos
  2. Wearing gold
  3. Not stoning your children when they disobey
  4. Marrying a non-virgin
  5. Bacon
  6. Touching the skin of a pig
  7. Not paying government dues (taxes)

There. Done. End of story. Stop cherry-picking.

If men can marry men and women can marry women, soon, people will be able to marry turtles, dogs, cats, children, or multiple people.

Marriage, in the legal definition, is a social contract between two people. Two gay adults are legally capable of giving consent for such an action. A dog, turtle, or child cannot do this. As for polygamy? If the adults are all fine with it, I actually have little reason to deny something like this. Of course, this might create a few legal knots.

Marriage has always been between one man and one woman.

False. Marriage has been MOSTLY within one man and one woman. However, various cultures have had some form of what we would today call gay marriage. Even in the 19th century, what we might call romantic gay relationships were not uncommon or even frowned upon.

The Bible itself has various definitions of what constitutes marriage and what is acceptable. Nearly none of these definitions would be socially acceptable today. A lot of things in the Bible were meant for another time, and many people pick and choose which ones they don’t like. Again, see the first entry. Or this article.

Gay marriage will ruin America (children will suffer/ families will crumble/ blah blah blah)

Oh, I’m sorry. Is that like how giving everyone votings rights made white people’s voting rights matter less? Or how freeing the slaves made freedom less valuable since no more people had it?

Shut up, you marriage hipster.

Children from gay couples actually do quite well. The reason they have it hard? Bigots make it hard for them. But you’re right. They should just not tell anyone about their parents. And gay couples shouldn’t have children. Families, after all are sacred. That’s why we make sure that couples that want to get married can have children and are stable before they procreate, right?

The Right lost the culture wars. That’s it. Suck it up, move along, or get left behind. If you don’t, there are some lovely areas of the American Southwest where you can establish your own little cult.

Idiots.