Monday, August 8, 2022

Quick Update - AKA. Workin for a Living

 What have I been doing lately? 

The better question is what haven’t I been doing?

I’ve been working on a couple projects, which sounds exciting but one can only make so many announcements about that before it becomes just an excuse to be anti-social. 

The anthology expansion of Dynamic Synapse Protocol I am aiming to finish by the end of this year (famous last words, I know). It’s currently on hold for a paid gig that I am doing for my designer (and founder of ELECTI STUDIO), which has been super fun. It’s been a wonderful exercise in pulling my head out of my ass and dedicating time to something that isn’t so horribly ME. 

My daughter is starting kindergarten in a week, which seems a tad surreal. I’ll let you know how I feel about that once I’ve figured that out for myself. 

Lots of overtime, so much overtime. This will be my third week on oncall in a row. It’s set up so that we have to work one week once a quarter. I typically work about 8 weeks of the 14 week quarter to cover expenses. (Inflation is a bitch-and-a-half.)

That’s all I have right now. Pray for my sanity. 


Monday, December 20, 2021

An Object of Scorn

Affixed to the altar before the apse was the cross. It’s edges were frayed, roughly hewn from quarter sawn timber long ago. The reclaimed piece was swollen and pocked with burls. Striations of discoloration, wrapping around the trunk, intimated the shape of a hobbled man, or a rot in the wood. Well-lit by the clerestory above the chancel, the cross was positioned prominently, as if basking. The carpenter had placed the cross there, shunting it into a notch in the ground, embroidered with mosaic tile. He cursed the splinters collected by his hands. 

Over time, the basilica changed many hands, each flock with their own vice and preference. For a century or so, the cross absorbed bitterness and contention. In-fighting broke out across the aisles, until a meeting was convened to determine the spirit of their creed and what they said about their Lord. Most were satisfied by the outcome. At the end of it, the rich young ruler who ordered the meeting stepped forward and placed a thoughtful hand upon the hardened exterior, sensing great things ahead. 

Not soon after, it was stained with blood. Buckets of coagulated sanguine absorbed into the sword-gouged trunk, bright red, before fading to purple and blue. Suffering abounded in the lands choked with smoke and ash, until a pragmatic flock emerged, resourceful enough to stifle the sickness of violence that seemed to infect the sullen, stagnant air. The cross was crowned with temporal power by the rich young ruler, but the gilded crown bore the likeness of a bad forgery.  

New edicts were established regarding what the cross could and could not be. It took the aspect of many things. The cross was showered with wealth and abundance. Even the soft gold coins withered the cross’ face, bruising and softening the wood. Two attendants fought over the cross, for a time, until they conceded, finally, to a stalemate. Each mutually regarded one another with hate, their flocks diverging. They sat apart from one another, on either end of the cross. It stood between the camps, buffeted by anger and distain. After a time, the flocks relented, weary of the conflict, abandoning the refuse of entrails and sinew they had draped over the arms of the cross. The dawning light, emerging through the open portal in the narthex, exposed the rot. And members of both flocks returned to clean it as best they could.  

The cross still stands there now, black as charcoal and steeped with dried blood. Some still approach, as if recognizing an old friend. Those that stay, marvel for a time and consider the carpenter that left it so many years ago. Those that depart, do so quickly, though not before dressing it in fashionable clothing, berating it, and covering it with semen and feces. The weight of shackles, handcuffs, bandoliers, braids of Ethernet cable, fascist flags dipped in gasoline, drape around its neck like a noose. There, on the altar, it stands: objectified by filth, defeated. 

Yet, despite all this, the flock heaps their burdens upon it willingly.  And they depart, each one, with a spring in their step.  

Monday, September 13, 2021

On Toxic Fans: A Correspondence with my Dad

The below is a response to my Dad about the above video he sent me. Incidentally it ended up being pretty good writing, so see below:

 This is fairly good from a writer’s point of view?  He seems to indicate that WOKE and PC may tend to diminish the worth of a worthy villain.

Yeah, I definitely get the impression that he is a toxic fan. 

I mean with both characters he cites, Captain Marvel and Kylo Ren, both have been universally hated, but only by the people that grew up with Star Wars. They will cite that the prequels were better, remembering when they were 10 years old watching them. Likewise the older fans will say that the prequels sucked, again, remembering when they were 10 years old watching them. This is why I like Star Trek, because Star Wars is ultimately a franchise for children. Which isn't bad by any means, not at all. That's a good thing, because children need good fantasy and rudimentary moral models to go off of. (And the same goes for marvel movies.) But most of the best villains aren't really villains of all. You ought to read my book (if you haven't already) because I tried to draw up multiple villains while not really having them truly be villains. 

The Captain Marvel critique though gets old, if only because people are complaining exclusively because they have to root for a girl. As a father of a girl, I think that it's awesome that my daughter is getting likable heroes that have popular appeal. They did the same thing with "The Mighty Thor" who is Jane Foster (Natalie Portman's character from the first Thor movie), and people bitched about it in the comics, as they will likely do so when Thor 4 comes out. 

At the end of the day, no one seems to have any sense of awareness when it comes to these characters. The fans behave like children, because their peak enjoyment of the characters took place when they were children. Again, this is why I like Star Trek, because you don't truly appreciate it's message and substance until after you get pubes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Adulting in Peace

 My life is slowly becoming that Dr. Manhattan meme, where the omnipresent, and nigh omniscient, super hero sits on the surface of Mars, contemplating his life with jagged simplicity. 

Behold, pretension!

We've been in the throes of our first escrow, an entirely new process that I'm only beginning to understand. The byzantine disclaimers and addendums, compounded with legal aphorisms, wash over me like a salty wave that someone died in. Of course, I should be thankful. Owning property is a gift. And every gift is an opportunity for understanding and growth.

In all seriousness though, I had this strange moment of clarity, maybe 5 minutes ago. I was in the kitchen, hovering over a dissected crown of broccoli, realizing that my mind was characteristically "adult" in the moment. (Obviously, I've been an adult since I was 18, though even that status is symbolic in our highly specialized society.) I was watching myself move, as if in 3rd person, a weight resting on my shoulders that was altering the way I moved and behaved in that space. A similar moment happened in my 20s, when I signed my first lease to rent a town house (for the low, LOW price of $1000 per month). I was so scared and immobilized by the weight of rejection and the potential for failure. What if I couldn't handle it? What if I lost my job and, therefore, couldn't make the payments? I felt, in a way, hobbled by the immensity of the commitment, despite the fact that it was so mundane in hindsight.

Now I was standing over the cutting board, feeling secure and in control of my life. I was doing an "adult" thing and feeling characteristically "adult" about it. 

I've said it before: the progression from a childlike mind to an adult one is less about the traversal of legal status and more of an epiphany that, you—yes, you—are in complete control of your decisions. (That is, as far as "mortal" control goes in the infinite and all powerful presence of God). When I was buying 3 six-packs of beer a week to self medicate my stress, I was a child, abdicating my right of control over my body and mind. Now, I'm making the conscious decision to be an adult and take the helm of my life, inasmuch as I can in light of God's will. 

The apostle Paul kind of addresses this in 1 Corinthians: 11-12. And, in the context of the larger dialogue at work in the passage, as God renews our hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit, this peace that I feel will only grow, ultimately to resolve in my death and resurrection. And that, that is dope, my friends. 

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

Friday, July 23, 2021

Another Year Around the Sun

 I am ready to leave work, go to the local brewery, and celebrate my Birthday. 

(Yes, today is the day.)

The past few years, other than my 30th, were not very fun. Or they were riddled with depression. Or the looming threat of being old, yet unaccomplished, weighed on me. Not so this year, I am happy to report. 

I'm not sure why things have changed. I'm as old as Jesus was when he went to the cross for the world, which would make light of any of our accomplishments, big or small. That alone could be the reason for my paradoxical contentment, but I don't feel like it is. I released a book in hardcover this year: also a big accomplishment. Still, it's not as big a brag as it sounds. (In fact, it's deceptively easy.) 

This year is different in ways I never expected, and it's because I feel like I'm no longer a kid. 

I am becoming less aware of "age." I'll find out that a co-worker is actually in his mid 40s, when I thought they were my age. We act how old we want to be, which is a lauded trait among our aging boomers. This charming deception gives me social mobility, where I previously didn't. Instead of the need to "impress" my elders, I am collaborating with my peers. 

Hopefully I can avoid the pitfalls of other unequal alignments though. Like, it's sad to see a child acting like an adult. Youth and joy has it's purpose. A child that works in a coal mine, or emancipates themselves when they are 14, loses the freedom to explore hobbies and ideas ahead of their adulthood. Likewise, it's sad to see a 50 year old acting like they are 20. Age carries with it a quiet, established dignity that inspires others. It's a responsibility that we all should feel inclined to take part in.  (I.e. help your kids plan for the future. Be their roadmap. Don't fuck off to Coachella, forget to pay your rent, and then get angry when your "van-life" kids make a mess of you're apartment while you're away.) 

Concerning the above, I would wager confidently the reason I am so happy is because I where I'm supposed to be. That's enough, right? 

I sure hope so. I've already printed t-shirts for merch!

(No, I haven't.)


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Working Inside is Weird

My desk at work.

This past week I have been working inside the office for a couple consecutive days for the first time since the pandemic started. This was primarily due to my wife going on a camping trip with her dad, leaving me to fend for myself with Eowyn. The thought of driving by myself was terrifying. (Around this time last year I had a really bad anxiety attack while I was driving.) But, despite some close calls and a stashed emergency Klonopin, I got through it. 

Don't we always?

Sitting in the office, the loudest thing I hear is the sound of the HVAC fans running. The keys beneath my finger tips are deafening. No weird neighbors next door, arguing over dumb shit that doesn't matter. No homeless couples bickering up and down the street. Just the fans. 

I miss the office. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Ode To a Shitty Burger

I like burgers. 

I like large burgers. I like sliders. I like pigs-in-blankets. I like hoagies. I like pulled pork sandwiches. I like ruebens, cubans, and breakfast sandwiches. 

I like, really, anything with two slices of bread and a piece of meat in the center. It's primal and debasing to hold a burger and try to eat it as, like a collapsing star, it disintegrates into a slurry of deliciousness. Growing up, I would get a burger before getting my allergy shots for bee venom, convinced that the meat in my belly made me impervious to pain. What a ludicrous conclusion! But a serviceable salve to ease my fear of needles. Burgers were my answer to most of all life's problems when I was 6 years old. Today, they still kind of are.

Burgers, like friends, are fickle. Not all burgers are created equal. Some burgers disappoint and demoralize. Some even betray you. They illustrate the lie of consumerism and the commodification of once sacred and immutable things. Like a life of watching porn and encountering sex for the first time with another human being, eating a Carls Jr. Six Dollar Burger illuminates the hyperreality of bread, meat, cheese and vegetables advanced in the fictional ad space, while what is unwrapped in soggy wax paper is the cold truth: that all of us have been lied to. The burger today, indeed, does has a true referent, but it exists elsewhere, far from any motor oil encrusted strip-mall parking lot.

The shitty burger is the aesthetic product of many components. Down the street from my apartment, there is a decaying fast food chain, local to the Santa Barbara area. The reviews online are as abyssal and empty as the employees that absently attend the greasy kitchen griddle, and food poisoning is alleged all too frequently in that virtual space. The dinning room is always empty. Aging CRT televisions are void of light and sound. Vending machines contain stale baubles, forgotten behind scratched, hazy plastics. The employee that takes your order is tense and on edge. The fact that you are there in this solemn place is an act of violence. The order will most surely be incorrectly filled, but out of kindness you feign ignorance. The truth behind the shitty burger is the commiseration found in consuming it. The thin, dry patties are ingested under the wan light of a desk lamp in solitude and shame. In eating it, you have contributed to institutional racism and, simultaneously, are now emboldened to end it. 

I would disagree with the post-modernists that we have lost the true referent, what I refer to as the proto-burger. Just like the desolation which attends the shitty burger, the proto-burger is a sum of harmonious parts. Just as the fresh cut tomatoes, the grilled onions, the chilled lettuce, and ground sirloin unify to achieve mythic synergy, so people also gather around charcoal grills on lazy Saturday afternoons to experience unshakable community. At the checkered picnic table, people of all kinds and creeds have the opportunity to experience the original and incorruptible authenticity of the proto-burger. And, like waking from a bad dream, the memory of the shitty burger fades, ultimately to nothing, thereby allowing only the knowledge of the proto-burger to endure.