Tuesday Night Bullet Points

The baby goes to her Grandmother’s on Tuesdays, so I spent the day in the office and didn’t think about much of anything else but work for five or so hours. It was nice. Of course, the baby came home without a nap and a touch of diaper rash, which made for a grumpy, tired evening for Scarlett and for me and Mrs. Rawson. I planned on adding a couple more thousand words to today’s work, but instead I’m just going to blog, listen to music, and read.

Here are a couple of general observations from today.

  • I’ve been reading Neil Gaiman’s non-fiction collection over the past week or so and I think I like him more as an essayist than as a novelist. But then again, the last novel of his I read was The Ocean at The End Of The Lake, and that really didn’t do all that much for me.
  • Most of 2016 was a Margaret Atwood year. 2017 is looking like it’s going to be more of the same. Currently I’m re-reading The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time in over twenty years; it still ranks as one of my top five SF reads of all time.
  • I watched the terrorism thriller Unthinkable over the weekend. It’s an intense flick and I think it and David Mamet’s overlooked CIA thriller, Spartan, would make a great double bill.
  • I’m finding writing with pen and paper to be agreeable with me these days. Virtually everything I’ve written and published over the last six months has started out on yellow legal pads.
  • I’m finishing up a few short stories after four or five months of novel writing. I can’t say I’m enjoying writing them, but I also think my head’s in a completely different space now. I’m sure I’ll go back to loving stories once I’m between long stories.
  • I don’t mind when people disagree with me, and I mean about any subject whether it’s art, politics, whatever. I want to hear what you think, just remember to notch the anger back a bit when you’re expressing yourself. Because, trust me, I’m not going to go on a tirade just because we don’t see eye-to-eye on something.
  • Bar none, Miles Davis was the greatest musician of the 20th  century. 
  • Have a goodnight and sleep well.

Evening Soundtrack: My Funny Valentine By Miles Davis

Picking Pepper Out Of Gnat Shit

I logged onto Facebook today, something that I’ve been doing less and less of lately largely because I’ve got way too much shit on my plate as is, and because every time I log on, I seem to run into the same arguments being discussed in a dozen different ways. Today’s argument was punching Nazi’s and whether it’s right or wrong?

Now I’ll be blunt, I’m not a pacifist. As an ideology, it’s only worked twice as a means of change in the last hundred or so years. The first time was in India, and the reason it worked there was because the British “empire” was crumbling to pieces due to simple economics and it was flat out easier for the Limey’s to give up India. The second time it was here in the states, and the person leading the pacifist charge wasn’t so much a human being as he was a force of nature, and if I was alive during the same period as he was, I would have followed him anywhere and done anything he asked.

 I actually found the Nazi getting punched funny and he fully deserved the beat down. I mean, come on, the dude’s a stupid, dangerous asshole, and the only way to stop stupid, dangerous people is using a little force here and there.

But the thing is, I didn’t really care about the arguments being made on whether the guy should have been punched or not, my beef was that the argument was even an argument.

Over the last six months, I’ll freely admit that I’ve grown tired of “liberals”. It’s not that I don’t agree with the thoughts and ideas of liberalism, I care about and value human life and all life on our tiny planet and so do most “liberals”. No, what’s been bothering me the most about liberalism is the sheer lack of focus within the “movement”. There’s so many things that the “movement” cares deeply about that none of the things that they’re so passionate about changing get changed. And the reason for it is they spend so much time arguing about minute points instead of focusing on one thing at a time.

Personally, if I had to pick just two things for “liberals” to focus on it would be women’s equality and not killing so many black folks. The first one is easy, because let’s face it, women are the majority in America. Generally speaking, they go to and finish college more than most men, and, you know, they’re able to give birth to other human beings. And because I live with three of them, I know from experience that women are just flat out smarter than men. It just seems like a given to me that women should be equal to men, all that needs to happen is for women to start exercising their obvious superiority and the whole issue would become a non-issue within a few years.

The not killing as many black folks, well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Racism is an ingrained, animalistic tendency. It’s one human being (Or a pack of them) looking at another human being (Or a pack of them) and saying: I don’t like how you look, so I’m going to hate you and hunt you down.

Getting past this sub-human instinct is going to be a bitch.

But, there are things we can do as Americans, like training our police forces to not automatically pull their guns every time they step out of their patrol cars (By the way, before you get your panties in a bunch, I’m not anti-law enforcement, I’m just anti-death and anti-bullying. And let’s face it, most of the dudes who indiscriminately shoot black folks usually joined the police because they want to be able to push people around and pull their guns on whoever the hell they want.) and train them to logically assess a situation before resorting to force, which most police already do. But, you know, there’s always more than a few rotten apples in the bunch.

The other thing that would probably help with less black folks getting killed is creating a little financial autonomy within black communities. Having ready availability to quality educations and jobs tend to go a long way. Financial autonomy means less crime, less violence, less death. The problem is, though, there are  A LOT of human beings who still think and act like animals (Such as our current President) and the only way we’re going to get rid of these attitudes is by breeding them out of existence. And over the decades, things have been changing positively little-by-little as each subsequent generation moves farther and farther away from their baser instincts. It’s an infuriatingly slow process, but unfortunately, that’s just how nature works.

So, yeah, if I had it my way, “liberals” would focus solely on these two issues and nothing else until they were accomplished. But I know it won’t happen. I know liberalism will remain a complete clusterfuck of unorganized ideas and shitheels like Trump and Mike Pence will continue to keep things exactly the way they want them. They’ll keep America mired in the past as the rest of us spin our wheels and argue nonsensically  about whether it was right or wrong for a hate spewing sub-human to take a well- deserved punch in the jaw.


Morning Soundtrack: Oczy Mlody By The Flaming Lips

New Column and Westworld

I’m sitting in my office getting ready to type up my notes to my latest column for Gamut magazine. Over the past few months as Gamut has been ramping up, I made the decision that with Raw Bites, I was going to strip myself to the bone. I was going to dredge up all of the things about my life that still make me cringe before I fall asleep at night or during too quiet moments. It’s been work out. The piece I’m writing is definitely making me wince more than a little bit. By the way, I’ve got a new Raw Bites in Gamut #1 called “Bukowski San Pedro”.

No, it’s not about Bukowski in the least.

The piece is behind a pay wall, so if you don’t have a subscription already, you can go right here. Richard Thomas is setting the bar high with Gamut, it’s something special.

Me and Mrs. Rawson finished up Westworld today while the baby was napping. Final verdict, it was just okay.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect Johnathan Nolan and the Yu family (The show’s story editor and primary scriptwriters, Charles Yu, is one of my favorite contemporary short story writers. If you haven’t already, definitely check out Third-Class Super-Hero), but outside of Bernard (Jeffery Ross) and Maeve (Thandie Newton), I didn’t care about any of the other characters or their plot lines. There was some great acting and writing, but I don’t think I’ll be returning for season two. But then again, I’ve felt this way about a lot of multi-season, long form television shows lately. I find myself wanting shows to wrap up in a single season like The Night Of or American Horror Story.

Are any of you feeling this way about long form television lately, or is it just me?


Evening Soundtrack: Dave Brubeck

 

Espresso and Tears

I’m getting ready to write an essay about Warren Ellis. No, not the composer who works with Nick Cave, but the novelist and comic book writer Warren Ellis. Because of this, I’ve been revisiting old favorites such as Planetary and the subversive Transmetropolitan (By the way, is anyone else of the opinion that Spider Jerusalem is a thinly veiled version of Alan Moore?), and his first novel, Crooked Little Vein. I’m not really having to delve too deeply into the new stuff such as Trees, Injection, and his more recent novels such as Gun Machine and Normal (which is probably one of the funniest books I read in 2016, and one of the most prophetic). I haven’t had to delve too far into these new works because I’ve read each as they’ve come out and are fresh in my memory. And to be blunt, I don’t really have to read the old comics and books, either. I’m just doing it because I love them.

The one thing I’ve noticed in the preparation of this essay is how much Ellis has seeped into my own work over the past decade. Currently I’m working on two separate long projects (I know, I should only be working on one, but I’m the type of writer who’s been conditioned by freelance work and having to work on multiple projects at a time. Plus, the fact is I get bored, so juggling multiple projects is the best way for me to keep myself interested in writing.). Both projects are best described as science fiction, both are somewhat politically motivated (Another little something I’ve rediscovered about myself, I am very much a political creature and I tend to become more creative and motivated when I feel repressed and downtrodden. You know, being American.), but in the same breath, I don’t consider them science fiction because I’m utilizing crime and romance fiction tropes in both along with the other elements and stirring and mixing them up.

No, this is nothing new, it’s nothing ground breaking, it’s all things Warren Ellis and dozens of writers have employed over the last fifty years. But the thing is, when I read through my pages from the day before (One piece is being written entirely on the computer, the second—which I tend to work on the most—is being written on yellow legal notepads with occasional notes in a loose outline I keep stored on my hard drive.), I’ve begun to notice that the style I’m working in is becoming increasingly weirder, Ellis-esque, so to speak, and that this strange Englishman has become, perhaps, the storyteller who has influenced my work the most. And the fact is, I like it, I flat out love it because it’s encouraging me to get as weird and irreverent as I want while still crafting a highly readable story.

At least that’s what I hope I’m doing?


Current Read:

A View From The Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction By Neil Gaiman

 

Wednesday Bullet Points

It’s Wednesday.

It’s the middle of the week and it’s summer, which means I have both the girls home with me. That also means this will be the only writing I get done today, at least until around eight o’clock tonight, and then I’ll probably be up until midnight because, you know, deadlines, money, all that shit.

I’m feeling a little nostalgic this morning and I started thinking about all the shit I cared about when I first started publishing that just doesn’t matter fuck all to me now.

  • Social media. I just don’t care anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I like social media, I like seeing pictures of your kids, vacations and reading about all the stuff you find important. But, I’m happy as hell that the age of “author branding” is a thing of the past. Or maybe it’s still thing? Who cares.
  • Having an agent. This was the holy grail. Getting  an agent was pretty much on par with signing a book deal. Now, well, I make more money than most writers who have an agent, so what difference does it make? And don’t get me wrong, I dig agents, I know some really good ones. But, meh, if I need one, I’ll hire one. I just don’t consider it an accomplishment.
  • Genre. I realize this will always be something young writers care about (or writers who have a chip on their shoulder), but holy fuck is it a boring argument.
  • Education. Get your MFA, don’t get your MFA. Do whatever works for you.
  • “I love it so much I would do it for free”. You shouldn’t love anything this much other than your kids or your partner. I like writing, some days I flat out hate it. But I will never, ever do it again for free. Unless it’s this blogging crap, but it’s mine.
  • Getting bent out of shape about the “Big 5”, Amazon, traditional publishing, indie publishing, etc. Like I said about education, do whatever works for you.
  • Bitching about being a writer. SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP. Seriously.
  • Like I said, I’m feeling nostalgic today, so here’s some Tribe Called Quest.