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No Disaster Too Great

There’s been a lot of coverage of the Japan tragedy lately. Getting good information has been difficult, owing to the poor quality of television news we have in the U.S. There’s been a great deal of scare mongering (for good coverage of the nuclear problems, I’d follow what Phil Plait has been saying over at the Discovery blogs). What’s even more disturbing is how people are already trying to use this to their own advantage.

Social media has been maybe not the worst, but the most narcissistic. I’ve seen several times on Twitter statements like “follow me and for each new follower, I’ll donate $1”, or “retweet this and for each retweet, we’ll donate”. What I see here is that people have no capacity for shame. What happened in Japan was a horrible disaster and has the compounded problems of having some of their nuclear plants hit by the earthquakes and the ensuing typhoon.

I doubt if any celebrity or business is going to see this blog post, but for God’s sake, have some decency. Can you for just one minute donate to the people who need it because it’s the right thing to do rather than set some arbitrary goal or limit in order to promote yourself?

I’m not sure the people understand the blowback on this, but their self-promotion has backfired for me. It comes to this; the focus should be on the disaster relief and helping those who need it, not on the person or group who is trying to build their brand so they can give some token gift. I believe the people who do this should be called out on it. And if these people are so moved to do something for the people in need, they should just do it. Do a press release later if you feel so moved, but don’t use the tragedy to try to make yourself look good.

The Absense

Hi folks. Long time, no blog. Again, there’s a reason for that.

You’d have to be living under a rock lately to not realize that a lot of shit has been happening in the last couple of months. Personal stuff. Big stuff. Newsworthy stuff. A bunch of stuff that really gets my blood pressure up.

And there’s the problem. It’s difficult for me to be writing about games I like (Minecraft, EVE) and games I had a hard time liking (Earthrise), babbling on about my struggles writing, chatting about the lattes I make when there’s serious events happening in my life and in the world itself.

Part of me wants to write those little fluff pieces anyway. Part of me wants to rage against the world I’m seeing unfold before me. In the end, my mind poses the question “there’s so many issues out there that need addressing, serious issues and you’re going to write about what exactly?”

I don’t fool myself. I don’t have a large audience. February was an emotionally brutal month, March isn’t looking that much better and beyond some cathartic relief, I’m not sure what I can accomplish by wailing against the wall, yelling at cyberspace for someone to listen. The largest drivers I’ve had to the site have been where I said I don’t like something rather than the positive articles.

So I freeze. I completely lock up shop and take a hiatus without word one to anyone who might be watching the site. I’ve never quite been sure that I want this site to be just an online diary, I’d like it to be something more. What that is, I’m not sure. I don’t want it to be where I log on and bitch about stuff I don’t like, because who is that helping?

If you’ve read this far, it may sound like I’m stepping back. I’m not. I had to get this off my chest to get back to blogging. Somehow, I realized today that this small corner of the net is my voice and either I have to keep on doing my thing or pick up the soapbox and head home…and I’m not ready to head home yet.

Was this a bit of a diary entry? Maybe. But that’s what you’re going to get sometimes. It’s just who I am.

The Hard Truth Nugget

Not many people know this but I’m currently taking a writing class. It occurred to me in December that although I’ve got my English degree and technically it’s with a writing emphasis, I didn’t really ever take a creative writing course from anyone. As my friend Michael said to me this weekend, an English major makes you a good reader, but not necessarily a good writer. Not to imply that I don’t write well. I think I do blogging just fine and if you need a college essay, you could do worse than follow my advice.

My own creative output has been scattered. Little sprinkles of good stuff here and there amongst a sea of dreck. Though I can glean a great deal from the mountain of writing books out there, it would be nice to have someone who knows what their doing point you in the right direction. So I’m taking the class.

As a part of the class, you need to put a small sample of your writing up for others to critique. The teacher will then give you a big overview and some advice. So I did that.

And I got the advice. And I read the advice and got a bit depressed. Not that the teacher was wrong, hell no. He was right and pointed out a lot of the flaws that sat in the back of my head while I was writing it. I’m just curious why I didn’t do anything about it sooner, or changed my writing. I’m tormented by the fact that fixing it requires an entire rewrite. Not only that, I will have to kill off some of my favorite bits about the story.

As Faulkner said, “kill your darlings”…and it’s absolutely true in this case. I have to kill my first paragraph which I was so proud of writing. I have to rewrite the whole in a way that moves a bit better. I need to work in details I missed in the first pass, cut out details that are meaningless I initially wrote.

But it’s the right thing to do. Doing it will be difficult, but necessary. Writers do this all the time…it doesn’t get any easier though.

Little Cool Grammy Things

So the Grammy Awards were Sunday. I didn’t watch them (y’know, no TV and all) but I heard about everyone going all aflutter yesterday about the winners. Arcade Fire winning album of the year? Yes, please. I’m not a massive fan of theirs, but I do like their sound. I’m also glad that they beat some other, much bigger names out there. It’s not because I traditionally root for the underdog, but in this case, I just like their sound much better than Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Eminem or Lady Antebellum.

Also, Bieberites were up in arms their little manufactured teen dream lost to Esperanza Spalding. Here’s the thing with best new artist…Bieber is lucky to be in the category as the other nominees are supremely more talented than he is. Spalding herself is an amazing talent. I had not heard of her before the Grammys, but I’ve seen a few clips since then and I am just blown away. I’m flabbergasted that not only a jazz player/singer was nominated but won the category. Justin Bieber winning the category would have been a huge mistake, a snub of some very talented people.

Here’s a clip of Esperanza Spalding. She’s really, really good.

My Long Disdain for Valentine’s Day

For a good many years, I’ve not really hid my distaste for today. I’m not even sure where it started. I know in grade school, it was a cool little thing that I thought could be fun choosing Valentine’s Day cards for my classmates and decorate a Valentine’s box to receive the cards from other classmates. The shine of this day wore thin as I got older as I didn’t really like it that much in high school and positively rebelled against it in college.

One of the things that finally got to me was when I was in a relationship and I was expected to get something for Valentine’s Day, which was to represent my love through gifts, but apparently I was competing against the significant others of my current girlfriends co-workers. At that point, the meaning of a day of romance to me has lost all significance.

Since that point, I’m a grump about this day. Don’t like it. Don’t like the fact that stores jack up the prices of flowers. Don’t like being marketed by companies trying to guilt you into making a purchase to satisfy a manufactured need. Don’t like the people out there who compare gestures from other people’s relationships and rank them according to their perceived romantic barometer. Don’t like the glut of so-called romantic movies based on Hollywood’s version of romance, which if practiced in real life would often get people jailed for stalking or institutionalized.

I like doing romantic things for Melanie  when I think of her, often when I’m not with her. I’ll buy her favorite snack or maybe a good German chocolate bar. I’ll do an unexpected chore. I’ll volunteer to wash out a dirty diaper when she’s tired. I’ll cook a good meal for her. In fact, all of that stuff I wrote down…that was last week. That’s what’s important to me, not the one-off romantic holiday, but a show of love all the time.

Regardless, I like to laugh at today and I thought as a closing, I’ll post a YouTube video of something made for another holiday, but definitely could be implied for V-Day. It’s funny stuff anyway.

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