Saturday, October 21, 2017

The boy who could not feel

The following is a true story.

Once upon a time a man found himself consumed with the idea of finding real truth. The more he sought it the more he found all the many barriers to truth which together weaved an almost impenetrable blanket of illegitimacy over everything and everyone in his society including the man himself; at least the man he had been. The experience changed him magnificently. He shed years of untruth from his mind, became a person of much more humility and honesty and integrity and much less a man of ego. The horror which at first was born of the endeavor slowly changed to joy and peace and freedom as the man found new appreciations for the vital realities of logic, causality and context. He became very gentle and forgiving and full of love and pity.

When he eagerly went forth to share all this good news he discovered at once that people wanted nothing to do with it and did not trust him and so he learned to tread gently and do a lot of playing dumb for other people’s comfort.

He realized that he had tread into the realm of enlightenment but without a map to know just how far.

Then he met a boy who amazed him for the boy seemed to have incredible capacities for honesty, humility and intelligence and an instinctive mistrust for the ruling structures of society which the man knew very well to all be entirely corrupt.

The boy took a close interest in the man and began to ask questions about the deeper realities of life. The man respected the boy’s mind so much that he answered honestly, with no playing dumb in order to protect his new audience from the discomfort of challenged illusions the way he had to do with most society-imprisoned adults most of the time.

The man and boy quickly bonded as dual outsiders in a world they both felt alien to, or so the man perceived. The man was open about his journeys. The boy was eager to hear about the learning which had come out of them. They came together to talk on a regular basis; weekly for a long time and then at longer frequencies as the boy went to high school and then to college..

Their friendship seemed cosmic to the man; based on things beyond the mechanisms of society. Their friendship, the man perceived, was on a philosophic and spiritual plane. But the man came to love the boy like a son, while the boy felt more and more burdened by social anxiety and felt that somehow their friendship and their bond would never be understood by the peers which he struggled to relate to. Thus he tried to keep their friendship somewhat a secret which the man did not fully realize at the time, nor did he think that a good idea at all. He knew what dark hearts hid in the chests of normal people and the secret delight they would take imagining that something scandalous must be going on in any unusual relationship between an adult and youth.

He counseled the youth against secrecy but also did not worry about it much, for the youth would soon be an adult and surely their relationship would change and be more based on tangible collaboration in the realms of art and spirituality. They would inspire each other’s creative work and pursue enlightenment together, the man felt sure. And the man would finally teach him more of the wise understandings which he had been patient about; always letting the boy’s interests and circumstances and limitations dictate the approach of this learning.

He came to view the boy as his best friend, for it was only with the boy that he could be fully himself, not because he wanted to keep any secrets from anyone, but because the boy was the only human he respected quite enough to speak any hard truth whatsoever to; for the boy had such a powerful and open mind. One evening he asked the boy who his own best friends were and the boy named the man and one other friend from college.

The man knew that the boy had an extremely rare privilege with regards to their friendship. The boy had a friend that he could trust to no end, who would always respect what he had to say, never judge him, never think him weird or odd or anything like that (because the man had learned everything that the human creature is capable of and embraced the logic and causality that revealed that everything the human creature is capable of is normal). The boy had a friend who would always be honest with him,  always be supportive, and would always love him and never betray his confidence. This was a friend he had total freedom to say anything to.

A friend you can safely say ANYTHING to.

Who else could make such an honest claim about a friend? Think about it. Almost no one. Ever.

The man always wondered if the boy fully understood the rarity of his privilege. But as with most things the man was very patient. They talked earnestly together with no limits. They shared their fears and tears and “secrets” and deepest insights and deepest self-accusations and the man was always amazed at the boy’s growing intelligence.

The boy had a problem with empathy. That became apparent for many reasons but as always the man was patient and in no hurry to fully confront him about this (though the subject had been tentatively approached on occasion).

One manifestation was that the boy had a terrible habit of not returning people’s messages and though he admitted that he knew that it hurt people’s feelings, the man was pretty sure that the boy did not fully comprehend. The boy had once tried to explain what empathy was to the man and the boy got it all wrong. The man had felt sad for him at that moment and chose not to challenge him on it at that moment.

The boy’s habit of ignoring people grew worse with time and many friends gave up on messaging him at all. The man meanwhile was feeling hurt more and more often by this.

Over the years the boy’s explanation for this bad habit changed each time they talked about it. The man did not care to imagine whether the boy was trying to be honest or not. He loved the boy like family and chose to always trust him no matter what; for one of the beautiful aspects of love is the surrendering to the loved one the power to hurt you and choosing to trust that they won’t.

Finally the boy graduated from college and began to work regularly on his music and part time at a job and he was pursuing frequent experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs and was very excited about the realms of mental perception this seemed to be opening up for him. The man noticed that the boy’s mannerisms and personality seemed to be rapidly changing and he commented on this and the boy seemed to perhaps take this as an insult rather than simply concern.  

So with this new logistical freedom the boy and man planned a significant outing together. A significant exploration of the human mind. It was the boy's idea. The man was looking forward to it very much and very content that after about eight years their friendship seemed to be reaching that fully adult stage of collaboration, and then the man received a message from the boy which read:

I don’t want to continue this relationship not feeling the dynamic anymore, sorry

And now the man is confused and hurt and sad every day.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Empathy

My mother is a very empathetic person and whether it’s genetic or environmental or both or neither, I came together much the same. Her love for me was (and is) so strongly devoted that I think it lent me a particular strength and confidence, such that I could afford to develop strong empathy for others as I required so little expenditure of thought or resources directed toward my own well-being.

Recalling the peculiar bent of my pre-school-age dreams and fantasies I can easily surmise that maternal love (though never realized as such until recently) has always held an instinctive fascination for me: something I’ve always subconsciously sensed I hadn’t the resources to reciprocate in kind, but which I’ve always been fundamentally compelled to pay forward. For instance, as a tyke, I would regularly dream about rescuing other little boys from older bullies; a threat I presumed, at that age, was omnipresent and immediate at every unaccompanied venture out of doors!

Still, as an adolescent and young man I was prone to much selfishness of the typical varieties and was rather adept at disguising it.

Then in my thirties, I was afforded a privileged mental, emotional and spiritual overhaul thanks largely to the influence of many good and talented associates and through my own failures at the things we commonly pursue in this society, heedless and unaware of the dangerous mental trappings which are their side-effects, for all but the ultimately mindful of persons.

This experience added a whole new level of internal strength and confidence and (for other related reasons as well) my capacity for empathy went into an astounding super-mode; one which I have not generally maintained to quite such a degree but which I’ve never assumed to be out of reach.

As I go through this long lag in my development but with sustained exploration and contemplation, I have observed much in the way of empathy, and the lack of it, in others.

In our wonderful world of lazily-interpreted social sciences we have studies that show a link between kids who read stories and kids who generate strong empathy, which compels the literate to assume that a great nurturing power lies in books. While I adore that idea, and respect it, one must remember that causality rarely runs on one-way streets and it is equally logical to suggest that people already possessing greater empathy make the choice to read books because they get more out of them. It is empathy which brings the emotional aspects of stories to life.

As an adult teen who abhorred childhood and the company of children, I subconsciously sought adult romantic relationships where my paternal instincts had space to express themselves, but I did so without success. In fact I fell into a thirteen year relationship which began with me in the opposite role; a sort of subconscious surrendering: apparently I accepted the opposite role in the unavailability of the desired one, just so I could experience that paradigm in a vicarious sense. Of course this is all very Freudian and unconsolidated.

Later, after swearing off of the standard relationship model for life, I found my parental instincts surprisingly unearthed when the Thoughtful Educator “tricked” me into volunteering with intermediate-age kids and I amazingly learned of their powerful unspoiled intelligence and free-mindedness. How rewarding it was to gently work with them and witness their discoveries.  

I am well acquainted with many people who have significantly demonstrated a lack of capacity for empathy, some to a crippling degree. My own two best friends who sequentially covered the last 24 years of that dubious position (precisely half my life) were deeply starved for it. In no way did I fault them for this flaw. No one chooses to be empathetic or not. I see it as biological variation. I can imagine that this flaw may have attracted me to them. Did their strict incapacity to love me in return satisfy a condition toward my emulating the maternal paradigm? I could care for them more than they could possibly care for me? Did I want that? Indeed it was overtly so in both cases.

I feel compelled to share observations with regards to the non-empaths I have known. Please be assured I do not claim this a guide to diagnosis. These symptoms are not confined to non-empaths and not all non-empaths necessarily display any given symptom. There are no exclusive patterns, just these common observations:

- The constant habit of talking non-stop without invitation for others’ input and with the undisguised evidence that during interruption they are never really listening to anyone else but only planning their next outburst.

- Constant judging of other individuals’ specific bad behavior with no reflection on how their own person might have flaws which bear opportunity for improvement. To the non-empath there is little instinctive ethic. Morality becomes a critical game that is always being played in order to protect their reputation. With such a conscious effort required they are hyper-vigilant of the rules of the game and quickly spot other people’s apparent failure to obey them; to play the game correctly.

- Constant rationalization for their own bad behavior. It seems just too dangerous for some non-empaths to step out of the morality game long enough to dare bring their own fallibilities into the light.

- In the former-offender community where lack of empathy is unsurprisingly common: the frequent vows to stay clean because of the punitive consequences which might befall them, without ever mentioning the harm to victims and any desire to spare people such harm. This is sadly common.

- Social anxiety. Often non-empaths have much trouble “knowing what to say” in social circumstances, I presume because it all seems an unnecessary game to them. They don’t instinctively care much about other people and don’t fully grasp that some other people naturally do care about others and find other people interesting. When you find other people interesting for empathetic reasons it’s natural to have questions and things to talk about of legitimate interest, and not have to pretend.

- Anger problems. A lack of empathy leaves others’ motivations blind to them and so they are prone to much frustration when behaviors around them do not go as expected.

- Lack of non-volatile close lasting friendships. The unstable bond between disparate friends becomes a disappointment to the empath while seemingly too much work for the non-empath.

- Drug abuse and other addictions. The lack of human connection in relationships leaves a void that is easily filled by other connectibles: drugs, alcohol, video games, gambling, food, etc. This is well understood in Scandinavian societies where they are overwhelmingly kicking the America’s asses inside out in nearly every area of social improvement.

I have shared these observations because, in part, I would like the empathy-challenged to be aware of the things that might be tipping their hand. I believe that such persons are entitled to the pursuit of happiness (and capable of it) and are entitled to hide their handicap from a society who will be largely unforgiving (unfortunately). But one thing they must do is to stop judging themselves by the wrong standards. Accept that you are a unique creature and not alone in this regard and then design your life’s pursuits differently. There are other routes to peace and contentment besides through the variants of love.

And perhaps another usefulness is this: Perhaps some non-empaths might want to identify each other and stick together more, in order to avoid the tragic problems that can emerge when polar-opposites try to relate, whether in friendship or romantic relationships. Perhaps the well-meaning non-empath would prefer not to break empathetic people’s hearts; even if they don’t really get it.

I don’t mean to suggest that empathy can not possibly grow in you but I honestly don’t know what fertile ground may or may not exist in your mind. That books-in-early-childhood solution suggests such a potential but as I said, it’s a questionable one.

And as for the journey which I so fortunately fell into in my thirties: Is that brand of journey an established route to profound empathy and love, as I have largely assumed for years, along with the more certain rewards of peace, joy and freedom? Or did that journey only give me strength which I channeled toward a gift for which I was already prone?

Are some people born with disabled empathy and with no possibility of gaining it?

This is my dilemma. It is still one of my chief goals in life to assist other journeyers toward that path which I gratefully travailed (for a time if not ultimately permanent) but I should not promise that great blossoming of love without fully consolidating that causality. And now I am unsure.

One thing I know is this. While some non-empaths are a drain on me in some situations, and certainly challenge my patience, I do not have to look down on them. Those I have loved I shall always love and they are always welcome back in my life where there is no need to pretend; for they will not be judged.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Good news for this blog...

... devastating news otherwise.

Well, I keep drifting away and back again to these few words above which I wrote at least an hour ago. Perhaps it’s still too soon to write about it. My mind has been somewhat tortured since September 26th.

Perhaps the single largest barrier to my blogging over the last six years has been a relationship which is dear to me and the privacy I have wished to afford that person, even though there is no fully legitimate reason for any such privacy. All secrecy is in one way or another, directly or indirectly, the product of illusions; in this case: sadly superficial and superstitious ones.

That relationship has been so fundamental to my daily life that it colors nearly all the things I might blog about and that person has (at least at one time) bean a reader of this blog. For reasons I will surely write about soon, when I can summon the emotional fortitude, I apparently no longer owe that person such confidence. So unless things change it will no longer fetter this blog, nor do I expect any future relationship to do so.

If I’m ever to make significant progress towards the life goals which I’ve allowed to linger too long, I must bring this blog to life and allow it to penetrate into the shadows of my living experience and that of significant associates. My life and my relationships must be treated, to some reasonable degree, as a public lab experiment. The people around me will have to understand that if they wish to closely associate with me, their avatars will likely appear in this space, and that is not negotiable.

I urge everyone to treat this space as an anonymous space.

I need a little more time.

See you soon.
FWG

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Happy Miniature Golf Day everybody!


That’s right. Today is Miniature Golf Day! And how does one officially celebrate Miniature Golf Day, you ask? By playing a round of miniature golf?

Why yes!

And what are three fun facts about miniature golf, you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you!

1. Mini golf has also been known as Crazy Golf.

2. Mini golf was first commercialized in North Carolina as a game called Thistle Dhu (pronounced This’ll do).

3. Mini golf is believed to have evolved from the Ladies Putting Club of St.Andrews where it was deemed unseemly for precious womenfolk to handle a full-size club.

If you know what I mean.

So yeah. Like just about every holiday ever conceived: dig deep enough into its origin and you’ll find something bigoted or similarly ghastly at its roots and an excellent reason not to celebrate it.

However… On a lighter note:

Today is also Rosh Hashana, so… Shana Tovah!

And it’s also the U.N.’s International Day of Peace.


*All dubious facts above - courtesy of timeanddate.com, masters of time since 1995.


Peace out, dudes.
FWG

Saturday, September 16, 2017

I wasn’t expecting to be poisoned or sexually harassed…

Who knew?

Before Grandpa Munster could even enter the passenger seat his waft rolled over me.

“Whoa,  Gramps!”  I yelped. ”You smell terrible!”  He froze.  I’d never commented on any of his smells before.  But suddenly I’ve finally hit the breaking point. ”When did you shower last!”

“Well I normally shower every night but last night…”

As usual he touches on the subject of my question without giving me a straight answer.  Me.  And I’m the least threatening of his inquirers.

Secretive… the constant complaint.  The one which keeps him on continued supervisory orders years after anyone else would have shed them.  Or at least the shedible ones I mean…

He smells like it’s been a week.

 ”Just a minute,”  he says. ”I forgot something.”  Yeah I know. to bathe.

Which he does not elect to do here and now.  He returns with a fresh shirt steeped in Fabreeze.  He now smells like two of my four least-favorite smells gloriously combined:  unwashed old-man and fucking-fabreeze.  The other two,  if you’re keeping score, are skunk and old man who no longer knows how to wipe his ass properly.

At the Koodo store the young pup of a bewildered service rep hums and haws over their latest sale and why it’s not right for Gramps.  It’s a different pup and a different conflicting story every time.  Gramps’ flip phone is getting too old.  He needs a new one.

At the Factory Direct Store we finally find the gold mine:  an unlocked flip phone for 29 bucks.  Hooray.  But there are complications and Gramps can possibly save another 10 bucks if we go to more trouble and return another day.  It’s well worth it to me (given my time and transportation expense) to just hand him the ten bucks, but I don’t.  He’s trying to live his life with a shred of autonomy at this moment so I indulge him.

Later he and his stink are gone and I am at the McDonalds drive thru with a coupon, taking great strides toward ruining my own life.  I get two diet cokes;  no ice.  One for my ersatz dinner and another to bring to board game night with the off-seasoned Strat-o gang.  Parked under the golden arches eating discounted shit-what-sort-of-looks-like-food,  the first coke goes down satisfactorily (and naturally on the watery side).

I take a sneak preview of the second coke;  the to-go option.  And It’s all wrong.  It tastes familiar though.  Like a rum and coke or a rye and coke.  I drank a good number of those in my late teens and I remember their grodie little stench and flavor.  I drink two or three ounces trying to get a handle on it.  Rye, rum or something else?  Jack Daniels?  Is the young drive-thru kid boozing on the job?  Did he give me his own drinkie-poo by mistake?

I suddenly wonder if it could be an alcohol-based cleaning product and I vow to sip no more.
I’ve kept the drink and hope to get it tested.  I know a couple or few lab technologists after all.

Pondering this lunacy I head for game night and as I enter the neighborhood with a parallel-parked SUV up ahead,  a little girl maybe eight years old hops out of the driver’s side rear door and stands defiantly in the middle of my lane.  I slow down while she begins to dance.  And by dance I mean gyrate and shake stuff at me. Stuff I wish not have shaken at me by any child (or any adult either for that matter). This is no bird dance but rather something she must have learned from the internet when Net Nanny failed.  Then she leaps back into the car as I pass while a woman,  busy at the rear of the truck seems to have witnessed none of her daughter’s rare talents.

Skeeter Willis, the Brothers Grimm (who are both awesome and in no way grim),  the Thoughtful Educator and… another fine gentleman I haven’t benicknamed yet are present and hear the story of the decrepitude that has so recently befallen their city this day;  the City of Saints. The Thoughtful Educator takes a sniff and believes the drink smells like glass cleaner.

We play awesome games including the pirate-themed Tortuga 1667 which Brother Two has just acquired through Kickstarter and it rocks!  Very efficient, balanced arrangement of interesting components well-pinned to the theme including a hidden loyalty factor we may have not fully appreciated this first time through. You don’t know at first who your teammates are.  Oddly I’d recently been planning a very similar game dynamic in a creation based on the cylons/human intrigue of the latter Battlestar Galactica show.  I’ve been creating a lot of board games lately.  More on that some other time.

Toward the end of the night Skeeter gives me shit for not blogging.

Believe me I have wanted to.  I find it hard to explain why I don’t.  It sort of almost has to do with momentum. The longer I don’t do it the harder it gets to start again.  It’s actually five times as complex as that but the punch line is probably not worth the lengthy explanation. Also it’s all very stupid and worthy of embarrassment - which I might still be capable of experiencing?  Perhaps?

Regardless:  it seems I am back, and I would very much like to stay.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Good things

Quick update:

Saw Neo for the first time in quite a while. We talked for eight hours which seems to be the mark. Our best chats tend to hit that number on the nose somehow.

I learned a substantial thing or two about the mysteries of sound mixing and compression... We talked about music and movies of course, and the state of affairs of earthlings and young adults (who are also earthlings, apparently).

He seems not to be in a hurry to re-locate; certainly not out-of-province at this time, which is a relief I suppose, and perhaps a disappointment too. I am ready for a change of scenery myself, but like Neo, it is financially prudent to remain here in Scooterville for the time being.

I got home feeling inspired, logged onto the Video Game From Hell which I have managed to substantially cut back on of late, and tried to summon the will to destroy my cities. I messaged Aqualad looking for additional motivation and he was not available. But then... I did it.

I sacked the larger of my two cities. Sold all the buildings off for gold and supplies which i could not store in those volumes but I figured out how to sell it all for over-priced imported goods which I then traded down at ridiculously generous rates.

It was a lengthy process which I cared not to repeat on this night, so the newer smaller city has survived but since then (Monday night) I have not touched the game. I think it's over.

Oh yeah... and Neo and I talked about addictions. His and mine. I wish him similar success.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Suffering

Started the day revisiting Grandpa Munster at the hospital where he landed after a dizzy spell took his legs out from under him while having a pee, and his noggin collided with the porcelain toilet. Both beast and fixture survived the affair but the docs who patched him up took the opportunity to mention that he has pneumonia in one lung (as usual; he’s on antibiotics reliably two weeks out of every eight) and that he has acute kidney damage due to chronic dehydration but which is not irreparable.

“That’s what happens when you drink nothing but coffee for forty years,” I interjected (as I’ve warned him many times). Now that men and women in white coats are telling him likewise he seems to be starting to listen.

At noon I split for Sick Boy’s Game Den & Crazy Making Eyrie which he shares with an alcoholic hoarding terminally ill-ish mom (to their mutual simultaneous salvation and demise) where he managed to slip rather gracefully into the Miracle Saturn (which has eaten up $3000 in recent repairs to the wheel areas alone – at a time when my employment has been spotty at best) despite the crutches and the ghastly hole in his foot which somehow came about during an attempt to infiltrate an area of the eyrie sealed behind a thoroughly hoardified corridor.

En route to the medical centre we stopped at the bank to have his virtual monthly income cheque negotiated for conversion to much-needed food, rent and utility funds only to discover that the funds had been “previously negotiated.”

I’m not even sure what that means but apparently this is the result of some mistake (whether honest or malicious) and can only be rectified by a certain Disability Worker who is high on Sick Boy’s roster of personal nemesisses. Nemesai?  Nemeses? Ah! Nemeses! Like crisis pluralizes to crises! Thank you Spell Checker. Um… and apparently the evil disability worker will not be available for a week and thus there will be no food, no rent, no hydro payment to a hydro company which has run out of patience, and thus soon no hydro, but instead there will be hunger, a condemned apartment and swift eviction.

I’m not criticizing. I’m not judging; just observing. It seems like every problem in his life becomes an immediate foreboding of cascading problems with no break in the chain for possible solutions. I wish I had money to loan. I gave a modest donation instead.

It’s difficult to hear his roster of troubles on a regular basis. There is always a rebuttal to every suggested solution and always barriers put up - and awkward conditions attached - to any help you offer, which makes the help you intended become harder to give, and potentially laden with regret.

This is what mental illness – in this particular case – does. It throws a monkey wrench into goddam everything. Whatever the official combination of illnesses, conditions, syndromes etcetera are at play here: it should be summed up as Goddam Monkey Wrench Disease.

But I always wonder how much of this is necessary, and how much of it is optional: brought on by ineffective coping strategies perhaps, or failed adherence to them, or simply failed understandings stemming from the gap between psychological theory and physical facts. I have long been suspicious of our social presumptions concerning which mental machinations are healthy, or even  “sane” and which are not. I’m convinced in fact, that we are rather misguided in general, choosing the mental tendencies which are common and labeling them sane and healthy, only because they are normal. When in fact, normalcy may be the most fucked up disease there is, and very much at the core of the state of our social, economic and industrial world: a world in tragedy that is immensely – and probably now irreparably – fucked up despite all the thin surface comforts we all so blissfully and arrogantly take for granted, blind to the malignant grotesqueries which provide this veil.

Earth Writer said to me the other day, over coffee, that she was rethinking the nature of our attitude toward mental illness and starting to see it – in general – more as variation than illness. I applaud this thinking very much. How much of Sick Boy’s difficulties are a matter of mental dysfunction rather than just being different; her own preferences, fears and idiosyncrasies at odds with the structures we have built which serve the preferences of the normal . That would be a valuable and challenging experiment to dabble in.

Come evening, after struggling to stay awake all day, I hit the Six Minute Show where storytellers told their brief memoirs on the theme: Nevertheless She Persisted. My dear friend, who has insisted on remaining nameless for now, did muster the courage to participate.

I’m sure she wowed the audience from the start, beginning the brief tale with rich imagery and texture of the setting, informing us that we had a real writer on our hands! And then quickly but eloquently pouring an immense story from early childhood to present, into this confined space, so artfully, and sparingly choosing resonant little details from which we interpreted clearly: parental death, prolonged abuse, regular examination of suicide, but finally, perhaps just in time: The partner who is her “heart” and the son who is her “soul” and the “warrior woman” whose wise words also helped her to finally see value in her own existence. I knew the warrior woman in her final years; very well in some aspects, though I did not know her back in her heroic years, before she diminished somewhat and sought her own hero, and I yearn to hear those stories. I fought hard to hold back tears through all of this and even at her generous mention of dear friendship, with a nod toward me.

Her message in the end was one about joy and celebration: an attempt to re-gift the warrior woman’s good words to those in the audience who needed them; for the event was a fundraiser (as all the Six Minute Club’s events are, I believe) to, on this night, a group called SACHA which helps victims of abuse.

As the actual nature of the event had finally dawned on me early on, I asked my pals: “Am I going to feel terrible about being a man by the end of the night?”

“Nope,” was my friend’s reply. “You’re going to feel good about being a good man.”

Touche!

There were many other almost-as-great storytellers that night. I’d love to say more about their charming and diverse offerings but this post grows long. I will pass this fine moment along though, from the woman who spoke with delightful humour of her struggles with men and with the law and with her own mind, who concluded with a conspiratorial smirk and said: “I don’t suffer from mental illness...”

“ I’m enjoying it.”

Peace out, folks.

FWG

Monday, May 29, 2017

Movie Tips:




Flutter ****
(2014) Lindsay Pulsipher, Johnathan Huth Jr.
Grimy, gritty, intimate tale of a mom and her boy and the love that will hopefully hold them together through the hardest period of their lives. The tension comes in artful waves as they dance ever nearer the jaws of disaster.

Take Me to the River ****
(2015) Logan Miller, Robin Weigert
More mom-son stuff and the tension here is constant but subtle with an oddly elusive creep factor and plenty of hints to see the twist coming. One of those lucky library reservation mistakes (I was actually seeking the 2014 soul music documentary of the same title).

Collapse ***
(2010) Documentary by Jared Diamond
Compelling material around imperialism and climate gets watered down through an infotainmenty approach and limited scope. Worthwhile though, to the young or otherwise uninitiated.

Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media *****
(1992) Documentary
Sometimes-meandering exploration of the core material of Noam Chomsky; one of the most intelligent, self-sacrificing, important and under-appreciated men alive. Or ever. Mandatory viewing if you wish to participate in the real world.

The Polar Express *
(2004) Animated Adventure
Awkward and unintentionally creepy (severe uncanny valley factor) attempt at a holiday redemption story, starring Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks and Tom Hanks. How he let himself get railroaded into this mess...

Infinitely Polar Bear ***
(2014) Mark Ruffalo
This production seemed like a culmination of decent efforts; the unfortunate math of which, usually amounts to a mediocre result at best. Yet here, it somehow held up and delivered decently overall in terms of engaging my interest and emotions. But I have to pass on this opportunity to praise Ruffalo as one of the more under-appreciated actors (if he still is) because this was not his best acting and a lot of his scenes seemed forced to me.

War Dogs **
(2016) Jonah Hill, Miles Teller
Dull, lifeless, uninspired telling of a dull, lifeless, uninspiring true story which surely made for a far better newspaper article than a feature film. That it admirably exposes yet more of the infinite bastardism of the American Military Empire is laudable but not a good enough excuse for a theatrical lemon, at least not in my house.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists ****
(2012) Documentary
An elegant choice of material allows this examination into the concept of “eco-terrorism” achieve laudable objectivity.  Very worthwhile and of great potential future relevance.

10 Cloverfield Lane ****
(2016) Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman
Tense, well-acted dystopia-flavored thriller keeps you guessing!

A.I. Artificial Intelligence ***
(2001) Haley Joel Osment
What starts as a brilliant haunting masterpiece devolves suddenly into a Disneyland experience. As bi-polar as The Deer Hunter but without the obvious intent.

Cloud Atlas **
(2012) Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant
Watching this movie requires serious effort. Two words of advice. One: Turn the subtitles on ‘cause you’re going to get some weird-ass dialect a-comin’. And two: Think about reincarnation perhaps, as your lifeline as you attempt to follow the unwieldy plot.

All In Good Taste *
(1983) Jonathan Welsh
Thoroughly goofy flick tastelessly re-packaged recently to look like a Jim Carrey movie. In fact he played a tiny non-speaking role, on screen just long enough to flash his bare butt. Don’t get fooled into watching this. Unless you really want to see Jim Carrey’s ass (rather than him acting like one).

Friday, May 26, 2017

Progress?

Last night, after visits with Aqualad, Dog Whisperer and Earth Writer, I came home inspired, logged onto the video game from hell, tried to bring myself to destroy my cities, chickened out like a spineless jellyfish (which is not a particularly rare form of jellyfish), left a farewell note for the members of my remaining fellowship and then departed from it, and changed both city names to TEMP INACTIVE.

I’m praying this buys me some time until I can grow up and put this thing permanently out of my misery.

After coffee with Earth Writer I heard myself saying, “You know, it’s clear that the struggles in the world are going to get a lot worse before they possibly get better. There is so much need for people with the capacity for gentleness and peace to achieve that and to have their effects on others. I need to achieve that. There is too much good work to do for me to be wasting my time.”

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Biting off what I can chew

I joined a small role playing group. Four of us meet online every other Friday to play World of Dew. A sort of collaborative story-building game in the Samurai genre.

I’m starting to get more shifts at work now and stand a chance at full-timish hours until November perhaps. And if this does not gel I’m ready to pull the trigger any time with regards to seeking a second employer; one more of the night watchman variety. I have some good leads.

I am falling back into a more substantive role within the Support Circle community and being moved by the tremendous attitudes of special people; volunteers and former offenders alike. The trust, the generosity, the wisdom, humility and acceptance. The courage in the face of uphill battles in pursuit of dignity, well-being and some semblance of belonging. The genuine camaraderie. No volunteer, including myself, goes out of their way to demonstrate to visitors or new participants that we are one of the volunteers and not one of the offenders. How’s that for genuine camaraderie?

I’m now thinking about a return to the lacrosse community in some smart limited scope; without getting completely sucked in, now that the baggage has dried up and the love of the game, it seems, has remained.

I’m thinking about a couple other volunteer opportunities too, now that I’m driving a reliable car again thanks to fifteen hundred and sixty well-spent dollars. 

I feel very positive.

I feel like I have the strength to defeat this damned video game habit and get more productive again.

I feel good about my writing and my excellent Scooterville writing pals who are at this blessed moment re-considering their schedules to see if we can accommodate a bit of re-structuring to write-in schedules so that I may participate more.

My burgeoning friendship with the Courageous Comedian has buoyed me. Facebook suggests that she is outrageously popular yet I boldly messaged her and said, hey, I think you are awesome in a world of mostly dickheads! You want to hang out and chat some time? A day later I thought, fuck a duck. Does she think I’m after a creepy date? But no. She finally messaged me back and said that sounded awesome and we would have to make that happen. Though it has never been apparent to me, C.C. battles mental illness of some measure while championing noble causes and educating us about them. She sees the troubled world with brave unflinching eyes and performs on stage her very fun jokes and sometimes her screamy screamy music with her band which I will probably continue to avoid!

And Neo is now finished at university. He has been so busy that I have missed him much but we are to gather very soon and I will find out what sort of plans he now considers and to what degree they might overlap my own. I suspect that there may be opportunity for collaboration of some form.

Yes, I do feel positive. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Infrastructure

April A-to-Z:  A Celebration of the Automobile! (If You’re the Devil)

Life in Southern Ontario works pretty much like I expect it does in just about every corner of Fabulous North America Ass-Kickers Of The Woeful World: Our loathsome bottom-feeding politicians and our loathsome bottom-feeding corporate elite, with their hands deeply buried in each other’s pants (and from precisely the same community of good ol’ boys) run everything precisely the way they want it, while the rest of us dull helpless mewling sheep either keep their mouths shut about it and enjoy the comfortable temporary benefits of temporarily-upper-tier slavery (most of the people I know) or somehow remain ignorant of this most basic structure of our society (most of the people I generally avoid) or – three – regret the slightly-diminished complicity in our own individual personal circumstances, and often rebel in largely ineffective manners (myself and most of my favorite peeps); all of us having one thing in common: We all let our rulers run just about everything precisely the way they want it.

As such, the future of southern Ontario’s infrastructure is being mapped out with more and more semi-circular toll highways radiating into the countryside, killing farmland and precious biodiversity and paving the way, well into the future, for the proliferation of car culture, car manufacturing, gas stations, drive-thrus, public-raping toll consortiums and as much cash-in-the-pants as politicians and their gleeful gruesome sugar daddies can possibly fondle.

There are pockets of meddlesome opposition to their rosy plans; some of them making a laudable din about proposed mega toll-highway 413, to be built just a few kilometers alongside current mega toll highway 407. One particularly stupid and soulless cretin defended his political complicity in the scheme by claiming “Everyone knows that cars aren’t going anywhere [so we need to build more roads]”.

Of course there are many people who know damn well that cars will be going away, one way or the other, no matter how much we pretend otherwise, or how bad we fuck ourselves over (or rather our swiftly-approaching descendants by delaying this transition. Some are those who have a healthy curiosity for science despite formal education’s best efforts to make science a tortuous learning experience, and some are those who have a healthy awareness of the egoic corruption of the mind and the ubiquitous insanity of the modern human which convinces us that anything normal or common is automatically legitimate (which is pretty much never the case).   

Barring specific technological leaps, near impossible in the short term, Cars will indeed go away. It’s a logical certainty. In no way can the Earth possibly sustain them. But with respect to the A-Z format, that’s a story for another day.

Oh and yeah – It’s April 46th in Fantasy Writer Guy land by the way.

Oh, and simultaneously it’s April 411th 2016 with regards to last year’s April A-Z which I have also not officially given up on. It’s my blog. I make the rules. So there!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Baby steps

I have not quit playing the insidious city-building video game. In fact I played it a bloody lot the other day. In my defense, we are inside a two-week quest period where great rewards abound for those with sufficient organizational skills.

And yes, that is no defense.

I also did not leave the fellowships yet, as Aqualad prescribed. But here is what I did do today:  I wrote twin emails to the archmage of each of my fellowships and proposed the following: I said that I needed to cut back on game play in order to address personal issues and would begin decelerating my participation next week and then in nine days, at the close of the current quest: I would resign from the fellowship. I asked for consent to the exit strategy before I would message the group as a whole.

So there. It’s a half step but better than nothing. And it’s sincere.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Fifteen year hiatus

It must have been about twenty years ago when I agreed to produce a web site for a local Junior A lacrosse team which my young brother was playing for.  The internet was not what it is today. The site was a bulky laborious one by today’s standard but quickly became the most substantive one in a league in which probably half the organizations didn’t even have a team site yet.

I photographed and interviewed the players and other team officials and began writing articles and attending the games in order to track statistics. The site was even featured in a national lacrosse periodical.

I kept stepping up to fill holes within the organization and the community at large. I became the team statistician, was appointed Director of Media Relations,  headed up fundraising efforts, produced the most voluminous game program in the league, served as timekeeper or ball boy on occasions and was soon elected Vice President. I served occasionally on the Junior A council and began touring the league watching games and posting game stories online under the pen name Blue (my dog’s name and my presumed nickname due to a misunderstanding). I was embraced by a small community of eccentric “internet reporters” and developed a following around the Ontario lacrosse scene. My game stories were then picked up and published on Ontario lacrosse’s premier web site which garnered thousands of hits daily.

This experience was important because it gave me some cred and confidence as a “writer” which I’d never before imagined I would become.

But aggressive parents, organizational politics and tribal delusion began to wear me out. I had a voice and thus became a target of the posturing and positioning of everyone with an agenda: mostly unhealthy ones. After five years I was burnt out and exited the lacrosse scene entirely. I didn’t even attend games as a spectator.

I have aged well though , and peace has worked its magic. It has dissolved bad memories and strengthened the good memories: Like the artfulness of the masterfully creative native teams I admired; the dazzling performances of so many great young players and their eventual promotions to the pro league; the road trips with lacrosse pals; the accolades from random spectators who spied my note-taking and asked, “Are you Blue?” The warm greetings of players who thanked me enthusiastically for my service to the team; and perhaps mostly: the amazing feeling that came from giving back to a community from which I once benefited as a youngster. I was astounded to discover that the joy of giving back was not just some platitude. It was precisely real.

Last Thursday night, after about fifteen years, I finally attended another OLA lacrosse game: A Junior B tilt between Scooterville’s Bengals and the visiting Thunderhawks. It was a joyful return. The junior B game appears to have evolved mightily in a decade and a half. I would have believed it a junior A match. What a treat to just enjoy the game without the shadow of diplomacy lurking over me.

The home squad jumped to an early lead and carried it comfortably until the end. The boys were all new to me of course though some had familiar names: like the son and the nephew of players (and coaches) I once knew in their prime.

Old habits die hard. I scribbled constant notes and swiftly began to glean the various roles, strengths and idiosyncrasies of each player who now seem ridiculously young to me at fifteen to twenty-one.

Afterward I had a beer with their general manager and coach, Mister D, who was a close associate years ago and has since won Ontario and pro league championship titles as coach and who earlier in the year sent me an email out of the blue to lure me out, without disguising his interest in getting some volunteer work out of me. I’m not ready to commit to anything and he was wise that night in not asking. But I know we’re both thinking about next season.

I do feel an urge though, already, to write about lacrosse again. It is sparked by a paternal inkling, as it was two decades ago though I did not understand it then. My inclination at the time was to write with players and parents in mind (though there were other followers). My artless policy at the time was to ensure that every player in the game was mentioned at least once in a positive light: some measure of praise for something done well; even if just a great pass or a faultless period on defense.

I think my reports would differ now though, for I am not much the same person, and that I would remain more neutral and noble and write more consistently from a non-partisan perspective; from the context alike the traditional native view. For lacrosse is an ancient game; a creative one; a game of collaborative rhythms; a game prone to serendipity; to beauty in motion. A game that, it was long ago said, was a gift from The Creator, and one to be played for His enjoyment.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

FAIL!

Okay. Let’s stop pretending I have any credibility whatsoever with regards to any commitments to this blog. If I’m hoping and intending to correct that problem then I will just keep that to myself and stop making any promises here.

And now for the even-more embarrassing part:

I have been in a mire of non-productivity since Christmas eve/Christmas morning 2016. For the third year in a row I spent Santa's Magical Night of Yule on a 12-hr shift all alone at the main Tim Hortons store-slash-learning centre (Ingeniously called Tim Hortons U) with no actual duties all night, and for the third such annual gig in a row I dispensed with any notion of productivity and entertained myself with a video game of the challenging resource management variety, which I dig and did rarely indulge in. Problem is – I accidentally chose a game which was not the usual play-twice-and-then-get-locked-out-unless-you-pay variety (I never pay). I accidentally chose what looked like a typical resource management game and which was actually a massive multi-player city building game – WHICH – never locks you out. Surprise! It just bribes you to quicken your city-building experience by purchasing “diamonds” with real money. Diamonds are the universal currency which you can use to hasten any sort of transaction without waiting for goods or supplies or income to mature (but again, I never pay).

So here’s the confession: I got totally hooked; totally addicted to this insipid bloody game which I don’t even think I enjoy anymore but which I am constantly compelled to play because it’s like… It’s like blackjack. It’s the mental challenge of succeeding. I’m hooked on that challenge (though I’ve always been smart enough to carefully moderate my blackjack participation).

I’m also hooked on the creative component; wanting to build a city that is beautiful; that I would wish to live in, and also on the community aspect: I am the proud pathetic owner of two cities in separate “worlds” and in each I have joined fellowships where I can help – and be helped by – other players which insidiously triggers my paternal instinct. Anyway I feel like a complete loser.

I took my troubles down to Madame Rouge – sorry – I mean Aqualad – because he has plenty of experience around video game compulsion and a very bright head on his shoulders and he told me that step one of my deprogramming is to ditch the fellowships which are admittedly a bad influence. He also hornswoggled me a copy of SimCity, theorizing that this much-simpler game might satisfy my idiotic city building needs without such a destabilizing time-commitment.

I’m seeing him again this evening and will have to report that the strategy has so far not paid off. I’m still playing the damned game. And hardly writing. And hardly blogging. And hardly volunteering. And hardly exercising. And hardly researching. And not composing. And hardly addressing my growing employment-shortage problems. And hardly being there for people who deserve my attention.

So anyway… if you know me in real life be sure to slap me in the face the next time you see me and tell me to get my shit together and stop being such a dickhead.

Sincerely,
FWG/Not-Much-Of-A-New-Day-Rising (who secretly still intends to start blogging productively)