Sorry Not Sorry 

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So when I write these blogs I write them with the understanding that I am screaming into the darkness. Talking to myself. These are my way to think through things and to see how they look on a shelf. A person or two may read my bloggies and that is rad but I don’t really imagine that more than a couple people once in a while wander through. And again, that’s fine. I, like anyone who writes, would love an audience but I get that that’s not always in the cards. Maybe it makes it easier on me though that I don’t have an audience to feel I need to cater to.

So while I wish I had people hanging on my every word, well, talking to myself makes it easier to say stuff without fear of upsetting the old apple cart.

As I have said before there come times in our history where there are cultural shifts. Culture and society is built on plates that are always in motion and once in a while we have a social quake that shakes everything up. We’re in the middle of one of those right now. It’s almost as if the small changes get to a point where they reach a moment where the culture, the society must act on those changes – forward or back. In or out. With or against. The small stones of change build into an avalanche and that’s what we have now. The social powderkegis lit and we’re all in the blast radius.

And the thing is, saying all of this, it’s good. The growing pains are hard to watch, and are hard to live through, but the fact is that we need to take a moment from time to time, heck, more than a moment, to look at ourselves and ask if we are the people and nation we want to be or if we can do better and be better. We need these times to reassess the way we see the world and the world works. It’s a time to look at human rights, personal rights, and the rights of the body politic. It’s a time to talk, question, and debate. We need to ask ourselves if this is the world we want to leave the future.

The problem in all of this though is that these sorts of examinations, these sorts of societal quakes bring out the worst in us. Even the best among us must look within and ask if the way they see the world and their place in the world reflects what they want to see in the world. Everyone has flaws, blindspots where we are struggling to be better but are not there yet. It’s part of being human. But another part is in blaming everyone around you for the things you fear in yourself. Everyone loves to portray themselves as enlightened and wise and loving  but the fact is that we are ever-evolving and that there is always a part of the fear in us of the ‘other’, the ‘different’, and the ‘strange’. Fear isn’t a bad thing, it helps keep us safe in most instances but in some, well, it just makes us act foolish. The thing with change is that it brings out the fear in people, the deep, dark fear that bubbles from the bottom of us and makes us question our place in the world around us. People of faith fear that their faith will be questioned or taken from them. People of a majority fear they will become a minority. People of power fear they will lose that power. And there is reason to fear because things change, and they will always change and as they change so must we too change. But that doesn’t make change bad. It makes change natural. The mountains will rise and wither. The oceans will swell and recede. The ground will spread and collapse. All things change.

The thing here though is that people begin to forge weapons of their fear. They join together to rage against the changes, proposed or unstoppable. They try to stamp out the people pushing for change in any way possible, even to the point of using force.
And it’s fear.

This is the face of fear.

And the funny thing is that the place that fear comes from, the deep well where it lives, is the same place that every person has and that the people calling for change have within them, but for many it’s the fear that who they are will be stifled, stopped, and stamped out. They feel marginalized and abused and that they need to apologize for just being themselves. And the fear people feel about change is nothing to the fear one must feel when their very existence seems a threat to the status quo.

In the heart of that fear of change is a self-righteousness that we all know very, very well. The proclamation that we know best, we know all, we are the one that is right. However we see the world around us is how it should be. And that feeling comes from all people and all sides. It’s a sort of safety mechanism to keep us on an even keel. If we constantly doubt all things at all times we’ll never be able to do anything but fear. But that cocksure attitude also causes us to lash out at those around us who question us. We want everyone around us to apologize for not just what they believe but what they are. We want people to apologize for everything about themselves, their present, their past, and even their future. We want them to apologize for the sins of their family, their beliefs, their religions, their race, their sexuality, their gender identity, their color, we want them to apologize for making us have to even take them into our gaze.

How dare you make me question myself and my belief?

How dare you possibly impinge on my being and rights?

How dare you?

We are full of so much fear that we want to make enemies of our allies. We want to question people as if they are suspected of committing sins and crimes because they are not us. How dare they believe they can be our ally when they are clearly not the same as us?

But they dare.

We dare.

Even in the face of people blaming us for things we never said or did.

We want to hold the world on trial as we try to change it, willing to burn everything down with the hope that there’s something beneath the ash.

And it’s all a part of the changes that come but it’s all so ugly.

Hateful.

We want enemies, we almost need them to feel as if the changes are real.

And again, the thing that we all share is fear.

Fear.

Change will come, for good or ill, whether we stand in place, hide ourselves away, or add to the charge. The thing is that the change becomes a culture war. We don’t see that, as example, homosexuals have been with humanity since the beginning because it’s part of possibility of our genetic code. You can deny it, you can shake your fist at it, and you insist that homosexuality is a choice but if that was the case, if it were just that simple then why would so many choose to take a harder path in their lives? Why would there be so many obstinate people? And frankly, if that’s the case, then heterosexuality would be the same choice. It’d all be a choice. It’d be like telling someone to choose to be Caucasian if they felt they had it so bad. Some things just ‘are’ yet we refuse to accept them. We want to fight against gay rights because we feel that it takes away from religious freedom and sets a bad example and is sinful and all of it when, that lifestyle has been with us for millennia. We have dealt with it for all this time, and have fought it for all this time, and it’s clearly not going anywhere. So why fight? Because the world changes doesn’t mean you have to. You can still hold your beliefs in your heart, you just cannot hold others down because of them. That’s how this works. That’s how society is supposed to work. If you follow a loving god that you trust with all your heart then you must step back, cast your hands to the heavens and accept that your god will judge people or not and that you have no part in that play.

But the fear.

It has seeped out of everything since this past election cycle, and we blame the election but it wasn’t that, though it may have been the catalyst for much of the current frustration we see, no, that keg’s fuse was lit years ago and we are just dealing with things finally. It’s in the arts that you’ll see the seeds of change take root, letting us see and experience other people, and other views, and, if it’s done well, helping to open us up to the idea that maybe the world is bigger than that which we hold in our grasp our arms.

But the fear.

From both sides.

How dare you be a man. Or a woman. Or gay. Or straight. Or trans. Or whatever.

How dare you ‘be’.

Forgetting that this isn’t our world, our personal world, but the world of all people everywhere and we will argue, and we will fight, and we will shake our heads at the selfishness and hatefulness of one another but that doesn’t mean that we get to build walls around the ones we love and live in encampments. This culture, this nation, this world should live beyond one person, one cycle of leadership, and one generation.

This not ours to destroy.

This is not ours to ruin.

When will we learn that.

And that’s where the anger and fear comes from, the frustration that someone feels so strongly about a thing that they will hurt their opposition in any way possible just to get what they want. We are in a world where the rich fight for more money when the poor fight for the simplicity of clean water and the hope to have hope.

But this world will change.

Whether the people in power want it to or not.

It will change.

And we can stand in place, or fight for or against the change but the world will change.

You don’t have to support it but if you aren’t willing to accept it then you’ll have a miserable life ahead of you. But if you are denied the very right to be who you are then that misery already exists and so you’ll fight for change, and you’ll fight for allies, and you’ll fight for those you love but as you fight, remember that it’s fear that pits one against the other and its fear that holds people down, and in the end it’s fear that breaks us all apart and instead of demanding apologies from one another maybe we should simply ask each other to ask themselves why they are so afraid and if it’s worth the losses to have the gain.

I won’t apologize for who I am.

I won’t apologize for what I believe.

But I will try to think past my fear and will believe we can create a better world, a world for all of us, even if it seems like the greatest of lost causes.

I won’t apologize for any of it though.

…c…

http://www.meepsheep.com

 

 

Meet Little Sue!

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Once upon a time I had the weird notion to do a kid’s book, inspired by two guests we’d had at our horror con. Both loved monsters and had loved them since they were a kid, being part of the generation known as ‘monster kids’. In my own way I was always a monster kid too, having loved horror and giant monsters since I was a little dude, I just never had thought of things in that way before. The story formed out of that notion of a kid that loved monsters but that loved monsters so much that he wanted to be one, at least when things got hard. Suddenly I had a story about a boy who has to deal with both the death of his mother and the eventual notion of his father romantically moving on. Not necessarily the stuff of a kid’s book but that was where the story took me and that’s where I ended up.

All along I had planned to make the story into a book, an illustrated book, but couldn’t conjure someone to do the art and just am not adept enough at art to feel comfortable in doing a full book, even a short one. I do the art for my covers, and doodle from time to time but I have no real formal trailing and am raw to the point of being a seedling at art. So the book was released without art. I adore the book and think it works without it but it feels like it might have been stronger with it. I sat down and whipped up some art and figured a way to get it into the book so that it broke up the pages and pages of words but it still wasn’t what I had in mind.

After I wrote Danny Frankenstein I found I had another story to tell for kids. Another story about a kid and a monster, though this one would focus on a little girl living with a monster, that monster being her mother. The story was about the girl, Little Sue, dealing with the aftershocks of divorce and again, didn’t feel like a kid’s story but it was one I wanted to tell. This story though, it had to have art. It had to have it.

I thought long and hard about who to turn to since I really don’t have a budget to pay someone from or a publisher to foot the bill but artist Julie Hurst, someone I have known for ages now, was up for the challenge. I gave her the story and trusted her in what she wanted to do with it. From the get-go I knew she was onto the right path and was excited to see what she’d do. It was a long process because she wanted to make sure she captured the feel of the story and the vision she had of it but the wait was worth it, because the art is stunning.

Now that it’s finally done, that I have had it IN HAND, it’s amazing.

The process of going from – It’s DONE – to getting the company I go through to put my books out to approve the layout felt like it took a decade but man alive is it a beautiful little book. Ms. Hurst did an amazing job with the art and captured what I was trying to say and I can only hope that my words are up to the work she did.

I am super excited to get Little Sue and the Monster into the hands of folks.

I don’t know if there’s a market for these weird little monster/kid’s books but I sure had a blast writing them.

If you want to meet Little Sue for yourself it’s available for ten dollars here –

https://www.createspace.com/7107750

Little Sue cover

STEP BACK, I’M AN EXPERT       

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The internet is a wonderful and awful place, as we both know.

Wonderful because it empowers us to learn, discover, connect, and share the world around us.

Awful because too often it empowers people to hide behind their hate, their anger, and their pettiness and creates these pockets where some feel they need to hide.

In many ways the internet is what we make it but the thing is, we’re making it pretty stupid. For some reason the advent of video and audio easily added into the mix of microblogging has brought forth a flurry of experts in fields far and wide and with them have come the ‘citizen journalists’ who report the news from the front lines of day to day life.

OK.

Great.

As someone who has blogged for almost twenty years now I get it. The need to get your words out there, to feel as if you have something to say and say it. It’s vain, yes, but it’s also a part of the human experience. We are a story telling race and we evolve and grow by living and sharing our stories. We connect with one another that way. And while this comes from a place of vanity, to say that blogging or posting things is pure vanity is wrong. I am sure that some things out there are just for attention but much of the content is to share something and whether people care is up to them.

That’s one of the really amazing things about the internet – people, whomever you may be, have the opportunity to be heard. Even if it’s just a review or a comment on a status, you can be heard. The problem comes in when people start portraying themselves as experts and not people with opinions. See, me, I love movies. Have watched movies since I am a kid. I know a lot about movies and he ins and outs and all of that and I like to review them when it strikes me. I am no expert. I am just a fan with an opinion. I don’t have any real ‘training’ or any really deep education to tell you anything more than a couple layers deep. Now, I am darn good at analysis and such but I still would never present myself as an expert. Just like writing. I love to write. Have been writing seriously since I was probably fifteen. I read what I want to read though and write what I want to write and I know what I know, which isn’t a lot. I am a writer that wanders and is lead and driven by the fires of my passion and ideas. Those used to burn brighter but once you get to a place where you have more and more in your life it takes more and more to make time to write and I just don’t. Whatever. So, I am a writer, but I am no expert on writing. I offer stuff that I see or feel, and that’s it. Same with conventions. I have run a convention and shows since 2011 and have been going since well before that, so I know a few things and see a few more. I am no expert. I don’t put big pants on about anything. I am proud of what we did and have some things to say about convention life, but again, I know what I know.

I am no expert.

Which doesn’t nullify my opinions or insights, it just means that I understand that if I present myself as an expert it means that I have a much deeper knowledge and understanding of things, so much so that I feel comfortable with giving my opinion in such a way as to inherently influence people’s views. That’s pretty strong stuff there. With an opinion, I am just another person having their say, I just happen to know a thing or two about a thing or two. The expert has broader knowledge and insight and feels comfortable espousing things that are much more informed and that’s a big difference. I can say, tell you how we went about booking guests for our conventions but I can’t tell you how a large show does it. There’s a difference, a BIG difference between what we did and say, San Diego Comic Con. Now, I can tell you my thoughts and give you my knowledge but, again, there’s a point where it’s conjecture. Not expertise.

Things have changed though, oddly.

Anyone with a way to create a video, or a podcast, or the aforementioned mircroblog, can present themselves as an expert. They can talk louder, faster, and with more confidence than I will ever have, and can tell you how things are. That movie you like? It’s crap. It’s not my opinion, it’s fact. It’s crap. That team you like? They’re no good. Oh, their record has more wins than losses? Bums. What, you like politics, well I know more. I know it all. I see behind the façade, sheeple! These are people with ‘hot takes’ and ‘burns’ and they seem to trend toward a cocksure attitude that belies the fact that they are not really experts but just well versed in a topic and loud. And that’s fine. We all have that opportunity to shout it out but it’s that faux expertise that is the problem. The presentation that they know better and more than everyone else despite not having any sort of formal training or education so that they are a self-made expert. And ya know, they prolly exist, I guess, but it feels wrong to call yourself an expert if you just aren’t.

Right?

Like calling yourself a journalist if you have never had that training and education.

You can go out and ‘get news’ and you can post about it, but it doesn’t make you a journalist. You don’t have the full understanding what you and cannot legally say or do. You don’t appreciate the ramifications of posting a certain photo or story. There is a lot more to it than just writing something and calling it news.

Or calling yourself a medical professional, or even presenting yourself as one because you learned to do yoga and like to eat healthy. You can have a strong opinion, and can even back it up with some anecdotal facts but once you present yourself as an expert you are creating a situation that could become dangerous or troubling. Don’t like mass produced foods? Cool. Tell people that mass produced foods will give them cancer? That’s a problem. But people do that without a thought, a care, or worry, because darn it, they want to help. And they know. They know the truth that others won’t see. Because they’ve become an expert.

But we’ve run into the era where people feel they are self-made experts and that they know best and people need to listen to them because they have the loudest voice of all. And it’s strange because if we’re all experts then who are we shouting at? And why shout at all? Sure, it conveys excitement but it’s a false excitement and outrage. But that’s what the people want. They want us yelling about politics, and sports, and the arts and on and on because it means you are passionate and MUST be knowledgeable or you wouldn’t be so vocal. Right?

Yeah.

Far out.

But what of the real experts? The people that put in the time and effort and get the experience to be able to give a fuller view of a topic? There’s a reason they are in their fields and are hired to give their views. Because they know something and they know how to convey that something. Sure, some of them shout, and some scream, and some act like fools, but the good ones don’t. The good ones just lay it all out and you make it of it what you do. That’s how you know someone knows something. They may want to convert you to their view but they don’t have to because what you doubt doesn’t infect what they know. Don’t believe the world is round? OK. Go on with your bad self. Don’t believe in this or that? OK, cool. And not every topic garners expertise but it does lend itself to knowledge and intellectual discourse. Bullying people with your opinion to convert them to your thinking doesn’t further knowledge it just creates a follower, and while too many of us want that, it doesn’t advance the species or the cause. If you’re not invested in it then why are you spending time on it?

Screw the experts though.

We’re the experts.

We’re street level experts.

We watched the Youtubes, and listened to some podcasts, and watched some streams, and followed the social media, and man, we’re experts.

Yup.

We can’t just be educated fans.
We can’t be opinionated pundits.

Nope.

We’re experts.

If only at being bullies.

…c…

www.meepsheep.com