The news sells fear: buy one, get one free

For years I’ve felt like I was running out of time, as if something, maybe my whole life, was coming to an abrupt end. Now it seems to me that what has been happening is I’m running out of things to observe. Every direction I turn, no matter what is in view I only see a desert, a long stretch of nothing interesting. With that absence of stimuli comes a tragedy, some unconscious notion there is no need for the vocabulary to describe it; I feel like my mind is gradually erasing useful and unique adjectives and nouns from its own hippocampus, like turning off the lights in rooms you’re not going to use anymore that night. But maybe that is my hamartia (right, Joey?): a failure to see beyond a blaring light of banality, to find a measureable quality in my common surrounds and experiences.

Some people work best under pressure. I think I work best in disarray. I can’t seem to focus when even my apartment is in order, much less the environment around me. Most people would say – and in most ways they are probably right – that to not consider the world currently in an active state of disarray is naïve. I believe a significant portion of that though is media hype, selling fear for reasons even the most paranoid conspiracy theorist can only speculate on. You read the news and at least half of the articles of the day are on some variety of violence; especially the Chicago or major chain news outlets. That violence is undeniably real, and unfortunate, but the thickness of it is floated by omitting other interesting stories about new businesses, community events, local heroes, and anything else immediate or good. Reading independent news sites is the way to go: you get the violence juxtaposed with the kids art fair happening around the corner. … …Well, what started as a stanza about my personal necessity for mess has become a bitch about mainstream media. Not all mainstream things are bad, but the news definitely falls down that pit. My ultimate point was going to be that the world isn’t fucked up enough to be interesting, just upsetting.

However, let’s end on a positive note. Let’s all find our own reason to get up in the morning, keep pushing forward through the day. Life is not black & white, where we all have the same causes to stay positive and good. There are a panoply of reasons to keep on living and smile. To say family or friends is too easy though, in my opinion, because those are things we all have. We can’t all have the same reasons; that’s counteractive to individuality. We need individuality, if for nothing else than to keep life interesting. So, why do I get up in the morning? What keeps me from sleeping in until noon and eating a bullet for lunch? It’s the lingering hope that I’m wrong, that there is something interesting still over the horizon, and if I just keep walking forward I’m going to see it. If that’s true…well, who wants to miss that?

 

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No compass needed

(Complaints about life here)

There is a chance that I just feel in a rut from focusing on rewrites, rather than generating new work. When you want to write something new, you tend to push yourself to find inspiration somewhere, old or new. Rewriting old stuff feels like walking circles around a dying horse. At least that is how it is starting to feel for me.

Work, real job: sucks, to be primal about it. When my time is done at (where I work now), it’s going to make a fun writing projects, and I hope it proves enlightening for outsiders. However, that does no good to me now while in the thick of it. (Where I work) is a constant nightmare that plays out while I’m awake. To you reading this now, that comes off like hyperbole – Just you wait. The close friends who are privy to hearing the stories in real time could affirm the claim. I spend 8 hours a day hopelessly depressed, and another 8 hours reaching for any rope that’ll pull me back.

We need to rename Chicago “Lost City.” Everyone always mistakes what neighborhood they are in. I was standing in line for coffee the other day, in what is most certainly the Lakeview area. Someone got behind me, taking on their cell phone. They told whomever they were speaking to that they just got off the train in Roscoe Village. We were not even close to Roscoe Village, whereas it might be an understandable mistake; we simply were not in Roscoe Village. This is not the first time in recent weeks when I have overheard someone clearly mis-identify their surroundings, by a degree inexcusable apart from ignorance. DNAinfo did an article on this recently too, so don’t take my word for it alone. When given a map of Chicago and asked to outline Ravenswood (or maybe it was Lincoln Square), residence incorrectly did so repeatedly. My solution: the aforementioned “Lost City,” where every neighborhood is what you think it is. The new title would also be applicable to how far gone everyone seems to be lately, concerning their consideration for others. They are lost inside themselves.

 

Yes, there is a commet, and yes, it’s going to hit Springfield

Another era comes to its end, as all must eventually. I received an email from Examiner, reading that it would be closing down operations as of July 10th. Effectively immediately, they stopped accepting submissions from all contributors – at least that is what they claim. While this might all sound like unimportant nonsense to you, it matters something a bit more to me. I have been publishing articles and reviews on Examiner since 2011. Examiner was a platform for me to shout out my little ‘ole opinion of what is probably my favorite variety of artistic expression: Film. More than just a personal blog that I would have to tirelessly promote myself to get even a few readers – Hey, just like WordPress now – it was a self-propelling site that brought readers to me. When I applied for Examiner, and subsequently was accepted less than an hour later, I assumed it was site anyone could write on. And though there were plenty of untalented whiners who had no right to be there, I found out later there was in fact a selection process. A friend of mine applied just after I did, but they were rejected by Examiner. At first, the quality of the site was embarrassing; not that I could have made it look better, but I was not trying to start a nationwide, multipurpose news site. However, the Editors and such in charge was exceptionally nice and helpful. That first year, they even managed to get press credentials for the Chicago International Film Festival, where I could watch screeners in private booths, interview Directors, and get into premiers. After a few years, I felt confident and informed enough to reach out to press site for myself. There are many stories I can tell, about which films I got into, whom I’ve interviewed (or almost interviewed), and some arguments between the new Examiner owners (whatever their titles were) and I. But, the point of it all being I could talk my way into almost anything, and the times I was tested by incoming editors, or whatever, I passed every time. You cannot talk your way into the future of something when the road has ended though. And that is where I stand now, the dead air beyond the rocky road.

I kind of forgot the endgame of all this. Part of the purpose of this blog though is to let my mind wander on virtual paper anyway.

There is another long rant in my head, but that will be for a different time. For now, I’ll just have to keep on watching movies and writing reviews that will probably go no further than my own website. Maybe that’s enough.

Vhroom-Vhroom Car

There is always a complaint; there is always an excuse for why I’m not substantially further along in the process of rewriting my short story collection. And here is another one: car troubles. I started writing a long, whinny paragraph about brake pads, rotors, emissions test and plate stickers, but deleted it. What matters is it’s all done, for now. Hopefully I can get back on a more routine schedule, as far as writing goes.

Quite honestly though, the recent car troubles have been the only thing in my life to share. The only thing I willing to share, at least. What disappoints me the most is that my creativity smothers-out in the face of external frustration. When I am sitting in a three hour line, several week days in a row, trying to get my emissions test, I don’t use that time effectively; my mind won’t have it for some reason. Maybe because I’m hardwired to be alert of my surroundings while operating a vehicle, I can’t shift out of that mode even when parked – no seriously, I put my car in park – on Ashland for an hour. Essentially, driving time is creative time lost. And don’t fool yourself, when the self-driving car is commercially available/affordable, be sure I will still be compulsively looking around for pedestrians and cars gone wild. If anyone has tips on how to relax in the car, and get creative while on longer trips, please let me know.

 

 

Green Alchemist

It’s been too long since I’ve blogged. So long that I did not even go check when the last entry was made, because it doesn’t matter; it was too long ago. I guess first thing should be an update on the short story collection:

The collection is coming along, although much slower than I hoped. A few months ago I left the workshop group I’d been with for nearly two years. With everything that was, and still is, going on in life, it was becoming a struggle to get through everyone’s stuff. Even more taxing was getting around to editing my own work. The group did wonders for me creatively, as it forced me to produce new material and refine my literary skills – all of which are probably not noticeable here – but nothing was getting polished and ready for print. So, I left with the aim to spend the time devoted to rewriting and re-rewriting the selection I picked to put in the collection. The short and flash collection is still being called “Not Accounted For” at the moment. A few other possible titles have surfaced in my mind, but that is simply not the most pressing concern now. The ETA has been pushed back. I was hoping to have this ready by this summer. Presently, we are looking, at best, winter of 2016. However, there is a wrench in the works…

I could devote a disparate and intensely darker blog solely to my day job. To skip to the end: It simply won’t do anymore. The amount of frustration accumulated from my place of business is not equal to the benefits, and certainly outweighs my patients and tolerance. Searching for a new job is in itself a full time job (or at least a part-time one). I feel like my time is stretched as thin as it will spread, which is the primary reason for not blogging lately.

What am I reading? In between the latest issues of Invader Zim and Karnak, and assorted other comic books, I think the last book I finished was a collection of shorts by Irvine Welsh. I feel like there was another novel in there, but it slims my mind. I was trying to read a book of essays by David Foster Wallace simultaneously with the Welsh material, but talk about a mind fuck. Not necessarily either one of them separately, but trying to balance those two geniuses, I’m just not that good. So after reaching the end of the shorts, I read a couple of graphic novels for the ease of it. I reread “Civil War” before the movie came out. I haven’t read that since it was first published, in 2006 or 2007 (I think). Currently I am reading “Former.ly” by UK Author Dane Cobain. It is very good so far, and keeps me invested. Nothing is worse for a book than having the reader feel like getting to the end is a chore; as if there is a reward for making it to the finish line. “Former.ly” is definitely not like that. I don’t like the phrase “it’s a page-turner,” but that would fit here, for want of better one. When each chapter ends, I genuinely want to know what happens next.

I got an Absinthe pipe for my birthday, so now I’m a green alchemist. Seriously, it looks magical when mixing the spirit, sugar and water together.

My current opinion on the world: Yup, it’s still there. I rarely have time to read the news anymore (Thanks, work), ergo I feel like my perspective on current events is highly obstructed. If that makes any sense.

Let’s do this again soon.

 

-gari

I Wanted to Believe

For the most part I am not someone who yearns to relive their past. While I feel it is only human to regret certain decisions one has made and intermittently wish you had done something differently, I generally accept my past is the past and am comfortable with it. As I get older it becomes difficult, in some cases impossible, to keep up the pace I used to rotate on: I can’t drink as much as I once could, I can’t stay up as late as I used to, I don’t attend as many parties, etc. I look back upon the days when I could with fondness because I did so; I took full advantage of my late teens and all of my twenties. Furthermore, I am content with the pace I am still able to keep today, because I’m not done yet – You get the point: I typically do not long for my youth.

Therein lies the baseline problem with the resurgence of TV shows and movies from decades ago that I watched. They are not about moving forward and seeing what has become of your heroes and villains, but rather a repeat of stories, phrases and jokes as if you forgot. The entertainment business is so out of ideas they need to pull from the back stock, and sell stale sustenance to an aging audience with the misguided belief things can be as good as they were back then. They do so because there IS an audience out there who will applaud the limp rehashing of their youth being spoon-fed to them like children. We all admire the free lives of babies, I suppose. Even with all this animosity in me, at the end of the day I let it go because it, like every other passing moment, is not worth clutching onto. What I mean is, I still get mad over long-awaited-no-longer-necessary sequels, but it is because I find them a waste of time and money that could be better spent elsewhere in this suffering world. This is where the X-Files miniseries Fox just aired differs.

The nonsensical plot and off pacing notwithstanding – even though yes, I could write another full blog about that garbage – this miniseries DID make me yearn for the days when the original X-Files was being aired. I spent those six episodes devoting more time to self-pity than I have in the past six years (more than six years). I spent the time thinking shit like “I wish I was 13 again.” Instead of this X-files “event” satisfying some long neglected craving of mine for new spooky stories and conspiracy fiction, it made me feel old and ossified. Perhaps network television and mainstream film studios have found a way to push down generation X into feeling old and withered just so they can roll-out a new line of products to make that feeling go away (Hello, conspiracy fiction). Or maybe this particular callback simply hit too close to home for me. When all is said and done, the realistic and absurd alike having their time, The X-Files miniseries made me feel depressed about getting older, and made me scared there is nothing to look forward to. That is something I cannot let go at the end of the night; anything that makes me upset about what is the natural development of all life of this planet does not earn my approval or tolerance.

Clearly this miniseries was an onramp for a third X-Files feature film, or at least further extension of the TV series (one way or another). Whatever comes next, I will have no part of it. As far as I care, the X-Files were closed at the end of season 5 and the story was concluded by the film referred to as “Fight the Future.” Yes, it’s a TV show; just one I felt an affinity for because of my curious nature, the sleepless part of my mind that is always searching for answers beyond the shackles of what we are told is the Truth. But let’s face it, I won’t lose any sleep over this, no one should. But where is the fun in life without a little bitching now and again.

I’ll keep this short, I know you have places to be, Bowie.

I heard about 12 hours ago that Bowie passed, and it still doesn’t feel real. The term “end of an era” doesn’t seem to cut it here. David Bowie was a foundation for music. Even though that foundation is no longer expanding, it will always be there for anyone to find support in whatever they’re doing. We have to say goodnight, that’s definite. What we don’t have to say is goodbye: this won’t be the last Bowie conversation I have, this won’t be the last time I dance to a Bowie song, this won’t be the last time I sing Bowie and karaoke (or in my home or at work or in my car), this won’t be the last time I play a Bowie riff on my guitar. It won’t be the last time for you either. We can be Heroes, again and again.