Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings."
The Walrus and the Carpenter, Lewis Carroll

To which I would add "And to ask myself why the fuck am I still on Facebook?"

Do you remember the early days, when Facebook was the best way to chat with friends? To reunite with family members? You know what I’m talking about: the time before it became a toxic waste dump of advertising, lies, and politics? Or is the use of those three words in a single sentence considered redundant?

Like many of you, I used to check Facebook several times during the day. Hell, at one time I would even check it in the middle of the night when I got up to pee.

Well, droogs, I’ve had enough. Facebook has started to suck the life out of me. Instead of being a communications tool, it has become a psychic vampire, a tool for manipulation, and a disseminator of lies and disunity.

I’m tired of waiting for Facebook to grow up. After all these years, it still can’t decide what it wants to be when it grows up. Hell, it can’t even decide if it wants to grow up!

Security breaches. Stolen data. Refusal to accept responsibility. Facebook is the Han Solo of social media: “Hey, it’s not my fault!”

In short, Facebook has gone over to the Dark Side. It has joined the armies of Sauron.

I deactivated my account once before, and then thought better(?) of it and came back, only to discover things had gotten worse. This time, I have not just deactivated it—I’ve actually cancelled it.

If you need to talk to this humble Hobbit, I can still be reached by email, via this blog, or on my account.

Long before any cartoons, long before any movies, and long before any graffiti, there was Bilbo Baggins. And long before Bilbo, there was J.R.R. Tolkien.

I don’t remember whether I was 17 or 18 when a friend pressed a copy of The Hobbit into my hands, with the whispered secret knowledge that “Bilbo Lives!” In a way, it was her small revolt against the ubiquity of Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land and its byword of “May you never thirst.”

It’s funny, now, when I think back 50 years later, that I don’t even remember her name, that rebellious friend who started me on what has become a life-long quest for well-written fantasy, science fiction, and the various sub-genres we now lump under the heading of Sci-Fi (or sometimes, Sci-Fy).

Today I came across an old, somewhat weathered paperback copy of The Hobbit, and I was instantly transported back to that day in the hall of Highlands High School when I first heard of the book subtitled There And Back Again.

“Bilbo Lives!” never became the great rallying cry that “Frodo Lives!” turned out to be. Maybe The Hobbit came too soon, or maybe The Lord of the Rings had better press. Either way, had there not been The Hobbit, there would have been no Lord of the Rings (LOTR), in the same way that had there been no monthly The Strand magazine, there would be no BBC series called Sherlock.

And there most certainly would never have been that great classic of modern literature,

But I digress.

The Lord of the Rings

We were in the early years of the reign of King George Jr. when The Fellowship of the Ring was released in theaters. Shrub (so-called by Texans because he was the little Bush) hadn’t yet embarked on his take-no-prisoners approach to the environment, but already I could see the parallels to the Orcs tearing down trees in order to fuel the flames which would birth the great army of Uruk-Hai that would soon ravish the land and enslave millions if Frodo failed in his mission.

After watching The Fellowship, I came out of the theater wanting to be Arwen (Liv Tyler), elf-maiden, and fierce warrior. And to be honest, the fact that she (like me) had the hots for Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortenson, didn’t hurt, either.

LOTR, Redux

17 years later, the Eye of Sauron has reopened. This time it has taken the form not of the ultimate evil but rather that of complete incompetence: Donald Trump as Gollum. Slimy, hate-filled, monomania wrapped in fascism and served up via a Russian samovar. Toxic masculinity at its absolute narcissistic worst.

Where is the Frodo Baggins who will destroy the ring in the fires of Mt. Doom? Or will he fail, and the country itself be driven there by Gollum?

Please. Vote sensibly in the mid-term elections this November.

But there is such thing as writer’s laziness, writer’s excuses, writer’s burnout, and any number of other excuses we use to justify our lack of desire? production? output?

I’m usually out of bed by 8 a.m. This morning, however, I slept in until 10. Yes, I know: I’m a worthless sinner. NOT!

But sleeping in so late – no matter how much I needed to – pretty much messed up my daily schedule. Between my tea and fixing breakfast and checking my emails, I didn’t have time to write. Or did I?

Here it is, 12:30 in the afternoon, and I’m finally writing. Oh, I could have started an hour ago, but I had nothing to say.

Which got me thinking: do I really have to await a visitation from Erato or Calliope or some other imaginary Greek muse to tap me on the shoulder with her magic wand to inspire me? Or can I just take out my iPhone and start typing?

Fortunately, I don’t believe in gods, goddesses, or any other imaginary characters, which means that whatever I decide comes from me and me alone. Nobody else.

Sure, sometimes I’ll read something that gets me thinking, and that might inspire? prompt? me to write a reply or a response.

But ultimately, I’m responsible for my own actions. And ultimately, only I can decide whether I’m going to use an imaginary excuse like writer’s block, or whether I’m going to pull up my big-girl panties, go to work, and write my arse off.

Writer’s block? Don’t make me laugh.

Are you of my generation? Remember when we actually had to go outside to play with our friends? And how rough we had it without Instagram and Snapchat? We had to take pictures with film cameras, send the film out for processing, then order reprints before we could go door-to-door handing out prints to our friends in order to show them what we had for breakfast two weeks ago. Or was it three?

Remember eating lunch at Tommy’s house, and calling his mother “Mom?” And everyone was okay with that?

I grew up in a military family, on military bases. “Sticker shock” describes the feeling I had when the cost of a movie ticket jumped from 15 to 25 cents.

And the theater itself! We had to walk a mile each way, uphill, in the snow to get there. Well, it was Texas flatland, so forget the snow…and the uphill. But it really was a mile. (I know this for a fact because that’s what the driver of the free shuttle bus measured it when I asked him.)

Later, in high school, the movie ticket was a whopping 35 cents, which made my Friday night dates (movie, drinks, and shared large popcorn) take a huge chunck ($1.50) out of my weekly allowance of $10. Why, to take my girlfriend to the Senior prom, I had to save my entire allowance for TWO WHOLE WEEKS in order to be able to take my date first to the Olde San Francisco Steakhouse for dinner ($10 for the two of us), buy her a corsage, and buy the tickets to the prom.

Nowadays the movie ticket costs $12 dollars a pop, or about half the price of a large drink and a large popcorn. I don’t go to those theaters, because the last time I went, the recliner armchairs were so comfortable I fell asleep and missed the whole movie.

I remember visiting my grandparents for family get-togethers, and seeing my cousins. We all sat around listening to the aunts and uncles moaning about their health problems. But you know what? Today, in 2018, that generation is gone…and when I meet with my cousins via Facebook, our discussions are the same: health problems.

We’ve become our aunts and uncles, our parents.

So when I see younger generations complain about us Boomers, I just smile and think, your day is coming.

“Five to one, baby. One in five.
No one here gets out alive.” Jim Morrison

Growing up – it’s a trap!

Consider this an experiment. I’m creating this document in Scrivener, then I’m going to copy/paste it into Medium and see if it retains my formatting.

The Problem

Do I rely on technology too much? Right, I know this is a strange forum for discussing technology, when one considers that without technology this forum wouldn’t even exist.

But here’s my problem:

I access Medium—at varying times of thee day and depending on my location and mood—either by my laptop, my iPhone, or my IPad. I find my laptop gives me better control over formatting—not to mention a greater source of images—than the other two options. But I don’t usually use the laptop until I’ve been up and functioning for a few hours. Instead, my default device is my iPhone. Yes, it’s easier to type on the iPad’s larger keyboard, my my iPad is a few generations old, and is rather slow. And I get impatient as I wait for my tea water to boil so I can brew my first cup of soothing, calming tea.

So the iPhone it is. It’s much newer than the iPad—it’s a 6S Plus that’s a little over a year old, so it still is fast enough—and it handles the latest updates to iOS without blinking. But I’m really unhappy with the lack of formatting options on the iPhone through the Medium app. And I’m not above admitting that it may very well be the ID Ten T at the keyboard. (Write it down and you’ll see it becomes ID10T.)

Enter Scrivener

I’ve been using Scrivener for well over a year now, and I’ve never bothered to truly delve into all of its secrets and wonders. Rather than using it to compose my writing—mostly blog posts—I create and edit everything in Open Live Writer, then copying them to Scrivener, which serves as an archive. But I’ve recently decided to get my money’s worth out of Scrivener and use it as it was mean to be used: to create, edit, and save one’s writings.

So this is the first test. As I said, I’m doing everything in Scrivener, then I’ll see how well it it transfers into Medium.

Well, THAT sucked. A simple copy/paste lost all of my formatting. And no, a Google search didn’t yield a Medium-specific editor.

So it’s back to the drawing board.

I’ll keep you posted.