Faking the Voice

I’m not very special, but I hope to be one day.

Hunter S. Thompson was special. Ian McKellen is special. People that devote a lifetime to their work (and even lose that life for it) are amazing individuals. They deserve to be noticed, heard, and even praised. What have I done? I write in a blog seen by, tops, a thousand people. I write stories people don’t see. Does this make me amazing? Hardly. Should I ever take it as far as I’d like, perhaps. But that’s quite a long way off.

It’s that sort of knowledge that I hope to see out of the actors I meet, the dancers, musicians… there’s no denying they are talented… sometimes. Just because they’re in a play doesn’t make them a Broadway-worthy name. There are a lot of very gifted people there, though, and I respect them. Not all of them are egotistical, it’s only just enough to make you cringe.

You want to chase a dream, and that’s wonderful! Give everything you’ve got and run for it. But it’s not cute even in the greatest of stars to be a total dick, no matter what kind of draw you have. So when it’s a kid in an acting class sauntering up and treating everyone around them like an abused dog, there’s no way to take them seriously.

For real, bro.

There are others I’ve met in various situations (I hang out at coffee shops, where everyone is a future artist/writer) that seem to take on their air of importance before anyone even knows they exist. Do I know talented writers with aspirations? Oh, yes, and many other kinds of artists. They’re wonderful people with amazing works that ought to be seen. Then there are the others, the ones that magically haven’t written a word or painted one canvas, but damn it, that’s part of the process. You just don’t get it, man. Don’t tell me nobody gets it. Even serial killers will have some crazy guy “get” them. No, I get it. You need an excuse to wear a cool hat and smoke while brooding without ever holding down a job. HOW YOU GET SO COOL BRO?

Also, poets. Dear god, poets. Some are truly master wordsmiths. Some… look, I’ll reproduce your work right now.

She looked upon my suffering, unending and pure

I gazed into her empty soul

There was a moment of utter void until, I demurred 

“Did you replace the toilet paper roll?”

Now I’m a fuckin’ poet! Suck it, Robert Frost. Emily Dickenson. E. E. Cummings fuck it, I’ll say the Vogons, because the ones up there were actually good.

To my friends that neglect normalcy, forgo lives, stay up all night working on that piece or that put themselves on the line for a craft, good for you. Again– I stress this. There are millions of beautifully talented people out there, and I’m so glad to know many. Hell, there are folks I know where I just don’t get their work, but it’s theirs, and I respect that. It’s those bastards that don’t do a anything at all who ruin it for the rest of us legitimately trying to be heard. You’re faking it for an image you don’t even deserve, one that people don’t even like too much.

I want to believe that the truly talented will someday be noticed for what they are and worked for. It’s a nice idea, but with so many in existence it is even harder to be seen waving your arms above the crowd. It takes a true dedication to your work, and utter belief in yourself that you can get there.

To that dude three tables away from me at Starbucks rambling on about that screenplay he’ll totally write (if you’d send me some cash, ma, c’mon! I’m an artist!)  I kindly refer you to this bag of dicks you can enjoy eating.

I made this handy image on my phone, if you didn't know what a bag of dicks looks like.


Arguing into the void.

"These are the fucks I give about your lack of information."

Due to the current state of affairs around this place, a lot of debates and political discussions have bloomed (or festered) around the local haunts. Often enough I’ll hear some wonderful ideas, but sometimes there’s a moment that makes everyone stare in bewilderment. It’s at a time like this when I just want to cover the offending party with a blanket and hope they forget where they were, perhaps have a nice nap.

A good debate can be a wonderful way to hear differing viewpoints, and perhaps enrich your own or theirs. It’s always helpful, if you have a very strong stance on an issue, to ensure that you’re open to discussion or the ideas of others. If you don’t, you’ll end up looking like a rigid prick.

So you have a strong opinion and you’d like to share that with the world. Awesome! People like a strong willed individual that will stand up for themselves. That does not extend to a person that is adverse to accept anything else, even facts. Especially one that will refuse to even look into it.

Let’s take politics. Yeah, touchy damn subject. But if you’d like to express an opinion on it, knowing both sides to your argument is the best way to make a valid, intelligent point. Saying “Obama took my job and is a Muslim that watches my wife undress at night” better have some really good evidence to back it up. Stating that something has never occurred in history before, shortly before admitting you’ve never checked the history of it– then refusing to ever do so– is not the ticket to credibility. It’s a ticket to filthy, filthy communism, or something.

It’s like sitting down with an oncologist and insisting to him you can beat cancer with more cigarettes because uncle Frank smoked when he had cancer, and he totally lived. Maybe it was gas, not cancer, but that’s not the point. You’ll be fine. Maybe you read about it somewhere or heard it on the radio. Point is, it’s true, man, so shut up.

I once knew a wonderful teacher with wonderful ideas, and we had a lovely argument about a particular psychological study. In the end, after some very heated arm waving and a pack of smoked cigarettes, we realized we were basically arguing the same side. This is where wording is terribly important, and one double-negative can make everyone have a case of confused brain. I’ve seen this happen a lot, too, and I love being there to watch it happen. People get so wrapped up in the idea that the other person is wrong that they miss the point entirely.

I will never run around pretending to know everything. I’ll freely admit when I don’t, and ask for details so I can understand. Some folks try to argue with a half-formed idea, and get completely mixed up in the end. Solidity of thought is a key, so if you want to fight about a particular subject, know everything you can. 

Still valid.

“I read one article about the LHC and I think we’re going to die in a wormhole by 2012 ’cause time travelers.”vs.

“I was reading about the myriad of experiments conducted at the LHC and think…” blah blah science.

And yes, it’s true that a lot can be conjecture and theory. That’s fine too! But present it as such. If there are limited facts on a subject, just admit it. It’s alright, nobody will judge you. The theoretical existence of something is perfectly awesome for discussion. Hell, the panda was once a mystical creature, purely theoretical, and now look at them… not having sex in zoos. Cool.

Rationality is golden. It’s the difference between sounding like someone with a solid opinion based on good sources versus a raving lunatic. Christians are nice people, but once they go to an extreme there’s little to say to them. Same goes for atheists, conspiracy theorists, protesters and all the other well-known opinionated types. Being open to ideas and intelligent thought will take you very far. Of course, having a strong set of beliefs isn’t a bad thing. Believe in God? Good for you. Believe in evolution? Good! But dismissing everything else because nobody else can possibly be right about anything is a good way to be dismissed yourself. The more you do it, the less people will listen. Present yourself in a thoughtful, researched manner and you’ve got a good chance of being heard.

I like lists.

Look, an anhinga. I have no suitable pictures for this post...

So, I thought screw it, I’ll make another.

I had a mental one going in my head last night, noticing things that drive me nuts. I’m sure a few of these things might apply to others. Some may not make much sense to you, but we all have those little dislikes.

Chewing with not only your mouth open, but tongue action in there as well. It’s like you’re making out with a slice of pizza, hoping nobody will notice the pool of food forming at your feet. And it’s not the lack of manners or ability to function that bothers me. It’s the sound of it. I cannot fucking handle the sound of someone sloppily eating. It makes me lose my appetite for anything but blood and shame. Yes, really. I want to harm you.

Facebook posts accusing someone of being a dick, but never mentioning names. Sure, calling people out on their shitty ways in a public forum is unkind, depending on what they did. I’m sure that if they are a serial cat rapist, it’s best to let the world know not to let him babysit Mr. Fluffles. But if it’s a private matter, keep it private. Instead of freaking everyone out (“is it about me?!”) or just looking like a tool (“zomg ppl that talk shit beind ur back R DA WURST U KNO WHO U R”) just… talk to them. Give ’em a phone call? Or just be like everyone else and make your status “Today sucks.” then give no explanation.

“You look busy. Let me discuss this dust mote with you.” This just happened to me, and I am still perplexed. Granted, he wanted to discuss Android vs iPhone (don’t care) and Mac vs PC (don’t care) but prefacing your random conversation with exactly how it is you’re annoying a stranger probably isn’t the best way to go, it simply reinforces to me that you are well aware of how you’re bothering someone.

“Why don’t you smile more? You always look so EMO.” Just because you don’t have the concentration necessary to be familiar with the face of someone thinking doesn’t mean that person is “emo.” I just don’t need to smile maniacally while I mentally consider if I want a cigarette or not.

Asking someone how serious their relationship is when trying to woo them. It’s a wedding ring, so I’d say that’s somewhere in the serious scale between volcano and a very sudden need to poop. So, pretty serious.

Here's another useless picture.

People that spell chihuahua “chiwawa,” or shih tzu “shitsu.” That’s pretty obvious. If you own it, you ought to be able to spell it. If not, just get a cat. C-a-t.– “Why don’t you drive? That’s so weird.No, no it’s not weird. It’s a choice, for both my safety and other drivers. There’s public transportation, my legs, bicycles, and unsuspecting friends.– Trying to guilt or force introverted people to quit that shit. It’ll just scare them right back into that safe little hole they built before you started making them extremely self-conscious. Stop doing that.– Telling me to get off of my computer and interact with everyone. All of my friends are currently buried in iPads, laptops, smart phones or any other manner of electronic crack. We’ll talk on Facebook like real friends do, damn it.

When I get off my computer and do something else, ask why I’m not online. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME PEOPLE?

Massive dumps of duckfaced bathroom photos or self-portraits with your cell phone. I’ve hidden your feeds. I give up.

Writing lists. I always feel like a douche writing lists, even though it’s fun.  I’m so sorry.

Part two: Writing.

Well, since the last one was so well-received …

Master wordsmith, here.

(I gave those bitches a list. Bitches love lists.) I decided to make another, for my other job. These are some things I’ve heard the moment someone found out I moonlight as a writer when I’m not teching out. I’m not some fancy published author, of course, but I’m gaining articles under my belt and have many, many unfinished stories, which I guess is enough for people to think I’m somehow good at it.

1. While I don’t mind proofreading someone’s long as fuck thesis on the anatomy of the testicles (that’s what a thesis is, right?) if the same person keeps asking me to check over their work fifty times without a thank you, I’ll be editing in so many “dicks” and “balls” your professor will assume you need to see him after class for special extra credit.

2. I won’t write something for you to take the credit. If I somehow get paid for this, cool. But since I’m trying to build a portfolio, letting someone else ride my words for their benefit blows. And not a nice, happy blow. A nasty, toothless one.

3. No, I don’t write poetry. I have nothing against it, but I don’t write it. If I did, you can’t read it. That shit’s embarrassing.

4. You should write a book!” … Really? I should?! Well why the hell didn’t I think of that? I appreciate that someone would want to read 453 pages of my rambling about inserting balls into a college paper, but I think it’s obvious that a writer ought to write a book.

5.  You’re such a grammar Nazi.” Ok. I take responsibility for this. If I correct something, it’s out of habit. I scrutinize my words so harshly that it just happens. If so, I apologize. But using that term means what, exactly? Does that make the person I corrected an “illiterate Jew” …? Just call me pedantic and save yourself the return nickname.

6. Which author should I read for inspiration?” How the hell should I know? I’m not you, and what inspires me may not work in your head. Also, aspiring to be exactly like an established author is a poor choice. You’re here to make your own mark, not pee in the exact same spot in a genre someone else claimed years ago.

7. If my headphones are on, I look like I need to shit (in other words, very intense) and I’m alone in a corner, I probably need to be left that way. I’m either watching some horrific pornography or writing. Probably the first one, but whatever. You don’t want to see that, do you?

8. I probably have no idea what you’re talking about when you start listing off your favorite obscure or classic writers. I love to read and have too many books, but I’m not a literature enthusiast by any means. I know the theories behind Ayn Rand, but I never read her. I never got into Twain. Sorry.

9. This one is really important, and I cannot stress this enough: I really love Scrabble. It’s like an obsession. I’ve been accused of cheating for some of the words I use, but I assure you, I never have.

10. Lastly… please. PLEASE. Please. I don’t know anyone that can get you published. If I did, I’d try and do the same for myself. I don’t know anyone that can help either of us. I am useless! IGNORE ME!

Still not getting this right, am I?

When the rape van approaches…

Sometimes, the creeps you find are burned into memory like a bad bout of food poisoning. You’ll never forget the face or their mannerisms, and once they show up again– BAM!– reminders of their previous disturbing behavior comes flooding back.

Close to ten years ago, I was graced with the presence of a very distressing man at a Starbucks. I was still in my “HOLY CRAP PEOPLE NO! TOO DAMN SHY!” mode, so talking to anyone was enough to make me panic. I spent most of my time writing or drawing pictures after making sure to remove any extraneous chairs from my table. This didn’t deter everyone, sadly. One such fellow (we’ll call him Steve, since I don’t remember his name) decided that he must know me, and what I was writing. Every day.

Thus far, all I knew of this guy went as follows: He was in his 50s. He wore see-through mesh shirts and tweaked his nipples when he spoke to you. He owned and basically lived in a huge white van with no windows, and he never wanted anyone to see in the back. One Halloween, he was kicked out for wearing shorts so tiny all of his manly bits decided to flop out at the kids coming in. It wasn’t until later that I figured he probably intended that.

So, after he kept peering at my writing, he eventually decided I had to see his screenplay. Now, this was a Starbucks– it’s not like he was the only guy writing one there. He was, however, one of the first to ask me to edit it. After he gave me a long description of this and offered to pay me, I said I’d look at it. Holy shit. Vagina. Rape. Vagina. Also, vagina.
It was all about a serial killer that got off by tying women down and eating them, while they were alive, from the genitals up. It went on like this from page to page, in horrible spelling and confusion interludes that involved a puppy or some crap. I didn’t know what to make of this… thing. To top it off, his actions made me wonder if this was less screenplay and more autobiography.

It was around this time that he started trying to date a fifteen year old that worked at the now-defunct Wild Oats store. He wrote her long, rambling love letters and spoke of marrying her. The mother of this girl worked there as well, and somehow didn’t make him go away BEFORE the stalking began. It was well before this point that I couldn’t really handle him anymore, and told him I would be unable to assist with this manifesto of rape. He seemed utterly bewildered as to why, but accepted it. That was until I started working for the Starbucks down the road.

He found me there one day, and seemingly never left. On and on he spoke of his screenplay and how it “would be seriously helpful if you could assist me in this most important matter.”
That sounded awful.
So due to circumstances I can’t possibly recall, the police showed up one day. Nobody knew if it was because of his love for the young girl, his actions or his special writings– but he was hauled away on the spot after a search of his van. It was an odd moment all around.

So today I came to the other shop. I wander inside, as usual, and what do I see before me but good old nipple man, alone in a corner and creeping people out. There was an odd sense of wonder and nervousness in me at that moment, seeing this deviant so near me. I carefully and quietly skulked past him, hoping he wouldn’t notice. If he did, he never said anything, which was fine by me. I came back out to regale my companions with the story of how I met such a fascinating creature, when he magically removed himself from his seat and slid out the door to his van before I could notice.

At this point he simply looks like a slightly broken old man gazing at porno in a coffee shop. Nothing new there, they do it all the time. This one is special, though. This one is insane.

So remember, kids… sometimes that weird old guy that wants to talk to you about your feet actually hopes you’re fifteen and willing to be a snack in the back of a van on Alligator Alley.
It always amazes me what some people really are underneath it all, and that no matter how long they hide, SOMEONE remembers what they’ve done.