Nobody Learned Shit In 2016

Tell me if this ever happened to any of you as a kid:

You’re in a car with a bunch of other kids, and like somebody’s mom or a coach or scout leader or some adult authority figure is driving.

And the adult driving says:

“Ok guys, where do you want to eat lunch?”

And say this is like a van or a big SUV, and there’s 5 or 6 kids in the car, and everybody discusses where they want to eat, and 5 out of the 6 kids (including you) decide that you want to go to McDonalds, but the other kid wants to go to Burger King.

And when the adult says “well [kid who wants to go to Burger King], everybody else wants to go to McDonalds, I bet we can find something you like there!” that one kid just throws a fit, and starts screaming and crying, and calling the kids who want to go to McDonalds names, and saying the team or scout group or what have you is dumb and they hate it and why do they have to go to McDonalds when Burger King is clearly the objectively better choice, and so on and so on…

Until the adult driving gets so stressed out that they end up yelling at the kid to shut up, and then they just drive everybody home and nobody goes to McDonalds OR Burger King that day?

Did that ever happen to anyone as a kid? 🙂

MASHED POTATOES? WHY DO YOU HATE MASHED POTATOES?

I’ve shied away from writing about music on this blog, for the most part… I mean I’ve (mostly) outgrown the “fanboy” aspect of being a music fan. I mean, sure, I like to peruse Wikipedia articles and whatnot about musicians I find on YouTube and get recommended by friends, and occasionally even read an interview or two…

But I don’t really want to meet any of them, if that makes sense. I would rather not meet them, to be perfectly honest.

Because it isn’t them that I even like most of the time. What I like is the music they create.

Although there are exceptions. Richard D. James aka Aphex Twin (aka AFX, aka the Tuss, aka Polygon Window, aka a bunch of other stuff) has done some pretty interesting interviews. For example, once when asked about what he thought of his fans, he only gave “I hate them” as his reply.

Which, as a fan, and as an amateur/occasional semi-pro musician myself – I have actually made money by playing music, is what I am saying here; not much, but money all the same – I can’t help but find endearing.

Doesn’t especially make me want to hang out with the fellow, but I can appreciate where he’s coming from, I think. What I interpret that as (I mean besides him “taking the piss” to a degree, as well as creating a mystique around himself and whatnot) is that at the end of the day, no matter how many critics praise his work, no matter how many other musicians adore his stuff and want to work with him (his comments about Radiohead are also hilarious; fyi I am also a pretty big Radiohead fan), no matter how many angsty teens wear his t-shirts and hoodies (people still do that, I assume; I am trying to make a point, sorry for being florid), he is not creating music because he thinks that’s what all those people are going to like. He is creating the music that he himself wants to create, using the instruments (and computers, sequencers, drum machines, etc.) he has on hand.

THAT is something I can appreciate, even if I don’t particularly care for an artist’s music. (I am a pretty huge fan of James’ music, fyi.)

But see? I’ve just been jabbering about nonsense. I haven’t even been writing about music.

That’s why I shy away from this sort of thing.

At any rate, here’s “Wet Land” by Hiroshi Yoshimura. It’s what I was listening to while I typed this:

Here’s an AFX album/2 eps put together that’s pretty sweet, also:

My Dad-Gum Apple Pencil

Hi. My name is Michael Walker. I am in here quite a bit.

I have bought a total of 3 new Windows laptops here over the past 5 years or so.

As a general rule, I prefer being able to walk into a store and buy something over having to order it online.

But that’s superfluous information, I guess.

I want to say before I say anything else that I am not trying to get anybody in trouble with this little stunt, I am just filing my complaint in a place where somebody might actually read it, as opposed to filling in a box on Walmart’s website and having my complaint ignored.

Which, again, is not something I am blaming anyone at this store for. Everyone working here is awesome, it’s the impersonal structure of Walmart as a corporation that I am complaining about.

A few weeks ago, after looking at this very display model, I decided I wanted to buy an iPad Pro. I am an amateur musician and songwriter, as well as a “creative” in other media, and this device looked like something that would be fun and useful for me.

I have an iPad Pro now, 10.5 inch, 64 GB storage, just like this one, except mine’s rose gold.

I found it on Walmart.com, and before sales tax it was $478, significantly cheaper than the $649 this nearly identical one is going for.

Which by the way, did you guys get more of these in? Wasn’t this “non-working display model” supposed to be removed from display a few weeks ago, when I asked if any more of these were coming in and was told “no”?

Anyways, I can’t really complain much because I ended up saving a decent amount of cash by ordering from Walmart.com.

And I wouldn’t be complaining at all, if not for this next thing, which isn’t the fault of anyone here, or really the fault of anyone working for Walmart below the corporate/executive level.

I decided to get an Apple Pencil to use with my iPad Pro. I came here last week looking for one, but you guys don’t carry them.

So, I decided to order one from Walmart.com.

There are 2 delivery options available: have it delivered to my house, or have it delivered here for pickup.

The website told me that pickup dates were estimated, and that they may change. So if somebody working here reads this, I knew that going in.

Anyways, I decided to order my Apple Pencil on Thursday, August 8. The website said they were available for pickup at this store before I put the item in my virtual shopping cart.

When I put it in the cart on the website, the pickup day changed to Friday, August 9.

Estimated delivery to my house was Monday, August 12.

Wanting to play/work with my new Apple Pencil as soon as possible, I chose the pickup option.

I knew I would be coming here over the weekend anyway (hi, I am in here now, pulling this up on this “non-working display model” which seems to work exactly like my iPad Pro at home), so I wouldn’t have to make a special trip to come up here and pick up my Apple Pencil.

Anyways, I placed my order.

A while later, I got a message saying that pickup of my item was delayed.

You wanna know when the website told me I could pick it up?

Monday, August 12. After 6 pm.

Which was the estimated delivery date, if I’d had the Apple Pencil sent to my house. Plus a few hours, probably, plus a drive to the store to pick it up.

I looked online, and I could *attempt to* cancel the order and make a new order…

But according to the website, it might not be possible to cancel my order.

So I called the customer service line. The friendly person I talked to told me the same thing, that I could *try* to cancel the order, but it may not be possible.

I don’t want two hundred-dollar Apple Pencils.

I want one of them.

And I was misled by Walmart’s website into thinking I could have one delivered here over the weekend.

And now I have to make a special trip up here to get my Apple Pencil, on the same date it could have been delivered to my house.

I can’t help but be annoyed by that.

But here’s the really annoying part:

Nobody I can complain to – in person or online – can actually do anything about this issue.

This issue comes from Walmart’s corporate and executive structure, where policies are made and enacted for the website and for Walmart stores around the world.

This complaint will never be heard, essentially.

And to repeat, if any manager reads this, I am not complaining about you, and I am not complaining about anyone who works for this store.

I am not even complaining about the customer service rep I talked to on the phone.

I am complaining because Walmart’s pickup system is, to be frank, misleading.

I was misled into thinking I could get an Apple Pencil delivered to this store over the weekend.

And after the order was made, after Walmart changed the pickup date to something very inconvenient for me, I was not able to change my delivery options.

This is something Walmart needs to improve on. At the very least, Walmart needs to stop misleading people about when items ordered online can be picked up.

My item went from “in stock” to “sorry for the delay, we could have sent it to your house faster” in the space of an hour or two.

And there was no guaranteed way for me to change my delivery options after my order was placed.

I am not a happy camper right now.

But what can I do about it?

Nothing.

What can anyone in this store do about it?

Nothing.

What can customer service people do about it?

Nothing.

This problem comes from the corporate and executive level.

I will put this same webpage on this same iPad Pro when I make a special trip up here to get my Apple Pencil next week.

Because Walmart’s pickup system needs to be improved, and I want somebody to know that, even if it makes no difference.

I am pretty sure it won’t make any difference, for the record.

For any customers reading this, if you order something from Walmart.com, just have it sent to your house. Because the actual pickup dates are not going to be what the website claims before you order, and once you place your order you are pretty much stuck with it.

Thank you (whoever you are) for reading.

Leave a comment if you want; I will have to approve it, but as long as it’s a real person commenting, I will approve it.

Have an awesome day.

P.S. Adding insult to injury, I tell you what. 🙂

20190810_104317

They don’t actually have any of these in the store, FYI.

MOUNTAINS, WATERS, AND WHAT A CAT SEES WHILE STANDING ON YOUR SHOULDER

For today’s post, the first one in a while, I am going to write a little about one of my favorite things ever written. This bit of writing was originally in Japanese, so there are a couple different translations for the title. The book where I first read it has “Mountains and Waters Sutra” as the title, but I have also found it online as “Mountains and Waters Discourse“.

At any rate, the original title is 山水經, pronounced in English “Sansui kyō,” which literally translates to something along the lines of “Mountain Water Sutra” or “Mountain Water Scripture” or “Mountain Water Classic Work,” so anyways it’s about mountains and waters. It was written by a Zen monk named Dogen some time in the 13th century. According to the source I got this from, this text is part of Dogen’s principal work, “Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma,” or as it was originally titled, “正法眼蔵(Shōbōgenzō)”.

At any rate, I like this text quite a lot. And I intend to at least attempt to describe why I like it so much, but I am not sure if I will be able to actually do so. A lot of it does not make literal sense, I mean, and furthermore, part of what I like about it is that it doesn’t make literal sense. Ergo any attempt to explain it may result in ruining the experience for another reader.

How can mountains walk? As I am not myself a mountain, I can’t really say.

Subjectivity is the text’s main theme, I would venture, though I am not sure Dogen would agree. At any rate, this is a picture of one of my all-time favorite kitties, Waymus Jaymus.

View this post on Instagram

Good kitty.

A post shared by Michael Walker (@mnwalke) on

I began writing this article over a month ago. I first got the idea to write it before that.

My original intent was to simply type out the text and add footnotes wherever I felt like it, explaining my interpretation of each paragraph. I had some difficulty with the HTML code necessary for this to work, so I ended up abandoning the project for a while.

When I finally came back to it a little over a month ago, I ended up only having a short amount of time to work on it because of other engagements. But I decided to work in something about how Waymus Jaymus likes to get up on my shoulders with the line about how soaring is always done freely in the mountains…

And anyways she does like to do that a lot, but unfortunately for her (and for me), she can only do that when it’s cold outside, and I’ve got on at least a couple layers of clothing. When I’m just in a t-shirt (as I generally am during warm weather, unless I go shirtless, of course), her claws dig in too much to my shoulders, and I have to make her get down.

I was discussing this with her this past Friday. I mean I know she didn’t really know what I was talking about, but I had her in my lap Friday evening, and I said to her something like “It won’t be long til I’m wearing more clothes, kitty, and you can get up on my shoulders again.” And to repeat, I know she didn’t actually understand what I was saying, but she purred and stuff, and after a few minutes, she hopped out of my lap, and I went inside.

I woke up around 4 am Saturday morning. That’s not all that unusual: I usually get up around 4 am during the week, but I do tend to sleep in until around 7 or 8 on Saturdays.

Anyways, like usual, after I got up, I went outside to feed the kitties… and I immediately noticed that Waymus didn’t come to eat with the other kitties. Which again, not unusual… sometimes she hangs out on her own for a while before she comes in.

But anyways, something told me to go look for her.

It was dark, so I couldn’t see outside of the old horse stall where I feed the cats. I turned on my phone’s flashlight and stepped out into the darkness, and about 8 feet from the entrance/exit to the horse stall, there was Waymus Jaymus, lying on the ground. She was meowing like she was in pain.

I reached down to pet her and discovered that she was mostly paralyzed. She could move around a little, but she couldn’t stand up or walk. And her eyes were wide open, and they appeared to be dilated.

It took me about 2 seconds to deduce that she had most likely been bitten by a snake. As this realization was a bit shocking to me, I had to go sit down and think for a minute.

I did some research with my phone and discovered that antivenin is pretty damn expensive, something like $500 a vial, and that a vet visit for a venomous snake bite could run upwards of $2000.

I also discovered that it takes a while for venom to get into a cat’s (or a dog’s, or a human’s) system, and that a cat might not exhibit any symptoms immediately following a snakebite, but some time later would start to experience paralysis, pain, and so on.

Which meant that Way Jaymus had most likely been bitten at least an hour or so before I ever found her.

Anyways, the optimal treatment in this case would have been immediately rushing her to the vet, paying however much it cost to get her some antivenin… and hoping for the best. Antivenin is not a guaranteed cure in all cases, especially when the venom has had time to get into the animal’s system.

But that would have been the best course of action. There were only two problems: the first problem was that I didn’t have $2000. And the second problem was that it was a little after 4 am on a Saturday morning, and the earliest any vet clinic around here opens on Saturday is 7:30.

So all things considered, I prepared myself for the worst possible outcome: that little Way Jaymus, one of my favorite kitties of all time, was going to die.

For the record, the feeling of impotence right then, that came with knowing that I didn’t have the money to get her optimal treatment, combined with knowing that optimal treatment wouldn’t have been available even if I had the money… well, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling.

I resolved to make her as comfortable as I could. I got a cardboard box out of the recycling pile, put some towels in the bottom of it and draped up the sides, and carefully put the mostly paralyzed kitty in the box. For the time being I left it on the ground next to where I found her.

As a sidenote, the articles I was finding online about cats getting bitten by snakes mentioned seeing blood on or near the cat from the bite wound. I didn’t see any blood on the ground, and feeling around on little Waymus’ fur, I didn’t find any matted blood.

So I felt a little hope, because if she had been bitten by a snake (and I am still about 99% sure that’s what happened), it was either a shallow bite or a bite from a small snake. Make no mistake, small venomous snakes can be deadly, it’s just that I was looking for every ray of hope I could find, and the fact that I didn’t see a big bite wound anywhere on her was a ray of hope, however dim.

So anyways, by about 4:30 or a little after, Waymus Jaymus was in a box stuffed with towels. I mention the time again because to repeat, even if I had had the money for antivenin, it would have been 7:30 before I could get her to a vet. And by then, if the bite was going to be fatal, the antivenin might not work anyway.

At any rate, every article I read said that other than taking her to a vet for antivenin, there was really nothing I could do to help her, other than to put her somewhere comfortable and preferably dark. And it was still dark outside, so I decided to do more research on my phone.

She was meowing a lot, and she was obviously in a lot of pain. For the next couple of hours, all I could do was sit there and hope she didn’t die. She didn’t, but things weren’t looking promising. Around 7 or so, after she had been through the worst part of the pain, from what I could tell, I picked up her box and put it in the hay barn, up off the ground and behind a gate, so no dogs could come along and bother her.

I hung around for a while, but seeing as how there was nothing I could do, and seeing as how I was tired from being stressed, I went back to bed for a couple hours.

When I got back up, probably around noon, I went to check on her. I was a bit upset to see her out of her box, back on the ground in the horse stall. She had mustered up enough energy to get out of the box, but not enough to get completely out of the horse stall.

I carefully put her back in her box (“carefully” because she acted like she might bite or claw me), and thankfully she stayed put that time.

The next morning, Sunday, she was in her box when I got up, and she was acting like she felt a little better, which I was glad about. There was one slight problem: I had her box in the same place I feed the cats, so I had to move it…

And after I moved her box, she sat still and let me pet her a little…

But then she got restless. She got up, got out of the box, and since I was just glad she was walking again (however wobbly), I let her walk around, and after a couple attempts of walking off into the woods (I don’t think she could see where she was going; I hope that isn’t permanent), she walked probably around 20 feet from where her box was sitting and crawled under some t posts that have been laid across a block of wood long enough for grass to grow around them and make them difficult to pick up. Waymus Jaymus crawled under there like she was crawling into a little cave.

And yes, I am aware that snakes like to curl up in little cubbyhole type places like that. At any rate, there weren’t any snakes in this little cubbyhole Waymus found, so I left her alone for the most part. She stayed there most of the day Sunday… it rained a little, but she didn’t get wet. I was hoping that if any water did drip through, she’d drink it… she hadn’t had any food or water in over a day at this point. I left her a little dish of water, and I think she drank some of it, but if she did she didn’t drink much.

She finally came out from under there when I whistled to indicate it was feeding time yesterday evening… but she didn’t eat more than a bite or two.

Same deal this morning, although she seems to be feeling a lot better. She wasn’t in her box when I first went to check on her, she was elsewhere in the shed, I guess roaming around. She was still a little wobbly this morning… here’s hoping she’ll eat more for supper tonight.

I really hope she pulls through. I think she will, but I don’t know for sure.

Here’s hoping, I guess. I will update this later, and maybe even write about what the post is supposed to be about, instead of about the kitty I added a pic of…

She’s a good kitty.

(And she’s fine now. Sorry it took me a while to add that.)

At any rate, since deciding to write this post, I have thought about the Mountains and Waters Sutra/Discourse quite a lot, and my interpretation of it has changed some.

For the record, I think this is inevitable: the text itself defies easy explanation, or at least explanation that narrows the meaning of it down to any one thing. As I mentioned above somewhere, my interpretation is not the only one.

But the past few times I have sat down to do this, one phrase from the text keeps popping into my head:

“The Buddha ancestors’ words point to walking.”

And I go for a walk instead of typing.

Gonna do that now, I think.

Be back later.

フォト俳句

Something I like to do on Twitter (actually pretty much all I did on there for quite a while) is to take a picture of something with my phone, upload it to Twitter, and compose a “haiku” about it.

Twitter is where I got the title of this blog post, incidentally. “#フォト俳句” is a popular hashtag there, I just found out. I will make note of that for future use. 🙂

In case you can’t read Japanese (I can only read bits and pieces here and there, for the record), “フォト俳句” means “photo haiku.” The katakana “フォト” is pronounced, roughly, “fu oh toh” (which if you say it all together sounds like “photo”) and the kanji “俳句” is pronounced (and means) “haiku.”

I used quotation marks there because my “Haikus” aren’t always strictly Haikus. I.e. I don’t always follow the subject matter guidelines, I don’t always attempt to eliminate “ego” from them, and so on. Go here to find out more.

But anyways, I got to looking back through my Twitter feed the other day, and I have done quite a few of them. Here they are, take ’em or leave ’em.

***

October 21, 2015

Chemicals that burn
The sky while making it so
Gosh darn beautiful

57

***

April 15, 2016

A cup of coffee
With 2% milk in a
Decorative cup.

56

***

April 19, 2016

The mostly flat wall
Of trees along the highway
That the mowers cut.

55

***

April 20, 2016

Everything, nothing,
The same thing, the opposite,
The bird is quite fat.

54

***

May 17, 2016

The feast is over.
The people have all gone home.
You should go home, too.

53

***

June 15, 2016

Butterfly on the
Ceiling of the front porch. Is
The pic upside down?

52

***

June 22, 2016

“Kitties, you say? I
Don’t see any around here…
I chased them all off.”

51

***

July 9, 2016

Lawnmower cat says:
“Lawnmower without mowing
Deck cannot mow much.”

50

***

July 11, 2016

Noosa Aussie Style
Blueberry yoghurt, where have
You been all my life?

49

***

August 6, 2016

At the ripe old age
of 36, I still can’t
grow a (bleep bleep) beard.

48

***

August 12, 2016

Fat guy weed-eating
Without a shirt on, and a
Molting cicada.

47

***

August 18, 2016

The worst enemy
He ever faced, really, was
Himself, not the cigs.

46

***

August 19, 2016

Spiny orb weaver?
Not native to Arkansas,
least I don’t think so…

45

***

August 23, 2016

Man with double chin
Tries to figure out Facebook
Live. “Is there an app?”

44

***

August 27, 2016

Looking at old and
Forgotten phone pics: many
Pictures of the sky.

43

***

August 28, 2016

Where was that kitty?
There he was. That kitty was.
Been there the whole time.

42

***

August 30, 2016

“I’m just here for the
Mosquitoes,” the spider said.
“I am on your side.”

41

***

September 3, 2016

“The camp” used to be
Part of my grandparents’ house;
So I have been told.

40

***

September 7, 2016

It is possible
To be allergic only
To specific cats.

39

***

September 7, 2016

I’m not gonna tell
You I’m a good cook, but I
Am not a bad cook.

38

***

September 10, 2016

After getting his
Phone back online, M. sees that
Offline is better.

37

***

September 13, 2016

rainwater collects
on the country road, reflects
the fast clearing sky.

36

***

September 13, 2016

shiny black beetle
crouched underneath some clover
hopes he is hidden.

35

***

September 16, 2016

Bright red Lycoris
Radiata, reaching up
Through severed tree limbs.

34

***

September 25, 2016

Sorry there isn’t
A haiku. I did not have
Time to make one up.

33

***

October 7, 2016

Light and darkness, air
And water, trees and sunlight.
A pleasant walk home.

32

***

October 16, 2016

La Flama Blanca,
before and after he rolled
Off the 2 X 12.

31a31b

***

October 19, 2016

There… that’s better. (So
I’m a compulsive copy
editor. So what?)

30

***

October 19, 2016

The sky is blue ’cause
sunlight looks different from
different angles.

29a29b

***

October 23, 2016

“Look,” the toilet said,
“I just need a little more
space. That’s all, OK?”

28

***

November 2, 2016

Every moment
Is a work of art painted
By you and your brain.

27

***

December 19, 2016

Numb fingers, dripping
nose, wind cuts through my jacket…
A beautiful day.

26

***

January 7, 2017

Plain white rice and green
Olives actually taste
Quite good together

25

***

January 20, 2017

Stagnant pond water
Only moves when the wind blows
Or the pond’s too full.

24

***

January 24, 2017

Unfortunately,
The adage “shit runs downhill”
Ain’t quite cuttin’ it.

23

***

Febuary 2, 2017 (written the previous Christmas)

The Israeli girl
At the kiosk in the mall
Is good at her job.

22

***

February 2, 2017

Time heals all your wounds
And coats all your memories
With a glossy sheen.

21

***

February 3, 2017

“It’s windy today,”
the cow said. “I am gonna
get behind something.”

20

***

February 4, 2017

So a new kitty
Ate with the barn cats–hold on!
That’s not a kitty!

19

***

February 11, 2017

Not bad for 8 bucks…
Especially looking
Forward to “Flatland.”

18

***

February 16, 2017

Chilly morning fog
Rising up from the water
And disappearing.

17

***

February 18, 2017

This is the best kind
Of Gatorade, even though
It sounds kinda gross.

16

***

February 21, 2017

“Nom nom, nom nom nom,
(Gulp) nom nom nom, nom nom nom
Nom, (gulp), nom, nom nom…”

15

***

February 22, 2017

Nelson Kitty, on
A reconnaissance mission
Looking for trouble.

14

***

March 1, 2017

Nom… (gulp). [“You want some
hay, man? It’s pretty good stuff…”]
Nom Nom nom, (gulp), nom…

13

***

March 16, 2017

Yellow pine pollen
Falls upon a damp brown leaf
And dries in the sun.

12

***

March 21, 2017

What you see here is
Not a butterfly. It’s just
A picture of one.

11

***

April 3, 2017

Describe what you see
Without describing yourself.
Clouds, water, and stuff.

10

***

May 7, 2017

I think I need a
bigger umbrella. This one
ain’t quite cuttin’ it.

9

***

June 3, 2017

When you realize
You’re spending way too much time
Staring at your phone.

8

***

June 3, 2017

A cardboard box that
once contained Roma ketchup
packets, now empty.

7

***

June 11, 2017

Mosquito larvae
in a Heineken bottle
cap. That one’s squirmin’.

6

***

July 10, 2017

“This is way better
than cat food,” the kitty cat
said. “Get back, it’s mine.”

5

***

July 20, 2017

Bird 1: “What is the
meaning of life?” Bird 2: “(Sigh.)
Not this shit again.”

4

***

July 22, 2017

“Meow,” said the cat
to her kitten. “Meow,” the
kitten said to her.

3

***

September 27, 2017

The sky looks blue to
My eye; looks grey through my phone.
Does this mean something?

2

***

TO #DELETEFACEBOOK, OR NOT TO #DELETEFACEBOOK

To #DeleteFacebook, or not to #DeleteFacebook: that is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous targeted ads,
Or to take arms against a sea of trolls,
And by deleting end them? To logout: to delete;
No more; and by delete to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That Facebook is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To logout, to delete;
To delete: perchance to Google: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that algorithm of Google what targeted ads may come
When we have shuffled off this social media platform,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of online life;
For who would bear the popups and surveys of bots,
The bandwagoneer’s wrong, the propagandist’s contumely,
The pangs of despised hate speech, the moderator’s delay,
The insolence of spambots and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When she herself might her quietus make
With a bare search engine? who would narcissism bear,
To click and scroll under weary online life,
But that the dread of something after deletion,
The undiscover’d webspace from whose bourn
No deleted user returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus Facebook does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of Instagram
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of Twitter,
And hashtags of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.—Soft you now!
The homely Zuckerberg! Trickster, in thy website
Be all my sins remember’d.

LIMERICKS

Here are some limericks. They’re a bit easier to write than Shakespearean sonnets, and probably more fun to read for most people.

So anyways, I’ll add to this page over time, also. To kick things off, here’s a limerick I wrote a couple years ago about myself, after arguing on Facebook with people who genuinely believed that “political correctness” was a bad thing.

I am not sure what date this was written on, but I am reasonably sure it was written in 2016. Like my sonnets page (and like the Haiku page that is coming soon), I will make note of the date each limerick was written. Anyways, here goes:

1

There once was a fellow from Lawson
Who chose all his words with great caution
Having learned as a kid
That whatever he did
Was not by default super awesome.

(2016)

2

There once was a man very rich
Who ate only Filet-O-Fish
Tartar sauce on his paws
As he broke all the laws
And lied like a son-of-a-bish.

He was fat and was losing his hair
So he cried in the mirror and stared
Couldn’t get an erection
So he bought an election
Now the whole entire world has to care.

His fat finger placed on the button
As he chooses Big Macs over mutton
His toupee flying wild
As he rants like a child
And Tweets that he isn’t a glutton.

Never once had to worry or strive
Never cared very much for his wives
But the working-class Christians
Declared it their mission
To trust with this devil their lives.

And not only theirs, but the nation’s
To a spoiled-rotten child with no patience
He’d as soon blow us up
As pour Diet Coke in his cup
For that, he’s got federal agents.

It truly does boggle the mind
What Jung or what Sigmund might find
In a collective unconscious
Far beyond the preposterous
With no sense of hist’ry or time.

But burgers! Yes! Burgers and fries!
Candy bar ice cream! Fried pies!
The fish sandwich (hiccup)
Is better with catsup
I’ll stuff my face as democracy dies!

But with or without good digestion
He’s shown us all, without a question
That a man with great riches
Does whatever he wishes
And gains from his victims affection.

3/28/18

ALIENATING YOUR AUDIENCE: THE ULTIMATE IN NAVEL-GAZING, PART TWO

Before I get into reviewing Chapter Two of my novel, I wanted to make note of something: my total word count on this blog, prior to this post, is 114,000-something words.

I knew it was getting pretty bulky, text-wise, but jeez.

For reference, my 204-page novel (as estimated here on the Amazon page for it) is a little over 79,000 words.

Re the word count of this blog, I recently started getting what I can only describe as “targeted” spam comments on certain articles. Whereas most spam comments don’t usually have anything whatsoever to do with the article they’re posted on, and don’t generally make a lick of sense, I got a couple that seemed like maybe a real person wrote them.

Maybe I am just being paranoid.

At any rate, I copy/pasted all of the text from all of my blog posts into an offline document, just in case this blog page should be hacked or otherwise compromised. And that document is over 200 pages long.

Anyways, I have written a lot of stuff here, I guess.

Moving on…

Chapter Two of my novel is sort of a “make-or-break” chapter. I think that if a person reads this chapter and likes it, that person will probably continue reading the novel.

On the other hand, if they read it and don’t like it — or are offended by it — they’re probably not going to keep reading.

This chapter introduces three key characters, and it also begins the ancillary storyline involving the protagonist’s personal life. I am not sure “ancillary” is the right word, not only because the Google-derived definition doesn’t say anything about stories or narratives but also because this story is not subordinate to the main one, the one about the young physics prodigy and his teleportation device. The two storylines intertwine with each other and depend on each other, and one’s not much good without the other, to be frank.

I mean, what’s the use of writing a story about going to the afterlife and back if you don’t have a protagonist going there and talking to people he knew who died? I guess you could have him/her go there and try to find answers to “the big questions” about the meaning of life, what’s it all for and so on, but without a personal connection between the protagonist and the afterlife, I didn’t see much point in it. And besides, there’s no reason those “big questions” can’t be asked after the protagonist goes to visit deceased loved ones.

At any rate, I guess if you’re going to attempt to create a personal connection between your protagonist and the afterlife, and you want people to read your book and enjoy it, your protagonist needs to be someone they sympathize with and identify with. And herein lies the “make or break” aspect of this chapter:

To repeat, in case you missed this post, the genesis of this novel came from an older relative mentioning the concept of the “unreliable narrator” to me in an online conversation.

It may have very well been the biggest mistake I have ever made in my creative pursuits, but I didn’t want F. Darryl Mullin to be a universally-liked character. I wanted readers to have good reason to dislike him, in fact.

Without going into a whole thing about it, I wanted him to be the type of character that is begrudgingly liked, if he was liked at all. I didn’t want him to be some goody-two-shoes paragon of virtue “hero” type, but at the same time I didn’t want him to be some evil bastard who screwed everybody around and only thought of his own personal gain all the time.

But at the same time, I wanted him to have shades of both of those extremes. I wanted him to be someone that the reader found repugnant at certain times, but also someone the reader admired at certain times. Or maybe not “admired,” maybe just “didn’t despise” or “found humorous” or whatever.

I mentioned in part one of this series that the protagonist of this novel is not me, but honestly there are shades of me in him. I at least like to think that most people at least begrudgingly tolerate me on a personal level, that many people actually enjoy my company, and that while a few people do indeed have good reason to dislike me, those same people (if pressed) would begrudgingly tell you that I do have my good points.

At any rate, I don’t actually know for sure if any of that stuff about how others see me is accurate, any more than I can know for sure if I “succeeded” in creating a morally ambiguous character. I mean as far as I am concerned, I think I did a fair enough job of it, but if readers don’t agree, well, I can’t honestly say that I did.

At any rate, this chapter opens with a quote from UPWARD founder Rex Van de Camp, and is then followed by this as the opening sentence:

My bitch ex-wife says I’m a piece of shit. And she may be right. She’s a pretty smart chick.

That right there, friends, may very well cause a great many people to stop reading. And with good reason: the narrator uses not one but two sexist terms for women, as well as a four-letter term for excrement.

But the people who keep on reading discover that the narrator not only thinks very highly of his “bitch ex-wife,” but also that she and he are still friends, and if I did my job as an author at all, that he still has very strong and genuine feelings of affection and love for her. He stops calling her his “bitch ex-wife” midway through the chapter, opting instead to call her by the pseudonym “Doris.”

The novel is of course totally fictional (for the record I don’t call women bitches, never will, but I do say “chick” to mean “woman” just like I say “dude” to mean “man” sometimes; I am mentally about 16, sue me), but it is written from the point of view of a journalist reporting on something that is real in his fictional world. And he doesn’t want what he’s writing to negatively affect “Doris” or anyone else that he cares about in his personal life.

But at the same time, for his experiences in the afterlife to have any meaning to the reader, he has to give some back story about the person he goes to visit in the afterlife: Doris’ deceased father, “Pops.”

“Pops” is what Doris called her father, and that’s what Floyd calls him in the novel.

And you really ought to read it. At least through chapter 2.

If you don’t like it after that, fair enough.

Thanks for reading.