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Introvert Problems: I’m Addicted To Solitude

I could probably hang out here for a few days without seeing too many people. (image via wikimedia)

As an introvert, sometimes my actions are misinterpreted.  When I’m staring blankly, people think I’m zoning out but I’m really processing information.  I mean, sometimes I’m zoning out.  Interactions make me tired, so I need some zone-out time to get my interaction energy back if I’m working with people all day.

Sometimes people misinterpret my addiction to isolation as being anti-social, but that’s not what’s going on.  When I’m by myself, I don’t get as tired.  That’s part of why I’m so comfortable being by myself for long periods of time.

It’s not that I don’t like people.  I like people, and I can work with people, but it makes me more tired than physical labor.  That’s why I like working by myself instead of on a team (when it’s possible).

Being isolated too much can be unhealthy.  I know that, but I still like it.  Maybe I like being alone too much.  I talk about that in the video below, but a lot of my words are imprecise.  That’s why I like writing better than speaking out loud without a script.  Writing by itself, however, doesn’t always have the appeal or impact of the spoken word.

Anyway, I hope what I talk about makes sense, but what do you think?  How unhealthy is it to like being by yourself for long periods of time?  Or is it just AWESOME!!???

A Major Television Network Stole My Idea!

A conspiracy theorist might say this eye is watching you and stealing your ideas. (image via wikimedia)

People on the internet accuse each other all the time of stealing ideas.  Comedians accuse each other of joke thievery.  Unknown musicians accuse famous performers of stealing songs.  Every once in a while, two movies or two television shows with the same premise will come out at the same time.

I think most of the time, the similarity of ideas is due to parallel thought.  There are so many people creating content that of course a bunch of stuff is going to look or sound the same.

I mention this because I just saw a promo for a new television show called God Friended Me.  Even though I’m kind of religious, the show looks stupid, but I’m biased.  I thought of a similar idea way back in 2011, and even then I was pretty sure it was a stupid idea.

Despite the title of this post, I know the television network didn’t steal my idea. I’m just surprised that a television network thought this God Friended Me was a good idea.  Even when I wrote my version of it, I knew this was a bad idea, even for a joke.  My blog was filled with a lot of bad ideas back then, and I knew it.  But as I wrote more and more stuff, my ideas got better, and I think my writing improved a little as well.

At any rate, if you don’t want to watch the show God Friended Me, you can save time by reading the joke below.  Looking back, it’s not that bad.

I’m providing the link here  so that you can verify that I actually wrote it in 2011, but you don’t have to click it because…

God Gets Addicted to Facebook and Twitter.

It was the new millennium, and as God looked over humanity, He was again saddened and disappointed by what He saw.  Humans had developed almost miraculous technology and yet were misusing it for their base desires.  Men used technology for porn.  Women used the technology for gossip.  Criminals used the technology to help themselves steal and murder.  Very little productive was being done with these wonderful tools that God had allowed/helped humans to discover.

And so God decided to step in.

First, God created an account on Facebook and friended everybody.  When He was rejected by most Facebook users, God was stunned.

“Who would dare not to friend God?” God asked with indignation, tempted to set the world on fire.

But instead, God upgraded His Facebook page.

He put up photos of Adam and Eve with the apple, Moses parting the Red Sea, and Jesus walking on water.  These pictures created a huge stir on the internet, as image experts closely examined the pictures for signs of image editing or anachronisms (God had made Moses take off his watch), but the photos were authentic, and people throughout the world began to believe that this particular Facebook page truly belonged to God.

And soon God had more friends than anybody else on Facebook, and God was happy.

Next, God went on Twitter.  It was sometimes difficult to keep His good word to 140 characters, but He was God and the Twitter technology showed remarkable flexibility when God wrote too much.  God used Twitter to shame individuals of their sins.  He publicly warned men (and women) not to cheat, not to watch porn (at least not at work), not to discuss politics where food was being served, and of course not to steal, murder, and the usual stuff.

Humans did not stop committing acts of sin, but the number of acts of sin decreased greatly.

Atheists, however, refused to believe that this was the work of God.  It had to be a hacker with enough resources to check individual internet usage and deduce who was sinning and how.  No amount of evidence was enough to prove to them that God existed and had gotten addicted to Facebook and Twitter.

“Prove that you’re God,” the skeptics demanded to God.  “Perform a miracle for us.”

“Is nothing enough for you?” God scoffed.  “I have just used Facebook and Twitter in a positive way to do good in the world. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.”

*****

Yeah, that was my bad idea, but enough about me!  What do you think?  Have you ever seen any of your (bad) ideas used by somebody else?

Yet Another Tribute to Stan Lee (but only because he deserves it)!

This book didn’t win a Pulitzer, but maybe it should have!

I’m always going to think fondly of Stan Lee.

Stan Lee was a pop culture stud.  This guy churned out comic heroes in the 1960’s faster than James Patterson can pump out “thrillers.”  Yeah, Stan Lee was a shameless self-promoter, but I don’t care.  Yeah, he hadn’t written any good comic books since maybe 1968, but I don’t care.  Yeah, he had a really cheesy mustache, but so would I if I could get away with it.

Stan Lee created Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the Avengers, Captain America, Thor (well, the Norse created Thor, but Stan Lee made him relevant), and the X-Men (plus a whole lot more), and he created most of them within a few years of each other.  Most writers would give anything to have a 5-10 year creative run that Stan Lee had in the 1960’s.  I’m in awe of the guy.

I usually don’t write about celebrities when they pass because everybody else on social media does that.  I’ll make an exception for Stan Lee.  He’s one of my favorite authors ever, even if he’s just thought of as a comic book writer.

Stan Lee’s Marvel comic books got a lot of kids through troubled childhoods in a time when there was no cable or internet or cell phones.  Stan Lee’s Marvel comic books got a bunch of kids who hated reading to suddenly become interested in the written word.  I saw it happen with several of my friends.

I went through a phase where I loved comic books.  I used to collect them, but that was before I had a wife and kids.  Comic books now cost between $3.00 and $5.00 an issue, and they take about 5 minutes to read, so that’s not a good value for my money.  I guess I now love the memories that older comic books, especially the comics written by Stan Lee, provided for me.

I had a couple chances to stand in long lines and then pay a lot of money for Stan Lee’s autograph and a picture, but I didn’t do it.  Maybe I should have.  He’s one of only a few people I’d do that for.  But I believe standing in line and paying a lot of money isn’t really meeting somebody.  You haven’t really met somebody if he/she won’t remember you afterwards.  That’s just my way of looking at it.

I’ve only met two celebrities in my life (but I didn’t have to pay to meet them).  One of them yawned in my face, and the other hit on my wife.  If you’ve watched any of my videos, maybe you’ll understand why the celebrity yawned, but I’m proud that the other celebrity hit on my wife.  Those two celebrities have nothing to do with Stan Lee, I know.  I just like telling people about the two celebrities.

Now I kind of wish I had stood in line to “meet” Stan Lee.  If he had yawned in my face, I could have laughed about it.  If he had hit on my wife, I could have acted outraged.  Man, that would have been a great story to tell.

One of my favorite books is Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee by Stan Lee and some other guy whose name is on the cover.  There’s a lot of interesting information about Stan Lee, including some stuff he drew for the U.S. Army during World War II.  It’s kind of like a comic book version of On Writing by Stephen King.  A lot of writers believe every aspiring author should read On Writing.  Maybe every aspiring comic creator should read Excelsior!.

Excelsior! didn’t win a Pulitzer Prize, but maybe it should have.  I’ll go even further.  Stan Lee should have won a Pulitzer Prize just for being awesome.  I think from now on I’ll say Stan Lee won a Pulitzer Prize for Awesomeness.  If I repeat it often enough, everybody will start to believe it.  I usually don’t lie, but this one would be for a good cause.

NaNoWriMo= National Bad Writing Month!

A lot of writers and bloggers seem to stress out over National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an internet challenge where aspiring authors attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

If participating writers don’t get to 50,000 words, they often feel defeated or dejected, but that’s not why I stay out of it.  I can’t even say “NaNoWriMo,” much less complete it.

I write too slowly to even attempt the challenge.  I can churn stuff out, but I can’t do a 50,000 word burst in a month.  I pace myself so that I don’t burn out.  I respect writers who attempt it, but I’m sure most of the writing that comes out of NaNoWriMo is pretty bad.

In the video below, I’m kind of blunt about what I think of NaNoWriMo.  It’s not really a rant, but I speak my mind.

What do you think?  Would you try to write 50,000 words in 30 days?  If you’ve participated, what kind of writing did you produce?

Literary Glance: Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

I’ve been lucky.  In all my life, I’ve never had to sit through a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks book.  My wife has never even read a Nicholas Sparks book.  A husband can’t get much luckier than that.

As a book blogger, though, sometimes I have to try novels that I wouldn’t normally read.  And so I tried reading Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks.  I wasn’t looking forward to it.  I know it’s not good to be biased when reading a book, but at least I’m upfront about my feelings.

Every Breath, what a title, I thought.  If you like cheesiness, then Every Breath is a great title for a book.  It reminds me of that song by The Police in the 1980’s, “Every Breath You take.” A bunch of girls I knew in high school at the time thought the song was romantic.  When I told them it sounded like a creepy guy peeping tom control freak, the girls told me to shut up.  To be fair, I was pretty obnoxious in the way I said it.

But I was right.  And normal guys like me get annoyed when we see other guys do really insincere cheesy stuff for women and then women fall for it.  That’s what Nicholas Sparks books remind me of, the insincere cheesy guy who can get women to pay for everything.  In this case, he writes cheesy books that women will pay for.  At least he’s doing something to earn the money.  Most insincere cheesy guys don’t actually work.  I respect a guy who works.  Unless you think writing isn’t really work.

Every Breath even starts off cheesy.  The introduction is titled “Kindred Spirits.”  I’m not kidding.  The term kindred Spirits is almost as cheesy as soul mate which has always made me cringe.  I’m not explaining what that “Kindred Spirit” introduction is about (every other book review will do that), but it’s cheesy.  And it’s a technique that I’ve seen too many authors use lately.  I’d rather an author just get to the story than set up a cheesy beginning, especially when the beginning is titled “Kindred Spirit.”

Speaking of cheesy, here’s the first sentence in “Kindred Spirit”:

There are stories that rise from mysterious, unknown places, and others that are discovered, a gift from someone else.

I was taught never to start a sentence with the words there or here, that any sentence that began with here or there would automatically be passive or weak.  Nicholas Sparks didn’t just start a sentence with “There are…”; he started the entire book with it.  This doesn’t mean the whole book is going to be passive or weak, but it’s not a good sign.

Maybe I’m being nit-picky.  If so, complain to my former English teachers.  As a student, I was not allowed to get away with beginning a sentence with “There are…”   I made no money from my high school essays.  Nicholas Sparks makes a ton of money from his books and should be held to a higher standard than some high school kid who’s just trying to get through a school day with decent grades.

I mean, I have flaws in my writing, but I don’t think my flaw is cheesiness.

Anyway, a little further in the opening:

I parked my truck near the pier and hiked down the beach, heading for Bird Island, an uninhabited coastal preserve.  Locals had told me there was something I should see; perhaps, they’d even suggested, the site would end up in one of my novels.

That was the giveaway that this story probably isn’t true.  Novelists usually ignore suggestions from non-writers.  Or they take the idea without giving credit.

Not long after the flag came into view, I kept my eyes peeled.  I was to look for a mailbox called Kindred Spirit.  The mailbox- planted on a pole of aging driftwood near a saw grass-speckled dune- has been around since 1983 and belongs to no one and everyone.

Ugh.  “…no one and everyone.”  I hate it when an author can’t make up his/her mind.

I’d better stop there so that I don’t belabor the point.  Even the names are cheesy. At least one name is cheesy.  The first character who’s introduced is named Tru Walls.  In real life, Tru Walls might be a cool name.  In fiction, it sounds like an author is trying too hard.  There is a lot of potential meaning and symbolism in a name like Tru Wall, but it lacks subtlety.  And it’s kind of… cheesy.

Maybe I’m overusing the word cheesy, but cheesy is perfect for what I’ve read so far.  Every Breath doesn’t seem to be a horrible book.  I could read it almost effortlessly if I had to, except for the cheese.  Sometimes I have a tough time with cheese.

*****

What do you think?  Is this typical for a Nicholas Sparks book.  Am I oversensitive to cheesy writing?  Is this great writing and I’m too cynical?

Late Night Writing: Distractions

He’s kind of a jerk.  And that cat isn’t too nice either.

Writing at night is getting better results than I thought it would.  At first, I believed that whatever I wrote would look like gibberish the next day.  So far, though, there hasn’t been anything glaringly bad.

In the past, I stayed in bed staring at the ceiling or rolling around restlessly.  Now that I get up and write for a few minutes, I’ve been able to get rid of that nervous energy, and I fall asleep quickly after about 30 minutes on the computer.

It’s tough to take footage at night, though.  In this current video, the camera is set up at a bad angle, and I was too groggy to notice until I checked it the next morning.  I ran video for about 20 minutes, and most of my rambling was nonsense.  But I caught one moment worth keeping.

The late night writing videos are my favorites so far, I think.  If you haven’t watched them, check them out.  They’re short and to the point.  And I usually talk about writing a little bit.

Half-Censored Profanity: What’s The Point?

WARNING- The following essay has half-censored and uncensored profanity! Do NOT continue if easily offended!

When I was growing up back in the 1970’s, profanity would get bleeped out on television and the radio.  I can’t remember the specific examples, but it was funny when you heard the bleeps in the middle of sentences.  Even if you weren’t familiar with profanity, you could figure out what the words were.  Back then, profanity was funny because it was rare, but bleeping was even funnier.

Today, bleeping is annoying.  With so much profanity all around us, bleeping it out seems pointless.

Instead of bleeps, written language uses keyboard signs to half-censor profanity, and that seems equally pointless.  For example, there’s a recent bestselling book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.  First of all, if the publishers didn’t give a f*ck, they wouldn’t have half-censored the f*ck.  That shows the publishers are either hypocrites or liars because somebody in the publishing chain (author/publisher/booksellers) gives a f*ck.  If you want to learn how not to give a f*ck, then you shouldn’t take advice from somebody who gives a f*ck.

I would have respected that book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck if the title had been The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Frack.  That would have been funnier.  Maybe there is no shock value in the word frack, but it would have been more interesting because you don’t hear it used as often.

This isn’t the only book that uses a vulgar expression in the book title.  I use this book as an example only because I saw it displayed in a family-friendly department store next to the toy section.  To be fair, books were next to toys, but I thought it was an odd choice of book to display.  Maybe this store is secretly trying to corrupt our children. (you can show that you really don’t give a f*ck by displaying this book next to the toy section).

Everybody knows what f*ck is referring to.  It isn’t really protecting anybody’s innocence.  I choose to half-censor profanity in my blog sometimes because it seems like an acceptable expectation and I’m polite, but it really is pointless.  If I worried about children reading my stuff, I simply wouldn’t use profanity.

I don’t use a lot of profanity in my writing anyway.  The exceptions are my stories, when characters use it in dialogue.  I’ll also write posts about why vulgar words are considered vulgar.  It’s tough not to use profanity when you write about the etymology of profanity, so I go all out in that situation.

The most common way to half-censor profanity is to put the * in place of the vowel in a vulgar word.  I’ll use sh*t as the example now because it’s a standard vulgar expression.  Everybody who believes in vulgarity thinks sh*t is a vulgar word, but it isn’t the worst, and it isn’t misogynist or sexist or racist.  It’s just sh*t.

If a word is vulgar, it means that only “lower class” people should say it.  People in the United States don’t care about the class system as much as people from some other countries.  At least, we’re not supposed to.  A lot of our families moved here to get away from permanent class systems.  Still, even if we’re not stuck in a certain class, we aspire to make ourselves better.  And using appropriate language is one way to demonstrate that you’re not low class or classless.

Even if you use vulgar language, it’s helpful to be able NOT to use it in certain places where having high standards of behavior is expected (like church, some professions, etc).  I wasn’t allowed to use profanity at all until I was 18.  That was a good rule because I was forced to control my language and everybody around me thought I was polite.  I’ve been able to succeed in my profession because of self-control.  People without self-control in my profession flame out very quickly.

When I talk, sometimes I’ll say “shucks” instead of “Sh*t.”  You can’t really say “Sh*t” with the asterisk in it.  I wouldn’t know how to pronounce “Sh*t” with the asterisk, so I say “Shucks” instead.  Some people equate shucks with sh*t, but I don’t.  Shucks is acceptable.  I’ve never heard anybody ask, “Does the bear shucks in the woods?”

The dictionary says shucks means “small disappointment.”  There’s nothing in the definition about defecation or body waste.  Shucks is clean.  So if anybody wonders if the bear shucks in the woods, of course it does; I’m sure there are many times the bear has been mildly disappointed in the woods.

And if the bear catches you during that mildly disappointing moment, it’ll tear probably the sh*t out of you.

Books Worth Keeping: On Writing by Stephen King

Do aspiring authors really have to read On Writing by Stephen King?

Getting rid of books isn’t easy.  Decades ago, I enjoyed walking into my home and being greeted by thousands of yellowing dusty books.  Then one day it became clutter.

Since then, I’ve gotten rid of most of the book collection.  I’m keeping a small percentage, though.  A few books hold valuable memories.  Some hold monetary value (and I don’t need to sell them yet).  And some I know I’m going to read again.

In the video below, I talk about why I think On Writing by Stephen King is a book worth keeping.  Hopefully, it’s a video worth watching.

And if you haven’t watched my recent videos, try them out.  I keep them to around three minutes now.  I don’t cut and splice footage much anymore (unless there’s a technical issue where I have to).  I do the videos in one take, which means you can see some mistakes too.

Mistakes.  What’s the point of a video if the audience can’t see mistakes?

Awkward Moments in Dating: The First Move

(image via wikimedia)

When I was dating, making the first move was always difficult.  I wasn’t smooth or super attractive or wealthy or of high social status, so I had to work patiently to attract the women I was interested in.

I couldn’t just yawn and stretch my arm so that it rested on my date’s shoulder.  I had to be more subtle.  I’d lean in just a little to see if my date retreated or maintained her position or leaned in too.  I learned early to move slowly.  I had tried a smooth talker tactic when I was in high school, and it had backfired in front of a bunch of people.  Public humiliation is a great teacher.

I’ll write about that awkward moment sometime, but I’m not ready yet.

I wasn’t even going to try a first move with Jenny because the date had gone poorly.  She had chosen a restaurant that her ex-boyfriend managed.  The food made my nose runny.  I had made a joke that she misinterpreted.  She covered up her cleavage with a large sweater and had asked to go home early.  That was it, I thought.  I was disappointed, but at least there was no uncertainty.  Then when I had parked my car outside her apartment, she asked, “Do you want to come inside?”

“Sure,” I said.  Despite everything that had gone wrong earlier, I wasn’t stupid enough to say no. I thought maybe she just felt safer with a guy walking her up to her door, and I was a pretty safe guy.

We didn’t talk much as we walked to her apartment.  The apartment complex was surrounded by a bunch of other complexes spread out for several blocks.  It was meant for young professionals, but there were some large families stuffed in there too.  I lived in a similar complex, and it was an interesting mix of loud parties and loud family arguing.

“Do you like living around here?” I asked as we went into her apartment.

“I’d like something quieter,” she said, leading me inside.  She had already shown me around a few hours earlier, so I was familiar with the layout. “I’m thinking about getting a house.”

A single person buying his/her own house?  I hadn’t even thought about that.  I could buy my own house, I thought, instead of wasting money on an apartment.  Why didn’t I think of things like that?

“Pick something to watch,” she said as she walked into the short hallway to her bedroom.  “I’ll be right out.”

I flipped through the television channels.  I avoided music stations (back then, music channels played music) because she liked country and I liked everything except country.  I found a baseball playoff game and thought it might be a good choice.  We’d met at a football watch party in a bar, after all.  I didn’t want to be presumptuous by sitting on her couch, so I picked her small recliner.

Her apartment was well furnished.  Mine still looked like I was a college student, with old furniture and too many random books all over the place.  My own apartment smelled like an antique store and was probably a fire hazard.   If I’d had a house, I’d have more space to put the books.

Jenny came out in a white t-shirt with a local bar’s logo and tight shorts.  From my perspective, that was better than the baggy sweater and jeans.  And she smelled good too.  As soon as she entered the living room, I’d caught the scent, whatever it was.

“Why are you sitting there?” she said as she took the middle position of her couch.

“This is a comfortable recliner,” I said.  I didn’t want to seem too eager.

“This is a comfortable couch,” she said.

“You don’t mind sharing the couch?” I said.

“That’s the point of having a couch.”

I liked her logic, so I sat next to her, placing my right elbow on the armrest but leaving my left arm to my side.  I wasn’t going for the shoulder move yet, but I liked my chances.

She scooted closer to me so that our sides touched.  “Do you care who wins?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.  Then I remembered the baseball game on television.  “No!  I mean, I don’t care about the game but I like baseball, but we can change it if you want.”

“I like baseball, but it’s boring,” she said.

She leaned away from me and slid her legs onto my lap so that tips of her socks touched the armrest.  There was no place to put my left arm/hand without something touching her bare leg.  As far as first moves went, this one wasn’t subtle.

“You look comfortable,” I said.  “You about to take a nap?”

“There are a couple ways to keep me awake.”

That freaked me out a little bit.  I wasn’t expecting things to move this quickly.  I was relieved that I didn’t have to make that risky first move, but I felt like we were skipping a few steps in the process.  I believed in steps.  There was a reason steps existed, even if she was attractive with great cleavage and her legs draped on my lap.

I never planned for things to get intense on a first date.  It can happen, but I didn’t plan on it.  Women I dated weren’t the type to get intense on a first date.  I think the earliest for me had been a third date, and even that had been too early (once I looked back upon it).  I mean, I didn’t think a couple had to get married first, but there should be some trust established first.  As much as I was fascinated by Jenny’s cleavage, I wasn’t sure I trusted her yet.

And that meant I was about to do something really awkward.

+++++

To be continued.

And can start reading Awkward Moments in Dating right here.

Late Night Writing Session: Delirium

(image via wikimedia)

When I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, I get up and try writing a little bit.  It seems to work better than staying in bed.

Maybe my brain needs to work things out more.  If I remain in bed, I might stay awake for an hour or two.  I get fidgety, roll around, and it doesn’t do much good.  Writing seems to make me tired more quickly.

The writing that I get done in the middle of the night isn’t always the best.  What looks great at 2:00 in the morning can look like junk when I check it later in the day.

Still, when I record myself writing in the middle of the night, I get some interesting footage.  What happened below would never have occurred during the day.