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I Have No Life, and I Must Scream

Thanks to the power of image editing, I not only have all my teeth, but they're shiny white too!
The Missus, kiddos, and neighbors 
don’t like it when I scream. 

I burn for something.

Crave it.

Got a fever for it.

But no, not for more cowbell.

It would be easier if I knew exactly what it is I need. But I don’t.

Instead I’ve read at least twelve books in the last month, with another currently in progress.

Binge-watched multiple shows on various streaming services.

Logged into work on off hours and days.

Taken the family on long hikes through the Redwoods.

And done other…more shameful…things to fill the void within me.

(Like stoop to writing…gasp…a radio play, to name but one.)

I think the pandemic has finally gotten to me.

Spending more time at home, enclosed within the same encroaching walls, dealing with exactly the same pets and identical family members day in and day out, I’ve struggled to feel …productive.

Whole.

Relevant.

I started with the streaming services, the gateway vice into maddness. Looking back, I can’t even tell you everything I watched. Despite being within the last thirty days, it’s all faded into a blur.

I mean, yeah, it’s a pandemic month and therefore technically longer than that, but still.

I do remember some Classic Doctor Who, snippets of Marvel movies and shows, and the first season of True Detective (good, but I really wish that was one of the programs I can no longer remember!). There was more, I just know it, but my memories of them remain hidden behind a facemask of inordinate size and opacity.

And I can count off twelve of the books I read (the last four Murderbot books, a Jasper Fforde fantasy series, some on-offs not worth mentioning), but I’m pretty sure there was more than twelve and I just can’t remember the earliest ones.

Like the radio play, the hiking, and working during my time off, they have all been ways to fill the void. Maybe escapism?

Though if the world of True Detective, Season 1, is an escape, how bad must reality be?

Turns out, pretty bad.

I’ve watched as people around me sank lower and lower as the pandemic stretched on and on.

I was doing OK until recently, or so I thought. I chalked up my resilience to being an introvert. Assumed I was handling things so well because I didn’t need or miss the social interaction suddenly yanked from all of us.

And the people I yelled at at home and work? They deserved it. Or so I told myself.

But I was wrong.

I have a problem. I crave input. Stories with, if not happy, at least satisfying endings.

Hello, my name is Ian and I’m a content addict.

A baleen whale trawls for krill and zooplankton by opening its mouth, swimming forward, and hoping. I think I’m doing the same thing, only my mouth is open to scream and my version of moving forward is taking advantage of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and thriftbooks.com.

My biggest problem, of course, is that unlike this pandemic, books, TV shows, movies, and even hikes all come to an end. And while my vices soothe me in the moment, I’m painfully hollow after they conclude.

Leaving me dangerously vulnerable and looking for the next hit. And in that moment, during that profound, bottomless low, I’ll take anything to fill the void and feel whole again.

Cat memes.

Opinion pieces.

Reddit threads.

Anti-vaxxer websites.

Even…[shudder]…fan fic.

So I’m ready to get vaccinated. Ready for herd immunity and parties and writing in coffee shops again. Ready for things to return to some semblance of normal.

Ready to have more in my life than just books.

Read that last sentence again.

One more time, slowly. Really let those words sink in.

Ready to have more in my life than just books.

The fact that I just wrote that sentence speaks volumes (no pun intended) as to the condition of not just my mental state, but our entire world right now.

We need help. All of us.

Though I suppose all of this could be down to flat panel displays. No, really, I read a thread online about this. WFH and binge-watching has resulted in me spending a lot more time in front of screens and the unnatural amount of blue light they expose us to. Maybe the 450-490nm wavelength emissions are what’s leaving me empty inside.

Perhaps the solution to all my woes isn’t a vaccine and hanging with people and coffee shops. Maybe it’s as simple as taping a sheet of transparent red plastic to my monitor and filing a class action lawsuit against the manufacturers of said displays.

If nothing else, a lawsuit gives me something to do.

Hmm…

OK, maybe I need just a little bit more help than the rest of you.

 

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ASMR Haul videos – how to make spine-tingling fashionable again

If you aren't feeling all tingly right now, you might not be alive.

Look at this amazing haul…of books and shivers.

Being an avid reader and aspiring writer, I listen to NPR a lot.

Do I pledge?

That’s not important here. And it’s rude to ask.

My point is that by listening to NPR, I am often exposed to things I’ve never encountered before.

Like haul videos.

Who knew tweeners made videos about all the cheap, fashionable clothes they bought that week?

I sure didn’t know, and probably didn’t need to.

Thanks, NPR.

This weekend, the rerun of This American Life featured ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, videos.

Basically, they’re videos that make you sort of shiver/tingle in your head.

Yeah, weird, so it caught my attention. And held it.

A common trigger is whispering. Based on the innocent presumption that was the only trigger, I started watching a few of these videos.

There are way more triggers out there than just whispering.

Let’s just say they involve role-playing.

Yes, role-playing.

They’re like phone sex without the sex.

Or two-way communication.

Or, technically speaking, phones. They usually use YouTube instead, which is notoriously one-way in real-time.

But while there are some really freaky-deaky triggers out there (I’m looking at you, ‘please stroke your hand with a makeup brush’ person), I can’t deny that they work.

OK, to be clear, the makeup brush one did not work for me. But the whispering ones do. It’s really trippy.

And addictive.

Not for me, of course, I’m far too socially well-adjusted to succumb to something as droll as internet addiction.

But some of these videos create the illusion of shared, casual intimacy. That you’ve just sat down with an old friend who is stroking your face with a makeup brush as you chat.

And that, despite being entirely illusory, is powerful stuff.

Being a man who likes to throw his power around, I just had to make my own ASMR video.

Put on your headphones (for best effect) and click below to learn deep, dark secrets of my book hauling that will make your brain tingle.

If you need me, I’ll be alone in my man cave, watching some ASM-, er, listening to an NPR stream. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My books are available!
 

The Santa Claus Gang:

The Santa Claus Gang: A Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE, and another fine showcase for my artistic abilities!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 8 April 2013 in Life

 

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The Hobbit: An Unexpectedly Confusing Sequel or I’m as lost as these dwarves seem to be in the movie

Hello, I'm Martin Freeman and I'm filled with kittens and rage!

A Host of Unexpected Questions

I am a HUGE Lord of the Rings fan.

In fact, I can safely say there is no bigger, more Hobbit-like, more intimately familiar with the material, more enthusiastic fan out there. I can quote anything from the first three movies lock, stock, and quote-smoking barrel.

All of which means I was very excited to see The Hobbit.

So imagine my disappointment at what a confusing mish-mash of gibberish the movie turned out to be.

And I’m not talking about all the Elvish being spoken.

SPOILERS AHEAD

First off, what the heck is up with the ending? They didn’t even get to the gold. And why bother showing us that dragon, Smog, if they’re never gonna interact with it? Bilbo Jr. is all, “I think the worst is behind us, the end.”

WTF??

Ultimately, the movie raised more questions than it answered, which I found extremely frustrating:

Where the hell did the ring come from?

It’s been a while since I saw the Return of the King, but I’m pretty sure that thing got melted in the volcano lava. Along with Gollum.

Which brings up another question.

Why is Gollum in this movie?

He died at the end of Lord of the Rings, didn’t he? Or is he fire-proof, and swam away with the ring? I admit, there is some ambiguity there. But then if that was the case, Sauron would still be around, right? And his giant eye was nowhere to be seen in The Hobbit.

So I’m led to conclude that Gollum’s twin brother, Seagull, died at the end of Return of the King. But Peter Jackson could have made that clear, rather than forcing the viewers to guess that for themselves.

None of which explains where the ring came from.

Who in Sauron’s Inferno was the old guy at the start of the movie who was also named Bilbo?

Bilbo Baggins Senior? If that’s the case (and I’m not 100% certain it is), then why not call Martin Freeman’s Bilbo by a different name? Or possibly ‘Junior’?

Which brings to mind another issue I have, not just with this movie, but all the other fans of the series as well:

What is this refusal to acknowledge R. Tolkien Jr. properly?

Everywhere I look, people move the ‘Jr.’ to the front of his name, like this: J. R. R. Tolkien.

At first I thought this was some sort of Britishism, but I did extensive research on Wikipedia and could find no other examples. Did R. Tolkien Jr. have some sort of complex about being named after his father and as a result adopted this odd nom de plume?

I tell you, not knowing a rational explanation for this drives me crazy.

Other minor quibbles:

Frodo still has his finger.

I may not have been wearing my glasses when I saw Return of the King, but I’m pretty sure Seagull bit it off. And I know he has that finger now because I was wearing my glasses when I watched The Hobbit.

I can only assume Gandalf used magic to grow it back. Would it have killed Peter Jackson to include that scene in the movie? Talk about lazy filmmaking!

Speaking of Gandalf, what happened to his white robe?

Why is it grey again? Did he have an accident at the laundromat, and if so, why not show us that too? Frankly, I’m quite keen to see what a Middle Earth laundromat looks like.

Why was Gandalf talking to Saruman in the middle of this movie?

Hello! I thought Gandalf was this great and all-powerful wizard, yet he forgot that Saruman is a bad guy? Huh??

Too many damn beards.

I couldn’t tell the characters apart through the thick forest of facial hair. What, no razors in Middle Earth? Then why are the Hobbits so clean-shaven, huh? Huh?

Check and mate, Mr. Jackson. Check and mate.

Now before I threw these questions up on my blog and risked looking like a complete idiot, I ran them past a few acquaintances I’ve met via social media, to see if there was an obvious answer I had somehow overlooked.

There wasn’t.

The least-laughable solution they could come up with was the silly notion that if you assume The Hobbit is a prequel rather than a sequel, all of my questions answer themselves.

My response to that is, “Poppycock! Why make the first part of the story last? That makes no sense!”

I was hoping the novelization would do a better job addressing these questions, but I’m a quarter of the way through and so far it has even less stuff going on it in than the movie!

I will give credit where credit is due, however. It was a nice touch having the Doctor’s 7th incarnation be Radagast the Brown. I’d love to see how #7 got from there to the horrible, awful television movie.

Actually, if they make a sequel to The Hobbit, it would be really cool to see the Doctor help out.

Because he totally could.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My books are available!
 

The Santa Claus Gang:

The Santa Claus Gang: A Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 
3 Comments

Posted by on 1 January 2013 in Angst

 

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Are Books A Threat To Our Children, Or An Innovative New Food Source?

Is that a Prussian Robot Death Squad Commando, or a Prussian Robot Squash Commando?

It’s a fun Xmas story and serves as a better-than-expected shield when fending off blows from siblings.

Kids do the damnedest things.

Particularly to books.

Especially when they can’t read.

Let’s face it, if you hand a book to a young enough kid, he or she will try to eat it (and sometimes succeed). Even if they aren’t hungry.

Which makes me wonder, if you can buy edible underwear, why has no one come out with an edible book?

This lack of fresh and healthy edible books is why I only buy my toddlers hardback books. They can try, but they aren’t getting those down. At least, not easy.

Sadly, that all changes once they discover the knife drawer. Damn you, Williams-Sonoma!

But the resilience of the format is what really makes me wish CreateSpace offered a hardback option.

The paperback proof of my latest offering, the Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story The Santa Claus Gang, arrived in the mail yesterday.

I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out (and have subsequently released the book for publication).

My kids seemed pretty excited too, until they discovered there were no pictures inside.

Then it was just another weird, seemingly pointless toy kept in the special shelf next to similar weird, seemingly pointless toys that you go to when you want to tear yourself a sheet of paper.

Philistines.

But if nothing else, they deemed the cover a huge success, which is more than can be said about their views of my previous book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman. They were very unimpressed with that cover. Perhaps because of the bar of soap that features so prominently on it.

There, that takes care of the shameless plug for my new book. Back to the topic at hand: kids and books.

The other night my kids barricaded themselves in their bedroom, pushed the toy box over to the door, and started removing books from the hanging shelves on said door.

Not every book, mind you. One kiddo would pull a book out and show it to the other kiddo, who would judge it either ‘scary’ or ‘not scary’.

The scary books were handed down and dumped into a basket in the corner of the room furthest from the beds, behind a dresser.

“Why are you putting the books there?” I asked.

“They’re scary books,” Kiddo #2 answered solemnly. “We don’t want them to get us.”

I’m not sure exactly what the perceived threat was from these books, but they were definitely taking it seriously.

Now I can understand my deranged foray into children’s books, Kleencut, ending up exiled to the ‘Danger Zone’ – after all, it’s a terrible, 1-star review freebie on Amazon that really shouldn’t be read to children no matter how much they clamor for it.

But the Berenstain Bears?

Apparently, the Berenstain Bears book Safe and Sound! is particularly scary, because it was at the bottom of the pile.

I would have given them ‘boring’, because man it does drag, but scary?

I guess my kids feel safer knowing I am more likely to be injured as I contort myself in an attempt to get at that book so I can read it to them.

And that, in itself, is pretty damn scary.

And now, a word from our sponsor: me! My books are available!
 

The Santa Claus Gang:

The Santa Claus Gang: A Marlowe and the Spacewoman short story

Marlowe and the Spacewoman:

Marlowe and the Spacewoman

Kleencut (FREE!):

So bad it won a Voidy for the next THREE consecutive years (would have been FOUR, but 2012 was a leap year)

 

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