Monday, December 22, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Overland Park pt 59-67

The month of September 2008. We're getting close now.

Part 59

Updated: You are all still a bunch of whiners. At least, that’s what the Republican presidential candidate believes. It’s all in your head.

Everything is all in your head.

Sounds a little bit like the Matrix, doesn’t it? I’d like to think so, but apparently, we are all just whining about something that isn’t really happening.

Washington Times article on Mental Recession

You see, in that link to a news story from July 9th, the co-chairman of the presidential campaign for John McCain, who also happens to be the vice chairman of a massive Swiss bank, Phil Gramm, stated this:

"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," he said. "We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet."

"We have sort of become a nation of whiners," he said. "You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline,” he said.

Whining. That’s all we’re doing. Whining.

You see, I know exactly how many homes I own. I don’t own a single one. And that’s because of a massive debt that compounded on me while in school trying to obtain a college degree so that I could get a job to pay off the debts that I will have for the rest of my life.

I also don’t have a cushy job as vice chairman of UBS or have a wife that was once on the board of directors for Enron.

Phil Gramm probably owns more than one home, just like John McCain owns seven. But you see, I’m whining here because I don’t own a single one.

However, there was a nice little tidbit I picked up regarding Phil Gramm. His wife was on the board of directors at Enron during their major scandal, and he was in Senate at the time (I believe) and supported a provision that all but allowed for the scandal to take place.

But he’s the co-chairman of the presidential campaign for John McCain. And he thinks we as Americans are a bunch of whiners.

Even though the job market and the jobs being lost daily is at the highest it’s been for a very long time.

The dollar continues to lose it’s worth as the housing market continues to plummet. Oil prices rise and fall with the wave of a wand and the onset of political unrest.

And hurricanes cause massive destruction while Republicans party.

It’s like I fell asleep and woke up in the Twilight Zone. But I must be dreaming, right? I must be dreaming to wake up in a world where the candidate for republican vice president has a pregnant unwed daughter and is being championed by the religious right because she is keeping the baby.

I must be dreaming to see Evangelicals come to her defense for being so supportive of her drunken, debauched daughter who got knocked up. I mean, most Evangelicals would personally turn their child away for getting knocked up out of wedlock and having a bastard child, wouldn’t they?

Teen Pregnancies will be the focus of the news

Did I wake up in a world where people are making teen pregnancy some kind of cool thing? Some kind of way to get into the world a little quicker. Just because Jamie Lynn Spears did it and got knocked up out of wedlock, does that make it somehow better? Does that change the way that teen pregnancy is looked at by other people? Couldn't it still be something not completely made awesome by the media?

Shouldn't a parent who believes in keep your shit wrapped up and abstinent, shouldn't that parent be completely embarassed by what their daughter has done? Especially when that parent ran on that for her ticket into the governorship of her state?

It must be a new world that I’ve woken up in.

Oh wait, it really isn’t.

Americans believe Job Market is terrible

You see, most people in this world, whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Communist, what have you, we don’t see the world in black and white but rather in shades of gray.

And those shades of gray get scarier everyday.

With each day passing, we are reminded that the job market is in a tailspin and the downward spiral may not stop for a very long time. Unemployment is getting closer to record highs and those people losing their homes, that number is skyrocketing.

People are scared and riots in the streets are on the way. Just look at what happened outside of the Republican National Convention. Unrest, political and interpersonal unrest, is happening. The people’s voices are going to rise up and hopefully topple the government.

I’m almost certain that is what needs to happen at this point.

Now I’m not calling for murder or assassinations or anything stupid like that. But look at the world around you. Open your eyes for just a second. The world is in complete unrest.

Georgia and Russia are at war. We are at war on a number of fronts with a number of different countries. People are dying. Other people at home and abroad are completely disgusted with the way the world works.

People are stealing license plates so that they can steal gas.

Others are popping open gas tanks and stealing gas outright from parked cars.

Companies, like the one I work for, are putting hiring freezes and not allowing people to apply or interview or even requesting resumes from people currently because the market is so bad.

But I’m just whining.

That is what I do.

This isn’t me whining. This is a rant. It’s a very different thing from whining.

You see, when someone tells me that I’m in a mental recession, that I’m just thinking that the world is worse than it really is, it forces me to take a step back. It forces me to think for a second and think if maybe my life is a movie.

Maybe I’m living in a bubble and I’m not really here. I’m not really writing this blog. It’s all in my head.

We are all part of the Matrix and we are all batteries that are powering some central hub that keeps us all alive and keeps feeding us lies.

That sounds completely plausible, right?

As of August 28th of this year, unemployment was at its highest that it’s been since 2004. Companies are changing their retirement plans and their benefits to meet the market with the way that it is. Other companies are being much pickier and much choosier about who they hire and for the most part are selecting people in their own company as opposed to picking outside applicants.

And we’re all just believing this in our own heads.

We’re all believing that the reason unemployment is so high and the housing market is so awful is because of immigrants. Because of the people coming to America for a better way to live and a better chance at a new life.

We’re just looking for people to blame, and the co-chairman of the presidential campaign of John McCain is blaming it on the people who would be voting for him for president.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We’re all part of the same compost heap, right? We’re all the same. But we’re not.

We’re all red state/blue state. We’re all some map that can be broken down over a period of time and correspond each and every one of us to the state that we live in and will tell us who we really are based on maps and charts and voting procedures.

I’d like to think that I don’t fit the mold. I live in Kansas, obviously, and have for my entire life. I feel like if you judge me based on the state that I live in and the part of the state that I live in (Johnson County), I’d be wealthy, Republican, probably from a fraternity, have a great car and a massive house.

But I don’t fit into that pigeonhole. I was born and raised by two middle-class blue collar workers (my dad worked as a mail carrier for 30-some years) and I’ve never voted Republican. I paid for college on my own and never had a handout, whether a car or anything. I never was in a frat. The last thing that was handed to me was probably a bill that needed to be paid that belonged to me.

I learned, growing up, what it meant to do things for myself. I learned never to rely on anyone else because that other person might not have my best interests at heart.

And how can people not see that John McCain doesn’t plan to do anything for them with their best interests at heart when he wings the decision of who should be his VP candidate just based on sex?

Maybe his mind is stuck in the Matrix. Maybe he was never really a POW. Maybe that was all some sort of mental thing he believed in.

Maybe he and his policy makers, speech writers, and all of the people following him should open their eyes. How can people still believe that the Republicans, who ran the country into the ground for the last 8 years, are not to blame for the things that happened?

We had a Republican president when we went to war with Iraq. We had a Republican president when the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon happened. We had a Republican in the White House when the job market and housing markets tanked. When the dollar lost all credibility in the world market.

And people think it’s someone else’s fault?

Maybe those people should wake up.

You see, this blog is not meant to endorse anyone for president. By no means am I throwing my ideals into the ring and saying who I think should be president.

But when someone who can’t clearly see that our world is in torment and that things need to change, maybe that person isn’t the best person for us. Maybe that person isn’t a clear and focused leader who has our best interests at heart.

Maybe that person just wants to be president because he thinks he deserves it after being a prisoner of war.

The world does not favor handouts. We know that.

I’ve fought tooth and nail for the things that I have because that is what I was taught growing up. I will never stop fighting for what I believe in or for the things that I want or need in my life because I choose not to.

And with the presidential election coming upon us, it’s time for you to choose what you want to do.

Do you want to stand idly by and let people tell you what to think? Or do you want to stand up and think what you believe and say what you feel and not be brought down by people struggling to define you?

Do you want people to choose for you?

Do you want to struggle through another 4 plus years in a recession because the people in power don’t really believe it is happening?

Or do you want change? Do you want something new that can be exciting and could change the way this world works?

Do you want freedom of expression, freedom to be whoever you want to be, whether a freak, a normal, a part of the or, or a part of the establishment?

It’s getting close to the time to choose.

As always, I will stick with the or. I will continue whining and ranting about what I believe in. That is my right and that is what I will always be certain to flex. I will always be part of that.

When the change comes, who will you be?


Part 60

It all feels like a bit of déjà vu, doesn’t it? Like the mind is playing tricks on us to make us believe we’ve seen all this before? Like everything that is happening in our lives and in the world has happened once before and we just get to replay it like so many annoying video games with terribly hard levels that piss us off and have no save screen.

This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.

By the way, this blog is brought to you by Fear and Loathing in Overland Park pt 29. You’ll see why later on. I promise.

“It’s déjà vu all over again.”

-Yogi Berra

You see, this morning while having a discussion with a gonzo regarding this weekend, my brain flared. I was forced to remember something I’d seen in a dream. Something I’d imagined while sleeping away the day and forgetting all the shit holding me down.

I was forced to remember a plan I had set into motion for changing my life and updating my plans for world domination in my own small steps.

You see, when I dream, I dream of the future. I get little flashes of what is to come. I remember them for a brief period of time, but if I don’t write them down immediately, they are lost to me until they reoccur and come true.

It happens to a lot of people. I’m not special in this regard. It’s just weird how often it happens.

And I mean it happens often. Like almost every day. I see things that could be months, even years in the future, and I either write them down in a small black journal that I keep (used to be called my Indiana Jones journal until the newest movie came out and sucked so much ass, now I just call it my thoughts) or I forget, doomed to repeat the mistakes and the errors I made in the dream.

It’s astounding.

And it’s a phenomena depending on who you talk to.

“Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time.”

-Stephen Wright

I’m not really a forgetful person. I remember a lot of things that I probably shouldn’t. I have memories in my head from when I was 3 and 4 years old and onward and upward throughout my life. Doctors say that drugs and alcohol corrupt the brain and torture you with their ongoing destruction, but I don’t believe it. Unless I took some mind-blowing drug that increases brain capacity and the ability to remember something, then my years of abuses didn’t affect me at all.

And I’m not complaining. I’m not whining. That’s not what I do.

Yes, before you say that most déjà vu just comes from your brain recognizing something from your past, either an event, something that occurred to you or around you, and then something similar happens and you just believe it to be something you’ve seen before, I’ve thought of that. I’ve thought of all of it.

The morning commute to work is déjà vu every single day with the same cars, the same light delays, the same fog or cloud cover, the same everything. I don’t consider that true déjà vu as it’s just a mundane part of the day and unfortunately we’re forced to relive these things almost on a daily basis.

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes life at the Company feels like Groundhog Day. This is that, all over again.

This is me writing a blog that even features déjà vu to those old blogs.

“Do you ever get the strange feeling of vuja de? Not déjà vu, vuja de. It’s the distinct sense that somehow, something that just happened has never happened before. Nothing seems familiar. And then suddenly the feeling is gone. Vuja de.”

-George Carlin

Vuja de. Depending on if you’ve read any of my previous blogs or not, this blog could in fact be vuja de for you. This whole damn day could be. Maybe you just woke up from a coma and found yourself in a world you can’t recognize and never knew existed.

Just like the Matrix.

There are a lot of ways that déjà vu can affect your everyday life. It can affect you in the mundane tasks you perform. It can seem like repetition of tasks, repetition of the things you say, it can be making conversation with the same people. And it can be boiled down to parapsychology as well.

Just like Peter Venkman. He had a PhD, don’t you know that? Parapsychology. Apparently it is real and it deals with déjà vu. Just like they told us in Ghostbusters.

It seems this blog is coming back to Bill Murray movies quite frequently, doesn’t it? Almost coincidentally, even.


Strange really.

“Déjà vu, also called paramnesia, is the experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously (an individual feels as though an event has already happened or has happened in the near past). The term was coined by a French psychic researcher, Emile Boirac (1851-1917) in his book L’Avenir des Sciences Psychiques (The Future of Psychic Sciences), which expanded upon an essay he wrote while an undergraduate. The experience of déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of ‘eeriness,’ ‘strangeness,’ or ‘weirdness.’ The ‘previous’ experience is most frequently attributed to a dream, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience ‘genuinely happened’ in the past.”

-from Wikipedia

You see, déjà vu is so ingrained into the public consciousness that stupid movies called Déjà Vu come out with Val Kilmer in supporting roles behind Denzel Washington and try to deal with time travel and try to make it seem logically plausible.

Even though it’s all but impossible to explain time travel without then creating an infinite number of parallel realities all hinging on the briefest spark, the briefest change that could eternally affect each and every single thing that happens in that reality.

Like right this second, if you believe that time travel is possible and there are an infinite number of realities, then right now I am sitting and reading a blog written by someone else who is writing about déjà vu and parallel realities and right now in another reality Gooch is the narrator and I’m Tyler or vice versa.

It all hinges on the smallest of details.

And when I saw this tidbit of news, I felt like I stepped smack into déjà vu.

Article regarding the twists and turns of the Ghostbusters sequel

You see, there has been word of a Ghostbusters Sequel in the works since the second one came out. Mostly it would deal with Hell, a lot of them called for the entire cast to come back and fight against an invasion of demons or some shit.

Yeah, does that sound like Constantine to anyone else (a movie that COMPLETELY sucked).

So that was nixed for being too expensive. Then there was an idea to do a CGI-movie ala the most recent Ninja Turtles movie, which then came into being as a video game with almost the entire original cast back. That’s the reality of what’s going on right now.

Back a few years, the idea was to staff Ghostbusters with all new people, like Chris Farley and Ben Stiller, but Chris Farley went and overdosed and that nixed those plans.

Forcing the issue even further, Bill Murray wasn’t set on coming back for the entire movie. He thought the idea was kind of ridiculous and that they were all a little too old and didn’t want to retread on previous material.

He softened his stance over the years it seems, but prior to the video game involving all of the original cast members (besides Rick Moranis), he wanted to come back, only to die and come back as a ghost. Stupid idea.

Then of course there was the obligatory rumor circulating that the Apatow crew was circling this and willing to take it a new direction with a lot of the old cast still involved but a new crew as well.

Déjà vu.

Let me point you to this article I wrote, having no knowledge previously that this existed or was even mentioned.

“Remake idea number 666 (that's right, the sign of the devil returns): Ghostbusters. Starring Dane Cook (urgh), Martin Lawrence (urgh), Ben Stiller (urgh) and Jack Black. Directed by whoever directed any piece of crap that Ben Stiller has been in or Michael Bay. I'm surprised this hasn't been remade yet with this cast or the Apatow crowd (Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, and Paul Rudd as directed by Judd himself). But with my cast in place, you're sure to strike it rich at the box office. No heart. Pure explosions. Ghosts as played by people from SNL or MadTV or Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly and Seann William Scott could show up in small roles. And just take a massive crappening all over our childhoods right then and there like Hollyweird is doing with GI Joe and Transformers and Robocop and Red Dawn and all the rest.”

-Momar Van Der Camp

That comes directly from Fear and Loathing in Overland Park pt 29. June 11, 2008. As I mentioned, I had no forward knowledge that the Apatow crowd was involved in any capacity at all, whatsoever.

So we’re treading water here. News comes out now that they are writing a script for Ghostbusters 3 and Harold Ramis is possibly writing it with some of the writers of the Office that he was worked with on a few occasions on that wonderful TV show.

It seems that Hollyweird is going to force the issue on this.

We’re going to get a new Ghostbusters video game at some point in the new future that acts like it’s the spiritual equivalent of a third Ghostbusters movie, and we’re going to get a sequel or a prequel to Ghostbusters, or just an out and out remake.

I’m scared of this potential, but I saw it coming the whole time.

Déjà vu.

Ghostbusters is one of those movies that I constantly quote, that I constantly hold true as one of the movies that cannot be remade, cannot be touched, does not need to be improved upon.

But since Hollyweird cannot look forward and has to look back to the past and what worked before, we will get a remake or a sequel to this fine movie. And here’s another idea of how it will go:

Venkman’s pseudo son Oscar will be a new Ghostbuster. It will involve passing the torch from father to son. That way, they can get Bill Murray involved as the lost father who is reconnected with his “son” just like he was in most of his more recent movies.

It would work.

I would see it.

But I’ll still be furious.

I hate the idea of remaking this or making a sequel to this. Next we’ll get a remake of Superman again (oh wait, they’re doing that already). Okay, or another Wayne’s World. Or another Terminator.

We’re going to get franchise relaunches for everything. We’ll get a new Howard the Duck, a new Daredevil, a sequel to Ghost Rider, a sequel to movies that make zero dollars in the general box office (films like No Country for Old Men will get prequels called A Country for Young Men and involve Anton Chigurh growing up as a bastard).

We’ll get sequels to Citizen Kane and remakes of the Wizard of Oz. We’ll get reimaginings of The Wizard and big screen adaptations of Boy Meets World and Dinosaurs and we’ll get movie versions of the stories of people you didn’t even care existed (like the biopic of the story of Carrot Top or hell, a biopic about my life and times).

It’s all relative.

It’s all happened before and it’s all going to happen again.

We’ll never escape déjà vu so long as we look to the past for everything. Once we attempt to look forward and move ahead with things, we may just be able to change what we already know. Change the world.

We’re looking for change in the presidential election, only I’m still getting déjà vu when all the politicians are saying the same things and all the same speeches are being repeated and repeated and repeated and all the same buzz words are being spoken.

I just hope I’m not being sexist or a bigot here when I say change is good and doesn’t need to involve a pro-life, gun-toting Jesus freak who wields her power over the PTA and likes to kill other Hockey Moms. Does that make me a bad person? Does saying that I won’t go see the movie about her life once they make it, regardless of who they put in it?

I don’t care. I’m still feeling this as déjà vu. I still feel like I’ve said this all before.

So the choice is yours. Choose the or and avoid the same pratfalls that are causing the downfall of Hollyweird.

And they wonder why ticket sales are down and people aren’t going to see the movies. It’s because of déjà vu. We’ve already seen everything they can show us. We’ve already played the video game or read the book or the comics. We don’t want to see some big budget exploration of our childhood. Or re-exploration.

We just want to see something new and exciting. We want vuja de.


Part 61

It takes courage to actually change the world. Whether it’s small amounts or massive amounts, it takes courage to see things that other people don’t see and it takes courage to do something about.

It takes courage to change your life.

“Creativity takes courage.”

-Henri Matisse

There is only so much we can do with our lives that doesn’t involve courage. Can you wake up and look at the world if you don’t hold the courage to get out of bed?

It takes a certain level of spite, depending on who you speak with. It might just be spite and hatred that keeps some of us going. The thought that we are damning someone else by continuing on our path and pointing at that person and saying, look what I can do? Look what I can accomplish?

That’s courage.

It takes courage to make the difficult decisions in your life. To stand up for what you believe in. To step back and say, well, I made a mistake. And it can be very hard to be courageous sometimes. Sometimes, courage can be the first thing we lose when things start to fall away and the chinks in the armor start to show.

Courage can be as simple as talking and as difficult as usurping the throne of an insane ruler who has let power go to his head.

Courage can be as simple as starting from scratch and writing a blog or series of essays and continuing that trend for months on end without any real reason to do so other than to tell a story and look at things in the world that bother you. It can be as difficult as trying to write a book.

Courage can be a lot of things.

Just depends on what you think it means to you.

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

-Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

What are you afraid of?

Are you afraid that one day you will be an old man who people have to help out with even the most menial of tasks?

Are you afraid that you will never be immortalized on film or live eternally in the minds and hearts of others?

Are you afraid of heights?

What scares you?

That’s the first step in determining what you need to do to find the courage to change something.

Me, I’m not really afraid of things. I was afraid of heights, and to destroy that I’ve been in tall buildings like the Empire State Building, the St. Louis Arch, I’ve stood on tall bridges and looked over the edge. I’ve walked on the wings of a plane (in my mind) and taken to the skies.

I’ve done something about those fears. I ride roller coasters at top speeds high above the ground and flip up and down, side to side, and allow myself to have my entire core shaken.

I don’t accept the fear. I embrace it and let it take hold of me so that I can change in the face of it.

What are you afraid of? What scares you so much that you curl up in the fetal position and let the world move around you?

My worst fear used to be dying alone. It used to be living a life of sadness and pain all by myself and never feeling a loving touch from someone else.

All it takes is the courage to talk to someone else to change that.

It’s all about going out on a limb.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

-Ambrose Redmoon

We are currently in a world where the buzzword is change. Change. In politics, embrace change. In comic books, embrace change. Every aspect of your life requests that you embrace change (except the majority of Hollyweird, which requests that you embrace the past and remake anything and everything that has come before).

Change. It’s what politicians like Obama and McCain are running their entire presidential campaigns about. But do they really want change? Do they really represent the courage to change the world for the better?

One seems to be willing to make the world worse (coughcoughmccaincough) and the other wants to change our United States for the better. One thinks we should and could be at war for another 100 years with 100 different countries and the other wants to be out of war now.

One has a vice presidential candidate that won’t take news media interviews. Does that evoke the courage to change the world?

I don’t think so.

You have to ask yourself, what wouldn’t Jesus do? Only then can you be certain that you might make a human choice and actually do something different.

We must accept change in order to really change the world, and nothing says change like an old white guy.

“The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage.”


And that is the key right then and there. We must be courageous to be free. You can never be free in your life if you don’t allow yourself to try and fail so magnificently that people begin to notice. Even if people are noticing your failure, they’re still noticing.

I wouldn’t even be here, still, if it wasn’t for the people in my life noticing my failures. My failures to start revolutions, to finish books, to get a screenplay shot and edited and created and screened as a film, my failure to actually do something constructive with my life.

I wouldn’t still be alive if I hadn’t been a magnificent failure at suicide. But was it courage that made me try?

No. Most people would say that was cowardice. Courage comes after. When instead of trying again to cast off the shackles of my Earthly realm and running away from my problems, I fought them head on.

I failed to die, but I continued to live and struggled with the problems that face us. The monotonous tasks, the menial labor and ways of life that just drag on and wear on you overtime.

I failed to die, but I was courageous enough to realize that suicide may not have been the best bet.

And that made me free.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

-Andre Gide

One of my last memories of my grandfather is of the ocean. He was a big man. A man who fought during World War II as a mortar man and fought in Italy and Germany and France. A man who took to the shores of Normandy on D-Day and lived to tell about it.

But he never really spoke about it. He left his wife and two small children and fought for his country to keep America free. He and two other men formed his mortar team, and while in Italy, the two other men were killed by an Axis mortar shell that blew up not too far in front of them. My grandfather was blown back and miraculously, magnificently, he lived to tell about it. He was the only one who did.

He lost the hearing in his right ear, but he continued to fight.

When I knew him, he was a big man. He had played soccer in his lifetime and was a big, red-headed, Scottish man. Big booming laugh. Big smile. Opinionated more than even me.

But my last memory of him comes on the end of the last time I saw him. It was the later part of the 1990s and it ties into the ocean. He loved Maine. He loved the beaches. He loved the cold cold water of the Atlantic. And he loved to just float there, under the sun, riding the waves as far out as they could take him.

My last memory of him involved the water. He and I were riding the waves, just floating there on the cold cold water, laughing at the sun, and we lost track of the shore. We were so far out, I couldn’t see my parents, my brothers, we couldn’t see the hundreds of people that lined the beach.

All he did was laugh. And because he laughed, I laughed. I wasn’t scared, even though we were getting so far out as to be in shark and jellyfish territory, and one mistake could cost us our lives.

But he laughed.

And he pointed to the sun and knew the way back to the shore. He knew his directions just based on the way the sun was sitting in the sky, and he knew how to save us.

And he did.

We made it back to shore safe and sound. Granted, my grandmother screamed at him and my parents screamed at me, but it was an adventure.

I’ll never forget what it taught me.

“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.”

-Winston Churchill

My life has been a series of starts and re-starts. I’ve been working on books, screenplays, comic scripts, essays, short stories, epic poems, and every other written opus you could think of for as long as I can remember.

I’ve spent years trying to tell stories that mattered and trying to be famous for the way that I am and the stories that I tell.

What I failed to remember, is that it was the courage that took me to continue trying that kept helping me out. And it was that courage to keep trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and failing that would be my legacy. Will be my legacy.

It’s something to be said trying to break into an industry like screenwriting, movie making, book publishing, and comic writing all at the same time. And I am not trying to toot my own horn.

Just telling a story.

My story involves a number of failures. Writing scripts that you think will be published and getting told later on that another editor didn’t like it so try again. And then trying again and losing hope when the editor says no and tells you that it might not be the best time to keep trying.

So you lose hope.

Then, while this is going on, you’re trying to find a new job. You’re searching for new avenues that will actually use the talents you acquired over the years and searching for a career, one that suits you, one in which you are happy to tell people that you work for that company.

And you apply. And you apply. And apply and apply and apply and apply and apply. And interview. And continue interviewing. You go on interview after interview with the same company only to get a letter a week later saying we’re sorry we’ve requested someone else join our company.

And it kicks you in the teeth.

You put all your eggs in the same baskets and constantly get knocked down, only to try and try and try to pick yourself up. And pick up the pieces that were smashed as you fell down again.

So what do you do at that point?

Do you give up because it’s too hard? Or do you keep fighting?

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

-Dale Carnegie

And that’s it. Right there. You do something. You don’t sit idly by and let the world change around you while you sit there and admit defeat. That is not the way you do things.

You think about all those people you know who may have taken the easy way out, and you remind yourself that you will not take the easy way out. You want to be free, but you know that you have to fight for it.

And that is life. A constant fight. A struggle that is difficult and involves a lot of stops and starts and involves a constant stream of failures before you can even see any sort of happiness at the end.

But to be courageous means you allow these things, these upsets, these struggles to continue to happen, but you don’t allow them to destroy you. They just guide you.

You learn from the mistakes of the past. You learn from the things you once feared and you fix that. You fix your fears. You face them head on. You overcome them.

In the last few days, I have finished four scripts that look to be published in the oncoming months and year. When I finished the last script, immediately fear and anxiety took hold. I didn’t know what to do as it seemed another chapter was closing and I didn’t want it to.

I didn’t want things to change. And I grew to fear them.

My heart was overcome with doubt, but instead of reveling in that doubt, I accepted the change. I accepted the heartache, and I moved on. I picked up the pieces and began work on something new, something brand new that I hadn’t yet worked on, and will be working towards achieving something new.

Throw enough darts at the board, eventually one will hit the mark.

That’s life. That’s courage. To keep fighting. To accept the change that you must face and move on. Live in the fear. Accept the fear as part of yourself and live your life one minute at a time.

What wouldn’t Jesus do?

You have to be the enemy sometimes. You have to fight people and do things that you might not be comfortable with at first in order to keep moving forward.

You have to accept that people will tell you you aren’t good enough. You aren’t the best. You aren’t original and you aren’t going to accomplish anything.

You have to accept that your achievements all hinge on your courage and your resolve to be free. The change starts within, and until you accept that, you will never be free.

You will never be able to fight headstrong and forever against the darkness that creeps in. This is your life. You only get one shot. Better make the most of it, right?

This is all about choice. This is all about the or. This is all about you. Be something. Do something. Change something. Face your fears and find the courage you need to thrive.

This is all about choice.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


Part 62

Success and what it means to me, or rather, what does it mean? How is it measured? Who ultimately determines what equals success?

“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.”

-Mark Twain

What exactly is success?

Do any of us truly ever realize when success is right in front of us or has the definition of success been bastardized by Hollyweird and there constant need to find America’s Next Top something.

Television has completely destroyed the definition of success.

It all is determined now by how famous you are or how important you are or how much of a whore you are on television. Success is defined by fame. By how many people know your name or how many people have seen your vagina.

Success is all based on what you believe, right? Not what someone tells you.

Apparently, it’s not that easy anymore.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”

-Albert Einstein

One of my gonzos on here asked me once if I had been published.

I’m working on it. It’s a goal of my life.

Granted, we’ve all been published once or twice.

In third grade our teachers sold us on the notion that a national publication would like to publish our poem about leaves and trees.

It probably read something like this:

Leaves are green

Brown in fall

They also fall

From trees

Does anyone honestly think this shit deserves to be published? Does anyone honestly think that the publishing world really feels like the author of this poem is the next Dylan Thomas or e.e. Cummings?

I doubt it.

But they sell us a load of bullshit that our writing is so good that a national publication wants to print it.

You don’t find out later (fourth grade) that it was all a load and the publication was actually something drummed up by teachers trying to swindle your parents out of their hard-earned cash so they can point to a “publication” and show their friends how great their child is.

It’s just like little league sports.

From a very young age, we are on display. Look how great we are. Look how we’re not complete fuck-ups. Look at how hard I can hit the ball and how fast I can run.

It doesn’t actually matter that 9 out of 10 people with athletic abilities or writing prowess never amount to what their parents want them to amount to.

But your success will forever be measured in how well you can show up someone else’s kids.

This is why I never want to have kids. I never want to live vicariously through someone else’s achievements because I’m ashamed of how much of my life I wasted watching television and reminiscing about the good old days.

Here’s a hint, there’s no such thing as the good old days.

But before I get too far off topic, this is about success and how it’s measured. I’m just reiterating that from a very young age, our entire life is completely messed up and we’ll never know how to measure success.

Because we’re like dogs at the Westminster Dog Show. Stick out your ass. Make sure your coat has a nice shine to it. And for God’s sakes, do not drop a deuce on the carpet.

“Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.”

-Christopher Lasch

And there it is.

Nothing is better than appearance. And we all know appearances can be deceiving, but that doesn’t seem to matter so much in today’s world.

So what one of the guys running for president looks like the crypt-keeper and his running mate is the female equivalent of the Punisher, so what?

They’ll probably win the election because of appearances. She has a vagina. You have a vagina. Therefore, it’s like you’re practically family.

Not to nitpick just presidential candidates, but television stars.

Tila Tequila has been mentioned previously by this blog as a bane against decency and common courtesy, but for some reason, she has found fame and fortune for being a whore. For whoring herself out for the most friends on Myspace and for having a tiny modicum of popularity for her attributes.

That, again, would be her tits and ass.

But do people care?

No, because we want to be famous. We want to feel success.

So we go on television shows and eat bull balls just so that we can be seen by the world and hopefully get a walk-on role in the next Masters of Horror or Sci-Fi original movie.

But do we care?

The people on these “reality” television shows are essentially prostitutes and I’m sure, in some completely messed up way, their parents are proud of them. Because they’re on television and they’ve done good by the family. Just more money and fame for the family later on when they can write their books all about how the person was way back when.

When they wrote awful poems and took dumps on the carpet and lit the basketball hoop on fire.

It’s all about how we can get famous and how we can APPEAR to succeed.

It doesn’t matter if it lasts 15 minutes or 15 seconds, just so long as people talk about it.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

-Herman Cain

Is it really that easy?

Or is that easy after you’ve already made it to the other side and people start to know who you are and hear your name spoken about?

Is success really measured by how much money you make?

Think about it.

My real name is one that has already been co-opted by a number of other people. A semi-famous mystery/thriller writer, a singer/songwriter, and a computer wizard. So I’m screwed, if I want to measure success by my name alone. I’m completely screwed unless I want to create a new persona or a new name.

Like Momar Van Der Camp.

But does a pen name really afford one the opportunity to truly enjoy success?

I know in my heart that I would never feel I completely succeeded at anything if I constantly was only known as Momar. I know that it would be a stress-inducing life to live, unless I physically changed my name.

My wife would be pissed though.

So you’re left thinking, while searching for success all on your own and probably being in the throes of disappointing one or both of your parents in succeeding in what you want to do, you have to discover one thing and one thing only: what does success mean to you?

Is it influenced by money?

For a lot of people, success is all about money.

A lot of professional athletes. Movie stars. Directors. Producers. Hollyweird personalities.

The success of movies like Disaster Movie (which I will never see or hopefully make mention of again) is deemed on how much money it makes in theaters. It has nothing to do with how much of a complete and utter waste of time, money, effort, and honest hard work it might be. But if it makes money in theaters, or it makes people watch on television, than it is deemed a success.

Thank god it tanked for the most part at the box office.

But do kids now have any hope? Or will their lives be constantly judged based on how rich they can get based on their honest talents or based on their abilities?

“The secret of success is constancy of purpose.”

-Benjamin Disraeli

Unless your athletic prowess is good enough to get you an Olympic medal, if you’re playing sports as a kid so you can be famous like A-Rod or Jeter or Tom Brady, then you’re idolizing the wrong people.

A-Rod isn’t doing it for the love of the game. He’s doing it for the coke, the hookers, and the immense amounts of cash that he can wipe his ass with everyday because he makes 14 million dollars an hour being just an okay baseball player.

You should be idolizing someone else.

Someone like Michael Phelps, who may look like a horse had sex with a tree and gave birth to a humanish boy, but he swam to win the gold medal.

He succeeded at a sport that involved being really fast underwater. And he kept at it until he was the best. He will make money now that he’s succeeded so immensely, but I’m pretty certain he wasn’t making any money at all just swimming in a pool.

Unless he was having people pay at the door to see him be a freak underwater.

It’s all about being constant.

Finding a purpose to succeed and continuing on the path that you’ve put in front of you.

It’s not about where you’ve traveled in the world.

Places people live that you know.

The number of friends on Facebook, Myspace, or even this website.

You find a purpose and something you want to do, and you decide if you’re succeeding at it as you keep along the path you’ve chosen. No one gets to tell you when you succeed.

You can tell yourself.

You can decide for yourself.

“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

-Christopher Morley

I mentioned a gonzo asking me if I had been published. It then became a rant about what success really looks like and how we each measure it. I’ve taken my time recently in revealing a few things to a few people. Very few people have been let in on my successes because they are my successes.

I am happy to share in the path that I’m taking and I am happy to discuss the success, but I don’t want someone to co-opt that success and turn it around for themselves.

But it’s time to come clean.

I had been looking for a new job for a very long time and I recently obtained new employment. Same Company as before, a different part of the Company with different responsibilities and in a different building with almost completely new faces.

It will be weird.

It will be strange after 2 long years to change positions.

Change locations. Change responsibility. Change everything there is that resembles a description of who I am while I’m at the Company.

It’s exciting and scary at the same time. But it’s a success. I’ve succeeded in changing something small but something important.

I now get to influence a different part of the Company and take charge of something new and learn something new.

I get to grow. I get to keep moving forward.

And that’s what success is all about. Moving forward.

On top of that, my publishing background and my resume is starting to grow.

I’ve never hidden the fact that I am a comic fan, and recently, I’ve been in a contact with a publisher who has hired me for work-for-hire comic writing work. And I’ve finished two mini-series for them so far and am getting the first taste of the comic publishing background.

So another MASSIVE success for my life.

But I’ve barely mentioned it because I’m a cynic.

I worry that the success will be small and will not last long.

But if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, the idea of the or is all about not being scared of the uncertain. It’s about accepting it. It’s about embracing it.

It’s about letting the change come and be a part of you.

“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.”

-Vaclav Havel

So this is it.

This is what success tastes like.

But does money still play a factor?

Am I constantly going to struggle with the idea of success because society demands that success only comes when money is involved?

No, no more struggles with small issues like that. I’m going to live my life and enjoy my successes as they come. I’m not going to worry about letting other people down.

It’s not about them. It’s about me.

It’s about me being able to wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror and not be completely disgusted with what I see and what I’m doing.

It’s not about impressing people with my resume of big-budget action movies or my college degree and my doctorate.

I’m never going to impress everybody.

I’m never going to make everybody happy.

So take a step back.

Look at your life and figure out what it is that you want to do. What it is that makes you happy.

It might be something mundane and ordinary. It might be something completely out of the ordinary or bizarre.

It doesn’t matter.

Take a moment to look at the success you’ve already garnered in your life and take the time to improve on it. Take the time to become something more.

Don’t sit idly by and accept the success you’ve already made and just be happy being slothful and not wanting to accomplish more. Strive for more.

Be the or.

Take the thing that you want to do and just go out there and do it. Run a marathon.

Lose some weight.

Get people to vote.

Get people to read.

Get people to smile.

Take the time out of your day, just 15 minutes, an hour, and start writing that book you’ve always wanted to write.

Start doing something you’ve always wanted to do.

And don’t let someone else tell you that you’re wrong for trying something different. Don’t let someone else say that your dreams are crazy and not going to be accomplished.

Attempt something different and you might just find a little success.

If you can let yourself see the success, you will be a part of it. And then there’s nothing more to it than just keep on going until your heart gives out.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

-Henry David Thoreau


Part 63

Today marks the 5th anniversary of one of the darkest days in my entire history. A day that will live in infamy in my life, and one that I have spoken about at length previously but would really like to talk about again.

It’s a day that I’ll never forget as quite a few people know exactly what happened to me around this time of year 5 years ago.

But why not, let’s jump right back in.

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

On September 12, 2003, I was at my lowest point. I had broken up with the supposed love of my life, and I was in my second year of college and focusing on all the pain. All the bad things. All the terrible parts of my life.

I was forgetting all the good and focusing on the bad.

I worked at a retail chain and was really excited to spend some time with some of my friends from work there that weekend. I was going to get rid of some of the pain and forget about some of the terrible things that were hurting me by spending time with my friend Justin and his girlfriend Stacy and our mutual friend Jayme.

I was going to be something different and get a chance to be happy, if even for just one night.

I traveled from Lawrence back into the heart of Overland Park and the cloud coverage started early that day. I left classes early with the newest A Perfect Circle album in hand, copied and ready to give to Justin. I finally made him the copy he asked for and was ready to share it.

I was ready to open myself up and be around new people.

I was ready to open my heart and not worry about the hurt that it would face.

“So, I learn from my mistakes. It’s a very painful way to learn, but without pain, the old saying is, there’s no gain. I found that to be true in my life. You miss a lot of opportunities by making mistakes, but that’s part of it: knowing that you’re not shut out forever, and that there’s a goal you still can reach.”

I was ready to hang around people that weren’t in my regular group of friends and weren’t my regular gonzos. I was even ready to play Halo and get my ass kicked by Tom and Justin and his brother and just have a good time.

But that wouldn’t happen. That would never happen.

When I walked in the sliding doors, the ominous clouds were left behind and the omnipresent overhead lights tried to blame me. Justin was in the same department he was always in, and he was stocking the shelves. I said my hellos to all my coworkers, my bosses, supervisors, managers, everybody, and then I made my way over to him.

His face was different. He didn’t have a smile on. He was filling the shelves and pricing the walls. His shirt was untucked, which was different from him. He was always presentable, and it was strange to see him different.

But that didn’t stop me. I still walked up with the CD in hand and asked him if plans were still the same. He said unfortunately he had a family thing to do. He mentioned that we should do it another time. I said that was fine, I was busy that night anyways. Made up some excuse about being busy myself and needing to do some work around the house. Something stupid and mundane and unnecessary.

Something that didn’t matter as much as the friend in front of me.

Something that will never matter now as I obviously forgot what it was and it really doesn’t matter right now.

I went home and felt sorry for myself. I went home and felt like taking my life just as I had every other day that week. I felt like the wind had been taken out of my sales. But I was unprepared for the next day and what would follow me.

“I’d like to wear a rainbow every day, and tell the world that everything is ok. But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back. Until things are brighter, I’m the Man in Black.”

You see, the next morning I was due at work at 7 am. So I woke up as early as ever, took my quick shower and hit the road. Rain was already starting to come down. Not torrentially and not enough to be smart enough to bring a sweatshirt or anything. But it was raining. Dark clouds overhead.

Nothing could prepare me for what was coming.

The morning started almost like any other. I was in the same department as Justin so my morning shift meant I had to stock the shelves for the morning as Saturdays were the busiest. I had to do whatever was left over from the night before.

There wasn’t much, as Justin did most of the work, and it was easy to do what needed to be done. My supervisor Tom came in around 8 just like his schedule, but Justin didn’t. He’d never been late, he’d never missed a day of work or called in sick or anything.

But he wasn’t there.

Not yet.

Tom mentioned to me how that morning he’d heard that Johnny Cash had died the night before. Just passed on. It was heartbreaking, and I felt like the rain made sense at that point. The world lost one of its greatest musicians and the only country singer I’d ever really listened to.

But I still wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared to see the faces as I was called into the break room around 9 am. I wasn’t prepared for any of it. And when the red faces made me think something really bad was happening, I still wasn’t prepared.

Nothing could prepare me.

“You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way.”

When the door was closed behind me and my two managers, Darren and Janelle, started to talk, the strain was in their voices. Janelle was crying and Darren was just about to start. There was nothing to contain them.

Darren said that they received the call that morning, around 7 or 8, from Justin’s mother. That’s when it happened. The wind was taken out of me. Janelle started to cry almost uncontrollably. And Darren offered me some toilet paper.

Justin had killed himself.

They wanted me to find out from them so that I wouldn’t hear it through the grapevine. They wanted me to know from them so that if I had any questions that I needed to ask them or if I needed to talk, that I could.

That I would have the space to do so.

I asked how they were doing and they tried to be brave. They tried to tell me that everything would be okay. They mentioned that as soon as they knew when and where there would be a funeral, they would let everybody know.

They mentioned that he was found by his mom and that he had been taken to the hospital and had died there. So he was still alive when his mom found him.

And this was her second son to do this to her.

My heart broke, but I didn’t show my emotions there. I resolved myself to be okay. That this was my wake-up call. That I needed to be there for all those people who didn’t know how to handle themselves or what to do.

I gave out hugs to his girlfriend Stacy, to his friend Jayme, his friend Melissa, we all started to hug. Everybody told stories.

And seeing my friend Tom bawling in the back room where our department ran our numbers and searched inventory will never leave my mind.

So I went outside. And the rain came harder.

“You've got a song you're singing from your gut, you want that audience to feel it in their gut. And you've got to make them think that you're one of them sitting out there with them too. They've got to be able to relate to what you're doing.”

The rain started to come down. I didn’t smoke, but I stood with the smokers. No hoodie, no umbrella, nothing, just rain coming down all over me.

And it felt amazing. I was being washed away. All the pain, all the frustration, everything would be washed away. Or so I thought.

I stood in the rain for a solid two hours. Many people from work came to check on me, and I told them I was fine. I would be okay. Nothing was wrong. Check on the others and don’t worry about me.

How wrong I was.

When I went home, covered in water, having done no actual work for the day, my parents questioned why I was drenched. Why I was so distraught.

And all I said to them, in passing, as I went upstairs to disappear into my old bedroom, was that my friend Justin killed himself.

And the next week was weird. I tried to kill myself nearly every night that week. Throwing myself over a bridge, finding the highest heights I could and just ending it all, the pain was right there underneath. Under the surface.

I couldn’t hide it any longer.

And Thursday was the day when I wanted to hide it the most.

“When I get an idea for a song it would gel in my mind for weeks or months, and then one day just like that, I'll write it.”

Thursday was the funeral.

And there were a lot of people there. We went as a group. Lance, me, Jayme, everybody, we sat together. I resigned myself to be the strong one. I hadn’t known him the longest or the best, but I was his friend and friend to all of these people too. I had to be strong.

And I did my best. But once we could view the body, seeing him there, not looking like Justin at all and knowing it was him, dressed in his favorite shirt and pants, a strange sad smile on his face, I lost it.

I couldn’t take it anymore.

I had to leave the funeral home and go outside.

And I’ll be honest, I cried.

I cried and cried and cried and cried.

And I didn’t want people to see it. I didn’t want to take agony and pain away from those people who knew him better. I didn’t want to be the center of attention. I just wanted to disappear.

But they wouldn’t let me. These people saw someone else troubled and wanted to come to my rescue. They sat with me, talked with me, made sure I was okay before they all left.

And I would have left, but my ride was Lance who was one of his closest friends. Lance who, despite it all, was still a believer in God.

Lance, who despite our differences, was still a good friend to me.

And because I was an idiot, I cracked a knuckle that night. My right hand will always suffer for my stupidity as I punched a wall to try and feel something different. And I did. A cracked knuckle is a terrible thing to feel and a terrible thing to continue to feel even 5 years later.

“There's no insecurity about my song writing. I start a lot more songs than I finish, because I realize when I get into them, they're no good. I don't throw them away, I just put them away, store them, get them out of sight.”

I was distraught but someone tried to save me. And I threw that in their faces.

Over the next few weeks, I still fought with my own depression. But seeing the faces, seeing the people depressed and so broken up over Justin’s death changed me. I was still broken feeling, I was still hurt, I still had pain, but I knew that these people cared about me and didn’t want me to leave them.

Didn’t want to have to go to another one of these things for a friend that they cared about.

And I wasn’t about to put them through that. Sure, I still deal with depression today, but losing a friend like Justin and seeing it up close and personal and how it destroys people, yourself included, you learn something. You realize that life can be worth living, and it can be hard at the same time.

I still listen to Johnny Cash music. I still love his music. I still watch John Ritter movies. And I still think about Justin.

He was my friend and he taught me a very valuable lesson.

I wish he didn’t have to die to do it. But I will never forget him. Ever. I could live to be a thousand and this day will always be a day I remember.

September 12th and 13th will never leave my memory. The faces of the people, the rains, everything, is so completely there, that even 5 years later, I still have the smells and sounds from that day completely ingrained in my memory.

I will never forget them. I will never forget Justin. I am sad that he had to go. But his memory will live on forever.

So remember this day. For whatever reason you need to, take a second and do something special for someone. Remind them that you care. Remind them that their pain can be your pain.

Do not let someone do this. Do not let someone give their life away to this pain. Do not make the same mistake I made.


“I went down with my guitar and sat on his steps until he got there. And when he got there I introduced myself and he said, "You're the one that's been calling." I said, "Yeah." You know, I had to take the chance, he was either going to let me come in, or he was going to run me off. Evidently, he woke up on the right side of the bed that morning. He said, ‘Come on in, let's listen.’”

*all quotes attributed to Johnny Cash


Part 64

Have you ever wondered what lay behind the eyes of a painting? What secrets? What shame?

I've been sitting in the same room the last two days, thinking the exact same thing. Each and every day the dead eyes of one man, one lanky bastard, stare in my face and almost call out to me. Okay, two men. But it's still weird.

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

The last two days have been strange. Woke up later and later each day. Putting on the ride to work. I know things aren't bad as it's just training, but I don't want to face the day. Something strange is going on.

There is a slight variation on the route to work now though. Renner to College. College to Quivira.

Work. Boom.

Same every day from here on out. Rinse and repeat. Start the new day the same as the other day and enjoy yourself as best you can.

“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down...”

-Abraham Lincoln

The sun rises to the east and sets to the west. And that makes it a bitch to drive to work and home from work.

The sun is rising as I travel to the east and it's setting as I travel to the place where I keep my stuff in the west.

Sunglasses do dick when the sun is beating into your eyes.

You beg for cloud cover but the only respite you receive is the giant back of a FedEx truck or a UPS truck. Some massive freightliner going on there way to who knows where shipping who knows what and needing to be there who knows when.

It's all part of the game.

So I started training.

And at a great time in the year, according to everyone I've spoken to.

Except that pesky Ike is putting a real fix on everything.

Bread and butter states like Texas being near destruction really hurts business and puts people on their toes.

That, and the sense of the eventual stock market crash we're looking at could mean a real hindrance on the enjoyment to be had while training.

That, and the damn faces staring at me.

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”
-Abraham Lincoln

Sitting on either side of the conference table and being part of a small, very small, training class can be daunting. If you don't know the answer, and the other trainee doesn't know the answer, then who do you ask? It's all on the shoulders of two men, and it's very strange to have the two faces, dead eyes, wood teeth, and giant moles staring back at you.

Questioning your gaze but catching it with each turn.

Asking you questions you may never be able to answer.

It's all a bit odd.

So I write this from the position of someone still distinctly thinking of the world and the utter madness that faces it. The despair. The total chaos that is right around the corner. People losing jobs left and right. Homes coming down. Massive property damage being doled out by huge waves and terrible rains and winds. There is only so much more this world can take before it all cuts itself away.

But looking at Lincoln and Washington and their strong gazes, it's like they are telling me to be strong.

To stand resolute. To stand in the face of adversity and do something about the world. It's like they are freaking me out and I haven't dropped acid in awhile.

It's like they're giving me some idea on how to freak out the world and do my damnedest to wake it up.

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”
-George Washington

By George, I think he's got it.

So what that these freak faces are scaring the life right out of me. So what that my life is quickly falling into the routine that I constantly set up and despise so much. It's all a matter of changing my perception of things. Just like it's all about changing the perception of the world that these two are seeing.

Maybe their ghosts aren't haunting the conference room.

Maybe I'm just losing my mind from years of drug and alcohol abuse.

Maybe I'm starting to really lose it and I'm not actually writing this blog or even sitting in a conference room being trained on a new position. Maybe this whole conversation is happening in your head, my head, or some kid's snowglobe.

Maybe it's all for nothing and the fear and loathing taking place is all because of some mental displacement that has occurred from years of torment and grief.

Maybe I've finally turned the page on something in my life.

And maybe not.

But maybe all it took was the cold, dead stare of two presidents to wake me up just a little bit more.

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”
-George Washington

I have been in the business of making excuses in the past. I have been in the business of trying to blame other people for my misfortunes or for my hatred and my despair. But why bother?

What is the point when it can all be fixed, and just as easily as blaming someone else?

The trick is to do something. Anything.

Anything at all.

Take a different route to work in the morning and change the radio station. Play a CD that you don't know all the lyrics to all of the songs on. Wear a different pair of sunglasses or a different pair of shoes.

Take a walk.

Read a book.

Watch a movie instead of television.

Go shopping for clothes but don't buy anything. Just try a bunch of random shit on and make the people in the store really hate you.

Don't ask for help. Just do.

Take a chance on something you've always wanted to do and don't blame your failure on anyone else.

I've recently started a side job as a movie reviewer. That's right. On top of comic reviewing, I now movie review as well. It's a nice change of pace and a nice way to get the brain to flow.

I've started writing hardcore again. And by hardcore, I don't mean hardcore porn. I mean short stories. Screenplays. Book treatments. Submission packages. Manifestos. Anything and everything.

I've started compiling stories again for the Writers Mafia webpage for the express purpose of getting OTHER people's stories out there to be seen.

I've started to do something with my life that isn't the same monotonous toady life that I'm used to. And that's the key. That's the key to keeping the heart beating and keeping yourself moving throughout the world and finding a new way to make yourself something more.

And by now, I really hope you're paying attention.

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”
-Abraham Lincoln

I hope you're proud of yourselves. For coming this far with me.

64 times. 64 Fear and Loathings.

Some about Batman and comics. Some about random shit I've thought of that day or random shit that has escaped my mind.

But you've been part of a process.

It's cheaper than therapy. And much easier to.

You see, the whole point of Fear and Loathing is and always will be an escape. A way of finding out, figuring out, deciphering what I am and who I am and where I am going. And that is never easy to figure out. It is never easy to know what you once were and what you are now and try to find a way to meld the two.

Because I am not the man I used to be.

I'm not completely different.

Just a little. Well, a lot.

I've learned a lot these last few years, and maybe sometimes I have some advice. Maybe sometimes I have something to say.

And today, I do.

I am doing this, I am continuing this, so that I can be proud. So that I can offer you all something. A piece of myself.

A large piece of myself.

A piece of my brain and a piece of my writing and a piece of my heart. It's all about peace, brothers and sisters.

It's all about fear and it's all about how the fear can drive you. To do crazy things and to attempt something bizarre and otherworldly just for the sake of change. Just for the sake of sanity and finding out who you really are.

So take a leap with me.

Be a part of the or and make the choice that you're sure you want to make but you just can't say it outloud.

Do something different just once a day and I promise you, you will wake up that much happier in the morning.

Take a chance on something strange and weird and maybe a little creepy and maybe you'll learn something new about yourself.

So as this blog continues, that is the crux.

That is the point.

To continue the look into the or and to continue giving a glimpse into the world of the weird. I'll be back soon, and I'll have some more stories to tell.

"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
-George Washington


Part 65


Now that I have your attention, back to the main event as the fearing and the loathing continues. Life, as we know it, has strictly hit a strange new stride. A strange new thing has happened and I don't understand what the hell the world is coming to.

I mentioned people losing jobs previously. I mentioned the job reports and how sickening the global economy was becoming and especially how terrible the national economy was becoming.

I mentioned how the loss of jobs was the highest it had been in years.

And it has hit home for me.

Two people I am very close to have lost their jobs. And it is fucking frightening.

"Often while sewing for the lords and barons who lived in magnificent houses on the Lake Shore Drive, I would look out of the plate glass windows and see the poor, shivering wretches, jobless and hungry, walking alongside the frozen lake front. The contrast of their condition with that of the tropical comfort of the people for whom I sewed was painful to me.”

-Mother Jones

There is insanity in a world where there are millions of people who are losing their jobs, millions of people going without food, without medical benefits, without the standards of living that they need to have just to survive, and the world continues to be wracked with fear, frustration, death and destruction, hurricanes and torments unlike things we have seen for years, and there are people who feel it important to report in the news that ARod and his wife are full-blown getting divorced or Angelina and Brad are having problems.

How can anyone give one half of a fuck that this is going on when there are people you care deeply about suffering in silence because the world doesn't care about them?

How am I supposed to care what Hollyweird has to say about anything when the Fear and Loathing hits so close to home that the only thing I can do is sit back and hope that I was wrong about God, that I was wrong about fate, that I was wrong about everything?

How am I supposed to handle this whole messed up situation when the world is more interested in deciding which asshole to vote into office in the next few months as opposed to how we should actually fix things?

That is the weight of the world coming down on the shoulders of the people we are close to. The people who have lost jobs.

Imagine how they feel. If someone who questions everything and doesn't believe in anything can be shaken to the core by seeing two people he cares about deeply suffering because they have lost their careers, lost the place they worked at for a long stretch of time and gave months and years of their lives to only to have it taken away in one fell swoop, what hope can their be left in this world?

Not much.

“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.”

-Woodrow Wilson

There marks a time in every man's life where crisis hits. Every woman's life. Every person's life. And this was supposed to be a week of celebration. A week of rebirth. A week of change.

I was excited.

Starting two new jobs.

One reviewing movies for a website ( and the other for my career.

One unpaid, the other paid. I was supposed to be living a dream week.

But such is life.

Dreaming is a child's sport these days and children are left without dreams as time begins to pass even them by. It's sad. It's depressing. It's the way of the world.

In the wake of great tragedy, we are constantly reminded and constantly questioned where we were. Where were you when this happened?

Where were you when the bomb was dropped?

When Pearl Harbor was attacked? When Kennedy was assassinated? Martin Luther King Jr? Where were you when the first plane struck the World Trade Center? And the second?

You see, I changed seats at the conference table where my training was taking place. I felt the need to change my view of the world. To attempt to obtain some new grasp on what was happening. To see if maybe I was wrong and there was something I could do. But apparently, that room view change just allowed me to stare at New York City pre-World Trade Center collapse. Pre-terrorist action. Pre-world falling into chaos.

I was in Calculus class taking a test. I heard about the planes being hit as someone came into the class to tell us, but the cold-hearted teacher wouldn't leave. Like my gonzos, I can find humor in everything, I can brighten the mood. But family lived in NYC at the time. And DC. So a frantic wave shook over me.

I managed to get with it and I managed to make amends and I managed to lighten the mood for others. But being reminded of the mass hysteria, of the pain and the hatred and the way the world changed on that day and how every single day as we move along this world, we are constantly reminded of this.

We are constantly reminded that the action taken that day caused a domino effect on every single thing that has happened since then.

Our economy is shit.
Our job market is shit.
Our housing market is shit.
The dollar is down.
The DOW is almost always down.
We are in a recession.

But we still have people clamoring for 4 more years.

I don't think this world can take it.

I don't think 4 more years of this constant trudging through the shit and wading through the darkness and coming out clean on the other side will continue.

I don't think the world can take it. I don't think our conscience can take it.

I think we are in for a wake-up call.

And mine happened this past week.

When two people you care about lose their jobs, in a ROW, at companies that are not for any particular reason downsizing or mass laying people off (neither worked at Sprint), there is a problem.

When you wake up daily and question whether the end of the day will come and you will still have a job, there is a BIG fucking problem.

And it is time for us to wake up from our comas and see this.

To get out of our comfort levels and do something. Something big. Something HUGE.

You see, I still do not believe in fate. I still don't believe in God. And I won't change that.

It's scary to be scared and to be hurt for the people you care about, but it's a part of my life that will never change. I think I am resigned to live my life as a heathen as so many have called me, and I've grown to enjoy it.

I've grown to know myself better by not thinking that everything can be fixed by a magic wand.

But not everyone is.

So this is the scary part.

The world needs to change but there are so many people who think that that change can only come through God or through fate or through the lizard spirits inhabiting our body ready and willing to break free at any time.

There are people so wrapped up in their own little worlds that they don't care that the common man and woman is struggling in fear as the hatred and agony this world has to offer is gripping them.

They only care about their paycheck and their millions of dollars in bonuses for being an asswipe and knowing how to hit 3 point baskets or throw a ball really fast or how to run really fast.

And this is the way the world ends.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

“A world ends when its metaphor has died."
-Archibald MacLeish

We are all on the road to death and despair. If we stand idly by and let it happen, it is over. Right now, we are so close to the end that it would be so much easier to give up and give in.

But that is not what this blog is about. That is never what this is about.

In the face of great adversity, the freaks and the weird and the gonzos will rise up and freak out the rest of the world. They will embrace the or because we will make them. We will freak them out of their cold, sterile lifestyles and make them change. We will open their eyes.

So this is on you now.

It's all on you to do something.

It's on you to change the world.

Those people that lost their jobs that meant the world to them will find something new.

That is the way these things work out. Because actions are taken and people do things to fix them.

The people they care about and the people that care about them come together to make these things work out for the best. They come together and make great strides together to fix the problem.

They don't rely on prayer.

They don't rely on magic.

They don't rely on a white-bearded man in the sky.

They make the change that is necessary all by themselves.

And that is what we must do.

Embrace the or. Embrace the change. Be the change that you so strongly desire and stop sitting idly by and waiting for the telephone to ring or waiting for people to offer you the dream job or waiting for people to publish your book or want to read your screenplay. Make them.

Take action. Make change. Do something.

Embrace the or. The choice stands before you and your choices are simple. Embrace the change or sit still and let the world pass you by. Embrace change or sit still and let the world end all around you.

This is it.

We are nearing our final approach.

Ground zero.

This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time.

The time is now to do something. And it's on you.

"This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

-T.S. Eliot


Part 66

In the process of looking for part-time jobs to keep things afloat in this crazy strange time we're living in, I've been listening to the new Kings of Leon album "Only by the Night."

And I had to say something.

Monica, I hope you've heard this album by now. If not, get out there and listen to it.

It opens with what could quite possibly be the greatest song I've ever heard.

And I'm not being gonzo in any fashion when I say that.

I know a lot of times some people may have a hard time believing what I say, but Closer is quite possibly one of the most beautiful, amazingly well produced and well-sung and just overall well performed songs I've ever heard.

On par with songs like Tender by Blur, Go With The Flow by Queens of the Stone Age, I really think Closer by Kings of Leon will be a constant player in my car.

I really do.

I don't think that there is any question about that.

But really, it gets better after that. It truly does. It gets amazing.

It gets so good that it's almost hard to talk about this CD and make any mention of anything else that has come before.

Yes, the Kings of Leon are very reminiscent of 60s and 70s rock super-groups, you name one, they feel like that.

They feel very Zeppelin, they feel very Experience, they feel very old Who. They feel like the music that people should be making these days.

Listen to number 2. Crawl.

I listen to this song and it makes me think I'm in the eye of a storm.

When you can listen to an album and completely be swept away by the music and forget about your personal problems for the 2-5 minutes that that one song is on is just an astounding process.

To be able to visualize a music video for the band in your head each and every time the songs start, you get a good sense of how amazing the work truly is.

And that's the extent of the album.

I could go song by song, but I won't bore you. I won't literally tell you that this album came right at me like the guitars and knocked me out and surprised the hell out of me, but for the love of Veloci-Jesus, this could be my favorite album this year.

Literally. Bar none.

It could very well be the album that promises to do something for the Rock genre again.

An album that could very well change the landscape in ways that other bands have tried in recent years and have desperately failed.

And there's no emo to be had here kids. So leave the black hoodies and the Hot Topic punch cards at home.

This is melt your face and have sex with your lady rock.

This is Sex on Fire.

That's why it's called Only by the Night.

And that brings about the next topic.

With the new job that I've ascertained, I wake up to see the sun rise and I leave work to watch the sun go down.

It's depressing, and I know I've mentioned that previously, but for the love of all that is good and all that is happy and all that makes me sane and happy, what's next?

I'm looking for a part-time job to fill in the blanks and pay off some of the nasty debt that I've accrued in my lifetime so that I can keep my car and keep my shitty apartment and keep some modicum of a life while I live it.

I don't even think there is time for a part-time job, I'm not sure how many hours in a day I have, but being an insomniac might help with that. There's that whole Tyler Durden thing again. Popping it's ugly head back out and forcing me to take notice. I should just dream. Whether I'm asleep or awake.

I'm begging for scraps and begging for pennies and basically hanging on by a thread.

But my Sex is on Fire.

So I've got that.

But really, I've been working my hands to the bone for the last 3 years now, trying to create a life, and every time something comes up to knock that life away from the way that you think it's going, every time so big speed bump comes up and knocks you off the path, what are you supposed to do?

Right now, I'm in the mood to take a running leap off the KCPL building downtown and see what kind of an impression I would make from that.

Would it be bigger and better than the impression I'm making now, doing this, writing this, changing your lives with the passing words of a madman, or would it be exactly like this: just a passing glance and a blip on the radar?

Just a red spot on the concrete?

These depressing thoughts, these disturbing revelations, they destroy you.

They creep up when you least expect them and they creep back when you still do.

They make you feel like you could Use Somebody around, like you could run to Manhattan and have some Revelry in the past, like you could do something with your life but every time you like to think that you can change things, life creeps right back in and destroys you.

I need to learn bass guitar better so I can keep a rhythm and be the low voice to this world around me.

The pessimist that holds the beat for everyone else around them. We hope it's going to make you notice someone like us.

Someone that is there in the background, playing the tune that you love so desperately that you want to taste the music and make that change by your world.

I Want You to Be Somebody.

I want 17 things to come true for you in the next few weeks.

I have this Notion that a Cold Desert is exactly what this feels like. Cold. Empty. Alone. Deserted and left stranded behind while the world passes away from you. That's what life is. For most of us. Just a big wasteland.

All I see is something I don't like when I look in the mirrors, so it's time to see something different.

It's time for me to Be Somebody.

It's time for me to change and have the notion of changing myself and not the way the world sees me, but rather, the way that I see myself and I see the world.

It's time for me to do something.

I can't expect you to change yourself if I'm not willing.

But I'm scared.

Will you be scared with me?

Will you be there in the night when the lights go out and the scary things come out?

Or will you leave me behind in your attempts to change the world?

Will you leave the big blue world behind in your grasp for the future and for something different?

Only by the Night is all about the fire. It's all about the life. It's all about changing yourself.

Showing yourself how to see the stars and how to open your eyes to the things that are beautiful all around you.

It might be a little hippy and free love, but sometimes the desperation calls for that.

I'm calling for that right now.

This is exactly what I needed. You should all find a way to listen to this album. Buy it. Borrow it from a friend. Get your grubby little mitts on it somehow or some way.

It's time for something new. Something young and fresh, something beautiful.

I'm going to change the world. Won't you join me?


Part 67

What do you do when someone you trust, someone you've made into your personal hero, tells you that their suicidal? What do you do when everything around you starts to crash and burn and make you feel like you're to blame?

Do you accept the blame?

Is this some karmic payback for the way you've treated other people?

In my case, I feel that it most certainly is.

I feel like the grim reaper. I feel like the people that know me usually get awful news. They usually pay some horrific price for knowing me or being around me. One of my gonzos has had a hell of a year, and it was only recently that he and I started to talk more. He and I basically became internet pen pals, talking on G-Chat daily instead of working and just talking about nonsensical crap.

Crap that most people could give less than a shit about.

But he's had a hell of a year, and I can only stop and think that it has something to do with me.

I feel like the plague sometimes. I roam from person to person, causing unforeseen horror to their lives and just utterly disrupting what niches they carve and what nice little happy lives they have. I mention the year 2003 a lot, but I mean, a friend killed himself, another died in a car crash, my beloved grandmother passed on and her passing somehow found a way to be blamed on me.

Here's the scoop: she took a turn for the worst and got terribly ill. She was dying. We all knew she'd soon be gone. This was near the end of 2002. She was 80 and she was old but she was the greatest. And my dad (more on him later) was going to see her one last time. My mom wanted to go. But she couldn't. She couldn't go and found a way to turn the tables on me.

That's the greatest joke in the world.

She didn't trust me to stay home. She didn't know what I was capable of.

In early 2003, my grandmother passed away. And I know that every time I see my mom, she blames me for not getting to see her just one last time.

So 2003 became the year of a million reasons to blame myself. A year to spend in darkness and shame and standing on the edge of bridges and cliffs and just waiting for the right reason to cast myself off into oblivion. Waiting to just jump and hope to hit the concrete before some terrified passerby had to hit me and then had to suffer the rest of their lives knowing they had killed someone. If only they had known that I wanted to die.

But for some reason, I chose to live.

I chose to continue living.

I didn't let small things affect me (and yes, these were not merely small things happening, these were very big events transpiring). I didn't let them stop the forward progression.

Move ahead 5 years now. It's been 5 years since Justin killed himself. Any of you readers know that.

In the last few short weeks, two people I care deeply about lost their jobs after working at them for long periods of time. Both people had no reason to lose their jobs, but I feel, having known me, that maybe they deserved to lose their jobs because they chose to know me. Deserved is the wrong word. Maybe it was some form of ritual that was going to disturb them or some tragic disease that had been passed along down the line because they knew me.

Maybe it was all going to get worse.

And it seems like it has. I'm looking for a second job while trying to stay positive and do well at the new jobs that I just started and I'm really frantically failing. I feel eyes searching me, looking for reasons on why they hired me in the first place. And I have no answers for them.

Being a standard paranoid person, one who watches two men taking photos of an empty building and doesn't know what the hell they could be doing, a person who goes to one of the empty floors on his building and wanders around wondering when someone is going to pop out and strangle him and throw him out an open window, the eyes looking at me are starting to get to me.

So I'm shaking. Shaking uncontrollably. Weird eye spasms.

It's like the weight of the world is on my shoulders and I can't even begin to find a way to lift it. It's like there are so many opportunities for me to be a spectacular failure, and I'm just looking for the right one.

So anyways, in the process of this reinvention, rededication to new thinking and new living, another bombshell is delivered. My dad is suicidal. My dad who used to be one of my heroes is questioning his status in the world and thinks that he offers nothing to anyone. My dad, whose shoulders were supposed to lift me up and deliver me from the evil tyranny of homework and questionable teachers, is leaning on these ever-slouching shoulders for help.

What do you do? What the hell is a person supposed to do?

What's someone supposed to do when their entire life has been about accepting blame? Do I shoulder the responsibility of every single human being I come in contact with and allow their problems to then become my own? Or do I find a way to curse them just for having known me?

You may be sitting there reading this and not believe any of it is true. I can assure you, it is. Of course, I'm the author here, so I'd want you to believe me. But my gonzo hat is off. My gonzo hat is now off and flapping in the wind waiting for an answer to just appear out of thin air. But there aren't any to be found.

When I was a kid, I spent some summer family vacations in New England and there were two instances where I almost drowned. Where the waves crashed on top of me and pulled me down so hard that my lungs filled with water and I couldn't get back up because I couldn't find my footing. I almost died. At 8 years old I almost drowned and almost became a statistic. And once more when I was 13.

It's like every 5 years something drastic and disturbing happens that forces me to re-evaluate things.

And I'm sitting here, and I'm thinking, what if I had drowned? Would my dad be suicidal? Would my gonzo have had such a strange and god-awful year? Would the people I care about be out there searching for jobs day and night and trying desperately to get ahold of someone from the unemployment office?

And I'm also left wondering, if I had just jumped, or cut deeper, or took the blade and let the blood cascade down to the ground, if I hadn't asked for help and just gone through with it, would all of these people have been saved from the wrath of knowing me?

Or was it all too late anyways? Was the potential of having me in their lives in the future or the fact that they grew up with me or raised me, was that all too much to handle and would it have still ended up the same?

These are all questions that run through my brain all day as I sit in front of a computer trying to find the courage to change what I do for a living but can't because of what all is happening. I'm tilling my own grave, day after day.

There is so much more to the story, but I fear that I don't have the words. What do you do when your choices are death and destruction or life and destruction? There's not much choice is there.

But is there hope? Is there hope for a future that might someday brighten up? I don't much believe in hope. I don't hold it firmly in my heart as something that I can believe in. I don't believe in God, and hope seems like a happy word for being blind to the world, so what's the difference? Do I lead a bleak existence of sadness and grief or do I end the misery and cast off this mortal coil?

I don't know.

And if I've made you question your own mortality, I apologize.

I'm working something big out here. Something catastrophic. I don't have time, patience, or money for a psychiatrist, so apparently the ravings of a madman will have to do. Apparently this is one way to get my thoughts out. And if it's on something of a public forum, so be it.

I'm not here to dismiss psychiatry, nor am I here to force opinions down your throats. Maybe I'm just here to tell you a story. That all people have problems. That each of us have big or small problems that may cause us ill will or some torment.

That our lives are some form of torment day and night, every single day. And if it isn't worth living, why get up anyways?

I might not believe in hope or god or anything else of real worth depending on who you ask, but I do believe in continuing. Whether it's out of spite or just wanting to see an end product, I believe in living every single second of every single day until your last breath is reached.

Who knows, mine could be today, or tomorrow, or I could live to be 3000 years old. I don't know. I'm not someone to predict that sort of thing. What I do know is this: don't believe me. Don't take my word for it.

Live your life. Live it. Take a chance on something. I am so frustrated in the way that the world works and I am so frustrated in the ways that people are getting on and I do feel like it partially has something to do with all of these people knowing me. It sucks for them. It really does.

But at this point in my life, at my quarter-life crisis, I'm left wondering, what's the point? Why blame yourself? Is it the easy way out? Are you offering someone else the chance to then blame you for that same thing or something far worse?

Yes, yes I am.

I am someone to blame if you so desire to blame me. Go ahead. Put it all on me. I'll live with it.

I'll live with it and move on. I'll live my life out of spite and I'll probably watch each of those people who cast an ill eye towards me suffer and vanquish to something far more terrible than any affliction that will catch up with me.

But then again, maybe I won't. Maybe not all is what it seems.

I mean, I am who I say I am, aren't I?


Almost there.


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