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EXACERBATION

There is a sick sense of pleasure some people find in power. This is nothing new. This isn’t a startling revelation. We have all seen it. We have all experienced it. From the teacher that grins as they call a student to carpet to a boss that seems to be just managing to hide their smile as they fire an employee there is something sick about the pleasure one gets from emotionally damaging others. Sure, there are kids that need to be shamed, and there are employees that deserve to be fired. To think that everyone is a victim is silly. That’s never the case. Things aren’t ever as simple as black and white. Some people get the kick in the junk they need or deserve. Most get the kick that others want them to have.

That’s where the problems arise.

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Dancing In Their Heads

Consider this a late Christmas gift. It is rough around the edges and unedited, but there’s a little coal within, as well as a small gift, it’s up to you to decide which is which. 

 

“You’re not the REAL Santa, you know.”

“Oh, is that the case?” The man with the long white beard pushed the fur trimmed read hat further up on his head and turned away from the mall’s window and towards the little girl speaking to him.

“Yup! You’re a fake. A, a, a ‘poster!”

The old man laughed.

“Well then, it seems you have me pegged, don’t you, little lady? Well then, so who do you suppose I am if I am not Saint Nick?” The man had bent down and had his hands on his knees as he spoke to the little girl in the blue jeans, t-shirt, and cowboy hat.

“You’re some, oh, I dunno, some guy name Mack, or Joe, or Bub. You’re just a, uh, you know fella, an employee. You just work here. You aren’t the real thing.”

“Well little girl, why can’t I work in a store like this one? Or the one across the street, or anywhere in the world? Why can’t I?”

“Mister, that’d be IMPASTA-BOWL! He can’t be everyone at once. He can’t do this job AND make toys and all that. He just can’t. And besides, you just don’t even LOOK like him!”

The old man laughed and stood up straight as a bell chimed in the distance.

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Fare thee Well

As I have gotten older I have come to see the past differently, something I think all of us do if we think about it a moment. The past was once a warm place where I could look back to when times were tough. The past offered respite and solace and the warmth of memories.

As I have gotten older though I see the past differently.

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Comeback

The world loves a comeback, isn’t that what they say?

Well, they say it, but it doesn’t always make it so.

Right?

We love to see someone rise, the notion of someone almost willing their way upward.

More than that though we love the fall.
We love to watch people fall back to earth after they rose, some sick sort of jealousy and envy twisting in us and making us take glee in someone’s destruction.

Ah, but the comeback, we do still love that, don’t we?

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Burning It Down

There are few things as satisfying as orchestrating a good takedown. I speak from experience. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t necessarily mature, but man alive does it feel good to take someone or something down that has done you wrong.

Even if the ‘you’ is bigger than just you alone but you are the one that is able to stand up and say ‘No’. There’s something profoundly righteous in that but righteous though it is it is also a hollow enterprise. You expend so much energy tearing someone down instead of building something that you don’t notice that you at the end you are among the ruins yourself.

But we need to destroy.

Sometimes.

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Thankful

As the year winds down we’ll start to see the social network posts about being thankful, and being blessed, and how we’re all one and everything is swell. For a short time we’re willing to overlook the madness of the world and pretend we can see above it all.

Good.

We shouldn’t have to fake it, ever, and I don’t want to say that this is faking it. That seeing the silver lining is faking that ‘things are A-OK’. No. I see this as a willingness to see beyond the pain, the despair, and the confusion of the times. If we lose the ability to see beyond the darkness then we’re doomed, aren’t we?

Sure, we can grind our teeth and stamp our feet at people’s platitudes but the fact is that we all do the best we can and if it takes the holidays to see the good in the world then well, it’s a start.

And I’ll take it.

For me, I look to this time of year as a time to stand back and look at what went down over the past few months and to be thankful for the good, and sometimes even the bad, because there are lessons in both.

2017 was, as every year is, trying.

But then too it was rewarding.

Watching your family age and decline is hard. Harder than you imagine when you are younger, but to have them at all is a blessing.

Losing friends never gets easier. Losing them as friends alone is hard but at least you know they are in the world, laughing and loving still. Losing them to death though isn’t something you ever quite get over. Their absence is a shadow over you that never leaves.

But over the course of the year some of us got to help out three friends in need and showed them some love and helped raise some money for them.

The convention group did another year of shows, culminating in a film festival. This marked our sixth year of operation. Six years that almost never were. Among the great decisions I have ever made was the one where I decided to stick with doing the con and to see what happened.

What happened was pretty amazing and still is.

I released another kid’s book, with the help of an artist friend.

I did some conventions and had a revelation at one that maybe I need to stop doing them. As much as I love them my head isn’t in it and I need to really figure out how I can most effectively promote and sell my books.

I finished my movie. That, that’s a heck of a thing.

I am still not sure how I feel about the finished product but I wrote it, I shot it, I directed it, I edited it, and I helped score it.

I love the film I am just not sure how well it works.

I wrote three songs.

I mean, they aren’t good songs, but they’re fun. They are ridiculous. I kinda love them.

I can’t get anyone to do anything with them so I figure I’ll have to sing them acappella and record it and see if I can figure out music.

Should be interesting.

I laughed a lot. I spent time with friends and loved ones. I got to know our dog better.

I lived as well as I allowed myself to.

I didn’t do as much as I wanted but I did a lot more than I imagined.

It’s been a year.

I am lucky to have had it, all of it.

I hope that you find the moments in your life that you can celebrate. The moments you can mourn.

Take a moment to celebrate yourself because in the end this is your journey and your story and without you then there is no story at all.

Thanks for being there.

…c…

Perfect Endings

As fans we all have our ‘perfect’ endings for the things we love, be it movies, books, comics, or something else that is more than a self-contained work. There is a gulf of difference between the solitary work and the series, an investment of time and emotion that most singular works don’t inspire. While a book that is a stand alone may disappoint someone the series will call out the wolves, the angry hoards that are just as passionate about their anger as they are their joy.

Woe be unto any that dares a series for you are inviting a world of chaos your way.

Naturally I wrote a series.

Well, it didn’t start that way, it just, well, happened. I wrote a book of short stories about some cute little flying sheepies and a witch. When the book reached it’s conclusion I figured that was the last thing I had to say about things. The story was complete. Oh but I did like those sheepies, and did fancy that world I had created and though, well, what if I just wrote some history from time to time to amuse myself. Thus, I entered the world of Tumblr and started to post some of the history of the Land of Man, where the initial story – The Meep Sheep –  took place. As I wrote these histories I realized how much fun I was having writing about this world and suddenly there was a second book. And dope that I am I opened a door in that second book – The Kreep Sheep – that I felt compelled to close. That’s the foolishness of the writer, opening doors you then have to close. So then we had a third book, a proper novel, that was meant to tie up the loose ends I had unraveled. Now, for me, there’s not some huge fan-base clamoring for my writing so thus there’s no wild band of crazed weirdos all upset at me for destroying their beloved.

Phew.

There’s a sense of ownership that happens to fans that invest themselves deeply into a series, a sense that they have a say in how the story should end. That doesn’t mean that it will change things but let’s face it, with all the creators in the world and all the fans, the louder they are, the angrier they are then there are creators that will be influenced by that. Most though are pretty set on which direction they want to head in and it is what it is. Fans don’t always love that though, believe me.

I was a fan of the Paranormal Activity series from the beginning and my wife and I adored the movies but by the end the series had lost its way and it ended on a huge kick in the junk. I am not sure I have ever been as frustrated and angry about a series as I was about the last entry of the PA films. Jeepers creepers. The thing is though that that was the ending they wanted. That was the ending they chose. I don’t have to like it but that’s the direction they went in. I can get upset, I can complain but just as I didn’t like it there are people out there that thought it was fabulous and were satisfied. The same goes for the controversial ending to the Dark Tower series. It was agonizing and brilliant and it was one of those things you would either love or hate and I stand sort of in the middle, both loving AND hating it. More than anything I love the guts that King had to do his ending and his books. But that’s the thing, in creating a series you have to accept that whatever ending you choose it will never live up to the hype that the fans have created for it.

And it can never live up to that hype.

Never.

As fans we feel a misguided ownership of the series and in our hearts WE know what is right and wrong and how things should go. Only, they know how THEY want it to go, not how other people would perceive as a ‘good’ ending. So as smart as we fans like to think we are the fact is that it’s all a crap shoot. If you are tuned into what the core of the story is and you follow that all the way through then wherever you end up is where you are meant to be, at least in your own heart and if you can live with it then you’re doing a lot better than most folks. I pity author George R.R. Martin because whatever he writes as the ending to his Game of Thrones seires it will never live up to what fans have created in their heads over the years.

And what a drag that is.

We have lost sight of simply enjoying things.

We have lost the sense of fun of losing ourselves in other worlds.

We don’t have to like where we always end up but there’s a beauty in that journey.

Sure, we don’t want to feel cheated after that investment of time, money, and emotions, but that’s the risk. You play the game and you see where it leads.

Sometimes literally.

Games are not immune to poor endings and they now are part of the fray, part of the dangerously thin ice that connects all art and creation.

Done well you are legendary.

Done poorly, well, that’s why we have Twitter it seems.

There is something beautiful about the long form narrative found in a series. Something deep and rewarding for creator and fan both. Hand in hand you are walking along a brambled path with no idea where you’ll end up but each step takes you deeper into a story that wraps itself around you like a snake.

Sometimes that snake will bite.

Sometimes you’ll charm it and it will grant you a wish.

It could go either way, friend.

Shucks though, when you fall in love you don’t question it, you just buckle up and hope for the best.

And art, the best kind of art, is a heck of a ride.

And worth the risk.

 

…c…