Theme Reveal – A-to-Z April Challenge

I’m participating in this year’s A-to-Z Challenge. The challenge is to post something each day for the month of April (except for Sundays). The topics are of our choice, but have to be posted in alphabetical order. For example, the topic of your April 1st post might be “Apple,” etc.

If you’ve scanned this blog then you’re probably not surprised that my theme will be “flash fiction, stories, literature, poetry”. I haven’t really settled on anything specific yet, but each of my posts, whether they be fiction or poetry, may be interrelated in some way, perhaps sharing characters, themes or setting.

I considered participating last year but chickened out. But I think this might be fun, or at least helpful for my writing. I will also check out some of the other participants’ blogs. Looks like there will be a good number of blogs with a variety of topics.

Oh boy. Here we go.

I think I tricked myself. You see, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. And you’re probably thinking, “tiredhamster, why would you do that to yourself? Especially you, since you’re a horrible procrastinator and not even your short stories are good so what makes you think you can sustain a novel-length narrative and do you even have an outline prepared tomorrow’s November did you get drunk?”

No, I don’t have an outline prepared, but I do have an idea of what I’m going to do. Okay, it’s going to be about a guy named Harold Shrum (original character, do not steal, please) and he’s just an average guy. However, he needs money for some reason I’m not sure yet so he decides to become part of an experiment that somehow allows him to experience different lives: the life of a rockstar, the life of a high-fantasy adventurer, and the life of a star captain. However, the corporation that is running the experiment may have some ulterior motives. What are they? Hmmm. Don’t know. Anyway, I basically had several ideas so I decided to toss them all together. That’s always a good idea, right? Like most of my writing, it probably won’t take itself too seriously but then suddenly go into a mope-fest. I’m hoping it will also be more than that, but we will see.

So, probably won’t be posting as much next month. I may decide to toss up any notable updates regarding progress on the novel. And I guess that’s it. Ok bye.

Written for Stream of Conscious Saturday hence why it sounds like I’m a bit off my rocker, more than usual. If anyone is also participating in NaNoWriMo this year, good luck! Don’t die!

Oh no. What am I doing? NaNoWriMo

I probably shouldn’t be doing this, but fuck it. After reading Sammi Cox’s post I decided to go ahead and participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo. Basically, for the month of November, the goal is to write at least a 50k word novel. And I have no idea what I’m going to write. Well, I have some idea. It’s probably going to be about a guy. Maybe it will be a coming-of-age book. Maybe it will be some weird garbage. Who knows? I certainly don’t. But, fortunately, November’s only a few days away so I have plenty of time to start preparing.

I probably shouldn’t be doing this since I’ve been busy with work and other stuff. But, ehhhhhh, we’ll make it work. We’ll make it work. I’ll probably provide updates on my progress here. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. Gonna be great. Never written a novel before. Gonna be great…

Autumn Leaves, Salads, and Driving the Wrong Way Down a One-Way Street

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but I figure it’s time to Share My World.

Have you ever driven the wrong way on a one-way street? How did this come about?

Not yet, but considering how awful a driver I am this will surely happen soon. Everyone watch-out, I need to go to Trader Joe’s and have no idea what I’m doing.

As a kid, did you ever decide to run away? Did you have a plan? Take a pet? Sandwiches?

Yes, but I didn’t get very far. Just the night before my planned escape, I went downstairs to see what supplies I can muster. But once I opened the cabinets I immediately got lazy and decided to wake-up early in the morning to gather everything. I ended-up sleeping-in and that was that.

You suddenly found you have a hidden talent for playing a musical instrument. What musical instrument do you hope that accompanies your talent? Any particular song?

Probably something people aren’t really known for playing. There’s a million guitar players out there so it’s pretty hard to stand-out, so instead I would become the “Jimi Hendrix of marimba.” No one plays marimba so I can help revolutionize marimba-playing and foster interest in the instrument that’s like a xylophone but not really. My face would be on “Marimba Weekly” every month and I would have a ponytail.

Do you accessorize with jewelry? There was an opal necklace (cursed) and Slytherin’s locket (also cursed) in the Potter story. Have you had any heirloom jewelry passed down through the generations? Is it more ‘keepsake’ or do you wear it on occasion? (Hopefully, yours was not cursed?)

No. I’m pretty bare-bones when it comes to my appearance. Not literally. I still wear a shirt and jeans, but anything beyond that is too much. And fortunately, I’ve never had jewelry passed-down to me. Because that shiz would be lost long ago.

What ingredients go into YOUR favorite salad?

Everything. Chicken. Corn. Tortilla strips. Tomatoes. Cheese. Black beans. Cilantro. And, if possible, avocado. Drench it all with dressing and you don’t even have a salad anymore. You have a delicious artery-killer. There is a killer on the loose. His name is Flavortown. Taking my stomach to the taste-gulag.

If you care to, share something that really irritates you.

Probably when people or institutions have the means to better the world, but not the will. We have the money and resources to combat global warming and homelessness, yet we still manage to drop the ball, and a lot of that has to do with government simply unwilling or uncaring to do anything substantial. Also, I hate it when you’re on the phone and then some other calls starts ringing in your ear. Not great.

What are your favorite ‘lounging around the house’ items of clothing?  Now that a lot of people ‘lounge around the house’ waiting for the all clear in respect to Covid being shown the door, have those lounging items changed?

Sweatpants. Socks. Sadness. T-shirt with holes in it that says “Double-Rainbow” like the meme from a thousand years ago. 

Please feel free to share something about Autumn (or Spring if you’re gearing up for that) that you especially enjoy!

I guess the weather? Pretty boring answer I guess, but I’m a pasty white boy. My ancestors come from snow, but where I live is pretty sunny and warm most of the time. Winter’s alright, but I’m not a big “holiday person.” Putting-up lights. Cooking. Shopping. Just too much. But with autumn there’s less obligation. You can walk around, watch some leaves drift into air.

Blog Updates: The Origin of Loss and other projects (also, a fun political rant!)

So I will be taking a break from writing The Origin of Loss, probably for a week or so. So far it’s been fun writing, but I feel I just need to step away from it for a bit. However, if you want to read the installments so far (don’t know why you would want to) you can head on over here: The Origin of Loss.

Anywho, I still have some other projects lined-up that I may work on some more this week. But, I feel like writing about something that has just been tugging at me lately. And, yes, it has to do with politics, again (I’m so sorry.) So, you may or may not have read some garbage I wrote last week which was mainly a response to another person’s post. Basically, while I’m not a big fan of Sanders it’s clear that, out of all of the candidates, he is the best one for the US. However, it looks like he’s probably not going to get the nomination. So that means it’s likely going to be Joe Biden up against Donald Trump. Two guys most people don’t like who are incompetent and don’t have the country’s interest in minds. These are the two guys were are going to be stuck choosing between. And it seems like this happens a lot. This is because of our convoluted electoral system and an electorate that is driven by fear and control rather than voting for who they think is right to do the job. It’s a little disheartening, but not surprising.

The reason I bring this up is because we’re already hearing demands to “Vote Blue, No Matter Who” and “A Vote for Sanders is a Vote for Trump.” basically an admittance that Biden sucks and that we just have to deal with it. But, I understand if someone wants to vote Biden because they would rather have him than Trump. I do too. However, Biden isn’t going to be that much better than Trump. And the whole idea of voting for the “lesser evil” has been a pox. It’s one of the major reasons why we are here. People have been voting for the “lesser evil” forever and guess what? Trump still won. It really makes you think. It makes you wonder if, maybe, we should stop doing the same thing every god damn time. And I think a lot of voters realize this and either don’t care, or are riddled with fear.

And you’re going to see a lot of justification and excuse-making in favor of Biden. Bernie Sanders is a narcissist and shouter similar to Trump. But Biden? “Oh, he’s just a kindly old man who wants things to return to the good ol’ days.” Yet, it is Biden, not Sanders, who has literally threatened people who have confronted him. But, if you still think he’s a nice old guy, ask Anita Hill.

Biden and Trump. Guys who have no real vision. They just want control, damn everyone else. It really shows that, beneath the surface, both Republicans and Democrats are pretty much the same. One might be “slightly” better than the other, but you’re still voting for “evil,” you are still voting for the party that is throwing support behind someone who has supported the Iraq War and cuts to Social Security.

“Hey, it’s not great, but suck it up, babies! If you don’t vote for Biden, Trump wins!” The fact that Democrats literally threaten you to vote for their guy really shows their true colors. It really shows that they do not care what you want. I think it’s time that the Democratic Party is punished. Because this can’t keep going on. Otherwise, we are going to keep getting guys like Biden and Trump, and the country is going to keep going in the same direction that shits on the poor and middle class while benefiting the rich. Democrats aren’t entitled to our votes. They have to earn them. “But Trump is going to keep harming people!” And guess what? Biden will too if he’s elected! Do you honestly think he will help fix-up the immigration process, end the War on Drugs, support universal healthcare, and cease drone-strikes? We need long-term solutions. We need to change the system, and Biden is as much part of that system as Trump is.

Welp. Glad I got that out of the way. I know there are people who are going to disagree with me, and that’s fine. It’s just strange that people claim to be sick and tired, yet still vote for the types of people responsible for the status quo. Good memes.

So anyway, as mentioned before, taking a short break writing The Origin of Loss and may start posting the start of another series. And I probably won’t post more political stuff. I’ve mentioned previously that I would start writing stuff related to writing and art, and I might still, but any sort of post or essay I start turns about pretty crappy. But, we will see. Stay tuned. Yay.

What is this and why? The Origin of Loss (and other things…)

If you’ve been following this blog you might have seen installments for something called “The Origin of Loss.” And you might have also be wondering “what is this garbage?” And: “why does this keep appearing on my feed? I don’t want any of this shit! please make it stop!” Well, it’s not going to stop, at least not anytime soon.

Basically, “The Origin of Loss” is yet another series I have started. The gimmick here is that each part is written in 12 minute, nonstop sessions. It’s kind of like 12-Minute Tales, except it’s meant to be a continuous story. I was also inspired by The Adventures of Skellian & Joe McShoots. Like the author of that series this is just a way of overcoming writer’s block and to keep myself entertained.

It’s about a 17 year-old loner named Jimmy McDougal whose family neglects and his teachers don’t care for. His life is mundane in his town of Nameless, but things go a little wacky when a nearby facility experiences a breach and some mysterious creatures are released upon the town. You can check out the story so far here.

I’m also planning on posting other bad stories in the future, don’t worry. I still want to post about the art of writing as well as art and art criticism in general. So if you want some pretentious shit, stay tuned!



A Simple Question of Starting Over

This week, Fandango presents us with another question, this one a bit more personal:

Would you be willing to give up everything you have if you could go back and start your life all over again? Why or why not?

What’s interesting is the way the question is phrased. He could have just asked “would you start your life all over again if given the chance?” But nope, he puts “Would you be willing to give up everything you have” at the beginning. And yes, giving up everything is pretty much implied if you decide to restart your life, but I’m not sure if people actually think about such an implication, hence why Fandango probably decided to make it explicit. As a result, when trying to answer this question you end-up revealing quite a bit. I mean, doesn’t it say a lot if one is willing to give-up all their achievements and relationships just to start over? Just to experience a first kiss again, or correct a business decision. Basically, would you be willing to sacrifice your life, and the lives of everyone else, just so you could have a “redo”?

Nice try, Fandango. See, he’s trying to make the whole thing more complicated by throwing in that quandary. But let me tell you something, I don’t give a fudge about anything. You could even say I’m the master of not giving a fudge. See, you know that song by LCD Soundsystem, “All My Friends” where he sings that he wouldn’t take away one mistake for another 5 years of life? Well, I would. I don’t care. Fandango tried making this question tougher than it is, but guess what? I didn’t even have to think about this for one second. Nope. I am totally, 100% willing to give up everything to redo my life.

That is if I remember everything from my current life. I don’t want to be going into my new life blind. Because if I redo my life with the knowledge I have I would totally kick ass. Invest in the right companies. Say the right things to the right people. Become ultra-rich by the time I’m 17 and live the shit out of my new life. I mean, yeah, I basically erased the lives of everyone else in the process, but maybe by me becoming rich everyone is better off. Right? Yeah, maybe some guy down the street never sees the love of his life as a consequence of me buying Amazon (man, chaos theory kicks ass, doesn’t it?) but love is overrated anyway.

Then again, what if I don’t remember anything? Then…well…it’s kind of like that idea of Eternal Recurrence. You know, from Nietzsche. Basically, it’s a thought experiment where a demon forces you to relive your life exactly the way you did previously. For some this would be a curse, but for others a blessing, depending on your outlook and how you lived your life. At least, I think that’s what Eternal Recurrence is. I don’t remember, and I don’t do research for anything I write.

If that’s the case though, I don’t know if I would. The question really becomes something else. It’s really about whether or not you lived life to the fullest. And, well, at least so far, I don’t think I’ve had. Instead of learning new skills or going out into the world, I’ve drifted along on autopilot, out of either fear or complacency. And I think that’s the case for most people. Maybe that’s one of the fundamental differences between the average person, and a “great one.” When Magnus Carlsen was 22, he won the world chess championship. When I was 22, I, well…in college? I mean, I mostly had a good experience and met some great people…I don’t really remember a whole lot. And maybe I’m being too dismissive. After all, you don’t need to be the world’s greatest at anything in order to have a good, meaningful life. But I sometimes wonder if I had potential for something and never fulfilled them. Or had opportunities to experience life to the fullest, and shirked them. A mediocre life.

If I redid my life, would I just end-up making the same decisions? Probably. It’s like what Matthew McConaughey said, “time is a flat circle.” The same things keep occurring throughout history because people keep making the same decisions, keep living the same lives as their ancestors (OK, sometimes they don’t have much of a choice,) without much dimensionality. I mean, that’s an oversimplification of, well, everything. But, you understand what I’m going for: people kind of just float along through life, and I’m not the exception.

So, would I be willing to restart everything if there was just a slight chance that things might occur differently, hopefully for the better? Meh. Probably not. I mean, so far my life is alright, but I feel like I have the opportunity to make things better. But am I going to?

However, if I had knowledge of my previous life? At first I said yes, but well…now I’m thinking about that song lyric: I think the reason why he wouldn’t take away his past mistakes is because those were his mistakes. They were what made him the person he is now, and he would much rather own up to that than “start over.” But what about me? I mean, I have no choice but to own up to the dumb shit I’ve done, and to the things I never did. However, if given the choice? I don’t know. Because if I relived my life, even with knowledge from my previous life, wouldn’t I become a different person? Would the people around me no longer be the ones I loved? I would still love them, but something would be lost. I would be lost, even if what I am now is “better.”

Hm…but other than that the question is simple really. It’s just ourselves that are fucked up. Well, myself actually. I don’t want to throw humanity under the bus just because I’m struggling with this prompt…actually, fuck Nietzche, fuck Matthew McConaughey. The answer is yes, I would destroy everything so I could start over. Why? Because I want to be Jeff Bezos. With that kind of money you don’t have to worry about anything. Yep. That is all.


Writing About Art, and Other Things (A Minor Update)

I never really had much of a plan going into this blog. I had some ideas, like writing about writing as well as providing a “behind the scenes” of web fiction series I never got around to doing, but I was just winging it for the most part.

And that hasn’t changed. However, I want to start focusing on more “serious” projects. I’m still planning on writing a web fiction (or serial fiction, whatever you want to call it) series, but it’s probably going to be a bit different than what I had originally outlined. It will probably focus on the same character, a hapless pizza deliveryman whose world just spirals into chaos around him. I’m also going to try to finish-up some of the stories I started writing for 12-Minute Tales such as “A Strange Dominion” and “Marcus, the Magnificent.” If you’re “not in the know” or “out-of-the-loop,” 12-Minute Tales are basically dumb stories I write in one 12-minute sitting with no planning and with basic editing. Most of the stories are bad, but the point was to keep myself writing. I’ll probably still do this as an exercise once in a while, but probably not too often as I try to focus more on projects that I could (hopefully) be proud of.

I also still want to write on art and the art of writing, but it’s hard. Lately I’ve been trying to write a response to column by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame on the “power of art,” but I find that some of my thoughts just aren’t enough to sustain a decent blog post. Or maybe it’s just that I’m not very good at articulating my points. There are things I want to say about art, but whenever I write them down it feels like I’m just not conveying what I’m trying to say well enough and could come across as arrogant or pretentious, more so than usual.

But ehhhhhh, I’ll keep trying. I’ve got nothing better to do. Guess that’s been the unsaid motto of this whole thing. It’s funny, just a few years ago I was super ambitious about writing and art. I wanted to change how people think through my literature. Now I come home from work and write stories about mean chickens and Dr. Phil. Literally stuff that no one should really read.

Oh, and I’ve also been thinking about doing movie reviews (because no one does this.) Like last night, I saw Soldier, a ’98 sci-fi/action film with Kurt Russell. It was a’ight. There, there’s the first movie review. Watch out Siskel! Suck a dick Ebert! Cause I’m coming down to Hollywoodland! But seriously, the movie wasn’t too bad. Anyway, I hope everyone and their grandmother enjoyed this minor update that I probably didn’t need to do. Goodnight, and good luck.

Singularity Hilarity

When humans first lit the spark of man-made fire within a cave long forgotten by time, there has been a fear. The cavemen (and women) looked into the flames and then into each other and thought, “shit, super-intelligent toasters better not turn us into slaves.” The fear of ambitious cooking appliances have always been with us, and today, I will be answering a couple of questions relating to this ancient, deeply-seated anxiety. Fandango asks:

Do you think the singularity will occur? If so, what time frame do you think it will happen in and how will it impact humanity? Alternatively, do you think or care at all about the potential for reaching singularity?

First off, what is “the singularity”? According to Fandango, “It’s a hypothetical future point in time when technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization.” Basically, at least from what I’ve read, this “uncontrollable growth” would be the result of machines becoming so intelligent that they are no longer within our control.

Some pretty smart peeps have been trying to achieve artificial intelligence for awhile now, and they’ve come a long way, but I also don’t think machines are going to be sentient any time soon. I mean, yeah, computers are pretty good at chess, but, at least from what I can tell computers aren’t creative, yet. When computers start creating totally unique works of art that’s when I start worrying. Because art involves not just intelligence and decision making, but creativity and self-expression. I’m not 100% down on the most recent scientific journals, but I have a feeling we’re not quite there yet. Though maybe I’m wrong.

Though when some people think of “the singularity” they may not be imagining the TS-300 stomping on human skulls, but rather artificial implants. This is the kind of shit that worries me. Because while “true” artificial intelligence maybe a ways off, companies are already thinking of better, more nefarious way of tracking their workers. And once such practices enter the mainstream, consumers will allow Elon Musk or any other psychopath with too much money to insert whatever questionable device into their skulls.

OK, I’m not sure this kind of “singularity” will actually happen, but if it does it will be gradual. Smartphones were once scarce, but now they’re everywhere to the point where life is almost unimaginable without them. At the moment we may guffaw at the idea of microchips or any other implant, but don’t underestimate the determination of corporations and consumers’ willingness to allow their reservations to be slowly eroded away.

“Hey man, you’re being way too cynical. It’s just another technological advancement. There will be downsides, sure, but the benefits surely outweigh all the negatives.” Yeah, OK. Maybe. But my concern is less to do with technological advancements and more to do with the people behind them. I’m less concerned about robots dominating and more about the psychos and “futurists” who already do. Technology such as smartphones have opened up avenues never thought possible for the average person, but, corporations and governments have also gained a lot of power and access to our personal information.

So, in sum, I don’t think singularity will be achieved via artificial intelligence anytime soon, but I do worry a bit about how we’re willing to allow irreversible changes to be made to ourselves and loved ones by other technological means. Sure, life might be “easier” with implants, we come to find, but at the same time, shouldn’t we also just be a little bit more wary of these things? Just because some tech genius declares it to be “the future,” doesn’t mean it has to be. Do we really need more corporate and governmental intrusion into our lives for the sake of convenience? Then again, when did “need” ever come into play? We only start “needing” eye implants once we’ve allowed them to become a necessity, once we’ve forsaken our ability to navigate reality without them. Or maybe it is a need. A need that will never be sated. Humans will always find discomfort in something and will find an excuse to keep that same fire burning long after its humble spark.

Original photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash.

Human Creativity and the Stone Age of Art

Another week, another set of questions where I can showcase my expertise. This week, Fandango has decided to ask some pretty provocative questions about one of my favorite topics:

Are there limits to human creativity? Is it be possible for humans to create something completely novel and new that is based on nothing that previously existed? Or is human creativity just rearranging and building on previous ideas?

Something can’t come out of nothing, and this is true even for creative endeavors. Art that is seemingly original is always inspired by something else. Nothing is made within a vacuum. However, what’s interesting about these questions is that they almost imply that this is a negative.

“Or is human creativity just rearranging and building on previous ideas?” Yes, human creativity is just that, the building and reconfiguration of other things, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, nor a good thing. It’s just a fact. However, expansions and rearrangements of older ideas can lead to some truly great and, well, creative results.

Sometimes, creative ideas are only slightly more different or better than its precursors. However, a person may have a “leap” where they think or create something that takes previous ideas and launches them into space:

  • The film 2001: A Space Odyssey obviously takes ideas from previous science fiction films, but it still represents a creative leap forward for cinema and science fiction as a whole.
  • Citizen Kane: On the surface, not that original, yet it was still a highly innovative work of art with its nonlinear narrative and the use of focus, shadows, and character placement to convey a large amount of information.
  • Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow: Again, on the surface, the story doesn’t seem all that original, but it’s told in a completely unique way that represents a leap: its lack of close-ups emphasizes how insignificant the characters are in comparison to the world moving around them. Not only is this novel in comparison to other films, but it actually makes the movie more effective and moving as we understand, on a deeper level, the struggle and plight of its characters.

However, such works are scarce. Most works of art, whether it’s music or film or literature, are not really creative. Sure, they may take previous ideas and change them slightly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is any sort of “leap” or, at the very least, a re-invigoration. This is because most humans are not creative.

But, I’m optimistic. While human creativity, overall, might be limited, I think we’re still in the stone age of art. While there are some truly great and creative works out there, 99% of art just isn’t very good. This shows that we still have a long way to go before truly understanding what art is capable of and how we can comprehend and expand its potential. But, this is going to involve people looking backward and understanding what works, what doesn’t, and going from there.

Photo by Nikola Johnny Mirkovic on Unsplash