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Dec 21

Why I’m NOT Cool With The End of The World

Posted on Friday, December 21, 2012 in Explanations and Excuses, Ramblings

Early last year I wrote a piece titled “Why I’m Cool With the End of the World.” Back then I was ready - things were routine, I was treading water with everything in my life - basically, an apocalypse would have shaken things up and made things interesting again. Why the hell not.

The things I was cool with still hold true - except Obama DID win, and I am a little interested in how his second term rolls out, especially since he’s finally showing a little backbone against Boehnhead and the Republican House.

Truth is, though, in these final hours I’m not so sure about it all. You see, 2013 looks very promising for me, and it’d be a fucking shame if we blinked out of existence just as I was hitting my stride and getting off this Godforsaken plateau I’ve been on.

For your edification (and end of the world enjoyment) here’s a quick pictorial of some of the things I might miss out on if Planet Nibiru is for real:

These three stacks are novels. Over the last 12 years, I’ve written all three of them. The one on the left has moments of brilliance, but needs a major rewrite that I’m not sure I can give it. It was my first - call it an exercise in learning how to write a book. The middle one, The Survivor of San Guillermo, is going to get published in 2013. And the one on the right - The Talented Boys - is better than either of the other two.

Twelve years, I’m finally getting a book published. End of the world. Fuck.

This is an intricate, yet highly enjoyable and immersive board game I designed, which is based on a millions-dollar intellectual property that I can’t disclose until the property rights owner agrees to license it. If it gets licensed I’ll be ecstatic, because the IP is one I love, that my friends love, and that I believe is worthy of as much respect as Star Wars and Lord of The Rings. Even if we don’t get the license, I can adapt the game to a different IP and still have a great and highly publishable game.

Unless the world ends.

This is the back of my house. About five years ago, I added a new sun room to the back, with a little help from my dad. It was a project several years in the making, because I had to work on it in the nooks and crannies between doing all the other things I do. But it’s a great room - and it adds thousands of dollars of value to my home, as well as several hundred square feet. I’m almost finished with it, and then Aida (my wife) and I can start seriously looking into selling our house and upgrading to something even bigger. I’ll probably have it done by spring, weather permitting.

Apocalypse permitting.

Finally, there’s these two little ones. As sure as I am that they’d get a free trip to Heaven should the apocalypse prove real, and thus avoid the horrors of teenage-dom and adulthood, it’d be a travesty of Earth-shattering proportions. I’ve invested most of my heart and a lot of effort in making certain these two are happy and wholesome. Having that job cut off before I finished it MIGHT piss me off more than all the other stuff combined.

So yeah. I take back what I said earlier this year. The end of the world can wait.

Apr 11

Making The Decision Not To Panic

Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 in Ramblings

If you’ve ever wondered - like I have - if you could keep your shit together during some disaster, like a zombie apocalypse or a 2012 end of the world earthquake/tsunami/volcano/flood scenario, then you’ll enjoy where I’m coming from with this little story. After experiencing a few potentially disastrous situations, I’ve discovered something about myself that I’m kinda proud of, and that I hope will hold true should the disasters in question “scale up.”

This past weekend I was at Jekyll Island with the family, just taking a few days away from the city to celebrate Easter and get a much needed rest. Sunday evening I got kid duty, and I decided to take Madeleine, who’s just shy of 10, and Eli, who’s 5, to play putt putt golf. Eli fucking LOVES putt putt.

We played through a few holes, and somewhere around the 11th, I made the mistake of stepping into Eli’s backswing. Now, he’s a little guy, and you don’t need a lot of swing to make a golf ball putter toward a hole 20 feet away. Still, a golf club can be a formidable bludgeon, and even a little swing from a little guy can hurt. He hit me in the hand, and I jumped back and yelled. Eli was immediately scared because he hurt Daddy, but the pain was only momentary (nothing broken or even bruised - just a “warning” pop), and it was my fault for walking into his stroke, so I told him not to worry because Daddy had made the mistake, not him.

All was well. Then, on the 18th hole, MADELEINE walked into Eli’s backswing. She’s not as tall as me, so she didn’t get hit in the hand - she got clocked in the face.

And here’s where it happened.

You would not believe the amount of blood a blow to the face with a golf club will bring forth from a 10-year-old girl. Madeleine immediately started screaming – loud enough to draw a crowd, and loud enough to absolutely terrify her little brother.

Blood flowed through her screams. She held both hands to her face, and both of her palms filled with blood until they overflowed, so that within moments, blood was dropping in small puddles onto the walkway and the golf course. I knelt beside her, and as I worked to calm her and to check her out, blood flowed in rivers down MY hands and arms.

But somewhere in there, just as the fact that my daughter was hurt – potentially very badly -  registered in my mind, and just as the blood began to gush, some part of me said to every other part of me: “Being afraid for her will not help her. Being conscious of all that blood will not make it stop. There are logical steps you must follow now as her father, and you must do them all while reassuring her and her brother that everything will be fine. Even if you have to go to the hospital in the next few minutes, you have to follow the steps to that end, and you have to do it calmly.”

I made the split second decision not to panic. Instead, I simply knelt beside her, ignored the blood, and looked into her mouth. I told her I needed to check her teeth to make sure they were intact. I touched each one near the place she’d been hit, looking for broken ones or loose ones. Someone brought me a stack of paper towels and I thanked them, then used the towels to wipe away blood and stop the bleeding. Then I looked for the hole which was causing all the blood.

As it turned out, her teeth were fine – she’d simply gashed the inside of her lip.

So there was never any need to panic. In fact, I worried more about Eli blaming himself than I did about Madeleine’s injury (I took care of that, too).

Still, even if there had been something worse – if Madeleine HAD shattered her teeth or needed stitches or something like that, I’m pretty sure I would have taken the same calm, logical approach. And this isn’t the first time I’ve had to go into myself and turn on the cool blue logic. I’ve watched my wife have two grand mal seizures - I simply moved her away from furniture and held her until she was done. I’ve seen a finger severed (not mine), seen a compound fracture as it happened (again, not me). Through it all, I remained calm. I was the one who called 911 and was able to get the injured person to a hospital. And I’m pretty sure I could do it again and again and again.

I only have two concerns. One is how I’d handle things were I the injured party - although I was pretty calm when I broke my jaw, and that hurt like a motherfucker. My other concern is how being half asleep or drunk might affect my ability to keep it cool.

Ultimately, though, I’m pretty pleased. I know how to keep my head.

Which could come in handy when that hidden meteor crashes into the Earth in December.

Mar 8

Roleplaying Poetry

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 in Short Stories and Poems, Writing and Writers

No, no, no. It’s not roleplaying as in Dungeons & Dragons. What I MEAN is that in the following poem, I assumed a personae that wasn’t me and played it for effect. Kind of like how I pretended to be a fireman in the poem ‘Stan‘ (the rest of ‘Stan’ is pretty much true). What can I say? My life isn’t very dangerous, or even necessarily interesting. But as I’ve noted on several occasions, I have on hell of an imagination….

When I had kids, a lot of my poetry shifted - became about them, about fatherhood, about responsibility, and to a certain extent, about a newly found, inherent fear that I discovered.

This poem plays out one of those fears. This is my imagination at work, horrifying me. The poem appeared in 2007 in the online e-zine, Subtletea.com, edited by Mr. David Herrle.

Fear In A Handful of Cookie Crumbs

I watch Sesame Street
My eyes take in all the happy monsters
Elmo squeals, Cookie gobbles
And Grover does his little, goofy dance
A blur of blues and reds and yellows
Scintillating harmlessly on the screen

Monsters, they’re called
But I know better

I know that monsters really look like us
Exactly like us
I know that monsters aren’t happy
Unless we’re not
And that the only color that monsters really know is red

And I know

That a monster
Is the reason
I watch Sesame Street alone

Dec 15

What I’m Thinking, 4th Edition

Posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 in Ramblings

Just in time for your holiday jingles, here are some of my most recent ponderings. They’re no beatitudes, but then again, it’s not my birthday coming up. Anyway… enjoy!

  • If living well is the best revenge, then TAKE THAT, sucka!
  • Even now, people vote against their best interests because of the color of a candidate’s skin. You say you know that already? Then why do we let it happen?
  • I’m glad I discovered boardgaming AFTER I graduated from college. Otherwise, I might not have graduated….
  • I genuinely thank God every night that nothing terrible has randomly happened to my family. I wake up every morning terrified that it will.
  • You can’t blame Neal Boortz. I think that if I had no shred of moral fiber and someone paid me enough money to be a mouthpiece, I’d do it, too.
  • Whoever left me that heartfelt message in the frost of my windshield the other morning - passive aggression suits you well. Naturally, this means you are a coward and a douche.
  • No amount of money dumped into education can change the fact that some kids are really stupid.
  • Apparently, Nathan Fillion’s penis is shaped like a hammer. As this could prove problematic to one’s love life, I am grateful that mine is not.
  • At some point every day, I must drop what I’m doing to help Eli go potty.
  • Some haiku 4 U:  The Titans cycle || Meanwhile, the cycles tighten || Less time ev’ry time
  • Political correctness and showing general consideration for your fellow man, though related, are NOT the same. For starters, one’s political….
  • Hey! Just because pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right away, it doesn’t mean you should TAKE YOUR TIME.
  • On that note, maybe if you moved a little faster you wouldn’t be such a fat ass.
  • I think I should report my kids’ car seats to the CDC.
  • Hey buddy, I told you to back up. When someone wielding a large metal object - be it a hammer, a gun, a sword, or a car - tells you to back up, you really should.
  • I’m old enough to remember when being a douchebag DIDN’T help you get elected to office.
  • If people who shouldn’t be afraid of you ARE, and people who should be AREN’T, then it’s time to change your approach to both sets of people.
Jul 27

Friendships Lost to Politics (Suffering Broken Bones)

Posted on Monday, July 27, 2009 in Ramblings

I wrote this several days ago, and I’m just now finding the room and time to post it. I still feel these sentiments, even weeks later.

I’m writing this at midnight on the Fourth of July, and I gotta say – this was one of the weirdest Fourths I’ve ever experienced. It wasn’t David Lynch weird, but… it was pretty fucked up.

Thanks to another friend -Hylos Barrett - for the fireworks photos.

Thanks to another friend -Hylos Barrett - for the fireworks photos.

Here’s why:

For years, as I’ve lived where I live in this suburb of Atlanta, I’ve had a number of local, neighborhood friends. Now, as they do when you live in a place a while and things and people are in flux as they are, some of my friends have gone away: I’ve lost touch with some because our children stopped going to the same school. Some have died. This is to say that I’ve lost friends due to circumstances bigger than us. Truth be told, though, I can’t honestly say that I care for those people less; though my memories of the times we’ve shared are fading, I miss them, and if they were here right now, I’m absolutely certain that we could and would share all the laughter and sadness, joy and dismay that friends share. It is simply circumstances beyond us that separate us – things beyond our control.

Recently, though, I seem to have lost two friends to circumstances which are, for want of a better word, infuriating. And it all boils down to politics. Now, I’m not gonna talk national politics - not in this post at least -  but let me say this: I have vigorously disagreed with friends whose national outlook differed from mine, I’ve avoided people who weren’t my friend because I knew they disagreed with me, and I’ve been frustrated to the point of almost screaming because some idiot friend of mine could not see reason regarding how insanely wrong he was with his political ideology.

But I’ve never actually stopped being someone’s friend because we disagreed on politics.

Likewise, on a smaller scale, I’ve never stopped being someone’s friend because we disagreed on local politics.

I had a friend, though, a genuinely great guy, who used to hang out with me and my gaming buddies and play our geeky board games with us. His children are roughly the same age as mine, and he and I would take “kid excursions” together – my daughter and his kid to the Renaissance Festival. Trips to Six Flags. Days at the park.

And then one day he pretty much said, “I don’t want to hang out anymore,” and acted awkwardly when his innocent child and my innocent child started talking together, oblivious as children can be to the sinister machinations of their adult counterparts.

I was bewildered. I wondered what I’d done.

Turns out, what I’d done was dare to be friends with a local political figure who didn’t fit with my other friend’s ideology. His wife is an outspoken opponent of my political friend, and so… no hanging out.

I had another friend who has worked in a professional service and repair industry for many, many years. Once upon a time in fact, I called him up to ask him to come help me with issues I was dealing with regarding his area of expertise. He came, he helped, I payed him a paltry sum – much less than I would have paid someone else to do the same thing.

Now, he and I have remained on speaking terms for a long time, despite the growing schism between whom he and his wife support in local politics and whom I support.

Recently, his wife has made inquiries into my professional relationship with my friend who is in local politics. As circumstances would have it, I did some work in a public relations capacity for my city a while back (we needed it), and my political friend saw an opportunity to ask a friend (me) to help him in my area of expertise. I came, I helped, and the city paid me a paltry sum – much less than they would have paid someone else to do the same thing. I did this because I love my friend and I want my city to be better.

Ironically, because I did work for the city at the request of her political enemy, there are inferences of nepotism.

So… how am I supposed to interact with my friend, her husband, next time I see him? Awkwardly, I would guess.

Okay – on to the weirdness of tonight.

In the midst of all this political chicanery, over which I have inadvertantly lost two friends, we had our Fourth of July throwdown in our city. There was a big street fair, a festival, and a block party, all leading up to the kickass fireworks climax.

Another shot of that evening's fireworks.

Another shot of that evening's fireworks.

During all the festivities, I managed to see both wives of my estranged friends, one of the friends himself (from a distance – I didn’t know how to approach him), and the other friend’s child, who probably would’ve liked to have come and played with my daughter. Seeing them made me feel a strange mix of anger, indignation, helplessness, and frustration.

Meanwhile, the son of my political friend was playing with my daughter, dashing around the crowds and having a grand old time.

And while they were playing, just before the fireworks began, the boy did something, and broke his arm. He came over to our little camp, where we were staked out to see the fireworks display, and complained that he’d hurt himself. His mom and dad were busy on the other side of the festival – I’d entrusted my daughter to them for several hours as the festival raged on, and in return, they entrusted their son to me and my family for the duration of the fireworks.

So… no one’s to blame for what the boy did to his arm, but when he came over complaining about it, I took one look at it and knew something was wrong – it was bowed in a way it should not have been bowed. So I took the boy and led him through the crowds to his parents, turned him over to them, and explained what happened. They immediately took him to the hospital. And they all missed the fireworks.

Now here I am, thinking about all the relationships between all these people. It’s in my nature and always has been to analyze situations after the fact, and I can’t help but be glad that I was there to make sure that boy got to the hospital. I’m glad to have been able to be that kind of friend. I value his parents’ friendships and wouldn’t give them up lightly.

But then again, I valued the friendships of my other two friends as well. Had it been their child who hurt himself or herself, I’d like to think that I would have responded the same, despite our differences - it was easy, it was my responsibility, and I care about them. Even now.

But would they do the same for me? They’ve tossed aside our friendship so easily, would it be as easy to simply toss aside the welfare of my children because it inconvenienced them or because they were mad at my politics?

And so I’m left with questions: Is basic humanity so easily disregarded in the face of difference? Apparently, friendship can be tossed aside, so who’s to say humanity can’t follow?

Jun 15

What I’m Thinking About, 1st Edition

Posted on Monday, June 15, 2009 in Ramblings

I haven’t had anything lengthy to say for a few days. But as we all do, I have been thinking random stuff for a while, and now that  I have a blog in which to voice some of these random thoughts, well…. Here are some things I have contemplated of late. No particular order or reason. And I’m perfectly sober right now, so there’s that.

  • People who ask “What, are you high?”  usually have no idea what being high is like.
  • Who was the better father - George Jetson or Fred Flintstone?
  • When I finally had sex for the first time, I stopped bragging about it. Until a few years ago.
  • The perfect woman for me would probably be a cross between Daphne and Velma. The perfect man would NOT be a cross between Fred and Shaggy. I don’t like dogs, so there is no perfect dog as far as I’m concerned. Sorry, Scooby.
  • Can earwigs really lay eggs in your ear like in that movie I saw?
  • I’m not sure I understand people who write computer viruses. There seem to be a lot of them. Unless… do you think maybe they get kickbacks from people who make anti-virus software?
  • I think gaming will keep me from getting Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia when I get older.
  • I wish I would have taken better care of my Chevy Nova in high school. Turns out, it could have been a really cool car.
  • Going to hell would suck.
  • I despised the Bush Administration, but I will say this: I don’t think a single person in Georgie’s offices was as big of a hypocrite as Newt Gingrich.
  • Trolls in AD&D weren’t nearly the cowards that Internet trolls are.
  • My house alarm monitoring company sent me a letter telling me they were gonna raise my monthly rate by roughly $2. I own my alarm system - they just monitor for me. So I called them up and told them I didn’t want them to raise my rate, and they said OK. They know I can leave them for another company. And THAT is capitalism at work.
  • Would you hire a company called “Catastrophe Roofing”?
  • Speed traps are NOT done in effort to make the highways safe. They are done to collect revenue.
  • Apparently, one should not fuck with gypsies.
  • I don’t trust the motives of any politician whose cause would make me either buy a product or subscribe to a service. I’d be willing to bet that politician has invested in the company that provides said good or service.
  • There are many, many beautiful women in the world. Most DO NOT live in L.A.
Mar 31

I’ll Put On My Ring of Blog Resistance +1

Posted on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 in Explanations and Excuses

I resisted the idea of blogging for over three years. Somehow, I came to believe that blogging was the simple act of taking the personal and self-centered musings that most people confined to their diaries and airing it, warts and all, in a public forum in the hopes that someone would come along, pat you on the back, and say something that would justify the way you felt.

And I felt like most people simply wouldn’t give a shit about hearing EVEN MORE self-important diatribes from an idiot like me. If I blogged, I would become yet another whiny voice in a sea of cacophonous whine.

Then I started noticing that, though a LOT of blogs out there were exactly what I’d assumed they would be, there was also a lot of insight, objectivity, and usefulness in what some people wrote.

And some of them were really fucking funny, too.

Finally, I caved, and the result is this… thing.

So what is this thing? What do I want to do with it?

Well, one thing I don’t want to do is rant and whine about the shit that pisses me off.

Ok, I DO want to do that, but not so much that THAT is what you come to expect from me. I guess you can expect an occasional off the handle diatribe from this particular idiot, but I’d also like to be positive and supportive of all the things I do like. And there’s a lot of stuff like that out there. For instance, if you read my last post, you’ll know that music will be a topic that will come up quite often.

I’ll also talk about:

  • Fatherhood (Because it’s pertinent, interesting, and has the potential of giving me absolutely hilarious material to work with – it’s not all masturbation jokes with me, folks, contrary to what you may come to think.)
  • Games (I love board games and card games, and I love gamers – even the ones that stink and masturbate a lot.)
  • Atlanta (Here is where many of my diatribes will no doubt come from – I don’t really like Atlanta, even though I’ve lived here for 10 years.)
  • Writing (Because that is an essential part of my soul’s well-being. And I think it’s vital to YOUR soul’s well-being as well.)
  • Movies (I’m not an expert on them, like some of my “associates” purport to be, but I think I know what’s good.)
  • Politics (I’m excited at the prospects in America right now, although the moment to moment still fills me with frustration as well as amazement at how low some of these assholes will go.)
  • Alcohol (I’m a beer geek, and I write about bars for Examiner.com, so it’s inevitable, right?)

My goal is to give you a piece of my mind about three times a week. Also, I’m gonna start self-publishing one of my novels here, one chapter at a time, maybe once or twice a week. Hell, I’ve got a few of them lying around. So I’ll give you one now, little by little, and try to get the others published through conventional avenues in the meantime.

Do I require anything from you? I just KNOW you’re wondering that.

The answer is yes: Come visit me often. Try to enjoy these personal and self-centered musings that ought to be confined to a diary. If something inspires you, positively or even negatively, to respond, then speak up. Contrary to how my wife sometimes feels, I do tend to listen.

Although I must say this: I will not tolerate language rougher than what I use – which I guess actually gives you a lot of leeway. And I don’t suffer idiots lightly. Unless you’re a useful idiot.

Which I intend to be.

Mar 24

Welcome to Daddy’s World of Chicanery

Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 in Explanations and Excuses, Ramblings

OK. It’s up. I’ve been procrastinating on it for several weeks now, because I JUST KNEW that installing WordPress through my web site hosting service would involve a lot of time on the phone with Tech Support.

They have an awesome interface for FTPing stuff, and they generously provide a WordPress download on their control panel, and everything’s supposed to be intuitive, et. al. But then, when you go through all the proscribed steps, you ALMOST get there, and then there’s some kind of goofy error.

It happened when I installed a phpBB bulletin board. It happened when I installed Joomla, and I was certain it would happen with WP.

Tada! It did!

Now, the trouble with goofy errors is that, technically, I’m not a computer geek – I’m a writer and a Dad – and when goofy computer errors happen, I’m not altogether capable of wading through all the garbage to sort out what went wrong. And the trouble with my hosting service’s intuitive interface is that I can’t see “behind” the scenes – can’t get a look at the error code, etc. to try and figure it out.

Not that I COULD figure it out by myself. By “figure it out,” I mean calling Frank and reading him the code and letting him tell me what to do.

And then there’s Eli. He’s the reason I can’t just suck it up and get on the phone for a couple of hours with that guy in India whose there to help me get it right.

If you don’t know, Eli’s my two and a half year old son. I work from home, and a significant part of my job is Eli. I love him, and I think I do a good job as his Daddy. But I can’t get on the phone with someone I can barely understand with Eli underfoot.

So that’s my excuse as to why this new version of willkenyon.com has been a few months coming. But it’s here now. Hallelujah!