Category Archives: Random

The Narnia Series Ranked

I last read the Chronicles of Narnia when I was a kid. I’m pretty certain The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is standard reading in school, or at least it was in the ’90s, but most people probably don’t get around to reading the entire series. It’s seven books long and to a kid that is a massive series to read. That’s how it feels in retrospect: epic. Not as much as an adult though.

I ordered the series a month ago as a cheap Christmas gift to myself. After a few weeks Amazon notified me that the USPS lost my books and offered to ship a new set to me, free of charge of course. Long story short, my Narnia books showed up a few weeks ago, long after I initially ordered them.

I opened the box and was surprised at how tiny the books and the series were. That was it? I leafed through the pages and the print was big, the books only had a few hundred pages to them (if that), and I had forgotten all about the cute little drawings at the beginnings of each chapter. And short they were. I timed myself and averaged about a page per minute. Given these books are about 200 pages long it’d take about three and a half hours to finish a single one. One night from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. I plowed through The Silver Chair in one go. Maybe my math was a bit off but my point is these books are quite a bit shorter than the massive Wheel of Time books which take me about two weeks to read.

Since I’m plowing my way through a childhood adventure fantasy series that is basically a classic, I figured it’d be fun to rank them. Rankings are always fun, right? And while I’m at it I can bitch about some thing that irked me while praising a few other things about the books as I go. And at the end I’ll jerk myself off over how amazing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is.

#7: Prince Caspian

Before making this list I read other peoples lists mostly as a way to confirmation-bias my way into knowing for a fact that Dawn Treader was the best book in the entire series. Surprisingly Prince Caspian was always near the top, usually #3 or #2, and this upset me greatly. I hated Prince Caspian. I don’t remember reading it as a kid but that’s kinda my point here; Prince Caspian is forgettable.

The kids come into Narnia, find their derelict castle and realize that thousands of years have passed. Enter some exposition from Trumpkin the Dwarf (despite the name he’s a cool guy) about Caspian being the true king and how he escaped his Evil Uncle™. Caspian meets the Narnian talking animals, the Pevensie kids save the day (again), end of story. I don’t see why Prince Caspian is held in such high regard. While the book did kinda suck, it was only bad in the context of the entire Narnia series. Anyways, fuck Prince Caspian.

#6: The Horse and His Boy

This is another relatively “meh” book in the series. Just like Prince Caspian I didn’t remember much of the book. But the story itself was good. It was nice to learn about the often-mention but never-elaborated-upon country of Calormen and a desert adventure was a nice change from all the “European” geography of the rest of the series.

But the plot is totally unrelated to Narnia at all. It’s like a side-story, a good story but with zero lasting effects on the series as a whole. The plot: Prince Cor comes back to Archenland and becomes king (eventually). Archenland, like Calormen, is another country in the grand world of Narnia, but doesn’t come into play much at all. In general the Horse and His Boy was a good book, but didn’t add much to the series as a whole. It’s just kinda there and anyone could skip without consequence. Sure you might not get a paragraph-long reference in The Silver Chair, but you won’t even notice that you missed it.

#5: The Last Battle

The last book in the series and the most depressing by far. The Narnia series itself is pretty uplifting; sure bad things happen but they’re always outweighed by good eventually. That isn’t the case in The Last Battle where everything shitty seems to happen. A ‘false Aslan’ comes to Narnia, promptly fucks everything up, and King Tirian, the last king of Narnia, tries his best to fix things. Tirian somehow manages to make every wrong choice possible and there are countless times in the book where one subtle change would’ve stopped Narnia from spiraling towards the end. He even mentions something like he’s ‘the unluckiest king ever.’

The book is depressing and the last half turns into some Christian fever-dream about the end of the world and heaven. Aslan eventually shows up in some parallel Narnia thought a stable door, and him and the kids from all the other books get to watch him bring an end to the world. The parallel Narnia turns out to be the real Narnia and, spoiler alert, the kids all died in a train wreck IRL so they’re basically in heaven! But even this Narnia has a deeper Narnia in it and this connects to England and apparently any other worlds in the universe. As a kid I had no fucking clue what was going on in the last quarter of the book but this time through it made slightly more sense.

I’m putting this book so low because Narnia is all about adventure and unrelenting hope and The Last Battle just shits all over it. Sure it ends nicely because they’re all in heaven — the real Narnia — but that doesn’t change the fact that the ‘false Aslan’ was totally successful in fucking Narnia up so bad that Aslan decided to end the world. Like, fuck that is some bleak shit.

#4: The Magician’s Nephew

I read this second to last as it was written by Lewis. Think of watching Star Wars in the order it was released and not the chronological order of the films. I didn’t think this would benefit me much but surprisingly it did. By Lewis writing the “first” novel before the last one, you can see he was in the process of wrapping up the Narnia series. Before then it didn’t have a proper beginning to the world having started abruptly with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I’d like to think this helped him prepare himself for the ending of the Narnia world with the next book The Last Battle.

The book was pretty good as I apparently love any sort of creation stories. While it’s not as mind-bending as the beginning of the world in The Silmarillion (due to following a Christianesque creation event because it’s C.S. Lewis for fucks sake) it’s still interesting to read. It gives the White Witch some back story which serves to make you despise/admire her even more and describes how the first King and Queen of Narnia got there. You also get to learn why all the damn animals are able to talk.

One gripe: since this book was written nearly last, some of the things in the story are unused. One guy, Uncle Andrew, drops some money which quickly grows into gold and silver trees. These don’t appear in any other stories (except the final story and only in passing) and you’d think that trees of literal gold and silver might be noteworthy in Narnia’s lore and history as time moves forward. The same is true for the magical, protective apple tree that Digory plants; it’s meant to protect Narnia from Jadis (The White Witch) but it isn’t mentioned at all in the “following” books. Did the long winter under her reign kill the gold, silver, and apple trees? Did she corrupt the trees? Were they cut down? Who knows, and I suppose this is a big problem when anyone tries to write prequels after you’ve written nearly the entire series.

#3: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

TLTWaTW (I’m not writing that all out each time), what can anyone say about it? It’s probably the first, maybe only book, that get people into the Narnian universe, so there isn’t much to say about it. It was pretty damn good, but by this time I know exactly what happens so most of the wonder is gone. Wardrobe takes you to Narnia, there’s an evil witch ruling the land, and Edmund is a piece of shit traitor. Aslan saves the day, sacrifices himself, and comes back to life because he’s Narnian Jesus and the witch doesn’t know that’s a thing. Peter and his kin and made kings and queens and they go back home. Oh, and Santa Claus brings them weapons to murder people with!

The Christian overtones are a bit obvious and heavy-handed at times, but it’s Narnia so you should be expecting this. I doubt any kid would notice this and would only see it as an adventure story. But I gotta say the story and the pacing is spot on here. The wonder as Lucy finds a new world inside a wardrobe, the character arc of Edmund from traitor to king is amazing, and the tension as he betrays his family out of spite is immense. The plot also gets pretty fucking dark as the witch murders Aslan as he’s bound right in front of Lucy and Susan. Like hell, it’s a kids book and it takes some grim turns along the way.
It’s a great story, but by this time it’s almost boring to read.

#2: The Silver Chair

Last time I read this I got the feeling that Lewis wasn’t much into writing the story. It seemed like it had large gaps where time jumps forward without much explanation. The moors to the north of Narnia seem huge on a map, but Eustace and Jill traverse them in a single chapter. The same happens after they cross the giant bridge into the mountains. What you assume would be an arduous adventure flashes by instantly. I didn’t get the feeling quite like before, but it was still there, at least initially.

Another gripe about the book: the Lady of the Green Kirtle. She’s the main antagonist and is a witch similar to The White Witch, but besides that we know nothing about her. She’s a good villain and a dangerously sly and seductive one, but she has zero back story. This late into the Narnian series you’d expect her to be mentioned somewhere earlier, being an evil witch living in the north for (assuming) quite a long time, so it’s like she just appears in this book, tries to fuck everything up, and is defeated. Who is she? Where did she come from? Why/how is she a snake? There are so many questions about her that aren’t answered at all.

But the book was great. I loved the entire last half where they’re underground with the creepy pale dudes. The fact that an entire civilization is living underground is terrifying, amazing, and disturbing all at the same time. If you’ve ever been in a cave you know how disturbingly wrong it feels being used to light, sound, and the sky, and imagining yourself along with the characters is jarring. And learning the creepy pale dudes came from an even deeper land called Bism, a land of lava and fire, just blew my mind.

There’s also a guy called Puddleglum, a Marsh-Wiggle who apparently has a minor drinking problem, and he’s one of my favorite dudes in the series (after Reepicheep of course). He’s fucking hilarious. If you read the book be on the lookout for this hilarious word: Respectowiggle. There’s also a part of the book where, after a night of heavy drinking, Eustace mentions that Puddleglum “Has a headache.” He’s also a relatively complex character as well. He’s hopelessly pessimistic when the kids first meet him but shows quite a bit of wisdom and courage when it counts most. Puddleglum is a cool motherfucker indeed.

#1: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

While looking at other Narnia rankings I was upset (meaning angry) to find that Dawn Treader was consistently ranked #2 behind TLTWaTW. I mean that book is rather good and is usually anyone’s first, maybe only, adventure in the Narnian universe. But I swear that I will personally fight anyone who disagrees with me that Dawn Treader is the best fucking book in the whole series. TLTWaTW can go fuck right off being everyone’s #1.

The Dawn Treader is an adventure book. A shameless adventure book that doesn’t give a shit about antagonists or anything else. It’s all about Caspian wanting to sail to the end of the world because he fucking can: he’s the king! Sure there is the primary plot of saving the seven lords that were banished under his Evil Uncle’s™ reign, but this just feels like some half-assed excuse to sail to the end of the world. Caspian really didn’t care about the lords, he just wanted to fuck around on a boat in the ocean, and Lewis needed a reasonable excuse for him to do so.

There’s something fascinating about sailing to the end of the world, and apparently I have a soft spot for adventuring, especially on boats, that I don’t fully understand. Were my ancestors sailors or something? Because as a person who was born and grew up in Illinois, nearly as far away from the ocean as possible, I’ve never been on a real boat or been around the ocean for more than a few hours on vacation. But The Wind Waker, The Terror, The Mountains of Madness, Cast Away, and Moana all have that sense of a big ocean adventure that is so appealing to me that I can’t really explain. Sure adventures across land (ala Lord of the Rings) sound good, but a fucking boat sailing to unknown lands in strange latitudes and longitudes is amazing.

Dawn Treader fills this wonderfully. There are no unknown lands on Earth anymore. No grand adventures to sail on. There’s also no magic. As Caspian, Reepicheep, and company sail across the ocean you really get the feeling that they’re going off to strange and unknown lands where anything can happen. Narnia is a strange world full of magic, so you know the Eastern Ocean is going to have some weird shit in it. The book doesn’t disappoint. You’re introduced to islands that have all but forgotten their king, islands full of invisible and strange (and immensely stupid) creatures, get to meet a retired star, and be along with Lucy as she sees merpeople under the waves. A lake that turns things to gold and an island where your dreams (more like nightmares) come true? And dragons? Holy shit, sign me up! And finally the voyage to the end of the world, the literal end to it where Reepicheep sails into Aslan’s Country? Damn. If only we lived in a world where you could literally sail to heaven and never come back.

My only complaint about this book: Reepicheep the Mouse. It was the first and only book that Reepicheep was really a character in, and you hate to see the little fucker go. He’s probably my favorite Narnian character, what with his small size, inflated sense of valor and honor, and always wanting to charge into battle against dragons and sea serpents. Reepicheep does not give a fuck and I love it. His and Eustace’s friendship arc is also amazing as Eustace turns from a little annoying shit into a hero as Reep’s badassness rubs off on him. But Reepicheep, why’d he have to sail over the end of the world? Why did such a good character have to leave? I wish he was in more books and you can’t help but feel the loss as he sails over the waves to never return.

REEPICHEEP!

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Winter Solar Power Sucks

I’ve been charging my vape, my phone, and my computer using solar power for nearly a half year. It’s pointless for saving money because running these things only costs a few dollars, if that, over the year, but it’s fun to know that your phone, the thing that you carry around with you at all time, the little mini-computer in your pocket that can do anything, the games you play, and all the fancy stock-trading, money-making, email-checking, and social-media-browsing modern Swiss Army Knife of everything is being powered by the sun. Not powered by the sun in an abstract manner either (plants photosynthesizing millions of years ago, decomposing, turning to coal, being mined and burned, the heat flashing water into steam to turn a turbine to move electrons into your home via wires and transformers, to rearrange some chemicals in a lithium-ion battery) but directly. I’ve always wondered how people can be against solar power for this reason alone: it’s so damn simple and beautiful. The sun shines and makes electricity. Why complicate it?

Everyone not on the equator is well aware that the days are shorter in the winter due to the Earth’s axial tilt of roughly 23 degrees. In the summer the Earth is tilted towards the sun, and as you rotate around on a higher latitude, you get more sunlight. The opposite is true in the winter. Here in Northern Illinois (and for everyone around 45 degrees latitude; I also feel sorry for Europeans and Canadians being even higher up) we get about eight hours of good sunlight in the winter. Compare this to our summer daylight length of 15 hours; there’s twice the amount of daytime in the summer compared to the winter!

A nice graphical depiction of these Dark Days. The discontinuities in March and November are daylight savings time. Go check out your own day/night/twilight length!

This sounds stupid, but I didn’t think winter would cause my two solar panels much difficulty. Since we’re not using the lawnmower anymore (you don’t need to mow the snow) I took the battery and hooked it up to the solar panels. I currently have five batteries storing the solar power and that should be plenty right? Six hours of direct sunlight can charge those bad boys up and I can charge my toys off that the rest of the day.

Two of the five batteries…

It doesn’t work that way when it’s cloudy for two weeks straight. I’ve never paid attention to how cloudy it usually is in the winter, especially when those clear and cold winter days are so vivid in my mind, but apparently it’s cloudy a lot. And when you get only a few hours to make power, the clouds really do fuck you over in a way that they don’t in the summer. The summer months always have dramatic and quickly changing weather, sun for half the day, hellish storms in the evening, and then a bit more sun right before sunset. Now, in January? Clouds all day, every day. Boring grey clouds that hang overhead like a depressing blanket and refuse to leave for literal weeks.

The sun was out a few days ago, but that was only enough to kick the batteries up from 11.8 Volts to 12.1. As soon as I’d plug my phone in the voltage would drop to 11.5 and not wanting to damage the batteries had no choice but to charge my phone via natural gas/nuclear electricity from the boring wall outlet. The streak was broken, and my phone, computer, and vape are now methane/uranium powered like everything else around here.

The clouds aren’t the only issue. It sometimes snows in winter (big surprise there huh?) and snow does a great job blocking the sun. While the clouds are an ever present and annoying problem there isn’t much I can do about them except wait. Snow is a problem I have to actually deal with. Weeks ago we had some shitty ice/snow storm and the next day I found my panels iced and snowed over. Using my Amazon Prime credit card (which is made out of metal, 5% cash back at Amazon by the way!) I scrapped the snow off so they could make power when the sun eventually came out. The sun never came out and it snowed two days later. I walked out, brushed them off, and waited for the sun which never came. And then it snowed about a week after that. I walked out, brushed them off, and waited for the sun. It snowed yesterday and I haven’t even went out to brush them off because the sun isn’t going to come out ever again.

I guess the snow melted…

Remember how I said that I don’t understand why people don’t like renewable energy because it’s so damn beautiful and simple? It’s not. Solar is fucking great and I love it, but during these shitty dark, cloudy, and snowy winter months it’s not ideal. Solar always relies on good energy storage and apparently five fucking massive lead-acid batteries can’t store enough power to survive the winter. I could always add more batteries, but at $50-100 per battery do I really want to spend the money to charge my phone? Naw. I’ll just wait I guess. The sun can’t stay hidden forever.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

2020 Sucked: A Year of Personal Growth

In the last post I wrote about how shitty 2020 was from a general perspective, something that everyone could kinda agree with. COVID. Wildfires. A few other awful things. But no one’s life consists only of those things, and unless you sit around on social media way too much you might not even be aware of most of them unless they personally affected you. While bitching about the general vibe of 2020 I had to ask myself, “Was the year awful for me, personally?”

Honestly 2020 was a pretty average year. Sure there was plenty of shit that was bad, but there were a few things that were good. I’d rate it 4/10.

I should first talk about my failed New Year’s Resolutions from last year. I had nearly forgotten what they were, but let me try really hard to remember. Finish writing a book. Record a music album. Write a weekly chapter for my Morrowind Fanfic. Give someone a compliment daily. Get over 1,000 monthly blog views. What did I actually accomplish? Jack Shit. I did make it over 1,000 monthly blog views about halfway through the year and have kept my numbers above that (even breaking 2,000 views somehow) but everything else has fallen apart. I haven’t written anything close to story, gave up the Morrowind project months ago, stopped the compliments in February, and haven’t recorded a single finished song.

Note for next year: let’s not do the resolution thing. Sorry guys, I got excited and thought that maybe 2020 could be the year I somehow prove popular knowledge about resolutions wrong. Nope, I’m a failure like everyone else. Don’t fuck with resolutions.

The COVID quarantines gave a great opportunity for of us to improve ourselves in countless ways. Stuck inside your home, possibly out of work, gives everyone a myriad of ways to self-improve although that could be difficult for some. Others took the quarantine as a blessing and set about working on hobbies or self-improvement. You know, taking up a new skill/hobby, reading, writing, making music, doing something to improve their lives/soul. Others like myself, well, I’ll let this picture speak for itself.

I squandered my quarantine and I’m trying not to feel too bad about it. I wasn’t out of work or anything so maybe my quarantine wasn’t “real” enough for me to really buckle down and do something productive. Most of my days and weeks this year were as typical as always with the slight downside of not being able to go out to eat with friends or shop at Walmart after work.

This shitty year had a few positives along with a ton of negatives. This was the first year I finally started therapy, and while it didn’t act like a magic solution to all of my problems with progress so slow as to be non-existent, looking back over the past nine months it’s obvious I have improved. It’s comforting to know that maybe I’m not the ridiculously flawed and depressive person that I thought I was — someone who’s maybe a lost cause — but that I’m perfectly normal with my own flaws and insecurities and that I only need someone to help me work through my issues. There are bad days, bad thoughts, and bad feelings, but I’m much better at putting them into their proper perspectives and waiting for them to pass. I urge anyone who is thinking of seeing a therapist to just fucking do it. Seriously, just give it a shot, and there’s never a better time to start than the beginning of fresh new year.

I also started taking antidepressants this year. There isn’t much to say here, mostly because I’ve been on them for so long that I don’t recall what I felt like before them. Like therapy, they’re not a magical cure-all to depression, but they sure fucking help. It’s still up to you to mentally walk your way through any issues, but the issues I do face don’t seem nearly as bad as they used to be. As before, this makes me feel much more of a normal person as opposed to some totally fucked up nutjob with depression. Maybe my brain just doesn’t have enough serotonin and, oh well, maybe that’s just fine. If I need something to get me back to baseline, that’s fine too, and it has nothing to do with me being a “weak” or “flawed” person.

2020 also had quite a dark period in the middle where my wife and I had a bit of a falling out and I tried to live in the woods. This didn’t work out too well, especially when the cops found me and took me in to talk with a psychologist/psychiatrist/whatever-psych-term-applies here. Looking back with some detachment from it…maybe it was something that needed to happen. We’ve been going to marriage counseling and like therapy it has helped, albeit in a very slow and almost impossible to notice way. If anything personally sucked for me in 2020 it was this dark period of a month or so in the summer. It was a depressingly bleak time and I’d be fine if I never have to live through anything like that ever again.

I also think of my friends; nearly all of them are going through their own personal shit that makes my whiny rants seem childish. One friend, a friend from high school, had his mother pass away earlier this year. His roommate, mid-30s, also passed away from brain cancer (I think) a few months after his mother passed. I want to say there was a suicide close to him as well, but maybe I’m confusing him with someone else. My sister had her wife cheat and leave her, and a few other friends are going through separations/divorces where kids are involved so the situation is super fucking messy. Nearly everyone I know seems to be seeking therapy which I’m very glad of; at least no one is trying to be toxically masculine about their issues and even my clueless self has noticed improvements in them.

2020 was a shit year, but it seems that being put through shit causes you to grow. Sure you can stagnate and fail, but people are stupidly stubborn and able to deal with impossibly bad situations when faced with them. I guess that’s the silver lining to this awful year; people around me seem to be facing the challenges and adapting to them the best they can. We’re all growing and 2020 gave personal growth a heafty shot of steroids; we’re all fucking jacked with personal growth now. Here’s a shout-out to 2021, only a few days away, and I hope it’s a good year for myself, my family, my friends, and everyone in general. I want a year that is boring, doesn’t force personal growth, where the world and the people in it can just have a break for once, if that makes sense. I suppose that’s it, thanks for reading.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

2020 Sucked: A General Recap

This has been one of the worst years I’ve lived through. Looking back through my 34-years of existence I can’t seem to recall when so much shit went wrong in a single year. I’ve lived through the September 11th attacks in 2001 and even if that was some shit it was some isolated shit; the rest of the year was uneventful. Sure it spurred on the total shitshow ‘War on Terror,’ but that was spread out over a decade. I was around for the H1N1 outbreak, but that was nothing compared to this years COVID-19 pandemic. I can’t recall a single year where so much crazy shit happened despite desperately trying to find something — anything — to prove myself wrong.

Since the general consensus seems to agree with me and that 2020 was a remarkably bad year, I want to send it off properly. Write down all the notable bad shit that happened as a way to package it up and get rid of it. Let’s reminisce over this awful year, box it up, and send it off to the bottom of the ocean like a Viking burial would do.

The Near-War With Iran

I had all the hopes for 2020 and it started off just fine; it didn’t last long though. After only a week into the year we (The United States) decided to bomb/assassinate an Iranian General Dude. Supposedly he was a ‘terrorist’ although I don’t know or care to know whatever justification we had for the attack. All I cared about was the total shitshow that then ensued. Iran and the US we’re waving their dicks around threatening war and while we have the BeSt MiLiTaRy In ThE wOrLd! I really didn’t think the US should get involved with another Middle-Eastern conflict. Like can we not continually bomb people on the other side of the world even if they ‘deserve it’ in some twisted logical sense?

“Luckily” — and I say that with as much sarcasm as possible — Iran accidentally shot down a 737 passenger airliner with quite a bit of Canadians on it, and given their massive fuckup on killing hundreds of innocent civilians they promptly shut the fuck up about open war with the United States. Nothing much has happened with Iran since and the whole thing turned out be a scare; a scare that still killed a bunch of innocents people without open war. We should’ve been on our toes from that point on because 2020 was just getting started.

Australia On Fire

Decades ago at the beginning of 2020 social media and the news was filled with reports of the wildfires raging in Australia. I recall seeing New Zealanders posting pictures of eerily red skies caused by the smoke hundreds of miles away in Australia. Even worse, the Australian Government didn’t seem to give much of a damn about these fires, content to just let them do their thing like burn down the forests and peoples’ homes! (This was good foreshadowing for the US Government’s response to the COVID pandemic in retrospect.) As an American this didn’t personally effect me too much, but knowing that large parts of an entire continent were on fire didn’t feel very good. These problems will only get worse as we ignore climate change and this really doesn’t feel good at all.

But don’t worry, we’d have our own wildfires to deal with in just a few months! Be patient people.

Wildfires Electric Boogaloo: American Gender Reveal Version

By the time this happened most of the people I knew had adapted the 2020 is total bullshit outlook and we all looked on this event with detached hilarity. “Of course, why wouldn’t this happen? It’s 2020.” Basically California and other western states broke out in massive wildfires, giving a nice reference to the Australian ones earlier on in the year. Whoever is writing the 2020 plot sure likes to keep the same themes going. Making these fires even stupider was the fact that they were started by a gender reveal party gone wrong. Instead of announcing the gender of their kid, they lit the entire western United States on fire! Holy shit! At least the memes about this incident were hilarious.

Hurricane Footnotes

The Atlantic Hurricanes are named from a list picked before the year begins. This is why all storms have silly names like Katrina, Charles, Ivan, etc. What I didn’t know was that there’s a possibility to have more storms than names, which I was totally shocked by. One day I noticed topical storms and hurricanes were being named Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and so on down the Greek Alphabet. What happened to the normal names we usually see? I did some research and, oh, we ran out of names in 2020. After Wilfred NOAA started naming them Greek Letters. Of course they did: it’s 2020.

So how active was the 2020 hurricane season? The most active in history, but only the seventh-most costly and active enough to use Greek names all the way down to Iota.

COVID-19

I saved the “best” part of 2020 for last…

2020 will be known hundreds of years in the future as “The Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic” in much the same way that 1918 instantly makes me think of “The Spanish Flu.” Through all the shit that has happened this year COVID-19 is the defining trait of 2020 for perfectly good reason. A flu that is 20 times deadlier than the seasonal flu. Highly contagious. Dangerous to elderly people and those with lung/immune system problems. Hundreds of thousands dead. A lackluster government response to the disease. And the thing still isn’t contained even in the last week of December.

It started simply enough with reports of some virus in China. No big deal: these things spring into the news cycle every year or so. I barely remember the H1N1 outbreak in whatever year it was and was mildly scared with the Ebola outbreak in Africa around 2006. Swine Flu? Mad Cow Disease? Meh. The big scary word pandemic? Same reaction as always: Meh. There’s nothing to worry about…

This time it wasn’t meh — there was something to worry about — and the entire world is facing the worst pandemic since 1919. It started slowly with a travel ban here and there, but before anyone knew it stores and restaurants were closed, everyone is wearing facemasks, and no one stands closer than six-feet. We hole-up in our homes and do nothing but watch Netflix, drink alcohol, and get fat. Many people were flat-out laid-off for an undetermined length of time from their jobs. And like that within a few short and dreadful months we’re living through a once-per-hundred-year pandemic and it’s a strange feeling. I think in a few years when it’s all over (and we now have a vaccine so maybe the light and the end of the tunnel is brighter than we imagine) maybe we can look back and reflect on the hellish uniqueness of the time we all lived through. At least we’ll have stories to tell our grandchildren if we don’t die in the next few months.

COVID-19 ruined everyone’s’ lives and I can’t think of a single person I know that is like, “Yeah, lockdown and quarantine: it’s a great time!” Stuck at home, unemployed, bored, dealing with social isolation; many people have crumbled under the change from the norm that we’re all used to. Giving up college and career plans, putting their lives on hold indefinitely. It gets worse; some have had those close to them die and how do you even talk about something like that? Some people have died from it, having their lives instantly cut short and once again, how do you even talk about something like that? In the US that number is around 300,000. 300,000 Americans aren’t here that were here less than a year ago. Each one was a person with a unique life, personality, and qualities to them. And now? Gone. That’s all: gone.

And I’m not even going to get into our government’s half-assed response to the whole pandemic. It’s 2020 and the word shitshow is once again applicable here. How many could’ve lived if this entire thing wasn’t politicized to no end? Even mask wearing was politicized and…let’s just move on.

Not As Bad As It Could’ve Been?

 I usually hate people who point something out along the line of, “It could’ve been worse!” or “Well, you still have your life!” or “Look on the bright side!” because they can just go fuck right off. If you get your car totaled by a drunk driver, yes you might still be alive, but that doesn’t mean you were ‘lucky’ or something. And you should have total justification to be pissed at the drunkard for how your car is now totaled. It’s still not a good situation!

But maybe idiots who say this about 2020 are right in a way. Things can be worse on earth, even in 2020, even if you do have to do some ridiculous thinking to see it. Murder hornets (thankfully) never made much of an appearance this summer. The strange monoliths didn’t summon aliens or anything. The Yellowstone Super Volcano is still dormant, even if I’m tempted to not mention it because 2020 isn’t quite over. Tsunamis, nuclear war, gamma ray bursts, and asteroids have all left the planet alone in the hell that was 2020, and we should be thankful for that. But damn, isn’t that a low bar to set? “Earth didn’t get hit by an asteroid or anything…boy, we’re lucky in 2020!”

This isn’t the be-all end-all recap of 2020, especially for me. Reflecting back on the year for myself: it wasn’t really that bad. Sure it was hell, but there was a lot of personal growth that might’ve not happened were it not for the total shitshow that 2020 was. I want to make a separate post about that because it definitely doesn’t fit here. Being slightly positive makes me feel like 2020 wasn’t as much of a wasted year as we like to think it was. If anything it was a hell of challenge where you might learn something important about life if you stick it out, do the best you can, and just survive. More on that later… Here’s a link to the next post about 2020: A Year of Personal Growth.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Adderall Sucks

Work sucks. It’s boring. There are so many people on my shift and so few airplanes to load/unload. Maybe six flights in/out and 100 people to do the work. I think 50 would be a good number, but 50 is not my current reality: 100 is. I sit. I do nothing. I get antsy. I want to get out and run around because I feel like a hamster trapped in a cage. Untapped energy but a somehow a lack of energy from being so damn bored.

I already wrote about this and don’t want to go over it again, but my boredom is so palpable that I can’t help but stress it one more. This is my hell and it is a hell, let me assure you!

A person at work offered me an Adderall to help get me through these long and sleep-deprived days. I didn’t accept the offer the past few weeks because I know how Adderall affects me. While used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, Adderall is a powerful stimulant; it’s literally pharmaceutical amphetamine! If you don’t have these actual medical issues it’s meant to treat, you get wired and focused on the most random things. If you can channel the motivation, great, if not you’ll spend hours doing whatever the hell you find yourself doing without explanation. I’ve taken it twice in the past, never for any real purpose, and clearly remember how it affected me. The first time I taught myself piano for four hours straight. The second time I wrote the most elaborate physics paper for my class that I’d ever written. And today is number three…

I wrote my blog post about Christmas and am now writing this. Yes, two drafts in a single day. Because I’m in the zone! Because I have shit to say! Because I’m excited and motivated and feel good and let’s just keep on writing! Because I’ve channeled the energy that Adderall has given me! While it’s sad to know this is only temporary, I might as well make the best use out of my time as the situation allows.

But is it temporary? What if I just take Adderall daily and write? Can I get a prescription because I’m a writer with a severe lack of motivation? I bet if I wrote every day like today I’d have a fucking book done in a month or two. This is surely the best idea I’ve ever had.

No. No it’s not. I wasn’t being serious there. That’s a terrible idea. While I am sad that tomorrow I’ll be the same lazy writer that I always am, I’m aware that that is my natural state and there isn’t a good chemical fix that will magically work.

I’ve learned this through my functional alcoholism. Alcohol used to be my Adderall — drink a few drinks and I couldn’t wait to write — but the key thing to notice is the past-tense in that statement. I drink six beers and could care less about writing. I watch YouTube and play video games. The alcohol somehow doesn’t motivate me like it did a few years ago.

There’s always the urge to use substances to fix a problem (at least for me) and it’s a hell of an urge to fight because they work. There’d be no alcoholics if alcohol didn’t do something to fix you up. The stereotype of drinking heavily after a bad day at work, or after heartbreak, are stereotypes because alcohol works. You wake up the next day still aware of the trouble, but it’s more like a smeared chalk-board image of the problem that you can more easily deal with. Drugs work and that’s why people abuse them.

But substances only sidestep the problem and should only be temporary. This is clear in theory but difficult in practice. If it works, why not use it all the time? The catch is it doesn’t always work. You get a tolerance and the magic, whatever it might be, isn’t quite there anymore. This is especially bad with the physically addictive substances because then you’re hooked without any benefit at all. Cigarette smokers get quite a head rush the first time trying nicotine. It quickly goes away. Vodka mellows you out for quite awhile until you find you need more than before and it doesn’t mellow you out quite like it used to. And Adderall? Luckily I’m not addicted to it and never want to be. It’s the same as anything else. Adderall works until it doesn’t and by that time you’re probably moderately addicted and in a big mess when you try to stop.

Alan Watts said something like, ‘Drugs are a tool and nothing more,’ in one of his books, paraphrased obviously. He likened them to any other tool, like binoculars for example. Binoculars are fantastic for looking at far away objects, but if you think they’re so fucking amazing to use all the time you’re missing the point. If some asshole did walk around with binoculars attached to their face they’d run into some issues in life, just like the use-drugs-as-a-solution person does. The analogy goes pretty deep if you’d like to take it there. Binocular-Man, as we’ll call him, will probably have a rough time adapting, but he can do it. I once read a story about a guy who put a contraption on his head that swapped the images between his eyes where his right eye was seeing from the perspective of his left and vice verse. And guess what? After awhile he adapted and could live life normally. Apparently his brain dealt with the image fuckery and got to work doing what all human brains do: adapt. His vision was swapped, his brain adapted, and he was perfectly fine. 

Until he took the damn things off that is. His brain was dealing with more fuckery and despite seeing the normal way his entire life (minus the previous week) he was fucked. The world was fucked. He couldn’t see right. And then eventually his brain realized what was up and adapted back to it’s original state. I shouldn’t have to explain this analogy with reversed-vision-guy and binocular-man because it’s all pretty obvious how this applies here.

That’s my working theory on drug use/abuse. Abusers mistake the tool for the thing that will fix everything about them or their lives, myself included with alcohol. Users are those who can dabble and not become entranced by the drugs. I believe most drugs are useful, even the more esoteric stuff like LSD and DMT for mind and perspective expanding — not to mention painkillers like morphine — but all have limits on their uses. Adderall is great for allowing those with ADHD or narcolepsy to function better, but outside of that it’s also great for (illegally) allowing the sleep-deprived student and the unmotivated writer/blogger at UPS to finally get shit done. It’s really good at this too, let me assure you of that! But with that last example you can see this is quickly getting into the “tool-not-solution” problem from earlier. I have no qualms with the students using this drug to write a paper here and there, but it’s obvious it can go from tool to solution way too easily, once again because it’s so damn effective.

(Note: I talked with a friend about why it’s okay for an ADHD person to use Adderall to solve their issues but not for someone like me, and unmotivated writer, to use Adderall to solve their motivation issues. It seemed to come down to this: what is the best solution possible? ADHD is a brain chemical imbalance so drugs are likely the best way to solve the problem. Me with motivation? No, this isn’t a chemical issue but a ‘mindset issue.’ It’s impossible for the depressed/ADHD/chemically imbalanced person to ‘think their way’ out of their problems, so the only solution is a drug. Sounds like a beautiful explanation doesn’t it?)

To problem with my motivation is, well, a problem with my motivation. It’s a battle against myself. While Adderall is currently fucking kicking my motivation into high gear, it’s not the be-all end-all solution. The Adderall will wear off and I’ll be me, the flawed me, once again as always. The Adderall me can still exist with Adderall or without it. I can write like Stephen King suggests if I drug myself up, or if I just work through my issues with motivation. One is hard, one is easy — both work — but the easy one is dangerously temporary. So what’s the choice? What do I do?

Looks like I’ll sit my ass down tomorrow and try to write something sans-Adderall.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Writing About “On Writing”: Lessons from Stephen King

Despite the previous post I wasn’t completely unproductive last week. I was able to read Stephen King’s On Writing which was one of my Sober September purchases. I’m not sure why I didn’t get around to reading it then. Better late than never, right? Anyways, as the title implies, the book is about writing. Duh. Since Stephen King is a pretty successful writer you’d expect him to have something insightful to say about the craft.

The book isn’t completely about writing as I soon discovered. The first section of the book is a rough autobiography of King’s childhood and early adulthood that shows how much he’s always loved writing and his struggle to get work published. King seems to have taken failure in stride by hanging up his rejected manuscripts on the wall of his room and kept pushing forward. Reading, writing, and submitting stories until his first major success Carrie was published.

The end of the book, like the beginning, isn’t directly about writing and covers King’s near-death from being hit by a car. (He says something like he was hit by a character right out of one of his stories.) At first this section seemed off and ham-fisted, but with his multiple surgeries and recovery he wasn’t able to write at all. King apparently writes for at least a few hours everyday so this whole incident really broke him from his habit. Towards the end of this section he struggles to pick up writing again and feels as awkward as him learning to walk again was. His writing is his joy and his life and the return to writing was another part of his recovery and he soon found himself finding his stride after losing it. It’s a great way to round off the whole arc of the book.

Okay, onto the on writing part of On Writing. It’s a great book and I sailed through it easily, a welcome break from The Wheel of Time series. Curiously King doesn’t give many clear and direct tips to write successfully; his entire philosophy seems to be to “read and write all the damn time” or at least as much as you can. Sure he shits all over adverbs and ‘the passive voice’ (something I’m still trying to work on. “I am writing this blog post,” as opposed to “The blog post is being written by me.”) while stressing good grammar, but these clear and direct tips are pretty sparse. In short he realizes that writing is a creative experience and it’s hard to offer ‘rules’ that successful writers break all the time. Like sure you can break grammar rules or use the passive voice for effect, but you better know damn well what you’re doing before you try it!

King also dunks all over a heavy reliance on plot and feels it’s too rigid to tell a good story. His idea is that stories are living things, and you start with the characters and a situation and see what happens when you let the story play out. It’s writing without an idea of where the story will go. He sees it this way: if you force a conclusion onto characters who don’t operate a certain way it’s obvious (“This character wouldn’t do this!”) and feels clunky. While I generally feel this to be great advice, especially for myself, I can see other writers taking the plot route and having it work out wonderfully for them. Think of Robert Jordan’s 13-book-series The Wheel of Time again. I don’t think he plopped some characters on a page and magically ended up with an entire 13-book-long series. It seems like he’d need to have a general plot lined out before writing such a massive series. But I don’t know that for fact so who knows.

As mentioned, the main takeaway from the book seems to be to read and write often. Make a habit or a chore out of it. Sit down everyday (or as frequently as you can) and fucking write. See what happens. Even if what you write is trash, well, at least you have something to show for it and you’ll only improve over time. Reading is just as important because that’s how you learn how to write better. Reading gives you ideas, styles, and techniques to use in your own writing; I totally stole semicolons from reading a bunch of Alan Watts. Sentence fragments and gut reactions? Thank you Hunter S. Thompson. By reading you discover what works and what doesn’t, especially regarding your own style of writing. You read a long, detailed, and boring description of a room that you hate? Don’t be overly descriptive in your own writings. Read a few pages of amazingly tense dialog? Put some intense dialog in your own stories. Dig in and do what you like to do. But the only way to realize this is to read and learn, write and try, and see if it works in your own writing.

After writing all of that I’m tempted to imposter syndrome myself into thinking I’m not really a writer. I don’t read as often as I should and I definitely don’t write as much or as freely as King says you have to to be a writer. Is this something you can learn or do you need to be a natural reader/writer from the time you’re a kid like King was as a child? Eh, have a little confidence, I was able to write this and it’s something, right?

I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in writing. The book mentions a ton of important things to improve your writing even if it is nebulous and generalized guidelines like WrItE eVeRy DaY! After reading the book I found I was  inspired to write, to get over the worry of writing and just sit down and write. To plop out whatever is in my mind and see what the mess looks like on paper. It’s like the entire book of On Writing is Stephen King being a hype-man for writers everywhere. Follow his advice. Read the damn book. And then hole yourself in a room and start writing!

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Double-Shifting Sucks: 2020 Edition

(Note: Excuse any formatting issues. I’m doing this all on the WordPress app.)

Here we go again: the Holiday Season of this wonderful year 2020 is upon us. We’re almost to the end of these terrible 365 days; just a few more weeks to suffer through! But before I personally get there I have to suffer through work and double-shifting once more. It’s the few weeks of the year where I can totally rob the company of basically free money and I have no incentive not to do so.

If this is sounding similar, it’s probably because this is mostly a copy/paste of my post from last year about double-shifting. I didn’t even want to complain about it a second (or third time) because I wasn’t sure if there’d be anything new to say that I haven’t before. It sucks and what else is there to say?

Walking into work seeing this doesn’t help either. You need not be an expert to know something is wrong here.

I reread the previous post and it was actually good! There was bitching, sure, but there was some hope underneath all the complaining. I found myself bored, reading books, and learning about the beauty of being bored. Buckling down and surviving day after day, week after week with nothing to do but exist. I felt if anything would turn me into a Buddhist Monk it would be being bored at UPS.

This year? No. No way. Hell no. It’s the opposite and is even more boring than last, even if I couldn’t imagine the possibility a year ago. This level of boredom is almost beyond comprehension and instead of teaching me some grand lesson about life it’s teaching me another thing about boredom; boredom is toxic, boredom is hell, boredom is a poison, boredom slowly but certainly destroys your soul. Sure, we all need time to rest, relax, and reflect but this is taking it way too far. Too much boredom is hell.

A few days ago on a three hour break I reflected on my state. My mental state wasn’t good, I was hungry, unmotivated, and tired. I even had to use the bathroom but was too lazy to do so. I was reminded of The Sims 2 and the ‘status bars’. If you’ve never played The Sims, these bars show how ‘healthy’ each of your character’s needs are, like the need to take a piss, or hunger, or comfort. As I thought about general human comfort broken down into these eight categories I imagined how mine would look if I was a Sim; they’d all be dangerously red. I had to pee, wasn’t comfortable, was hungry, wasn’t having fun, hadn’t had a shower in four days, and my environment was terrible; I was trying to nap in a Chevy passenger van at work.

I’d shop this to how I feel, but I’m too lazy.

The only bar that’d be green is ‘Social.’ Working silly long hours with some friends is a great way to bond and the humor and camaraderie is real. Apparently going through miserable shit with others is a great way to bond.

Here’s a real life example from a few days ago to really show how little we actually do and how pervasive the boredom is. We started at 11 a.m. We unloaded a plane around noon. We sat around until 3 p.m. and took a half hour lunch. We pulled about four containers out of the hub and drove them to another airplane. Then we sat around until 8 to load the same plane we loaded at noon. It’s like being in a different realm of existence working the same plane you unloaded eight hours earlier. The suns gone, the temperature is much colder, but you’re literally in the same place you were eight hours ago. It’s soul-crushing.

Occasionally we have twenty people loading a single plane which only requires about seven or eight. We (my four work buddies) sit in our van-home and watch everyone working outaide. Eight people standing around doing jack shit in the cold until a can eventually shows up. The other twelve or thirteen people are either in the airplane or sitting in their own van-home. There is no work we could possibly do unless we want to fight with the others trying to find the smallest crumb of work that we can.

One of these guys even talked to our supervisor about this. “How many people are in the van?” He asked. “Four,” she said. To which he passive-aggressively replied, “Wow, wish I could sit in the van all night. It’s cold standing around outside.”

Well no shit, that’s why we’re in the van. And if this guy sat in his van, then we’d get out and do some work because there’d actually be work to do.

The misery of boredom doesn’t stop there. It’s like the rest of my life has ceased to exist. Even with all the downtime at work I can’t use it effectively because I’m so bored and lethargic. Had I been able to channel my motivation I could’ve been doing quite a bit of writing or reading, but no, I nap and space out for hours on end. When I get home I have about two good hours to actually have a life or a hobby, but mindlessly playing video games is a great way to pass the time. Oh, toss a few beers in there to zap me out a bit as well. I wake up at 10 a.m., just enough time to make a pot of coffee and charge my phone and vape before I leave at 11 a.m.: repeat until this shitty season is over.

Pissing away time doing fuck all.

Boredom, like all things, begets itself. Depression makes you lethargic and unwilling to work towards happiness, anger keeps you chasing after anger instead of peace, and boredom loves to destroy your motivation to where you don’t want to do anything. Sitting in a van for three hours drifting off to sleep (and being paid $30/hr. to do so) puts you in a strange state. You want to work, you want to do something to pass the time, but you just can’t be bothered to get up because the van has become your home away from home and boy is it cold outside.

I feel like a coiled spring which is good. I can’t wait for this season to be over so I can enjoy life again. Sure, I bitch a lot about the “struggles” of my pretty comfy life, but this week is really putting things into perspective for me. I work a decent paying part-time job that has free health benefits. I have all the time in the day to actually do the things I want, be it writing, reading, video games, or drinking around with my silly science experiments. Some people aren’t this lucky where their reality year round is working a ton of hours at a job with zero time or willpower to do anything like a hobby. With this newfound appreciation for how great I have it compared to people who live this life year round I can’t wait to get back to my hobbies. Maybe it’s just the type of mindset I need to kick of 2021.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Ten Reasons Face Masks are Awesome!

Here everyone! As you might know 2020 is nearing its close and has already established the record for the longest year ever in the history of humanity. Seriously, this year has lasted about 40 months and I don’t know any other year that can contend with it. I mean some people might argue that 1918 with the Spanish Flu was longer but they’re all dead so 🤷‍♂️? 

And who cares about masks anyways? The pandemic is a hoax, and if you know anyone personally who has died well you’re just part of the Deep State or something. And if it’s not a hoax, it was surely a plan by Democrats to steal the election. And if not that then Gyna made the virus to control the population. Or wage economic war on the USA. Or something. Either way: COVID-19=BULLSHIT. They’re trying to take away your freedom by keeping you away from your racist family members during Thanksgiving and Christmas The Holidays™! You’re a free ‘Murikan so fight for your right to have family gatherings, listen to your 2nd Amendment uncle rant about the election, and kill off grandma by infecting her with the fake virus that you’ve had for a few days. Hell, you’re not even aware you had it because you never were tested.

Despite this fake-ass virus (that still infects and kills people somehow) mask wearing isn’t all bad. In fact it has a ton of upsides and I want to talk about them here. So here are ten reasons to wear a mask despite the entire thing being a bullshit hoax. Let’s get started!

Dental Hygiene

Apparently walking around all day inhaling your breath is a great way to promote dental hygiene. It only took me a single day of wearing a mask to immediately regret not brushing my teeth. Is this what my breath always smells like? Is this the experience people have while conversing with me? Holy shit, I’m never going to talk to anyone ever again. 

While every other aspect of my life is falling apart during this pandemic (mental health, physical health, alcoholism, motivation, stress, etc.) I can say for a fact that my dental health has never been better. I brush my teeth everyday. Sometimes I even floss! Sometimes I drink the hand sanitizer to give my mouth a little jolt of disinfecting freshness if you get what I mean. So wear a mask to convince yourself to brush your fucking teeth regularly. It’s not like you’ll be seeing your dentist soon anyways; he doesn’t want to get near anyone’s mouth with COVID stomping around.

Poppin’ Pimples

Breathing hot and humid CO2 exhaust from your mouth/nose all over your face has a way of making pimples grow. But who doesn’t love a good pimple to pop here and there? The beauty of mask wearing is these infrequent pimples turn up in mass with each one giving you the satisfaction of popping them. I don’t know about you, but few things are more satisfying than feeling some dull, welled-up pain on the side of your chin the entire day only to go home and finally squeeze and blast that fucker all over your mirror in a delightful volcanic eruption of nasty skin puss and infection. It’s disgusting but, come on, y’all know exactly what I’m talking about. More masks means more pimples which means more evening joy for yourself (and a cleaner mirror).

Foggy Glasses

I don’t wear sunglasses (thanks daylight savings time, you asshole) but since I’ve started working around noon during the UPS peak season I’ve been able to break them out again. They’re also great if you’re up early, working outside, hungover, and tired which once again says volumes about UPS’s peak season. This is my state as of late and I’ve become accustomed to wearing glasses with a mask.

It’s great. With every exhale the glasses fog up and you can’t see a damn thing. This is especially pronounced if you enter a heated building; the cold glasses fog up even more than usual! This doesn’t sound good, but if you’re in the state to be wearing sunglasses at work, hungover, and working off 3 hours of sleep, it’s amazing. Let’s be honest here; your senses are so fucked already and you feel like the embodiment of misery so what’s another layer of shit you need to deal with? If anything the fogged up glasses keep you even more isolated from those around you. They’re like a fun safe-zone to hide in while you try to slowly get over your hangover. They can’t see you behind the glasses and, holy shit, you can’t see them through your vaporized glasses. You’re floating in a cloud detached from everyone else and it’s amazing to not worry about the people you can hear but cannot see.

Useful Handkerchief 

For some reason my nose runs a lot more while wearing a mask. It’s inconvenient but expected when you have damp, moist exhale going all over your face. But since the mask covers your nose (unless you’re wearing it like a jackass) no one is aware of it. Even better, you can simply wipe your snot on the inside of the mask and no one is aware of it! Hell, just shove your finger up there and give it a good pick and it’ll look like you’re just itching your nose or adjusting the mask.

And even if you do end up with snot and boogers all over your face, no one will know anyways. Go crazy! Pick your nose in public!

Facial Hair Doesn’t Matter

Even though I only shave once a week it’s still a chore that I dread doing. Sure you can procrastinate shaving for a bit but after two weeks I begin to look like a homeless unemployed bum. Eventually my crumbling self-esteem outweighs my laziness and I reluctantly shave. This is why I’m on the weekly plan.

But with masks? No one cares. No one can see your filthy scruff and it’s so comvient to not shave, plop on a mask, and pretend that you did infact shave recently.

Another thing to note. UPS’ package delivery drivers have a hygiene code from the 1950s or something. UPS drivers can’t have facial hair besides a mustache. Seriously, look at the next one you see. (Maybe they changed this recently, I don’t know…) While I’m not a driver myself, I’m curious as to how many are growing COVID beards and hiding them behind their masks.

Makeup Also Doesn’t Matter

Obligatory I’m not a girl and don’t wear makeup, but if you are one this is similar to the beard thing from above. If half your face is hidden who gives a fuck about makeup, at least on the lower half of your face. I’m assuming there are a few people who put makeup on the top of their face and ignore the rest due to the mask. Who am I to judge? Be as lazy as you want during this pandemic.

High Fashion

Face masks are another highly visible piece of clothing that you can personalize. Sure, the regular medical face masks have that awful, terrible sky-blue clinical color to them, but outside of those, masks are fucking stylish as fuck. You can wear whatever mask you want. Some people even wear masks that say “THIS MASK IS AS USELESS AS OUR GOVERNOR!” printed on them to show how pissed you are at wearing the mask, as well as how much of a goober you are for voicing this opinion while wearing the mask anyways. You know, people who complain about something just to complain. It’s 2020, we all should know these people by now.

But damn, have fun with your mask. I want to get a Kerbal Space Program mask but simply haven’t gotten around to it yet. A NASA mask? Sure. Does SpaceX sell masks? How about Tesla? Maybe I should get one with Elon Musk’s face on it and call it quits. That’d look super fucking stupid though.

There’s always the idea of the MAGA masks too. Had Trump simply jumped on the mask train and sold MAGA or Trump 2020 masks the dude could’ve raked in easy money, actually lowered the spread of COVID, and had free advertising on the faces of 30% of all Americans. Trump is a total fucking idiot for this oversight alone. Anyways, masks are great for style. Find a mask that fits yours!

Hide Your Double Chin

Over the past year I’ve gained quite a bit of weight. During the pandemic I’ve struggled to find a reason to do anything. Sure bike riding isn’t prohibited, but this year I’ve thought, “Why even bike ride? The world sucks and who cares?” And when you drink six beers a day the calories seem to find a way to stick to your body. I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever weighed in my life and while I don’t think I’m exactly obese I’m well aware I’m overweight. 

My chin has doubled itself into two. Once again, not badly, but if I tilt my head slightly down it’s there and it’s obvious. Enter the mask. Put one on and no one knows how awful your chin looks. Keep eating, drinking, and living the sedentary life because the mask will hide it all.

Facial Expressions and Social Interaction

You never realize how much your social cues are taken from peoples faces until half of their face is hidden. A smile under a mask is kind of easy to notice if you really examine their eyes, but it’s not exactly as intuitive as it normally is. I’ll see my coworkers and constantly try to figure out what mood they’re in. Are they tired, hungover, angry, happy? Fuck if I know. Its hard to go off the eyes alone and I feel like perhaps everyone has a mild case of autism with all this mask wearing.

But look at the bright side, turn it around, and realize you can mask your face and emotions just like everyone else can. Be a mystery, be a blank slate of mood where no one can tell how you really feel. Like with glasses it makes it easier to hide away from people which really cuts down on bullshit social interactions. Us introverts are thriving during the pandemic.

I think that’s about it for this silly list. I hope you guys enjoyed it, found it entertaining/informative and please leave a like and subscribe and go check out my sponsor, some VPN company, and…

Aren’t I forgetting something.

Oh yeah…

Stop Sickness and Slowing the Spread of COVID

Yeah, I suppose that’s another thing masks are good at. This will probably backfire on me like most things do when I open my mouth (or type something), but I don’t remember the last time I was legitimately sick. Sure I caught a cold or something when I was living in the woods for a few days, but that was like a “half cold” or something. I didn’t get super sick or anything. And before that? Hell if I know. Its had to be at least a year though and I’m loving it.

I hope if this pandemic teaches us a single thing it’s the effectiveness of mask wearing and good hygienic practices. Use hand sanitizer like it’s going out of style, wash your hands like a germaphobe would, and wear a mask in public. Stay the hell away from people, especially the filthy and unhygienic general public. I used to think that getting sick was inevitable in some fatalistic way, or that if you did get sick it’d strengthen your immune system, but getting sick fucking sucks. Not being sick for a year is fucking amazing and I wonder how long you can prevent sickness just by following these pandemic protips.

So yeah, WEAR YOUR FUCKING MASK.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

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The Sunday Movie Party

So it’s been about forever since I’ve written about anything. It’s the same story too; a bunch of topics on my mind and a total inability to actually sit down and write about anything.

And bleh. I’ve already bitched about that so much that it’s boring. A total source of frustration for me? Yes. But once you’ve complained about it what else is there to do? Change it or continue to complain. Too bad change is hard.

Anyways, this post is about movies. Yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever written about movies here before, furthering this blog into some random shit piece of work where I don’t write about anything consistent. Big surprise there.

The list. Don’t judge me.

Sunday, I watched three movies. The only thing notable about this is that I usually don’t watch movies. I have a huge “movies to watch” list on my phone and never make progress on it. I’m talking Black Swan, The Departed, among others. You know, classics that have been recommended in Reddit threads that I’ve noted but never find the will to actually watch.

Watching movies is a strange thing for me. I need to be in the right mindset to watch a new movie, and a mindset that should match what the hell I’m watching. You can’t watch a horror film on a sunny and positive day and there’s no way you can watch something like Black Swan or The Shining unless you’re in some strange and fucked up mindset. While you can listen to a song on a whim to some degree this doesn’t work with movies. You’re signing up for a two hour experience and the mood must match what you’re about to do. It’s basically an adventure.

Sunday I awoke severely hungover and detached from reality and this mood was strange enough to set me on my movie watching path. So this is kinda like a ‘review’ or my thoughts on these three strange-ass and totally unrelated films I watched.

Greaat Success!

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime For Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

(Note: From now on I’ll just call this film “Borat 2” because fuck that ridiculous title.)

I wanted to watch Borat 2. I had some anxiety about it but in my hungover state just fucking started playing it on Amazon. And…And it’s Borat 2. Borat. More Borat. You know what you’re going to get…

Borat (the first one, titled Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) is a famous enough movie and I don’t think I can say much that hasn’t been said before. It’s a comedic masterpiece and more importantly serves as a terrifying window into the US’s post 9/11 culture. It’s hilarious but was also dangerously accurate to our culture at the time. Sadly, many of the views displayed are still in force today which makes the film even more depressing; the 14 year old film is still somehow strongly relevant. The hatred and fear of foreigners, the paranoia over the possible “fall of western culture,” and societal change in general, it’s all blatantly shown in Borat.

Which is why I wanted to watch Borat 2. The first Borat, following along our beloved and clueless Kazakhstani reporter friend, was relevant enough, but if there was ever a need for another Borat movie it would be now. Our society has degraded even further since the original was released and the world needs another Borat. Something to save us all. Someone, like Sacha Baron Cohen, the actor behind Borat, to provoke the masses into stating their deeply held beliefs for everyone to see. Someone who has the unique power (besides All Gas No Brakes) to take the shadowy perspectives of the other side and make them visible. He gives a voice to the insanity to those that don’t agree with us and share our views and gives a point of view that is both shockingly believable and simultaneously absurd. It’s basically a window into our current US culture and a window that I think is much needed.

That perspective also comes with a heavy dose of sarcasm and parody of course. I mean it’s Borat for fucks sake.

So what to say about Borat 2? I don’t know. It’s Borat, it goes along with what I expected, but kinda fell apart midway through. I kinda lost interest and didn’t give a shit. Something about the first Borat film felt edgy where this one just felt samey and already-been-done. But then the last act pulled the shit together into a fantastic and hilarious climax and the film also served as a fun little father/daughter bonding lesson. Like shit, I didn’t think I’d get feels in a fucking Borat film or witness any character development, but that’s what happened. The end brought everything together in a positive way, showing a new bond between father and daughter, along with a twist that should’ve been obvious but totally wasn’t to me. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was actually pretty good. Maybe not as much of a landmark as the first, but more coherent with an actual plot I guess.

Eraserhead

Yeah. For movie two I decided to knock off one of the films that was on my list for the past year, Eraserhead. Some strange-ass black-and-white film from 1977 created by David Lynch. I’d never seen any of his other work, but we’re talking Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet here; the dude is known to make some strange ass films and this might be his strangest film ever. I don’t even need to see the rest to know that this was indeed some weird shit.

I think I first became interested in David Lynch after reading a David Foster Wallace essay on him. He made his work sound really fucking abstract and important, like this was a guy making films that were strange, made zero sense, and left it up to the observer to interpret. I love shit like this. Works that give you some idea to start from, but don’t hold your hand plot-wise into some heavy-handed conclusion. Let yourself interpret the work. Let the artist present their work, as abstract as it is, and let the viewer put their own interpretation on it.

Honestly, this was my inspiration behind a ‘book’ I guess I’m working on. My idea was to adopt this approach: just write some random subconscious shit and see what happens. I’m glad to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well this worked. I’ve written some of my favorite stuff by writing and not knowing what the fuck I was trying to say. No plot, not plan, just write and see what happens. It helps me notice things about myself that aren’t obvious and it lets others wonder what the hell I’m even writing about. It gives much more room to interpret the work which is always fun.

But I still hadn’t watched a single David Lynch work. Huh. That’s strange. Until Sunday when I finally got around to it.

Eraserhead is…what I expected, but in a great way. Fucking nonsense from a standard perspective — I had no idea what was going on and still don’t — but something about the movie sticks with you. The whole desolation of the film, the harsh and subconscious industrial soundscapes, the imagery that seems to come more from dreams than anything in reality, and the awkwardness of the human interactions. The entire film seems like some anxious fucking fever dream/nightmare with an imposing sense of impending doom in each scene. You’re not even aware of what the doom even is which makes the feeling all the more dreadful. There’s no room to relax. There’s no room to reflect. It’s an oppressive atmosphere and the film revels in it. The entire thing has you feeling uncomfortable and on-edge putting yourself in Henry’s (the main character) place just trying to process what the hell is actually happening to the guy.

It’s a movie that takes some processing. You can’t finish watching Eraserhead and be like, “Okay, yeah, that was good,” or, “No, that was fucking stupid.” You end it sitting quietly asking yourself, “Huh? What?! Uh…Ummm….” And it’s fucking great when a movie ends that way.

Our 16-year-old was critical about it the entire time (rightfully so), frequently commenting how “It’s a film that you need to write a report on about ‘what it means.’” while deriding the whole lack-of-plot thing. But yet, to my surprise, she was also trying to interpret what the hell was going on despite shitting all over films that leave it up to the viewer to solve! I don’t know if she realized the beauty and irony behind that, but I found it intriguing. Here was someone who loves romantic comedies and straight-forward plots arguing about how dumb Eraserhead was but at the same time trying to piece meaning to it all. It was wonderful.

And that’s all I have to say about Eraserhead so far: the power of letting the viewer (or reader) figure their own shit out. Without a clear or direct purpose the human brain automatically and instantly tries to put meanings and patterns to anything it sees. Even if it’s confusing, random, and without obvious reason, meaning, or order, the mind will try to make sense of that. And I think that is the power of abstract films like Eraserhead. Sure, David Lynch can have his own reasons for the choices he makes in the film, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters in art is how the viewer interprets is, and by being abstract you yield nearly all the power to the viewer. You see what you see. You understand the art in your own way. You take your own perspective and project it over the film. It gives a nearly infinite amount of interpretations to the art, and how is that a bad thing?

And it reminds me of this introductory quote in Bioshock: Infinite.

(Note: I have a bit more to say here. There’s a very blurry line separating art that just puts random shit out there in an attempt to be ‘deep’ and whatever you’d call ‘legitimate obscurity’ and I don’t know where that line exists. Surely you can’t plop out a musical album of static just to ‘let the listener figure it out’ but the opportunity to do so still exists to the ‘real’ artist. I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with artistic intentions, but still, the fact there are no hard and fast rules in art continually fascinates my mathematic and rule-centric brain. The fact that people make good art with no ‘rules’ blows my mind.)

The Proposal

To end this fucking post: The Proposal. A straight-forward romantic comedy from 2009 starring Sandra Bullock as Margaret and Ryan Reynolds as Andrew. And let’s not forget the legendary Betty White as Gammy. It was a shock to watch this following fucking Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and Eraserhead, but here we are.

By this time I was drunk and when the kids asked if they could watch The Proposal I sloppily hit the ‘rent’ option on Amazon Prime TV. $3.99. Who gives a shit?

I’d saw the Proposal before, and only have good memories about it. It wasn’t like my favorite movie ever, but for romantic comedies I found it pretty fucking good and strangely memorable.

Fun fact: I don’t like romantic comedies. They’re formulaic. They’re boring. They bring nothing to the table. They don’t do anything that hasn’t been done before. While any stock rom-com might be ‘good’ plot-wise, if there’s nothing special about it I fucking hate it. And I’m not picky against only rom-coms; this is my complaint against almost all films; they’re boring. Who gives a shit. Horror films? Boring. Spooky, unknown ghost or killer that you need to evade. Action movies? Bang-bang gun shit to save the world with explosions everywhere. Rom-coms? Same boy-meets-girl, boy-hates-girl, boy-falls-in-love-with-girl shit with comedic undercurrents. Hollywood is filled with cookie-cutter plots only serving to make quick money and there isn’t much art to be found. It’s no surprise that I hate about 85% of movies.

And while I don’t know why The Proposal breaks from my gripe with rom-coms and films in general, it does. I seriously can’t pinpoint a single gripe with the formula of the film. Yeah, it’s been done before, yeah nothing really crazy happens, but I don’t hate the film for some reason. In fact I find it enjoyable. Maybe it’s the setting in remote Alaska on an island, maybe it’s Betty Fucking White as Gammy, and maybe it’s the growth of the characters, maybe it’s Bullocks and Reynold’s obvious chemistry, maybe it’s the Cessna 208 Amphibious Caravan on floats at the end; fuck if I know why I find the movie good. I just do. It’s as confusing for me more than anyone else: this is movie I shouldn’t like for basic reasons but I found pretty fucking good. Especially following the mind-bending Eraserhead, how could I find this kinda stock rom-com actually good? And maybe this is my intrigue with The Proposal: why the fuck do I even like it? It’s another puzzle, maybe not as abstract as Eraserhead, but a puzzle none-the-less. All I know is that, hell, I liked the movie, and fuck it if anyone tells me I didn’t like it.

So that was my Movie Party on Sunday. A random collection of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm For Benefit of Kazakhstan, Eraserhead, and The Proposal. And I liked each film for totally crazy and separate reasons. I don’t recommend you guys watch these like in this order or anything, but yeah, go fucking check them out. Chenqui!

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Where Did the Sun Go?

Last Monday, Labor Day, was a beautiful day. I was running low on vape juice and pods, and went to the local vape shop to buy some more. I even made it to Hobby Lobby to buy some glue for a model rocket that I’m building. It was a gorgeous day and seemed to be the idyllic late-summer day with the temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s and comfortable humidity. It was a nice change after the prior week with heat indexes nearing 100 degrees, a perfect day to have off work as well.

But looking back I realize this was the last time I had seen the sun. Seriously. Over the past week I haven’t caught a glimpse of the nearest star to us, the one that supports nearly all life on earth. In a way it feels like I’ve been cut off from the very thing that gives me energy to live. Literally.

I kinda miss it too. On Labor Day, after the hellishly sunny and hot month of August, I was looking forward to one of those dreary, rainy, and lethargic days. I was sick of the heat, the humidity, and the dead brown yards throughout the city. I was sick of driving around in our Honda Civic with AC that barely worked while the Focus was being repaired. I was sick of being cooped up inside because it was too miserable to be outside longer than it took to grab the mail. I work outside as well and this is it’s own special hell in the summer. To hell with it all, fuck summer, and could we please have some rain just to change things up a bit?

Be careful what you wish for.

My job assignment last week was my least favorite job, but somehow I was able to weasel my way out of it. I was put on one of my favorite jobs: driving the cargo loader, the big machine that lifts/lowers containers of packages out/into large cargo aircraft. I like the job because it’s one of the most important jobs at UPS. If you’re terrible at it, everyone hates you and talks shit about you, and you can even cause the planes to depart late if you’re incompetent enough. The opposite is also true; if you’re good at operating the loader you become somewhat of a workplace hero. Other loader operators watch how you do your job, and I’ve picked up on my coworkers doing some of the same things I do. Not that people worship you or anything, it’s just nice to see your skills rub off on others and know that you’re good enough at your job to be relied and dependent upon. As a one-man job operating the cargo loader has quite a bit of responsibility, but is very fulfilling knowing how important your skill is to the operation in general.

One of these. Source.

Kinda a rant there, sorry. The loader operator also stands outside in whatever weather is going on, as you can see above. In the summer you sweat and are miserable and in the winter two pairs of gloves and socks can’t stop your extremities from going numb. The wind throws rain, sleet, and snow into your face while ripping your skin off in subzero temperatures. But when the weather is pleasant, like on Labor Day, it’s a wonderful time where you get to stand outside, enjoy the weather, and do nothing physical besides move some joysticks and hit a few buttons.

Last week? Rain. Rain every fucking day. And I couldn’t complain about it either because I weaseled my way out of a hated job into a better one. You can’t reneg on a deal and I made sure to see the week through despite the terrible weather. Tuesday was rainy but not too bad. Wednesday didn’t have too much rain, only a wind-driven mist, but I wore a t-shirt like an idiot with temps in the 50s; I froze my ass off. More wind and rain Thursday but at least I wore a flannel while Friday only had drizzle here and there. I just find it interesting how shitty my luck is sometimes, and how I somehow bring it upon myself.

Saturday was also dreary, although it didn’t rain. I’m still struggling with sleep (it’s 4:05 a.m currently and I pounded down an Alka Seltzer and a melatonin a half-hour ago, to no avail) and wake up around 2 p.m. feeling fucking dead. Groggy, sleepy, unmotivated, and the view out of the window never helps. The ambient light level looks more like 7 p.m. than 2 p.m. This has been my past week: wake up at 2 p.m. feeling like a zombie despite sleeping for 9 hours, walking through tiny puddles on the way to my car at 3:30, lethargically driving with my eyes half-closed trying to decide what to listen too (upbeat music or something more lethargic?), drifting towards the timeclock, answering “Ehhh?” when my supervisor asks me how I’m doing, and standing out in the rain while I move some joysticks and smash some buttons during an airplane unload. Feeling my pants slowly become soaked by the rain and wind. Unmotivated to write or to read or do anything but also wanting to do something to pass the hours at work. Luckily when the sun does set you aren’t aware that it’s still fucking cloudy out.

According to the WeatherBug app, tomorrow (today I suppose) will be ‘partly sunny’ (is there a difference between partly sunny and partly cloudy?) with temps in the mid-70s. Not sure about the wind because no one cares about the wind. It sounds like it’ll be a beautiful day and I think I’m going to sit outside and bask in the sunlight, at least for a few minutes until I get bored and lurk back inside to play video games, post this, or whatever.

And holy shit, look at this:

THERE IT IS!

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.