6.12.2016

Corporate Outrage Over Rape -- You're Doing It Wrong

If the title surprises you, it should. The post that follows saddens me. It saddens me that in this day and age I even have to post something like this.  It saddens me that my friend, the woman who wrote this, feels that she has to remain anonymous or else face more corporate retribution in the name of looking out for her best interest.  What follows is her letter. Her story. Read it. Learn from it. And stop tolerating it.  -A.T.


6.11.2016

Uncomfortable Silences

If you are following me on the book of face or the gram that is instant, you may have seen a picture that looks like it was taken at a bar with a bottle of Yeungling Light and a Keno ticket.  That's because it was.

I had a couple of Pink Floyd books to drop off for my friend Chris and he had shoes for me. So, the plan - hatched earlier today - was for me to come see him at his second job, tending bar at Brew-Stirs Fun Pub. We would have a couple of drinks, try our hand at Keno and that would be that.

It was a pretty good plan. One I executed flawlessly while I was married and lived within walking distance to Brew-Stirs.  A friend of mine told me that I was more fun when I was drunk, and I think that's true to a certain extent. Tee oh double dee, if you're reading this, you're getting more than one honest paragraph tonight, brother.

So..I got home from work. I actually felt pretty good about how the week went overall. Things seem to be on the upswing and I am cautiously optimistic.  Stopped at the Bethel store on the way home. Got in the door about 90 minutes after I left the office and threw on some Archer: Vice.  A nice dinner of alternating peanut-butter on crackers and sharp cheddar on saltines rounded out the dinner. The plan was to eat light in the event that Chris suggested ordering Classic's Pizza (again, part of the pattern).

Somewhere along the way, I fell asleep. I awoke at around 10PM and damn near said fuck it to the whole thing. I didn't know if Chris remembered the shoes, and it's not like there was any kind of time crunch on the Pink Floyd books, after all, they're pretty much broken up as a band.  But I rallied and wound up getting to the Fun Pub about 10:30.  Got to see my man Jason in the DJ booth. Chris was working bar with Christie and some bar-back I didn't recognize.

The bar was packed. It took about 20 minutes for me to get settled in. About halfway through my second beer and once the Keno started flowing, I noticed a few things.

The Bar Crowd is Getting Younger
At first glance, I really thought I walked in to some kind of weird after-prom. My daughter is almost 22 and she looked older than a large number of the patrons I saw tonight.  I swear if a high-school teacher had walked in, they'd scatter like roaches in a suddenly lit kitchen.

The problem with a younger crowd is that they all think that life is perfect, that they are beautiful, and that everyone should love them. In other words, they are obnoxious as fuck.  Which leads to the next item.

Drunk People Have No Filter
None. Zip. Zilch. A country song that lends itself to crowd participation came on and this twenty-something starts dancing at the bar, next to where I'm sitting. And by 'dancing' I mean flopping. And bumping in to everyone. To the point after the 3rd time she realized she was bumping in to me and continued to do so, I set my elbow a position to passively jab her in the back or side at the next lunge or vocal refrain.

She reciprocated by telling, nay shouting, in my ear that I wasn't being nice and it didn't look like I was having fun. I looked at her and calmly said, "you've been here longer than I. You're clearly way ahead of me in the fun department." To which she again shout-sang more Garth lyrics directly in to my ear. I said something along the lines of, "Oh for fucks sake...seriously?!?!" and left her vicinity.


Drunk People Have No Boundaries
The incessant drunk-college-girl annoyances only served to underscore the fact that as alcohol consumption increases, the recognition of boundaries decreases. Personal space is a real thing whether you're drunk as fuck or not. And I know this is hard to believe, but there are times I actually go to a bar just to have a couple of drinks. Blackout-drunk isn't actually on the list most of the time. Hasn't been for years.  That's not to say I won't tie one on if I'm in walking distance.


Avoid the High Visibility Areas
It was a rookie mistake. I wasn't there to get drunk, but clearly others were. And by sitting in certain areas of the bar, you make yourself a target for all of the above bullshit. If you sit somewhere close to an area that's in the bartender's frequent line of site, expect the bullshit. For the simple reason that you are sitting in the danger zone. That area where people congregate trying to get the bartender's attention in order to get served. Because you know...drunk.   I knew this, but had forgotten last night. A situation quickly rectified. It still didn't stop all of the bumping and the awkward reaches as people  went for their shots of Purple Injustice or whatever the fuck the disenfranchised youth are drinking these days. Seriously. Did I mention how young these kids looked?

Silence Makes Drunk People Nervous
Once I got settled in to the right seat and the Keno routine was set, there wasn't much for me to do but watch the board. When Chris had a chance, we chatted. When Jason had a long song on and came over, we chatted.   I didn't go with anyone. And therefore didn't really have anything to say to anyone. I had two beers. As such, the medicinally lubricating effects of alcohol had not kicked in. I didn't feel like dancing and I was nowhere near the point where everyone in the bar was my friend and I loved everyone. Water doesn't typically have that effect.

This made for fantastic people-watching, though.

And I found out something very interesting.

Silence makes drunk people nervous. I was sitting there, minding my Keno numbers and no less than 8 people apologized for bumping in to me. Keep in mind, I hadn't said anything. And only 1 of the 8 actually had bumped in to me. But something about the silence compelled the others to make sure that they knew it was an accident.  My reply every time this happened was the same. "No worries, man. You didn't. It's all good."  And I flashed a quick smile. And promptly went back to ignoring them (I had some Keno to win after all).

This went on all night. Near the end of the night. One of the gents said this and I gave my standard reply.  He followed up by saying, "You know. I don't want to piss you off. You're quiet. And it's always the quiet ones you have to worry about. You never know how crazy a quiet person actually is."  Sucking my ice water through a straw Pulp Fiction style I looked at him and said, "very true." and then turned back to my Keno.

He reached out to shake my hand.  "It's all good," I said. Because, it was.  There is almost nothing in this world that will incite me to get in to a fight at a bar, especially if I'm sober. By 2AM, the 2 beers from 11PM had worn off, so I was sure I was sober.  So, yeah, quiet or not...it was all good. Especially since the dude looked scrappier than me. But I was quiet. Therefore the unknown variable.

Along with silence, common courtesy also throws people off.

As I said it makes for fantastic people watching and blog posts that get started at 3AM (but not actually finished until the following afternoon).


You're Not My Friend
There are three kinds of friends at the bar.

  1. People you meet at the bar who eventually become your friends in real life.
  2. Friends from your real life that you eventually meet up with at the bar
  3. People at the bar who think that everyone wants to or should want to be their friend (the 'beautiful people' syndrome).

If I'm going to meet up with people at the bar, I would much prefer it to be with the 2nd group. The 1st group is OK too. And when you see them at the bar, it's cool.

The 3rd group, however, is again in that annoying AF category.  I could tell in the eyes of the shout-singy drunk chick that told me I wasn't having fun, that she was genuinely confused why I wasn't instantly succumbing to her charms.  She clearly thought that the whole bar loved her and if they didn't, it was simply because they hadn't bought a drink for her yet.

Dudes are like that too. They'll hold out their hand to shake yours. It's kind of the invite a vampire in to your home rule, only for frat-yuppy-pricks.  It's like, if you shake their hand, you somehow absolve yourself of thinking of them as an asshole.   Not true douche-hound. I've had more water than you've had alcohol. Trust me, you're still an asshole.


As I mentioned, the night was actually decent. I caught up with Chris. I won at Keno. I got a kick ass pair of shoes. All in all it was a good, albeit, uneventful evening. And probably better than sitting on the couch, alone in my apartment.

You want your honest paragraph, Mr. Williams? Here it comes.

I am torn--internally torn--with the desire to seek external validation and the sickening realization that even if I get the validation I seek, I will still question the intent behind that validation. How's that for honest? I have the yin and yang of wanting people to like me enough to want to do things with me diametrically opposed with the sobering conclusion that I don't like people very much on the whole. I need to be around people, but I'm emotionally drained with the whole interacting with people thing.   I could probably write a book on it, and there's much more to it than this paragraph will allow, but the truth of the matter is, you can tell me that you like me or love me and that we're friends and you got my back and would do anything for me. I will acknowledge that with the level of gratitude merited...but deep down I will always wonder why. Why me?  Why does anyone give two shits what I think, what I write, what I say?  There's your honesty.

Oh...and one more thing...

People Who Work At Bars Are Either the Best Customers OR the Shittiest Customers
Case in point last night. A crowd came over to Brew-Stirs from Harry Buffalo. Some were great, but many weren't. It seemed that because they were 'in the industry' they felt they could bend the rules.  Last Call is last call for a reason. It's the time for you to pay up, gather your shit, get the digits of that honey and plan your trek to Waffle House. And most importantly, it's the indicator that it's time for you to get the fuck out of the bar.

Ten minutes after last call, people were acting like they just got there. Doing shots, racking new games of pool. It was nuts.

I said my goodbyes and headed home. Confident that I was at least beating the crowd of drunkards who clearly didn't Uber.

I shoulda got some Schneider's.

Next time.

Until then, have a great weekends peeps, whatever that means for you!

Peace,
-A.T.

6.07.2016

Cooking Show Confessional

In a cooking show confessional moment *  ** I was poised to do a post about how we, as a culture, for all of our wanting to be connected to people, seem to only want to be connected to the happy, go lucky bullshit persona that 89% of the people post on Facebook (yours truly included), and that because of that we often wind up saying "I'm fine" or "sure...things are good. I'm OK" when in fact we may be fighting the Rosemary's Baby of all internal demons with a smile that tells the world "thanks for asking, but I know you don't really want to hear the truth."

At least that WAS going to be the post. I was letting it simmer in the back of my brain-bucket all day.

And then I got home and something boiled to the surface about the fact that we are living in a society where we are dumbing down the interpersonal skills. We give trophies for participation. Somehow people need to be shielded from actual conflict. So in order to spare people the growth that comes along with actually losing, we sugar coat it. Look, you lost--but isn't this participation trophy sweet?

Actually, you know what? I don't know that I want to write about either of those things right now, to be completely honest.

Ever wake up and realize that the life that you're living is now your new normal? Like the whole writing/writer/wanting to be loved and adored for the words that I put on the page thing has been there for a large portion of my life. It's shifted, of course. At first it was poems. Then song lyrics. Then screenplays and short films. The writing writing was always there. Meaning that I always wrote for me in some way shape or form for most of my life.

And oh my god are my neighbors whiny as fuck! If they are over 23, I'll be surprised. No, not the neighbors I actually love--the neighbors in my complex, but the neighbors in the building next door.

Where was I? Oh yes. The new normal. This seems to be it. Don't get me wrong. Some things about it are great. There are some freedoms that come from living alone (please text first before dropping by, for your comfort and mine--trust me on that).

There are also things that, if I could look ahead in my life 10, 15, or hell even 5  years ago, I may not have been so OK with. But as humans we adapt. Don't we? I mean. I think the points of depression and discordance come along when something in my brain...that image of what I think I'm supposed to be, or supposed to be doing in my life don't quite match where my life actually is.

For example, I had always assumed that I would be somewhere other than Central Ohio and a big time screenwriter by now. Not wearing board shorts, sitting on my Value City mocha love-seat listening to Morgan Page through the Bluetooth sound bar loud enough to drown out the millennial version of friends happening outside my window as I update my blog with things I think people actually want to read.

I guess what I'm saying is, sometimes I'm not OK. If you ask me how I am, I will tell you that I'm fine. Or that I'm not as good as I could be, but things are turning around. Or any number of phrases that let you feel like you did your due diligence as a friend or human without actually having to care or dig too deep.  That whole digging too deep thing really isn't that comfortable for either of us, I get it.  

And I'm OK with that. Seriously. I am.

And here's the thing. If you're reading this and you know me in real life (or real enough life), I want you to know something right now. I'm not writing this to elicit sympathy, or help, or trying to open the channel of communication. That's not the point of this at all.

For me, the writing is cathartic. If there's shit going on that's driving me nucking futs, I have to write about it. Either a song. Maybe a story, or a section in a story.  Or a blog post. Or something in my journal that I hope to fuck nobody reads until I'm dead (because for reals, I didn't change anyone's name in there). Point is...when I say that I'm not OK, but I will be. It's true. If shit gets too overwhelming and the writing doesn't help. Or the trips down to the farm with full-metal jacket therapy don't help, then I promise--I will open up.

Or I'll sit in my apartment naked eating ice cream directly from the carton (seriously, I'm not kidding about texting first).

Hmmm...either the dance music is drowning them out or the mosquitoes have actually come to my aid for once. In any event, I don't hear the neighbors. Maybe they've taken their cookout indoors.

Yes. I know that I'm a crotchety bastard sometimes. I'm come to accept that. See above paragraph about the new normal.

As with most things that fall on these electronic "pages," very little of what I write is planned. And most of it, is actually the real me. Or at the very least a more accurate representation of the me I am in real life vs. the me that you see on Facebook.  The me that's on Facebook is more positive. The me that believes that as a species, we're mostly OK. It's a sketch of what I'd like to be most of the time. The water colors. No hard lines. Things blending together. Happy accidents and a little nest with happy birds somewhere nestled in the pine tree.

I'm not always that way, I guess. And I know you're not either. And what I'm trying to do here, on the blog, I guess is to let you know that it's OK to not be OK. And maybe I'm telling myself that more than I'm telling you that. Sometimes I have to know that there are days when I'm going to feel shitty. And days when I'm not going to want to be around people. And that it's OK for me to feel that way.

At the very least it gives me a wellspring of material to draw on when I write.

Which is a bonus.

And hey...look. I guess this did wind up being a post about being OK.

Although I'm sure the judges will still have preferred to sample the goat nuts (don't worry, it will make sense in a few sentences that were pre-written so I wouldn't forget them as I rambled through this post like a drunken yeti).

In any event, I have to go now. There's some ice cream calling my name.


Peace out
-A.T.













* - Cooking Show Confessional Moment: This is when the contestant on a cooking show starts to make a dish (say for example marinated goat testes), but for whatever reason doesn't wind up finishing the dish. The viewers see the whole process. The judges (pretend) like they had no idea what the contestant was planning on making. And in the ultimate deflating moment as the judges finish tasting what the contestant thinks is their masterpiece, calmly say, "you should have gone with the goat nard reduction" or something equally snarky.  Point is...rule number one on those shows where you need to make something from supplies provided in an allotted time -- You Never Tell The Judges About What You DIDN'T Make!!

** - I probably will still post about this at some point. It is something my mind circles back to frequently, usually during periods when I'm not quite OK. Or not as OK as some people think I should be, all things considered.

6.01.2016

The Rise of Relevance *Amended*

I have said many times in previous posts in this here bloggy blog some of what follows, so apologies for the seemingly rant-like nature of this post, but it ties in somewhat with one of my works in progress.

The piece I'm working on is called The Treachery of Rainbows. It will likely be classified by some as dystopian science-fiction (but like most authors, I think there's a deeper message in the piece). In it, citizens are connected in most of their waking hours to the feed. The feed is tailored for their likes, dislikes, friends, and family. It provides news, entertainment, employment opportunities, and social engagements.  It's not a stretch to see what kind of technology in our current lives inspired this. The concept is fairly straightforward. What would happen if Facebook (or some other social media) became such a part of our everyday lives, that it was-in essence-Big Brother?

I thought, as I started it last November, there's no way this could actually happen. Would we, as thinking rational citizens, allow something like that to consume us and direct every facet of our lives?

What scares the hell out of me is that after the last 72 hours, I can see how it could actually happen.

As a society, we have already made social media far more relevant that it should ever be (in my opinion). It is fueling the feelings of instant gratification that pervade our society.  I think as the age group decreases, that expectancy of instant-gratification and entitlement increases.  And maybe that's the effect of aging. Maybe older generations always see that in their young.

I think, though, this is different. My generation is the last generation that knew life before the world-wide web and instant-on access to the internet in general.  The definition of patience? Waiting for that 2400bps dial-up connection to make the handshake and connect up to Angel BBS, or Prodigy, or CompuServe.  And praying no one else in the house picked up the extension while you were on-line.

These days, that world is in our pocket. There is no dial up. No patience. No hoping that someone in the house doesn't decide to order a pizza while you're trying to download that swimsuit gif for the next 2 hours.

I think our social media landscape is breeding an air of 'I'm important. And the more likes I get on this post, the more it will be relevant.'

Bullshit.

It's Facebook. The site that was created to be a way to pick up co-eds on a college campus. The site that has since evolved in to one of the most sophisticated data collecting tools of our time.  The NSA doesn't have to track your movements from your cell phones (which they can, I'm sure do)--you tell them exactly where you are and who you are with. Hell, most of the time we tell them what we had for dinner. It's frightening how much information we divulge on Facebook.

  • Your name
  • Your children's name(s)
  • Your family members' name(s)
  • How many pets
  • School your children attend
  • Activities your children are involved in
  • Vacations you take (a.k.a. when your house will be empty)
  • Where you work
  • Birthday
  • Children's birthdays
  • What kind of vehicle you drive
  • Favorite books
  • Favorite music
  • Favorite movies/television shows
  • What other social media sites you have a presence on
And so much more. I'm not picking on anyone with the above list. All of the above is shit someone could learn about me by spending no more than 30 minutes on my Facebook page. Hell probably ten minutes. 

But Todd, we use Facebook to connect with friends and family across the country and the world. It's a great tool to stay in touch.

No. I would argue that it's not a great tool. I would argue instead that it's a convenient tool.  Certainly browsing a friend's wall on Facebook is a quick and easy way to stay involved or see what's going on in another person's life--if they want you to know about it.

Facebook is, in most cases, the ideal version of someone that they want the world to see. It's not real. And when it is real, people get nervous and uncomfortable. It's the reality TV of the internet. It seems like you know what's going on in my life. But if you call me, or heaven forbid--write me a letter, I can guarantee you that the reply you get back will be more raw and real than anything I've ever posted on Facebook. I want people to like me on Facebook. I don't think I'm alone in that. No one likes to think or get indication that they are assholes.

And that's the other downside of social media--the Keyboard Conquistadors. People who will sit and shred someone simply because they don't have to actually see the effect in real life. There's no room for actual conversation or growth.

Case in point.  I posted a quote the other day about the 2001 movie "Pootie Tang," written and directed by Louis C.K.  The quote was the bit about the gorilla killing Pootie Tang's dad in the Steel Mill. I thought it was funny. I posted it. In quotation marks. Because the absurdity of the context of the quote made me laugh.  A friend commented...basically throwing guilt my way and asking if I really thought that quote was appropriate at this time.

Took me a minute before I figured out that he was referring to the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo. The two were completely non-related. But because I had the word gorilla in my quote, it was enough to get a dose of Facebook shaming. 

I almost never take down something I post on Facebook. Except the time I accidentally posted a...well...I mean I almost never delete a post.  But I deleted this one. Not because I thought I was wrong, but because I have met this particular friend in real life. He's a good guy. And I don't like the thought of hurting someone.

And then today I see he posted something about the Cincinnati Zoo having a dead horse.  And I thought to myself, "well, I guess it's ok to start making jokes about this now. The pendulum of people giving a shit about this has shifted the other way."

That's really what it is, though. We have chosen when something matters, when we're going to be bothered by it, and when it's just over and done.  It's a false sense of relevance. That used to be delivered to us on the nightly news. The news cycle was spread out. Networks had to pick and choose what was important to their viewers or readers. That's what we saw on the nightly news or in our morning paper.

That changed when we went to a 24-hour news cycle. Now it's a case of reporting everything and letting people filter what they think is important. And what we think is important is largely based on what our friends on-line think is important. 

For example, I hadn't really followed the story of the child that climbed in to the primate exhibit at the zoo. Therefore I had no filter when I posted about a gorilla.  But it was important to my friends. So I became the asshole. 

Now people are done with it.  It's all so crazy. The truth is, nothing on Facebook is relevant. It's a false sense of importance. You are not going to save a sick child by clicking on the 'like' button. Nieman-Marcus is not going to give you their chocolate chip cookie recipe (hint: the recipe on the back of a bag of Nestle's Toll-house Morsels is the only chocolate chip recipe you need), and Bill Gates is not going to give you $1000 for forwarding an email.

Facebook is a tool used to collect data for companies to market their products and services to you.  The rest of it that you might feel (the staying in touch, the coordinating of events) are things that have been incorporated to help ensure that it stays a relevant part of your life.  

And it's working. We're all on the feed. 

I guess I need to get this story done before it stops being science-fiction.

Well, that, and my lunch is over.

Peace
-A.T.



*UPDATE*

So...interesting turn of events. The person that I thought was offended by my original quote actually wasn't offended. But..given the headspace I was in at the time and this little crusade I was on to vaguely call him out on my blog...because you know...we sometimes hide behind keyboards and bust peoples balls (seriously...weren't you paying attention earlier??).

The reason I was so bugged by the whole exchange was because I thought I had offended someone I considered a friend.

The reason he called me out was because he wasn't offended. He actually was worried that my comment might stir up a shitstorm from others.  And because we have mutual friends, he called me out because, well, I was kind of a dick about it. No...I kinda was. Seriously, scroll up. And I made it seem like he was crying about my post.

Holy crap Todd....what's this mysterious quote?!?!

Glad you asked.

" Only the third time a man had been mauled by a gorilla at that steel mill..."



It's not a remarkable line, by any means. And any other time, it would have died a gloriously unspectacular death on my (or probably anyone's) Facebook feed.

But I took exception to the comment. Thinking I was being guilted or somehow shamed for posting it.

To be clear. I wasn't. I talked to my friend and we cleared it up. And shit is cool.

And I quote, "I just didn't want people thinking I was crying about your original movie quote.  Truth be told, I don't know shit about kids or gorillas and it doesn't affect my life at all."

Which...if you think about it, goes back to the point of this whole thing.

One throwaway movie quote + One comment of concern mixed with a healthy dose of misinterpretation=something that got blown way out of context (pretty much entirely by me).

Which, based on my observations on 'the feed' is what happens on Facebook on an almost daily basis.

I somehow thought I was above that bullshit. But I don't think any of us are. I think at some point we're going to read something the wrong way. And we're going to take it to a place it was never meant to go.

Had I stuck with my original reply to his comment on the original movie post, which was along the lines of " something something somthing quote from a movie something something something wasn't even thinking about the zoo thing"  then none of this would have gone this way.

On the flip side. If I had done that, I wouldn't have this seemingly deep post on how the craziest shit becomes relevant for no good reason on Facebook AND I wouldn't have found out that another person actually reads this blog.

So...all things considered, I look at this as a win.

And, yes, it's true. Sometimes I can be a dick. As can we all. But this time, I think I just took things the wrong way.

Until next time, dear readers,  May your fish sticks be breaded and your tater tots be cheesed!

-A.T.


In The Bag

There are a few common threads throughout this blog if you read it long enough. One of these threads has to do with my obsession...er...ques...