My New Book, “Nothing But Blockchain”

December 21, 2017 Blog Comments (0) 57

I wrote a book this morning. Like, literally, this morning. It’s called “Nothing But Blockchain: Everything You Need To Know About Money Grabs, Bubble Markets, and How Hype Sells Things”:

I was inspired by an article this morning about a company that changed their name to include the word “blockchain” and immediately saw a 500% increase in their stock price. The newly cristened “Long Blockchain Corp.” makes iced tea (they were The Long Island Iced Tea Corp. previously). This is the latest entry in the surreal-but-very-expected hype cash-in maneuvers by people who want to capitalize on the ignorance and excitement of people who just learned what BitCoin (and blockchain) was a week ago, and can’t stop posting dumbass memes about how rich they’re getting literally 7 days after buying a millionth of a BitCoin.

Before that, companies that make bras, e-cigarettes, fruit juice, and literally dozens of other things hopped on the blockchain bandwagon and saw their stocks soar.

So I figured, why not write a book all about blockchain? Like, literally nothing but the word “blockchain” repeated for 300 pages.

It’s the perfect gift for that scuzzy uncle or frat brother or other person in your life who won’t shut the fuck up about cryptocurrency and blockchain, despite knowing nothing besides its current valuation according to yet another out-of-date exchange ticker’s approximate guess.

I did it for you. You’re welcome.

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Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi (Spoiler-Free Review)

December 15, 2017 Blog Comments (0) 53

To set the stage: I am an ardent Episode 7 apologist. When discussing The Force Awakens, any of my writing friends who begin critiquing the movie are answered with an explanation that Kathleen Kennedy and JJ Abrams had one HELL of a monumental task: undoing the damage that Lucas did with Episodes 1-3. And I feel like they did that. The story was flat, yes. Every single beat was stitched together with simple “And then she… And then he…” connective tissue. There was fan service out the wazoo. And I loved it. Black X-Wing? Millennium Falcon? I don’t even care if it’s just the warmed-up leftovers of A New Hope served one day before they expire, I was 100% in.

Hell, I even shrug and still find love for Episode 1. It’s not as easy, but I do it. Because before I was a writer; before I made shows or content of any sort, I was a fan.

Episode 8?

I FUCKING HATED IT.

FUCKING. 
HATED. 
IT.

I want to make damn sure you understand this one thing, if nothing else in this write-up lands: I made a pact with myself a few years ago to outright remove from my writing (and hopefully, my mind) any critique of another creator’s work that is based purely on taste and opinion. I swore I would remove “I hate this” from my lexicon when “This isn’t for me” would do.

This is not a piece about my tastes or my opinion. This is fact: Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi is a bad movie. It’s a bad story. It’s a bad piece of content. From a movie-still or screen capture perspective, it is pretty in moments, but from a story perspective, it’s so. so. so. so. so. so. so. so. SO. bad.

I can’t explain why without spoilers, so I’ll do that in another piece. But I will say this: when the movie ended and the lights came up, my girlfriend (who hated Episode 7) turned to me with a look on her face that I knew was “Oh God, how do I tell him I hated this one too?” and that look was quickly replaced with shock as she saw the look on my face.

“The title crawl was interesting,” I said. “And I liked exactly one moment with Luke Skywalker. Other than that, I hated every. Single. Second. Of that movie.”

She cackled, half out of shock, and half out of relief. Because she did too.

Thinking we were alone in our disdain, given the applause that rang out after the credits began rolling, we exited the theater and tended to the ceremonial “End of the Movie Bio Break”. I finished first and returned to the exit hallway to hear two guys discussing the movie.

Oh no, I thought, I’m going to have to walk away before I lash out at these poor dudes decked out head-to-toe in Star Wars clothing simply for liking a movie that I couldn’t even begin to explain why I…

“I hated it,” one guy said.

“It didn’t answer a goddamn thing,” the other said.

“THANK YOU!” I yelled as my girlfriend exited her restroom. “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!”

I’m sure they thought I was insane for a moment. “You just validated the fact that I’m not crazy, and that that movie was a piece of shit.”

“It was!” they both said.

I never got their names, but we talked for a dozen minutes about all of the various weaknesses, plot failures, character misdirections, and other issues with a two and a half our commercial for more things based on the stuff introduced in this commercial, which themselves will invariably be thinly-vieled commercials for more things in the expanded-expanded universe, all of which makes NO GODDAMN SENSE or holds any cohesion with the source material, its characters, its settings, its mechanics (FUEL IS A FUCKING ISSUE? REALLY? SINCE WHEN IN STAR WARS IS FUEL A FUCKING ISSUE?)

From a writing-mechanics perspective, it’s shit.

From a storytelling perspective, it’s shit forced down your throat.

From an acting perspective, it’s like someone ate shit, puked that shit up, then ate it again and shit it out.

And from a pure “should this even exist?” perspective, it’s nothing more than a platform for toy sales, series spinoffs, and “extended universe” plays (LOOK FOR THE COOL CROSSOVER COMIC BOOK WITH THE GUY FROM THE CASINO (no, not the one that was shoved into the plot to basically give Benecio Del Toro some more screen time [HE WAS IN GUARDIANS 2, PLAYING BASICALLY THE SAME GODDAMN CHARACTER GAHHHHHHH]. I’m talking about the other guy with the macguffin on his lapel that they set up to be the entire fucking reason to even go to that planet, mostly to build characters that honestly were more fleshed out and whole BEFORE this building arc was shoved in here). I’m sure it’ll feature a REALLY BEAUTIFUL, MOSTLY RED cover by Mark Brooks, with seven or more action figure variant covers by John Tyler Christopher.)

I am 100% convinced the reason you see so many early reviews from publications claiming it’s great, original, unique, special, and otherwise positive is because Disney gathered every single reviewer from every single blog, publication, and outlet into a room and said “If you say even one single negative thing before this movie is released, we will bar you for life from screening ANY Disney or Fox production for the rest of your existence.” These are publications I trust: Ars Technica. Polygon. Io9. All of whom I can’t possibly trust ever again at this point, and no, this isn’t hyperbole.

There will be reversals of opinions, hedging, and otherwise paving over the past sometime between Christmas and New Years, and by the time this thing hits home video / streaming services, you’ll begin seeing the major outlets coming out with new reviews that trim back that 10/10 or 100% review to the mid 70’s. Then, sometime in the future after the cessation of net neutrality has all but obliterated the everyone-with-a-megaphone internet we have become and people begin going back to lives of consumption with moderate opinion sharing, you’ll see a return to common sense and an appeal to your trust as consumers as reviewers finally come out and say “yeah, Episode 8 was a full-on piece of shit crammed down your throat because Disney literally owns everything and can’t do a single brave thing worth a shit, for risk of creating weaknesses in their all-powerful consumer appeal.”

There. There’s my spoiler-free review.

Look for the very specific, full-o-spoilers catharsis later today, not because I think you need to read it, but because I need the therapy.

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Did You Know That I Am A Literal Cat Burglar? (Or, “A Farewell To Buzz”)

December 4, 2017 Blog Comments (2) 66

This morning, we had to say goodbye to my good friend of 11 years, Buzz Buzz (also sometimes known as “Buzz Buzz Buzz” or “Buzzy Buzz”, or simply “Buzz” if you prefer brevity). Buzz has been a fixture in my life since the day I stole him in 2006.

Yes, I’m not proud to admit it, but I stole a cat. But it was for a good reason.

Back in those days, my ex worked for the Humane Society. They didn’t yet have a real foster program, and when really great but unadoptable pets came in, there wasn’t really anywhere for them to go. Employees would take them home and rehab them to get them to a place where the shelter could adopt them out without liability. That’s how we got Buzz. He had a chronic sinus infection that simply would not go away. Due to that, the Humane Society was going to have to put him down. My ex stepped in and took him home, hoping to rehab him and get him to a state where he could find a good home.

Well, he did. It was my home. I fell in love with him and couldn’t let him go.

It’s called a “Failed Foster” — when a foster cat doesn’t make it back to the shelter, because the employee (or foster parent) decides to keep them. But before the official foster program was started, there was no way to legally hand these animals over to the foster parents. Everything was done with a wink and a whisper. It wasn’t shady or anything, it was just the way great animals who, through no fault of their own couldn’t be adopted, had a second chance.

During the day, he’d play the role of welcoming committee for any new animal that came in after him. He was everyone’s big brother. He showed the new fosters around the house and made sure they felt welcomed. He helped the more skittish of the bunch understand that the gigantic hairless ape with the tattoos and buckets of food (me) was only there to take care of them. At night, he’d take up residence on my chest and sleep and purr. I never had the heart to move him. He was just too damn adorable. When I’d roll over at night, he’d just take a few steps northward and find a spot on my head, sleeping there for the rest of the night, night after night, for 11 years.

Back when I was married to an employee of the Humane Society, and there was no OFFICIAL channel for great animals to find homes after going from “unadoptable but lovable” to simply “lovable,” he made dozens of foster animals feel welcome and helped them acclimate for the days, weeks, or sometimes months they were at our house. Eventually an official foster program took root there, and these days, there are hundreds of foster parents on the roll at the Humane Society. It’s awesome.  But back then, Buzz was absconded with and taken into custody quite illegally. And I’m not sorry at all.

   

One day, I was at the shelter and saw Buzz’s record. Because he was never officially adopted or processed (again, because there was no LEGAL way to do it back then), I marked him ‘DECEASED’ so that there wouldn’t ever be a question as to where he was. I never wanted to give him up. I shouldn’t have done that. I don’t regret it though. I burgled Buzz and made him mine and now, this morning 11 years later, he’s passed on.

So really, all I did was prematurely update his record, knowing one day this would happen. Right? I mean, that’s a great justification. Don’t try to erase it with logic or “reality”. And if you do, don’t think less of me. Or, if you do THAT, try to make it a short experience.

After the divorce, Buzz moved into my friend Mike’s tiny one-bedroom apartment with me, Julius (my other orange cat), and Haggis (the 17 year old veteran dog we lost earlier this year). We all slept in the living room. Mike objected at first — there really wasn’t room for all of us. I did something bad; I showed up one day with the cats and said it was just a temporary thing, knowing fully it wouldn’t be. I knew once Mike saw Buzz and Julius, he wouldn’t be able to send them away. I am a bad person, I know. But it was for the right reasons. I have been thankful every single day since we moved out that I did that to Mike, and thankful even more that Mike took them in. He knew what I was doing, and let me do it anyway. That’s how it goes with people who have been friends for 20+ years. We don’t talk these days, and that’s also how things go after a divorce and massive life upheaval. I hear he has a kid and a wife now. I hope he’s doing well.

Buzz survived a period of my life that a marriage, many friendships, my house, my career, and most of my possessions did not. He is a survivor. But far more than that, he was a constantly positive force in my life. No matter what happened, or where we were living (even in my truck for a while), or what was going on, there he was, ready to sleep on my chest and get pets for hours at a streak. He ended up becoming very close with my girlfriend Meghan, and the two shared a bond that made me tear up more than once. He adopted her, much the way I had adopted him… Without any fanfare or paperwork. It just happened. And life for all of us was better for it.

A few months ago, Buzz developed a mass in his sinus cavity. It grew very rapidly. He had some surgery to remove it and it didn’t really work. A biopsy revealed a rapidly malignant carcinoma. We exhausted all of the options that weren’t cutting out the portion of his upper jaw bone where the mass had spread, subjecting him to a day of surgery, months of recovery and chemotherapy, and the rest of his life without an upper right jaw.

He didn’t really mind the mass. Every day, he’d find a way to chase sunbeams (even on the cloudiest of days) and attack dangly strings and tassles from sofa covers. He spent the last month of his life much like the first 131: sleeping on my chest and head, sneezing on me periodically.

I didn’t mind.

   

The last few weeks, his bad days began to outnumber the good. Even on the worst days, he still responded happily to pets, purring loudly and, due to the chronic sinus condition he’s had since birth, Buzzing (which is where he got the name). This weekend, he didn’t perk up the way he usually does when a reflection of a sunbeam danced across the floor, or when the tuna pouches were opened, or when his brothers approached and wanted to play. It hurt to admit, but his quality of life was no longer such that keeping him around became a purely selfish thing. That is cruel.

I will steal a cat. I will force that cat on a friend when I move in after an ugly divorce. But I refuse to be cruel.

I imagine Buzz in kitty heaven right now, eating bags of tuna and getting pets from Prince and David Bowie. And seeing it typed out, “Bags of tuna” just looks… Weird? I said that because tuna comes in envelopes now, I guess? And Buzz likes tuna, and my brain is like “what’s bigger than an envelope? Oh a bag!” and now I have a mental image of a grocery bag filled with tuna meat sitting next to David Bowie as Prince reaches down and grabs a hunk and feeds it to Buzz. Oh, and in kitty Heaven, David Bowie is free to embrace his “Fursona” and wear a cat suit and go by David Meowie. So now you have that in your head: David Bowie in a cat suit (furry, not ninja-type) holding Buzz while Prince feeds him tuna meat from a sack.

Also, all of that forces another weird thought through my head: we don’t really say “chicken meat” or “tuna meat” or “lamb meat”  when we want to eat those things. We just order lamb, chicken or tuna. But we never order “cow” — maybe because dairy comes from cows too? And that could get confusing:

Me: “I’ll have the cow.”

Server: “Liquid or solid?”

Me: “Solid, please.”

Server: “Cow Cheese or Cow Meat?”

Me: “…Well, neither now. That sounds terrible. I’ve lost my appetite.”

Server: “Salad, then?”

Me: “Fine.”

Server: “Which kind?”

Me: “Cow, with sprinkled cow.”

Also, ordering a cheesesteak would be super weird. You’d have to order a Philly CowCow.

Anyway, rest in peace, Buzz. You were one of my best friends ever. Say hi to David Meowie for me.

 

 

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