Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This is a Direct Response to Mike's Latest Blog

I typed it up in the comment box thingy originally, but when I hit submit it told me that it was too long. So it graduated from a comment to a post of its own... I'm such a proud parent. Which leads me to today's discussion:

Here's Mike's original post: http://selfstlyedgod.blogspot.com/2009/12/love-is-toaster.html

And here's the overlong comment:

I think you are greatly oversimplifying things. I mean, obviously when you start from a place of saying "parenting these days is bad and needs to be better" there's going to be a lot of oversimplification going on. I think, therefore, my problem isn't so much that you are oversimplifying as it is that you are misattributing.

I'm a lot of those things that you said. Specifically, lack of drive. But that's not my parents fault. No, the buck stops here. I'm screwed up in all sorts of ways, but there's very few things having to do with my development, or lack thereof, into a proper human being/adult that I blame on my parents.

To take a couple of the examples you used, buying an apartment and tying a tie.

I have no idea what goes into buying an apartment. I wouldn't know where to start. But I don't feel that I can blame that on my parents. I've never gone about doing it, and what were they supposed to do? Say "Okay, evan. One day you're going to need to buy an apartment. This is what you do..." Or did they just not play enough Monopoly with me as a kid?

Buying an apartment is one of those things that you just have to learn the first time you're ready to buy an apartment. Or, I suppose, if your parents happen to move while you are living with them and you sort of get a little bit involved with the process.

On to tying a tie. That's really... I mean, yeah... you're dad could have taught you to tie a tie, but... Okay, there's a line in The West Wing where the president is talking to his doctor who just had a baby, and he says that the guy's job is to provide food and shelter. Then he adds "You also have to teach her how to whistle. Her mother won't do that."

Obviously there's more to being a parent than food and shelter and whistling. Whistling is, strictly speaking, not a necessary skill to teach your kids. That's around where tying a tie is. It's a nice thing for a father to teach his son, like the cliche scene where the father and son are standing in front of the mirror and the father is shaving and the son has a razor with no blade and he's learning to shave. Sure, it's cute and whatnot, but seriously... you drag the razor across your face and the hair comes off.

Case in point: A couple years back I went to a job fair with my brother and Jim. Neither of them knew how to tie a tie, so I did the tie it on myself thing and then take it off and let them tighten it.

Let's remove Jim from the equation. My brother and I were brought up by the same set of parents, and I knew how to tie a tie but he didn't. Can you blame that on parenting not preparing us for life?

You know how I learned how to tie a tie? I needed to put on a suit one day and didn't remember how my mother had shown me to tie a tie, so I turned on Ocean's 11 and watched Brad Pitt do it.

Here's my point: Yes, it is important for parents to teach their kids things. Schools and friends and learning things just on the streets is not enough. But parents can't be expected to catch everything. Like tying a tie or apartment hunting, sometimes parents miss things and you just have to learn them for yourself. I don't think that I'm telling you something you don't know. I'm sure you didn't mean to say that you should leave your parents house at 18 a fully formed adult with all of life skills necessary for the rest of your life. The only reason I've taken this much time to respond is because 1) I felt like it and 2) When you write things like this I get the sense that you're really trying to say something and even possibly starting up on what could later become a thesis of some sort... like what you planned to do with the Outer Church thing.

A parent's job is to provide food and shelter, and to aid in your moral upbringing, more than anything else. By moral upbringing I mean the type of person you turn out to be. Mostly discipline and teaching the difference between right and wrong and how to treat people.

And how to, in a general sense, take care of yourself. If you leave the house and get scurvy then yeah... maybe the parents did something wrong in this area. But we're in a place now where there is a lot of blaming the parents for things. A lot of it is warranted. Maybe your eight year old shouldn't be playing Grand Theft Auto, and maybe it's your responsibility to know the sorts of things your child is exposed to and not let them be... but at some point people have to take more responsibility for themselves and not just blame things on their parents.

There are a whole host of things that parents nowadays are failing at, but I think it's important to correctly identify which things are really important and which things are superfluous.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Time Spent Unwisely

My TV just turned off. In the middle of the Bulls/Cavs game. AT&T is awful.
Not that I really care about the Bulls/Cavs game. I was just waiting for the Heat game to start. But still… that’s no excuse. What is this only four streams can be used at a time bullshit anyway? It’s bullshit, that’s what it is.
There are things that I should be doing now. This is not one of the things. I really need to be working on No School for Wizardry, and ideally the next one as well. But I’m tired.
To be honest, I would have come out here to work on NSFW even though I’m tired. I just don’t know what happens next. This is a problem. There’s no one for me to ask what happens next, either. There’s not actually anyone who knows what happened last. I know things that are going to happen soon, I just don’t know what the next thing to happen needs to be. I know the thing after that, though.
I’ve also let myself get even further behind in writing. This needs to be remedied. It was nice having Lior down and seeing him every day he was here, don’t get me wrong… But it did eat into my productivity on this count.
However, Sunday was a very productive day. Looking back, no it wasn’t really. But it felt like it was at the time.
Lior proctored my first attempt at an LSAT practice test on Sunday. Let me tell you about it.
It’s a pretty hard test. Not that the actual questions are that hard, for the most part. It’s really the time that you need to take the test in that makes it hard. That’s a new thing for me. I’m accustomed to finishing tests early and then being bored while I wait for the rest of the class to finish, or in college for the next class to start. There are five sections in the LSAT, and I only finished two of them.
Happily, the two I finished were the last two, which I choose to believe showed that I stated to get used to the test at the end there. But that first section… that thing killed me.
The first section of the first LSAT practice test I took was logic games. Logic games are something that I’ve only ever sort of seen before. I’ve seen variations of the same general idea where you get all this information and then there’s a chart and you need to take the information given and fill out this big chart with it. Logic games are sort of like that, except they don’t give you the chart, and there are multiple correct ways of filling out the chart. Then the questions are along the lines of the possibilities that the chart can be filled out in a certain way given a new variable for each question.
It’s really hard to explain, though explaining it that way actually helped me to sort of understand what to do with these sorts of questions in the future. So, even though the description wasn’t good enough for you to know what the hell I’m talking about if you don’t already, it helped me some and so it was an overall success.
The point is though, that was the first section of the test that I took, and I realized roughly 2/3 of the way into the section that I was going about it entirely the wrong way, and I didn’t have time to go back and go about it correctly, nor was I really sure about how to correctly go about it. Taking that section first put my self confidence all the way down pretty much as far as it could go, and I almost gave up on the whole thing right there. Then when I couldn’t finish the next section either, I really almost quit.
This story has a moderately happy ending. As I said, I was able to finish the final two sections. And then when I scored the test at the end, it turned out that even with the horribleness of that first section I still got a fairly respectable 154 overall score. So I’m pretty confident that I can bring that score up a considerable amount. Of course, I’m also kind of worried that once I start to learn how to do those logic game sections I’ll find that the other sections I scored well on was just a fluke that I will be unable to recreate. But we’ll see.
So, that’s another thing I should be doing right now. Going over the logic games thing and learning a bit better how to go about them. But I’m not. I’m typing this stupid uninteresting thing.
I’m becoming more confident that I want to go to law school though. Seeing myself get that score with such abysmal training in at least that one section really gave me some more confidence. Now pretty much every day that I spend at work at Kohl’s I’m thinking to myself how much I’d rather be in some law class or even just practicing those logic games. So, we’ll see how that goes.
I feel like I should have more things to talk about here. It’s been kind of a while since I’ve posted. But I just don’t, really. There’s really not that much else going on, and there haven’t been any real interesting musings I’ve been having lately. I could talk about fantasy basketball, but that’s just not interesting to anyone not actually playing fantasy basketball.
Oh! There was that article that Emily sent me about how fantasy sports is like D&D. I don’t have a link to it, but it was stupid and wrong anyway. All of the comparisons were tenuous at best, and it really didn’t take the actual game into consideration. No matter how much obsessing over stats and talking about the game in geeky fashion around people who don’t care there is in both the activities, when you get down to it D&D is about sitting around the table with friends and roleplaying and making Princess bride references. Fantasy sports is just about the statistics.
Also, check out Garfunkel and Oates. I found them recently, and like them a lot. Not as much as, say Autotune the News… which just sticks in my head and I have to watch over and over again, but a lot nonetheless.
And I just want to point out to Emily that a lot of those songs deal with sex. And not in a particularly tasteful manner. But they’re funny. There are ways to make jokes about sex that are funny, and just doing “Hur hur… that thing you said could be a double entendre” is not among those ways. Sex jokes, like pretty much everything else, can be genuinely clever or it can just be juvenile. There is far too much of the latter and not nearly enough of the former. I could probably make an entire post on this subject, but the Heat game is starting and I just don’t feel like it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Decision

There are moments in life when a decision is made. Sometimes decisions are made by carefully weighing the pros and cons of the situation and then choosing the option with the best outcome. This isn’t about those decisions.
When I was in fourth grade I was on an AAU basketball team. If you don’t know, AAU teams are traveling teams. You have to make the team, unlike rec leagues. It’s basically the same idea as being on your school team, but in elementary school.
When I was on the AAU team, I was just barely a good enough player to really belong on the team. There was a brief time before I was on that team that I was good enough, and a brief time a few years later. But at that time I was just barely able to get by on this level of competition.
But I was me, even back in the fourth grade. I could have been a much better basketball player than I turned out to be. If I had practiced and really honed my skills who knows… I could have been good enough to play on a low level college team. Like FAU or something.
But I didn’t want to practice. I just wanted to play. Practicing was work, and basketball was a game. So I wasn’t really that into the AAU team, but I was on it and it was a responsibility of mine to go to the practices and whatnot.
I don’t remember really not liking being on the team, but I’m sure I must not have for this anecdote to exist. I don’t remember anything leading up to it, I just remember the decision.
I was making friends with a kid in my class at the time. Brian Susi. And I wanted to hang out with him outside of school, so we were trying to make plans. And all of the time that we could possibly have found to get together was taken up by the AAU team practices. So, that was it. That was the last straw. I quit the team.
That’s really the only example I can remember clearly of when a decision was made in this fashion. Something happened and then that was just it. No more of this, I’m making a decision to change things. For better or worse. I was pissed and the situation was to be remedied.
I think when I decided to break up with Meg it was under similar circumstances, but I don’t really remember that nearly as clearly. So we’ll say it’s just been the one time in my life.
Until today.
Today was my birthday. That doesn’t really mean all that much to me. I don’t like to make a big deal out of it or anything. My friends took me out to dinner and bought me a clock, and that was nice. But I didn’t go out of my way to remind anyone my birthday was coming up, and I would have been perfectly fine if they hadn’t remembered or done anything special for me.
But still, even though birthdays aren’t that big a deal… it’s nice to have a nice day.
This year I had to work. That sucks, but I have responsibilities at work, and having to work on your birthday is one of the realities of the real world.
The amount of work I had to do today was substantial, and not fun. But it was work… it didn’t overly upset me that it wasn’t a fun day. And I had been expecting it.
The problem is, there was too much work for me to finish today. And I didn’t have any help. So, at some point during the day my store manager walked into the stock room and sort of looked around and said something like “Too much work today without any help, huh?”
“Yeah,” I agreed.
“Well,” he said “I guess you’ll have to come in tomorrow at 6:00.”
He wasn’t kidding.
I could have stayed a few hours late and finished up today. But it was my birthday. My parents were planning to take me out to dinner, like we’ve done every year. And you know what? Even if it wasn’t my birthday… schedule me the help or schedule me enough hours to get the job done. Don’t expect me to be able to stay late or come in early with no notice like that. I was already working my entire shift through without taking a break to try to get this work done.
So, that was it. Decision made. I can’t stay working at this place forever. I didn’t want to stay there forever anyway, but I also haven’t been seriously considering other options. Now that changes.
So now I’m going to be doing the LSAT thing. I don’t know if it’s going to work out for me. I don’t know if I can get a high enough LSAT score to offset my fairly poor undergrad GPA, and I don’t know if I can hack it in law school even if I can get in. But this is now the second, or possibly third, time that I’ve just gotten pissed and decided, “No more. This situation has become untenable. A change needs to be made.”

Sunday, November 1, 2009

LSATs and Dreams

I came out here tonight with very little in the way of purpose. But I wanted to type on my netbook, and I need to go to sleep early tonight so I don’t have time to properly devote to working on the next episode of No School For Wizardry. So you get this.
Mike’s working on a novel this month. The idea of writing a novel scares me. Good luck Mike.
I only have a vague idea of where I’m going with No School For Wizardry, and I think I would need to have a much more concrete idea of a particular story that I would want to tell in order to write a worthwhile novel. I have some basic events planned for the series, but nothing’s really solid. The reason I like writing the serial format is because it allows for a certain amount of meandering. I think I’m doing too much of that at the moment though. It’s taking me far too long to get through what is, more or less, still the introduction. I think that has a lot to do with it being such short installments spread out a week apart.
The point is, novels scare me and Mike’s decided to write one this month. So good luck to him.
I, on the other hand, and still trying to build myself up an archive on SerialShorts and then maybe start advertising or something. I need to figure out how to work on my pacing a bit better.
Aside from that, Lior is taking his LSATs in a month. So good luck to him.
I’m thinking about studying and taking the LSATs also. I’m at a point now where I’m full time at work, but it’s kind of a crappy job. I don’t hate it or anything, but I certainly don’t want to be doing it for the rest of my life. I think my options at this point are either work at Kohls forever, or go back to school for something.
I’ve always known I need to go back to school for something. The problem for me has always been that I don’t know what to go back to school for. Creative Writing was kind of a waste of a major, and that was because I don’t really have any career goals that I’m passionate about.
But I’ve always liked law. Well, not always. I’ve recently liked law. The little bit that I’ve been exposed to, anyway. I thought jury duty was incredibly interesting, and there’s a semi-weekly column on Joystiq about the various copyright and other law related stuff going on in the world of video games, and I always find myself interested in that kind of stuff.
So for a while I’ve had law school in the back of my mind. But I’m not a very good student. My grades in college were not spectacular. So, for one thing, I would have trouble getting into a good law school. Lior thinks I wouldn’t have too much trouble if I studied for and got a high mark on my LSATs, but therein lies another problem. I’m not good at all at studying. I don’t know how to do it. I’ve never done it.
I don’t really know what the LSATs entail. I imagine “studying” for the LSATs is, more or less, taking a lot of practice tests and getting used to the logic and reading skills necessary for the test moreso than it’s memorizing laws or dates or vocabulary or anything. So I might be able to do that, but I have trouble being self motivating outside of an actual classroom or work location.
I’m doing a little bit, but not very much, better at that lately. I’ve kept up the update schedule on SerialShorts so far, but I’m really falling behind a little bit in maintaining a buffer of stories between what’s been posted and what I have written waiting to be posted.
So, assuming I’ve gotten at least a little better at self motivation, and I could study up for the LSATs and pull a high enough mark to get into a good school… I’m not good at school. I would have to leave Kohls, take out a loan, and really put everything into school. I don’t know if I’m capable of that. I’m worried I’ll go through with the test and enrolling, and then half ass the actual classes and just fail out and be right back where I started, but with debt.
But there’s always the chance that I could get into the same school as Lior and we could go through law school together. That would be neat.
Switching gears, I had a long conversation with Emily last night that started with Mike’s recent tirade against some interpretations of XKCD. Mike wrote a particularly scathing satire of those interpretations. Emily seemed to agree with the initial interpretations in the first place, and not really get the satire Mike was employing. The conversation didn’t stay with the XKCD thing very long, so it’s entirely possible that I’m completely misrepresenting both her stance on the subject and her understanding. It’s not really important, except to say that Mike is right and that Emily turned the conversation into being about me.
I don’t know why I bother bringing this up at all. The conversation was long, and pretty much a colossal waste of time. I don’t think I fully agree with either stance, mine or hers, from the conversation. I don’t want to go into it, really, but the long and short of it is that Emily doesn’t think I know how to be a person. It all had to do with the level of brutal honesty that’s appropriate for a relationship. Also that I think cutting her hair short makes her face look fat.
Maybe I’ll go into the specifics of the conversation and my stance on it in another post. I could probably do a whole post on it, to be honest. I don’t feel like doing that now, though.
But I went to sleep pretty much right after finishing up with Emily. I don’t mean to say that this conversation had any real sort of effect on me, because it didn’t, really. I don’t think she was right, and I don’t really even think I was right. But as a result of, I think, the whole ordeal I woke up this morning from a dream that I got an email from Stacy saying that she and her current boyfriend were in some sort of trouble and had a court date and she wanted help from me.
The reason this woke me up was the reaction it provoked from me. I woke up in the midst of composing an email back to her telling her to fuck off and that she has no right asking me for anything and that I hoped she got whatever it was that was coming to her.
Again, I don’t really know why I’m mentioning this. I don’t have an interpretation of what this little snippet of a dream, or what my reaction to it means in a psychological sense, or any other sort of sense either. Except that it left me with a feeling of, I’d really like to help her… mostly because whenever anyone asks me for help with something I want to try and help. But also, fuck her. She doesn’t deserve anything from me, and I would also really like to be able to hurt her.
That’s not a nice thing to say. I mean about myself. It’s not a nice thing to want specifically to hurt someone. Vengeance is not a virtue. But still. That’s the way it goes.
I don’t have any more things to say at the moment. I don’t really feel that this is a good note to end a post on, but once again that’s the way it goes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Near Miss

(the formatting worked out better on myspace)

“Hi,” said Jeff.

* * *
Seven days earlier.
* * *
Jeff sat at the table, nursing his beer. It was Saturday night, and that meant that it was club night. He did this ever week. Him, Steve, Jackie, and her boyfriend, Scott.
“And this is pretty much how it goes every week,” Jeff thought as he looked out over the dance floor. “Scott grinding up against Jackie’s leg, and Steve hitting on a group of girls at the bar.”
It didn’t seem to be going well for Steve. “It never seems to,” Jeff reflected. And how could it, really? The music was so loud, it drowned out the talk. And what the hell song was playing, anyway? It was a pulsing beat. How could people tell when one song ended and the next one began? Jeff couldn’t remember there being a break in the thumping bass as long as he’d been there.
After some frantic back and forth gesturing between Steve and the girls, one of them got up and led him to the dance floor. Steve glanced back at the other two girls as he followed.
Jeff smirked when he saw Steve’s glance. That wasn’t the girl he had been going for.
Jeff went back to surveying the room when a girl leaned down to speak to him.
“Are these seats taken?” she asked.
“She’s cute,” he thought. “Not too made up. Obviously not overly preoccupied with clothes and makeup, but still really pretty just naturally. That’s the sort of girl I could see myself with.
He glanced at the dance floor, looking for his friends. There were all still dancing, and it didn’t look like they would be back any time soon.
“Go ahead,” he said.
“Sweet.” She smiled and sat down across from him at the table.
Jeff sipped at his beer. The girl was drinking a rum and coke, and surveying the room.
“So, are you here alone?” Jeff thought. he made sure he appeared to be casually nursing his beer and gazing at the room, just like she was.
They both sat there, sipping at their drinks and looking around aimlessly.
“Are you here alone?” thought Jeff. “Come on. Say it. Are you here alone?”
The girl got up. She had spotted her friends at a table across the club. Jeff watched her walk over to their table, sit down, and lean in to talk to them over the droning music of the club.
“What’s wrong with you?” Jeff scolded himself. “ ‘Are you here alone?’ How hard is it to say?” He watched her carrying on her conversation and continued silently scolding himself on the missed opportunity.
The group at her table finished their conversation and all sat back in their seats. Jeff’s girl glanced around at the club, in Jeff’s direction.
He quickly lowered his gaze to his beer.
“Did she notice me looking?” he wondered.
He casually looked back over the dance floor, making sure not to let himself look at the girl again.
“This is stupid,” he thought. “What’s the big deal? What if she’s looking at me now? Then I could talk to her. But no. I’m gonna just pretend that I hardly noticed her at all. ‘Staring at you? Like some common jerk? Not me! I’m just casually looking around the room. Hardly noticed you at all.’
Okay. That’s been enough time”
He let himself slowly bring his gaze back to her table. Some guy was leaning over her now.

Brett swaggered over to the table. Three girls and two guys. All of the girls were hot. The one by herself had smaller boobs than the other two, and she didn’t look as slutty, but still hot.
Oh well.
He leaned over her and smiled.
“Wanna dance?” he yelled over the music.
Sarah looked up at him. He was good looking. Tall, with brown hair, blue eyes, a strong jaw, and an athletic build. She shrugged.
“Sure,” she said, and got up to accompany him to the floor.

Jeff watched them leave the table together and sighed. “Oh well,” he thought. “She probably wasn’t really my type anyway. But he kept his eyes on her.
She was a good dancer, as far as he could tell. Which mostly just meant that she was able to move with some amount of rhythms. Girls always seemd like good dancers unless they were absolutely horrible at it.
They guy she was dancing with, for his part, just seemed to be standing there.
Jeff noticed Scott and Jackie making their way back to his table, and quickly started scanning the room as casually as he could manage.
Did they notice him staring at her?
“What? Staring at someone in particular? Me? Preposterous! No, I’m just looking around. Completely casual. I don’t even notice individual people.”
Scott and Jackie collapsed into the booth. Jeff leaned forward to talk to them.
“Hey, guys,” he said.
They smiled at him, catching their breath from the dancing.

Brett was feeling better about his decision to ask this girl to dance. Up close, she was much better looking than he had originally thought. And he liked the way she moved. He could feel himself getting turned on.
Sarah was feeling pretty buzzed. She was having a good time dancing with—what was his name again? Had he told her? Oh well. Doesn’t really matter. It’s just dancing.
She thrust her ass into his crotch, and felt that he was a little hard. She smiled, and grinded into him a bit.
He leaned down to her ear and yelled, “Wanna get out of here?”
She turned around to look at him.
“I don’t even know your name,” she yelled.
“It’s Brett.” He grinned at her.
He had a really nice smile. She looked him up and down quickly.
“He really is cute,” she thought. “What the hell?”
“Lemme get my stuff,” she said, and she led him back to her table.
She grabbed her purse when they got back and said “I’m gonna get out of here,” to her friends. Erica and Trish giggle at her.
“Have fun, you two,” Erica said.
Sarah rolled her eyes at her, picked up her half-full glass of rum and coke, and downed the rest. Then she and Brett made their way out of the club.

“Where’s Steve?” Jackie asked.
“Jeff pointed him out on the dance floor. Jackie nodded.
“We’re getting tired,” she said, gesturing toward herself and Scott. “You about ready to get going?”
Jeff scanned the club. He didn’t see his girl anywhere.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’ll go let Steve know we’re leaving.”
* * *
Sarah woke up the next morning next to Brett.
“Who is this guy?” she thought. “And where am I?”
She surveyed the room and saw her clothes in a heap at the foot of the bed. Last night started to come back to her.
What was that guy’s name again? Brian or something, right?
“Brian?” she said in a half whisper.
He didn’t answer.
“Brian?” she tried again, giving him a light shove to try to wake him.
No go.
“Oh well,” she thought as she rolled out of bed and got dressed. “I didn’t really have anything to say to him anyway.”
She glanced back at him as she opened the bedroom door to leave.
“He’s not as cute as he was last night, anyway,” she thought as she walked out.
* * *
Jeff sat on the couch, eating a bowl of cereal and watching the news. Steve’s bedroom door opened, and out walked the girl from the night before.
“Morning,” Jeff said. She gave a startled little jump.
“Oh,” she said. “Morning.” And she made a B-line for the door.
“See you around, then,” said Jeff.
“Yeah,” she said over her shoulder as she opened the door. “See ya.”
The door closed behind her, and Steve emerged from his room wearing just a pair of boxer shorts. He slumped down on the couch next to Jeff.
“So,” said Jeff. “Who was she?”
Steve shrugged. “Just some girl,” he said. “You know.
“Not really,” thought Jeff. “I don’t do ‘Just a Girl.’ I wonder what it would be like to just take Just a Girl home for a night and then shrug about her the next morning.”
But what he said was: “Yeah.” And he looked away from Steve, unable to maintain eye contact.
“How’d you do last night?” Steve asked.
“Oh,” said Jeff, keeping his gaze fixed on the television. “You know.”
He shrugged, just as Steve had done. But it wasn’t the same shrug as Steve’s, was it? Steve’s shrug had meant “Yeah, this is all commonplace for me. Some random girl for the night. Don’t even remember her name. But it’s a new day now. On to new things.”
Jeff’s shrug had meant “I sat at the table all alone all night. Again. Watching everyone else have fun, making sure no one noticed me looking at them, and trying to figure out how to go up to some girl who probably thought he was staring at her like a creep and start up a conversation with her. But I want you to think I had a fine time and am just as casual as you about it.”
“But,” Jeff thought, “maybe Steve’s shrug is closer to mine than I think. Just a Girl wasn’t The Right Girl, was she? She was just the one in the group containing The Right Girl that had been willing to go off with Steve. and more weekend than not, there isn’t even a Just a Girl for Steve, is there?”
Jeff hazarded a glance away from the television at Steve, who was eating cereal straight from the box. He looked at Jeff.
“How come you never ask a girl to dance or anything?” he asked.
Jeff felt an uncomfortable flush starting in his gut.
“I just never see anyone I like,” Jeff lied, thinking about the girl from last night.
“How would you know?” Steve asked.
“I just do,” Jeff shrugged.
This shrug meant “Drop it. Please. Please, just drop it.
The door to Scott and jackie’s room opened, and out came Jackie.
“I just don’t get how you could have a good time sitting the table alone like that all the time,” Steve said.
“Yeah,” chimed in Jackie. “Why don’t you ever get up and ask a girl to dance?”
“He says he never sees anyone he likes,” supplied Steve.
Jeff tried the Drop It Please shrug again. Jackie rolled her eyes.
“You should, Jeff. Just go up to someone and say hi.
The flush was making its way to Jeff’s face now. he went for the Drop It Please shrug one more time and said, “Yeah. You’re probably right. I’ll try next week.
* * *
Sarah opened the door to her apartment, hoping that Trish and Erica would still be asleep in their beds. She didn’t feel like talking about her night with Brandon—or was it Brent?
No luck. there they were on the couch, drinking black coffee.
They both looked like they had had too much to drink last night. Sarah wondered if she looked that way too.
Erica and Trish looked up from their mugs when the door opened.
“Just getting in?” Erica grinned.
Sarah didn’t answer.
“So, how was he?” Trish prodded.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Sarah said.
“I don’t remember,” she thought. “But I don’t feel like hearing a lecture.” She started for the safety of her room before the inquisition really got under way.
“That bad, huh?” Erica asked.
“Yeah,” Sarah lied. “He was pretty bad.”
Erica and Trish laughed. Sarah forced a grin.
“So we shouldn’t expect to see any more of—what was his name?” Trish asked.
“Barry,” Sarah said. “And, no. Probably not.”
Trish shrugged. “Oh well,” she said. “He was pretty cute.”
“Yes, he was.” Sarah thought. “But that’s all I know about him. He was just a night of sex, and an uncomfortable conversation with the girls the next morning. In a week, I won’t even remember his name.”
She let that thought linger.
“Still,” she amended. She tried to put these thoughts out of her mind.
“Where are the boys?” she asked innocently.
“Randy’s still asleep,” Erica said.
“And Chris went to his place last night,” Trish piped in. “He has work today.”
Sarah nodded.
“Alright,” she said. “Well, I’m gonna grab a shower and then take a quick nap.”
“Didn’t get much sleep last night?” Erica grinned at her. That stupid, knowing, grin of hers. “I guess he wasn’t all that bad?”
Sarah didn’t answer. She hurried off to her room to get out of these clothes and into a nice, hot, shower. The giggling of her roommates followed her.
What would they know about it anyway. They’d both been with Randy and Chris, respectively, for as long as she’d known them. All throughout college and the five years since. They think the single life is so glamorous.
“Well, sometimes it is,” she thought. “But for the most part, it’s nights hardly remembered followed by mornings like this one.”
She slipped out of her clothes, leaving them on the floor, and into the shower. She stood for a moment, just letting the warm water soak her hair and run down her shoulders.
“But,” she continued. “I don’t even remember what it feels like to be made love to.”
She stepped back from the stream of water.
“And drunk sex tastes like vomit,” she thought bitterly as she poured some shampoo into her hands.
* * *
Jeff pulled into a gas station a few days later. Saturday night was forgotten now. It was just another disappointing night at the club in a long line of disappointing nights at the club. Jackie and Steve hadn’t bugged him about it since. That conversation was just a mildly uncomfortable conversation in a long line of mildly uncomfortable conversations.
Still, Jackie’s advice had lingered a little bit.
“Just say hi,” she had said.
“Yeah,” thought Jeff. “But then what?”
He couldn’t think of anything.
He went into the station to pay for his gas. There were two people in line in front of him. An old man, buying a pack of cigarettes and behind him a very pretty girl.
“She’s cute,” Jess thought. “Not my type, but still. Really cute.”
He felt his gaze linger on her. She didn’t seem to notice him at all.
“Okay,” he thought. “She’s pretty. But don’t stare at her. Did she notice me staring? Find something else to look at.”
He picked up a magazine at random and studied the cover.
“Or,” he thought, “is it weird to not look at her at all? Will she notice me not looking at her?”
He put down the magazine. The girl glanced his way, just as he was glancing back at her.
“Shit. She noticed me staring now.”
He smiled at her.
She smiled back, then went back to paying him no attention whatsoever.
“No what is she thinking?” he wondered.” Does she think I’m creepy?”
A guy around the same ag as Jeff entered the station and got in line.
“She probably isn’t even thinking about me at all,” Jeff thought.
“Hey,” the new guy said, quietly. “She with you?” He nodded toward the girl.
Jeff shook his head.
The new guy tapped the girl on the shoulder. She turned around and he asked “How old are you?”
“How old are you?” Jeff thought. “Really? That’s what you’re going with?”
“Seventeen,” she answered.
The new guy seemed disappointed.
“Oh,” he said, taking a step back. “You look older.”
“I’m not,” the girl said, and turned back to the teller.
“Well, thought Jeff. “That’s that.”
The new guy stepped forward again.
“Hey,” he said, and the girl faced him again. “Can I get your number anyway?”
“Seriously?!” thought Jeff.
“No,” the girl said.
“Alright,” Said the new guy, a big shit-eating grin on his face. “I had to ask, you know? I can’t help it. I’m a dog.”
The girl took her change from the teller and left the station. Jeff stepped up to take his turn.
“Fill up pump three,” he said, handing forty dollars across the counter.
“Man, she was really hot,” the new guy confided to Jeff, still wearing that grin.
Jeff nodded, forced a smile, and went out to his car.
“Seriously?” he thought again. “How old are you? I can’t help it, I’m a dog?”
He started pumping gas into his car.
“However creepy she might have thought I was, at least I wasn’t him.”
He clicked the autopump into place and leaned on the side of the car, watching the dollars tick upwards.
“Still,” he thought. “That approach must have worked for him at least once. ‘Can I have your number anyway.’ I would never let myself be that guy.”
* * *
It was Saturday night. Again. Back at the club.
Jackie and Scott were already on the dance floor. Steve was wandering around, seemingly aimlessly, mingling. Jeff took up his post at the table.

The girls didn’t want to come out tonight. They were making tonight a Blockbuster night. Nice and quiet, at home, cuddled up with their boyfriends.
Sarah was not in the mood to be a fifth wheel. Tonight, for her, would be about getting drunk. She entered the club and headed straight for the bar.

Jeff saw her walk in the door. He had been gazing around the club, avoiding eye contact, like usual. When she came in, he recognized her as the girl from last week and let his gaze linger.
“She came here alone tonight,” he thought as he watched her make her way over to the bar and order a drink.

Sarah finished her rum and coke and signaled the barman for another. She sat facing the bar, not looking around. Oblivous to the club atmosphere going on behind her.
Tonight isn’t about being out,” she thought bitterly. “It’s about not being home.”

“Okay,” thought jeff. “Just get up now, and go over there. You can ask her how old she is.” He snorted derisively at the absurdity.
he sat back in resignation. He knew he wasn’t going to go over there and talk to her. He was just torturing himself by trying to make himself do something that, inevitably, he would fail to do and then just be upset later at his own failure.
“Just say hi.”
He remembered Jackie’s advice from earlier that week, and sat forward again.
“Yeah, he thought. “I can manage that much. Just go over there, and say hi.”
He imagined the scenario. He was standing there, right in front of her.
“Hi, he said.”
“Hello,” she responded sweetly. Then
Then what?
He leaned back again, dejected. He tore his gaze from her to find his friends in the crowd. Scott and Jackie were still out there dancing. And there was Steve, trying to coax a girl away from her group of friends and off to the dance floor with him.
And that was it!
Jeff sat bolt upright with the realization. “Would you like to dance?” That’s what would come after Hi!
“Okay, legs,” he said out loud. “Time to take me over there. I’m going for it.”
And, to his surprise, they responded and he was making his way towards the bar. Towards her.

Sarah was on her fifth rum and coke. This wasn’t working.
She thought about the girls at home, cozy on the couch in the flickering light of the television, wrapped in loving embraces.
“That’s what I want,” she thought. “I want someone to hold me and love me. A partner. Not just for the night.”
She finished off the last of her drink, and glanced quickly around the club. The pounding bass was giving her a headache.
“I’m not going to find that here, she thought.
The night about being not at home was over. t had failed.
New plan for the night: Go home, get in bed, and sleep it off.
She turned around on the barstool to leave, and almost collided with some guy who had been hovering right behind her.

“Hi,” said Jeff.

I Need To Grow Up

It’s late and I’m tired.
This time was set aside for writing more of No School For Wizardry, and I got started on the next episode, but I’m tired and it just isn’t coming the way I want it to. So I’ll set that aside for now and hopefully return to it tomorrow. I’m really starting to get a little worried about my output of stories. I have a decent buffer for myself right now, but I’d really like to start posting twice a week, and if I don’t start ramping up the productivity that’s not going to be able to happen.
Incidentally, if you’re following the story, tomorrow night (Monday morning) will be the fourth installment. I have four more written currently, and I’m working on the next one—episode 9. I’m expecting that around episode 12 or so there are going to be some big changes to the story,and that’s around the time I plan to start posting on Wednesdays as well. So, look for that in like a couple months.
But that’s not what I want to discuss in this space. Back when I first decided to try this website idea I said that there was a distinct possiblity that blogs would stop being posted here, and all around my other blog posting haunts (myspace, blogger, okcupid) and begin to be relegated more to serialshorts.com. Well, my last post was made there, with just a link to it in my myspace blog (which was pretty much only there because I wanted Emily to see that a new blog had been posted and I knew she would never notice it in the news/blog section of the site)
I think what I’m going to do is try to clean up the blog section of the site a little bit.—Maybe give each post its own URL or something… maybe some sort of archival system.—and post blogs there more regularly and here less regularly. Any blog that’s about the site, or about writing, or about a review of a book or movie or TV show or something will go there. This space will just be for things like relationship theory and more personal blogging. So that means my blogging will sort of be split roughly in half, I think, between here and there.
I need to figure out a way to indicate that there’s a new blog posted over there, though. I’ll obviously update the twitter feed when a new post is made, but I’m thinking I need to put something on the front page or something when there’s a new post up. And I need to figure out how long a post is “new” for. Probably a week.
Also, maybe one day I’ll add RSS. I have no idea how to do that, but maybe one day I’ll learn.
Anyway… all of that is not the purpose of this post. That was just a bit of housekeeping. No, the purpose of this post is to bitch and moan.
I’m still lonely. I’ve been lonely for a very long time now. I say that I don’t have any friends often, but that’s not really true and I know it. For one thing, there’s Jim. I know that I neglect him a lot, and I feel bad about it… but I guess that’s just the way it goes. I’m sure I’ll be seeing him more regularly as my Heat game companion when the season starts up next week. So that’s good.
There’s also Emily, and the group of friends that I associate as being my Cherry group of friends. That’s not really fair anymore, because that group has become my group of friends now as well, but still… that’s the Cherry group of friends.
There’s also Jess, who I spoke to today but don’t speak with much, and Lior, who I also don’t speak to much, but I’ll be seeing him in February when he comes down, and then again in March when I go up there for PAX. And there’s Mike, who I really only keep up with through blogs and twitter. Oh and Sophia. I need to call her and get her hard drive back to her.
So, those are my friends. There are work friends and such as well, but they are all more of acquaintances. It’s a modest sized group of friends. But, to be honest, I feel it’s right about the right size for me.
The reason I’m lonely, really, is just because I’m single and have been for far too long, and haven’t been happy about it at any point. And I just don’t know what to do about it at all. It’s at a point where I don’t feel like I can think about it in terms of theory anymore, to the extent that I was ever able to in the first place.
I’m not comfortable going out to clubs or bars or anything to try to meet people, and so at this point I’m just waiting around for someone to come along. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that except that it’s not happening. I think a relationship should be able to grow organically, but what do you do when it’s just not happening?
Okay… let me take a step, well, not back so much as sideways. This is where my mind was when I decided I wanted to write this blog entry:
There’s that girl Melissa I work with who I decided I had a crush on. Nothing’s going to happen with her, and really I’m okay with that. It’s not a big crush. It’s not like I find myself thinking about her all the time or anything. But finding someone who I had a crush on at all was kind of a big step for me.
Anyway… there’s her. And I haven’t seen her much or talked to her much in the past few weeks, and so the crush has faded quite a lot.
But there are a few other girls at work that I think are really cute. So, now what?
I don’t go up and start talking to people. It’s not that I get nervous talking to girls or anything. I’m fine talking to people. I don’t clam up or anything because a girl is pretty. I just don’t know how to assert myself into someone’s life to the point where a conversation would be forthcoming. The work friends that I have, I have because I found that I get along with them when we were somehow forced into interaction through work.
Except Sophia. She came up and started up a conversation with me. That’s only slightly germane. The slightly is because I wish that would happen more often, and particularly with some of the girls I think are attractive.
Usually the fact that I don’t care to start up conversations with strangers doesn’t bother me at all. If I don’t know you, then you’re pretty much just background to me until I am somehow thrust into a social situation with you. That’s pretty much how I live my life, and it works for me for the most part. Except now.
Because now I want to find a girlfriend. For one thing, I don’t think this is a healthy aspiration. I think it means that I could thrust myself into a relationship with someone I don’t necessarily belong in a relationship with just because they were the first person to come along. But let’s set that notion aside for the moment.
Let’s focus on the handful of girls at work that I’m attracted to. For the most part, I don’t even know their names. There are a lot of people at work whose names I don’t know. Like I said, I’m okay with that for the most part. They’re just background until for some reason they become part of my life in a signifiant fashion.
But I’d like to talk to that handful of girls, and I just don’t know how to do it.
I could just go up to them and say “Hi. I’m evan.” That would work, at least somewhat. But I don’t do that. And there’s a part of me that watches me.
I don’t want to be the sort of guy who is only interested in talking to people if they are girls and attractive. So, there’s that part of me that’s watching me and saying “Well, you can’t just go up to her and say hi. Because if you didn’t think she was attractive, you wouldn’t do it.” So I have to sort sneak around that inner me and find a way to insinuate these people into my life naturally, in a way that the inner me doesn’t think is me being sleezy and only wanting to talk to them because they’re cute.
I know. I’m a wreck.
Really, a lot of this is sort of covered in that short story I wrote a little while back. I think I’ll post it here now. It’s finished, I guess. It’s not good, really, and if I planned to send it off to try and get it published or something I would have to rework it quite a bit. But I’m not going to do that. I’ve moved on to my Serial Shorts and left that story behind. So I might as well post it as is.
Anyway, the point is… I think I need someone to tell me that it’s okay to talk to these girls, and that it wouldn’t make me the sleezy guy I’m always guarding myself from being. I don’t think that would really help though, because the inner me wouldn’t believe them anyway.
So, really what I need is someone to force me into these social situations. Someone at work to know that I want to talk to these girls, and tell them or put us together or something.Or a friend to find someone that they think I would like and set us up. The person I’m describing is basically a wingman, and the situational reality is that this is a very grade school way of finding relationships.
I don’t have a wingman, and I’m not in grade school anymore. I need to grow up.
I’m very good at being in a relationship. Well, I’m good at the relationship anyway… I know I tend to get a little lost in them and maybe I need to learn how to be in a relationship and also maintain my own life outside of it a bit more than I have in the past. But my point is that I’m good in the relationship and am able to have a mature grown up relationship. It’s just finding that and being outside of the relationship where I am stunted.
I wanted to end the post by saying that I need to grow up, but it needed to be said in the spot that it was said in and then that last paragraph needed to come after it, and I couldn’t think of an easy way to rework things so that it came after instead of before. So I’m just going to say it again as if for the first time, and then make it the title of the post.
I need to grow up.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is What's Going to Happen

I’ve gotten frustrated, and given up.
Shannon was supposed to, for all intents and purposes, build my website for me and just basically leave the content up to me. Well, that’s not happening now.
I’m not upset at Shannon at all. She has her own things to do, and I’m sure she had all intentions of putting my site together for me. But I got impatient.
So now I’ve been trying to learn how to build this stupid website on my own. It’s not happening.
There are lots of great tools out there to build a generic website. But I don’t really have the patience to learn to use them properly.
I’m basically trying to jump into webdesign without learning how to properly design a website. I just want a tool that will do it for me, and while these tools exist, they aren’t built for the sort of thing I need them to do. Namely, maintain three blogs. Keep each blog archived separately. The latest post to any one of the blogs should be the only content on the front page, with links under the blog to the first blog of that category, and the previous in that archive.
Really, that’s it. Wordpress is a really good website generator, but it doesn’t seem to be able to do the things that I want, and I would need to learn how php works, and more advanced css than I care to, and all sorts of things like that in order to make the site work and look remotely the way that I want. And there doesn’t seem to be a way to just sort of make a new page. I’m sure there is, but… I don’t know. I’m out of my depth.
So, I’m frustrated by all of this. And it’s seriously preventing me from being productive in the actual writing of the stories, which is really the whole point.
So I’ve officially given up on having the site operate properly.
This is what’s going to happen:
I’m going to use my limited html knowledge to create a site that looks like crap, but at least is completely customizable. It will look very amateurish, I think. It’s going to probably have just a matte background color, and be primarily text. It will look, in short, like the personal webpage I made back in high school.
I’ll just be maintaining my archives manually. No databases, no fancy posting applets. I’ll just make a new html page for each archived story, and update the links accordingly. Old school.
On the bright side, in a few months the site will get a facelift.
Sophia is in some webdesign course again, so for her semester project she’s volunteered to design me a pretty site. I don’t think she knows anything about database management or anything, so the archiving thing will still have to be done manually, but at least the site will look nice.
Anyway… that’s what’s going to happen. SerialShorts will go live on Monday. It won’t be pretty, but it will be. Then I can get back to writing the content for the site and not worrying so much about designing the stupid thing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Health En-Sewer-Ants

Lately there’s been a lot of debate over this health insurance thing. And then Mike said something about it. And so now, I suppose, I’ll say something about it.

I don’t really have that much to say on the subject. I’m really not all that informed on the healthcare issues. I listen to Rush Limbaugh, and he’s a crazy man. And his problem with this whole thing basically comes down to “Don’t trust anything government run. They do this, and then they’re setting themselves up to have the power to do literally anything else to you.”

That’s… well, I suppose he’s right. If you really believe that Democrats are honestly and truly trying to leverage the country from a representative democracy into socialism or communism, then I guess that’s something you should worry about. But they aren’t. If you really believe that Democrats hate the Constitution and want to do a complete rewrite of it, then I guess all these protesters and right wing nuts have a point. Passing this health care bill could provide the leverage needed to insinuate government into all sorts of aspects of your life. But that doesn’t seem to really be the goal, in the real world.

However, the goal is to socialize medicine. And I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.

The goal of the Obama White House is, very obviously, to completely socialize medicine. Medicine should be affordable for everyone. Nay, free to everyone. The government should provide health care to all.

That’s a nice thought, and a lofty ambition. I don’t know if it’s practical though.

Immediate health care is currently provided to anyone. This is a fact. If you are currently dying and need to be saved, an ER will do its best to save you, and if you can’t pay for it then you will have massive debt. That debt won’t be paid, maybe, and if you survive you will now have a whole slew of new problems caused by the life saving procedures. But you will have gotten the health care.

Then, when you can’t pay for it and you have to declare bankruptcy or whatever, the hospital is paid for its service through tax money. This system is currently in place. This system could be better, but those changes could ostensibly be relatively small in comparison to the overhaul of the health care system that is being proposed.

As I understand it, this emergency medical treatment is not really what this new plan is about. The plan seems to be more about preventative health care than it is about emergency health care. It’s about health insurance, which is a myth.

So let’s talk about that. What is insurance? Insurance is basically making a bet with an insurance company, in a backwards sort of way. Lemme dig up a Terry Pratchett quote and work from that:

"Well suppose you have a ship loaded with, say, gold bars. it might run into storms or be taken by pirates. You don't want that to happen, so you take out an ensewer-ants-polly-sea. I work out the odds of the cargo being lost, based on weather and piracy records for the last twenty years, then I add on a bit, then you pay me some money based on those odds-"

"-and the bit-" Rincewind said, waggling a finger solemnly.

"Then, if the cargo is lost, I reimburse you."


"Pay you the value of your cargo," said Twoflower patiently

"Oh I get it. It's like a bet, right?"

"A wager? In a way, I suppose."

"And you make money at this inn-sewer-ants?"

"It offers a return on investment, certainly."

So, basically, with insurance you pay a small amount to an insurance company, betting that something is going to happen. Let’s take fire insurance. Ostensibly, you’re betting the insurance company that your house is going to catch fire. The insurance company does some arithmetic and determines the odds that it will, then it takes your money and makes a bet with you that your house is not going to catch fire. If it does, then they pay you.

That’s the way that insurance works. But that’s not what we want with health insurance. We just want them to pay. We want to pay a small amount to some big company and then we want all of our medical expenses to cost less. This is not insurance. This is just health care.

That’s where this whole problem of preexisting conditions and such comes into play. If you have a condition that is guaranteed to cost a bunch of money every month, then you are not a good bet for the insurance company. So it will be very difficult for you to find affordable health care.

The point of the reform in health care is to make health insurance obsolete. The idea is that being healthy is a right, and that the government should provide it. Not based on an insurance, or betting, system, but just always give you the medicine that you need.

So, it’s a good thing then, right? Well. I don’t really know about that. Let’s assume for the moment that this bill is not about any sort of crazy liberal takeover, and it is really just about providing health care to the people who need it.

I think that if we had socialized medicine in this fashion, with the government picking up the bill for anyone who asked them to, that would put most to all of the health insurance companies out of business. That’s fine, I guess. Fuck em, right?

Well, now there’s a standard. Everyone gets the same medical treatment as everyone else. This will benefit people who couldn’t afford medical treatment before, but the people who had really good medical treatment and could afford it could find themselves with sub par treatment now. Their money may no longer be able to buy them the better things that they are accustomed to.

Okay, so let’s assume that this problem has arisen, and to combat it a small but expensive system of private health care is established. Health Insurance companies are now fewer and smaller, and cater to a much more select customer base. So there’s that modestly taken care of.

There will still be doctors. Doctors will still make a nice living. Maybe not as nice a living as they do now, but they will be compensated well for the work they do.

So, let’s discuss the death panels.

That’s silly. The term originated from looking at a provision in the bill that allows for “end of life counseling.” In other words, senior citizens are encouraged to see a doctor and discuss things like DNR, living will… that sort of thing. I think it’s twice a year. And I think it would be free to the person. It’s not mandated. It’s there for people to take advantage of, or to ignore. Stupid stupid republican bullshit scare tactic term.

Okay… but let’s look at how the term has sort of grown up to mean something that’s not QUITE as stupid.

When government takes over the health care system, it will be government bureaucracy that decides what life saving treatments should be paid for and to whom. Effectively, government will be deciding who lives and dies. This is true.

But it’s happening already. It’s sill to think that this will be new. As of now, medicines and procedures are paid for by the insurance companies. So, before you get your medicine it needs to be cleared through your insurance company. And they don’t want to give you your medicine. They want to protect their bet that they placed on you, and so you better believe that the list of things that have to be for them to pay for your treatment is just as suited to not paying for you as the government’s will be. We have the same death panels now that the bill would be proposing, but it’s in the private sector instead of the public.

What about drug companies? This is where, assuming that the bill is done without evil intentions and can be paid for and works to provide everyone with free or affordable health care, I have the biggest potential problem.

Drug companies are seen as evil entities. Drugs are ridiculously overpriced in this country. That’s why we aren’t allowed to buy drugs from Canada or wherever, where they are more affordable. Drug companies have a lock on that.

The $50 pill that you take to control your blood pressure did not cost $50 to manufacture. It was probably less than a dollar. You aren’t eating $50 worth of chemicals.

What you are eating is $50 worth of research.

Yes, drugs are too expensive, and yes, drug companies maybe make more profit off of them than is ethical. But the money is paid for the research to develop the drug, not for the drug itself. And I’m not crazy about the idea of putting drug research solely into the hands of the government.

The government doesn’t know how to do research. Government funded research needs to have a specific goal. It needs to be, say, cancer research. Or whatever. But that’s not always where breakthroughs come from. Lots of things are discovered by accident. Look it up. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/cancer/discoveries.html There you go. I done the work for you.

Not only that, but research in fields like cloning and stem cells are politically sticky territory. I don’t know that I like the idea of politics being behind all of medicine’s research.

So, that’s my, admittedly underinformed, take on the health care issue. Is socialized medicine a good thing? I think it is more good than bad, but there are genuine problems with it that need to be addressed and talked about. All of this Nazi comparison and death panel crap isn’t helping.

Every once in a while I see a republican on The Daily Show or something talking about healthcare reform in an intelligent way. Admitting that our system is in desperate need of change, but that this big sweeping change that’s currently on the table isn’t the way to go. There are substantially smaller changes that could be made to make health care more affordable for everyone, while not throwing out the current system and replacing it with a whole new one. These are the people that I would like to hear more from. But this sort of reasoned analysis gets drowned out by the Rush Limbaughs and the Glenn Becks and their flashy sloganing.

Both sides suck. Both sides need to take a step back and find a middle ground, because that’s really where the proper solution probably lies. But no. In US politics it’s go big or go home.

Serialshorts.com update!:

Shannon says she thinks she’ll be able to put together the site tomorrow. Could Monday be launch day? It’s possible.


Hey, Mike... I'm interested in what you think about this serialshorts website idea. I don't know if I can write a 2-6 page short story in a serialized series manner effectively, or if it can realistically be done at all. Or if it's something that has a chance of gaining an audience on the internets even if it can be done well. What do you think about it? As a concept, since I'm sure you're probably happy to hear that I'm doing... you know... something.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Soulgeek Girl

I didn’t mean to be writing a blog tonight. This time was allotted for writing episode four, but I’m not in the right mindspace for that at the moment. But this is Scheduled Writing Time, so here I am.
This is the second day in a row that I’ve not written the next episode and had planned to. Yesterday was because I spent the night with friends instead, which is important to do from time to time. Tonight I have the time, just not the mindset, which I think is not as valid of an excuse. Tomorrow I need to write it.
I also spent some time with Shannon going over rough plans for designing the website last night, so it wasn’t a total loss. It’s productivity of a sort, but I’m trying to get into a groove writing, and it’s hard going.
That’s not to say I feel ready to publish yet. I want to get another like… five episodes or so written before I start to publish them. And then maybe I can start work on the second series while simultaneously writing an episode a week on this one. Then maybe I can build like an eight story buffer on that one before starting on the third while maintaining the other two. These are lofty goals.
So, I suppose I’ll discuss those last two things about Stacy I mentioned in the last post. Interestingly, Emily didn’t ask me about that since. Weird.
I don’t know why I’ve been sitting on these. They’re fairly inconsequential. I think it’s because by the time they sort of came to mind, I was really past the point of feeling like I needed to be thinking about and discussing this sort of thing anymore. I guess I was sort of saving them for a time when I wanted to write a blog entry, but really didn’t have anything of consequence to write about. And here we are.
Thing number one. I used to say to Stacy: “I love you so much,” with a decent amount of frequency. Now, this thing isn’t really about Stacy at all except for the fact that she was the recipient of the phrase. The only thing I have to say about this is that saying it sounds weird. That’s really not much to discuss.
I think it’s the way that I said it with genuine feeling, and that it ended on the word “much.” The way that the word came out of my mouth and sounded really seemed very awkward to me.
There. Glad I got that off my chest. I feel better, you?
Thing number two is more of a statement about Stacy in particular, and the relationship I had with her. But I really don’t want to dwell on it that much. So, what I’m going to do is give it a brief setup, a brief explanation, and then skip the part where I explore what that says about life and relationships and Stacy as a person and me as a person and all of that stuff that I usually go into in this space.
I’m very stereotypically cheesy sometimes. Specifically in relationships. When I was with Dana, we did that adorable/annoying “you hang up first. No you hang up first” thing. I liked that. We also did the “I love you more” thing. With Stacy, I always waited for her to hang up first, and she always did. And I never ever tried the “I love you more” bit. Because, well, it was obvious.
There. That’s done. Said, and moved on from.
Next on the agenda, I want to talk a little bit about Melissa, the fact that I have this crush on her, and the nature of crushes.
I don’t understand it. She’s cute. By which I mean, I am physically attracted to her. But I don’t really know her that well. Which is why I can have a crush on her, acknowledge it, but not let it control my life or make me majorly upset that I won’t be dating her. That’s not what I want to talk about.
What I want to talk about is; why do I have a crush on her anyway. Yes, I’m physically attracted to her. But there are at least two other girls from work that I can think of offhand that I’m physically attracted to, and I don’t have a crush on either of them.
Why not? I don’t dislike them. I like them fine. It’s not like the small amount of time that I’ve spent with Melissa has been unusually fun or anything. So, I don’t get it. Where does the crush come from?
And the answer is, seemingly, it just sort of does. It’s not something that’s necessarily fundamentally explainable. It’s just something that happens. If I got to know her a lot better, there’s a good chance that I would develop what I would call real feelings for her as opposed to this easily disregarded crush that I’m currently harboring.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that I would find out I don’t like her at all. I don’t really even know her well enough to be able to disregard that as a possibility. So where does this feeling of a crush come from?
I don’t think this is something that has a satisfactory answer. I’ve written here about things like it before. I remember specifically wondering over the dynamic between people who find each other physically attractive, enjoy spending time together, but don’t have sexual/relationship interests in each other. Where is the disconnect between these things? It boggles the mind.
On a semi-related note, there’s this girl I found on OKCupid.
Let’s back up.
There’s this dating site called Soulgeek. It’s fairly new. Well, it’s like a year old at this point, I think. So maybe not so new anymore. The point is, it exists, and it’s small. It was put together by a guy who is, I think, an actor and, I know, a voiceover work… guy. He does voices for cartoons, is what I’m saying.
I think his wife died. I’m not sure on that anymore. It’s been like a year since I knew the specifics. But he’s a geek, and she was or is a geek, and they were very happy together. He seems like a good guy, and the reason he created the site was out of a genuine desire to help other people like him to find a geek like themselves out there so they could find the happiness that he had.
I bring all this up to say that the reason I still pay any amount of attention to that site is because I think that the attempt is laudable and I would like to support it. Unfortunately, it’s really small still. So there really aren’t many people in a given area that are on it. Which kind of defeats the purpose.
So, while I feel it is a worthy cause, and it’s worthy of my support, it’s just not worth paying a monthly fee for. Even though the monthly fee is considerably smaller than the fees of sites like Jdate or Match.com.
They way these sites work when they have the monthly fee, is browsing through the members is free. Creating a profile is free. But making substantive communication is locked for paying members. All you’re able to do as a free member is send a pre-fab message saying “hi. I’m interested in you.” But that’s it. There’s no way to follow up in any substantive manner.
This message is called variably a flirt, or a wink, or a number of other things depending on the site in question. On Soulgeek, it’s called a Hail in keeping with the geeky nature of the site proper. (searches are called Scans, and your homepage is called the Bridge… get it?)
So, I found this girl on Soulgeek who was in Miami and was cute and seemed alright by the little bit of a profile you can make on Soulgeek. Which is largely talking about what sorts of sci fi you’re into and what other types of things make you a geek.
So, I sent her a Hail, and she sent me a Hail back. And then nothing. Because that was really all that was possible from that site at the time without paying for it.
I sort of thought about paying for a month just so that I could send her a proper email, but there’s every possibility that you need to be a paying member to READ the proper emails as well. So I didn’t even know if she would be able to read it. And also, even if she was able to, I figured there wasn’t that much of a chance that anything worth mentioning would come of it.
This was all, I would say, six months ago. Maybe more.
So, I was on OKCupid the other day for some reason, and by some chance I came across the same picture of her that she had used on her Soulgeek profile. OKCupid is, for the most part, a free dating site. They are introducing a pay section, and it offers things like highlited profiles and more inbox storage, but the messaging and all the real functionality of the site is, for the moment, still free.
So, recognizing her picture, I checked out her profile. And I really liked it. This goes back to the whole crush on Melissa thing. I don’t understand it, really. There’s not very much that you can learn about a person from these stupid profiles, but for some reason I felt like I had a crush on her the same way I feel like I have a crush on Melissa.
So, a long story of stuff that doesn’t matter comes to the unsatisfying conclusion;
I sent her a proper message telling her I was interested. She got the message, and looked at my profile, but she hasn’t responded back.
What that probably means is that she isn’t interested. That’s fine. It would be nice if she was and we could meet up and maybe there would be something there, but I’m not emotionally invested enough in this person who I have never met, and yet still feel I have this crush on, to be really any amount of genuine upset.
However, maybe it doesn’t mean that at all. Maybe she just doesn’t think that me sending a message to her really means anything at all, and that I just spend my time sending these messages to lots of people. A lot of girls on these sites have things saying “don’t message me if you’re just looking for sex” etc. And she had a whole big list of those sorts of things. I’m sure she gets messages all the time of that nature.
So, I’m going to try to take a little bit of education from that story I wrote, and go with reason number 2. Reason number 1 would mean that communication with this person is over, but reason number 2 means that persistence may be worthwhile.
I’m pretty sure we’re dealing with reason number 1 here, but oh well. If I don’t hear from her in a week, I’ll send a short message saying that I’m sorry I hadn’t heard from her and that I’m being sincere and that it would be really nice to hear back.
Then, if message number 2 is disregarded, I give up and move on without undo amount of heartache, but with at least the knowledge that I wasn’t letting my, admittedly numerous, neuroses prevent me from something.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Writing and Editing

So, after day of careful deliberation and a cursory look around at my options, I bought a netbook. It's an Acer Aspire One. Because I like Acer. I'm not under any sort of fantasy that this was an intelligent purchase.

The problem I had was that I wanted to write, but I don't like writing in bed on my computer. I like to go outside and have a cigarette while I write. The phone with the bluetooth keyboard was fine for writing these blogs, but for any serious writing it just wouldn’t cut it. For one thing, the U button didn’t work well. But the real problem is that the screen just isn’t big enough to really see what I had written. There wasn’t really any way to read as I was typing. It was just the sentence I was on, and that was it.
So, for the past few weeks I have been writing. Like, real writing. But I haven’t been using the phone. I’ve been writing longhand, which I don’t really like. So, the idea is that getting this is going to help me to write more. It won’t though.
Let’s be honest. This was a foolish purchase. A monumental waste of money. The real reason I got it, while we’re being honest, is because I’ve sort of always wanted a laptop. I don’t really have any use for a laptop, but I’ve always wanted one just the same. And I was at Best Buy yesterday to pick up a standard to SATA power converter (they didn’t have one… Best Buy has a real crap Computer Hardware section) and I saw the netbooks. And they were just so adorable and affordable. And so there we are, and here I am. Writing on my new adorable netbook.
So, am I writing more of my current project, like I should be—like I bought this for in the first place? No. I’m wasting my time writing a blog entry while my new computer updates itself.
I only installed the essentials on this machine. Outpost Security Suite, MS Office, and Final Draft. It acutally came with a gimped version of Office, which included Word and not much else. I really could have just left it at that, but I decided to splurge on the whole Office Suite.
A quick note about the current state of my writing, and then on to more about that tangentially.
I finished the story that I had wanted to write when I wrote this last blog. The one about… well… me and my neuroses, basically. It turned out poorly, as expected. It’s basically just one of these blog entries—well, not this entry. One of the ones about my neuroses and my views on relationship theory and such—but in narrative form. I should really just post it up here. I might. It’s kind of long to be posted in this fashion though… so we’ll see. There’s also not much point to it, seeing as Emily already read it, and I don’t think Mike has any desire to. And I think the two of them represent the entirety of my audience here.
Anyway, I gave it to a few people to ask for there help on it. More on that later. Cherry tried to help. She seemed to have put a lot of work into it, actually. She gave me a couple good notes, but on the whole was pretty unhelpful. More on that later, in the same later as the last one.
The only person who was really helpful with it was Sophia. And, while her suggestion really was helpful and would probably make that story a lot better, I don’t think I’m going to go back to it. I wanted to write it, and it’s written. One of the main reasons I wanted to write it was just to get myself back (I say that, but I don’t really ever remember being there in the first place to go back to it) into the swing of writing. And it worked.
I’m revisiting my plan from like a year and a half ago of writing and maintaining a serialized short fiction series. But I’m trying to do it right this time. I have three different story ideas—one of which is the one that I tried writing last time. I’ve actually been doing a decent job of actually keeping up with it. I wrote the first episode last week, and wrote a second one this week. The plan is to try to write two more tomorrow.
There are some neat things about serialized work. One thing is that, if it’s not that great in the beginning, that’s kind of okay. It would be better if it started off fantastically, but the thing about serialized fiction is that it has a chance to grow and develop. By the time you’re on your 20th episode, the first episode is somewhat forgotten. Everything about the story could have changed by then, but gradually. Serial fiction has the bonus of growing and maturing with its author, which brings me to my next neat thing.
It’s a really good tool for practicing writing. Set yourself a schedule, and try to make it a little but not too difficult, and then stick to it. My schedule is at least one episode a week, for an eventual update schedule when I start to put this online.
I was listening to a podcast interview with Jonathon Coulton (if you don’t know who he is, look into him. You’ll thank me) and he was talking about the period of his career when he was just sort of starting out and he did Thing a Week. What he did was he wrote a song, or maybe more I don’t really follow him too closely, and posted it every week. So every week he had to write a whole song, which is kind of a big commitment.
He said that it really helped him to solidify his craft. And also he said that looking back, he doesn’t even remember writing or recording some of that stuff. He’ll go back and listen to it and not even recognize it as his own work.
So, I liked that idea. I took that principle and applied it to writing. Instead of trying to write a story or a script or, god forbid, a whole big novel and try to make it really good and go back and edit it over and over again for perfection (which I am really horrible at anyway) I decided it would be a better idea to give myself a posting schedule, like that of a webcomic, and make sure to have something worthwhile to add to the overall story every week. So far, even though I’m only two weeks in, I can feel it making a difference, which is neat.
I’m actually really kind of excited about this project. I’m not ready to talk about it in too many specifics, as in what the story is about or anything, but the plan is to build myself a buffer, and then post one episode a week online, just like a webcomic but with short fiction. Shannon said she would design the website for me, which is good because I can’t really figure out a good way to display this sort of content in a web browser. I even bought a domain! www.serialshorts.com belongs to me. I’m actually really proud of that domain name.
The eventual, hopeful, idea is to have three stories running. The one I’m working on now, the one I started (one kind of lame episode) last time, and a third idea that I like more than the other two, so I’m waiting till I’m writing a bit better to start working on. Then I’ll try to maintain an update schedule of MWF, one on each of the days. I think that’s a bit ambitious. It probably will not happen. But, that’s the hope at the moment.
Okay. I got more excited talking about what I’m doing currently than I expected to, and this is running a bit longer than I thought it would.
Oh! One more thing before I move on. A half hour lunch break is not nearly enough time to do any sort of substantial writing. Just thought I’d clear that up for you if you were wondering.
Sorry. As I was saying… this is going longer than I expected. I was going to throw in a couple quick thoughts about Stacy that I’ve been sitting on. But they aren’t important. So maybe next time.
Instead, I’m going to move on to the stuff I promised to move on to earlier. Editing.
But before I do that, I just remembered one more thing… the only problem with this new laptop instead of writing out longhand is the process of retyping. Having to read through and type out the stuff that you wrote is actually a really good tool for editing, because you have to read carefully at a per word level. If you’re reading something that you just wrote, the tendency is to sort of skim over it, but having to type it out forces you to do a thorough read through. I’m going to have to make myself learn some better quick editing habits.
Now, on to editing from a more theoretical standpoint.
Like I said, Cherry read my story, and she gave it a thorough workshopping, which made me remember why I didn’t like workshops.
There are things that you say in workshops, and they’re fairly predictable. Things like “the story doesn’t start in the right place” or “end in the right place”… basic things like that. I pretty much knew which of those sorts of things she was going to tell me. I knew that she would think them, and I knew that a workshop group would think them. The problem with a workshop group, and the problem with having Cherry workshop my story, is that people tend to take a bit of ownership of the story that they’re workshopping.
The main problem that Cherry had with my story was that, well, nothing much happened. It was sort of a snapshot of these two people’s lives, but not in a period of time where something altogether life altering was happening. I was trying to make a point with this story more than I was trying to tell a compelling “here’s what happened” sort of drama. That is, in itself, sort of a problem… trying to tell a story to make a point instead of telling a story to tell a story isn’t really the greatest approach. But it’s what I was trying to do nonetheless.
So, everything she said was trying to basically get me to write a different story. She wasn’t interested in this one. But that’s not what I wanted from her, and I never liked seeing people doing that in the workshops that I have been a part of.
In my workshop classes, in my hazy and not very reliable memory, I was the only one who would really try to see the story that the author was trying to tell, and then give advice on how better to tell that story. I’m sure that’s not true. I’m sure others were trying to do the same thing. But I distinctly remember a number of occasions where the conversation would be “this is what should have happened here” and then I would say “well, that’s not really the point the author seems to have been trying to make. If you make those changes then you’ll be telling a different story than what the author was trying to tell.” In these workshops the author isn’t allowed to speak until the very end, and I remember the author saying, a lot of the time “evan was right. That was what I was trying to do with this story.” And then a huge portion of the workshop, if not the whole thing to most of it, were rendered useless.
I don’t really have a point here except that in this very specialized scenario, which is not relevant to pretty much anyone at this point, people do it all wrong and they should do it better. Also, people aren’t good at discerning what the intent of an author is as opposed to the things that they read into what the author is writing. Which, I suppose, is a greater literary theory topic that Mike would probably be far more suited to tackle than I am.
And on that note, I will take my leave. I don’t know how often I’m going to be posting here anymore. Maybe more often now that I have this nifty laptop, but that will probably be temporary if at all. I’m hoping that the lion’s share of the time spent with this will be on writing my stories. And I’m also hoping that sometime in the not so distant future I’ll have a site up at www.serialshorts.com, and my blogging will be there more than here.
Although, there are some things that go on a personal blog that don’t belong on a website like that. So we shall see.
Until next time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Story I'm Not Writing

What I want to be doing right now is writing a story. The story that I want to write, and have been meaning to get around to, will not be very good. It's not the sort of thing that I would want to read. Even if I write it and it turns out well, there's pretty much no chance that I'll be happy with it. But still, I want to write it.

I'm not currently, though. I think I'm afraid of it. It's been such a long time since I've really written anything, and the only thing that I wrote that I'm really proud of is the script I did with Jim. I don't really know how to start writing.

I need a cast of characters. And I need to know my characters. At the very least, I need to know my main characters. And I don't want either of them to be me, though I'm fairly certain that one will end up being. I don't actually mind that he's me, since the impetus for writing this is based on my insecurities in the first place. I just feel like sticking yourself into the lead role of something you're writing is a cop out.

I lied, but it was a useful lie. The real main impetus for this story is a blog entry I wrote a little while back about flashback stories. But that's really just where the idea germinated from, and not what the story is actually about.

Aside from the problem of character creation, I have a whole slew of other problems preventing me from getting started. I have a rogh idea of the first scene, and a rough idea of the last scene, but I'm not sure how to handle all the middle bits. My biggest problem with writing is figuring out how to move the story along. If I could think of details and things to happen, I'd have no problem. The actual writing part issn't usually the part that scares me.

Except, at the moment, it kind of is. Even if I knew my ch aaracters right now, and had a decent idea of things to make them do, I'm not really sure what sort of narrator I want to use. My instinct is to use a very detatched and boring narration style, because that's the sort of story it is. But I'd much rather be able to bring some life to the story through narration, like Pratchett.

A big problem I have with writing is... Well... This is sort of hard to explain. It always seems inauthentic. Dialogue is easy, but describing action never seems natural to me. Even when I'm reading something. As long as I don't think about it, it's fine. But if I allow myself to sort of take stock of the actual narration of action and setting it all sort of feels like "it was a dark and stormy night" to me. I think that's why I prefer scriptwriting. The action tags are there specifically to be action tags because you need to know what it physically happening. They're not supposed to flow with the story in the same way as they do in prose.

The last problem is that I don't owant to write a story onto my phone like I do the blogs. And I don't want to sit in bed at the compter either. I think I should use a notebookb, bt I don't know. I never used to really think about the setting I need to writ e in, bt now it's become a problem for me for the first time.

All that said, and bearing in mind that this paritcular story is trite and worthless, I'd still really like to get it written. Maybe if I can get this one done I can soart of take the momentum of writing something and use it to go into writing something more fun. I'd like to revisit that Heroes at Home thing I started a couple years ago, but I don't really feel up to it at this point, and maybe writing this trite piece of crap will help me get there.

In other news, there's this whole thing I want to write about here about talking to and checking out girls, but the subject makes me feel dirty and pathetic in an odd way. And it really shouldn't. It's right in line with the sort of stuff I usually discuss here, and really it also falls right in with the story I'm hoping to write.

So, maybe I'll revisit that topic in a couple days. In the meantime; I got a promotion at work. Basically, that just means that the stuff I thouight I was responsible for before , I actually am now. So, no actual change there. It's just that now my responsibility for the stuff I do is oifficial finstead off... I don'td know whkat it awas before. I'm also going to be fll time starting in mid august, and I got a pay raise to just above nothing instead of just below.

There's also a girl at work that I think I have a crush on. I say sI think because I'm really not sure at all at this point. It's been so long since I've had any sort of interest in anyone. I don't know her well enough to have any actual interest in her, but I think I remember this beihng what a minor crush feels like.

I'm also fairly certain she has a boyfriend, and I don't work alongside her enough to have had any sort of meaningful conversation with her. So, in all foreseeable likelihood this is the stage the crush will remain. But I just thought I'd mention it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Harry Potter vs. Ender's Game

I could probably write a real essay on this, and have it turn out pretty well. Probably better than any literature analysis paper I've written before. But I'm not going to do that.

To start with, I haven't seen these stories compared before. Harry Potter is this phenomenon, and while it's derivitive in the naming of spells and such, I don't think I've ever heard the complaint before that it's just plain derivitive. Granted, I haven't really been looking into it.

That's the reason I felt this topic is worth writing. It's a comparison that I made immediately when I read Ender's Game that I haven't heard made before.

Herien there be spoilers.

The basic plotline of Ender's Game (I'm just going to be discussing Ender's Game for the time being. Not the Speaker for the Dead series that follows it, and the Shadow series only briefly) and Harry Potter are incredibly similar. They both (Harry and Ender) are the prophesized saviors of mankind.

That last sentence is only somewhat true. For one thing, Harry is the prophesized savior of Wizardkind, and by extension mankind, whereas Ender is the savior of mankind outright. More importantly, though, Ender is not prophesized. This is a major difference in the two stories. Harry Potter is Fantasy, and Ender's Game is science fiction. There's a big debate over what constitutes sci-fi and what constitutes fantasy, and where the line is drawn. But I think Orson Scott Card does a pretty good job of making the distinction as simply, and I'm paraphrasing "Sci-fi books have metal and compuuters on the covere, while fantasy books have trees and wizards and swords on the cover." So, because Ender's Game is sci-fi, Ender is not prophesized. He is, I think, genetically manfactured and then found, through science and observation, to be humanity's greatest hope. But, basically, they are both the prophesized saviors of mankind.

Both stories begin with the children in their original circmstances--at home with their "families." These circmstances are not in any way similar, so they aren't worth going into in this context. It's only after they are brought to their respective schools that we begin our examination.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is primarily interested in setting up the basic story, and introducing Harry, and through him the reader, to Hogwarts. Hogwarts is a magical place, and Harry has to learn how to inhabit this strange new environment. The stairs rotate around, and there are headmasters running around casting spells on things, and the pictures move, and the food phases into and ot of existence... Lots of things. Also he has to get sed to dormitory life and the restrictions therein.

Ender goes to battle school out in space. It's a much colder atmosphere than Hogwarts, and the things he has to learn to deal with are different. For one thing, there's lack of gravity. Mostly, he has to learn to deal with being cut off from his sister, and the fact that there is no one in the battle school that is going to help him.There is an adversarial relationship between the teachers and students, and he has no friends.

Which is another similarity. Harry Potter and Ender are both ostracized when they arrive at school. Harry, because everyone knows who he is. And Ender, becase he is the youngest and smallest student in the school. Harry finds Ron, and later Hermoine, but Ron right away. His friendships occur naturally, and grow strong over time. Ender has to manfactor his friendships, and then he loses them because the teachers take them away so that he is always in a state of having to fend for himself. The reationships don't mature the way that they do in Harry Potter.

The school dynamics are set up in a very similar manner. In Harry Potter, we have the different houses. Gryffindor and Slitherin and ... Uhh... The other ones. All of the houses are in constant competition with each other. They're awarded points for everything, and there is a standings board which displays the points. Most notably is the Quidditch game.

Which brings me to one of the two games referenced in the title (Ender's Game. In fact, the fantasy game becomes the more important of the two games, and argably the one that the title is referring to, in the Speaker series. But, when the short story was originally published, the fantasy game wasn't even in it and the Game in question was undobtedly the battles. This information is, for the most part, erroneous) The battle school is divided not into houses the way that Hogwarts is, bt into armies. The primary function of the school is this game. Just like in Hogwarts, the standing of this battle sim game are tracked and posted, and matter a great deal to the students involved.

If Harry is ostracized when he arrives because of the mythology behind who he is, then he finally becomes respected and regarded as somewhat of a hero through his supremacy in the Quidditch game. Likewise, Ender catapulps straight to the top of the standings of the battle sim game, and while that doesn't award him any really good friendships, he is held in reverence and respect by the general populace of the school because of his obvious supremacy in the game.

I know that Quidditch is sort of a sideshow in Harry Potter, and that the war game is an integral focus of Ender's Game, but Quidditch is important in Harry Potter because it is a way to show off how special Harry is in a way that the students can understand and relate to. He's not the best in the classes, for the most part, but on the Qidditch field, Harry is king.

Except in the self defense classes. He's the best in that class, which brings me to another important parallel. At some point in the Harry Potter series, the magical defenses teachers are not teaching the kids for some reason that is not germane to this discussion. So what does Harry do? He arranges for private meetings in a secret room where he becomes the teacher for a group of kids so they can learn the important aspects of magical defense. In this way, he also learns more and better magical defense, and again earns the respect and loyalty of, at least a small but important group of, the Hogwarts students.

Ender has a slightly different problem, with a very similar solution. Because he is so young and so small even for his age, and because he is promoted more quickly than anyone has every been before, when he is first assigned to an army his commanding officer, who is forced to have him on the team against ihis wishes, refuses to train him. But he needs to learn the techniques of the battlea room and the effects of zero gravity and the battle room equipment. So what does he do? He reaches out to the kids that are too young to be placed in armies yet and arranges practice sessions with them where he figues out technique and teaches it to, and practices with, the students who elect to come to his sessions. In this way, just like Harry, he earns the respect and loyalty of, at least some of, the battle school students.

One of the major sticking points I've always had with the Harry Potter series is that if Harry's father had just chosen to make himself his own secret keeper, Voldemort wouldn't have killed him and his wife, and Harry wouldn't have been orphaned or given that scar, and then he wouldn't have been the chosen one. Basically, the story wouldn't be. I think the reason for this oversight is that when the idea was originally concocted, Rowling was working under the assumption that a person couldn't be their own secret keeper. The oversight, on her part, was probably when she later allowed other characters to be their own secret keepers, rather than it being with not having Harry's father be his secret keeper.

In Ender's Game, they should have just sent Mazer Rackhem flying around at near light speed for a longer amount of time so that he was still young enough to command the army during the human invasion of the Buggers. This would aleviate the necesity for Ender, and again there would be no story (that's not really true... There would be be the short story still, which is just about being at the battle school and not about the surrounding war. Bt we're going to go with Ender's Game the novel, not the novella) I think the idea here is that they needed a child to make the decision to destroy the Buggers' homeworld by tricking him into thinking that it was just a game, ths committing xenocide. But, that's just kind of silly.

The last parallel I feel compelled to make (I've made a decent case at this point, right) is the boy who would be savior. In both stories, there is a backup savior. In Harry Potter, there were two childrehn who could have possibly fulfilled the propphecy based on... I don't know what. Astrology from what I understand. It turns out that it really is Harry, for a number of circumstantial reasons, but the other kid is there too, and he ends up playing an important role in the end as well. I don't remember his name.

Ender also has a backup. His backup is another kid who is unnaturally genius. His name is Bean, and he is the subject of tche Shadow series. He also plays an important role in the resolution of Ender's Game, though his role isn't quite as explicit unless you read Ender's Shadow.

Now, here's where the parallels end. Harry Potter is very much a coming of age story. It takes place in a fantastical world where the protagonist is risking his life and saving humanity etc etc, but it is really just as much about the relationships and about Harry and his friends growing up. We follow their lives and we get to know them as they mature. That is not true of Ender.

The second book, Speaker for the Dead, takes place 20 something years into Ender's life, and 3000 years into the future (it just does. It makes some amount of sense. Just go with it.) Ender isn't the same person he was when he was just a little kid whiping out entire races. We don't see him grow up. We're just told that he did, and this is the person he has become. We're told that people have fallen in love with each other, and it just sort of happens all of a sudden. We don't see the relationships bud and grow. The next book takes place 30 years later. There is little to no focus on watching these characters grow and develop. Their work is more important to them, and that is what the books focus on.

I'm not sure why I haven't seen or heard this link made by other people before. Like I said, it's entirely possible that it's just because I haven't been paying attention. But another reason could be that the audiences are somewhat different for these incredibly similar stories. Ender's Game is widely considered to be just the intro for the Speaker of the Dead series, which is supposed to be "better." I suppose in that it deals with more mature themes and issues. When I broght up the similarity withi Lior, he couldn't ospeak to it becauese he knows nothing about the Harry Potter series. He, like many, hold Harry Potter in a place of derision. Because, well, it's not really that good. The story is fn and fantastical, and the wrriting isn't bad, as such... It just does its job. And it's written, very explicitly, in a style for an audience of kids. I think this position is a silly one to hold. I have a number of problems with the way thew series is written, but for the most part it's still fun. I think it's interesting that Harry Potter is held in this place of derision while Ender's Game is held in this place of esteem.

Hm... I think if I cleaned this up a bit and made some actual textual referrences and such, I could probably get this essay published. I have no idea where I would submit it though. So I probably won't.

Cherry did a quick google search or something, which is more research on this than I did, and apparently this is a widely made comparison. Apparently there was even some sort of lawsuit, though, interestingly, it seems that Rowling brought the suit against Card rather than vice versa. I'll probably look that up to understand what grounds she possibly thought she had. Anyway, I guess this isn't worthy of publishing after all. Oh well.

Okay... Real quick, life update. Today I started working on my new second job thing. I'm working for Stuart again, but only a few hours a week this time. And this time I'm doing all of the work from home by using remote software to trobleshoot and update his clients' computers. Basketball season is also starting up. Other than that, life is crappy and boring as usual. End real life update.