Get Some Help

I'm not going to lie: famous, successful, and beloved people committing suicide freaks me out. Anyone killing themselves is terrible, but the rich and famous seem to have fewer reasons to do so. Don't they?

Of course not. There are many reasons why people take their own life, and those who seemingly "have it all" also have as many mental and emotional issues as the rest of us.

And like the rest of us, they didn't get the needed help that may have prevented this.

Help is a funny thing. We all know it's good, but so few of us ask for it when we should. And this doesn't just go for mental health issues, but any aspect in life.

I've had recent, chaotic experiences that brought this home. Stuff happened, and then more stuff happened, and I found myself overwhelmed. It was not my finest moment. I survived with minimum damage, but it was still brutal.

So focused on staying afloat, I didn't even think to ask for help from anyone. I also kept agreeing to take on more duties, because of the "I can do it!" attitude that some may mistake for stubbornness, but I like to call…

Okay, it's stubbornness.

But the point is this: people like to take on too many burdens, and delude ourselves into thinking we can handle it all.

We can't. Not always.

And since I'm a man, and men kill themselves at appalling rates, and I'm also a white man, and white men kill themselves at an even more appalling rate, and I tend to write about what I know, I'd like to share a hypothesis as to why men tend to not ask for help:

Most of the available resources are women.

In fact, as recently as 2013, there were 2.1 female psychologists for every male one.

There are many reasons for this gap, which mirrors the general widening gap in educational attainment, and the reasons for this could open up another whole can of worms that I don't want to get in to here.

But before you call me a "misogynistic, patriarchal, heterosexual subhuman," hear me out: I'm not saying it's a good or a bad thing; it just is. Maybe it's societal. Maybe it's biological. I have a strong suspicion that it's a bit of both. Continue reading “Get Some Help”

Why Pulp Revolution is Perfect Response to 24/7 Politics: Guest Post on Hollywood in Toto

Some of you might realize that politics has invaded all of your entertainment. Over on one of my favorite websites, Hollywood in Toto, I take a look at an antidote to the intrusion of heavy handed political messages in your fiction of choose: the Pulp Revolution.

Or #PulpRev, if you're hip:

Few people want to spend time with hectoring scolds in their everyday lives. But much of our arts have turned into moral crusaders telling you that, if you disagree with The Message then there must be something wrong with you.

Stories are methods of communication, but they should above all else be enjoyable.

Thanks to the power of the Internet, I have found such stories. There is a movement that does not care about writing message fiction. And what’s even more exciting is that it has no rules, no set guidelines or genre-definers, and most importantly, no political litmus test dictating what stories can and cannot contain.

It’s called the Pulp Revolution.

All that the Pulp Revolution—PulpRev for short—cares about is telling amazing stories based on timeless human principles. The purpose? Have fun without alienating half of its potential audience.

But what is the Pulp Revolution? To answer this, it’s helpful to talk about what it isn’t.

Read the whole thing at Hollywood in Toto. I've been a fan of Christian Toto since he was writing at Big Hollywood, and it's an honor to have written something for his excellent site.

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

And check out my Instagram here.

Reset: Chapter Four: Saturday, September 1, 2001 (1)

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“. . . mistake.”

Joe opened his eyes. Below him was not a cold tile floor, or even puffy white clouds, but bright green grass. A warm breeze tickled his neck. A fly buzzed in and out of his ear, contemplating whether it should land.

He was on his hands and knees, gasping for air like someone climbing out of an endless sea. For an absurd moment he thought he had grown extra fingers, but it was just double-vision, as though the shaking of The Machine had sent his eyeballs into permanent motion.

I can’t be dead, he thought, my head hurts too much.

Coughing rang out in front of him. It was Nick, lying spread-eagled on the ground, face towards the blue sky. The first thing Joe noticed was Nick’s hair, no longer short and conservatively styled but the wild jet-black mop he had when they were kids.

Joe tried to say something, but could only reply with a cough of his own. He had a brief second to catch his breath before his stomach lurched, expelling its contents onto the grass. When it was over, Joe felt better, like the Earth had regained its solidity.

Haltingly, he got to his feet. His vision returned to normal and he felt a bit stronger, though his knees shook like after a near-death experience.

Joe grabbed Nick by the arm; for some reason, Nick was wearing a black Nine Inch Nails t-shirt and a pair of green cargo shorts instead of his stylish navy-blue suit.

“Nick! Are you alright?!”

Nick groaned as Joe pulled him to his unsteady feet. He rested a hand on Joe’s shoulder, stooped down, and retched onto the grass, narrowly missing Joe’s shoes. They were a pair of black Chuck Taylors. Joe thought that was weird; what had happened to his Florsheims?

“Oh, wow.” Nick rubbed a forearm across his mouth. “That was gross.”

Joe looked around. Based on the soccer nets standing at each end of the grassy expanse, they must be at some kind of athletic field. Sure enough, a track circled them, its packed red dirt standing out against the green. On three sides were woods, on the fourth a hill leading up to a red brick building. “Are we . . . is that the Burns Center?”

Nick turned in a slow circle, his face slack with shock. At the end of his revolution Nick’s gaze darted towards Joe’s midsection. A smiled popped onto his face. “Your gut! Your gut, Joe! It’s gone!”

“My what?”

Nick laughed, boxing lightly at Joe’s flat stomach. “Your gut! Oh my God, Joe! It worked! It worked!” He laughed again, walking around with his arms raised like a triumphant boxer over his defeated foe.

When he stopped he straightened his back and rolled up his sleeve. “Look at my shoulder. Look at it!” He reached over to pull Joe’s up as well. “Yours too. Those lame tattoos we got are gone! This alone makes it all worthwhile!”

Sure enough, the scales of justice they had stupidly, and drunkenly, gotten inked on their shoulders after passing the bar exam were no longer emblazoned on their skin. “How did we get here? And your hair . . . Are we . . . are we dead, Nick?”

“It worked! Sanjay was right, the magnificent bastard! Don’t you get it? It worked!” Nick whooped, pumping his fist. “I’d say we’re more alive than ever!” He did a cartwheel on the grass, nearly kicking Joe in the face as he twirled through the air.

He landed, red-faced and huffing, and put his hands on Joe’s shoulders. “Remember freshmen orientation? Remember how we skipped it to toss the Frisbee around?”

“Freshman what? Like college?”

“Yes!”

College.jpg

“That was years ago. Why are you. . .” But Joe stopped as his stomach turned to ice. He knew what came next.

Nick pointed to a yellow object in the grass. “There’s the Frisbee!

The realization crept up on Joe with the ruthless calm of a killer. He chose his words carefully, trying not to sound as crazy as he felt. “Are you saying we’re back in college?”

Nick gave him a shake. His eyes were fevered. Up close, Joe noticed that he had no wrinkles around his eyes and none of the stubble that permanently shaded his cheeks. “Think about it, Joe. The Machine was called the Chrono-Displacer. Think!

Joe opened a mouth gone dry, leaving his voice a rasping croak. “Are you saying that thing was a time machine?” Continue reading Reset: Chapter Four: Saturday, September 1, 2001 (1)”

Me and Harry: A Breakup

Dear Harry,

Listen: I’m done with you. Please know that it’s not you. And it’s not me.

It’s them.

Harry Potter Crying.png

Let’s get this out of the way first: I know I’m writing a blog post to a fictional character. You are not real. That’s the thing: I know this!

But the others? The others seem to have been confused about this since time immemorial.

And especially since November 8, 2016.

It’s like a mass psychosis. In the event of a traumatic (if you’re a weak person with nothing in your life but politics who lets the outcome of an election literally make you crazy), certain people need something to hold on to. And in the absence of God, or family, or even sanity, they choose you.

And it’s not your fault. You seem like a pretty cool guy. Brave. Heroic. Willing to do the right thing, no matter the personal cost. Very admirable!

Here’s the thing: You’re not political. Hell, you’re not real, as we’ve already established. But if you were, you’d vote…

You’d vote for…

Um, actually, it’s impossible to tell from your books. There’s no politics in them! And that’s the great thing!

There are lessons, sure. Great lessons based on timeless human principles of bravery and heroism and self-sacrifice and all of that other corny, sincere stuff that has a distinctly, let’s say, right-leaning flavor to it.

But I digress. See, I don’t like politics. To me, it’s a necessary evil, one that a person needs to pay attention to, because it will pay attention to him, whether he likes it or not.

But I like fiction! Fantasy, sci-fi, classical literature, poetry…give me stories! And to the maximum extent possible, keep politics out of them!

And better yet, don’t read politics into stories when they aren’t there.

Your stories, Harry? Your stories have been  politicized to the point of parody, to the point beyond parody, to the point where the mere mention of your name pisses me off! And I counted myself a big fan of yours!

Without Hermoine blah blah blah.jpg

At least, I used to. Where to begin… Continue reading “Me and Harry: A Breakup”

A High Tolerance for Chaos: What I’ve Learned from Rejoining the World of Customer Service 

I got a second job, and it’s going along nicely. Sure, working after work, or on a weekend, isn’t nesesarily the first thing one wants to do. But the extra money is nice, as is the chance to just get out, meet some people, and hopefully learn something. 

In this case, about wine. 

But the return to the customer service industry has also proven to be educational on other matters besides the vino. For example, I’ve learned some things about myself and others.

You see, this past Friday and Saturday night, our point-of-sale computer system was out of commission. So all billing, taking payments, and accounting had to be done by hand.

In a historic downtown hotspot.

In the middle of summer.

On the two busiest nights of the week.

Like this, but sadly with less mustache.
Despite it all, we survived. And we survived with style. 

Here’s what stuck out to me from this brief return to the days of my youth when doing everything by hand would have just been considered normal.

We rely on machines way too much. A malfunctioning machine, in this case due to a quick lightning storm that rolled through town, made everyone panic like the sky was falling.

Well, not all of us. There was definitely a, shall we say, demographic difference in how people handled things, but I’ll get to that later. 

The thing is, the idea of having to do things manually seemed to abhorrent, not only to employees, but to the customers. From the looks of pity and soothing words we received, it was like we all lost loved ones.

It wasn’t that bad. Really. In fact, in some ways just writing things down was easier.

But this doesn’t bode well–and I’m really stretching things out here–but if there’s ever some global catastrophe, be it natural disaster or act of war, that knocks out our power grid, we are totally boned.  Continue reading “A High Tolerance for Chaos: What I’ve Learned from Rejoining the World of Customer Service “

Reset: Chapter Three: Now (3)

The lights blazed into life one after the other like dominos across the ceiling of the cavernous chamber, illuminating a massive, gleaming bulk. Joe blinked as details coalesced in the antiseptic glow.

Nick smiled with childlike glee. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

Nick’s excitement was not contagious. Even in the light, Joe did not know what he was looking at. The thing before him seemed to grow from the floor, curves and flourishes coexisting with harsh right angles. It had a fluid, organic aspect that made Joe think of a metal flower sprouting from a computer. What looked like closed petals arose from its center, reaching halfway to the high ceiling.

“What is it?” said Joe.

“What do you mean, ‘what is it’? This is what we’ve been working on! Or the contract for, at least.”

“I know. But what is it?” Continue reading Reset: Chapter Three: Now (3)”

Lowering the Bar: What Is a “Good Father” in Current Year?

It irks me when someone tells me “Oh, you’re such a good father!” when they see me out and about with my son. 

Do I have your attention? Good. 

I’m know I’m not the first to notice this. And I know I won’t be the last. 

Why does this bother me so?

Because all I do either in public or in private is the parent my son. 

That’s it. Really. 

  • I pay attention and interact with him, and not my phone. 
  • I try to bring him with me everywhere I can just so we can hang out and maybe learn something. 
  • I use situations as lessons when appropriate. 
  • I discipline him when necessary. 
  • I try not to leave it up to my wife to do everything. 

And most importantly:

  • I love the little bugger, and I love him fiercely. 

In 2017, apparently, a man being a parent is all it takes to be considered a good father. 

The bar had been set so low by forces outside of our control, everyone’s perception is completely screwed up.

I hung out at the pool with my son over the weekend, chilling with a guy who also lives in the building and his two kids that he obviously loves. 

Does spending time with our kids make us “good fathers,” or just fathers?  Continue reading “Lowering the Bar: What Is a “Good Father” in Current Year?”