What One Year Can Do to Your Opinion

A year ago (give or take), my friends and I went to see Suicide Squad in theaters.  At the time, I remembered liking it.  Only to find I was in an extreme minority of people.

Believe me, that’s far from the first time that’s ever happened.  Like I said yesterday, I think I’m the only human being on Earth who LIKED Apollo 18.  Inversely, I’m used to hating movies everybody likes.  I’m of the opinion Moonrise Kingdom sucked like a hoover, and I’m puzzled that there are people who actually liked this fucking movie.

I’m no stranger to being the contrarian.  At the same time, though, I’m no stranger to opinions changing.  My opinion on Suicide Squad was one that started out really positive…  Until I saw it a second time, and really thought about what I was watching.  It also helped…  Or maybe hindered, that I wasn’t spending most of the final battle thinking “Christ I got to pee!”.  All that said, the second viewing really changed my mind on this movie, and…  Yeah, it sucks.

I’m nos tranger to this phenomenon.  I personally referred to it as “The Transformers Effect”.

In 2007, the internet was abuzz with talk of an upcoming Transformers movie.  People were super fucking stoked their childhood was coming back.  Finally, the movie came out, and everybody absolutely loved it.  At first.

As time went on, the movie made its rounds, and eventually got put on DVD, bluray, and probably HD-DVD (I think that was still a thing in 07), people’s opinion of the movie soured.  By that time a year later, a lot of people actually ended up hating it.

It didn’t help that a couple years later, the sequel movie would come out, and foretell the ominous future of the franchise, but that first movie…

At the time, it was hard to believe that a movie with that much hype behind it would suddenly decline in popularity so rapidly.  But I know what the problem was.

Transformers was, from what I can tell, the very beginning of the Hollywood trend I have long-since come to call “Generation: Nostalgia”.  Sure, seventies and eighties crap had been getting remakes long before the mid-to-late 2000s, but it wasn’t until some time around 2009-2010 when the reboot machine went nuclear.

Transformers got away with the nostalgia factor because people weren’t conditioned to see through the bullshit just yet.  They saw their favorite childhood franchise get pulled out of the grave after it lived a good hardy life (including that weird Beast Wars phase it went through in the middle), and they were expecting something great.  They were even willing to look past the fact Michael Bay was on board (assuming more than the snobbiest of movie goers even know who Michael Bay even is), all so they could relive their fucking childhood for an hour and a half or so.  But once the hype died, the nostalgia factor became a nonentity, and the smoke cleared, what we had was a CGI movie that promised more than it could ever hope to live up to.

Unfortunately, because of that success, Generation: Nostalgia is now the norm in hollywoo right now.  In the last seven years, I’ve seen reboots of Karate Kid (sucked), Robocop (REALLY sucked), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (it was okay), Get Smart (not terrible, but not great), Mighty Morphing Power Rangers (haven’t seen it yet and don’t plan on it), Chips (I hear it sucked), and I’ve HEARD Back to the Future might be up next on the chopping block.  If they’re not remaking old franchises, they’re gender-swopping the shit out of them like they did for Ghostbusters 2016, and gender swopping is, hands down, the laziest form of reimaging out there.  Or maybe it’s not a matter of reimagining, and it’s a matter of the neoliberal, Antifa, “fuck white people” mentality that ultimately led to Donald fucking Trump to become president in the first place.  Who can say?  All I know is I’m fucking sick and tired of this nostalgia trip, and I want something NEW.

As an author, I know there’s only so many stories out there.  At the same time, though, I’m sick of seeing these remakes, reboots, reimaginings…  Just give me something new.  If you have to MARKET it as Back to the Future with chicks, fine.  But if you’re actually going to MAKE Back to the Future with chicks, you can guarantee that I’m not going to see it.  Which according to your neoliberal, social justice warrior, “Kamala Harris 2020” logic, that makes me sexist.  No, it makes me FUCKING BORED!

“Ooh, I wonder what would happen if Doc and Marty were girls?”

I don’t know, maybe the same fucking thing that would happen if they were guys?  They’re still traveling back to when Marty’s parents are kids, fucking up everything, and threatening to erase themselves from time and space in an effort to accidentally become their own grandparent.  The fact Marty’s a girl now doesn’t add shit to the plot, except for an opportunity for period jokes or something.

You know, I’m pretty sure I was talking about something else a minute ago.

Oh yeah, I saw Suicide Squad a second time a year later, and yeah, I agree.  That movie actually kind of sucks now.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.: My Thoughts

I ask you audience: what the fuck do you people see in Neil Stevenson? Because between this, and Seven Eves (heh, I see what you did there), I just don’t get it.
Recently, I joined a scifi book club. Yeah, I know, me being social. The end of days may be upon us pretty soon. Although I think The Kansas City Chiefs have to win the superbowl before it’s TRULY official. Whatever.
The scifi bookclub I joined chose The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. as their book of the month to read. Considering I’ve been spending the last couple of months alternating between Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland (a book series about dragons that I can’t decide on whether or not I might be a little too old for), The Demon Accord by John Conroe (a series of books I honestly liked a lot better when it was called Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter), and the occasional Yahtzee Croshaw book, I probably needed a change of pace. It’s just too bad that it had to be this near-800 page brick of a dud.I was willing to give Stevenson the benefit of a doubt. I couldn’t see my way past the first part of Seven Eves when I picked it up, but I still can’t decide if it was because of the story itself, or if it was because Mary Robinette Kowal’s voice really annoyed me. She has a weird accent that according to my memory, is very George Tekai.

But hey, sometimes, an author puts out a dud. I myself, in my infinite wisdom, felt like Homecoming: a Novella of Highfill, Kansas needed a sequel for reasons I can’t remember anymore, so yeah, even I’m capable of doing it. So maybe Seven Eves was just one dud in an otherwise steller catalogue.
If The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is anything to go on… Yeah, no. I’m officially in the minority. Hashtag-TJBHatesEverything and what not.
D.O.D.O. is a government organization built around the concept of time travel. For a lot of scifi guys, that right there is already a red flag. Time travel is one of those concepts that even GOOD authors struggle with. Add on the fact that Stevenson manages to include multiverse theory into time travel, and it becomes an even more tangled mess.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is read by at least ten different readers. And while I perked up when I heard Luke Motherfucking Daniels was one of them, the rest were a real mixed bag. Each reader reads from the perspective of one character, which is actually a really cool idea, and I really wish more audio books would do that. I’m not especially familiar with the other nine readers, though. I could tell you their names after looking up the book on Audible.com, but I couldn’t tell you who played who. Other than Luke Daniels, of course.
I will say, though, that whoever they got to voice Stokes was a SERIOUS miscast. Someone who is stranded in 1851 England with little to no hope of returning should NOT be this fucking perky. Everybody else in the recording, though, is passable at worst, and pretty damn good at best.
Then we get into the story. Oh god, the story.
Stevenson apparently decided to tell the story through a compilation of Stokes’ diary, government emails, memos, letters to the queen, transcripts of video conversations, and so on. It’s not especially obnoxious… Until you get to part 3, anyway. Then it becomes a serious fucking chore to get through.
The entirety of the book club can at least agree with me on the fact this was not a great idea. I personally believe they could’ve stuck with Stokes’ diary from 1851, and call it good.  It’d probably be three hundred pages shorter, but oh well. Length does not dictate quality of story. You’re talking to a guy who’s written books that barely hit the one-hundred page count.

I personally didn’t care for how the Stokes diary chapters basically announced what the chapter was going to be about.  I’ve literally seen titles for Dragon Ball Z episodes that left more to the imagination than this.

Some of the group think that Stokes was way too detailed in her descriptions, despite complaining constantly about hand cramps from writing with a quill pen, or shortage of ink or paper, and just that nobody could hope to remember the insane amount of detail put into each conversation. I see what they’re talking about, but honestly, that’s the one thing I personally could look past. Largely because by the time I’d gotten to parp 4, a fucking unicorn could’ve come through space and time, farted a rainbow, and blown up the Earth, and I still could’ve shrugged, said “whatever”, and used the book to squash cockroaches. If I had a copy of the print version, that is.
The story overall doesn’t go anywhere. It’s not really a story so much as it is a series of events. Someone in the group said it reminded them of someone writing a pilot to a TV show, and it’s not hard to see where he got that.

The concept of time travel in this series is heavily built around Schrodinger’s Cat.  IE, you can only travel through time and space when you somehow achieve a state of dead-alive.  if you can somehow convince the world you’re both dead and alive, you can convince the world you are both in the present, and…  Well, say, 1851.  That’s actually kind of a neat idea.

It’s just too bad we had to achieve the concept of time travel through WITCHCRAFT.

I have no problem with sorcery in my fiction.  Especially nowadays, where I’m a lot more open to the fantasy genre than I used to be.  It seems like they spend all this time talking about witches, and how they can do all this magic, but aside from turning an apple into an orange, or turning a can of white paint into a can of black paint in the beginning, the only thing the witchcraft is used for is time travel.  And maybe mind control towards the end.

The thing about time travel in this book that gets me, though, is that just because you accomplished this deed in the 1600s doesn’t mean it carries over to our specific present day.  Remember, I said this version of time travel includes multiverse theory ON TOP of past and present.  Meaning that the version of the past where you meddled probably isn’t the version of the past that’s on our timeline!  Meaning you have to go back in time at least FOUR OTHER TIMES if you want to accomplish what you want!  That, or create a disaster so catastrophic that the entirety of time and space has to go out of its way to rewrite more than one timeline in order to stay afloat.

Keeping that in mind, the only REAL way to change time is to basically burn down taverns, or murder super-important figures in time.  Otherwise, what’s even the point!?  It’s all an exercise in repetition.

But there in lies the theme.  The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is pretty much a 700+ page allegory on the mind-numbing repetitive nature, general incompatence, and bureaucratic nightmare of government.  Wow, a book that’s extremely critical of The United States government?  WOW!  Haven’t read that one before.  And in 2017 no less!  All we need now is a thinly disguised representation of Donald Trump, and we’ve hit the zenith of creativity that no one has ever thought of reaching!  *sigh*

Okay, let’s cool off.  I know I’m going to get hatemail up the wazoo from Stevenson fans no matter what I have to say (I hear he has a cult following), but let’s cool down.

As much shit as I give this book, I DID manage to see it to the end.  More than I can say for Seven Eves, that’s for sure.  The book was tedious enough to annoy me frequently, and make me consider putting it down to read something I actually WANT to read.  On the other hand, the premise was actually intriguing enough to where I actually wanted to see where it was going.  There was a good story in this near 800 page brick somewhere.  I just wish someone up in editing had taken out the chainsaw and made the effort to hack away the driftwood to get there.

Regarding Red Flannel Radio

It’s been fun.  Sadly, this is where I announce I have to put the podcast on hiatus.

For starters, this is the time of year when my roommate is off for the summer.  Normally, we barely have any contact with one-another.  She’s at work from 8:00 to 4:00, I’m at work from 2:00 to 7:00 (on average).  My afternoons are usually full of writing, and in recent months, Red Flannel Radio recording and editing.  However, with her hanging around, there’s no way I can record this show.  I’m not one of those guys who invites their friends, or their girlfriend/boyfriend, or their wife/husband, or kids, or whatever on to the show.  I ain’t no Bill Burr.  Red Flannel Radio is a solo act, and even if I had the kind of connections to have guests on board, I’d sooner do the entire show on my own.

My afternoons of solitude technically don’t come to an end till this upcoming Friday.  I thought for sure I could fire off one last episode, and maybe even explain the situation there.  Sadly, something else has come up.

My job has decided to start calling us in early.  So now, my hours have changed to a time that is super inconvenient if you wanted to fire off a thirty-minute ramble before work.

It also doesn’t help matters that we’re heading into the summer.  When you’re in my line of work, shit gets hot.  By the end of the shift, I’m so sweaty, exhausted, and hating my life and virtually everyone in it that the podcast would probably be a much different animal.  Not to mention by the evening, I’ve absorbed a generous amount of news from my favorite news sources, and just in case the heat hasn’t given me a healthy dose of misanthropy, whatever stupid shit Donald Trump and/or the republicans said recently ends up topping me off nicely.

I’m still writing for sure.  In fact, that sort of sweaty exhausted misanthropy is what fuels a lot of my creativity.  Not to mention typing on my computer is significantly less intrusive and irritating to my roommate than me putting together audio content.  Trust me, about this time two years ago, I was recording “funny” parody jingles and dumb skits and putting them up on Soundcloud.  Not only did nobody on Soundcloud like most of them (amputech4000 seemed to have a following), but the people living with me expressed their annoyance with it at least twice.

As long as I’m talking about writing, I’ll gladly mention that I’m up to chapter 30 of The Hood and the Heroine.

I’m also streaming a game or two on occasion on Wednesday nights…  Although that’s mostly for shits, giggles, and to test out how things on my PS4 work.  If people watch, cool.  If not…  Well, I still got to play a video game I thought was fun.  Most likely.  So whatever.

Red Flannel Radio, on the other hand, is pretty much on the shelf.  If not till August, then until I can find a place away from the complainers, and record to my heart’s content.  Too bad blind people can’t drive, or I could’ve made like Mark Bennet: host of I Said Shut Up!, and made my car the studio.  Sure, I’d probably make the neighbors super confused, but I’ve never given a flying fuck what the neighbors think.  Probably why a lot of them generally move out, am I right?  Ba-zing!

If I think of a way to work around this, I probably will.  Till then, I’ll probably focus more on the book I probably should’ve finished by now.  For sure, I figured I’d be on the second or third draft by now.

I’d like to thank everyone for subscribing, for listening, and really, for giving me the motivation to keep the ramblefest going well after it served its purpose.

I’ve covered a lot of topics in improvised audio form on that show.  Maybe it’s time I converted them into more well thought-out blog articles here?  Maybe do more with this thing than talk about getting sidetracked with side projects.  Time will tell for sure.  Till then, stay tuned for more TJB/Red Flannel/Steaksaw goodness.

Remember When I Used to Update This Thing?

I admit, I haven’t been the best blogger in the universe.  I haven’t been doing a very diligent job of updating this thing, or my Facebook.  I also don’t have a Twitter, because I think Twitter is fucking stupid.  I also don’t have an instagram, because I’m not a very vision oriented person.  Also, I’ve heard Instagram is Twitter for illiterates, and as I said before, Twitter is fucking stupid.

My only real excuse is my side projects required a lot of my attention.  For a while, I was playing with the idea of streaming gameplay, as well as a podcast.

As of this posting, I believe I may be done with streaming.  I wasn’t expecting to get Pewdiepie levels of fame over night.  I played the YouTube game back in 2007-2008: when a little guy stood more of a chance of getting somewhere, and one-hundred subscribers was considered a milestone.

A lot of my disappointment with my latest YouTube outing has less to do with the response (or lack there of), and more to do with the fact I hated about eighty percent of the videos I’ve put up there now.  There were some unforeseen instances that ended up hampering the experience.  Like that Darkest Dungeon stream where I forgot to switch on my mic.  Or that WWE2K17 stream where I laughed at entrance music that apparently got filtered out of the archived version for some reason.  Or the fact Knee Deep requires a lot of reading, and I’m a slow-ass reader.

SIDE NOTE: that jigsaw in Knee Deep ended up being a lot easier to solve than I originally thought.  Shit, if I knew the pieces turned yellow when you connected them properly, I would’ve braved the sstorm.  Oh well.

I haven’t given up on the idea of streaming altogether, but I think this might be less of an ambition, and more of a fun little aside I occasionally do.

No sir, the REAL distraction that has taken time away from The Hood and the Heroine: book 3 of the Gael Saga, is my podcast: Red Flannel Radio.

I started the podcast when I was between books, waiting for cover art, and really wanted to give the podcast game another go.  I’ve done podcasts in the past, and…  Well…  Let’s just say, rate of success may vary.

In 2006, my friend, frequent cover artist, and former roommate and I tried our hand at podcasting.  We made a dumb little show by the name of The Mechanical Cannibals.  I think.  Mechanical Cannibal was definitely involved in the title.  Either way, it was apparent out the gate that neither of us knew what we were doing, and we both had different ideas about how to do this.

Roomy wanted a super-organized blueprint laid out before we went into recording, and I wanted to just throw caution to the wind and just dick around for an hour.  In the end, we ended up compromising with a very loose blueprint that left room for improv.  We had segments, but none of which were concrete.  We’d have segments like game reviews, movie reviews, my roommate’s “annoying song of the whenever”, and a couple others I can’t remember anymore.  Just because they were on episode 1, though, didn’t guarantee they’d carry over to episode 2.

Another big problem with Mechanical Cannibal was finding a webhost.  I was playing with 50webs.com at the time, but they didn’t allow you to host mp3 files.  Least of all if you had a free account like I did at the time.  Soundcloud didn’t exist in 2006…  Or I didn’t know about it.  In any case, we shared it on one of those file storage sites like megaupload.com.  Except it wasn’t that specific one.  I think it was something like File Jar or something?  All I know for sure is that was a terrible way to host the show, and unsurprisingly, we got discouraged to keep going after the three episodes we recorded were met with absolute dead silence.  It doesn’t help episode 2 got taken down by the site for…  Some reason.  Probably copyright infringement, seeing as how it featured the annoying song of the whenever.

Four years would go by.  Then, in 2010, I’d plug my PS3 headset into my computer tower, and adapt my religious obsession for UFC into a podcast.  This time, I learned from the mistakes of the past, and while I still wouldn’t have called myself an expert, I had a better idea of how NOT to do a podcast.

This time around, I was running a show by the name of The Sacred Octagon.  I posted my audio to still images, made a video file out of them, and posted them to the now defunked blip.tv.  As a bonus, you actually made money if people let the ads play.  Unlike last time, I knew that a show with a very specific topic required a more concrete blueprint.  I talked mostly about UFC events, though I occasionally talked Bellator, and maybe even Strikeforce.  A lot of the time, it was recapping that season of Ultimate Fighter, or giving my predictions on UFC pay-per-views.  Not to mention reporting results from those UFC PPVs, and seeing if I guessed right.  Hint, I don’t think I did all that often.

In mid 2011, I ended up putting the show on hiatus due to the home stretch of my college years demanding my immediate attention, and me taking my attempts at getting for-real-published a lot more seriously.  I picked the podcast back up in 2013…  Only to fall victim to “The Great Blip.tv Purge”.

I didn’t keep copies of my videos, or even the audio files, because why bother?  It’s a weekly show about a very topical thing.  As a result, I basically lost everything, and couldn’t reupload anything to anywhere else because I’d lost everything else.

For the next few years, I chose to make my writing the primary focus.  It helped that 2012-2014 was more or less the height of my old blog’s popularity.

Then, in 2017, I began my most recent podcast: Red Flannel Radio.  This right here was the podcast I wanted to have over a decade ago: no script, no structure, no mercy!  The only rule I set for myself was to try really hard not to talk politics.  And unfortunately, Donald god damn Trump is just too tempting a target for a hardcore Berniecrat like me to take potshots at from time to time.

Honestly, this podcast is a show I consider to be my greatest success in the field yet.  I have a reliable host with Soundcloud.com.  I have about ten subscribers as of this posting, which is about seven more than I was ever hoping to get.  And just in case Soundcloud decides to kurplode, or purge someone like me as the result of going a different direction, there’s a couple other podcast hosts I know of.  A friend of mine recommended I do what I did with Sacred Octagon, and post video versions on YouTube, but the problem is I’m pretty sure YouTube’s little algorithm will find something to bitch me out over.  Namely, I like to use thirty second clips (give or take) of music in my intros and outros.

I have no idea what to say other than Red Flannel Radio has been a blast.  I actually look forward to Tuesday afternoons now.  I just sit back, and I dump all the chatter in my brain into a thirty minute (give or take) slab of audio file.  I have some laughs, I discuss topics I want to talk about, I don’t have to worry about maintaining a segment, or skimming through news sites…  It’s pretty much just thirty minutes of TJB being TJB.  Or Flannel Guy, as I seem to be known on this show, but it’s all good.

So yeah, I’ve been distracted as all hell with this podcast.  Who knows: if indie publishing ends up not working out, I might just keep this up.

But make no mistake, dear reader: The Gael Saga will be finished.  I know I flopped on Jade Blade Legacy, but this one I do plan on finishing.  From there…  Eh, we’ll see.  But for now, I do plan on finishing The Hood and the Heroine.  Right now, as of this posting, I’m up to chapter 27 in the first draft.  Admittedly, that’s not quite where I thought I’d be, but I’m making progress.  And without  YouTube channel to worry about, I should have that much more time to devote to the project.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on news and updates.  Till then, I strongly recommend you check out the podcast.

 

April Fools 2017: How to Fuck Your Couch Like a MAN!

cover

Coming soon to a Kindle near you: Eugene Wafleshire’s breakout self help thriller that will change your life forever and ever.  How to Fuck Your Couch Like a MAN! is more than just a guide to fucking your couch in the manliest ways possible.  This book teaches you about other manly things, as well as other household items you could be fucking when your couch is in rehab.  A must read for couchophiliacs all over the world!

Eugene Wafleshire is many things: he’s a philosopher, a scholar, a Ron Paul cosplayer, a chainsmoker, and perhaps the horniest human being since Sir Daniel Y.  Sexbang.  He is also one of my closest friends, and the person I turn to the most for terrible advice.  I’ve sat and listened to the gospel of Eugene Wafleshire, and I’m a better person for it.  I hope.  Now, for the first time since he used the pen name Muhammad Fear for that ghost story nobody liked, he’s published his glorious gospel for everyone to read, and to practice later on.

I received an advanced copy of the book myself, and I got to say, How to Fuck Your Couch Like a Man is perhaps the single most brilliant book I’ve read.  It’s rivaled only by The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson, and…  Well, let’s be honest, there’s not as much chouch fucking in Manson’s book.

I’ll make an announcement for sure when this book becomes available for everyone to purchase.  Till then, I hope you have something to look forward to.

GRRM Syndrome?

There have been moments lately where I find myself wondering if I may be afflicted with GRRM syndrome.  GRRM syndrome, for the record, is what I call it when someone gets so bogged down by side projects that the stuff they’ve been promising for fucking ever never shows up, and eventually, everybody gives up.  In the case of George R. R. Martin, the condition’s namesake, it’s The Winds of Winter.  For The Kovenant, it’s “Aria Galactica”.  For me…  I was about to say The Hood and the Heroine, but honestly, it’s looking more and more like World War Jade: book 3 of The Jade Blade Legacy is my GRRM syndrome.

In 2011, I wrote the first book in The Jade Blade Legacy: Mahinder’s Grand Tournament.  I also wrote another story…  And in hindsight, I’d have donated THAT story to the self-publishing experiment.  It was a one-shot, and I’d only have to pay half of what I was paying before now.  But I went with Jade Blade.  The damage is done, and all I can do is learn from my mistakes.  And eventually republish what I have under KDP when the 90-day no-republishing clause runs its course.

I wrote book 1 not expecting much.  I wrote book 2 the very next year.  Then I started writing book 3.  I’m sitting on twenty-plus chapters of unspellchecked, unproofread book that isn’t finished, and probably never WILL be finished at the rate I’m going.

In large part, it was due to some side projects in 2014.  I’d written something for NaNoWriMo in 2014, and had ambitions of seeing it get for-real-published in 2015.  Those ambitions were never met, for the record.  2015, and 2016 (especially 2016) were dedicated to playing with KDP, and at the time, Createspace.

I published HikikoMorey: a novella(?) that forever stands as the single most pretentious thingI’ve ever written.  It’s undergone its share of changes (mostly in the area of book covers), but it’s still there, and I guess people like it.  I’ve heard nothing about people hating it on Amazon.  Then again, I’m not exactly scanning my Amazon page like a hawk.

As 2016 progressed, I put up other stories.  I wrote and published both Novellas of Highfill, Kansas.  I also put up Charlie’s Chocolate Factory of Unspeakable Horrors, which is probably the one I’m the most proud of.  And of course, there’s The Gael Saga.  It’s still in progress, and I do plan on finishing it as quickly as possible.  So far, so good.

Then I started a podcast.

 

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What started as something to occupy my free time while I waited for cover art.  Lately, though, I find I’ve been having fun with it.  Even if a grand total of 6 people are listening, and I actually know who 2 of them are in real life.  HINT: 2 of them share an account.  Honestly, 6 followers was about 4 more than I was expecting.

And just in case that wasn’t enough to occupy the down time I could’ve spent on books, I began streaming recently as well.

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRnAU1061TYhHLhpotkbjtA

 

The fact I haven’t been trying to stream a lot sooner than now…  Well, there’s actually a couple reasons for that.

First of all, I only just recently gotten a hold of a PS4 headset that actually fucking works.  Either the PS3 headset isn’t compadible, or my PS3 headset was a piece of crap.  Really, I’ll believe either one.  Also, while I may be confident enough to put out a story like The Gael Saga, knowing all well there’s references to the counterintuitivity of superheroes in real life, foot fetishism, and a general disdain for corporate billionaires…  Being on a mic and playing a video game at the same time is a different story.  I honestly didn’t know how The Game Grumps do it, but considering it’s a one man show, I decided that maybe The Spoony Experiment’s Livewire series might be more appropriate research material.

Four videos later, I’ve blown it at Texas Holdem, sent my favorite characters from Darkest Dungeon I’ve been building up and protecting since January to their horrifying gruesome deaths in a quest to find and kill The Shuffling Horror, played some Feist, and celebrated Stone Cold Steve Austin day (3/16).  Not everything was particularly successful, but I still had fun doing it, and I still have ideas for how for other possible stream ideas.

So between The Gael Saga, a podcast, and a stream series, I’ve really had no time to work on Jade Blade Legacy lately.  I joke around, and say I’m ultimately holding book 3 of that series hostage.  Until GRRM finishes The Winds of Winter, you’re never going to see book 3 of Jade Blade.  That idea, however, is kind of flawed.

For starters, I don’t have NEARLY the following GRRM does.  I really can’t afford to piss a couple people off, even if it’s a joke.

Also, it’s very likely we’ll never see The Winds of Winter.  I suppose GRRM’s estate could hand the project over to Brandon Sanderson: the human printing press, and we’d get both The Winds of Winter AND A Dream of Spring in the same year.  More than likely, though, I need to quit making the joke, and just get that shit written down when I’m done with Gael.

I have a really bad feeling that these might not end up being the only side projects I do.  Whatever the other ones are, who can say?  I just know they’re lurking in the horizon.

And yeah, first chance I get, I’m updating the ABOUT ME page with those links.

Reviewing Rockfest 2017 Entirely By Lineup and Nothing Else

I don’t LIKE being an angry-ass curmudgeon.  If I could change even the most trivial annoyance into something awesome, I’d do it.  I’m not one of those guys who complains because I like the sound of my own voice, or because it’ll get me more readers if I’m a negative fucking Nancy.

That being said, Kansas gives me a lot to complain about.  Whether it be something huge like the fact the governor is an idiot who has inflicted Reaganomics onto us all and left the state with a potential billion dollar debt to pay off by the end of the decade, or something trivial like the only rock station that played anything past 1991 suddenly establishing a cutoff date around 2005 or so and refusing to play anything from this fucking year, it seems like this state lives to infuriate me.

And speaking of local radio, it’s that time of the year here in KC.  That wonderful time where we spend the next three to four months hyping up a day-long concert.  A concert that…  Honestly, I’m surprised we’re having.

98.9 The Rock has not been itself lately.  The Annual Freaker’s Ball and Twisted Christmas events (the latter devolving into a cheap excuse to invite Steel Panther over to KC on a yearly basis, but I’m not complaining) didn’t happen this year.  Up until this month, every single concert they’ve been advertising has been some 70s throwback like The Led Zeppolin Experience, or The Pink Floyd experience, or The Red Hot Chili Peppers coming to town.  Shit, the only reason you ever hear about a modern band like Ghost coming to town is because they’re opening for Iron Maiden or something.  All of this only serves to perpetuate the timewarp this state is stuck in.  Forcefeed the audience the belief that rock died in the 1990s, and Kurt Cobane killed himself so he couldn’t be tried for murdering it.  Isn’t that right, KQRC?  You assholes who have officially programmed me to cringe in disgust and annoyance every fucking time AC/DC comes on the air anymore.

Okay, I’m calming down.  Seriously, it’s hilarious to think that about this time two years ago, I was complaining about Five Finger Death Punch getting played into the ground.  You know what I’d give for that playlist to make a comeback?

The point I was getting at is that considering this dramatic shift in format, and cancelation of what I’ve considered 98.9 traditions, I’m legitimately surprised we’re even HAVING Rockfest in the first place.  True, it’s at the KC Speedway instead of Liberty Memorial this year…  Which only furthers my belief not enough people came to last year’s Rockfest, and the station might be hemourhaging money, but that’s honestly just theory at this point.

Still, I had a feeling this year’s Rockfest was going to suck.  Considering the most recent band they’ve been promoting is either The Red Hot Chili Peppers, or Iron Maiden, I had a feeling there either wasn’t going to be a Rockfest, or Rockfest was going to become another nostalgia circuit show like Rocklahoma or something.  They released the lineup earlier in the month, and…  Honestly, my thoughts are mixed.

And so, for your enjoyment and my desire to purge the chattering voices in my head, here’s my thoughts of Rockfest based entirely on the lineup.  Because honestly, relocating to a smaller venue is easy to forgive if the bands can hold my attention.

Opening up this year’s Rockfest on the second stage is a band by the name of One Less Reason.  I’ve never heard of them, and I doubt most people have.  This has little to do with the previously mentioned cutoff date hampering the exposure of new music in KC, and more to do with the fact the opening act on the second stage is almost always a newbie that no one’s ever heard of.  Barring that, they’re an indie band that nobody who doesn’t go to that one bar has ever heard.  So yeah.

I listened to One Less Reason on Spotify, and honestly, they’re…  Okay.  They’re not horrible, but they didn’t necessarily light my world on fire either.  If anything, they sound a little overdramatic.  Seriously, check out the music video for “Break Me”.  I appreciate they decided to give us more than just a video of the band playing, but holy hell.  I seriously thought the first thirty seconds or so was a YouTube ad I couldn’t skip.

Up next is Sidewise.  They’ve been here before, and I liked them well enough.  So far, I’m thinking of showing up late enough to maybe skip One Less Reason, and catch these guys.

Up next, we have Candlebox.  AKA, those dudes who wrote “Far Behind”.  And literally nothing else.  I don’t know if they’re legitimately a two-hit-wonder, or if that’s just 98.9 humoring all three of Candlebox’s fans by occasionally playing this one song, and going right back into spanking my eardrums with “Back in Black” for the infinity-billionth time.  Kind of an odd choice.  Even if they’re a one or two-hit-wonder everywhere else in the world, it’s a good enough hit to hold my interest.  Doing good so far, 98.9

Next up is Crobat.  I…  Have no idea who these guys are.  I think they were at a Rockfest or two before this one, but I couldn’t tell you anything about them.  And I probably even watched them on stage the year they were there and everything.  Oh well, I could use the refresher.  Worst case scenario, the main stage is usually starting up by now, and if I end up hating them, I don’t have to stick around for them.

After them, we have Blackberry Smoke: that super obscure underground band that’s all over the place.  I’ve heard them, and I honestly can’t tell if this is rock or country.  If they’re country, we have ourselves some hardcore Trashville “city faggot in a cowboy hat” caliber country right here.  If it’s rock…  It kind of reminds me of American Bang: a one-hit-wonder (maybe) who’s ultimate claim to fame was that their one hit was the first theme song ever for WWE NXT.  I guarantee you the ONLY reason these guys are coming is because they’re buds with Johnny Dare.  Not that this is a bad thing, but honestly, they’re not my cup of tea.

Up next, we have Tom Keifer: the former frontman for Cinderella.  Oh boy.  I can hardly wait to skip this act entirely.  If you know me, or if you followed my old blog, you know how I feel about hair metal.  For the newbies…  Basically imagine Steel Panther without a punchline, and you literally have the entirety of hair metal.  It’s a joke, and it’s not a funny one either.  And yes, this is coming from someone who cut his teeth on grunge growing up.  I’d rather have a bunch of semi-intelligible homeless dudes from Seattle than a bunch of glittery transvestites who are TOTALLY super straight any day.

And really, what can I say about Cinderella.  Near as I can tell, they’re pretty much the status quo for that generation.  I have a pretty good feeling Tom Keifer’s set is going to be nothing but Cinderella covers.  So if you like Cinderella, then you have motivation.  If you’re like me, though, you’re already seeing what’s on the main stage, or hanging out at the concession stand/merchandise stand.

Rounding out the main stage is a band by the name of Zakk Sabbath.  I have no idea who these people are, but based on the fact they’re the ONLY second stage act that gets a soundbyte in the promos, and said soundbyte is a clip of “Iron Man” from BLACK Sabbath…  Yeah, I smell cover band.  Black Sabbath is more my speed, but again, keep that timewarp perpetuated, 98.9.  *sigh*

Then we get to the main stage.

Opening things up is…  P.O.D.?  Holy shit, those guys are still around?  Here I thought those guys broke up.  Or they disappeared into the ether, and retreated to the sanctimonious realm of Christian rock.  Don’t even get me started: this article by itself is taking for fucking ever to write.

Honestly, the fact P.O.D. was a Christian band always put a bit of a raincloud over my head.  I loved rap-metal, but I was a thirteen or fourteen year old boy who was in open rebellion against all things Jesus.  The one saving grace of P.O.D. in the longrun, though, was that they were never really in your face about it.  Yeah, they looked on the brighter side, which was a nu-metal no no, but at least they weren’t forcefeeding me heavy-handed Christian symbolism.  More than I can say for those jerks in Skillet.

I might actually check that show out.  Yeah, it’s a total nostalgia circuit show, but it’s MY nostalgia.  And yes, that does make me a hypocrite for railing against the nostalgia circuit, then immediately turning around and enjoying a nostalgia circuit esque show.  Big whoop, want to fight about it?  Well it’ll have to wait till I’m done with this.

After P.O.D., we have…  Oh dear god.  We have Buckcherry.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a trillion times: WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU PEOPLE SEE IN BUCKCHERRY!?  Buckcherry is, hands down, the worst band I have ever heard in my entire life.  Seriously, even at their absolute worst, Slipknot was still a trip to the fucking circus.  Even The Dillenger Escape Plan has some sort of pattern to its cacophony.  Hell, even AC/DC, burnt out on them as I am, at least sounds like music.  Buckcherry is fucking terrible.  “Crazy Bitch” is the equivalent of ear rape, and it’s embarrassing you people enjoy this shit song that any god damn thirteen-year-old could write in their sleep.  Josh Todd couldn’t carry a tune if you gave him a god damn forklift.  This band should’ve died in 2002 when everybody refused to buy “Time Bomb”.  But for some reason, they came back.  And we LET them come back.  And they’re never going to go away, no matter how much they suck , because you idiots decided after FIVE YEARS of absence, they needed to come back.

Ugh, fuck those guys.  Buckcherry suckvery.

Okay, I’m done.  What else do we have?

Well, after that exercise in misanthropy, we have…  Collective Soul?  Where are they getting these guys?  Here we have another band that 98.9 has perpetuated into one-hit-wonderdom.  Except I’m positive Collective Soul have written a lot more than just “Shine”.  Not that “Shine is a bad song or anything (far from it), but I’d certainly like to hear more.  Of course, such a request would cut into all that Pink Floyd time, so I’m not surprised I won’t be getting it, but still…

Up next is RATT.  Ugh.  Again, I’d point out the one-hit-wonder thing, but to be honest, that one hit isn’t even all that great.  Considering what era it came from, it could be a lot worse though.  “Round and Round” isn’t my favorite song, but it could be worse.  It could be something like “Talk Dirty”, or “Love Injection”, or literally anything by W.A.S.P.  Ugh, my god those guys suck!

I was kind of surprised to hear RATT is even still around.  I’m pretty sure that, at absolute best, RATT is a classic case of a band with none of its original members involved in it in any way, shape, or form anymore.  Like Cannibal Corpse, or GWAR, or Anthrax for a while.  The list goes on.

I’m also kind of surprised RATT are relegated to one-hit-wonder status.  Considering where I live, and the mindset being perpetuated, you’d think they’d play every single they ever came out with, regardless of whether it was a success or a flop.

After that, we got Halestorm.

Well at least they came from this decade.  Not to mention they’re LOADS better than Buckcherry.  Although saying that out loud is kind of like saying bologna tastes better than drywall.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: my one ultimate criticism of Halestorm is that they have no distinct sound.  They’re not quite as bad as Nickelback, or Papa Roach anymore, or any other play-what’s-popular band, but there’s no consistency from song to song.  One minute, Lzzy Hale is a badass who takes shit from no one (“Dirty Work”, “It’s Not You”, “You Call me Bitch Like it’s a Bad Thing”), and the next thing you know, she’s a fucking doormat (“I Miss the Misery”, “Mz. Hyde”, I almost want to say “The Familiar Taste of Poison”…).  Otep is consistent.  The Agonist was consistent until they replaced their vocalist.  Tristania was consistent.  Halestorm just isn’t consistent.

Also, as I’ve said before, “I Miss the Misery” hits too close to home for me.  Not getting into that story again.  At least, not here.

After them, we have Volbeat.  And Finally, we have a band I actually want to see.  A lot of the bands I’ve said I was interested in seeing up to this point, it was more of a “eh, why not?  Could be fun.” sort of deal.  Volbeat, on the other hand, kick ass, and I’ve wanted to see them for fucking ever.  Also, they and Halestorm are literally the ONLY bands from this decade, which I find fucking depressing.

Especially since right after Volbeat, we get Sammy Hagar side project 352.  Seriously, has ANY band Hagar’s put together lasted more than one album?  And don’t say Van Halen, because that wasn’t HIS band.  Aside from his Van Halen years, the only thing I know Hagar for is a solo career, and in more recent years, the band Chickenfoot.  Chickenfoot: they are so totally decent!

And finally, we get to the main event of the evening.  The band that everything, for better and for worse, has ultimately been leading up to.  And…  It’s Godsmack.  Again.

Okay, I’ll be honest with you guys.  I love Godsmack.  Yeah, they write the same two or three songs over and over again, which suddenly makes me sound like a hypocrite for loving Godsmack despite it, and giving AC/DC shit for it, but fuck you, Godsmack isn’t getting played into the fucking pavement.  I’m also aware Sully Erna is kind of a dick, but I’m at a point in my life where either all my childhood heroes turn out to be dicks, or I know better than to deify someone because they wrote a catchy tune I like to listen to while I punch things after a bad day.  All that being said…  Yeah, that solo album of his sucked.

There’s only one real reason I’m not all that excited for another Godsmack show, and that’s because I’m at a point where I’ve seen them to death.  They definitely have some new songs since…  What was it, 2010 when they last headlined?  And they’re probably coming out with a new album pretty soon.  I’ll never know for sure if the radio is all I have to go by, because FUCKING TIMEWARP!  But even if there is new stuff coming out, I’m really not motivated to see Godsmack AGAIN.

In fact, pretty much the ONLY reason I would waste money on a ticket or two is for Volbeat.  And literally nothing else.

And yes, I’m aware I hated “Seal the Deal and Let’s Boogie””  I still hold to my opinion that that album is a sign of coasting.  Still, literally everything BEFORE that album was awesome, and even if it means sitting through songs from that album, it’d be worth it to see a band I’ve been dying to see live.

Sadly, one out of fifteen isn’t enough to motivate me to go.  If I had to judge by the lineup, I have a feeling this year’s rockfest is going to be kind of a downer.  I’m probably better off saving that fifty bucks for rent anyway, the rate I’m going.

Book 3 Under Way!

Technically, I began work on book 3 of The Gael Saga yesterday, but I’m only just now getting around to announcing it here on the blog.  Never the less, here’s some details to keep in mind.

Book 3’s current working title is The Hood and The Heroine.  On one hand, don’t expect that title to stick.  On the other hand, don’t be surprised if, despite my recommendation, the title ends up sticking.

I have a bit of a habit of coming up with a working title, looking over my completed manuscript, and deciding that in the end, the working title is good enough to stay.  Lifers Wear Orange was originally a placeholder title till I came up with something better.  I was reluctant to keep the title at first, because it sounded too much like Orange is the New Black: a pretty good autobiographical book about what it was like to spend a year in a women’s prison that eventually got adapted into a Netflix show I gave up on the very moment I saw the “I miss the misery” angle coming down the hall.  After some time, though, it ended up sticking.

Some of the titles I have for book 3 are as follows:

 

A. The Hood and the Heroine.

B. The Diamond Club.

C. The Gael Army.

D. Diamond is Forever.

E. The War of Five Kings.

 

SPOILER: The Diamond Club is a new faction that’ll be making its debut in book 3 of The Gael Saga .  The Gael Army was introduced in book 2, but will ultimately play more of a role in book 3.  Apparently, here in the notepad in my head, Diamond is Forever is a sort of catchphrase the leader of The Diamond Club has for herself, but I’ve already dismissed this as a title.  Frankly, I’m thinking of not using that, period.

Naming the book after either The Diamond Club, or The Gael Army seems like the wrong way to go.  I like The Hood and the Heroine thus far, because a large portion of the book deals with the interactions/fights between Gael and The Blue Hood.  Also, while The War of Five Kings is based on a quote Dan Adelson makes in his first chapter, I have a feeling George R. R. Martin is probably going to sue me over it.  Though none of HIS books are called that, that’s ultimately what the war throughout A Song of Ice and Fire is called.  I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking too hard about all that.  I’ve only got about a chapter and a half down as of this blog post, so it’s possible I won’t use ANY of these titles.

I look forward to getting this book done with.  I was originally planning on ending this series on book 3…  Although at the time I’m writing this, I’m really liking the concepts going into The Diamond Club.  If I end up deciding on a book 4, try not to be too surprised.  Don’t count on it, but don’t be too surprised.

That’s all the news I really have for now.  Stay tuned for more TJB flavored goodness!

A Series of Unfortunate Events: My Thoughts

Dearest reader,

I strongly urge you to ignore this post, for it is a commentary on a series of events most unfortunate. I strongly suggest abandoning whatever computer, tablet, cell phone, or napkin you are currently reading this on, and pursuing something far more pleasurable like cuddling with a favorite pet, or reading Donald Trump’s Twitter.  For what follows, second handed as it is, is truly unfortunate, tragic, miserable, and will overall ruin your entire week.

If you thought that paragraph was funny… Prepare for countless hours of the exact same thing in Netflix form.

I’ll be honest, I missed out on the A Series of Unfortunate Events books. They started in 1999, but frankly, if it wasn’t Douglas Addams, Animorphs, or an anthology of Dave Barry colums, I wasn’t interested. Not to mention the series apparently went on FOR FUCKING EVER! As much as I loved Wheel of Time at one point, even I couldn’t see my way past book 8 for that very reason.

I saw the A Series of Unfortunate Events movie when it came out in 2004. A lot of people gave it shit even then… And it’s not difficult to see why. Jim Carrey made a passible Count Olaf, but let’s face it, the dude’s career had been going down the toilet since that remake of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Add on the fact he was also in The Number 23: a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream made by Joel Schumacher: murderer of careers, and yeah, it’s not hard to see why people didn’t like him.

Also, the movie squashed the first three books into one movie. Never a good idea. Seriously, I think they did that with The Dark is Rising movie, and whew boy, you want to talk about a movie that had me running out of the theater screaming “BETRAYAL!!!”…

Although with all that being said, I actually didn’t hate the movie. Maybe it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. Made me laugh. Which by Lemony Snicket’s standards probably makes me a horrible human being, but whatever. I embraced the backward dark a long-ass time ago, and there’s no looking back now.
At least a decade and a half later, though, we now have Netflix: the greatest thing to happen to television since they started allowing people to say the S-word after 8:00 PM. The only real downside is living on Netflix usually means being a season behind everybody watching in real time. Also, no Game of Thrones, but seeing as how GRRM is holding The Winds of Winter hostage and can’t be bothered to write a list of demands, it’s not so bad.

And now, in 2017, we have an A Series of Unfortunate Events series on Netflix. I’ll own up to have not yet finished the series as of this writing. Frankly, the show all but encourages me to stop fucking watching it every other scene, so can you really blame me for needing a break every now and then?  I love Lemony Snicket’s tactics of getting you to read the book. It’s kind of like Cartman Land’s “You can’t come” approach to advertising in reverse. The Cartman land approach is as follows: “This is the single greatest theme park in the history of the world! The food is great! The rides are awesome! It’s tons of fun! And you can’t come! Haha haha ha ha, nehneh nehneh neh neh!” The Lemony Snicket approach, meanwhile, is more like this: “You don’t want to read this book. It’s horrible. Oh the horrible things in this book are so bad, I can’t even describe them to you without coming off as a horrible person. Here, I’ll even tell you what happens later on in the book in the first chapter! That way, it’s not quite as bad. But it’s still pretty bad. Just sayin’.”

The only real complaint I had at first was Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket. I don’t know, I guess I was too used to Jude Law ? All I know is when I thought narrator for A Series of Unfortunate Events, Brock fucking Sampson wasn’t exactly MY first pick. As the series progresses, though, you get used to it. Neil Patrick Harris steals the show, though. In fact, he steals the show, the spotlight, the director’s chair, the producer’s coffee cup (regardless of whether or not it even has coffee in it), the catering, the golden globes in the closet they haven’t handed out yet, AND your wallet.   That’s right, bitch: Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf just stole your fucking wallet, and you won’t even care because it’s absolutely perfect!

I know it’s an endurance test, and you will feel horrible, but I’m actually going to recommend you check it out. Even if it means Snicket spends the rest of eternity giving me that dirty look.

2/11/17: Mark Your Calendar!

After talking with my cover artist, and seeing how much I have left of the final draft of Lifers Wear Orange, it’s been decided that, barring some unfortunate circumstance, book 2 of Gael will be released on February 11 of this year.

I’ll be honest, this is a little behind schedule for me.  I was hoping to have everything done sometime next week.  Unfortunately, when I recruited my usual cover artist…  I hadn’t counted on the possibility he’d be super swamped with other projects.  I suppose these things happen from time to time, so what can I do beyond push back my due date, and find other things to occupy the downtime.

I’m not the kind of guy to start another project when the one I’m working on is unfinished.  I used to do that a lot in high school, and as a result, I had a lot of incomplete stories on my various computers over the years.  Stories that I’d gladly feed to the recycle bin if I hadn’t already done that.  I’ve long since broken that habit.  So much so, that starting writing on book 3 when book 2 isn’t even finished, or even starting a whole other project for that matter,  seems a little irrational.

So the release date has been moved to February 11.  Unless something happens, and I have to push it back again, but I have a hard time seeing something like that happening on my end.

The book will get here.  Even if I have to fart out some bland autogenerated cover with KDP’s cover designer program, you’ll be getting book 2 of Gael.  Then book 3 right afterward.

Until then…  patience.