Saturday, February 24, 2024

Small Update for 2024

This isn't going to be much of a post, you can read the one from a few days ago for that, but just for a quick update on current events.

You might have noticed posting has been a bit light this month. That will have to continue a bit for the foreseeable future. There are several reasons for that.

I'm currently working on a few writing projects at the same time and also trying to work through Lent. As a consequence, posts around here will be very light for awhile. That said, I'll still put out a few Weekend Lounge posts in the weeks ahead, but that will most likely be all. I want to focus more on getting things done in both a physical and spiritual sense in the time ahead.

That said, after this I am considering starting a Patreon of some sort purely for writing projects and updates for readers, including possibly having short audio updates and episodes much like I do for Cannon Cruisers. I am toying with the idea of making my next book a serialization, but am still deciding on just how to do that. 

Regardless, I also want to take this time to think that out as well. I want to be sure to give readers as much as I can in a way they can feel most comfortable getting it. Amazon is quickly looking like it won't be enough, especially with how broken the algorithm has gotten, so looking ahead and in new direction seems important in order to continue on.

As a reminder, my most recent release is available for $0.99 on Amazon as well as a Lulu-exclusive pocket paperback edition. It's wild to think about, but that ended up being my 12th overall book release. Of course, God willing, it will not be the last. There is more on the way.

Speaking of Cannon Cruisers, we just recently put up our lists of favorite Cannon movies after we put up our 300th episode and big finale. But that's not all for Cannon Cruisers. There will be an update on the usual day tomorrow about our future plans and what we hope to be doing next. Long story short, it's not over, but it won't be the same podcast you remember. Things will be a little different, but we enjoy the podcast too much to do too much tinkering. It's not quite over yet!

It's also bizarre to think about, but 2024 is also the 10th anniversary of Wasteland & Sky, by far the longest digital footprint I've ever left online, and it is weird too think about. I'm not quite sure what I'll do for said anniversary, but it's nice to have been able to make it this far. Here's hoping to many more ahead, assuming the internet doesn't die in the near future. Maybe I should collect some posts in an eBook or the like? Something to think about. I've done a lot here, much more than I ever expected I would, so I do have a soft spot for this place. I'll also be here until I can't be here anymore, if that makes any sense.

Of course, part of the reason for this entire update at all is due to you, the reader. If it wasn't for your support I wouldn't be able to do this at all and it still blows me away that anyone is reading at all. So it stands to reason that if you have any comments or suggestions that you should send them my way. Both the internet and the industry have changed so much over the last decade that deciding what to do next is going to take some time. As I've said, the '20s is the decade of change, so it's time to try to adapt to that in the best way I can. I want to be sure to keep moving forward in new and interesting ways.

Regardless, that's all for today. Not a big post or update on how things are going, but a bit of a teaser on possibilities for the road ahead. As always, feel free to send your comments and I'll try to get back ASAP. Otherwise, it's time to get back to the mines, both words and other.

Have a good rest of February and I'll see you in March!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Generations of Fakes

Sometimes it's hard to believe the mid-90s was thirty years ago. It definitely doesn't feel like it's been that long, and in the grand scheme of things I suppose it hasn't. Nonetheless, it is an entire lifetime away from the world in 2024.

This year has been a very bizarre one so far. I've noticed a trend with the "younger" generations, particularly as half of Gen X has now reached their 50s, half of Gen Y has now reached their 40s, half of Millennials have reached their 30s, and half of Zoomers have reached their 20s. That pattern being either internal implosion, or a tightening of grit and effort to move beyond the failed past and build something new. It's one or the other, not much in the way of variety.

The ones that have imploded the worst, I've found, are the ones still clinging to Geek Culture as their only real identity and questioning why that emptiness rules inside of them. The hole that only the Boomers seemingly could ignore, refuses to be filled by materialism.

The overwhelming suicide and depression rates make sense in this framework, but that's not really what I wanted to touch on today. The fact of the matter is that we are halfway through the '20s now, and the mood of the decade is starting to take shape and become its own thing. The defeatism of the '10s and the malaise of the '00s are making way for an era of change and cautious hope. Though it's not quite the change one can sell as bumper stickers or slogans on posters, it's a shift taking place internally. It's one that has to happen to escape the clutches of the late '90s and finally move on from the mistakes of the early 21st century.

It's been over a quarter of a century since Cultural Ground Zero and there are many lessons we have learned from it. I've written about many of them here, and there is little sense rehashing any of it now. However, there is one part of it that does need to be reiterated because it is holding back an entire sector of Western Culture from regaining any footing. That is the continuation of the myth of Geek Culture and its harmful legacy on both art and general lifestyles. If anything ever hopes to improve, we're going to have to finally shed this dead weight and accept a very important truth.

Here it is: Geek Culture isn't real, and it never was. Clinging to a lie, a false identity, prevents any growth or change from happening. It's been said many times, but it has to be reiterated here, because very slowly are people from these relatively younger, but aging, generations. The key to growth is to have something sturdy to build on, something your ancestors could build on before you rejected it for what replacement the TV and then internet told you to believe in instead. It is time to admit that experiment was a failure and get in line with reality again.

Why beat this drum? Surely everyone reading this now knows that modernity and materialism has to go, and everyone knows it is a crutch for the absolute failure that was the 2010s for those so-called younger generations to claim what their parents said was theirs. When you see just what happened to those formerly misled kids, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to stay on this track. There is nothing ahead but misery and death.

The wake up call of the 2020s is to finally accept the way things are, not the way things could be, and especially not the way things dying corporations and media apparatuses tell you they should be. What is coming ahead is not an era that will be gotten through by spouting knowledge on zombie mega franchises from the 1980s--it is one that will require you to even remember what that era was like in the first place in order to carry on into the future. And you will have to do is break free of the influence of people who hate you.

This era is over. We just have to finally realize it.

The fact of the matter is that no one alive today will ever have the life the Baby Boomers had, and judging success or failure based on those old and dead standards is a losing game. This isn't to insult or bemoan anything said older generation did or didn't do, but to point out that the future is not living like your parents and grandparents did from now until the end of time. The myth of progress does not even rise to the level of a myth--comfort is not advancement. Also, as comfort is very rapidly and easily being taken away by those in charge, it becomes clear that it is not something that can be earned or maintained, nor is it the path to a fulfilled life.

I've noticed this myself since the end of the pandemic that Baby Boomers, of all generations, are the ones that are imploding the most violently. It's not so much that they are waking up to the artificiality of the lies they were sold in their youth, but more that their health is tremendously worse than that of their parents were at the same age. Their hard living and bad choices have left them in an objectively worse state than the older generations were in, and they are both far sicker and dying at rates absolutely shocking to anyone paying attention.

This is because they made the wrong turns and choices, and are now paying for it. I don't want this to turn into post ragging on an entire generation of people, especially one not doing that great, that's not really the point here, but to point out that this is the generation that raised the relatively younger ones currently trapped in uncertainty and dead ends. The fact of the matter is that it was always going to end this way.

And now we can admit as much.

The uncomfortable truth is that the lives Baby Boomers lived were anomalies in the grand scheme of things and, unfortunately, the way they taught the younger generations was to lead them on with false hope and promises they themselves were fed through their own mass media. Whether they had good intentions or not, today there is little advice to take from them compared to the older generations that came before them.

This isn't the same sort of weird anti-tradition mindset the Baby Boomers grew up with and poisoned much of their thinking (and still does to this day), but a wake up call that they were tricked as much as you were to accept a frame of life and position in so-called modern society that simply isn't real, and the remaining illusion of that false paradise is very quickly dispersing. By the 2030s there will be no trace of it left. At that point, options to move on will be limited to destruction or blindly looking around for pieces in the wreckage to rebuild from. This is why we need to start reconstruction now, before it is too late.

Entire generations have been raised around mistrusting neighbors, running from job to job across the country (and even the world), and chasing their tail for a sort of comfortable success that would allow them to spend their vacations in places without snow while they kick their feet up and worry about little more than waking up in time for their job while everything else around them just Works Out. Sounds wild, I know, but that's what the utopia was going to be, as long as you kept your head down and did what you were told.

But that was never going to happen, and we're quickly learning what the price is of following bad advice based on unreality.

The meme that made a million bugmen mad

It took a long time to get to the overall point, so here it is. The mass media culture that was built up starting in the 1960s and up to the early 90s or so was built by Greatest Generation money funding Baby Boomer projects. Much of the so-called importance and mass market profitability was due to the fact that A) there were no other options for audiences, and B) they were built on then accepted societal truths everyone shared and a frame they all operated in. Neither of these are the reality of how things are done today.

In fact, there are now too many options, to the point that art is completely disposable to most people and consumed passively as if it were oatmeal. Gotta watch something when you come home after work, right? Who cares what it is as long as it hits the broad minimum barrier for Current Year moral acceptability. It's hard to be ambitious when no one cares about ambition.

As for societal truths, well, I don't think I have to point any of that out. We are currently at the point where words and notions spoken by people from a mere decade ago is now taboo. I grew up in a world where 80s kids watched things from the 1950s without blinking and now there are full grown adults who can't even process movies made before 1995. (Seriously, do a search in any search engine and marvel at the amount of people who can't watch anything before that time period--it's an epidemic). Forget anything older than the 1960s (the saying "Don't Read Anything Before 1940" exists for a reason, after all), which severely limits the scope of "acceptable" art in Current Year--we are being taught that everything old has an expiry date on relevance, and that is very dangerous.

Pair these above problems together and you get a greater sense of how things became what they are today. While art is more readily available and has greater reach than ever before, the audience is also simultaneously less and more picky about what ends up on their plate because it exists as more convenience before anything else, as long as it follows the formula dying megacorps have set out for them as acceptable.

At the same time, they have been trained to funnel only modern corporate product down the belt-line in order to avoid encountering anything outside the acceptable societal frame (Hence, the "Don't Read Anything Before 1940" year becomes "1980" and, more recently, "2000"). What this leads to is exactly what the old industries now are, living in a detached void from the past and the wider world, and it's why they are dying.

Just like the Baby Boomer generation that spawned them, these systems were not made as sturdy and strong as you were told they were, and are now on their last legs. All it has left is a giant mess of confused and lost people in its wake.

What's coming next? Well, that is what we must prepare for, and the best way to prepare for it is to get an early start by ditching the system everyone knows is already dying. Cultural Ground Zero is unavoidable now to anyone with ears and eyes, but it's still clung to because there is no obvious path forward. While that may be true, it is obvious that pretending this dead system is still viable only leads to mental stress and eventual self-destruction. You know it's dead, I know it's dead. It's time to stop pretending otherwise. It is the 2020s, not the 1980s--mass media is not going to lead you to utopia. In fact, it is currently trying to lead you to the grave.

Utopia is not possible. Everything built on a lie eventually collapses, and that is where we are right now. We can't rely on the lie of Progress to carry us on anymore.

We need to build foundations based on sturdy things. That is the only way to make anything truly worth creating and preserving.

This was an anomaly. It's not normal.

The greater point here is that this is not culture. "Geek Culture" is not real. Just like Progress, it is also built on a lie.

Geek Culture is a mutation of 1960s to 2000s Baby Boomer mass media consumption twisted in a way to fill multiple purposes that Art was never meant to fulfil. What was originally supposed to be a way to distribute art and entertainment on a wider scale to more people became a way to shape tastes, opinions, and beliefs, of the people consuming it in new and increasingly warped ways. It's no coincidence more people live off pills and medicine than ever before.

If you doubt it then find yourself a modern Hollywood movie where every character doesn't have the same general beliefs and worldview (and the villains don't all have the same bland motivation and lack of drive beyond wanting to be mean for mean's sake), or a historical film where people who lived differently than the superior people of today aren't treated as two dimensional cartoons we're meant to "learn from" and look down on from our superior modern lens that isn't color tinted to murky colors and made overly ugly. It's all the same.

Everything in mass culture, OldPub, Hollywood, Big Tech / Silicon Valley, and AAA video games, are all run by groups that want to control thought and change public morals and discourse. They do this because they hate people as they are. Just the fact that Sweet Baby Inc exists, a group that offers no value to art or entertainment except to enforce corporate morality on projects they didn't create, should be proof enough that quality is not the factor here: thought control is. The whole reason they can do this in the first place when decades ago it would have been pointed out for what it is, is simply because entropy has rotted away at the foundations of what once was. You cannot sneer at Jack Thompson while accepting someone doing the same thing as him, just from a different political position. In fact, within a few years I'm sure many will soften on him, as well. That's how decline and decay works, after all. We're on a downhill slide.

We are also not rolling the clock back on this--Baby Boomer mass culture is over. All that's left is for the parasites to suck the blood dry and devour any carcass that is left. Anyone paying attention at all can point this obvious truth out all they like, but the fact is that the mass audience was demoralized long ago and have already long since walked away. They are not what is keeping this vapid apparatus alive and kicking.

This system is only kept alive by those who refuse to move on. This leaves the Geek Culture adherents, the ones that haven't yet been filtered into this death cult still fighting the pointless fight to roll the clock back before it imploded as the last holdouts on this dead system. And at this juncture, it has to emphasized to these poor souls: it's over, bro. You need to move on and take your business elsewhere. You are no longer the customers of this rickety system. They don't want customers--they want cultists for their lifestyle brands new religion, and they don't need to be reminded that you exist. Because for all intents and purposes, you don't exist to them. You're a relic of a bygone age that is not coming back, one that was used as a stepping stone to get to where they are today. Either get in line, or be destroyed by Progress.

All the more reason why this artificial frame must finally be scrapped.

Geek Culture is not it's own culture--it's the transitional state between Mass Culture consumer and the modern Death Cult. No matter how many snarky jokes you make at how bad things are, you are a dying breed and they know it. You know it. Normal people are gone and your number is dwindling as the 20th century falls further and further away from living memory. Eventually, all that will be left are true believers, just as they want. Your Geek Culture identity was never anything more than an artificial replacement meant to sever you from old normality. It was done to make you easier to filter into the fake identity centered around products and consuming they had prepared for you instead. It only makes sense that the next step after earning your loyalty would be to make sure their walking wallets customers would be warped to think opposing them is a moral wrong. Give your life to the cause or get out. They don't see you as human, because none of this is human at all. It never was.

The world is moving beyond the Corporate Period of Art, and what you are seeing now from it is the dying gasps of a sick patient on his death bed. A last furious and desperate grasp for control over that which they do not control, their delirious state blinding them to their reality. In the end, it will all still die out, but what will take its place after its gone?

What will you be after Geek Culture dies?

Marshall McLuhan once said that the modern era was defined by megaphones. Once a person hears a voice booming from an electronic speaker, his entire disposition changes, as does how he takes in the information being sent out to him. As a result, you gain the most people's attention at the same time, and should, theoretically, be able to hold their a focus to impart whatever you want on them. Back then, this was seen as the obvious future, and it was. For a time.

But what happens when burnout and exhaustion takes hold? What happens when the megaphone is no longer effective? What happens when people, as they always do, build up a tolerance to it, and begin to tune it out. What comes when the megaphone fails?

We are beginning to see it right now in the modern day. The old era is not only over--there is scarce trace of it left.

A livestream on what the Corporate Era of Art is was.

All of this is a way to say that falsehoods and little white lies have already done their damage and have led to generations that take the megaphone for granted. It no longer works on everyone some of the time--now it only works on some of the group all of the time. This cohort of true believers are the last water carriers for a dead system, and will do whatever they can to keep it alive. This is why they have little left but to spout slogans of "ists" and "phobes" holding back Progress by not supporting corporate products meant to educate the rubes.

Those are the only people left who care, and their very support is destroying them. These are the ones from the 2010s who lost their way and now spend their time striking out at everyone else for their mistakes and dashed hopes and dreams. It is an ugly place to be in.

But everyone else aside from the true believers and the older geek culture hopefuls already have moved on. They already know this fake culture is dead. This is why insulting "normies" is a losing game. They are the first to always abandon something once it rolls off the track, the canaries in the coal mine of dead trends and milked ideas, and they are always the first to leave. They might not be the first ones at the party, but they are always the first to depart once things get too rowdy, and it should tell you a lot that normal people have almost entirely checked out of modernity, especially since the pandemic and the ensuing fallout shattered so many lives.

I don't know what comes next. No one does. There are those convinced the future will be done through a neopatronage system similar to what it once was. Maybe they're correct.

However, something will eventually fill the void of the corporations, though how long that take or what form it will come in is anyone's guess. For now it's enough to point out the obvious that what we once took for granted, and what many have based their identities around for decades, is over. Whatever comes next could be better or worse, but it will not be like what we just had. Just like how Rock n' Roll is Dead, so is mass media and pop culture buried in a grave. You can't base your identity on a dead era with no future.

What awaits you in the future is much more than corporate products.

A document of an era long gone

As a Gen Y kid, I am the best candidate to speak on moving on from dead worlds. It is where my entire generation was born and raised, a wonderland of unreality. When the dream we were sold died, we were left without direction by a leading generation who decided to stop leading and instead squeeze every penny out of their head positions until the lights finally turn off and nothing is left for even the locusts to take. That rude wake up call is even still now affecting members of this cohort that are still locked into that delusion that the Future is almost here. they just need to hold on a bit longer!

I was there in the 1990s when all those forms and mediums were first abandoned by audiences who got sick of them. I watched them all decline into the parodies they were by the '00s as sales declined and more and more normal people walked away from them. It's important to note that nothing in mass culture actually increased in popularity in the '00s. Even the now-booming Japanese manga scene had a bubble burst at the time. It was a terrible era for art and entertainment, and it led into the 2010s: the period where the dying corpos took the gloves off and decided to wage war against their customers and force them in line.

If you doubt this, I suggest re-reading the Sony e-mail leaks from back in 2016 where the internal e-mails outright state they were planning on weaponizing discourse against those who thought the 2016 Ghostbusters movie looked like garbage (and it was) before it even released. This is because they knew it would be bad and figured out they could weaponize True Believer cultists against everyone else, a tactic they still use for every single movie they release today. And this is exactly what happened. It can't even be denied. The James Rolfe incident alone is enough to prove that it was a coordinated effort to shame the outgroup for not indulging in what the ingroup tells them to indulge in. Again, this isn't arguable. Everyone knows this happened, and it still happens today.

It's been eight years of this divisive tactic, and nothing but outright bombs have resulted from this hateful strategy. So why do they keep doing it and persist on attacking non-believers? It isn't just about money anymore. That should be clear when a near decade of nothing but financial failures doesn't lead to either bankruptcy or any change of course. They simply hate you for not being the cult member they are programming you to be.

And this entire issue is a remnant of an old failed order that has long since died out. It died out with Cultural Ground Zero back in the '90s.

My generation was told that all you had to do to get by was get in line and do what you're told. Firm handshakes, they say jump and you ask how high, and work smarter not harder. You will be rewarded for all your efforts. If it doesn't work, well, you're clearly doing it wrong. After all, you had an entire "successful" generation who had it all work out for them. Surely, if you can't do it then you must be a failure who just isn't pulling on their own bootstraps hard enough. History ended back in the 1960s and the rules are now solidified from now until the end of time.

The problem with this is that everyone knows it isn't true, but only about half the people will say so. The rest are like Geek Culture adherents, hoping to live in the ashes while still pretending they aren't living in Current Year dystopia. They are being shaken awake, but they are still fighting it, praying they can prolong the dream world of their youth when the future wasn't what it turned out to be. Reality is not what they were promised, and that is a hard truth to accept.

But it can be better, if you fight for it.

And now is the best time to be fighting.

New platforms and ideas are springing up everyday. New creators and audiences are showing up to the scene all the time. The old system might still be around, but it's irrelevant in the greater scheme of things, and, as we've just discussed many times, is over.

Artificiality always eventually falls away. No man can maintain an illusion all the time, and all tricks wear thin after extended usage. What we are seeing now is what happens when something is stretched out past its expiration date instead of being allowed to die a peaceful death. You are left with cultural necromancers who cannot create, who only live to prolong the shadow-play of their corporate masters further. And that is not going to end anywhere good.

What can be done is to put things in their place and accept the world we have now instead of trying to revive an era long since gone and dead. There are creators right now trying to create while dead corporations are rehashing dead IP with no new ideas. The gap between the two has never been more obvious before, and never before has it been easier to move on to greener pastures. It is time to finally let the dead rest.

Of course we can't quite know where everything will end up in a few years time, never mind a decade, but as of now, the path forward is clear: NewPub over OldPub, indie over mainstream, and taking in art over consuming product. The difference is clear.

As we move on into the mid-20s, the change is already upon us and more obvious than ever. Don't get left behind in a graveyard while the parade passes you by. Life is for the living, and now is the exact time to live.

The era of artificiality is over. Now is the time to build.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Rock n' Roll is Dead

Welcome to the weekend! 

Today let us look into a topic not touched on much these days: music. It's a subject not given much thought in recent times. Whatever happened to pop music?

Before we begin, let's ask a larger question.

How long has history itself been around? Recorded history can be tracked, more or less, but I'm referring to the history of larger things, such as the universe or the human race itself. Regardless of your belief system, or what current science can explain, everyone agrees on one thing: 100 years is a drop in the bucket. It is barely even the lifespan of one human being living in modernity, never mind enough to cover the scores of ancestors that lived centuries before you even existed.

So why am I mentioning this? To give a sense of perspective.

Now roll that 100 years back half a century. Is 50 years a long time? In the overall arc of history, however long that might be, no. No, fifty years is not even the lifespan of your average Baby Boomer adult in the modern age. All things considered, it's barely considered middle-aged anymore since people live so much longer on average.

So it might come as a shock to anyone younger that 36 or so (anyone who can feasibly remember anything about the 20th century at all) that Rock n' Roll is dead, and it died at the relatively young age of fifty. I say this because the genre was the music of the 20th century, more or less its soundtrack for males, beginning in earnest around 1956 or so before it was dealt a deathblow in 1996, and rotted away in a hospital bed until it passed from this mortal coil around 2006, not even surrounded by loved ones. Rock n' Roll is dead, and no one has really noticed. 

And, oddly, no one really seems to care, either. It's just over.

Despite being such an important and integral part of western culture (Yes, all of it, not just American) throughout an entire century, no one really seems to notice that it is simply gone. If they notice, then they definitely do not seem to care.

Much like the habit of reading, a hobby obliterated in the late '90s from uncool librarian scolds and the fussy uncool aunts running OldPub, it just more or less vanished one day and people just forgot it was even a thing to begin with.

It's all gone now.

A bit of a sad fate for a genre (incorrectly) known to be about rebellion, but an obvious one for the grifters that willingly sold it as such. Thankfully, the music still does exist, and people do still make it, but Rock's relevancy as a wide cultural force is long over, much like many other mediums and artforms we took for granted in the 20th century.

And it's not coming back.

I linked the above video by professional Rick Beato because, as a musician involved with the music industry, he has had quite a lot of insight into the way things are, how they were once done, and how they are even done today. I would easily suggest his channel for anyone who wants to know anything about musical trends, past and present (mostly past, because musical trends are dead in Current Year), and those who maybe just want to know a little more about what made popular music what is was, and why it's so different now. That is because the 20th century, the trends that made it, and the institutions built to carry this stuff, are all gone themselves.

You know this very well with other industries. The main difference in this case is that the music industry, unlike, say, OldPub, itself admits that it's dead. Not only that, they have also accepted that the good old days are not coming back.

One of the events Mr. Beato has been tracking for years is the death of Rock music, what led to it, and where can it go from here now that we know it's dead. The video above gives a pretty open and shut case for those of us who were around for the Clear Channel nonsense back in the late '90s and how it fed into the wave of file sharing that eventually bottomed out with streaming. It's all connected, and it all contributed to where we are today.

Pandora's Box is not going to be closed anytime soon. But now that we know how we got here, we can start constructing ways to move forward from these mistakes.

It's over.

But the greater issue at hand is the conclusion reached near the end of the video. It isn't just memories of walking into record stores and meeting new people with similar musical tastes, or buying that new Smashing Pumpkins CD and hearing comments from the clerk on its overall feel. It's more of wide-encompassing collapse. The era of the rock star is over, but so also is a shared cultural musical identity that can be built on, reacted against, or even given a different spin.

As the video even mentions, the current most popular musical artist in the world doesn't mean the same thing in once meant decades ago, it merely means the most popular cult artist. This woman is a cult artist because there are millions upon millions of people who have never heard her music and never actually will, because they have no reason to. Her music is not played in movies, TV, or streaming, (if it is, no one watches those same services/programs anyway) nor does anyone listen to the radio anymore. In regards to the radio, you are more likely to hear an oldies station played in the mall or the supermarket than anything new. The last new thing I heard played on radio, oddly enough, was random synthwave music. For being the biggest musical star in the world, her music simply is not very important to the culture, regardless of its quality.

Contrast this with The Beatles, Michael Jackson, or Led Zeppelin, at their height back during the 20th century--they were inescapable. Everyone knew who they were, but they had also heard their songs everywhere. It was part of interacting with a wider culture and they were staples to the medium itself. You had to know who they were to navigate the scene and medium itself. You do not need to do that with anyone these days, and that's partially because the scene is dead.

This is a long way of saying that Rock music will not return, because it is a 20th century invention that is tied to an ecosystem that hasn't existed in decades and represents a class of average male that has their head in other spaces and occupied in other areas of life. The combination of factors that would have to exist to bring the genre back to its former fame requires a system the youth can trust and a sound a mass of people can agree to build off of. This isn't possible with the way things are today where alienation and atomization prevents people from coming together on just about any issue, big or small. Those days are gone.

Perhaps there will be a far off time when the cultural climate is different and a bunch of bored kids will get some cheap instruments together, and be able to have a career path to embark on by doing so, but that time is not soon. Today, pop music is over, as is the way things once were. Right now, the dying system has to be worked around.

It's not the worst thing in the world to have had a fifty year lifespan and affect so many lives in so many ways as Rock did. The pulp era lasted about as long, too. But just like that period, Rock n' Roll is not coming back, at least not in the same way it once was. It makes sense to miss that time, to prefer being able to have things in common with people you might otherwise not, but for now that is an impossible dream. You can't built on a demolished foundation.

But we still have the good times, and we still have the music. It's still there and easy to find, more than ever before. The era of having to scrap for CDs online and at used stores is also over. You can find anything out there, even bands you might have missed the first time around, just by looking around. It's not going anywhere anytime soon.

Regardless, we're in a better place now. The shallow era of High Fidelity and Almost Famous, and the era of music cultism over personality, is over. Now is the time for the medium to be put back where it belongs, as a significant piece of a greater whole, and one of the best things to come out of the 20th century. And that's more than enough.

Keep rockin' out, and I will see you next time!

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Quick Update: More Pocket Paperbacks!

It's been long enough, ladies and gentlemen. Now is the moment you have been waiting for. It's time for more pocket paperbacks!

That's right, I've finally got more newer editions out on the Lulu store. I recently told you all that I was working on a way to get both Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures and The Last Fanatics out in pocket paperback format, which I have finally done. I had to work on these for awhile because they were longer books than the others I've published so far without making them unreadable in the format. Well, I've finally solved that conundrum. I did it by splitting the larger books up into smaller volumes.

I did this because it helps contribute to the convenience of the smaller size. This way it makes the books portable without having to compromise on form factor. This also makes the books in question easier to share with loved ones and friends you want to pass the books on to them, or maybe you want to leave them in a used book store or waiting room for others to find. It's all up to you. This is, after all, what makes pocket paperback so unique.

Anyway, let's get on with it.

I have divided The Last Fanatics into three pocket paperback volumes. Volume 1 contains the original foreword and the first two parts, Volume 2 contains Part III: Science Fiction Doesn't Exist, which is the longest part of the entire book on its own, and Volume 3 contains the rest of the material as well as the afterword.

Here is the overall description for The Last Fanatics:

Once upon a time, there was a tradition of storytelling that went back into the Gothic romances all the way through the fairy tales into the classics. It was a world without genre boundaries, checked boxes, and corporate writing workshops. This tradition created all the things you grew up with, the stories and ideas you hold dear, and the beating heart of adventure that has sustained us since the beginning of recorded history. 

And then it was destroyed. 

Learn how a gaggle of Fanatics poisoned the well of discourse and imagination by turning storytelling into mechanical formulas with rules and boundaries that never existed before. Who gave them this power, and how much of their garbage still taints discourse and the industry today? In The Last Fanatics, all will be laid bare. 

It is time for the truth to be shouted out loud! 

*Contains the collected and edited series of Fandom essays from Wasteland & Sky*

Pocket Paperback available Here!

Pocket Paperback available Here!

Pocket Paperback available Here!

Considering the entire work was over 500 pages in trade paperback/hardcover, the individual volumes are shorter, just under 200 pages each.

On top of The Last Fanatics, as mentioned above, I have also split my short story collection Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures into two volumes. This one was much easier to divide up since they are short stories linked together into one long piece and can be easily jumped between should the reader desire to.

How I worked it out was that Volume One contains the first four stories in the larger collection. That would be: Someone is Aiming for You," "Endless Nights in Villain City," "Under Suspicion in Summerside," and "Knives in the Night," as the main feature.

Volume Two contains "Last Exit to Shadow City," "Lucky Spider's Last Stand," and "When the Sunset Turns Red," as the story contents.

Here is the overall description for Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures:

Vigilantes fight from the shadows. In Summerside, Dark Magic poisons the dying city of cultists and gangsters. This is where heroes are made. 

A man with a deadly touch, an ex-hitman, a concrete teenager, an invisible myth, and an indestructible knight, are but a few of those who stalk the midnight hour. 

In these seven stories you will meet those fighting for the soul of the city, and those hoping to bring it to a brighter future. But is there anything left worth saving in a world of death? 

Powers or Magic. Only one will win this war.

Pocket Paperback Volume One is Here!

Pocket Paperback Volume Two is Here!

With that, almost all of my books have made the jump to the pocket paperback format. I say almost all, because as you are probably aware, there is still one four book series remaining. 

That's right, I still have to transfer the Gemini Man series to pocket paperback. Because they are a bit longer than my usual books, but not long enough to be broken up like the above two, I still have to work on the formatting and send out test versions to tweak, which will take longer. Until then, of course, you can still get them in omnibus format on Amazon, which I recommend, since the entire story is contained in one mega volume there.

Now, that's all I've got for you today. I'm still working on new material and still considering new options to distribute them to readers in unique ways in the future. Those options will be weighed a little longer as I try to figure that out, but my newest book will probably show up sooner than you might think. Keep an eye out--you're definitely not going to want to miss that one!

I've been waiting to put that out for ages.

Until next time, have a great week!

Two Adventures Across Eternity is available for $0.99 in eBook form or as an exclusive Pocket Paperback edition on Lulu!

Saturday, February 3, 2024


Welcome to the weekend!

It's finally February and, as the most recent post has shown, the year is already starting to roll along. 2024 is off to a strong start.

However, today I wanted to talk about scale and ambition a little bit. Let us think Big!

There is something about the Epic in storytelling that attracts us all, isn't there? We all want to be wowed and awed, even if we say we couldn't care less about such a thing. Though it's a feeling the mainstream entertainment industry and art world lost through the paint worship of the 20th century, preferring obsessing over aesthetics, disjointed parts, subversion, vague moralizing, and weird nihilism, we still appreciate the large than life more than ever before. There is something to the scale of even the most simple thing that inspires wonder and joy in all but the most cynical of all of us.

We all want to see the greater things in life reflected in even the smallest objects, but along the way we've lost the ability to not only imagine it--we've also lost the ability to even look up in the first place. Instead we've been trained to look at the mud and think ourselves superior to both our neighbor and the rest of the world that we can't even imagine higher things anymore.

When did this hope for greater things start to fall away? I would say it most likely began around the 1960s and rotted away in the 1970s to be replaced with crass commercialism in the 1980s and bottoming out into irony poisoning before the 1990s ended. By the 2000s, all that remained of wonder was perversion, emptiness, and a hatred for life. In half a century, art became the exact flipside of what it was meant to be.

I think this destructive bottoming out can be summed up in the subgenre created by the fallout of this vapid culture, dubbed "Reddit Carnage" by Mystery Grove Publishing, the former book publisher and now full-time newsletter writer.

It's a relatively new term, but I'm sure you have an idea of what it means. "Reddit" of course refers to the social media site, infamous for its trumpeting of group think, reinforcing of anything popular culture pumps out, and general misery of the sort that could only foster in such an echo chamber. "Carnage" is hyper violence. Put the two together and you get Reddit Carnage. Murder porn made for the terminally online, emptied of humanity.

If you've never heard the term before, here are some uses of it:

The long and short of the term is that is empty hyperviolence meant to desensitize you to the purpose of violence, the sanctity of life, and to demoralize you in general. There is no purpose to any of it accept to condition you to accept meaninglessness and think of other people as little more than meat sacks who explode real good. In essence, it's anti-human.

I should explain this further. It's not an easy idea to get across.

This is a sort of "genre" that did not exist before Millennials, because it couldn't have. Reddit Carnage is a story where everyone is a cartoon character who treats the lives of other people as disposable, especially if they are the generic bad guy (whose motivations themselves are usually vague beyond "the government/good guy/girl boss says so"). And you know it's all silly and meaningless because the title is silly and meaningless, the action sequences are silly and meaningless, the characters are 2D flat stereotypes that are silly and meaningless, and the costuming and accents are silly and meaningless. All that matters is the carnage of seeing Bad People ripped to shreds and the World Order run by the Good Guys preserved. There is something intentionally inhuman about this subgenre, and that is because it is an inversion of a style of film that used to be more prevalent before the 21st century. It's a warped misunderstanding and interpretation of what an action story is.

It is the 1980s action movie stripped of any pathos or sense of justice beyond vague shadows of what once used to be there. It is the anti-wonder approach to action storytelling, replacing the eternal with the temporal.

"Reddit Carnage" is a way to reinforce vapid bugmen consumerist morality through carefully prescribed dopamine releases not-so-secretly aimed by the producers of the film on groups of human beings they do not like and portray as "correct" targets to brutalize and dehumanize. This is different from casting villains as terrorist groups based on real life like action movies used to do, because they are frequently not based on real terrorist groups at all. These films are not even subtle about this, but for whatever reason modern movie-goers (however many of these that still exist at this point) cannot seem to see it beyond grinning at Bad People being diced up.

If you want to know why these projects are "still allowed" to be made by Hollywood when other types of action stories aren't, it is because they aren't true action movies. They are murder porn simulators where audiences can see Hollywood approved bad guys get their heads blown up by walking automatons that vaguely resemble what a person they think should be. It is every old parody of action movies on late night TV, but made real.

Reddit Carnage is the parody version of what people who hate action movies used to say they were, made by people who think those critics were right and aim to rub their noses in it. "Yeah, it's blatant murder porn! Who cares! Listen to that one-liner. It's so bad it's good, am I right?"

But that's not what action movie ever were. That's a fantasy concocted by people who hate you telling you what you should think about something you like, and you've let them infect the way you see not only your entertainment, but the world.

Over the years, Cannon has gone from being a joke to being beloved.

Take Cannon Films, the B-movie masters who were considered the makers of pure shlock back in the 1980s. They were considered bottom of the barrel and were hated by Hollywood despite (but actually probably because of) the fact that they only ever wanted to make movies that entertained, not lecture the audience. Finding an anti-human message in a typical Cannon movie is actually very difficult, despite the fact that they were hated so much by the establishment.

Watch a movie like Death Wish II. Yes, it's sleazy. Yes, it's grimy. Yes, it's violent and dark. Yes, there are horrible happening things in it. However, the film still has a point. Life is difficult, justice is not only real but is necessary for a safe society to function, and evil must be pulled out at the root. It's a heavier version of the original Death Wish meant to show the decay that occurs after nothing changed (and nothing did change) after the events of the first film. This goes even further into apocalyptic insanity with Death Wish 3, but I'm not getting into that one here. Regardless, I think the series deserves more credit than it gets.

The last theatrical movie Charles Bronson made with Cannon (he would retire not long after this) was called Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects which is about human trafficking and the dehumanization aspect of it on everyone involved. The movie isn't one of the strongest Bronson ever made (not even with Cannon) but its ending is still surprisingly powerful, asking what justice would have been in this situation. For a final theatrical release, Bronson still tried his best to create something. Meanwhile, Harrison Ford and Baby Boomer stars of the '80s and '90s have been spending their retirement years destroying everything they built up back then.

But that is a whole other subject. The point is that there were more going on in these simple old movies than you think.

Even Chuck Norris movies, the nexus of lazy punchlines for years, all have moral cores. Yes, even the Cannon ones. Missing in Action is about a man who will do anything to undo a near-fatal mistake and put things right again. Invasion USA is about how even in the face of tremendous odds, good remains stronger and will still prevail against encroaching evil. Even The Hitman is about how good repaid with evil eventually leads to self-destruction, ending with good standing on top again. There is nothing empty about any of that because it's all based on truth.

The best example is probably Sidekicks, not made by Cannon. Sidekicks is the story of a physically sick kid who uses his dreams and fantasies and his hopes to improve his life condition to become a stronger human being. Despite being a silly movie meant for younger audiences, there is a very good moral core at the center of it all. Our hero's plight cements both imagination and effort as two of the most important aspects of personal growth.

There is nothing negative about any of this. In fact, this is all healthy messaging. But it was twisted by those in charge into being considered "wrong" and backwards from reality. This is why they were turned into punchlines by those in charge. The last thing they want you to imagine is any greater purpose to anything in life. Just consume, give them your paycheck, and keep your head down. There is nothing else to life.

Reddit Carnage, therefore, is the opposite of what wonder stories are intended to be. It has no relation to how action stories are meant to be.

Find Combat Frame XSeed Here!

So what is a good example of something on the opposite end of the spectrum from Reddit Carnage? What is the sort of story where large ideas and concepts are portrayed as such, where looking up is considered important, and the good is always shown as just that?

The above image should give you a clue. I am talking about Giant Robots. There is a good reason for that--it is action storytelling meant to make you consider Big things through portraying Big things in clear visual language. It is the exact mirror of Reddit Carnage, to the point that the two have never met in the same project. I am not convinced they ever properly can without turning said resulting idea into a mess.

But I digress.

Now, were I to bring up something like Giant Robots in casual conversation, I am liable to get one of two general reactions. The first is of excitement and child-like joy at the very idea of large objects engaged in epic actions, and the other are eyerolls from mature adults who prefer to spend their time golfing on the weekend away from such juvenile things. In other words, your appreciation for the idea of Giant Robots probably aligns with how much you appreciate wonder and the potential for life itself. It's a litmus test: much like how much your appreciation for space opera goes beyond multi-billion dollar brands shows how much you appreciate the general idea of the genre in the first place, or just how much other people are talking about it.

But even in the giant robot space (if one can call it so) there is a bit of misunderstanding as to what they are, what their intent is, or even what makes it a "real" robot story.

The above video highlighted at the very top of this long post delves into the history of the giant robot genre through where it really flourished--Japan. the history goes back far. Particularly important is how it was an invention of post-WWII Japan for a country that wanted to dream big (and did) while finding their footing in a world unlike anything they knew before. In the process they stumbled into something that morphed into a worldwide phenomenon for those lovers of the overblown and the epic. Because it is an idea anyone can understand.

Of course I'm not going to say Japan created them all on their own or are the sole creators of the style, but they ultimately put their own stamp on the idea, just as they did with superheroes with their own tokusatsu. Therefore what influenced them became reflected back out into the world and influenced everyone else. This key aspect of communication and back and forth is what makes art and entertainment so very interesting.

The most fascinating part of the whole thing is that they can't really be subverted. Don't get me wrong--you can try. You can try to inject modern values into the genre, you can try to make the good guys lose, and you can even make it so there are no good guys at all--but it never seems to matter. What remains at the end of it is still the idea of Big, or scale, or romance beyond the mundane. It can never quite be gutted out because by default that is what is.

The Big is embedded in the genre.

And perhaps all of this is why, despite the crumbling of mainstream culture in the West, there still remains plenty of joy and life in those who create and those who want to enjoy the creations of others. Those who still appreciate the Big, the truly weird, and the epic, refuse to be shaken off by the dead trends of those who are supposed to be in charge of them.

You've certainly noticed it yourself, the tide changing. The air is no longer quite what it used to be even a few years ago. We're in the mid-2020s now, and the decade is finally taking shape into what it is meant to be. The shackles of Cultural Ground Zero are breaking apart. As long as we stay the course we can finally break the downwards spiral and aim up once again. All we have to do is keep thinking Big.

There isn't anymore room for Reddit Carnage and its empty promises. It is time for better ways: ways that we are finally rediscovering for ourselves.

Let us keep going back at it and we can then look back on the '20s as the decade where everything finally changed for the better.

Just remember to never stop looking up. There is always something bigger than you can imagine, just waiting to be discovered.