December 25, 2013

2013 Countdown – 10 Personal Highlights

10. My best mate got married and I was the MC at his wedding.
9. I saw 200 foot waterfalls and lava from the window of a helicopter.
8. I watched the sunset over the clouds from the summit of a volcano (13,500 above sea level)
7. I snorkelled in a marine sanctuary.
6. I dressed up like a 70’s pimp and played golf, video games, and poker for my buck’s night.
5. I rode down the side of a crater in Maui.
4. I finished the first draft of my next book.
3. I zip-lined across three valleys in the Kauai jungle.
2. I went on an ocean cruise around 4 Hawaiian Islands, and did it all because...
1. I got married to the love of my life.

All in all, it was a hugely challenging year. Planning a wedding (see: making a wedding happen) is an exhausting endeavour, and an expensive one to boot. But ultimately, as the pain and stress of the challenges fall away, I’m left with the wonder of the big day, the amazing things we did on our honeymoon, and a feeling of gratitude for all the support I’ve received in 2013.

Thank you to everyone who made this is a memorable year.

2014 is looking bright, and I’m looking forward to giving back.

October 1, 2013

Goodreads and Censorship

BULLIES & BRICKBATS

When I found out (after the fact) that author of the excellent novel Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card, was a person who spent a good deal of time, money, and energy on activities which sought to deny rights to LGBTI people, it affected my future purchasing behaviour. Simply put, I didn’t want to put money in the pocket of someone I had assessed to be a bigot.

On a related note, if I was aware that an author was a malicious person who silenced the opinions of others, or ganged up on them, or hired others to gang up on them, I wouldn’t buy their book. Again, I wouldn’t want to put money in the pocket of someone who I had assessed was of poor moral quality. That’s a decision I have a right to make, based on available information. It’s the same with any decision I make—I can choose what to do with my time and money.

I appreciate that goodreads are trying to keep it all about the books, and not attacks on the people who write them. It’s noble. What is not a good thing is stealing away the ability to call out bullies where we encounter them.

GOOD INTENTIONS

I know this isn’t goodreads intention, and it will be in the execution of their policy where the line will ultimately be tested. Still—as a reader, I want to know if I’m putting money in the pocket of a bigot or a bully. I don’t need or want the author’s life story—that’s not necessary for me to enjoy the book. If I feel I need to be more informed about a certain person or subject, I’ll seek that information out on my own. But as a baseline, if the author proves themselves as a person who doesn’t meet the unspoken and unwritten quality that we collectively demand from the people in our shared community—then I appreciate being informed of such so I can make a decision, one way or the other, as to whether I want to put money in their pocket.

IS IT THAT BAD?

Perhaps it’s just me, and the reviews I’ve seen, but I haven’t seen a lot of reviews where the author was blatantly targeted as being a terrible person. Yes, I’ve seen some scathing reviews that tore the work to shreds and asked hypothetical questions like “Who the hell wrote this garbage?” and I’ve even once made the statement that the writer or a certain work that invented a machine that turned farts into prose, as it was the only plausible explanation I could muster for the terrible work I’d subjected myself to. We love reading and we get passionate about it, especially when we feel that our time, goodwill, and money have been wasted. This is a good thing overall.

It’s possible that goodreads wants to stamp out a trend they are seeing before the site turns into the IMDB message boards, which had to be shut down because abuse had gotten so bad. I can understand that. Trolling is despicable, and worse, it’s easy and anonymous. My concern here, like most people’s, is that we’re losing something essential in the bid to make things better.

TOMORROW

I trust that logic and good sense will prevail in this matter, and goodreads will get it right. Maybe not every time, but I have to trust that. This is a good community, but like any community, it’s got its assholes. To goodreads I only ask this: be sensible, be receptive, and don’t let the tail wag the dog.

July 17, 2013

10 things in Man of Steel that don’t seem to make sense. (SPOILERS).

1. Clark gets his Superman suit from the crashed Kryptonian ship. But how was the suit there if it crash landed on Earth 18,000 years ago? Do they just keep random El family armour on all the ships they send out into space?

2. If Zod could only realise the full extent of his powers from being exposed to the air on Earth, how is it that he and his cohorts already have super-speed and super-strength on Earth when they didn’t have it on Krypton, and some of them were so covered up that the sun couldn’t contact with them?

3. When Zod makes his threat, why did Clark decide to chat with a random priest rather than use his 24 hours to go chat to Jor-El for some answers as to how to deal with Zod?

4. How is it that no one recognises Clark as Superman, except for Pete Ross? Did no one at his school actually look at his face whilst they were tormenting him? And what about the men on the ship that he worked with, the woman at the diner and the guys who made fun of him there, the guy who gave him a lift, and everyone in Smallville who had ever known Clark growing up… how is it no one recognises the guy?

5. How can the army not figure out who Clark is when Lois could do it in under 20 minutes? Superman even announces to the General that he grew up in Kansas – way to go on that one. And wait a minute, wasn’t there a huge battle in Kansas – in a place called Smallville to be exact? What are the army’s hiring policies that they can’t work this out?

6. Why did Zod bring Lois up to his ship, except for the purpose of sabotaging his operation? What knowledge could she promise him that he couldn’t have gotten from Superman – namely, where he grew up?

7. Superman is promoted to be the “bridge between two cultures” with Earth and Krypton, but he doesn’t really connect with the people of Earth at large, and he actively wipes out the surviving Kryptonians. So really, he is directly responsible for the genocide of his remaining people.

8. In the Smallville sequence, Superman makes no apparent effort to move the battle out of a populated area. I mean, wow. Collateral damage is apparently not a problem then.

9. Superman sheds no tears over the likely hundreds of thousands killed in the Metropolis action sequence, but then commits murder to save 3 random people, who promptly disappear as soon as Zod is killed. Seriously, where did they go?

10. Director Zack Snyder defended the killing of Zod because: “Superman hasn’t developed his code against killing yet.” Does that mean we should all go and kill someone before deciding it’s a bad thing?

June 6, 2013

Why can’t we all get along?

It’s a question that makes one sound like a starry-eyed moron twirling in a field of sunshine whilst screaming “Yaaaaaaaaay!”. And even then, most people haven’t really heard the question in the first place. What most people hear is something along the lines of “I don’t live in the real world and your problems are dumb and I love unicorns! Watch me fart out a rainbow and have no concept of current events!” Why is this the case? Because people are joyless, that’s why.

We humans resent the joyful, especially if we haven’t had our coffee yet. Smiling too much? You just know someone will reach out and cut you down. Show some passion about something? Anything? Someone will probably tell you that you’re an insane person. They’ll say it like a joke, but they’re not joking. They want you to be down on their level—the tame ones. The soulless ones. They don’t even know why they’re dragging you down, really. Or why they’re reacting to your joy. If asked directly they may say something like “Because you’re being nuts”, but people, let’s back up a second. If one whips out their junk, hops on the spot and screams “I made a boo-boo!” then I would argue they are nuts (geddit… nuts?). But if someone is really pleased about something, or shows passion about a book or movie or hobby or whatever, then does that make them crazy? If so, then I would suggest you are fucked in the head.

I’m not writing this because something happened to me recently, it’s just a general beef I have. Yes, it’s happened in the past, because hey, I’m a passionate guy. Marinating in a pool of people who are not only stuck in a somnambulant march through their dreary, pointless lives, but who insist that I must join them in said dreariness, make me rage out (and by rage out, I mean whimper manfully and write things whilst sobbing). You can practically hear the catchcry of the crowd when they roll their eyes at the fact that you have a pulse. It’s there, underneath it all, like the tribal drum of a heartbeat, commanding them with its droning precision. ONE OF US. ONE OF US. ONE OF US. ONE OF US.

Passion is important. I say passion, not anger. People confuse the two. Be passionate, command yourself to live at a level higher than you are now. And again, not a level richer, a level higher. This isn’t about reaching the next stratum of wealth, it’s about an awareness of your world. An excitement for what’s on offer. An indignation about what should be better. Let these things spur you into action to make your world better and more interesting for your having been a part of it. Be optimistic. Be alive. Be joyful. Don’t let the joyless cut you down.

Because after all, we may not all be able to get along, but we can at least stop being dicks about the fact.

May 23, 2013

Passing Comment

It’s old hat to point out the general negativity we see in the comments section of popular websites. We all know that IMDB is rife with hatred, that popular forums mix spirited debate with name-calling and bad spelling, and that YouTube is quite possibly the most negative place on earth. We also know why this is, at least in largest part. Because our anonymity gives us a shield. We can vent at people or videos without fear of physical reprisal. We can troll mercilessly, and the worst thing that will happen is that we’re banned from the site. Boo-hoo. Change your login name, update a new profile, and you’re back. It can’t be stopped, and it won’t stop. Never entirely.

I write this because of a minor incident recently.

On a popular movie site, two people were making fun of a third, over and over and over on different threads. So much so that they changed their profile names as insults to the person. They pretended to post as him, imitating him, and talking about all the “stupid shit he says” and how they thought it was funny to pretend to be him (the person being made fun of had opinions that ran counter to most, but was almost always courteous). Some took exception to this brand of humour, others thought it funny. I logged in and posted that I found their behaviour bullying, that they were dedicating themselves to demeaning another person. Without seeing the irony, they posted back that I should stop being so negative. I was also accused of being the one who wanted to create taxes on video games—apparently these geniuses had managed to extrapolate an entire character profile from an objection to their obnoxiousness. Thankfully, the owner of the site stepped in and banned the two bullies from the site. I was vindicated, after a fashion.

But it feels like a hollow victory.

I don’t advocate that we should only be able to create profiles that link back to our own details somehow, or such measures to curb negative behaviour. As a gut reaction, this feels like something Orwell might have written about were he alive in the internet age. But I do sometimes despair at how easy it is for us to demean others without consequence. Sure, this time two bullies were banned for their viciousness, but most aren’t, or come back in some other form. I can’t see an end to it, and at times feel like civilised discourse gets drowned out by the static of terrible grammar, swearing, and racial epithets.

The problem and the solution come inevitably start and end with us. Get upset, get passionate, but stay rational and refrain from name-calling. Those who resort to pettiness only do so because they have the weaker argument and the weaker minds.

December 11, 2012

2,013 Words in 2013

My new writing goal is trite, but easy to remember.

2,013 words, every week, in 2013.

The conditions here are as follows:

* The 2,013 words must all be new (editing and changing old passages doesn't count)
* The 2,013 words must all be on the same project
* Any words I write on other projects doesn't count toward the 2,013
* If I miss the goal one week, the leftover total carries over to the next week

The focus here is to finish my next book at the end of the year. This is the discipline I'm committing to in order to achieve it.

Sounds easy, yes? After all, some people do 50,000 words in a month for NaNoWriMo (how anyone can do this is beyond me, or at least, well beyond my capabilities). You have to bear in mind that I have a full-time job. An engagement party to plan. A wedding to plan. A honeymoon holiday to plan. Moving into a new unit to organise and execute. Looking for a new house. Seeing my family, and my new extended family. Making time for my friends. Making time to live a fulfilling life with the woman I love. Attending to all of life's many challenges and routines. When you take all of that into account, 2,013 words a week sounds like a stretch (or at least it does to me).

But I'm doing this. I'm committed. And I'm putting it out there as a measure to drive myself toward this commitment. I've been busy with other things lately, and my writing has become seeds with no water. The time has come to tend.

Why is it time? Because I simply can't face looking back at my life and feeling like I had all these books in me and I didn't realise them. I need these ideas to exist, because I think these are stories worth telling, and stories people are going to want to read, even if that's only a small number of people.

If I disappear from time to time, I apologise. Sometimes I'm not a good internet citizen. Just know that I'm off somewhere staring at a laptop, making things up and writing them down so you can spend a few diverting hours somewhere down the line.

Thank you for reading this. I'll be in touch soon.

- Emmett

October 13, 2012

Update

Hello Friends. It’s been a while. Stick around for two minutes and I’ll tell you why.

I got engaged recently. Yep, I asked the love of my life to marry me and she blessed me with a yes!

We were in Giverny, just outside of Paris. We were on a day trip to Monet’s Gardens, where Monet painted the famous Water Lilies that reside in the L’Orangerie, among multiple other outstanding works. We walked on to the Japanese Bridge. The moment I had spent months planning was coming to pass. My heart sped up. I told her I loved her and dropped down to one knee. And the rest, my friends, is history.

I am beyond excited. So lucky. These past months everything I’ve done has been focused on planning the big trip, shopping for the engagement ring, planning the big moment, and delivering on the biggest project I’ve ever worked on in my day job. There have been long hours and late nights and plenty of anxiety and stress. But that part of my life is over now. The next part begins.

I dropped off the radar for a bit, I know – I hope this explains why. I’m looking forward to spending some time back in the twittersphere and updating my blog more regularly... and also writing. I’ve missed it lately, but my head is full of ideas and I’ve been scribbling madly of late. I’m looking forward to sharing a few things with you all as I smooth out the rough ideas of my little ideas.

I hope this finds you all well, safe, and happy.

Chat soon.

- Emmett