Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Freakster and the Hipster: A Dialogue between a Baby Boomer and a Millennial

Hipster (in his blog):
"I agree 100% with this song. Every time I hear it, blast it in my car, on repeat, sometimes for weeks on end, it makes me glad that I am not the only person who notices these things.

As other millennials my age will attest, we were raised to reach for the heights, to push harder, to strive farther, to be idealistic and do better for our society and our species and our planet. But it's really fucking difficult when the generations who currently maintain power continue to fuck everything up, and will continue to fuck everything up to the point where there is no possible hope in fixing anything.

Thanks for leaving us a giant pile of shit.


Come on get off the rag.. every generation as said something similar ... I remember the Vietnam war.... rivers burning... they left us shit... don't complain..get out and do.... by actions!

But it only continues to get worse with every successive generation. People either grow more complacent or buy into the propaganda and become tools. It's not just action, it's strategic action, that will enable the changes to be made. I am not going to just give up everything I have worked towards and go out in the streets. As has been proven, that doesn't work. Instead, I am working towards putting myself into a position where I can positively influence people. After all, writing and educating are actions.

Interesting you say it has been proven it does not work. ... I marched in the Vietnam marches it worked.. I took part in earth day in the 70's it worked...we got the EPA...

I agree writing and educating are actions.... but some change require more ... large demonstrations have not been seen in this country since well before you were born.... don't be swayed by your statement push harder strive farther and to be idealistic.... and the generation that holds power... your generations has all the power... but they don't vote and they don't get in demonstrations... it's a shame... really is... I feel your pain buddy... but I see such little action by your age group..

But yet our government is still waging the same types of wars as Vietnam (Afghanistan, Iraq), and our planet is still deteriorating because of the pollution and the depletion of our natural resources (the Northwest Passage is opening up -- But hey, at least there hasn't been a draft, and the voting age is 18 instead of 21. Your generation might have made progress in the 60's and 70's, but many of you (not you, specifically) have not been there to continue to push for progress, so our society has, if anything, regressed since then.

The idea that our generation has the power is a lie. The generation that has power is the generation that has all the money, and, due to the increasing wage gap and lack of opportunities, the marginalization of education, our generation is not likely to have the same means and opportunities to gain the power until it is far too late. Unfortunately, in our society, money equals power. I didn't make it that way, and I won't support that ideology, but I am trapped by it, to a certain degree. After all, in order to even maintain my health, to not be out on the street, to provide for my family, I do have to have money, and lots of it -- and a high school education and really a bachelor's degree won't provide for these basic necessities. I don't want money to have money, but it is impossible to live without.

I was raised in the 80's and 90's when material possessions were valued above all else and individuality was made to be more important than society; half of all our parents are divorced and many of us were raised by television. So is it no wonder we lack direction and unity and are obsessed with entertainment? Are these things our fault? Can one really change their frame of mind that has been firmly established by the time he or she is old enough to realize the significance of being greedy, materialistic and self-absorbed?

And events like the attacks on September 11, 2001 and the Boston marathon bombings only make people buy more into the system out of fear. And it's this system that is really the cause of the sentiments that pushes the people who perpetrate these attacks, because the system is corrupt, fueled by greed, and apathetic to the needs of poor people in the United States and all around the world. I am firmly against violence and am firmly against anyone who uses violence as a means to make a point, but the feelings that push them to the violence aren't unfounded.

I was taught to value education as the means to elevate myself and those around me, which is why I choose to empower myself this way. I will demonstrate when the demonstrations have a chance to make real, impactful changes, but there is not enough unity among the various demonstrators and neither are the goals realistically attainable. In my personal experience real changes take place over a long period of time and take dedication and patience, so why would any other type of significant change be any different?

People don't vote because there are no real choices: it doesn't really matter who gets elected because the politicians are not governing for their electorate as much as they are based on the interests of those who pay for their campaigns and make them millionaires. I am not saying that people shouldn't vote, but this is why people don't. Voters have been marginalized by the campaign culture. People feel powerless, and I can't blame them, and, personally, I am tired of voting for the lesser of the two evils.

I am not saying that I am not going to take action, as I firmly believe I AM taking action -- and that doesn't mean that I am not going to take further action when the time comes, or that I am not in the process of taking further action with other like-minded individuals, who are all looking to peacefully stand up against the status quo and make our voices heard. But first we have to get organized and go about it with some level of credibility -- otherwise we will be flatly ignored.

Yes, but who is picking up the banner? Why aren't the young people of your age voting? How do you think things change?

You may be a bit delusional saying I lie when I said "your generation has the power" You haven't tried anything.. except by not voting in masses... .. ( not speaking of you) and I am speaking of voting in local elections... that is where it starts.

You speak of having money is having the power... look at Obama... yes he has money now.. but do you know his history? He was raised by a single mom and grandmother... they had no money to speak of. True money can sway many voters.. but a good network and people getting involved can... look at the NRA and all the money they spent last election and the special one here in Chicagoland a few month back. Look at Carl Rove and his pac... he couldn't believe he lost to Obama... it is a ground game now!

Is anything your fault? Who knows.. TV... games.. Sports... Music... we can all blame this or that.... look inside and what do you see ... broken homes, helplessness ... destruction... I know a lot of young people making a difference locally... making change happen.. yes, they have been raised with all of those materialistic distractions.... why are they different? Maybe because they know how to make change happen... everything around you are changing... your writing has changed... your interests have changed in the last 10 years...haven;t they... and they will continue to change... it's like riding the razor's edge...

I was taught to value many things.. education being one.. having a good work ethic and above all else doing no harm... Start a group join a group... many people your age are... all politics are local....

I don't disagree with your sentiment that my generation needs to do more, but many of your generation who were carrying the banner dropped it a long time ago and now it's all torn and tattered and buried under the large pile of shit.

And to refute your earlier point, the youth voter turnout percentage of my generation isn't substantially different than it was for your generation (

It's not merely a matter of going out and demonstrating. Really it's about being heard, and there are plenty of ways that one can be heard other than by demonstrating. And those ways are often times more effectual.

And, for the record, Barack Obama's campaign was financed in the same way as Mitt Romney's was. The difference in the election was, in fact, the youth vote.

I never said that nothing was our fault, but everything that is wrong is not our fault either -- especially since much of it was already a problem before we were born. Certainly there has been a lot in our lives -- as I am sure was the case with your life when you were my age -- that are beyond our control and will continue to be out of our control until we have gained some level of affluence and through that, influence. Certainly it shouldn't be necessary to have money to make your voice heard, but increasingly it is necessary, and, anymore, it is becoming less possible for people in my age group to earn enough money to have the affluence we need to make a difference. It wasn't, after all, the poor people who led the American Revolution.

The American Dream to a large extent has always been a myth, but it is even more so now than ever. Look at the unemployment rate among recent college graduates. We were taught that if we went to college we would be able to get a decent job and earn a living and that turned out to be a lie.

I am a year away from earning a master's degree -- and I earned through my hard work and persistence an assistantship, which makes me a professional student. My school is paid for and I earn a small but liveable income. I intend to continue working hard, graduating, and pursuing my Ph.D. Only then can I situate myself in a position where I can influence people to think critically and make arguments supporting their ideas. In fact, as a graduate assistant, I will be teaching freshmen English Composition classes, where I will be able to begin doing so. In fact, I am doing it now, on a one-to-one basis as a tutor in the writing lab. This is how I am "carrying the banner."

lol.. i agree and disagree I can find facts that it was because he got 90% or more of black vote and the increase of that populations vote that put Obama over the top too. I guess I don't put much into the blame onto one or the other really.. What you say follows pretty much what is predictable and was said when I was young. I think you will see more people get involved and I was speaking more of a local effort and if you look at the young vote on local elections it is not good.

Yes, who ever believed the American Dream....Myth of course... even when i was a kid. I guess except for the media and undocumented workers? Is it harder today? I am not sure... I see lots of opportunities .. but I am old....Go out and do something.... even doing nothing is doing something... just to point fingers to point fingers... it should lead someone to something worthy of being pointed to. However you may choose to be.

[NOTE: this is more or less an exact transcription of an email exchange].

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Living in the Decline

I agree 100% with this song.  Every time I hear it, blast it in my car, on repeat, sometimes for weeks on end, it makes me glad that I am not the only person who notices these things.

As other millennials my age will attest, we were raised to reach for the heights, to push harder, to strive farther, to be idealistic and do better for our society and our species and our planet.  But it's really fucking difficult when the generations who currently maintain power continue to fuck everything up, and will continue to fuck everything up to the point where there is no possible hope in fixing anything.

Thanks for leaving us a giant pile of shit.


I can only hope that I can teach the coming generations, and indeed those other folks in my own who aren't as fortunate as I have been, to think critically, question everything, and write what they think and feel in an effective manner, with evidence to support their arguments.

It's time that we empower each other, stand up against the violence, the hate, the unwillingness to cooperate and compromise and make our society and the world a safer, better place.  It's time to stop being complacent.  It's time to stop buying into the constant barrage of propaganda and bullshit and to stand up, like Howard Beale in Network, and shout: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

It is our civic responsibility to make things better, and not worse, and right now the people who are in power are failing miserably.

Too often people resort to violence in some misguided attempt to make this point, but in reality that only makes things worse, gives the misguided fools more power, because they are empowered through fear and ignorance.

It's time to stand up, thinking outside the box but yet with two feet firmly planted inside it, and let these charlatans know that they we aren't going to accept their greed and apathy any longer.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Teaser for Tales from the Fringes

First I would like to take a moment to say how shocked and saddened I have been at the tragedies that have taken place over the course of the week.  There is far too much hate and violence in the world.  Hopefully this pushes people together instead of divides people, but, from what I have been reading and seeing on the internet and in the media, I won't hold out much hope for that to happen -- even if it is what needs to happen.  For all of our supposed progress, in a lot of ways we are still the same cave people we have always been.

Still, for some reason, I continue to hold out hope that someday we'll reach some kind of advanced stage of enlightenment.  Of course, we'll all be long dead.

Anyway, here is a short excerpt from my upcoming short story collection:


They call me The Eggman. It makes sense on a few levels: not only do I bear a passing resemblance to John Lennon (arguably), but I am also a songwriter who partakes in the use of mind-altering substances. I would like to think that it has more to do with these things; however, it mostly has to do with the fact that I make the most kick-ass eggs anyone at McDonald's has ever eaten.

In the mornings, between 5 and 10:30 a.m. when we switch over to the lunch menu, I am the supreme God of pouring Egg Beaters in a mold, cooking to fluffy, folding over, scrambling, whatever, and all while also making the sausage, bacon, Canadian bacon, and steak and sautéed onions at the same time.  None of the little old ladies -- retired schoolteachers, bored housewives, and widows -- who also work in the mornings, can keep up with it.  For the first couple of hours, I am the youngest person who works there by decades.  The other dropouts don't usually come in until later in the morning.

As I work at the grill, my arms moving about on their own, diligently working, amid the grease and liquid egg splatters, I often watch past the front counter, beyond the lobby, through the windows as the pinks and oranges and yellows streak across the sky as the sun rises.  I sip on my coffee as I work, standing there, grilling it up like only the Eggman can.

When I get there wearing sunglasses, they assume the worst.  I keep to myself, make my eggs, slowly edging into sobriety, attempting to not throw up when the nausea hits me.  That association is why I can't eat eggs of any sort.  None of the managers care, so long as I get there on time and I do my job, and the old ladies seem oblivious, although I am sure they are just being polite.  They seem to like me either way, so it doesn't matter.  Even the lady who is a retired school-teacher -- she was the type who had eyes on the back of her head, who was surely feared by legions of 3rd graders.

As I work, I often find myself breaking out into "I am the Eggman, they are the Eggmen, I am the walrus, coo coo ka choo, coo coo ka choo!" -- amid the Johnny Cash and the Patsy Cline that the old people who pack the dining room every morning, sipping on coffee and complaining about the world, play on the Juke Box.

The McDonald's where I work was designed to look like a 1950's diner, and the Juke Box contains mostly the worst music from that decade.  When I become irritated with hearing the same Johnny Cash song for the seventh time in a row, I find a break and run out into the lobby and play the entire selection of James Brown songs, which are about the only songs I can stand, which also signals to the old people that they have worn out their welcome.  They hate James Brown as much as I hate Johnny Cash.  While I am stuck there to the end of my shift, they can leave at any time.


Okay, that's all you get for now.  I am officially pushing back the release to May 14 so I don't open up a vein trying to finish my schoolwork, get a summer job, and finalize this collection.  I fixed the last story that I had reservations about, so now it is just a matter of proofreading, mainly for typos, but also for clarity.  I am very proud of how it's turning out and can't wait until it gets officially released.

School-wise, everything is working out very well.  Classes are going well: I have my final papers figured out, classwork is winding down and my thesis is figured out; I was also offered a full assistantship for next year, which I have already accepted and signed the contracts.

Friday, April 12, 2013

School's Not Quite Out for the Summer, Yet (Sorry Alice)

Three more weeks of classes, then finals, but, the only thing I have to do on finals week is turn in papers, and I am honestly hoping to be done with them by that point.

I now have a thesis and an adviser.  I am searching for one more person for my panel, and I have to fill out the paperwork, but those are minor things compared to the research I am going to have to start doing over the summer.

My thesis is going to be on Melville's critique of American Exceptionalism in his novella, Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile.  I am going to have to do a lot of historical research, but it is a good jumping off point to studying satire.  It is definitely Melville's most entertaining work, and it should be more widely read.

Except for class presentations on papers, I am through with my presentations for the semester.  I have learned a lot, and I am definitely glad that I took the opportunity to give a presentation at the University of Akron Student Innovation Symposium (UASIS).

Hoping to find out whether I have gotten an assistantship or not.  I am thinking it should be any time.  People who are currently graduate assistants have told me -- from the phone call I received last week asking me whether I was still interested or not -- that I am under consideration.  We'll see.

I need to find a job for the summer.  It would be nice to do something tutoring related, but I am not above working waiting tables or something like that.  Waiting tables might be my best bet, but that would ruin my nights and weekends, which I have grown pretty accustomed to.  Still, as the phrase goes, "beggars can't be choosers" -- unless you're that guy who begs by the alley outside of my old apartment building in Chicago.

First post of the Day (Expect More)

Can I just say that I am really excited for the new Queens of the Stone Age record, due out in June.  They have yet to disappoint me as a band.  The new track "My God is the Sun" is just as good as anything else they have released.  I can't believe it's been six years already since the last album came out.

Here is the newly released video for "My God is the Sun":

I am anxious to see how it fits in with the rest of the album.  They, for me, are more of an album band, which is probably why I like them so much, because I am more of an album band person, in general.  Not always, but most of the time.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Procrastinating on a Saturday Afternoon

Okay.  I think I have made a determination.  Over the past 24 hours, trying to not think about it but unable to stop myself -- especially when I should be more focused on studying -- I have come to a determination about my book.

After some experimentation, thinking about what my professional reader told, I have made some alterations to the manuscript, and I think they have made a significant impact.  I realized that they way I was framing the story was hurting it.  I can't elaborate without revealing too much, but I am very happy with the results.  I have also done a little bit of tweaking in other ways.  Nothing significant.  Sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest impacts.

Really, in an extremely short period of time I have significantly improved my manuscript.  One of the effects of the changes is that I have brought out the main theme, taking people and things for granted.  To further emphasize this, I am also changing the name to, simply, For Granted.

In addition, I am definitely going the self publishing route.  I want my life to be what I make it, for better or worse.  Maybe I'll never be as popular or successful as a writer as some who publishes traditionally, but I am okay with that.  Besides, most people who publish that way never make a living as writers either.  In fact, very few people are successful in that regard.

I am looking forward to being a teacher, whether at the college level or the high school level.  Of course, getting my PhD. is preferable, and is looking better and better, it is still not definite.  If I can focus more this weekend and get a lot of work done, I will be well on my way to having another successful semester.  Maybe by the end of the week I will have an assistantship and a thesis (and a thesis director).  Hopefully I will get all my class assignments done, and give five successful presentations.  It is up to me, so, if I don't, then I only have myself to blame.  No pressure or anything.

And don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the short story collection.  I am still taking time here and there to proofread.  Very, very soon you will be able to read it!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The High Speed Police Chase to the End of the Semester

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses."

"Hit it."

I get in my car and have someone weld the door shut.  I start the ignition, put my foot on the break, put the car in gear, and superglue my hands to the steering wheel.  There is a cardboard sign in my back window that reads, "May or Bust."

I can't stop.  If I don't spend virtually every waking hour on my school work, I will not make it there.

I can't let silly little things like sanity slow me down or stop me.  I've got to keep going.  Word after word, inch after inch, page after page, mile after mile, I must reach my destination or die in a fiery explosion.

Next week I have five presentations, three on Wednesday and two on Thursday.  Not to mention two paper proposals, and my regular reading and classwork.  The three presentations on Wednesday don't scare me, they are three of the same presentation, to three different college composition class, on writing research papers.  The one presentation on Thursday isn't a big deal, it is to my Melville class, which only has like 8 people (including myself), and is about our reading.  

The other presentation on Thursday, however, is at the University of Akron Student Innovation Symposium.  It's not a big conference or anything, but it is more official, and it is  based on my research of the Middle  English romance, Havelok the Dane.  The title of my presentation is "Class, Status, and Social Order in Havelok the Dane".  It is based on a paper that I wrote for my Middle English Lit class at Kent.  I am not nervous...Yet.  I volunteered to do the presentations on Wednesday so by Thursday (in addition to the ones I have already done this semester) so that by Thursday I will be a seasoned pro at presenting.

Hopefully this experience will then translate to me giving a presentation at the MMLA Conference next November.  That I won't find out about until June.  That presentation, if they accept it, will be on John Updike's Rabbit, Run, and my assertion that there is no subjective narrative voice in the text.  In addition to the experience, it will be cool to go to because it is in Milwaukee.

There is also a Shakespeare Conference in the fall that I would like to present at.

Right now I have to focus on getting my classwork done.  But all these presentations are good experience (and good to add to my CV, which is still rather bare), but I won't be going very far if I don't have good grades.  I already have two of my final papers somewhat figured out, and one more to figure out.  I have two proposals due and lots of research to do, which means that my weekend is over. Hell, my weekends for the next month are over.  Sorry, folks.  I'll see you all after May 10.

I *should* be finding out soon whether I am getting the assistantship. I don't know whether I will or not, but I do know that I am still in the running.  I am keeping my fingers crossed and my nose to the grindstone and hope that my application is strong (Hell, I know it's strong, but hopefully it is in comparison to the other applicants) and that the professors who are on the committee know me and believe I am capable of handling a position (because I know I am).  If I don't get it that will change my future plans (since I won't be able to get into a PhD program without it).

In addition, I have thought of a thesis topic and have contacted a possible adviser about it.  

This has been such an up and down semester.  Two weeks ago I was at the verge of losing my nerve and now I am more confident and reassured than ever.  This is the first time I have ever needed a Spring Break just to keep my sanity, but it worked.  Everything seems to be coming together.

Speaking of which, I am still trying to get Tales from the Fringes together.  I need to give it a thorough proofread before I am satisfied.  I don't have to make any major changes, and I am satisfied with the formatting and the content.  By the time school is out for the semester I will be ready to promote it like crazy.

I am still weighing my options about my novel.  On one hand I definitely have a great idea and it would be worthwhile to rewrite it; however, many of the criticisms from my professional reader I was prepared for, and these things didn't bother me necessarily, beforehand. I am thinking that I am going to self publish the current version and take that part that she liked and expand on it and write it in a more focused, detailed, and professional way.  

The main problem with my novel as it is now is that the style is out of date.  The publishing industry has a very narrow concept of what makes a good novel, and it doesn't necessarily mesh with the canon of Western Literature.  Then again, many of the works that constitute that canon weren't popular at the time. 

I'm not saying that I am that good or anything, but, as a student of that literature, particularly as someone who is working towards a PhD. in it, I am highly influenced by the canon.  If I limit myself to what currently constitutes "good" literature, while I am certainly more likely to get published, I feel like I am vastly limiting my creative possibilities.

I am not saying that I am not going to write books that fit within that narrow scope, but I am not exclusively going to do so, nor should anybody.  Maybe that is a part of the problem with the publishing industry.  Too few people get to decide what is relevant, and what they say is relevant doesn't match up with what is historically relevant.

While I am not against progress, I am against putting myself in a box, especially since, even if I meet the standard and I do get published, that doesn't guarantee any sort of success, which is why I am focused on trying to make a living in Education.  This way I can still do what I love and make some kind of living.

I just think it's illogical that many of the books that we define as great, that have stood the test of time and are still relevant today and are still studied widely all over the world, Melville for example (who is MORE relevant now than when he was alive), wouldn't get published today, because they don't fit in with what the INDUSTRY defines as good.

I am not saying that I am Melville, but, I am not saying that I am not, either.  Maybe my novel has faults, but it also, I think, has many strengths, too.  It is definitely a first novel, and it is well past due to be presented to the world.  I really want to move forward, and, since I am not delusional and have no intention of trying to make a living as a writer -- if it happens, it happens -- and I have already spent SIX years on this same goddamn novel.  I feel like I have been jerking off for the past six years.

I feel like I do owe it to my audience to put it out and make it accessible.  I will likely write a more focused, YA version of that one particular section, but there is no reason why I can't put out what I have.  What else am I going to do with it?

I don't know.  For now, I am going to get through school, get my short story collection out, build more of an audience and advance professionally.

I am thinking, I am really leaning towards, self-publishing my book as it is.  We'll see what happens.

I should get back to work.