Nick Mamatas went on a Tweet storm yesterday about creative writing teachers barring students from writing genre fiction. It sparked conversation in the various Internets where writers dwell. I had thoughts.
I think Nick took it too far. Were we close, I’d ask him who hurt him, but alas, we’re not. I do think Nick was onto something, though.
(I should preface the rest of this with the disclaimer that I am not a fiction teacher, nor have I ever had the opportunity of teaching fiction writing, and nor is this a criticism of any creative writing teacher in particular. It’s a hard and thankless job, and it takes a special person to legitimately be excited to help others grow and succeed.)
The lady and I recently watched Netflix’s The Staircase, a docu-series about the novelist Michael Peterson who was charged with murdering his wife in 2001. Similar to Making a Murderer, it’s another fascinating investigation of the American justice system. I highly recommend both of them.
A bit of a disclaimer, though: these are not mystery stories. They are not about whether the suspects did or did not murder the victim (I realize the marketing image I chose to plop down to the right of these words poses that very question, but it’s the most compelling way Netflix could find to sell you on it).
These docu-series put the American justice system on full display, exposing its flaws. They will make you question your faith in the fundamental tenet of American justice that a defendant should be considered innocent until proven guilty, and they will make you question our very humanity, especially given the context of the cruel times in which we live. If you watch them, they will anger and sadden you because the reality they portray is not one we confront often, or maybe because it’s one which we are increasingly forced to come to terms with.
I didn’t bother watching the state of the union address this week. I figured that, as long as Trump stuck to the speech he didn’t write, stumbled through nine out of ten words correctly, and didn’t wet himself at the dais, he’d be forgiven the falsehoods and misleading statements, and it appears I was more or less right about that.
I did watch Joe Kennedy’s rebuttal speech, and I found it eloquently expressed an idea that’s been weighing on liberal America these last 18 months or so since the GOP nominated a guy who was not only unqualified and unfit to lead its party, but also a desecration to it.
“Constitutional crisis” has been buzzing around recently because Congress made about as unanimous of a decision as it can (517-5) to impose sanctions on Russia for what our intelligence community is in consensus was an attack on American democracy, but of course, the Trump administration is refusing to enforce those sanctions because he’s a traitor (probably) and democracy is dying and the GOP doesn’t care as long as they win, because party over country, and …
Hey, Charlottesville. I hear you’re having a bad day. I know you pretty well, and I want you to know that, though the world is looking at you today and normally is content to ignore you, I know you’re a friendly, small city in one of the most beautiful regions of the United States, and you’re a beacon of culture, art, and enlightenment, and you’re trying to be a good home for a lot of different people with different stories and different ideas.
And that’s not an easy thing to do.
Much of that is why some of the worst of humanity is there today. You see, they don’t like you. They want to hurt you. They aren’t content to be a part of something great. To them, it is not great unless they dominate it.
But I want you to know that I know they are not you. I know that, today, this is not you at your worst. Today is us at our worst, and it just so happens to have found its way to you.
I’m really sorry about that and wish I could do something. Today, all I can really do is watch to make sure you make it through all right, and when you do, I want you to know I still love you.
Yesterday, the president of the Boy Scouts of America apologized for the political content of Donald Trump’s speech at the National Jamboree.
It’s July 2017. Donald Trump has been in office for roughly six months. Before that, we had about ten weeks to really prepare for his presidency. Before that, we endured his despicable 18-month-long campaign, and before that, anyone who was paying attention watched him transition from a once-failing businessman who saved himself by branding and licensing his reputation and becoming an inconsequential celebrity whose only real chance at relevance was stoking fires and pandering to American desperation and resentment through conspiracy theories, lies, and post-truthism.
My point is we’ve known what Donald Trump is for a long time. Or, maybe you’re just joining us because he’s put on full display the worst of America using the world’s biggest stage. Either way, love him or hate him, you know what you’re getting with Donald Trump.
If you read Chris Cornell’s obituary today, you’ll learn he was the frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave; you’ll learn he had a unique voice.
He was so much more than that.
Obviously, he was a person with family and friends who cared about him, knew him intimately, and will never forget him. But he also was one of the last remaining legends of a rock and roll era that has already lost so much or seen its heroes falter and fade.
My wife bought us tickets to see him solo a couple years back at this music hall near our home that typically hosts classical and traditional musical acts. What struck me about him was not his performance. It was his attitude and presence. Alone on a stage in front of hundreds, in a place that was maybe out of his element, he didn’t just command the room, he owned the whole damn building, because we did.
On Women’s Day in the U.S., here’s what I’m thinking about regarding identity and discrimination:
I occasionally encounter the sentiment that, for example, “I am an American woman, and I’ve never felt discriminated against; therefore, I don’t believe women in America are discriminated against.”
Fair enough. I’m a white, heterosexual, cisgender male, and I’ve never felt like I’ve explicitly or specifically benefited from that in terms of merit-based achievement.
But there’s a problem with extrapolating my personal and anecdotal experience to an entire culture and society; namely, I am not every American man. Not to mention, whether I have, in fact, benefited from my gender, race, or sexual orientation isn’t wholly relevant to what’s commonly referred to as “privilege.” Continue reading
For many people who dislike Trump, I think this is a good expression of why. For those of you who consider his policies and business acumen his saving grace, I think this is important to consider, too.
Many of us believe the presidency (not just the person who occupies the Oval Office, but the institution) should represent the highest qualities, values, and ideals that make Americans great. The common sentiment used to be that the president should be someone for our children to look up to, and while I’ve heard the argument that we’re beyond that and would wholeheartedly disagree with it, the presidency has become a much more important global figure in these last few decades than our founding fathers could have ever imagined or even hoped. Not only is the president our spokesperson in an increasingly global society, but the president is a political leader for the whole world specifically because of America’s influence, and it benefits American citizens in myriad ways.
While it’s unfair to compare anyone who holds that office to the historic presidents who came before, and while it’s unfair to expect every U.S. president to be an ideal representative for the American people, there is a certain standard we must hold the president to, and in this regard (again, policy aside), Trump fails.
I need to get serious for a minute, and I hope you hear me out, because the world is watching.
I didn’t bring you here to send you elsewhere, so I’m going to call out parts of that post that speak to me.
I’m a metal head. I’m a metal head, and Nick Menza died yesterday. I’m a metal head, and Nick Menza died yesterday of a sudden heart attack. It’s funny how something happening to someone you’ve never met can hurt you on so many levels, especially when their life has had such a profound effect on yours.
Who was Nick Menza? A legendary drummer with the misfortune of forever being overshadowed. Even in his death, people will remember 2016 as the year Bowie and Prince died. But not me. Not metal heads. We’ll remember Nick.
Nick played drums in Megadeth during their most influential and arguably most creative era. He joined the band for their album called “Rust in Peace,” which metal heads often cite as one of the greatest metal albums of all time. He left the band after “Cryptic Writings,” which metal heads aren’t so fond of, but I’d fight for it.