Author, Novelist, Writer, & Public Speaker

Posts tagged “Nick Shamhart

You’re Worth More Than a Million Kardashians

June 28,  2014

I often wonder why people obsess, fixate, and idolize celebrities. Most days it seems like people listen to what Opera has to say more so than their friends and family – people they love and are loved by in return. Anyone else find that odd? to value the opinion of someone you have never met, and will never meet, over the people who breathe the same air, drink the same water, and eat the same food as you?

I’ve witnessed social media cluster fucks beyond count over such asinine concepts as what a celebrity was wearing. Why should the world care? Is it smoke and mirrors for the travesties surrounding us? Is it escapism to lands of fairy tale princesses with ghetto booties like the Kardashians? Why? There’s plenty of booty to go around. What makes the Kardashians’ so obsession-worthy?

Celebrities are not your friends. They don’t care about you. They would not piss on you if you were on fire. Not a one of them would trade places with you…ever. Even though your life has value. It has substance and meaning. In fact, your life is better then theirs because you have people that love you for who you are, not who they think you are. If you’re completely alone with no friends or family you are still better off because you can go out and make new friends without the worry of do they like me for me, or my fame?

Remember that you have more value than any American Idol.

~Nick Shamhart


The Small Town Virus

June 20, 2014

Sadly I’ve been told that another man from the same small town where I was raised committed suicide.

What is it about that town? I will not name it, but with the age of Google at hand it would not be too difficult to track down. One of the greatest parts of my life is talking with people from all over the world. Many of whom are from small towns, but they all have that “Aw, shucks, yeah I’m from So&So” rueful, almost pleasantly reminiscent mentality. That is rarely the case with people from the same suburban geographic mileage as yours truly. Truth to tell, for many it is a small protected Xanadu where the outside world only intrudes through the television and summer tourists. But, for many others they believe it to be the very pits of Hades where their neighbors are the likes of  Brutus and Judas Iscariot.

To dig out the exact statistics, while I write this on a rainy afternoon, would be too morbid to bear. Off the top of my head I can think of almost a dozen suicides from different social strata and age groups over the years in that very same small town. That’s just names floating around in my head, mind you, imagine how many more there are.

The unifying trait is they all went through the same school system in the same small town. One boy even chose to end his life from my graduating class our Junior year.

So, what is it? Why? Those aren’t questions with ready answers.

It has always felt like a virus to me. A spiritual malady that is passed on from generation to generation. Those who were not born and raised there are immune, but to pass through the system is to be assured of exposure. Once contracted, they all feel it. Some only notice a mild cough or cold, yet others have daily migraines. Some flee, hoping that distance and time will lessen the severity of the reaction.  Others still? It tears them apart, slowly or rapidly, a few years or over decades, doesn’t matter. Once the virus is contracted there is no cure. Strength of character works for some, as does perspective. Friends help, family too, but sometimes the virus is too strong. We are only human. Sometimes no amount of love, compassion, and caring can counteract the damage done by the virus over the years. It’s insidious in nature. It rides the soul all through childhood and adolescence, crippling the spirit when it should be growing.

I see existence for the infinity that it is, so maybe, just maybe an inoculation is possible. It has to start on a community level, and it has to be allowed to mutate and grow as the virus fights to reassert itself. There is no way to stop the virus if the host refuses to fight it. The children need to build confidence and gain identity at an early age. Adults need to prove their humanity by opening their hearts and minds to others. They need to help each other find their strengths to combat their weaknesses … or else they will rot from within.

They need to be able to look back on the past with solace, not spleen, so when the day is darkest the light from yesterday can illuminate the possibility of tomorrow.

~Nick Shamhart


The World is Only as Intolerant as You

June 11, 2014

I read about a Toledo girl with Progeria that has been bullied and humiliated by her fellow students. I’ve been attempting to wrap my mind around how children can be so cruel. I will not delve into questions of nature or nurture. That argument has gone on so long that perhaps its flawed. It’s an age old question of humanity that at its core requires finger pointing. Which is it? Which is the problem? Nature or nurture? We want to know so we can hate it!

Wiser men than me have said it, but it bears repeating. We can’t stop hate with hate. Anger with anger. Fear with fear. You don’t empty a pool by adding more water.

Tolerance should not be a subject that children have to be taught. It should be a way of life.

I’m not blessed. I’m not cursed. My friends are my friends because I see them for their flaws and their talents. I have friends that are black, white, rich, poor, male, female, gay, straight, old, and young. Their walks of life vary from musicians to politicians, lawyers to criminals, WASPs to bikers, Christians to Atheists, fighters to cowards, TV personalities, authors, journalists, actors, artists, laborers, doctors, nurses, teachers, preachers, and more. I know the difference in the feel of a blind man’s handshake. I’ve carried a crippled man to his wheelchair. Hell! I’ve even been the man it that wheelchair.

They all have and they all have not. That’s what it means to be human. That realization keeps us from just being tailless monkeys.

I won’t preach. I won’t teach. If you haven’t learned to live with your haves by embracing others’ have nots, then nothing I can say will change that.

I’d only ask that you look to what you have before you hurt someone for what they do not.

~Nick Shamhart


Get Off Your Ass and Read to Your Kids!

June 4, 2014

As of this morning LeVar Burton’s Kickstarter campaign to re-boot Reading Rainbow has raised 3.5 Million dollars. What an amazing example of the power of celebrity and social media! I mean wow, gosh, and golly gee!

Now, let’s have a little tête-à-tête shall we, hmm? A spot of palaver with Nick as I wipe some spit and reality polish onto this situation.

Reading Rainbow is the progenitor of these wacky book trailers I’ve seen and heard about. Commercials really, where they film a thirty second to a minute teaser trailer type scene of what the book could be like if you read it. Why? Because, publishers have nifty little business spreadsheets that compile reader information. That information says that what is left of the reading public is lazy and dumb. They need the literary equivalent of a Coors Lite commercial featuring girls in bikinis playing beach volleyball.

Burton has been quoting scholastic statistics from the success of his original venture as rationale for the re-boot. But, numbers are ticklish things, my friends. The aforementioned publisher’s numbers say the public is too lazy and stupid, remember? So let’s look at the reality, not the numbers.

I am of the Reading Rainbow generation. Kids who were enticed to read a book because we couldn’t stop staring at the TV screen. The range for this generation is about 45 to 20 year-olds in America. Guess what? That is one of the worst demographics for pleasure readers since written language was passed beyond the borders of cloistered monasteries and moldy collegiate studies and libraries. So take a moment to reflect on what that says for the longevity of this multi-million dollar project. Money that could have supported a new filmmaker who has a brilliant story but no business backing, or a musician that just wants to sing and not show us her tits.

I speak from experience. My numbers are faces in crowds. People not spreadsheets. I have spoken at hundreds of libraries over the last few years. The faces that read? The bulk of them are late middle-age to post menopausal women. Gals who have lived, loved, and been around the same block too many times to count. Women who may read a romance, but chuckle and snort at the unreality of the story. My kind of ladies! Ladies that did not have Reading Rainbow growing up. they read because they wanted to. No enticement needed beyond what the pages held.

The harsh reality is that the Reading Rainbow generation taken as a whole doesn’t read. Even the most empathetic among us has a tendency to be self-involved with our hobbies and likes. Yes, you may read. Yes, your group of close friends may read, too. But trust me, there are seven billion souls in this world, your circle of readers is a very small slice of that ecumenical pie.

Let’s give those millions of dollars to entrepreneurs who haven’t had the chance for their voice to be heard. Get off your lazy ass and read to your kids, so LeVar can retire in peace.

~Nick Shamhart

P.S. To give LeVar his due the publishers have a statistic that says that at the moment the most likely person to pick up a book for pleasure reading in America is a college-educated black. You must have done something right right, LeVar. You did succeed, brother!


Facebook Losing Face?

May 22, 2014

One of my readers sent me an email asking why she hadn’t seen my posts on Facebook and if I had stopped using that platform.

Not to worry, my accounts are still active and utilized on every social media site, folks. The thing is for those of us that have been using Facebook for years (odd to be able to say that) the changes have been dramatic. I will do my best not to criticize the company. It is after all a free service, but longtime users still do not understand why they don’t see every post from their friends, family, and favorite pages on their feed.

The first reason is that most people and pages refuse to pay-to-promote their posts. The second, from the page’s front, is that there are the verified pages that BIG NAME products and celebrities have that benefit Facebook financially by just having an account. Then there are the lesser known ones (Hi, nice to meet you. I’m one of those). And lastly the complete unknowns and random junk that is added to the social media trash heap daily. Facebook makes money off of us middle of the road, lesser knows. We are the ones with a reach but not the dynamic fame of say Beiber, Disney, Doritos, or any other mega product.  But our supporters still want to know what’s going on with our careers and whatnot. So the idea is that the Big Names don’t need to pay. The unknowns won’t pay… so, the middle class is supposed to. Hmm, sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t  it?

If you’re unwilling to jump platforms to the abbreviated world of Twitter (inane and really full of nonsense posts, but you’ll still see them if you’re following somebody) then the best solution is to try and utilize the Facebook algorithms. Don’t worry, it’s easy. If you want to see posts from a page or friend more often you have to increase your interaction with them  – quid pro quo. That means go to that page or profile and “Like” every damn post and picture (even if you don’t), comment (even if you have nothing to say add a happy face), and share the posts you really like on your profile. Do the same as you see new posts on your timeline and that will up the visibility of future posts.

Good luck!

~Nick


Still a Better Read Than “Fifty Shades of Grey”

May 15, 2014

Yes, Americans are lazy. Yes, they are (at times) stupid … and ignorant … and dumb … and, well, you take my meaning.

The thing is Americans can only shoulder so much of the blame for the plummet in reading statistics. The greed and foolishness of the publishing industry bears the Atlas-sized weight of it. When you trade quality for scandal, sensationalism, and a quick buck as publishers have, why should the people take the blame?

For too long the major publishing houses have been in control of what the world was supposed to read. They were (and still are) falsely considered judges of literature, gatekeepers for the art of storytelling. But they are a business. Never forget that. Money drives the machine, nothing more.

Case in point being that in a world with all time low book sales and fewer and fewer readers, Charles Ramsey was allotted a book – Dead Giveaway. Yes, the man did a good deed. In a neighborhood that, politely saying, isn’t the safest. You would never see any of the publishers who are selling his book there let me tell you. But. Let’s not forget that he heard a scream, put down his Big Mac, and opened a fucking door! That’s it! He didn’t fight the entire Castro clan single highhandedly, or rescue orphans from a burning building. He opened a fucking door! That does not make him an author. That does not mean he deserves to have his story told in print. Hell, I just told it! Scream, Big Mac, Door. That’s it. Story told.

Despite all that … Charles is being taken advantage of. What’s left of the reading public is being taken advantage of.

Rich white men who wouldn’t have spit on Charles if he were on fire a little over a year ago are now making money off of him – again. He is seen as a gimmick and not an individual. He deserves better. Everyone deserves better

The real bitch of it is that it’s still probably a better read than Fifty Shades of Grey.

~ Nick Shamhart

 


The Greed of Man vs. The Death of Art?

May 12, 2014

To look at the history of art is to look at the history of man. They are interrelated, symbiotic, and to a point – codependent. When our ancestors first began to tell stories, sing songs, pound out tattoos upon drums, sketch on cave walls, and carve stone, wood, and bone into shapes they hardly did so because they, “Like wanted to be famous and stuff. You know, like J.K. Rowling and the Twilight chick.”

I cannot count the number of people who have told me that they want to be writers. When I ask them why, none have yet to respond without some desire for fame and fortune behind their words. Greed does not create. Greed destroys.

Art is and always has been about creation. It connected us as people when we were singing to keep the dark at bay or telling stories to ebb our pervasive loneliness as the only sentient beings on our planet. With the songs, stories, paintings, and statues came companionship; a connection to other men and women. A candle in the dark. We are not alone in our feelings and dreams. Someone else sees images in the clouds.

It wasn’t always as greed-fueled as it is now. The Venus of Willendorf does’t have an asinine copyright or trademark stamped under her copious buttocks, accompanied by a chipped signature. Imagine the cavemen cocktail party conversations: “Oooo, did you see the new rock by Ug? It’s to die for!” … “How about Grunt’s new drum solo? I wish I could be like her!”

Art kept our souls alight. It drug us out of the world of tooth and claw. Why did that change? Why did greed corrupt our art? And, is it too late to take it back?

Will future generations look at our “art” and laugh at its vanity and hubris, pandering to carnal desires for a dollar? Or, will our greed only spread further and art (the externalization of the internal) become so tarnished that it is only a business to be consumed? A mental fast food hamburger, all greasy and limp that only vaguely resembles sustenance.

The greatest artist to ever live is the girl whistling a nameless tune in a graveyard to keep the dark and dead at bay.

~Nick Shamhart

 


I Tried to Use That Map-Thingy But I Couldn’t Find the Key to Turn It On.

April 30, 2014

I’m often asked the naive (yet well-meaning) question of, “What’s it like to be a writer?”

My response depends on my mood, and quite frankly the size of the audience. I was recently posed this query at a smaller venue. The girl was very sincere when she asked, “What’s it like to be a writer?”

Without missing a beat, I replied, “Honestly? It’s like being a cartographer in a world of GPS.”

She asked, “What’s a cartographer?”

I nodded, sadly, and said, “Well there’s the answer to your first question, kiddo, and I suggest Googling the second.”

~Nick Shamhart


Why Books Will Always Be Superior to Movies

April 26, 2014

Despite trends and statistics, books will always be superior to film. There is an exercise I like people to try whenever I speak at a creative writing class or an author panel. Give it a try.

There is a man standing in the doorway. He has his arms crossed and the wooden frame supports the bulk of his weight where his shoulder rests.  Long swimmer’s limbs suggest he could easily add on muscle, but the mischievous glint in his eye hints that there are more important things to occupy his time than lifting weights. A few days stubble and hair that seems perpetually in need of cutting are slovenly attributes he uses to his advantage.  A smirk travels up one side of his face, crinkling and bunching at the corner of his eye. He chuckles, and shaking his head, walks away.

All right, you have this man firmly pictured in your mind, correct? One paragraph of description that makes him wholly unique to you – the reader. Your experiences, attention, and memory make him distinct. Perhaps your man had a scar? Blue eyes? Was he black or white? All of those details were filled in by your imagination.

Now. Lets take that paragraph and make it into a movie. Are you ready for the Hollywood screenplay?

Brad Pitt stands in a doorway.

There may be minor alterations, but for the most part you are all picturing the same thing. If it were on the screen you would all be seeing the exact same thing down to the same shirt, shoes, jeans, face, build, and every little detail that can be spoon-fed to your mind.

Everyone born with the sense of sight can watch a movie. Reading is a skill we are taught. Since skill is required, a book will always be superior to a movie.

~Nick Shamhart


Like a Walrus With a Finger Jammed Up Its Ass

April 17, 2014

Kids love to stand on their heads, turn cartwheels, roll somersaults, even flip, and pretty much anything else they can do that inverts their perspectives. Their bodies and minds are so fluid and limber that juxtaposing earth and sky is an activity to giggle about. When was the last time you non-yogis tried it? I just did, and trust me, the noise I made didn’t come close to a giggle – more like a walrus having a proctological exam.

That fluidity of the physical is probably way behind me now, but, what about the mind? Children accept things at face-value, don’t they? That’s not always an issue of innocence and ignorance. Sometimes it is the suppleness of a mind unburdened with the weight of age. Can we drop that weight and allow our minds somersault again?

Cause and effect  are what most of human knowledge is built upon. That is the progression. But? What caused the Big Bang? Was it God speaking? Was it a repetitive cycle of collapse and expansion that has always existed? Is that possible? Perpetual universal motion outward then in, but again, where or what was the cause?

Perhaps to see the universe for what it is we need to stand on our heads like children do. Perhaps for things to make sense we have to unmake our beliefs. Perhaps, sometimes, the effect has to come before the cause? Perhaps to giggle again all we need to do is roll along with life as it sweeps us head over heels…

Or, we can just keep on grunting like a walrus with a finger jammed up its ass.

~Nick Shamhart


Blue Light “Specials”

April 2, 2014

I never put much stock in statistics. By our “Best Fit” model of reality something is true if it can be repeatedly recorded more than half of the time – 51%. I find it difficult to view the world in a way that if the majority believes something, then it is supposed to be an established fact. Too many variables, I say. The nature of an infinite universe implies by definition infinite variables.

Autism is defined as a marked reversion into fantasy. What is fantasy and what is real? Are autistics simply the other 49% that disagrees with the majority’s definition? Oddly enough those variable-prone statistics seem to be hinting that that may very well be the case as the number of diagnosed children continues to grow.

There is one more statistic, or fact, or figure, or definition, or variable that I would like you to consider today. Please feel free to double-check this, (variables are everywhere) but when all the charitable donations are added up for previous years the amounts show that citizens of the USA prefer to give money to animal-based organizations than to mental health and hospice combined…

Is that right? Is that wrong? I would not begin to judge. There are simply too many variables.

~Nick Shamhart


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Another Gorgeous Spring Day in Cleveland!

Frozen Nick Shamhart


Mary Todd Lincoln: “I hardly think 7″ counts as a ‘Log’, dear.”

March 23, 2014

Studying the twists and quirks of the human psyche never ceases to entertain me. Why do we most often quote or look to history and celebrities for our nuggets of wisdom? Hmm? I would wager it has to do with distance. Something sticks in our collective craw when we hear measured words and wisdom from our peers or, gods forbid, those who are  younger. We do not want to hear depth from those that should be our equals. No, that just won’t do. I believe that is why so much of historical poignancy happened “Ago” be it religious or philosophical.

I strive for humility. Don’t laugh. I do. My own career supports my previous supposition though. I have sold thousands of novels. I’m not bragging. I’m simply giving you an example. Readers from all walks of life point out the layers of philosophy and empathy in my works…yet, a very few of those readers are friends and family that were a part of my life before I began writing. I suppose I can empathize with this concept. I mean who wants to hear poignant words of wisdom from somebody to whom you have had to say, “Jesus! We have spray in the bathroom for a reason!” or “Was that you or the dog?” over and  over in your life?

Case in point: today my littlest daughter was mimicking the lines from a video about somebody being afraid of spiders. My wife pointed out that daddy oddly enough is not afraid of spiders even though he was bitten by a Brown Recluse once (Long story, don’t ask). To this I said, “The only thing I am afraid of in this world is myself.”

My wife’s response was, “Oh blah, blah, blah, such a drama queen!”

So folks, that’s why we look to the ancients of time, trial and tome for guidance, or to the talking heads on the screen with their pretty bleached smiles – distance. Just remember all that distance only blurs reality…it doesn’t change it.

~Nick Shamhart


Worse Than a Cup of Hot Coffee on Your Crotch!

March 5, 2014

People will argue that the world has morally deteriorated. Yet others will say it has not, and that it is our in-your-face cameras everywhere media approach that makes it seem that way.

It is difficult for me to maintain my outsider’s perspective on the case of Rachel Canning (the NJ teen who is suing her parents to pay for her college). What avaricious sense of juvenile entitlement do this woman and her lawyer harbor? I am unsure who is worse, the woman for her pampered, spoiled, Veruca Salt-like persona…or, her lawyer for even taking the case.

Do me a favor, would you? Take a minute today and send your parents an email, text, or call them and just say, “Thanks.” Once you’re an adult they don’t owe you shit, boys and girls. That’s part of growing up. Welcome to reality – nobody owes you a damn thing.

I never thought I’d see the case that made the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit seem reasonable.

~Nick Shamhart


Why I Believe in Ghosts

Feb. 27, 2014

Every night that I look up at a star-filled sky, I see ghosts. Like most concepts perception dictates belief. People often look up to the sky when they think of a loved one who has died. Is that coincidence or instinct? Could it be a reaction to our mythological past juxtaposing Heaven with the heavens? Light waves travel at a certain speed. Most of you have heard that if we could travel faster than light (and if we had a powerful enough telescope) that we could race out into the universe, turn around, and observe the dinosaurs roaming the Earth. I haven’t the telescopic vision required to render the light of the stars in my backyard to that clarity, but that does not mean because I cannot see the dead dinosaurs of another star that their ghosts are not twinkling in that light. Somewhere the light of our ghosts is twinkling between the stars, waiting for someone to see it. All history is still occurring, bouncing around out there in the dark. Images of the past – Ghosts. Ghosts are there. Ghosts are here. They are simply easiest to see in the night sky.

~ Nick Shamhart


Grandparents of Autistics

So many grandparents with autistic grandchildren come to my talks because they desperately want to help, understand, and sometimes simply know they aren’t alone. Recently I’ve had requests to come and speak with seniors’ groups and at retirement facilities. I have agreed to do these for free, because I feel so strongly about helping the world see the people behind the label Autism. If you know of a seniors’ group or facility (within an hour’s drive of Cleveland) that may be interested, please pass my website along to their administration.  ~ Nick


The Greatest Compliment

I cannot imagine where my career can go from here. Today, as I was walking into the library that was holding an authors’ expo, a woman grabbed my hand as I was barely in the door. I looked down at her and she was in tears. She leaned into me and I balanced hugging her and steering my pushcart dolly. I asked, “Can I help you, darlin’?”

Through the tears she said, “You saved my life.”

Uh, well, okay. So, I said, “Here let’s sit down and you can hopefully explain that a little better to me.”

She laughed and pulled out a tissue. We sat down and she said, “My ten year old son is severely autistic. I can’t even give him a hug without him screaming. I hate my life. How can I love someone that doesn’t show me any affection back, or freaks out when I touch him? My husband took off years ago. We don’t even know where he is. My parents help watch my son when he isn’t at school and I have to work, but it’s hard. It’s too hard.”

I sat on a bench, holding a stranger’s hand as she poured her heart out to me. I could see the lines around her eyes, the red-rimmed, discolored hanging bags that most women fret and fuss over covering. She didn’t care. Her life had pushed her beyond caring. I nodded my head to let her know I was listening. She continued, “I, we, my parents and me, we had the paperwork ready. We were going to give him up. Let the state have him, have my son, because he was too hard for us to take care of. I had the paperwork signed, Nick. It was ready to go. The part my parents didn’t know was that after I had given up my son, I planned to kill myself. I had failed and my life wasn’t worth living anymore. I was watching TV last week and I saw you on Fox 8. I was mad at first. I thought, ‘Why did this guy stick it out when my asshole husband couldn’t?’ I was so mad I bought your book, because I wanted you to be wrong. I wanted  to read it, let it fuel my fire to commit suicide and just end all the shit. But…”

And she started crying again. I won’t play the badass card. I was choking back the tears at that point myself. When she was able to she finished, “I could see the Fog in my son. I could see that he IS in there. I could see all the things you put Megan through in the book in my child. I couldn’t give up on him after reading your book. I couldn’t give up on myself. You saved my life.”

What the hell does a person say to that? I almost didn’t write the book because it hurt too much. But, if I hadn’t that woman would probably be dead right now. I hugged her again and she left so I could go to work, but I tell you readers and fans, I cannot imagine being able to look at my career the same. I still don’t know how to feel about it. I probably never will.


Anorexic Artists and Obese Businessmen

The title is the sad, tragic truth friends. It always has been that way and it always will be. It does not matter what the art medium may be: music, painting, writing, acting, and etcetera. That is simply the result of mixing creativity, self-expression, and passion with financial gain. The business world is the world, sociologically speaking of course. The world is more than that, but, our daily hamster-like participation that makes society spin? That most assuredly is the world.

There are a few who have succeeded in showing the world their craft, their heart and soul as it where in its purest form, and still managed to turn a profit. But, those businessmen behind that artist made a hundred times more, never doubt it, fact is fact. That’s the system. That’s the economic hamster wheel for art, for every one of the unwashed masses really.

I just feel that the loss is more poignant in the art world. The generations all have names that echo through history: Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Mozart, Van Gogh, Beethoven, Dickens, and on and on. The thing is creativity requires such of level of sensitivity, such a level of devotion if it is to remain at its peak, that those names were probably not the truly greatest of their time. The Masters of any craft were only those that waded through, fighting, and persevering over rejection to have their works known. The artists form of winning the lottery. The others, the names we don’t know, but were most likely superior in talent simply gave up. The rejection that any artist must face can be cruel and harsh (most often needlessly so), but the very creative, the very sensitive cannot suffer the onslaught of rejection all artists must face, so they fold, quit, bury their dream … and the world is deprived of another genius because the men with money didn’t find that creative soul in time, or that soul didn’t want to sell. The result is the same either way.

Think for a second. It has only been the last century or so that we have started to add some women’s names to that echoing list, isn’t it? Does that not seem odd? Does that not scream my point to you? For the entire history of mankind’s creativity, only in the last hundred years have women become artists worth taking notice of?

It is about the sale. It is about money. And those of us who don’t cave to business corruption in our crafts suffer. We starve, but, here is the point to stress my good artists, my many brothers and sisters in creative arms, if you are starving because you refuse to pander your work to the masses, to change it, to pervert it, so someone with more money than some African countries can make another billion? Well then, you aren’t a starving artist. No, you have your honor. Your empty belly rumbling is your choice. That makes you an anorexic artist, a small comfort when you watch what the populace is told by the rich men is quality work in whatever craft you express yourself through, but a comfort none the less.

Caricature of Trump by the very talented Court Jones. Check out his other works at www.courtjones.com

Caricature of Trump by the very talented Court Jones. Check out his other works at http://www.courtjones.com


Flattered by Star Wars Fans!

I was unaware that within certain circles, more so than my close friends that is, people want to know my opinions on George Lucas selling Star Wars to Disney and the blatant statements that there will be new Star Wars movies.

I have received a ton of messages today alone.

So I say, “Wow!” and “I’m flattered.”

The Skywalker saga has always been my “Orphan Child of Destiny” story of choice. I enjoyed what Lucas did with the original trilogy, blending more theology into the Orphan Child of Destiny story, than the others. Shy of Moses, of course. I have enjoyed many of the additions to the Star Wars expanded universe over the years. There are some entertaining books and comics out there (some really suck) but there are great ones too.

What do I think of more movies? 

Despite the prequels, I still would take my kids to go see a new Star Wars in the theater. I see it as no different than parents taking their children to a game by their favorite professional sports team. It isn’t the same players they watched when they were children, but the enjoyment can still be there, sharing a moment with your child.

What do I think of George Lucas?

That is the tougher question. I respect what he did in the seventies. How could you not? He wanted to have as much creative control as possible. Again, bravo…but…somewhere in all the massive mounds of money, I think he lost the artist that wanted that creative control…and it only became about Control! No longer creative. Having never had the chance to speak with him, I will not judge a man or cast about names like so many of my fellow fanboys love to do. All I can say is I have hopes for successes of my own…but if the price of success was to lose the creative part of me and simply want control, then I’d have to say I pity George Lucas. Pity a man who just sold a company for Four Billion dollars, you ask? Yes, because as an artist you can easily sell your soul, your spirit, but that seems to be a non-renewable resource. When it’s gone, it’s gone, and you give the world Gungans instead of daydreams.

I care nothing for money. I’m just a man, an artist, soul intact, creative controlled. 

So pity, that’s my answer. I pity George Lucas. Imagine selling a dream? A dream is something most people only get to chase after, but to catch one, and then sell it? Wow….yeah, pity.

 


Celebrity Sex Scandal! You Won’t Believe Who is Doing Who!

Don’t worry we’ll get to the gossip of what famous celebrity is screwing who in a minute. Let’s talk politics. Not listen to Nick pick a side, no, no, that’s what I want to discuss – the whole side picking part. How do you do it, hmm? All information on any given democratic election (the country doesn’t matter) arrives at you second, third, fourth, or even fifth hand.

Television: Our guiding light in the dark, hallowed be thy name. All networks, all programs are paid for by sponsors. These companies spend millions of dollars to advertise their whatevers, let’s say Thneeds, so, of course, if a network is heavy on the advertising for a product that a political candidate exemplifies, then sure they’ll subtly or ham-handed plug that politician. Information from television should be highly suspect, even debates, you only see a piece of the whole picture.

Print Periodicals: With the information age print newspapers and magazines are seeing monstrous hits. The same rules of advertising influence mentioned for television are double for print with their revenues flagging, but you receive the added bonus of having a journalist color an article with their opinions. I can only speak for articles printed in the USA here, but, somewhere along the line, in the last twenty years, the concept that an article is supposed to be written third-person non-biased was lost….I think that happened somewhere in the early 90’s maybe as early as the mid 80’s.

The Net: Bloggers get paid off constantly to endorse a movie or tv show, depending on the reach of their audience. Anything you read online should be taken with a micron of salt. Search engines like Yahoo and Google are simply interactive billboards. I have never read a Yahoo news article that was not full of typos and personal opinions. Hell, even me, I’m being completely unbiased with this article. I am writing about the modern democratic process. I am not selling you anything, but only asking you to take a second and examine why you believe a certain point to be fact. I am influencing you to… think for yourselves… Ah, gasp, never! I admit that isn’t the same as trying to market you a new gadget or food product, but still it is influence.

Word of Mouth & Social Media: That’s all that’s left right? What your friends and family say. Really? You want to know the scary part? This is actually the most common way people form political opinions. Their peers and parents. Political ideology is handed down generation to generation. An inherited opinion does not make it an informed source. Sorry, grandpa may have been, or still is, a swell guy, but human opinion is opinion. The most suspect source of all political information.

Now? Who is screwing who in the world of celebrity? I have no idea. I wanted to show you how advertising works. I pulled you in to read an article based on your impulse to read about horny actors and athletes. False advertising? Welcome to reality, take a second and think for yourself please. I wish you all clarity of thought. Cheers!


Reread Green Eggs & Ham Before You Post Another Word!

The internet and its spastic child social media are wonderful communication tools. But, I have noticed over the last decade as chatrooms morphed into Facebook and Twitter, plus their smaller stepchildren like Pinterest, Goodreads, and IMDb, that everybody has an opinion on everything. Alright, cool, that’s nice to see, but I feel you should keep in mind the question: would you actually say the things you type to someone’s face?

Our world is entertainment fueled and addicted. Movies, TV, music, and even books still hold more import for everyday people than their real life relationships. Think, “Gee, I wish my boyfriend were more like So&SO.” Nothing wrong with that either as long as you realize he may be thinking the same of you – compromise.

Here’s the problem: with so many avenues for people to talk or “Geek out” over their favorite new entertainment, I have noticed a counterculture subgroup of people that hate what everybody likes, only because other people like it. Please, don’t do this. If you have to call me Nick i Am, then so be it. But, always try something before you say you hate it. Watch a movie more than halfway, watch a TV show past the pilot, read a couple hundred pages of a book, before you say “I do not like Green Eggs and Ham!”

I read Twilight, not for me, but I read it. I read Fifty Shades of Grey, not for me, but I read it. If there is a specific reason you don’t like something other than that other people do like it, then be specific in your criticism so the world will know you have your reasons and aren’t being a petulant toddler. Here’s an example: I read Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, and enjoyed the first four novels, but as the series went the immature choices the main character Rachel makes time and again, her constant struggles with bisexuality and her daddy issues became too much, and I felt the character needed to grow more if the series were to continue to my tastes. Now, that does not make Kim’s major series a bad series. It means that for me as a reader I no longer enjoyed the work. But, you see how I gave legitimate reasons for no longer liking the books, and proof that I had indeed read them and not played the childish Green Eggs & Ham card?

When you badmouth a work of entertainment that you haven’t witnessed for yourself, you are only hurting and limiting yourself.


Sexual Currency

I write this as a father, as a husband, and as a son; not as an author. Please, remember that throughout. I am not offering a professional critique or judgement about style or stilted dialogue.

I write this because I hate seeing women being taken advantage of. Historically speaking, empire after empire has proven just how easy it is to subjugate, suppress, and enslave women. That is nothing new. Appalling and immoral? sure, absolutely, but it’s still the case. What I see now, and have been seeing culturally over the last few years in our media, I find even more appalling because, you see, mankind is now using that very sexual repression as a tool against women.

This may come as a surprise to a lot of men, but women are people, too. What a shocking concept! Women are living, breathing humans with sexual needs and desires? Wow, I never would have guessed it!

Here’s what has me saddened – instead of women finally having those sexual shackles removed, they’re now being financially taken advantage of, a molestation of their finances just for a chance to slacken or excite those desires.  It is happening on TV, at the cinema, and in the book world. Erotica as a sub genre of romance, is fine, healthy even. Most women want their sexual excitement to be subtle and building, not the in-your-face aspect of pornography, “I’m here to fix your cable. Oh, you can’t pay, but your nymphomaniac bi-curious roommate just came home? We’ll work something out.” Please add the cheesy porn music  of your choice.

Most women don’t want that. The greedy forge of MANkind knows this. I wish that the world was run on a currency system backed on the milk of human kindness and not gold, silver, oil, or entertainment. But, we don’t live in that happy world. So, all that female sexual repression, dating back the length of human existence, is now a nice shiny new collar for women to wear.

I don’t want that for my daughters, for my wife, or for my mother.

Throughout any of this media frenzy of female sexual predation have you heard women say, of said book, show, or movie, “It is a well crafted story of the trials of a girl transforming into a woman.”?

No, you hear some variation of, “Naughty, raunchy, or sexy.”

New millennium, new versions of vices and temptations; same old greed based repression and advantage. Only this time women can choose to wear that collar of repression or not.

I suppose all I can do is pay attention to the women I care about, so they don’t feel that pressing need of transference. Love and play with my daughters, so they don’y have Daddy-issues later in life. Love and care for my wife, treat her with compassion and  trust. Love my mother for all she has done for me… and hope that the strength of a real man is enough.

 


Ghost Buster!

Ghost writing is at an all-time high in the publishing industry. For those of you who may have heard the term but never looked into what it meant, simply put, Ghost writing is when somebody writes a book, article, or what-have-you for somebody who cannot write. The Ghost writer gets paid but they are allotted none of the credit. They now have to sign non-disclosure agreements before the publisher will tell them who it is they are to write for (trust me, I’ve had two offers this year)

Sounds kind of like fraud, right?

In any other field that’s what we’d call it. Can I get a Milli Vanilli from the congregation? Amen!

But in publishing? Oh well, that’s just the way it’s done. If some celebrity wants to write a book about weight loss, in steps a Ghost writer. If a tired industry dinosaur that has written twenty, thirty, forty, or more novels already and just doesn’t feel like it? Why retire when their publisher will bring in a Ghost writer to pen some generic story for them? People buy it because, “I just love books by So&So!” No matter if it’s the same old story rewritten, over and over, and over again.

Why would anybody do this, you ask? Money. Pretty sad how often history gives us that answer, huh? No matter how unethical the question those 30 pieces of silver always seem to win. The young writer that wants to break into the dying industry of publishing will take their 15 grand (tempting, again trust me, I know) and hope that they will make the connections to eventually receive the credit for their own work. The publishers win because with so few people reading it is easier to convince those few readers to buy a book by So&So (who they just Love!) than a book by Joe-blow No-Name.

I mean honestly people! There are books being Ghost written by that fictitious TV show character and  “Murder He Wrote” knock-off “Castle”! And they sell like hotcakes! Nathan Fillion seems like an alright guy for an actor, but a real Nikki Heat novel? Come on, by buying that you just helped crush the dream of an aspiring writer who could have been the next Hemingway. Nice.

What do we blame this phenomenon on? Is there anything we can point at and say it’s at fault for Ghost writing? Because we have to blame it on something. Oh, I know, let’s blame it on the rain, yeah, yeah……


Rainbows & Rocks a.k.a. Life with Autism

When you have an autistic child you learn to time your excursions to the opposite of most people. You can say it is wrong that parents of autistic children feel the need to go out to parks and stores when the crowds are low, but I’m a realist and “awareness” just doesn’t cut it when you have a child like mine.

So, when Paige was around three we went to the park right after a heavy thunderstorm. Most people had yet to venture forth and we had the place, though soggy, to ourselves. The park had a well manicured garden section, lined with a neatly trimmed rosebush hedge. Paige plopped herself down near a fountain and grabbed a pair of rocks that had caught her eye and started playing with them. It was quiet and peaceful. I looked up to see a full arch rainbow and tried to draw Paige away from her rocks. She could care less that the sky was shining like a Christmas tree. She was focused on the rocks and ignored the rainbow. She wasn’t sucked into her world, mind you, she was more than willing to show me her rocks, but the beautiful trick of refracted light gracing the sky went ignored. You get used to that sort of thing as the parent of an autistic child, it’s disappointing, but you move on. Only this time I heard a child’s voice yelling, “Look Mommy a rainbow! Look Daddy! Look Billy! Look Sally a rainbow!” I turned to see we had been joined by a family and their youngest – around my child’s age – was skipping about and shouting for all the world to see the rainbow my kid could care less about.

It was one of those depressing, soul wrenching moments that you have from time-to-time. Why couldn’t my kid look at the rainbow and be excited? I could taste my resentment, burning and bitter, climbing up the back of my throat…until I heard the little boy screaming as if he was being tortured. Apparently in his excitement over the rainbow the little fellow had run headlong into the rosebush hedge. As his parents attempted to gently extract him, to a chorus of bloodcurdling screams, I looked down and Paige smiled at me, holding up her rocks.

Anger gone, I realized that life gives you rainbows and life gives you rocks…it’s up to you to watch where the hell you are going.


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