Category Archives: Philosophizin'

Everything Isn’t Going To Be OK

I have a life mantra, a simple phrase that encodes and distills my own personal philosophy and a guideline for how I live my life. Many of us do, a sort of inspirational and motivational quote we pin on the corkboards of our hearts, something we turn to in times both dark and light. Most of those mantras came from wise and revered people, like Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, or Michelle Obama, or Mark Twain, or Dorothy Parker, or someone considered to be deep and learned or witty. Thinkers, philosophers, the lights of the human spirit.

My life’s philosophy comes from a terrible head coach of the Washington Redskins, a man unprepared and ill-equipped to run a team of people who run around and play for a living while sacrificing their physical and mental health for entertainment. A man who is little-remembered for good reason, and certainly isn’t wise, not even in a football sense. The saying that I hold as my guidepost to surviving life was espoused by a man whose signature playcall for the sportsball team I follow was this:


My guru is Jim Zorn.

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The Word “Redskin” and What It Means to This Washington Fan


A redskin potato, or a red skin potato. The jury is out.

I’m a fan of the NFL Washington Redskins, in case you haven’t noticed. My first memory of being a live, thinking, and functioning human is of watching a Redskins game in the basement of our house with my father and brother (as they lost to the fucking Cowboys, because of course they fucking did). I inherited my love of the team from my dad and sibling and it’s been part of my life ever since. I’m such a huge fan of this team, in fact, that I can’t watch them play and haven’t watched a Redskins game in its entirety without previously knowing the outcome in years. I know that doesn’t sound like being much of a fan, but I care so fucking much about what is happening that I lose my ever-fucking mind. A first quarter third-down stop by the defense leads me to an expletive-laced tirade about how lame the opposing team is and how I wish them all to die in a cancer fire, and that’s for a PRESEASON game. When they win (rare!) it brightens my entire outlook and psyche. When they lose (often!) it sends me into a bitter spiral of anger and despair. I actually frighten people who have the misfortune to be around me when for some reason I can see the game.

Yes, I have a problem. No, that’s not actually the point of this blog.

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Some Thoughts on Ferguson and Eric Garner

My blog is usually about ephemeral bullshit and inchoate rage about ephemeral bullshit. This post is not like those posts. Ya been warned.

I almost didn’t write this one.

The issues that I’m going to talk about are so politicized, so polarizing, and so inflammatory that I know I can’t even state my thoughts without angering someone, or a lot of someones, or even large swathes of entire political parties. Like yesterday’s post about feminism/gender equality, these issues are emotional and almost immediately cause disagreement. So it would be easier for me to say nothing, except to the people I’m close to who mostly agree with me.

Except I think that’s the coward’s way out. So here we go.

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Some Thoughts About Feminism and Being a Man

My blog is usually about ephemeral bullshit and inchoate rage about ephemeral bullshit. This post is not like those posts. Ya been warned.

I’m a feminist. It seems like it should be a pretty innocuous and easy thing to say – I believe men and women are equal and should be treated the same, and it seems obvious to me that this should be the case and it’s kind of unfathomable to me that there are people out there that disagree but there are – but it isn’t. For some reason the word feminism has been conflated into some amorphous thing that means different things to different people, to the point where successful women will publicly state that they aren’t feminists, because for some people feminism is a movement of man-hating shrieking furies (there are some who do vocally take offense to things like holding a door open for a woman, which is idiotic since I’d do the same thing for a 6’4” 270lb linebacker because it’s about politeness and not the idea that weak woman cannot push door but anyway, these people do in fact exist) while for others it’s about defining which wave of feminism we’re currently in and whether or not women having sex with whoever they want whenever they want are owning their sexuality or merely giving the Patriarchy what it wants because they are being influenced by media portrayals of sexuality and buying into the heteronormative narrative perpetuated by male-dominated industries and on and on (there are plenty of people like this; you can find them in the comments section of Jezebel and other places). In fact, it seems like there are as many definitions of feminism as there are individual people in the world, making the statement “I am a feminist” nebulous save for a vague sense of “I like women”.

So when I say I am a feminist, I am really saying I am a gender-equalist. That’s longer to type and say and includes a hyphen, but I suppose it is fitting since it doesn’t have decades of misunderstanding and bitter recrimination and in-fighting involved with it, so we’ll go with that.

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More Mass Effect 3 SPOILER Ending Thoughts – The Indoctrination Theory

OK. When it came to the Mass Effect 3 ending, I’d said my piece (spoiled and non-spoiled) and counted to three. I was good, I was finished, I was content. Then I had a brief conversation with a friend yesterday. He’d never played any of the Mass Effect games and wanted some questions answered, so he could put the frothing waves of rage into context. I answered them from my perspective. Then he said something about a theory that was the hot thing on the Intarwebs, something I’d paid zero attention to, a little thing called the Indoctrination Theory. I decided to check into this theory. What I read changed everything.

Essentially, my friend took a stick and jammed it into the anthill of my brain and stirred it all up. The rat bastard.

Oh, and if I haven’t been entirely clear, there are spoilers below the “Read the rest of this entry”. SPOILERS. Spoilers. (spoilers)

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My Spoiler-Free Thoughts About the Mass Effect 3 Ending, And Endings in General (Updated)

An angry gamer, via The Gamer’s Paradox.

I finished Mass Effect 3 this weekend. It took me a long time to get there. The game has a ton of content, and I played a lot of multiplayer as well (because playing multiplayer actually makes a difference in your single-player campaign – you don’t need to, but it helps if you aren’t a completionist. I, however, am both, so I played the shit out of the game and it still took me 10 days to play through). I am sad that my first playthrough is over, because I love the game and the series that much, but I’m already into my second playthrough, so that’s OK.

Before I could finish, though, I’d heard enough about the ending to make me concerned. No one spoiled it for me, thank goodness, but even though I made a great effort to avoid hearing anything at all about became impossible. What I heard, though, wasn’t about anything game-specific; rather, what managed to get past my filters was loud enough to make it unavoidable.

That’s what’ll happen when a huge fanbase goes out of their ever-lovin’ minds.

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Welcome to the Blog Home of Tabula Rasa, Indie Author

Welcome to my blog. What you see is what you get.

Anybody that reads my blog with any frequency knows what an eclectic mess of random subjects and styles and curse words it is. Everything is just strewn around everywhere, making my blog a hoarder’s living room. Exercise reviews lay piled up on NFL season discussions, writing “advice” tossed all over a collection of Walking Dead reviews so filled with vitriol that a puddle of green ooze is slowly spreading from them, all with an occasional sprinkling of excerpts from my work like rat droppings behind the cardboard boxes of everything else. It’s a mess. And like any committed hoarder, I refuse to clean it up. I don’t care how many experts tell me I should. I am going to remain here, squatting in the fetid morass of my own filth. Well, filthy collection of random thoughts, rants, reviews, and bouts of whining.

Oh, and it’s all my opinion, just like this piece here. It might be wrong, but it’s wrong with a string of eff-words splattered all over it.

Of course, this means I’m Doing It Wrong.

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On Being Nonreligious

I don’t believe in any kind of god. That probably comes as no surprise to anyone who reads my blog even semi-regularly, because I’ve indicated as such multiple times. I’m not ashamed of that fact. Being an atheist and saying so isn’t a big deal to me. On the other hand, I’m not one of those people who make atheism a religion and insists on preaching about the power of nonbelief and how ludicrous religions are and hypocritical and blah blah blah. I don’t honestly give a flying fuck what you or anyone else believes in. And like the Golden Rule, I’d just like the same in return. I don’t want to talk about religion or debate it, although I can. I have no interest. It’s the same thing with discussions about politics: there is not one thing I can say to a believer that will make them change their minds, and there is nothing one of them can say to me that will change my mind. So what’s the point? People who get off on debating that shit in person or on Facebook or Twitter and feel the need to fire slings and arrows at The Other Side constantly are really fucking tedious. I believe the Washington Redskins are the greatest organization in the history of the NFL. That doesn’t mean I’m gonna proselytize about that every day.

Anyway, what got me thinking about this was a recent article on Slate about how atheists are treated, particularly in the Bible Belt, and comparing it to closeted people so afraid of persecution from the community that they dare not come out of the closet. It’s mostly personal anecdotes and study results, including the 2006 University of Minnesota study on the perception of atheism. Ever since I read it, it’s percolated in the back of my brain. I mean, nothing in it was new to me, and I don’t experience the same kind of shunning from my neighbors that the people in the article describe – I don’t talk to my neighbors anyway, because the geographical oddity that resulted in us all deciding to live in the same area is a flimsy basis for me to put in the effort to talk about mulch and the weather – but I’ve found myself thinking about it off and on ever since.

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Write What You Feel

(Disclaimer: like all my blog posts, this was written off the top of my head. I have no idea if it makes sense. In all actuality, I should put this disclaimer before everything I write.)

One of the first pieces of advice every aspiring writer gets, shortly after the obligatory “Show, don’t tell”, is this: “Write What You Know”. It’s good advice, in a way. Writing what you know allows you to bring depth and experience to a subject and makes your words ring true to a reader’s ear. If you’re a lawyer, chances are you can make courtroom drama and backstage legal wranglings seem like a peek into a world few get an accurate glimpse into. This can help make your story a lot more gripping and interesting. It also leads to some really shallow stories.

Take John Grisham. I’ve read his stuff before, back in the day when I was in high school. The whole lawyerly angle was cool and neat and nifty, especially since I was fifteen. As the years went by, though, I became acutely aware that, while the legal angles seemed perfectly plausible, the characters didn’t. Everyone looked and acted like cardboard cutouts or archetypical stock characters from every cop show since Dragnet. Identifying with characters is a huge part of investing in a story, and it’s not easy to feel empathy for a mannequin. A lot of authors follow this same path. The ex-cop with the crime stories. The doctor with the medical dramas. Most of these have all the heart and soul of a Wal-Mart holiday display.

But the best ones, the ones that resonate, aren’t just about what the author knows. They are about what the author feels.

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We Can Only Tell the Stories We Know

A lot of people loved the first Matrix movie. I did as well. Unlike me, an awful lot of people who watched the next two movies didn’t like them at all. The story didn’t seem to go the way they wanted, or seemed pointless, or didn’t have enough of what made the first movie great. It’s understandable, in a way. The first movie was the traditional Coming of Age story people know and love: the Hero learns of his destiny, gradually accumulates understanding of his power and role, and ends the movie committed to his cause and in the fullness of his power. Yay! It’s very traditional, the ending is happy and all go-get-’em-feel-good-pow that audiences love. It’s a character arc that can do nothing but rise.

So when the Wachowski brothers continued the story, with the understandable desire to finish the saga of Neo and the Matrix and all that stuff, it wasn’t received as well. The character arc dipped and meandered, things happened that people didn’t expect or particularly care for, and vilification ensued. It wasn’t what the audience wanted.

Well, you know what, audience? Tough titty.

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