Monday, December 1, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
So here's the deal. With the compacting of the publishing industry into (temporarily) one of a more direct, from author to audience, type of model, there will be an increase in viral and guerilla marketing that is going to be taking place in the interweb. Soon you'll have more and more authors and publishers creating and maintaining online communities and places where they can get creative with wholesome marketing.
What is wholesome marketing you ask?
I'll tell you.
Wholesome marketing is a term that was invented about 3 minutes ago when I sat down to type up this blog. It is a term that is concerned with the execution and implementation of some sort of worthwhile goal and product. While I am only focusing on books, others could use wholesome marketing ideas to promote community acupuncture, raw chocolates, environmental law services, whatever. It basically is concerned with the marketing and selling of some sort of product that doesn't hurt or harm anyone. Period. I'm sure there is some way to say that one or more of those products do some sort of damaging thing, for all intents and purposes, they don't.
Anywho, this brand new virtual marketplace and collapsed business model is directly concerned with making a conceptual place where the work in question is something worth owning. And that's good for everyone, right?
It's not good for the mega conglomerates that are vomiting money. Border's is probably done at the end of the year.. So we're left with some creative options. Look here for some good things that are being done in the publishing world and you'll see that all is not lost.
It's up to the guerillas and the viruses now.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Anywho, the people around us have started upping their game a little bit to show their support (only on Halloween and Christmas, though. We're not crazy). And today, a beautiful and rare Autumn day, two of my neighbors are putting up their lights. Now, old me would've said that it's crazy to do this, damn the weather. I mean, there is still a long time before Christmas. But, even with the ecological reasons, I like it.
Christmas is so much and so little: the birth of a savior, the most magical day of the year for a lot of kids, the corporate necessity, a time to "have" to go home and visit with friends and family. It's extremely multi-dimensional.
Couple that with my intense fascination with all things cultural and social, and bring it fast and early; I love the holidays. So guys, open up the minds, try not to be too cynical, and have a merry holiday season. Already. In mid November.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Is it weird to have mixed emotions about the cornerstone of Western education? We preach to these students that copying without giving credit is wrong wrong wrong, but is it really that bad? It all comes back, I think, to the story of bootstraps and buckling down. Doing work, getting credit, getting paid, all that stuff. However, it's all tied to the idea of getting what you deserve. The capitalist-anti-socialist idea of what's mine is mine, goddamn it.
What's an alternative? Do we just throw the book out the window and wish for a time when everyone shares, everyone gets money, there are no poor artists, and we all hug instead of fight? Or do we say that college is a time for your own thoughts, your own expressions, your own, individual ideas? Maybe that's the answer, but by now I've forgotten the question...
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Born, bred, and raised Baptist, I didn't question it (IT) until I was about 16. I saw some horribly racist and closed-minded things in youth group that made me stop and think.
And then it happened.
I went on a personal journey through scientific reductionism, seeing all of life around me as a product of biological and chemical energies, which led me to a state of depression. Later, I found solace in the teachings of Robert Monroe, a self-described astral traveller, but in the end was left unfulfilled with the lack of morality in a scientific approach to spirit. Soon afterward, I grasped for anything, which led me to the intriguing field of demonology and ghost hunting. My fears and hopes were soon realized when I was temporarily possessed, and back on the journey I went. I found myself working in a bar under the tutelage of a Philosophy Master's student who introduced me to Ken Wilber and Spiral Dynamics, and I was hooked. I went on a multi-year journey of categorizing and labelling those around me, but it left me so disconnected with my fellow travellers, I left that trip for "higher" ground. I found what I was looking for in experiential gnosis through Salvia and Gnostic teachings. However, I also inadvertently joined a couple of cults, so I quit that shit ASAP. Now, I'm a spiritual maverick and moderate, constantly looking for some new thing that brings together the finer points of Christianity and spiritual fulfillment from gnostic experience. If religion is a tool of evolution, I can't wait for the next avenue to present itself. If it's a tool of GOD, it's interesting to see how all of the different religions fit together. If it's a biological impulse to vilify our seeming inconsequential relationship with the immensity of the Kosmos, then bring on the worm food. I'll see you at the clinic.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Next, you need to find a spot to lie down. You want to make sure that you are lying down with your head facing north, properly aligning your chi with the ley lines around the world.
Breathe. Follow the breath. Let your muscles relax with every breath, sinking you into the floor, the ground, whatever.
As you get good at this, eventually, you'll come to realize that all of reality seeps into you during these moments of quiet, calm reflection. All of reality is already inside of you, and vice versa, it's just that most of the time we're so busy talking with our mouths that we don't talk with our souls.
Practice this for weeks, months, whatever. Eventually, you'll feel your insides resonate with the natural electric fields all around us.
Now you are starting to access that area of reality that has all the answers. Ask God or god or Buddha or Mohammed or some crazy Jinn (whichever one you believe in at any specific stage of evolutionary development that you are in at that given moment) to show you the way.
He or she or you will.
Now you know the future of whatever it was that you wanted to know about.
However, you will probably start to see the blurring of time in every other aspect of the world. That's just a byproduct.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
how often do we take words for granted? they are everywhere, in our ears, on the page, in little notebooks we keep by the bed. and yet in them are the dreams, thoughts, hopes, and fears that we all share on some level. propaganda, motivational tracts, spiritual texts, memoirs pile up on my desk, and yet i don't have enough words around me. if i could bathe in them, i would. simply for the little words to cleanse my bottom, the big ones to exfoliate, and the cursive ones to feel like bubbles. sometimes we don't choose our words too wisely, sometimes we think long and hard about the ones that we need for a given situation. but out there, in there, are the words for every occasion. granted, often the words are out of our grasp. we search for the specific nouns and verbs that convey the right meaning, and the remain elusive. other times, they pour out of our mouths like vomit after too much jager. but they're just words. we assign meaning to them, applications for our brain to assist us in creating some sort of picture to go along with them. we find a quote that we like and we parade it around for others to marvel at its ability to capture something so surreal, so sublime, that we can't believe that it could be said any other way. we look at books, spilling over with words, and we all have one or two (or more) that we can't part with. others that we lose so quickly because someone else HAS to read it. but they're just words, right?
“This newer strain of the H-virus has now adapted the material of this world into transferring its life-code and protein strands across vast distances of galactic space. It has now infected the two closest planets, a distant moon, and is attempting to stoke the nearest star into speeding up its own life cycle, threatening to create a system able to support more of the virus. This is a rapid change from the last scan of the sector and represents a huge difference in the current modeling techniques used by this office.” He paused and looked around the room. “We now need all of your help in how to not only reverse this process, but also how to inoculate other class B worlds which might create and sustain other strains of the H-virus.”
Jules shuffled in his seat, knowing that his presentation would be coming up next.
“Jules Grant, senior virus advisor, will brief you all on the nature of this specific strain. Jules?”
He got up and walked to the podium, slightly slouching under the weight of the eyes that were focused on him. He saw Angie in the front row, her stockinged legs crossed tightly.
He cleared his throat. “This is a nasty bug. You have to understand that.” He clicked his control and an image appeared behind him of a desert planet. “This is Mercon 6, a class B planet in the Harpoid sector, 8 cycles after an H-virus outbreak. A particularly nasty mutant group of cells infested the geothermic patterns of the planet and used it to break most of the organic matter into silicone, carbon, and methane in roughly 200 orbits around its nearest star.” He looked out at the group. Guy, guy, guy, ugly chick, guy, guy, hot chick with a weird lazy eye, guy, guy, Angie Harmon – the most beautiful corporate PR rep he’d ever see or ever will see, guy, guy, ugly chick, guy, guy. “It is in the nature of the virus to use up the organic matter on a planet in a rapid fashion. It eats through the core, sends receptors in the sky, and eventually, after reaching a point of critical mass, pass its genetic code to nearby planets, moons, and eventually – if our models are correct – into the entirety of space.”
“We have every reason to believe that this is the same type of virus currently spreading in sector 9 and capable of reaching that level of transmission in 2 cycles or less.”
“What about the current research suggesting that this virus is a thinking virus, capable of long term adaptation and mutation?” Angie looked up at him as she asked.
Angie, beautiful Angie. Jules locked the image of her in his mind for a later private viewing. “Well, the research is still out on this, but I think that it is not in the realm of science fiction. While the different H strains have adhered to similar patterns of development and evolution, their paths are as different as the planets where they are grown. So, I agree with the current findings. These are not like the cellular viruses that are acting only on protein stimulation. These might very well be sentient viruses.”
A soft murmur fell on the group as Jules smiled at Angie, silently thanking her for the alley-oop. She returned his smile with no reaction at all as she went back to jotting down notes on her opened pad. Dornan rose and walked to the podium.
“So, knowing what we know, how do we stop it?” His eyes looked from Jules out to the group. “Get to work, people.”
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Maybe then we'll realize that there aren't as many things separating us as they make us believe.
imagine ingraining yourself into a method, mode, and manner of behavior to such an extent that when it's over, you feel like something thick and real is missing. believe me, i've bitched so much about the job of bartending that i thought it was the end of the world when i had to put on those clothes and smile and flip bottles and whatnot, but as i sit next to my phone waiting for the occasional call from my friends, i am confronted with the realization that IT IS HARD TO LEAVE IT BEHIND.
i've puked on their patios, seen them change from single to married to parents, taken their keys, laughed, cried, and made some money with them, but now it's all different. now i'm the outsider, the excommunicated, the OTHER. days where the sun doesn't show, the rain almost falls, and the coffee isn't quite strong enough, it seems worse.
i miss my friends.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Additionally, I think that this is a metaphor for the way my day is going.
Which should raise my eyebrows as I ponder the nature of metaphor and how we as humans can read into anything some semblance of metaphor. But instead, I am struck with the smell of poo and as such, cannot concentrate.
Monday, October 20, 2008
“Thanks, hon.” Dornan Hepler sat down in his seat, the pages of the report sliding on the glass table. “Son of a bitch.” He reached over and pressed a button on the compod next to him. “Get me the president.”
TOOPI, The Office Of Planetary Irregularities, exploded into action. Junior assistants suddenly found their normally empty desks covered in paperwork, files, and reports that needed their attention. LCDs were piped with round the clock coverage of reconnaissance missions to the edge of the galaxy, coffee machines and caffeine pills were brought in by the truckload. Everyone in the office called loved ones and told them that they would see them soon, but not that soon. Everyone but Grant. He was busy jerking off in one of the stalls in the bathroom for the last hour.
“Jules, you in here?” The voice came through the door, shattering the image of the three tittied whore bouncing in Jules’ mind.
He stopped smacking his flaccid dick. “Yeah, must’ve ate something bad. Be right out!”
“Hurry up, man, this place just went crazy. The virus is spreading.” Jules heard the door close.
He looked down at his soft penis. “This isn’t over.”
* * * * *
Jules sat at his desk furiously typing, running searches and cross references on the planet 34778-B. He noticed the past few scans, dated 6 cycles ago and found no record of the virus at all. He plunged back into the computer looking for a precedent for this fast of a mutation.
“Conference room in fifteen. They’re going to want a report.” Harry looked down at him, the seriousness on his face.
“Got it, boss.” He grouped the files that he needed and sent them to his printer. He eyed the folder on his pc labeled “security risk” and moved the pointer over it. Two clicks later and a digital orgy of three tittied women filled his computer screen. They all stopped and looked at him. “Wish me luck, ladies.” He closed the image and walked to the printer.
He was standing behind Angie Harmond, her black stockings covering her shapely legs. He followed them up, up all the way to her tight, not-quite-big-enough butt, up the small of her back, slightly twisted, to her shoulders, and finally her head, turned toward Jules. “Take a picture, perv.” She grabbed the last of her docs and walked back toward her office in the corner. The big office.
His cheeks flushed, he glanced back to the printer as his own docs started printing. “shit.”
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Since I don’t work anymore, I’ve started riding mass transit. And it’s great.
For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m doing something good for the environment, I’m saving money, and I get time alone with my ipod. Those three things rarely coalesce into one grand thing.
But I’ve started noticing something. Everyone on the bus is in some way or another, isolating themselves from everyone else on the bus. I can’t say that I blame them; some of the odors and crazy eyes that I’ve experienced on the bus make me want to curl up inside of my ipod from time to time. But it also raises some pretty obscure and philosophical questions about the nature of our shared reality.
First, there’s the case of cultural music. With the spread of itunes and digitally downloaded music, I no longer have to listen to the music that some corporately sponsored entity deems as good music. I can let my heart run wild at the itunes store or download cheap mp3’s from my favorite band directly from their website. So while we all operate in the same space for a while as we leave downtown on our happy way to the suburbs, we can enjoy our own personalized music choice to our heart’s content.
Second, no one looks at anyone on the bus. There again, I can’t really blame them for this, as drunks start getting on the bus at about 3:00 p.m., and you can’t really tell what someone is going to do to you while riding on the bus, so for the most part, it’s safer to put some sort of blinders on and sit there with your head down, waiting for the moment when the bus pulls finally to your own stop. It’s like society’s limos for poor people. You get driven where you want to go, and if you have a laptop, iphone, magazine, newspaper, or whatever, you don’t ever have to acknowledge anyone else sharing the same space as you.
I don’t know which I like more, judging people for doing it, or judging myself for playing solitaire and listening to Xavier Rudd while we pass by Wendy’s and Arby’s. Just wait until that moment when you see someone that you kind of know getting onto the bus with their ipod earbuds locked and loaded. Try to get their attention. I dare you.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Dennis Edmons: essayist and philosophy dropout
Thomas Dale: self proclaimed prophet
Floyd Huntington: hack sci-fi / fantasy writer
Brian: First year grad student
bk: burnt out bartender
We contribute every once in a while, no real structure; if anyone wants to post, they post. Enjoy!
So I am taking this video course in economics for fun. And I’m so repulsed by the amorality of economics, so I’ve been trying to envision a healthy business model. And I think I’m on to something here…
-If you have something to sell, set a price for it. Say you have a CD you want to sell, and you think that it’s worth $10,000. And you go around and shop it from place to place and some company somewhere will give you $30,000. Sold.
-But, what happened to the bonus $20,000? Was that profit? Or excess?
-I know this is hard to do if nobody wants your stuff, but imagine this instance: you set up a price based on the amount of honest, hard work that you put into it. Say 200 hours on the production of the CD. How much was your time worth? $20/hour? More? Let’s say $30/hour. That’s $6,000. Think about that. That’s 600 CDs. If you do it itunes style. Actually, itunes only gives the artist something like $.08 per CD sold. For itunes, that’s like 75000 CDs. But I digress…
-Set up a price ceiling. Say you want to make $10,000. But, you want to sell the CDs for $10 a piece. So you market the thing, get some samples out there, maybe a single or two, and generate preorder excitement. Then you take the preorders, if you get less than a thousand orders, you take a little less than you wanted, and you start on the next one. If you get more, though, the extra could go to a non-profit, a charity, or back to the consumers by rewarding them by using percentages to charge less in relation to that price ceiling. If 2000 people wanted the CDs, they would get them for $5 a piece. Two benefits:
1-People will help market it for you, by trying to get more people to buy it, thereby decreasing its price.
2-You could offer the people incentive for paying $10 no matter what, with the knowledge that the extra money will go to a certain NPO or something like that.
-I have no idea why I thought it was that pressing for me to share that, but there it is.
But I noticed something the other night. After my fourth conversation with bar guests about him, I realized that two people referred to him as a machine and two others called him an animal. I’ve personally called him both without realizing the underlying implications of those opposite associations.
Face it. On the one hand you have an animal, a beast that hits the water and propels itself to the other side of the pool with instinctual fervor. And on the other hand, you have a machine, fulfilling its primary function which would be to move its parts in a manner to reach the other side in the shortest path possible. They are seemingly the embodiment of two very different things.
But are they really?
They both are non-thinking things. We can debate whether or not animals are truly thinking things or not, but for all intents and purposes, they are instinctual, not contemplative. The same with machines. They do not think about the shortest or quickest path, they merely plunge into the water in accordance with their programming.
Also, if you talk to an athlete who can perform to that level, they often speak of that non-thinking place where they go when they are in intense competition, that Zen like space of doing. Maybe that’s what we mean when we say that he’s an animal or a machine.
If you think about it, it’s pretty cool that these are the people on the international stage for all to see. These are the ones that find that Zen space. They are the ones that transcend the non-doing reality that so many of us humans are trapped in. We think, they do. And we applaud them for it and daydream that we are in their non-thinking shoes.
I awoke in my dream to find the snow falling. And I mean falling.
The storefronts were slowly covering with icy sludge, the sidewalk becoming more dangerous by the minute. I was riding in a rusty GTO, my ears ringing with the engine purring way too loud.
My wife, my boss, and an unnamed frail friend were the crew, and as we saw this apocalypse unfold around us, we drove on, furiously speeding away from the impending storm.
The flakes piled upon the window, the wipers trying to shield the clarity from the icy cover. And on we drove as the storm followed us, desperately trying to grip the car forever.
Behind us, a truck with overgrown tires and gun-toting rednecks in the back, pulled into the parking lot of a 7-11. They jumped out, springing for the door with evil in their hearts. I could feel it from here. We had to get away. And fast.
Out of the city, we started to make some distance between us and the storm. But it wouldn’t last forever. Soon it would overtake us for good. We had to find shelter.
Through the overgrown trees forming a canopy over the road, we saw our new sanctuary. An old library on the shores of a small pond waited to take us in. As we pulled in, the gas guage moved to empty and we coasted into one of the many vacant spots.
The door was open, so we made ourselves at home. Over the next few hours, more people walked through those doors, inexorably drawn to the culture contained in those books and stacks. There ended up being about 30 of us, all peaceful people happy to hole up during the storm.
Fights inevitably broke out, but they were easily quelled once we realized that only together we could reach the end of this apocalyptic journey. And soon, the snow stopped. After a week of icy dryness, the sun poked through the clouds and embraced the earth again. Little patches of green began to poke their heads out, and life, it seemed, would return to normalcy.
We decided I should man an expedition to the outside and see what had happened over the last month. So on we walked. Boarded up houses met our eyes, each one with a price tag on the door. Twenty dollars here, fifteen there, they seemed to be overly cheap to say the least, but I guessed the market had been hit pretty hard with the storm.
As we walked back to the library, distant engines could be heard slowly inching their way closer to our home.
I let everyone through the door, and was about to enter myself as I saw a truck pull into the library’s parking lot. Two men jumped out, each one carrying a rifle. I yelled back into the library for some of the men to come out here and greet our unwanted guests.
I remember them saying, “mornin’” as two more trucks pulled into the station, each with their own decorative gun-toters. I tensed up. And I could feel the weight of the others on me as I walked forward.
“Good morning to you. What can we do for you?” I talked to the little one in the front because he held a smaller gun.
“Well, we saw your place here and wanted to buy it.” Simple and to the point, he looked like a poor car salesman trying to bluff his way into a deal.
I laughed. “It’s not for sale, but thanks anyway.” I nodded to show him that he could leave, but he just smiled and looked back at the large man behind him.
“I wasn’t asking.” He cocked his small shotgun to illustrate precisely what he meant.
I knew I should’ve been afraid, but I wasn’t. I had spent the last bit of time building a community here. I felt for the lives of everyone in the library. I knew what we had sought when we found this edenic place. And I knew that we would fight for it. I turned around to see what my friends, my family, had brought to the confrontation. Blank stares and looks of hopelessness were all that greeted me. We had no guns.
“That’s what I thought.” He pulled up the gun, aimed it at my head, and with the shot ringing out, I found myself back in this room, covered in that so familiar cold sweat of prophecy.
This wasn’t the first vision, it wouldn’t be my last, but it still haunts me.
Funerals and Weddings…
Back in the day (and currently for some people), we used to have family reunions. A chance for the extended fam to get together and talk about the good days, play some horseshoes, and eat some hotdogs and potato salad. That trend is starting to fade.
Nowadays we’re all too busy with our own shit to bother with a get-together at some pavilion in a state park somewhere. We go about our little sheltered lives in our own little pods of reality, texting and facebooking, no longer constrained by geography. But it comes at a price.
Funerals used to be these things where everyone got together and mourned the loss of a loved one. Reverent, sincere, people silently walked around the funeral home and paid their respects to the other family members still breathing. Older members of the family were there as pillars to some as-yet-realized stability or continuity.
Today, they are our new reunions. We see people we haven’t seen in person in years. We catch up, talk about the good days, marvel at how quickly the little ones are growing, hug a little longer than normal, and exchange current contact info. But the old ones there see it as irreverent, ungodly.
My grandmother is particularly disgusted with the current state of funerals. She says that people are too loud, too happy. But she’s really stumbled onto something. It seems to me that we need that community, that family. And when there are no more summer picnics, no more volleyball or badminton tournaments, we have to fill that void somehow. We need those connections to be strong, stable.
The same could be said for weddings.
I’ve seen weddings from when I was a kid – these big, weighty dissertation-esque rants about the powerful god blessing the union and whatnot. But now they’ve begun to get shorter and shorter, more personalized. The reception, while it’s always been a party, now seem to be the focal point for many of the younger couples that are getting married. Fried pickles? Check. Delicious desserts? Check. Ample room for these two families to merge? Check.
It’s a beautiful thing to witness. And it gives me hope for the future. We need more weddings and funerals to keep our families together and changing. We need those moments where we celebrate a life lived or lives merging. We need each other. Because no matter how much we feel like it, we are not alone.