Fat Mogul vs. Giving Thanks

Although I’ve given a couple reasons as to why I haven’t been writing lately, which have been somewhat negative views on world politics of the moment, there are also quite a few happy reasons why I haven’t been writing as of late.

And actually, these are the primary reasons I haven’t been writing, as they have been keeping me incredibly busy.

And they are all reasons for giving thanks.

Reason #1:

I got a scholarship from Google!

Okay, so it sounds a bit cooler than it actually is.  I mean, it’s kinda cool, but, well, only kinda.  However, the bottom line is that I spend all of my summer and a fair portion of my spring racing the clock, as I was given an incredibly short time table for learning all I could learn about Android programming (the phones, not the robots…at least not yet) in order to present my capstone project by the end of last month.

I succeeded.  I graduated.  But I honestly felt like I was spending every spare moment either coding or learning all the things I could about coding from this online program.  It was intense, but I came out of it with some incredible knowledge.  Knowledge that I haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to do with yet.

Reason #2:

You remember that farm we bought last year?  Still got it.  And with that comes a whole heckuva lot of work.  Our gigantic garden took up most of the spring, while a few other projects, took up the rest of this past six months.  We now have nearly eighty birds, who, of course, required the building of a coop (well, that was retrofitted from a milking shed…and mostly done by my wife because of my allergies to everything in the world) and a chicken run because of our murderous barn cat.  I also spent a lot of time tuning up the 4-wheeler we bought last winter because it was barely capable of getting through the snow plowing we need it for.  I’m confident it will work much better this winter.

Reason #3:

My family.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love my family to bits.  However, they take a fair deal of effort.  And I’ve been loving it.

Reason #4:

Editing.

I’ve been working on cleaning up Agora Files 3 for all of you.  It’s actually ready now.  I’m just waiting on a cover and then we’ll do some release time action.  Of course, editing is a slow laborious process..so, having to cram this in amid all my other tasks has been taking up any concept of writing time I might have wished to have had.

Reason #5:

So…the others are positive, this one might not be considered as much.  I’ve not been writing because I’m not sure how much writing I want to keep doing.  Writing takes a ton of work.  And, well, when you put books out for public consumption, there’s a whole lot more work which has to go into everything which isn’t actually writing.  I don’t miss the marketing.  I don’t miss the scrounging around for people who will give me reviews.  I don’t miss the daily checking to see if I’ve had any sales.

I do miss the writing…and I’m working on putting it back into my daily schedule.  But I’m looking into some alternative options for what to do with the writing when it is finished.  Agora Files 3 will be published in the same manner as my previous books, but I’m not sure anything else will be.  More to come on that soon-ish…I hope.  But the bottom line is that I don’t think publishing is the method I want to utilize for my writing any longer.

Maybe…I don’t know…I could go back on all of that.  But I do know that a major portion of why I haven’t been writing is that simple fear of going back into that world of trying to make people care that I’m writing.  That was never the reason I wrote in the first place.  It was my own personal outlet.  An outlet I figured I might as well share with the world.  I don’t want to stop sharing…but maybe a more grassroots approach to sharing is what needs to happen.

 

Anyhoo, all those reasons are why I haven’t been pushing out the books I had hoped to start pushing out this year.  But, I am working on writing again.  I’ve been doing a bit of it, and I’m pushing myself to get it back into the daily schedule already.

And it might just happen that there won’t be as long of a wait for you to get to see what I’m working on.

Maybe…

No promises.

Love each other.

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Fat Mogul vs. Being a White Man

Another reason I haven’t been writing lately is that many of the things I’ve felt a need to get out of my head are things where white men are seen as the aggressors, as the bad guys.  As a white man it sometimes feels a bit odd to talk about these things, and as you may have seen in the past, I often feel the need to place a disclaimer before my posts noting that it’s not really my place.

However, after some soul searching, I can’t help but think that it IS my place.  There are a few reasons I could list off, but the one I want to focus on today is because if there’s anything we could use more of today, it’s perspective.

It’s not cool to be white anymore.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure when it was.  When I was a kid, I remember hearing about “The Man” and then finding out that he was me.  But lately, it’s gotten worse.  Being a white man, specifically, labels you as being any number of terrible things.  And more and more we’re seeing white men responsible for absolutely atrocious acts, not the least of them involving guns and bombs against those of the plethora of minorities we have in this country.

Racism is alive and well in this country.

“But, Adam,” you say.  “Not all white men are like that.  What you’re talking about above is a stereotype.  That’s racist!”

And my response is, you’re right.  Also, thank you for not using the term reverse-racist, because that’s just stupid.

It is racist.  And there are some who would say, “doesn’t feel so great now, does it?” right back to you.

And the truth is, no, it doesn’t.  I’ll come back to this in a moment.

Instead, I want to bring up a recent new article about a bunch of kids from Baraboo, WI who took a photo together of them giving the Nazi salute.  It’s a shocking photo.  Well, it should be…and for many it was.  For myself, well, it brought back some memories. Because as a younger man, I too became infatuated with many of these symbols which we identify as being symbols of hate.  I wasn’t very skilled as an artist, but I could draw a swastika.  I flew a Confederate flag in my room for a number of years.

Yet at no point did I connect these symbols with hate.  The Confederate flag was but a way for me to highlight my background when moving from South Carolina to Wisconsin.  It was a way of saying, “Hey, I’m from the South and I’m a Rebel, y’all!”  It was an attempt to express myself with an image that I knew had significant cultural history, but I only considered it from the white man’s perspective.  Similarly with the swastika.  It was a symbol I thought looked cool.  I didn’t draw it because of a desire to enact genocide.  I drew it because I could.

Now, I know, not all high schoolers are nearly as naive as I was, especially in today’s world where race is much more of a discussion than it was for me.  One of the kids who shared the image even noted how they were able to convince the black kid to join in.  These kids definitely knew what they were up to.

But do they truly understand the message they were presenting?

When I began to realize what it is I was saying with my flag, I hid it.  I folded it nicely and placed it in a trunk, which is where it sat for years until I finally disposed of it.  It wasn’t easy for me to give up something I felt a connection to, but that connection was a personal connection regarding my own personal history, and although I thought that displaying it publicly gave everyone that same message, the truth is it didn’t.

I spent several years ashamed that I ever flew that flag, trying to find reasons to justify it.  I no longer feel the need to justify it, and I don’t exactly feel shame, but I do feel embarrassed, as well as sorry for anyone who may have seen it and gotten the wrong idea.

So I can’t help but wonder how many of these kids today who are getting wrapped up in the resurgence of white supremacy are really in the same boat I was.  Do they have some sort of personal connection?  Or maybe they’re just following the crowd?  Do these kids truly believe that white makes right or is this something like eating Tide Pods where the full repercussions of their actions aren’t being thought out?

I don’t know.  But what I do know is that the one thing all of them need, as well as all of the rest of us, is a little perspective.  Just like young high schooler me when he realized that others may have completely different perspectives on that giant X across his wall.

Now, this brings me back to the original point of this whole post.  You see, I’m a white man.  And when people see that, there are a few things that their perspective can instantly tell them about me, things which aren’t helped by pictures such as the one shared in Baraboo.  Unfortunately, unlike the Confederate flag, and outside of sitting out in the sun for a few days, I can’t change the color of my skin.

But I’m tired of feeling as though I need to apologize for the color of my skin.  Yeah, sure, that’s what my ancestors caused people of color to feel for centuries, but the thing is, I don’t think they deserved it either.

Yes, there are many out there who look vaguely like me and are the reason those stereotypes exist.  Some are incredibly bold about it.  And I’m sorry.  Not sorry because I’m taking any form of blame for their actions, but sorry that anyone has to face any sort of bigotry.  Sorry that we still live in a world today where there is massive inequalities facing all of those who don’t fall under the heading of white male.  Sorry that people are dying because of the color of their skin, or their religion, or their lifestyles in general.

I’m sorry that our world sucks.

And although I won’t take the blame for it getting this way, I do hope to somehow manage to make it better.

White men have historically been pretty outstanding in the fields of aggression and suppression.  There are many who fall under that heading who are still trying to keep it that way.

I’m not one of them.  And I DON’T stand with them.

Love each other.

Fat Mogul vs. The World

I haven’t been writing lately.  And a big part of that is that I don’t know how to express what I feel the need to express.  Because the world is screwed up.  It’s always been screwed up, but right now we’re in this state of flux, a moment in history where things are moving, while staying the same.

And, well, I honestly don’t know what to feel.

Part of me, obviously, feels incredibly sad.  There are people out there who still cause violence due to the difference in skin color or religion or personal inclinations of others.  People who will literally kill other people simply because they are different.

But there’s still a part of me who sees hope.  Because this is how the world works.  It hasn’t even been two years since we said goodbye to the first black-skinned American president.  While many people saw this as a sign that racism was gone, the reality, of course, is far different.  During President Obama’s tenure, we saw that racism was alive and well, most notably through the cries of those who spoke out under the banner of Black Lives Matter.  Racism was still here.

Yet one can’t help but feel things have gotten worse since he left.

And, of course, if one was to assume that, one would also be willing to make the assumption that this is caused by our new American administration.

It’s not hard to do.  Our current administration definitely spouts a much more outward dislike for people who are different.  We’re building walls, we’re breaking foreign ties…heck, we are quicker to respond to illegal immigration right now than we are to physical disasters.

But this is how change happens.  We made what many saw as a giant leap forward for mankind with the election of a black man.  And, in some ways, it was.  A country like ours, steeped in a history of discrimination against people of color, put a dude with dark skin in its highest office.  For 8 years!

A look back over 60 years ago and we see Rosa Parks, whose simple act of not moving from her seat on a bus, sparked a revolution and a revival in the Civil Rights movement.  The organization of a bus boycott followed immediately after, which led to the bombing of four churches and at least two homes.

Why?

Sure, racism plays a (really big) part of it, but the simple fact remains: People don’t like change.

And so, I posit the theory that our current situation is a direct response to a change in how we see each other.  Under President Obama, we saw people emboldened to come forward about how they saw the world as unfair toward them, how people felt trampled on, and how people felt they believed better.  And we saw our country begin to make those first changes toward that goal of all men feeling as though they are truly created equal.

But then comes the inevitable bounce back.  The response of those people who see the world as it has always been.  Those people who want “America to be Great Again!”

Honestly, with all that in mind, I couldn’t think of a better political candidate than Donald Trump (at least if you’re looking for someone to win).  His slogan was perfectly matched to meet the mindset of people weary of all the change.  The world was changing so fast that so many people just wanted to go back to the way things were, even if the way things were weren’t all that great for everyone.

Making America great again was never about any specific moment in time, it was about remembering not having to consider that there might be people different than you who have different needs, or even people different than you who have the same needs, but don’t feel as though they are being met in the same way.

Making America great is about going back to the status quo.  About stopping all this changing and just getting back to something comfortable.  Because if there’s one thing change isn’t, it’s comfortable.

And so many Americans, well at least those who are on the line and don’t simply vote Red or Blue because that’s their favorite political color, saw this message and said, yeah, I could do with a bit less change right about now.

And others, of course, took things even further and acted upon their need to stop all the change.

Approximately two years ago I placed on here a plea to stop hating each other through a post about how Trump supporters might not be as bad as we might think.  And I still believe that they are mostly good people who are being led astray through the color he campaigned under or through other issues unrelated to his response to race and gender and all those other things which make people different.  But Trump and his administration stand for something I simply can’t support.  Something none of us can support.  They stand against the progress of equality.  They stand against the downtrodden, the weak, and those without a voice.  They are men (and yes, a couple of women) who believe might makes right and will use their power to plow through any roadblocks, seen most recently with the display connected to our recently anointed Supreme Court Justice.

Sure, it’s possible Kavanaugh isn’t guilty, but the truth of the matter wasn’t found in those hearings…or even sought after.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  My favorite color isn’t really Blue either.  I’m incredibly disappointed in many of the things President Obama did (or more importantly, didn’t do) during his presidency.  But the fact of the matter here is that he stood for something, simply because of the color of his skin.  And that something is being battled against by those who feel they have too much to lose by it.

We live in this terrifying world right now where people can’t even go to church without fear that they could be killed.  Where the President himself suggests that they should have had armed guards present to keep themselves safe, blaming the victims instead of the shooter or the current political climate which caused the shooter to believe he was right.  Yes, the President had, in the same interview, suggested the highest punishment for the shooter (and all shooters), but his ultimately answer was to shoot back.

Of course, these things don’t happen to white Christian churches, so at least the majority of people can still go to church comfortably. But the moment you start introducing metal detectors at the front doors of our synagogues and mosques and black Baptist churches, there’s no going back.  There will never be a time where you won’t have to take off your shoes to enter your church.

And unfortunately, that is the next step.  Because there’s very little President Trump can do to make the situation better.  Or anyone.  We are in the midst of change.  Big change.  A change which will hopefully, at some point in my lifetime, result in Americans (as well as people all across the globe) gaining a better respect for those who are different.  That those who vote Red or Blue don’t see the differences between them as being cause for violence.  That black men can walk down the street at night feeling comfortable in knowing the police see them as someone to serve and protect, instead of someone to protect us from.  That women can feel confident in coming forward with sexual assault allegations and knowing that justice will be served if they choose to do so (it’d be a lot better if women could feel safe from sexual assault…but I fear we have a long way to go before we get there).

It feels like just yesterday we were battling about whether or not transgendered individuals should be allowed to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.  And today we’re shooting Jews as they worship.

That feels like a major step back.

But I’m hoping…I’m optimistic…that this step back is only temporary.

And the only way we can make that happen is by us, the American people, speaking out against those who would split us apart by our differences.  If not by words, then by actions.  And not actions of the killing or hurting people variety, but by caring for your fellow men and women…and by voting for those who show they care for them as well.

That’s not a Blue or a Red thing.  That’s a person thing.

Love each other.

Fat Mogul vs Freedom

Although it may be forgotten sometimes amid all the alcohol and fireworks, of which I enjoyed plenty of both, the Fourth of July holiday in America really should be a time to revisit, whether internally or externally, just what has made our country into what it is today.

America’s past isn’t all peaches and cream.  We may have this great image of freedom in our minds, but, well, freedom is something we’ve continually needed to battle for in this country, even well after the date we declared that Liberty was an unalienable human right.  Right off the bat we had the whole Revolutionary War thing itself.  A battle where tens of thousands of people fought for over four years to achieve something they saw as their birthright.  Freedom.

I don’t have to tell you how that freedom really only fully existed for a small percentage of the population, those who were white, male, and owned property (at least in most states).  For those who were not part of that group, it must have appeared quite disappointing, to fight for their rights, only to have them owned by some other group of rich people, these ones, of course, living right here next to them, instead of overseas.

Well, actually, considering how well manipulated we have always been as a country by those with money and power…they might not have ever noticed.

That’s why some believe that the South as an entity could be so wholly behind the secessions which led to the Civil War.  Approximately 32% of white families in the South owned slaves.  The rest simply weren’t wealthy enough.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s still an astounding number of people using other people as workhorses, but still…not quite the majority by any means.  So why would so many people fight to keep their slaves when they, in fact, had none?

Rich people.

There are two sides of the rich people coin to consider here, which are still there today.  The first being the most apparent.  I might not be rich now, but the American Dream means I could be someday and wouldn’t it suck if I finally got rich and wasn’t able to buy slaves then?

The other is that the rich people manipulated the message of why they needed to secede.  Although the story was utilized much more fully during the Reconstruction period after the war, the reason for secession was presented to the people as a rather simple one:  They’re taking away our rights!

That message is a pretty good one to use, considering how even back then we were a nation who loved to preach the gospel of the Revolution.  How many young men heard that their rights were being taken away and saw this as an opportunity to be the new freedom fighters?

This message still works incredibly well today.  One of the reasons we have the president we have today is because he did such a fantastic job of presenting himself as someone who would take things back to those glory days.  I’m not certain he defined the period of American history he was pointing to when he wanting to make America great again, but he was using that same message we’ve seen throughout our entire history.   And honestly, when it comes to looking at his focus of shaking up Washington and breaking down the corruption and waste of tax dollars, how can’t one hear a little bit of that rallying cry of the Revolution.

And his timing honestly couldn’t have been better.  We are in a period of immense civil unrest.  Take a look at this list from Wikipedia on protests and riots in America over its history.  I’m not going to try and pretend this is a comprehensive list, but it should be seen as a list of notable occurrences in our nation’s history.  Just looking at the past 40 years, we’ve gone from approximately 6 in a decade to nearly 30 in the past 8 years.  That’s double the number shown for the previous 10 year period.

Now take a look back a bit higher up on that list to the period preceding the civil war.  There are 16 incidents listed for the 1800-1849 time period.  And then the same number for 1850-1859.  There were four times as many incidents per decade in the ten years leading up to the Civil War.

And what was the straw that broke the camel’s back?  The election of a president.

We may today see Lincoln as this paragon of freedom, but his primary focus was not abolition.  In fact, he was quite vocal about how he was not an abolitionist.  He often talked about other options, such as shipping all the slaves off to Liberia.  That’s definitely not the message we want to hear about America’s greatest president.

If you look closer at what was happening at the time, it makes plenty of sense that he didn’t go into office spouting off about how he was going to take away everyone’s slaves.  Our nation was highly divided.  It was already apparent that we were falling apart.  His focus at the time of his election was not one of freeing the slaves, but of not being the guy responsible for causing our great nation to cease to exist.

Not that any of that mattered on Juneteenth, when the slaves were told they were finally free.  When they were told that they had finally achieved what this nation had promised them for so many years.  When they, as a race, were able to see what this American Dream could all be about.  Whether it was his intention or not, Lincoln became the man responsible for freeing the slaves.

Well…sorta…It would only take another hundred years of fighting for their rights in order to be able to use the same water fountains as white people, or to be able to vote.  Not to mention that the Emancipation Proclamation was not responsible for freeing a single slave itself.  And then you can look into how this quickly led into our tradition of incarcerating black men and women for relatively petty crimes in order to use them for hard labor in prison camps.  Or…

Alright, that’s getting a little off track.  Lincoln was a central figure in America’s history and can be seen as a man who freed the slaves, even if his acts themselves did very little in the actual scheme of things.

But he was a man who was elected to office during a time of civil unrest which led to some pretty drastic changes around our country, even if they took some time to land.

He was a man who did not believe white and black men should have equal rights, who didn’t want them voting, serving on juries, or even marrying white folks.  Even at his best, he only offered the right to vote to those who had served for the Union during the Civil War.

Honestly, freedom happened in spite of him.  The people simply didn’t give him any other choice.

I can’t help but wonder how our country will change this time around.

Side note: Did you realize King George III’s reign began in 1760?  Just five years before the Stamp Act Congress, which is what we consider the start of the American Revolution.

Just saying.

Fat Mogul vs. Agora Files Part III

It’s done!

You know, that book I’ve been working on finishing as the final part of that thrilling series I’ve been working on for nearly a decade now?  Yeah, that one.  It’s done!

Well, mostly.  I mean, the primary writing and editing pieces are done.  There’s still the beta reader notes to receive and work with, the book formatting, the book cover, and a whole host of other things to finish before I get this book out to you folks, my faithful readers.

And I’m so excited to finally get it done.  Not just because it has been an all-consuming process of my brain as I’ve been trying to determine how best to get everything together and wrapped up in this final book without it coming across as a giant pile of exposition hiding in the resolution.

Will all your questions be answered?  No, definitely not.  This book wasn’t intended to be one with all the answers.  It was intended to be purely action.  Of course, once I began developing the world that Cyrus and company live in, I couldn’t help but want to give pieces of it, to give you a hint of how this world works and why Cyrus (and Eve, of course) must do what they do.

But there are far more answers than I had thought I’d be able to get in there.  I rewrote this book countless times in order to get as much answered within the action as possible, while also focusing as much as possible on wrapping up the narrative which, let’s be honest, is convoluted enough as it is.

And I honestly believe you will be incredibly happy with how it wraps up.  Sure, there will be parts you won’t like.  I can’t please everyone.  But the ride itself feels like it completes itself the way it was always intended to be completed.

Of course, now I feel in this weird place, as I often do at the completion of the bulk of the writing effort on any book.  Where to go next?  I still have one full draft of a novel sitting on my hard drive that I’d like to complete, which, I really should, considering how much more appropriate it is within the current political climate.  I have a whole pile of short stories I’ve been holding off on writing.  Ones which are incredibly experimental, but if they work out the way I have envisioned, should be simply incredible.  Yeah, I know, that’s a bit of back-patting for something I haven’t even begun yet, but I’m so excited for those as well.

And then, of course, there are a whole host of other projects I’ve been slowly working on, including my chapter book, a short film with a buddy of mine, as well as a new series of blog posts that I really want to get to.

In short, I’m ready as ever to push out some content.

But not today.  Today, I’m simply sending you a message because I want you to know that I haven’t forgotten about all of you, even if it has been nearly three years since my last novel was released.  But this one, in my opinion, is definitely worth the wait.

Have fun out there!

Book Review: I, Crimsonstreak by Matt Adams

I may know a thing or two about superheroes, or so I like to think, so when I tell you that I, Crimsonstreak by Matt Adams gives you all those things you should absolutely love about the superhero genre, while also being capable of throwing in more than a couple of twists, you should feel confident that this is a book you should give a read to.

At it’s core, it seems rather simple.  A superhero, wrongly imprisoned, escapes in order to right the wrongs which led to him being imprisoned in the first place.  Only problem is, it turns out he is part of the problem.

And no, this isn’t some sort of introspective junk where he realizes that he as a superhero caused all sorts of trouble which is why the world went wrong.  I mean, he looks at the television, sees the news about the current leadership, and sees himself sitting at the right hand of his now-evil father, ruling the country with an iron fist.

Dopplegangers are one of my favorite comic book tropes!

I’m not going to say this book changes the genre by any great lengths, but it does do a fantastic job of keeping you guessing about what’s going on, while still showcasing fun new superpowers, intriguing action moments, and a whole lot of heart…precisely what a good superhero story should be.

Go check it out!

Book Review: Daughter of Magic by Karen Eisenbrey

I don’t think the timing of Daughter of Magic‘s release could have be any better.  I know, talking about the timing of a book’s release is a terrible way to begin reviewing it, but just as I am sitting down to begin to enjoy the warm summer days, I find myself reading through a book which completely envelopes the feeling of the summer days of youth.

Yeah, sure, this is a book about magic, real magic, and bad guys, and cool transformations into birds and stuff, but the whole time I read through it, I just kept thinking of my summers as a kid.  Exploring the world and learning about it.  And learning about myself.

This book may be set in a fantasy setting, with all those names that seem to weigh too heavily on either the consonants or the vowels, but none of that really matters, as this is a beautiful coming of age story where you feel as though you really are Luskell being on her own while her parents are out, learning about her family and about herself as she discovers there’s a lot more to herself than she had thought.

Eisenbrey may have given us a wonderful fantasy story filled with a sort of magic I don’t know if I’ve seen before, but she manages to do so with this grace that causes a sort of euphoria for our own youthful days of exploration.

Don’t get me wrong, the story itself is a whole lot of fun.  There are evil wizards, dead wizards, evil dead wizards turned good, and, you know…good wizards and whatnot.  There is amazing character development where each character in the story seems to have their own motivations for what they do, even those aforementioned evil wizards.

And there’s this spectacular world which Eisenbrey has built.  One I hope we may get to see a glimpse of again.

Buy it now!