How I’m Feeling Right Now, aka Who You Gonna Call?

Have you ever played the game “Telephone”?

A phrase is uttered, and then it is passed through a circle of people until it is returned to you. What typically returns is warped, twisted, and not at all close to what it originally was. It is a lesson in finding out if people are actually hearing when you speak. It is often translated by their own thought process and is altered to make sense to them. Sometimes it is just tweaked because someone has their own agenda. Maybe they don’t like the person that started the round or they think it’s boring and want to spice it up. There are so many variables that result in the alteration of the phrase. As a game, it is a lot of fun.

Through listening, I have learned that a lot of my life has been passed around my friends like a game of telephone. While some of it is amazing to hear (ie. The story of Elfie and I running from a bear morphing into me cage fighting a black bear, or the time I stabbed myself turning into me removing my whole hand), there are things that have recently happened in my life that I really didn’t want to talk about. Things that really friggin hurt. Things that I needed to contemplate. Those that I needed while it was happening were most definitely spoken to. But they know that I’m not about to start a game of telephone that would affect someone else.

The best part about my friends is that when the “telephone phrase” reaches them, they genuinely want to know what was originally said/done/thought. I have so many amazing people in my life. The fact that they all feel comfortable coming to me for clarification, even when they may not even be a part of something, is a good thing. I’d much rather clear up any confusion than let something continue to escalate into something that it isn’t.

So, if you happen to read this and have any questions about something going on in my life, ask me. Taking the word of someone not vacationing in my head will result in misinformation.

I don’t broadcast everything that I do because
1. I lead a very busy (albeit interesting) life
2. Often my thoughts/feelings are fleeting
3. I am not the only person involved.

I don’t just walk up to friends and unload everything onto them. I am a relatively guarded person (regardless of what you see on the internet. That is me being reserved.) Those that I go to during tough times are people that have at one point or another asked me about a situation prior to coming to a conclusion about my character.

Put away the camera, moron. This isn’t a recital.

Why would you want to look through something so tiny when you have ALL THE THINGS behind it?

I realize that this back and forth banter has been played to death for the past 26 hours, but I wanted to weigh in as a fan of going to live comedy shows.

Just to give you a little bit of background, last night Patton Oswalt RT’d a very negative blog about one of his free performances and his perceived attitude about being filmed while working out new material. He posted a reply this morning that told his side of the story.

 

As a performer:

 

No, I’m not famous. I have had my share of time on stage and love doing it because of the amazing feeling of terror mixed with elation. It is the biggest adrenaline rush to step unto an elevated, illuminated area meant to pull people’s attention to you. It is absolutely envigorating to HEAR a person’s response or SEE a grin or shaking shoulders through the dimly lit crowd. THAT is encouraging.

 

Seeing a jarring flash or a red light is distracting. When someone is on stage, they aren’t just winging the entire thing. Yes, there can be moments of tangents, but for the most part, jokes are worked on outside of a venue and honed on the stage. When they hit that joke and feel the rush that comes with the flush of adrenaline it is a glorious thing. If adrenaline had a voice it would be whispering sexily “Yes. Yes, that is how I’m going to perform that part from now on.” Each time the bit is performed, the words adjust and new jolts pass over the performer.

 

The benefit of doing live shows that are not being recorded is that it is okay to have a moment where you tank. The brain of a performer takes that into account like a chef would take a slight taste of something, realized it needed more sugar and adjusted accordingly. Having material recorded can be incredibly nerve-wracking. The only thing that helps is knowing EXACTLY how you’re performing something and having a professional tape it.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is how I see it as a viewer:

 

I was not at the performance, but I would like to speak for many people that go to comedy shows and are forced to witness shit like this. Let me just come out and say it.

 

People? Put your fucking cellphones away.

 

While you think that you are getting something amazing to look at later or you have the morbid desire to set a performer off and get some great material to hopefully send to a stupid fucking tabloid, there are tons of people behind you. We are trying to enjoy the show that is feet from us but we’re being distracted by the glow from your stupid iPhone with the hipster cover that looks like a cassette tape with a mustache on it.

 

You spend your entire day with your eyes focused on the display of your phone, watching amateur videos with poor sound and people singing in the background to some band I can’t even be bothered to think of right now.

 

But hey there little trooper, guess what? You are ACTUALLY at a show! Put your camera/phone away and just ENJOY it. The memory of the performance will be so much better when you can actually watch it. Looking through a tiny frame is just ridiculous.

 

 

 

 

As for Patton’s reaction:

 

Patton could’ve called the woman a daft hairy cow’s cunt and I would still agree with his position. Being at a live comedy show and watching it through your shitty iPhone instead of being in the moment is fucking stupid. The fact that the women “offered to stop and delete it” shouldn’t have even happened to begin with.

 

If I ever have a comedy club, I fucking promise any performer that as soon as a screen lights up in the crowd that person will be asked to leave. Think Alamo drafthouse, but we’ll turn the house lights up so EVERYONE can see who is interrupting the performance. Would the Met allow you to film La Traviata? You might think that it’s a different level of performance, and that makes you an elitist asshole.

 

 

 

 

 

There were hundreds of replies in varying opinions. People claimed that Patton’s behavior was inappropriate and should have stopped after the woman acquiesced and stopped filming.

 

Why? Patton was being human. Being human may not excuse bad behavior, but it does explain it.

 

As a general audience, people tend to forget that those we admire also have the same ability to react to situations that we do. Granted, I have never seen Oswalt tweet “No black and white cookies at the bakery, FML!” so he tends to keep a lot of his emotions from the internet. With the ability to immediately tweet something terrible or write an elaborate blog post about how a night was uncomfortable for you because it was horrible for someone else, I think that the restraint that a lot of comedians possess is admirable.

 

 

 

 

 

Wow. I haven’t ranted in awhile. Missed it.

 

Dear People Of Connecticut, and Other Areas Currently Without Power

People of Connecticut,

I know that right now, things are bleak, irritating, exhausting. I know that couch hopping is not ideal. I know that trucking your entire family to a shelter can seem distasteful to some. The fact of the matter is that things are moving along, but they’re moving slowly. It is not because people aren’t trying. Electricity is a dangerous profession and ensuring the safety of the work is essential to preventing further issues. A shoddy job that will just crap out again is waste of everyone’s time.

Some people have been venting through their smartphones on facebook as to how the power companies and their local legislature seem to only focus on the sections of town where businesses are located. It’s bordering conspiracy theory level.

The plan to bring power back to main streets has met a slight outcry about it being a heartless decision. It’s at times like this that you have to take a step back and think about things logically. Right now, legislature has had to make some very tough decisions. Tough, but logical. In order to feed power to the ancillary lines, primary lines have to be fixed first. Sadly, the primary lines are located on main streets where all of the businesses are. That is why they are the focus. Once the main streets have power returned, gas stations and grocery stores will have the ability to open again and people can restock to fill their generators and feed their families.

Yes, I know. People are freezing in their homes. Some are invalid, elderly or without transportation. It is horrible that this is happening, but 650,000 people without power will tend to bring out the worst in some people and the best in others. With every “Why haven’t you fixed MY street yet?” and “What about my frozen grandparents?” post, I have also seen an equal amount of “What can I do to help?”

Here are a few things you can do to help (please feel free to add more)
1. Your food is not going to keep for very long. Take the meat that has most defrosted and cook it on the grill. Feed yourself and your family and take a plate to an elderly neighbor that might need it.
2. Stop in and check on lonely neighbors. During times like this you have to think about how you would feel if you were left to your own devices for an extended period of time. Sometimes all someone needs is an hour of conversation.
3. If you know where a shelter is, tell EVERYONE you run in to. It is very possible that they don’t have a smartphone and don’t have the ability to look up warm locations. http://patch.com has been really great about posting shelter information when they have the ability to. If you know of a school offering a warm meal and a place to shower, share that info. Right now, word of mouth is all many people have to go by.
4. Once you have power, find a way to contact friends and if they need a place to stay offer them a patch of floor or a warm dinner and a place to charge their cell phones.
5. With all of the technology available in your hand, you’re very likely to make use of it. If you pass by a gas station that is open, make note of it so that your facebook friends can either pass it on or use that information.
6. Cell towers are being pummeled right now because that is the only communication tools most of us have. Don’t get discouraged if something times out. Wait an hour and try again.
6. DO NOT CALL ABOUT YOUR CABLE BEING OUT IF YOU DON’T HAVE POWER. I know that this seems like a stupid thing for me to write, but the increased call volumes at entertainment related call centers is pretty pointless.
7. If you work for a large corporation and they offer you and your family a place to stay and a place to shower, please choose that over a shelter and leave that space open for someone that doesn’t have such a luxury.

Guys I know it’s cold. It doesn’t help that we live in such an electricity hungry society that we’re all going batty. I know the little comforts are missed. I’m used to falling asleep with the TV on and sleep timer set. I have a load of towels that have just been gathering stank in the front loading washer because it won’t unlock without power.

Right now, morale is low. It’s going to be. This was unexpected and more people have lost power in this freak October snowstorm than with the contingency planned-to-death Irene. REMEMBER this time. When it happens again (which it will) and you are fortunate enough to have power, heat, and warm water offer a sanctuary to those without.

RT If You Think For Yourself

STOP telling me who I can and cannot mourn.

Yes, there were hundreds of people that lost their lives in the same week as Amy Winehouse. Telling me to curb my sadness makes you the villain.

I grieve on a daily basis for those that are not here anymore.
I grieve for those that have laid their lives on the line.
I grieve for those that left too soon, by their own hand or someone else’s.
I grieve for those that die before they ever truly lived.
I grieve for those that are given the diagnosis that no person, no family, and no friend wants to receive.
I grieve… because I can and they cannot.

So you do not have the right to attempt to invalidate my feelings of grief, especially in a reposting of something that you didn’t even research. Listing a bunch of names and ages that you didn’t know to begin with is pandering.

Yes, there are so many that lay their lives on the line for the sake of our freedom and our protection. I hope that those names on this facebook repost frenzy are valid. Because if they aren’t… If they are fiction, if they were something originally posted by someone who just wanted to make someone feel terrible for mourning, they have lessened the deaths of soldiers all over the world who are sacrificing themselves for us, not for glory.

So yeah. Repost if you agr- Ugh. I can’t even stomach writing that.

/.endsoapboxrant

Don’t Be A Dick

There are a lot of things that I have been able to do the last couple of year, many of them being conventions and parties and personal tours and random leaps of faith that have paid off greatly.

I was very sad about not being able to go to SDCC this year, and doubt I will ever be able to go. That’s pretty much my emo-ment. Barring the fact that I somehow get super famous and invited to the shindig, I just don’t have the money to go.

That being said, the idea of going and meeting people whose work you admire is always a tricky thing. There are moments in time when you meet someone after having an impression in your brain and then becoming disillusioned and disappointed by the actuality. I have seen people belligerently drunk and rude to people that are fans. I have seen someone flat out attack a fan.

I have witnessed the “Don’t you know who I am?” moment. The question was issued to me and I answered honestly. They were not pleased when I told them I didn’t care. Fame is not a “get-out-of-being-courteous” freebie. There is absolutely no excuse for being an asshat to anyone, regardless of how much pussy you got in the eighties.

The problem with being a fan and nerding out especially when someone is an utter dick to you is that for most people it will catch them off guard. They won’t say anything about it, but you can feel the air change around them and the expression on their face is like they have watched a thousand kittens die horrifically. I don’t let people talk down to me. I can’t. I don’t deserve someone I don’t know having an effect how I feel about myself.

I’m probably an exception. I have met people and had a pleasant experience and someone else has met the same person and their perception has been forever altered. What an actor, writer, singer (or someone who assumes they are super relevant to everyone they encounter) needs to realize is that you are a notion, a sketch, an idea to whomever you meet that is a fan.

You end up being a fictitious entity that doesn’t actually exist. A fan thinks you to be crazyawesomespectaculous because you wrote their favorite character, played the quirkiest badass, sang the most heartwrenchingly poignant songs. They do not know the ultimately flawed person you are. Don’t kid yourself. You’re flawed. Everyone has flaws. That’s what makes us beautiful.

Have you ever met someone, thinking that they would be someone that you thought would be one way and turned out to be completely different? Say you have a friend of a friend that you have never met and your friend says that their friend is one of the most kind-hearted, generous and loyal people you have ever met. You’d think Glenda the good witch, right? Then… you meet the Wicked Witch. Perception is skewed. People cannot be summarized by someone else.

A person is a living book. At times they can be completely confusing, but they are a story nonetheless. There are life experiences, silly quirks, deep wounds, and infinitely poignant and insightful moments that shape who they are. When a person has difficulty describing themselves to you, it is not because they haven’t given it any thought. It is because they have thought about it so much that they don’t even know how to summarize themselves.

As a fan, you have the responsibility of recognizing that you can appreciate someone’s work even though that person can be having a bad day when they meet you. Also? They are not their character/persona. You do not have the right to assume that you know everything about this famous person. If they allow fans a glimpse of their lives, it is a gift, not necessary.

As someone famous, you have the responsibility of recognizing that you might have a bad experience with a fan. You may not remember the encounter, but they will.

Oh, and here’s a little something for everyone. Mutual respect/admiration is a lot easier than being an ass.

Addiction

The Internet exploded on Saturday with the passing of Amy Winehouse. There were jokes, there were throwaway condolences, and there were honest introspective tweets/blogs.

The last few years had not been kind to Amy, with sour publicity and videos of her being so far gone that she couldn’t even remember the words to her own song. I remember posting a link to a video of her completely dazed on stage as the audience came together to help her sing her song. I sadly made the joke that it was an extremely talented audience. A part of me feels bad about it, but that is not the reason for this post.

A lot of people have posted genuine concern over the last 48 hours about people suffering from addiction and begging whoever is affected to search for help. With addiction being as public as it can be nowadays there are plenty of places available to help and it is not difficult to find.

A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. In reference to humans, is can be used to broadly encompass any condition that causes pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems, and/or death to the person inflicted. Addiction, as clinically creative as this sounds, is a disease.

The American Society of Addition Medicine has defined addiction as follows: “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” There are so many different types of addiction through so many avenues. You could be addicted to the internet, gambling, shopping, exercise/dieting, and various substances.

When I first heard Amy Winehouse I was watching TV. An ad for an upcoming show on AMC (Mad Man) used “You Know I’m No Good” as its tag to draw you in. A few mornings later I woke and happened to turn MTV on, shocked that they even still had music videos. There was a woman tatted up, sitting in a bathtub with a humongous bulb of black hair piled on top of her noggin. I immediately scratched her name down and decided to look into this artist. I was shocked that she didn’t look anything like what I assumed she would with her voice being what it was.

As I listened to Back to Black, I found myself addicted to the exquisite pleasure/pain from an intonation that wrapped my brain in both velvet and sandpaper. The words, the delivery, the emotion seemed to call to me at a time in my life where I was slowly working my way out of my own addiction.

My relationship with Amy was completely selfish. This woman that I had never met was helping to facilitate my own version of rehab. Her persistence in refusing to allow someone else to fix her was very much the push that I needed to fix myself.

As the years progressed and the only things I heard of Ms. Winehouse were of the countless issues she had, it hit me that she wasn’t at the point of surviving her addiction. She wasn’t climbing out of her sadness. I know that the press has a tendency to go for the jugular and point out when someone has done something horrible. They have a tendency of being the shitty parent that points out your faults publicly and demands that people give their own opinion without knowing the whole story.

It isn’t surprising to me that her resolve was continuously tested and didn’t make the grade. I have seen enablers at various events offering someone something that they shouldn’t, or offering a nip of something to an already wasted person. It makes me wonder if there was someone around Amy that genuinely cared for her.

Money and fame tend to go hand in hand with loneliness. It has to be hard to spend time with someone and wonder if it’s your personality that drew them in or if it was the fact that you could cover every dinner, every drink, every bump that they enjoyed with you. Did someone stand up and say “Honey, you’ve had another tooth pulled because your jaw is rotting. Your immune system is going haywire from all of this abuse.” If they did, were they excommunicated? Were her friendships with those concerned short lived?

If someone is heavily medicating themselves further and further down the spiral, they know how to make things better for themselves. They medicate MORE. MORE MORE MORE. Gluttonous behavior is evident in every addiction. “I have to buy $100 in lotto tickets because when I hit the jackpot I can pay back the $20G I owe my bookie.” “I’m incredibly sad that I’m heavy and the only thing that is going to make me feel better is this 10 pound bag of Reese’s that I will eat instead of dinner. It’s got protein in it, so at least I’m not eating complete garbage.”

The reasoning is key. As someone that has never suffered from it (or even someone in recovery) you can see through the bull but they cannot. They can’t tell that it is a temporary solution that just continues to further the problem. Sometimes you take a few pills, feel like Superman, and think that you can get behind a driver’s seat. Then you wake up and your car is sideways and someone is dragging you against the glass of the shattered windshield that litters the gravel. You think nothing of the people that were riding with you. In fact, your vision is so blurred because your brain is swelling with a concussion.

There are problems with telling someone that they have a problem or need help. It is never going to matter to them or register as truth until they are ready to admit it. If they ARE ready to admit it, they might feel like they aren’t strong enough and relapse. As someone supporting rehabilitation it is hard to figure out if your support is actually helping. If you continue to support and support and support, are you creating your own addiction?

I had heard that Amy was pulled from rehab to continue on tour and was found on her own in her flat in London. I don’t know if that is true, but if she was pulled from a safe environment prematurely, why wasn’t there anyone with her? Did she request to be alone? Typically when you leave rehab there is a halfway house because (and I can’t believe I am saying this) addicts shouldn’t be trusted.

As an addict, you get really good at half truths and flat out lying.

RIP Amy. I wish you had your eureka moment. I would have loved to see you beat this.

Tantric Entertainment No Longer Exists? I Call Bullshit.

I realize that the internet has been inundated with a plethora of blogs either blasting or praising Kevin Smith for his decision to distribute his movie Red State.

For those of you who have had your head stuck in the sand for the last few weeks (or if you’re my mom and think the Internet Explorer icon ALWAYS takes you to your facebook page), here’s the breakdown.

Red State was shown at Sundance. After the movie, Kevin made the revelation that he was going to option his own movie and release it in October after touring America with it. For some reason, there was an enormous outcry.

Since this is my blog, I will share with you my first thought after finding this out.

Finally. (Followed very closely with “That’s fucking cool.”)

Kevin has since been speaking on his various podcasts about the decision to revamp his definition of Independent films. He talked about how much money the movie took to make, how much he could have hoped to have sold it for, how much the distributor would have spent on advertising, and as he crunched the numbers he realized that in this day and age, HE COULD DO THIS.

As a consumer of all things entertainment, web or otherwise, my biggest regret is that I do not live in an area that fully embraces the spirit of Indie films. Films that aren’t backed by a multimillion dollar advertising campaign are often overlooked by the theaters near me.

I remember catching wind a few years ago that John Waters movie A Dirty Shame was coming to a theater that was an hour and a half from where I lived. I WENT TO SEE IT. TWICE.

As I look out of the window of the coffee shop that I had to come to (lest sloth overwhelm me at home), I see an empty theater. A building that was created to showcase one of the things I enjoy the most is now a husk. A faded memory of what was.

With the introduction of the Internet streaming video and the ease of locating a pirated copy of… fuck… anything? All of this opportunity to keep connected and have instant gratification with whatever it is we want to see, movie theaters prices are continuously increasing. There has not been a movie within the last three years that I have attended that was packed.

Any hope of any real profit comes from the sales following the often short lived theater stay. Remember when a movie was so high in demand it seemed to stay in theaters for months? The home movie release was held up for months in what I am now calling “tantric entertainment”. Now, if you happen to see a movie in the theaters, within two months you can download a digital copy to whatever electronic device you want.

I have to give Mr. Smith mega props for saying that he WANTS the movie to be in theaters. He could just as easily push it onto on demand and clean house quickly. But, he wants to tour to promote. He wants to reach out to his 1.7 Million twitter followers and go “I’m going to be here, here, and here. If you can’t make it, please mark your calendar for October.”

If I had the money, I would be at the NYC Premiere in a heartbeat. Or Boston. If someone wants to fund the venture I will totally go.

I have a tendency of hearing about things and thinking about things and there comes this insane moment of clarity where I can tell something is going to be big. Whether or not the movie is my cup of tea, I want to be one of the people that can say “I was there.”

Unfortunately, I will be waiting until October with the general public to watch this movie.

Oh, and since I haven’t really talked about the movie I will admit to you that the premise scares the shit out of me. Here’s a brief synopsis, and if I can embed it I will include the trailer.

Red State is about a gay-hating minister (Michael Parks) who goes on a blood-drenched rampage against an equally murderous squad of federal agents, with some sex-crazed teens stuck in the middle.

Kevin Smith said one of the most inspiring things that I have heard in quite some time during his speech. “Indie film isn’t dead, it’s just grown up.”

Punk. Fucking. Rock.

The Internet proves that we have evolved, and the original way to advertise is not-so-slowly fading into obscurity. We are the future.

http://goddamnsusa.com

 

 

Snowpocalypse: It’s Not Pretty, It’s Painful

Filling a Trash Receptacle. Where is it going to?

Yesterday, my friend Margot posted this note on her facebook page.

“Dear Facebookers in Warm Climates,

I have seen way too many “well here it is (65, 70, 75) degrees” posts in response to posts about the huge amount of snow we are getting. For future reference, getting this much snow this quickly can be compared to any other natural disaster. Businesses lose money, people’s homes are damaged, roads are closed down, etc. Since we would not post “oh it is nice and safe and dry here” in response to a hurrican or a tornado, maybe you need to adjust your responses to our snow storms/blizzards!

Sincerely,
The Northerners”

Do you get it now folks?

For the first few storms, my response to people complaining about the snow is “If you cannot handle New England whether, perhaps you shouldn’t be fucking living in New England.”

The last few days I have been ill and yesterday I spent a few hours watching the news. The amount of reports of roofs collapsing immediately made me feel guilty for laughing at the dude shoveling his roof last Saturday. Connecticut has been fairly lucky with the incidences of roofs collapsing and not harming anyone.

It's not just little cars getting stuck. It's big cars that eat little cars.

However, there have been many calls for assistance from someone stuck in snowbanks and multiple reports every morning of a storm where eighteen wheelers have jackknifed and have taken out use of one side of a highway.

Someone almost died because he was stuck in a bank during the snowfall and his windpipe was covered. He suffered poisoning from the emissions that were fed back into his car. Luckily, a stranger passing by saw his unconscious form and broke his window to yank him out of the car. If we don’t diligently keep our exhaust pipes clear on the side of our house, we are going to suffer a similar fate.

I know what the general response is. “If it’s bad out, don’t drive anywhere.” Unfortunately, not all of us are offered that luxury. If a State of Emergency is declared for CT and I do not make it into work, my vacation time is eaten up and there is the possibility of a written warning. I know several people that work for the power and cable companies and if they do not make it in to work it is an immediate writeup/termination. EVEN when there is 18 inches of snow on the ground.

Pretty and Deadly.

Even after the snow has finished falling, we are talking about 5-6 foot piles of snow that block our vision when we are driving. My brother and I like to call taking left turns a winter guessing game because we have no idea if someone is about to T-bone our cars.

What those of you not plagued by immense snow fall fail to realize, we have NO PLANS on how to get rid of all of this extra snow before the thaw comes. Will all of the snow melt fast enough to allow for the first wave of farming? Are we going to turn into wetlands?

If your foundation cracked from a frost heave, you are going to have to deal with both flooding and structural damage. If your roof collapsed, you are going to be paying through your nose to get your home back in shape.

I’m going to quote a Twitter account I found called @DearFuckface (Awesome name. Totally jealous.)
“To people posting sunny pics for those snowed in: Next earthquake, I’ll post video of my house not shaking.”

We have had enough. We have overspent our weather budgets for plowing our roads (resulting in roads not being cleared until 5-6pm in the evening). We have thrown out our backs with shovels. We have bruised ourselves from the deceptive black ice. We have had our cars towed. We have had to pay $3.59 a gallon to fill our snowblowers. We have WORN OUT our snowblowers.

We need help and I don’t know why our Governer has not asked for disaster relief from the government. Just because it’s white and pretty doesn’t mean that it’s safe. It is only safe if you stay in your house.

But then you might see twin girls asking you to play with them and might chase after your family with a hatchet. Just saying.

Oh. And one more thing.

The Kindness of Others

I am absolutely amazed at the friendships that start and flourish on the internet. The people that I talk with on a daily basis I feel an incredible closeness to.

I am floored by the generosity of those that I have met online. I have seen someone post “I hate to do this, but can someone lend me $30 so I can get enough gas to get to work this week. I will totally hit you back” and will see a list of people ready and willing to pay it forward. It is amazing the amount of generous people looking to help people in need.

However, there are some times when you are not necessarily sure where your gift is going. What happens if someone says “I need $320 for a new part for my car” but is using it for something else. Did they lie? Was “part for my car” their way of getting money to pay off their bar tab? Are you being conned?

With internet anonymity, you can’t always trust the old adage “what you see is what you get”. The person that you have gotten to know and have invested time and honesty into might be a completely different person playing a role.

So how do you decipher what is true and what is false?

It pains me to admit, but I don’t know. I have racked my brain for quite some time with this predicament. There are people on Twitter begging for a RT from someone famous linking to a “charity”, but how do we know if the link is genuine?

Sadly there are people that will take advantage of the kindness of others. It is inevitable. Once you feel that you have been duped, how can you be sure that anything you want to do in the future is on the up and up?

I know this is a completely depressing post, but I just don’t know. I have no idea what advice I can give to those who have been burned. It’s happened to me in the past and has definitely affected my desire to donate to certain things. Money complicates everything. Loaning a friend some money then watching them spend frivolously without paying you back is one of the worst things to go through.

The only shining light in loaning/donating via the internet is that you can keep record of what you have given and if something doesn’t add up, you have proof of fraud. If you are extending a helping hand to someone, I suggest including someone else in the correspondence so that it is not the case of my word versus their word.

Please be vigilant. Some things to keep mind of.

1. If someone doesn’t publicly thank you for giving them something, they might be getting things from other people. Sometimes even though people are getting things from you, they might be getting money or gifts from others. They don’t publicly acknowledge because they don’t want the well to run dry. If they send you a thank you privately, save that in a special folder marked “Just in Case”.

2. Be wary of shifting stories. If someone is telling you about their life and it seems different from what you remember, make note of it. Jot a quick email to yourself or something (perhaps in a folder marked “Just in Case”). That way if the story changes again you can recognize that you are being fed a partial truth if not a complete fabrication.

3. If someone is still paying for entertainment (cable / internet / smart phone / Netflix / GameFly / World of Warcraft), they obviously have money to pay for those things.

If you have donated to anyone that you have met through me and have not been publicly thanked, please let me know.

Black Hat / White Hat

I had heard somewhere that in the great Western films of old, the HERO would always wear a white hat, and the VILLAIN would wear a black one. This color difference made it easier for people to differentiate during the development of the storyline.

Because the colors are so different (one being the lack of any color and one being the presence of every color), it made me think about the difference between HERO and VILLAIN. Honestly, a part of me feels that this is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Yes, there are VILLAINs in stories that are truly outlandish. The power hungry insane scientist looking to drown the world by melting the polar ice caps, the unruly thug looking to take down the police and any so-called “do-gooder” by forming a mob. There are the jealous second sons of Kings wanting to dispurse of their brother and his offspring to ensure they rule the flourishing kingdom.

It all seems very tired. These stories all possess the same formula. Introduce HERO. Introduce VILLAIN. Spend much of the novel dissecting the HERO to form a bond between them and the reader. Many authors glaze over the true intention of the VILLAIN by only sharing the nasty things thus ensuring that the dynamic between the two is as vastly different as black hat/white hat.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I am writing I strive to understand WHY a VILLAIN is so much more than the antagonist to the story’s protagonist. People are a myriad of colors, not just black and white. I often find myself sympathetic to the plights of the “common VILLAIN”. What was the driving factor to their spiral into the negative spectrum of humanity. Why was their humanity lost? Most importantly, how can I convey the point of view to the reader?

In much of American storytelling, there always is a winner and a loser. Sometimes, the end result is not what you expect but there is always some sort of definition.

In the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, the protagonist of the story is Harry Dresden. Harry is a wizard who has made it his lifes work to not be the person that his twisted Uncle wanted him to be. He is flawed, but I believe those flaws to be necessary to endear you to the subject. Harry is not the shining beacon of virtue, nor would he expect you to believe that he is. He is hardened by his past, and when he lets someone in it is an extremely intimate look into the psyche of someone damaged trying his hardest not to introduce this person into a world of pain.

Butcher has done an amazing job in slightly fleshing out his darker characters in the story as well. Marcone is a gritty crimeboss whose soul you wouldn’t want to look into. However, there is something in him that makes you want to learn more of his past. His ties to a comatose teen girl. His desire to keep his own semblance of order in his city. Yes, he does fully believe that it is HIS city and has absolutely no faith in the police or governing body. His means are ruthless, but that fraction of a moment where you see the vulnerability in this character made me always want to learn more.

I digress however. This post isn’t intended to be a Dresden love-fest.

What I would love to see is a story written from the perspective of the VILLAIN. But it would have to be so well crafted that you wouldn’t know the person was actually the assumed VILLAIN in the story. It seems too often that many VILLAINs are swiss cheese. Sure, there is some substance, but it is racked with holes.

I want to see a story through the eyes of Jayne Cobb during his heyday. While I have probably raised the heckles of many a Firefly fan… let’s face it. This guy is a criminal. His main motivation in life is greed. He chose to work with the crew of Serenity because they didn’t judge him for that (which says something about the crew ultimately). But… We approved of the crimes committed by the Serenity crew and made the Alliance the VILLAIN. I did it too.

I think that’s because we force ourselves to make the distinction between HERO and VILLAIN. We want to feel like we’re following the right cause and opposing the wrong ones. In a world of black and white hats… we’re afraid of grey.