Category: Flotsam and Jetsam

12
May
2024
20:00

Presence Vs. Nostalgia

I’m a big fan of Eckhart Tolle. As someone who is spiritual but not religious, his books are the closest thing to religion I’ve ever found. They just resonated with me on the deepest levels. I definitely think presence is the goal and the secret to truly being happy.

However I am also very nostalgic which I feel is directly at odds with this. I spend so much thought time in the past. Missing people, places, and experiences I’ve had. I don’t know that it really serves any good purpose other than possibly fueling some great art. It feels like a weight though. When you are nostalgic, the longer you live, the more weight you carry. One thing I came to terms with after years in therapy however is that part of me enjoys it on some level. I’m someone who loves to feel and the past is a quick and easy fix to feel some intense feelings. I’ve definitely strengthened my presence muscle over the years, but the nostalgia muscle is already very developed.

10
May
2024
22:53

Another Day

Each night though I am eager to race to bed, I stubbornly resist sleep.
That sweet purgatory, the void space where you have ended the day officially, but unofficially, you squeeze every last moment from it just for yourself.
Tomorrow holds such promise. Tabula rasa. A clean slate. New beginnings.
But then tomorrow becomes just another today, and nothing changes.
The same struggles. The same weights. The same.
You hope for some magical change like a gift from the universe, but it has not come.
Change is hard and must be wrestled from the aether.
Tonight we sleep. Tomorrow we try again.

24
Oct
2023
20:32

Some Thoughts On Authenticity

I had some more thoughts on personal authenticity today. I’ve been on social media since the invention of social media. Early on I was much more hesitant to use profanity or post things I was worried might not be palatable to some of my friends and acquaintances. I tried to keep it more safe for general audiences. Over time, that felt more and more fake. That’s not me and I was restraining myself. I do also post lots of things that are totally fit for mass consumption, but I’m also someone who swears a lot and can get R-rated. I am deeply layered like a Bloomin’ Onion.

In the end I opted to just try and embrace my true self and be unfiltered me. Because no matter what we do we will never please everybody. There will always be people who don’t like us or for whom we are just not their cuppa tea, and that needs to be okay or you’ll always be fighting a battle you can’t win. I’m 99% sure there are people I love, respect, and admire who have unfollowed me or hidden me due to profanity or other things they may not like.

But even still, it’s a fight for me. Every time I post something that’s not necessarily fit for all audiences, I get a little twinge like “Should I do that?” I try to live absolutely transparently and genuinely. Those who know me best will tell you that my social media is not a curated version of me, it’s just me. You can actually, really, truly get to know me from my social media. And this is how I want it. I am an open book with no filters and that is exactly how I want to live. Actually, that’s not true. That’s my goal but I still get hung up with insecurities and such but it’s the goal I’m always working toward.

So of course it makes me laugh that the thing I am most widely known for on social media, the thing that went viral, was most definitely NOT something fit for general audiences. I guess that’s one way to get more comfortable with something. Get thrown in the deep end!

15
Jul
2023
15:35

Some More Info On The Actors’ Strike

A few people have expressed support and empathy for the actors’ and writers’ strikes but also said they don’t exactly understand what’s going on. Here’s a little more info. There are many issues on the table, but a couple of the key issues are residuals and AI usage.

Residuals are what actors get paid each time a show airs or a movie plays. In the past, TV and film residuals were how most actors (and writers) survived. You have to understand a few key things here. Firstly, 99% of actors are not rich. 99% of actors, even actors you might know from TV and film, are working actors just trying to pay the bills like anyone else. Our job is mostly auditioning. So, basically we are constantly interviewing for jobs. I once heard a statistic that if an actor is booking 10% of their auditions, that’s really good. 90% rejection means you’re doing well. If you book the job, there are many different levels and contracts, but in general you get paid a certain fee for the days you work. Then, with larger TV and film projects, you get paid a smaller percentage every time it airs. Just like how musicians get paid every time a song is played on the radio or on TV or in a film. This not only helps get us through to the next job, since we don’t get paid to audition, but is also only fair as the places playing the show or movie are making money from that every time they show it, so the creators also get a cut.

Enter the age of streaming. Streaming is still fairly new, and as such, both movie and music executives have used it as an opportunity to put more money in their pockets and screw over artists such as actors, writers and musicians. Streaming is considered a different medium from TV or film, and thus has different contracts. Those residuals that actors and writers used to survive on? They are practically nonexistent in streaming. Where someone in a major television show might have been able to survive for a year on their residuals in the past, with streaming they are literally getting checks for pennies. There are countless stories out there of actors and writers on huge shows making almost nothing from streaming. So this is one thing the guilds are fighting for. Just trying to get streaming in line with the contracts that have been in place for film and television for many decades. Streaming is not some weird “exception” that shouldn’t have to pay the same agreed-upon rates as TV and film. Streaming is TV and film now, and actors and writers should be able to make the same livings as they have from TV and film in the past. As mentioned, the same thing has happened in the music world. Whereas a hit song used to make an artist rich in the era of radio and albums, now you could have  the biggest hit song on the planet, and yet not make enough to live on from the streaming revenue.

Now let’s talk AI. The studios have proposed being able to pay a background actor, or “extra,” one time for one day’s work and then have the right to use their likeness forever with no additional pay or consent. This is ludicrous, and I’m sure will eventually try to  extend past just background actors. This would be like you getting a job, and then getting paid for one day of work to train a robot to do your job, and then you never work again. Eventually there would be no need to hire any new background actors, because if you have a data bank full of them that you can just pop in for free to as many crowd scenes in as many movies as you want, why would you pay some human to do that? There are a lot of very troubling potential precedents with AI right now. Offering voice actors a one-time fee to add their voices to the AI data bank so that they can then just generate future voiceovers without the need to hire you again. 

These are just quick, simplified, “tip of the iceberg” examples to try and help those of you who have expressed empathy and a desire to understand more about exactly what is going on. It’s not simply greedy actors, or successful millionaire “stars” asking for more money. Art, storytelling, and escapism have been giant and necessary parts of humanity practically since we emerged from the primordial soup. Everyone consumes it. Everyone uses it to get through hard times, to decompress, to get inspired, to feel something. And yet so many take it for granted and want to villainize those who create it as worthless, greedy children playing with toys. And the millionaire/billionaire executives want just that. For you to not be looking at them, but instead directing your ire at these “unreasonable, lazy bohemians!” I can’t even really blame the uninformed for falling prey to this. Our industry is strange and unlike the typical jobs people are used to, and therefore the inevitable comparisons just don’t work. You can’t compare “salaries” or “wages,” as it’s apples to oranges in how it all works and breaks down. I also realize that not everyone is lucky enough to be doing something they love or are truly invested in, and that can be tough. As humans we can fall prey to the “Misery loves company” aspect and it can be hard to empathize with and support others for many different reasons. I fall prey to that. I’ve definitely worked jobs that made me feel like a tiny piece of my soul died each day. That aspect of humanity, along with the lack of actual working knowledge of the job makes it easy to trivialize the arts as “not real jobs” that are frivolous and easy. A lot of it is amorphous, esoteric, and hard to quantize and explain to those in more traditional industries that are more familiar to most folks involving standard hourly wages or monthly salaries and a 40 hour work week. We all walk a unique path and I do find myself truly hoping that everyone I see is happy with their life whether it be as an actor, a programmer, a person working at a sandwich shop, a dentist, an accountant, someone who make tchotchkes for flea markets, or anything else I encounter on my path.

So to those who feel need to bash and trivialize artists and their industry, I can’t pretend to know the seed lodged deep in your heart that makes you feel the need for this bile, but I sincerely hope that despite your attitudes and efforts, we the targets of your ire get to keep making things that might help make your short sojourn on this spinning rock a little bit better. 

06
Jul
2023
15:56

Threads Is Here

Let’s talk “Threads” day 1! Threads is Instagram’s new Twitter-like text-based social media platform. I had heard surprisingly little about it so I was totally shocked when suddenly it was live yesterday. By the time I signed up at around 10PM or so, I was already around the 7.6 millionth account (you get a badge on your Instagram profile telling you this information, which can be turned off if you wish).

I have really enjoyed my initial foray there. And big kudos to having something like 10 million people sign up and the app remained functional if maybe a little sluggish, but it held up! There has been some confusion and weirdness but still pretty great for such a huge simultaneous launch.

The first thing I noticed after signing up was that there were a bunch of follow requests awaiting my approval, but then other ones were just automatic. As far as I can tell, any requests that came in before I signed up, I had to approve, but any that came in after I did not (since I have a public account anyone can follow). I wondered how really big account would deal with logging on for the first time and having a million follow requests to approve, since I imagine most people do what I did which was the one-click “follow everyone I follow on Instagram” option.

I’ve really enjoyed the people I’ve seen there. At least in these golden early hours, it seems like a lot of really cool fun people with a really enjoyable atmosphere. Now the developers have made it clear that this is still in the very early stages with bare bones features so there will be a lot more coming. For example, at the moment you have a single “Home” feed. It’s algorithmic and there’s no way to choose “chronological” or “Just see people I’m following.” You will see lots of folks you aren’t following. There IS a setting however, if you dig into profile (bottom right)>settings (top right)>notifications>Threads and replies where you can set “First threads” to “From people you follow” instead of the default “from everyone.”

While normally I am big fan of the “People I follow, in chronological order” feed, I actually found myself enjoying the algorithmic feed and discovering cool, fun, new people to play with. I was surprised how much I liked it as my gut instinct was “Nope, hope they fix that soon.”

At the moment there’s no hashtags, no thread search (you can only search for people), no DMs, no edit post function (probably my #1 complaint), and a lot of other missing functions that I’m sure will come. Still, from what I’ve seen it seems very well received for the most part with people posting about how addicted they already are and how much fun they’re having.

Another common complaint is that by default the app vibrates every time a new notification comes in if you have the app open and are using it though it’s not obvious why it’s vibrating. I have notifications completely off on my iPhone for the app and it still does this. The only solution I found to go to profile>notifications and turn on the “Pause all” option which will only let you pause for up to 8 hours at a time.

When I logged on this morning, I found that weirdly I couldn’t see any notifications or replies that were more than few hours old, which I imagine has to be a glitch. I easily imported my IG profile info, and my verification transferred over as well. A few concerns that have been raised are that the app does ask for a lot of data permissions which makes privacy police VERY uncomfortable. Also once you sign up, you cannot delete your Threads account without also deleting your Instagram account. They are (at least for now) irrevocably linked.

Will Threads be the new “Twitter” over the trash fire that is now Elon’s abomination, as well as over BlueSky (which seemed to me to have the most interest), or Mastodon (which has not had a hugely wide adoption sadly)? Only time will tell, but if I was a betting man, I think I’d put my money on Threads. Why? First and foremost, people hate change. They want the path of least resistance and Threads offers that for anyone who is already in Instagram, which is a whole lotta people. While I personally found Mastodon not all that complicated, it just just different enough to put a whole lot of people off. They don’t understand “instances” or exactly where they should sign up or what that even means. BlueSky is still invitation only so most folks are still just waiting for their chance to get in and even try it (it’s also still in the very early beta phase). It’s supposedly going to connect to the decentralized Fediverse (if that’s meaningless gobbledegook to you, you are not alone, it’s still a very new and confusing to most), just like Mastodon and BlueSky. And admittedly it was very nice to just be able to auto-follow everyone I follow on IG, and already accrue almost 3K followers on a brand new platform, I’m guessing because of many of my 89K IG followers using that “auto-follow” option.

At the moment, it’s definitely a fun new toy that has a very enjoyable vibe. I’m definitely very interested to see how it all shakes out in the long term.

20
Jun
2023
14:11

Dream Theatre 75

At the end of night full of kinda crappy dreams, this was the finale. I was with a girl I dated in the early 90’s. We were at some kind of school dance in a weirdly laid out gymnasium type room where the elevated stands took up like half of the small court area and almost reached all the way widthwise across to the other wall and kind of half blocked the one entrance. She and I saw this girl in the stands in a bright blue sort of puffy Cinderella-esque dress pull out two razor blades with a malicious look. On that cue, several other girls in matching dresses of different colors pulled out razor blades too.

We retreated toward the door and found that some others had already found it was barred shut from the other side. As the razor girls came toward us, I grabbed a metal folding chair and swung it at the hands of the girl in blue hoping to disarm her and tried to retreat more. At that point I wasn’t sure what happened but it appeared that they had been overwhelmed by the rest of the crowd in the gym who I presumed had taken them down and got control of thing.

Next scene was my girlfriend and I laying on a bed in the corner right by the entrance to the gym as the Principal stood by the doors as someone unbarred them from the other side and opened them. I said “That’s pretty unsafe only having one set of doors in or out!” She agreed. My girl and I just laid there on this random gym corner bed recovering from the ordeal.

14
Jun
2023
13:59

Simply The Best

I’m someone who’s always looking for the “best” or “most optimal” choice. When it come to literally anything. I often research “the best…” when buying something. Anything. New electric toothbrush? DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE OF “BEST ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSHES!” Is there possibly a “better” pillow out there than mine? RESEARCH!

But it extends to much more ephemeral things too. My hair. I kind of like my hair longer but I also like it shorter. So then I think “Well shorter is definitely much easier so that’s probably the way to go,” but then somehow worry about what if longer is “better” somehow? Like if you polled the entire world what if longer came out on top and would therefore be better and appeal to more people? Same with my beard. I like my mostly silvery beard but I also like being clean shaven (and look about 10 years younger for what that’s worth). But again, somehow I search for an “optimal” answer knowing damn well there isn’t one. It’s all subjective.

Mainly I just find this an interesting personality quirk of mine and wonder where it stems from psychologically. It has its perks certainly lends to my analytical mind and why I worked in QA for many years, but it can also kind of be exhausting spending so much brain power analyzing and trying to decide something where there is no definitive “right” answer.

06
Jun
2023
1:06

Dating History Patterns

For some reason I was just thinking about my dating history and the patterns that appear amused me.

“Girlfriend” #1 (~1987 I think, all dates will be hazy approximate guesses; really just a first kiss and a couple of weeks of casually “dating”): met doing a children’s theatre production of Tom Sawyer with ‘Magination Station

#2 (~’87 or ’88?): also just a quick casual thing that barely really qualifies (though I did write a kick ass song that would make you think it was some epic love affair): met doing a play (I can’t remember which one).

#3 (~1989): Met doing children’s theatre at ‘Magination Station

4 (~1991): Met when I was the villain and she was the heroine in the melodrama “Caught In The Villain’s Web” at StageCenter.

#5 (~1993): another super casual, occasional makeout scenario. Met doing dinner theatre.

#6 (~1993): Met in some theater production. Maybe “Smoke On The Mountain” with The Aggie Players (I wasn’t an Aggie though, just born and raised there).

#7 (~1994): Met when we both worked at Texas Renaissance Festival.

#8 (~1995): Met when we both worked at Sears (This one is the biggest anomaly).

#9 (~1998): Met on the internet. I can’t remember where exactly. A musicians group maybe as we were both musicians? She lived (and still lives in Australia). This was the super early days of internet.

#10 (~2001): Met on the internet on a message board for Buffy The Vampire Slayer. She lived in England. We quickly started dating. She visited here. I visited there and we got engaged in the airport in Scotland waiting for my plane back home. She moved here and we were married for 8 years.

#11 (~2009): We went to school together from elementary through high school but never really knew each other well. Re-met on FB around the time of our 30th reunion and lots of folks were reconnecting. She lived in another state.

#12 (~2011): Met on FB through a mutual friend’s post.

#13 (2013): Met in a production of Macbeth at City Theater.

The End.

I’m social media friends with about half of them. Many of the others aren’t on social media or we lost contact, but no bad blood with any of them.