New blog: Books and Blondes

Hi everyone!  I have been a bit remiss on my tweeting and Flash Fiction Friday (mostly due to some personal obligations which took precedence), but I’m back on the horse with a Friday Flash Fiction which should knock your socks off (among other things).  That said, I would like to introduce a new blog which I hope will help other emerging authors…Books and Blondes.

Now, before you ask, the reason it’s called “Books and Blondes” because this particular feature will be mainly written while drinking a Starbucks’ Blonde Roast coffee, hence the “Blondes.”  So, without further adieu, I would like to drop my 2 cents on one of Solstice Publishing’s more recent fantasy thrillers!

So, please click HERE to check out “Books and Blondes” and if you like, please spread the word!

My own political leanings – not your average liberal

Over the last few years, many have asked about my own political leanings.  This has been something actively avoided to build my image as a writer.  Naturally, this has also led some to wondering if I am willing to take a stand for anything.  Ordinarily, I would consider this to be little more than a nuisance, but our nation’s current hyperpartisan climate demands answers, and so I am willing to finally explain my political leanings.

First, let me be clear on one very simple matter – I am neither Republican nor Democrat.  I am a proud independent, entirely because I believe both parties to be so corrupt, their leadership is now beyond both repair and redemption.  As for my ideology, I may as well shoot straight – I am a moderate liberal, but I’m not your average liberal, not by a longshot.  Indeed, much of my political leanings are based in what I have witnessed in my life, and how those who have been wronged, and those who have done right by others, have managed to influence me.  That said, here is a basically outline of what I stand for, politically:

  • Wealth consolidation is a bad thing. Like it or not, almost all major multilateral wars have begun after a massive consolidation of wealth.  (Seven Years War, Franco-Prussian War, World Wars I and II).  This nation has created a new aristocracy and, as a result, a new sense of entitlement from not only America’s elite, but their offspring as well.  Global consolidation of wealth will, eventually, lead to global war which could wipe out all life on earth.
  • Climate change is a fact. What many don’t want to admit is that climate change is constant, meaning that this planet is always changing.  Has anyone bothered to remember high school geology?  Tectonic plates, volcanic eruptions, electromagnetic surges all contribute to the shifting climate in our world.  Climate change is a given; the question is how fast we are pushing it along?  Anyone who “believes” in alarmist-style global warming is looking for money and/or attention.  I refuse to buy into the tripe these loons peddle, but I’m not stupid enough to ignore the data.  Some parts of the world are getting cooler, other parts warmer – deal with it!
  • Government must be the referee and watchdog of both businesses and workers. Libertarian, Ayn Rand-style laissez-faire economics and Marxist Communism have one fundamental flaw in common; they ignore the basic fact that human beings are, at their core, imperfect creatures which are susceptible to lusts of money and power.  In the Libertarian fairyland, all businesses would have morals and ethics, and the market would simply punish those who don’t conform to societal norms.  Ultra-left wingers, in their warped universe, believe everyone would be happy if their basic needs were met without question, and that happiness alone would motivate people to achieve better.  Unfortunately, greed and avarice are two of the seven deadly sins, and they are flaws in human nature which make both extremes impossible dreams, so there must be a balance between the two.
  • That said, government itself is not the be all and end all. Cradle-to-grave government largess, such as that seen in European countries, is not possible in the United States for a very basic reason – economies of scale.  In Europe, individual nations are mostly homogeneous, meaning one dominant ethnicity (sorry, American WASPs, that doesn’t exist in the U.S.) and, more importantly, small populations.  Britain, France, and Germany are grappling with lumbering welfare programs and ineffective, change-resistant bureaucracy.  This almost always lends itself to a government which believes it, and not the people who elect it, call the shots.  In our nation, this cannot be allowed to happen – transparency is required, and accountability must be demanded.  While I love my country, I cannot stand what our government allows, and we, the people, have allowed this happen.
  • We cannot stop questioning everything. The idea that our government, our leaders, our elected officials will always tell the truth, be open and forthright, and look out of us is naivety at best, lunacy at worst.  Those on both the right and the left must be held accountable for anything they do that is not in the best interest of the nation.  Allowing things to become law, be funded by the money earned by the sweat of our national brow, or be acted upon for reasons that are not vital to our national interests should be something we, the people, must be willing to stand up to those in power and remind them who gives them that power, and it’s not anyone in with billion dollar bank accounts.
  • No one group of people should be allowed to control everything. This is not a call to return the nation to the Gold Standard, or a conspiracy-driven cry for revolution.  This is a cry to my fellow Americans to look around, think about what is going on in their own backyard, and begin to foster change for the better.  No one group, special interest, or individual should be allowed to hold total power over an aspect of our nation, and that is where we are going.
  • A woman must retain the ultimate right of refusal over her reproductive system. Men must not only defend that right at all costs, and women must respect men’s right to such input should they choose the responsible path of cooperation and support in such matters.  Morality is the purview of the individual, and that individual must face the consequences of any decision they make.
  • While private enterprise can be trusted to build and maintain public infrastructure and systems, it cannot be relied upon to administer such items, at least without strict government oversight. To do so would allow the corruption created by greed and avarice to destroy that which has been built.
  • A strong middle class is essential to the economic health of our nation. As such, corporate welfare of any sort is an anathema to a functional republic, and individual welfare must be repaid in kind through civil volunteer service.
  • There should be no limits on campaign contributions from individuals, but those individuals must be willing to put themselves into the public eye for scrutiny.
  • Corporate law must be rewritten to eliminate the limited liability statutes. Investors, Directors, and Executives are more likely to act in the best interest of a company and its assets, both hard and human, if they stand to lose assets of their own.
  • No American should go without food, clothing or some form of shelter. As such, all Americans have a moral obligation to offer a hand up to those who ask for it.  Those who wish to lead a self-destructive path should allowed basic needs, but must submit to volunteer service to compensate society for the damage they cause from their own failings.
  • An open, honest dialogue about race must be achieved, and that dialogue must remain respectful from both sides. Anyone who fails to honor this code of conduct must be marginalized, and their demands ignored.  When they are ready to behave like civilized adults, they can return to the table and reach an appropriate understanding.
  • Sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or race must never be allowed to dictate one’s destiny in this nation. We all rise and fall on our merits, but we also have a moral obligation to help those in need who request it honestly, and we must respect the basic dignity of those who do request, rather than demand, such help.  We are not a theocracy, no matter how much some in the religiosity may believe it to be our destiny.
  • Finally, we are, as a nation, not evil, nor are we completely good. We have made mistakes in our history, but no more than any other nation in this world.  Our strength comes from a multitude working together towards a common goal, and that diversity strengthens us  provided we utilize our greatest assets of common language, common courtesy, and common identity as Americans.  The notion of a “more perfect Union” is a basic belief that we, as Americans, must work together to achieve an ideal, one espoused by our Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan; that we are, as a whole, better than the sum of our citizenry.  This must always be our national mission, and that means it will, hopefully, never end!

Comments or questions?  I welcome them!

Election 2014 – Ten Crazy Predictions

Ten crazy election day predictions for 2014.

10. In Georgia, Republican Senate Nominee David Perdue will announce he is quitting the race to join a group of businessmen peddling Ebola cures in Sierra Leone. “I am determined to prove I can be successful anywhere I go,” Perdue will insist. “So why not a backwards, third world, plague ravaged nation? What could go wrong?”

9. A massive election-day riot will break out in Sacramento after voters finally realize that almost 80 percent of all of California’s constitutional initiatives passed during the 1990s contradict each other. A radical group called “The California Libertarians” will demand President Obama launch an investigation into why it is that Californians keep voting for amendments which only make sense to those with Harvard Law degrees.

To read the remaining zany predictions, click the title link at the top of this post.

Why I am grateful for the torment I experienced in childhood

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written something, aside from my novels and fiction in general, which has truly been from the heart.  Today is a day which requires it.

On this day, I wish to express my gratitude to those everyone who has ever teased, bullied, intimidated, or otherwise wronged me emotionally or physically.

Yes, it sounds really strange, perhaps like a cry for attention.  There is, however, a definite method to my madness.  This is not, by any means, a chest-thumping session in which I say “look at me!  I’m stronger now!”  No, this is about being grateful, looking back at how far I’ve come and where, in fact, I am going.  This journey has been far from easy; packed with difficulties, hardships, and numerous points in which I wished to not only give up on the world, but actually wished take my own life. This path has had more potholes on it than a Pennsylvania interstate following spring thaw.

Why this is coming to the surface is a matter of stoking my soul to action in my writing. You see, writing comes from the heart, but the wellspring of all creativity is the soul; without a direct connection to the core of one’s essence, creativity is relegated to little more than a random smattering of things for attention’s sake.  Where creativity is born is the cohesion of randomness, which comes from a variety of factors, and all derive from our own essence.  Everyone has a creativity aspect to their soul, but it takes special tools for that aspect, that raw material, to be transformed into something which can be used to achieve amazing things.  Pain is one of the most effective tools at our disposal, and those who experienced the pain of childhood teasing and bullying for being different often are among the most creative souls in this world.

To be singled out every day for years at a time for simply being different, molds the heart and soul into something very different from the average person.  This is the fire in which my creativity was forged; the pain and anguish of fearing being teased, picked on, and bullied every day, both in and out of school, was the anvil upon which the sword of my creativity spirit was struck.  Those who inflicted this torment were the hammers and, much to the surprise of many, a rather fine blade was made.

Yet, no sword is truly powerful without tempering in fire.  My fire was the willingness to walking into this devastating furnace, day after day, for most of my childhood.  Even today, some these memories return like the hammer upon the proverbial anvil, only this time is merely to straighten the blade when it has been compromised in battle.   This fire is what creates the ability to withstand the greatest tests life can throw at you.

You see, these individuals who harmed my heart and soul were actually serving me.

Strange as it sounds, pain serves us.  Creative types tend to crave pain, and with good reason; it tests us, challenges us to push through our limits.  When faced with “no,” we redouble our efforts, and fight back with even greater desire to succeed.  This forced me to evaluate myself, doubt myself, question myself, and feel the only one who could ever change my own life was myself.

The service this did me was beyond compare.  I am capable of doing so much I never imagined possible.  Rather than simply give up when someone denies me, I evaluate to see if the situation is really serving me and, if it is, I push back with even greater force.  My own character contains a stubborn refusal to allow anyone but myself to dictate my destiny, and with that quality I have managed to forge a sword which serves many, is coveted by some, and is enjoyed personally by but a few.  For that reason, I am expressing a gratitude which, today, is in extremely short supply in this world.  Rather than begrudge those who inflicted emotional, psychological and, in some cases, physical scars upon me, I thank them.  The reason is simple – without these experiences, I wouldn’t be who I am now.

This is intended as a message to those who feel they got the best of me, or that I have never been, nor ever will be, relevant.  Moreover, it is intended as a message of hope for those who have suffered as I did; there is service being done to you in your pain and suffering, and you must find the service which you are called upon to do in this world.  This life is yours to create and shape, and no one person, aside from yourself, should ever be granted the most sovereign right one may possess; the right of dictating an individual’s destiny.  Rather than be a victim, own your pain and anguish, love it, incorporate it into your whole being, and use the sword give to you to fight the good fight, everyday.

To those who forged me through their own ignorance, anger, hatred, and desire to inflict harm, I simply say “thank you” for serving me.

Millenials are the new “Greatest Generation?” Not if us X/Yers have anything to say about

We interrupt this regularly scheduled vacation to bring you this tirade.  WARNING:  May offend some readers – will definitely offend Millenials.

I have been reading article after article extolling the virtues of the Millenial generation and how they may be the next “Greatest Generation.”  Several folks have declared this generation of youth to be the most service-oriented since World War II.  Others say they are the best team players and most willing to adapt to their surroundings.  Simply put, power brokers, marketers and those in positions of serious pull have told we Generation Xers (and Yers, sorry to leave y’all out) that we are, essentially, a bygone dinosaur which never had a chance to fully develop because we simply weren’t strong enough, fast enough, smart enough, or brave enough.

Thank you for the attempt to bury our kind, Social Darwinists.  Fortunately, after stumbling across several articles in recent weeks profiling the changing face and behaviors of Millenials vis-à-vis current events, I can safely say this about these much-ballyhooed World War II wannabes.

You ain’t all that!

Jean Twenge was among the first writers willing to call out this hypocrisy, first in her 2006 book, Generation Me, then in a 2012 story featured in TheAtlantic.  In this article, Twenge quotes Christian Smith, author of Lost in Transition:  The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood, who not only calls out Millenials as frauds, but media and those in power as aiding and abetting their ill-achieved status of “the next big thing.”

“The idea that today’s emerging adults are as a generation leading a new wave of renewed civic-mindedness and political involvement is sheer fiction,” Smith wrote. “The fact that anyone ever believed that idea simply tells us how flimsy the empirical evidence that so many journalistic media stories are based upon is and how unaccountable to empirical reality high-profile journalism can be.” – from The Atlantic, May 2, 2012

Granted, there are plenty of members of this particular generational group who are genuinely hardworking, community-minded individuals with a desire to change the world for the better around them.  This do-gooding mentality, however, isn’t a direct result of exposure to the so-called “hipster” lifestyle, but rather a combination of parental influence, community standards, and an innate, hard-wired desire to do, be, and create better than what they were given.  Sadly, these folks are few and far between, indeed.

What we are facing is one of the more narcissistic, self-serving generations in history.  If they can’t smoke it, snort it, or drink it, they seem to want to play it, game it, or find an angle to it.  To many of these youths, everything they do can be justified as a game to be conquered, with life being regarded as so cheap that Social Darwinism is now fast becoming the religion of choice.  Now, fortunately for the world, there is hope.

Step up, Gen X/Yers!

It’s very easy to dismiss us as a group of cynical, slacker hacks who laughed at Beavis & Butthead, found Daria pedantic, and were just south of chumps when we wouldn’t buy into the Britney Spears/NSync hype machine.  What we lack in corporate mass-marketing buy-in, however, we more than make up in a genuine “want to” attitude which personifies our group.  Ours was the one which fretted over Gulf War I being the alleged opening salvo of the Nostradamus-foretold, Third-Antichrist-driven third World War, only to later face down that fear and roll up our own sleeves when we had our defining generational moment thrust upon us in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

Fortunately, it doesn’t stop there.  We can still change a flat tire (I have yet to meet a Millenial who can even identify a tire jack, much less knows the actual verbal difference between “jacking up” and “jacked up.”)  Our generation could easily survive without video games because, with a few spoiled exceptions, we were made to go outside and play.  If fact, many Gen X/Yers are technophobes, preferring to live “off the grid.”  Many of us were actively involved in Girl and Boy Scouts, 4H, Upward Bound, Boys and Girls Clubs, and YMCA.  It’s the rare Gen X/Yer who doesn’t know how to at least check their own tire pressure, or understand how to wire a cassette-tape adapter to their Ipod.  Give a Millenial a late model used car with near or over 100,000 miles, a flat tire and a tape deck, and their head is likely to explode, but not before smashing out several hours of Clash of Clans on their Iphone.

This is not to sound bitter – it really isn’t.  How many Millenials do you know can actually show enough restraint to save some money from their job to afford cab fare or, better yet, know how to call a cab?  They would likely say “wait, can’t you place the request online?”  or “Isn’t there an app?”  The simple fact is this – Millenials would do well to watch the X/Yers, learn closely from our example, and understand that cynicism is a learned trait.  Their self-absorbed optimism can be transmuted into something far more world-serving, and ours is the generation who, through watching so many disgraces happen, can demonstrate what real community values really are and, in the process, instill enough tolerance that, in the end, they can get their collective generation heads out of their hineys.

A quick FYI to my readers

Hey everyone!  I wanted to check in and give you a little update to some things going which will affect this blog.

Starting this coming Friday, I will be on the first of two vacations from my day job.  During that time, I will be Tweeting and Facebooking from time to time, but my blog activity will be minimal, unless something major breaks.

Life has been a little on the hectic side with juggling bills (contrary to popular belief, I don’t exactly make scads of money on my books or writing, though that is eventually the intent.)  Stress has been a little higher than normal as a result, and I am doing my best to keep up.  Please bear with me during this time.

Keep checking back to see what’s going on inside my head, and please check out both the other posts on this blog, and my website, http://www.getinjohnshead.us.

RECIPE: Stadium Hot Dog Spaghetti

This is a recipe to try when you have leftover plain spaghetti and need a cheap meal that smells AWESOME!

NEEDED:

  • 3 cups plain spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup oil (preferably olive oil, but any oil will work)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon deli mustard
  • 2 tablespoons butter/margarine
  • Frying pan

DIRECTIONS:  Over medium heat, combine oil and margarine/butter with garlic salt and basil.  Once butter is melted, add spaghetti and mustard, stirring gently and frequently.  Pasta is done when it is coated thoroughly and separating.  Serve in bowl and enjoy the aroma – chances are, it will smell like a stadium hot dog!