Thinkbook 6 | It’s Over (Election Edition)

Despite the Election not turning out how I wanted, I’m going to go ahead and shave the trees off my face to start the work week. My kids have been clamoring for this momentous occasion ever since I stopped shaving in mid-September, perhaps a week or so before my birthday. So, in the wake of the outcome, what can I say? What can I say that hasn’t already been said elsewhere? I won’t belabor it here with new words, but I want to share some of the words I transmitted into social media last week that convey my thinking on this unfortunate turn of events, if only for posterior.

* Note: Though I like to provoke thought, it is not my intention to stir up yet another political debate on the Interwebs.

**Note: It is also not my intention to lose any of you by sharing my quotes on the election, but if I do, well, I understand.


Majorly bummed and disappointed. But am I surprised? Not really. The writing’s been on the wall for eighteen months when the dregs hiding beneath the rocks and hiding in the closest got stimulated by the Candidate. As evident from the result, ALL OF THEM came out of the woodwork to help prove that a progressive American IS NOT a true reality. And I don’t want to hear more of their bullshit that “we’re tired of the government not working” when they also re-elected the same GOP congress members who have helped do the very failing they’re complaining about.


Funny how the Candidate’s voting base is ALL ABOUT being against illegal immigrants and them not paying taxes and jobs going overseas, yet they vote in a candidate who doesn’t pay taxes, had an illegal immigrant for a wife and has also sent thousands of jobs overseas. Dumb and hypocritical much? But it’s like he said, he ran as a Republican expressly because of the GOP’s ignorant voting base. Well played. The American Dream is alive and well.


You focused on inconsequential emails, but Russian ties don’t bother you?


How the hell did the Candidate get the evangelical vote too? I guess sin is in.


Dear John McCain and Mitt Romney,

I’m sorry. We still cool?

Your Friend,

– B.


It’s no consolation but Hillary actually won the popular vote.


If only our intelligence was more equal to our emotions . . .


My guess is insurance companies are happier than pigs in shit about their future prospects. The poor folks, truly poor folks who voted on the side of GOP that were lucky to finally get coverage in recent years, should probably prepare for a stark compromise of that in the next couple of years. What preparedness for that even means, I do not know. The rest of us will be footing the bills again.


I think the main problem I have with the flak that I’ve gotten from the pro-Trumpers who’ve parted ways with me recently is that conveniently — yet unsurprisingly — they are not the targets of his agenda, proposed policies and rhetoric. And they have absolutely no empathy to the past, current and forthcoming plight of those who are those targets, or are simply unlike them. I continue to be resolute in my belief that supporting and voting for him is diametrically opposed to also supporting the progression and inclusion that I believe in from the core of my being. You can’t have it both ways. So that difference is not just a mere divide. It is a chasm.


We are the Divided States of America, and our enemies are watching. 


Now with that all purged and out of the way — I didn’t want to overload the regular weekly Ruckin’ With You blog with it — I can now move on to putting together a proper weekly for tomorrow, which even with Election stuff removed, looks to be pretty chunky. 

Until then, keep your wits about ya and be good to each other.

-BLR

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Thinkbook 5 | Untitled

~ This is a #thinkbook entry on #ruckology in which Brandon L. Rucker returns with new brainjuice after a two-week break ~

The last couple of weeks have not been optimal for regular blogging, due in part to my being busy creatively on a couple of projects. That’s a good thing. In that span there’s been so much on my mind I’ve wanted to lay out here in the form of brainjuice leakage that there’s no way to condense (nor remember) it all here for a single entry. I usually don’t do this particular series with much pre-planning or forethought, instead going for a more spontaneous approach, digging back into the deep pockets of my mind to squeeze out the past week’s high or deep thoughts. What usually occurs is a scattershot cranial explosion. Or something.

This week I’ll start by pulling a thought or two that I shared during the week on my Facebook page. First, some bad news.

Local/National News Story of the Week

In reaction to this news story about a deadly new synthetic drug scourging the streets of America, claiming 50 lives nationwide, two from my native state, I wrote:

++ The inventiveness of this kind of stuff seems boundless. It highlights that one of the saddest aspects of the human condition is the inability to cope without chemical assistance. My heart goes out to those who face any kind of existential crisis that leads them down this path. Stay above ground and keep breathing, y’all.

♦ ♦

Legacy News of the Week

In response to the news that Francis Ford Coppola is officially “relaunching” Zoetrope.com with an added new focus on short films, I wrote that Zoetrope.com is the place:

++ Where so many of us writers, editors and small press publishers cut our teeth back in the late 90s and early 00s. Not only did we learn so much about writing, editing and publishing from and with our peers, but the workshop/virtual studio was essentially the forerunner of social media. It’s where we learned how to (and how not to) act online. Big thanks to FFC, of course and a huge shout out to sysop Tom Edgar. Commence the renaissance.

♦ ♦

Political Thought of the Week

++ None of these things that people try to sling at Hillary Clinton can effectively negate the positives about her, especially all her years of public service benefitting women and children. I’d stack up her service record against any of the candidates we had going this cycle NOT named Bernard Sanders.

♦ ♦

Now let the brainjuice tap drip for . . .

Three Random Thoughts

++ A disturbing thing I’ve had to grudgingly but consciously admit to myself is that some days, often many days, I just don’t have the desire to wordsmith. As stated in yesterday’s Notebook 7, I’m always in a creative state. However, productivity surges and wanes to an imperceptible rhythm that a mere mortal writer like myself (i.e. not currently paid to do so) has not yet mastered the ability to perceive and ward off. Nonfiction stuff like social media or blogging, is rarely ever effected, but the kind of creative writing that fiction requires has always arrived from a mysterious well of unknown depth and unknown quantities of resources. Usually, this can be assisted by simply reading a diverse array of things, which I do regularly. But even this past week I slacked on that. #Writer’sPlight

++ Still, due to the inspiration of one of my favorite writers Warren Ellis, whose weekly newsletter Orbital Operations and an online journaling have been one of my primary inspirations here, I want to try to write something here every day without fail, as he is attempting to do for two uninterrupted months on his semi-daily blog Morning.Computer. Ideally this would be the month of September, leading up to and through my birthday weekend holiday. We’ll see if that happens.

++ I am a notorious tinkerer. I tinker and tweak everything. I’m a fine-tuner who believes in continuous improvement. So it’s very possible I may tinker with things here yet again, such as the theme, colors (though I love the stark monochrome), menu layout, etc. So don’t be surprised if you see things looking different around here (if you, ya know, even pay that much attention to that sort of thing).

♦ ♦

I’m going to have to stop it there and continue things later in Lifebook 11 where I focus on something equally communal and personal that happened last night. Right now I have to get ready for a wedding.

Be mindful and good to each other, m’kay?

– BLR

Thinkbook 4 | Noise Reduction

~ This is a #thinkbook entry on #ruckology in which Brandon L. Rucker confronts his problem with  unhealthy distractions ~

I’ve written about it here before, and it’s on my mind quite a bit of late. This need to decrease the volume of external noise. And when a writer mentions external noise he almost always means that of the social kind. More specifically, social media. Considering the fact that I’m current in a rather busy creative place of late, I need to do what I can to minimize distractions of all kinds, but especially social media.

It doesn’t help that by my own inquisitive nature, I am a newsjunkie. It doesn’t help that as a man in his early 40s with a young family, a good chunk of my social life is maintain by the advent of social media. But, just as I can prevent myself from going into town to hang with the locals for a good time, surely I can prevent myself from spending far too much time perusing the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

One option is to simply create a manual situation of turning off automatic notifications on one’s phone during the day. That curbs the frequent prompting of checking the phone via notifications. However, that’s only really effective if you keep busy with other things. If you’re bored or unoccupied you’re going to be tempted. Alternatively, I know some people who have removed social media apps from their phones completely, which would mean to check in they would have to do so whenever they’re at a computer, which would be less frequent when mostly mobile.

Whichever option I choose, I’m going to use that freed up time to write in one of the many notebooks I’m carrying around with me everywhere. A month ago I wrote about the option to use one’s phone for writing. Not ideal, no. But it’s an option. And a while back I described what I like to call my blank page fetish (note: Hello, Blank Page is no more).

So that’s the plan. Ween off of social media some. Put that attention toward writing on my projects wherever possible. Or writing here on this WordPress. Simply a more productive use of one’s time.

Of course no plan of mine ever comes without its inconvenient irony. Looking to decrease external noise, yet, I’ve recently pledged myself to watching more movies. That’s something I used to do more frequently many years ago. Aside from the entertainment factor, movies have always managed to benefit me by getting my mind thinking on story ideas while forcing me to examine narrative and point-of-view options. So, at least that particular external noise is creative noise, right?

I’m no fool. I’ll always have distractions. The key for creative people is to have healthy ones, the kind from which you can draw positive creative energy. For me that’s represented in the stack of books and movies that await my consumption. And once all that’s consumed I can see myself writing another one of these about how I need to curb my consumption as well.

Ah, the perilous path of the writer can be fraught with booby-traps.

Thinkbook 3 | Together Is the Way

This is a #thinkbook log on #ruckology by Brandon L. Rucker in which he presents a weekly upload of brain matter from the past week.

I’ve squeezed out a lot of brain juice this past week, and in this coming week and beyond it’s only going to get more voluminous and creative. More on that tomorrow in the Workbook log for July as I look back at the last month’s activity and forward to the coming month’s projected productivity.

So this week much of my thinking was dominated by the socio-political, given that we as a nation and world are still recovering from various calamitous events. And also this week was the Democratic National Convention, which did its best to calm the burning fires of the American socio-political fabric. There seemed to be a clear and prevailing message of unification, working together in concert with one another and a certain “we can do it” in the face of insurmountable challenges if we simply work together toward our mutual goals. In other words, there’s no need for division, walls or forced relocation. In my 3 Random Thoughts below I touch on this a little more.

And now on to the past week’s entertainment.

♦ ♦

Movie of the Week

++ Our Friday night date night culminated with STAR TREK: BEYOND. It was a highly fun and entertaining movie, right in line with the previous two of this J.J. Abrams reboot. We left feeling like it was really good, and I still have that thought a few days later. Coincidentally, there was a theme that ran through the story, a timely theme of togetherness and teamwork. Staying together in mutual purpose in order to achieve harmony and prosper – the common Star Trek theme, of course. But also this: no matter what our sins are in the past or present, in order to make a better tomorrow we need to unify, overcome and forge ahead together.

Upon reflection a couple of days later, something about this movie has me questioning whether or not I was as emotionally engaged in it as I was with the previous two installments. I don’t think it’s the actors’ fault that maybe I’m getting a sense that it lacked a certain amount of depth. Chris Pine as Cpt. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Comm. Spock seemed to do what they could to emote their character’s pathos. I would say that particular criticism would lay at the foot of director Justin Lin. For instance, I should have felt Kirk’s inner turmoil, Spock’s loss and even more inner turmoil, and even Krall, the villain’s century’s long plight a little deeper. I was surprised by the merely 2 hours running time, and maybe another ten minutes could have allowed for the story to delve a little deeper. I dunno, it’s just my opinion that stories/movies that are meant to be epic are even more so when the audience’s emotions are just as engaged as their intellect – amplifying the sense of awe.

In the grand scheme of things, this does not greatly diminish the overall experience, it’s more of a residual concern after the fact for me. Visually the movie was very stunning and impressive. The SFX contained both the great and not-so-great aspects of CGI. However, when scale is a big ingredient, you really can’t escape the necessity of all that CGI has to offer. As the credits rolled I noticed Simon Pegg’s credit as the co-screenwriter. A job done well. Happy to see that, for now, Kirk and Spock aren’t throwing in the towel just yet.

♦ ♦

TV Show of the Week

++ As we are on the verge of the season one finale of PREACHER on AMC, another thought on the show occurred to me. I’ve been on record here and elsewhere with a number of criticisms about this particular adaptation. Nothing too harsh, I don’t think. My latest thought is in regards to the show’s slow-burn, a criticism I’ve seen levied against it recently.

The thing is, there’s no need to decompress the story of PREACHER (i.e. drag its plots and storylines out unnecessarily) because there is plenty of material from the source to run probably six 10-episode seasons. Sure, they’d have to pad some things out, which they’re doing now, but they’ve actually compounded the situation because although they’ve slowed things, and have even rewound things to a point prior to where the story starts in the comics, they’ve also expedited certain things in the timeline that, in my opinion, aren’t for the most compelling storytelling reasons, at least not when in comparison to how things were plotted out in the original series. I know, I know, this is a * prequel * and they do not have the budget for what should be a weekly road trip show. Still, and I’m going to harp on this again: Tulip and Cassidy’s tryst, this early, not to mention this consensual, really bothers me and I have yet to see a compelling reason for it happening this early. Also, the Quincannon inclusion this early also has me taken aback just a bit. Still, I’m have to say I do enjoy the show and would largely consider it a success. I just can’t understand why I’m having such a hard time separating myself from the source material because that’s not how I am usually. I’m usually happy to see deviations if they make sense and are happening for compelling and understandable reasons. At any rate, I’ll continue to watch. And I’ll share my thoughts on the season finale here next week.

♦ ♦

Sounds of the Week

++ Leviathan and Blood Mountain by MASTODON ++ a JOE SATRIANI shuffle ++ VII: Sturm Ung Drang by LAMB OF GOD | Sincerest Misery by APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE

In other musical news, my band NEGLECT THE ALARM finally resumed practice and songwriting last week. More to come.

Three Random Thoughts of the Week

++ The socio-political divide in the United States could be simply summed up as this: inclusion VS exclusion. Think about that on a deeper level than you ever have before.

++ So many things in life that shouldn’t be about a competitive advantage actually are. Human nature is one seriously unbridled force in all of creation. Given our randomness and uniqueness, one could argue that we are a mistake. But I digress.

++ One drawback to being a writer is you spend a lot of time writing about living rather than actually doing the living.

♦ ♦

That last thought will be further addressed in The Evening Muse later this week.

No Reads of the Week this time because nothing I read was much of a standout. Next week should have plenty though.

And that’s all the brain juice I can squeeze out here. Much work to do this week. Check out tomorrow’s Workbook for more on that.

I leave you with only one request: please be awesome to each other. Thanks.

-BLR

Thinkbook 2 | Read? Write? Rock?

#ruckology #thinkbook #read #write #rock Last week the first Thinkbook tackled art, this week’s keeps it in the neighborhood of the arts.

This past week I battled my usual conflict of wanting to do multiple things all at the same time: read, write and rock out. Anyone reading this obviously knows I’m a writer. And by natural extension of that I am an avid reader. Perhaps not-so obvious, unless you’ve thoroughly perused this particular blog, I am also a musician. That’s something I started aspiring toward, in 1988, well before getting bitten by the writing bug in 1993. I’ve written/co-written hundreds of songs alone or with bandmates, I’ve played several dozen shows onstage as a guitarist, a bassists and a vocalist. I’ve recorded and released music to the public over the years (plenty still unreleased as well). I’ve written an untold amount of stories, articles and poems and published scores of them both in physical and virtual publications. Of course what led to wanting to write was my being an avid reader of fiction, mostly in the suspense, crime, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and superhero genres, which unsurprisingly are my favorite genres to write in. And that’s just the fiction, say nothing of non-fiction and journalism.

My dilemma, which obviously is not exclusive to me, is that reading leads to an intense desire to write. Listening to music stirs up the intense urge to grab any of my instruments and make music. Often all at the same time. On my personal Facebook page my “intro” reads as: I rock. I read. I write. Sometimes all at the same time.” A bit facetious, but were that humanly possible I’d be doing it constantly, burning myself out like a star gone supernova.

This past week the reading won out the most (I JUST WANT TO READ ALL THE THINGS!!!) But I have much writing to do (duh!), I mean that particular work is never done, really. But I also need to dust off the guitars because there’s been rumblings that my band, NEGLECT THE ALARM, may actually resume activity this coming week. A lot of starts-and-stops for this band over the past year and a half. Progress, at least in my mind according to the vision I had when I first put pieces together, has been severely compromised. Our 5-song demo EP should have already been released to the masses by now. We should’ve had 3 or 4 more shows behind us by now as well. But, alas. That’s a gripe for another day.

So this week I should have some busy fingers on both the keyboard and the fretboard.

♦ ♦

Three Random Thoughts of the Week

++ If we don’t embrace diversity in our societies then we are doomed to perpetual disharmony.

++ The scourge of anti-intellectualism in our general populace is real and scary.

++ I think I’m going to create yet “book” around here.  Inspired by last week’s Thinkbook, I’m going to start an Artbook here soon.

♦ ♦

Visuals of the Week

I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding these on the ‘Net, if, like, perchance you live under a rock and have managed to miss them.

++ THE WALKING DEAD Season 7 Trailer from SDCC

++ LUKE CAGE Teaser from SDCC

++ WONDER WOMAN Trailer from SDCC

++ JUSTICE LEAGUE Teaser from SDCC

++ Van Jones Vs Carl the Cuck Slayer Ultimate Street Debate [see video]

♦ ♦

Reads of the Week

++ Issue #15 of VELVET, a comic by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, from Image Comics

++ Issue #23 of LAZARUS, a comic by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, from Image Comics

++ Issue #2 of WONDER WOMAN by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott, from DC Comics

++ Issue #1 of THE SHEILD by Adam Christopher, Chuck Wendig and Drew Johnson, from Dark Circle Comcs

♦ ♦

Sounds of the Week

++ No audiobooks again this past week, but I hope to get back to listening to one or two this week.

++ Albums: …And Justice for All by METALLICA; The Way I Feel by REMY SHAND

++ Songs: “The Beauty of Gray” by LIVE; “No Ordinary Love” by SADE; “Always” by SALIVA

++ Also various songs by BEN FOLDS, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, SLEATER-KINNEY

♦ ♦

That’s a wrap for this week. If you’re anywhere in the continental United States, try your best to beat the heat. And remember to be good to each other out there. We’re all in this together, whether we like it or not.

-BLR

Thinkbook 1 | Art Can Make Your Day

#ruckology #artjunkie First in a series of weekly brainjuice leakages, an upload from my cerebral mainframe to yours.

Art. Man, it really can make your day. Be it visual, audio, audio-visual, practical or virtual. Art just has that uncanny ability to touch the soul, spark the imagination and be a general catalyst to positive things in our lives. I’m a sucker for the stuff and spend an inordinate amount of time mentally immersed in it on a daily basis, whether it’s my own or that of others. Over a decade ago I used to go by the handle artjunkie online. In fact that was the name of my first ever blog (on Livejournal) some eons ago. I am certainly an art junkie for life, no doubt.

We’re certainly in some dark times these days, socially and politically. Do yourself a favor and try to make time to consume your favorite kind or art, better yet, discover some new art.

Btw, hello and g’day, my friends. I am going to attempt to do this on a weekly basis.

♦ ♦

Artist: Kathleen Marie Kralowec

++ So I spent part of my morning immersed in the wonderful artwork of an artisan New Yorker (transplant of California) by the name of Kathleen Kralowec, whose artwork is the featured image of this post. She’s ridiculously talented in a variety of mediums, employing a diverse array of styles. Although I’m just now discovering her, she’s been in the art game for the better part of a decade now, creating visuals for games, animations, comics and sculptures and dolls as well. She’s a graduate of Scripps College (art, philosophy) and U of C, Santa Cruz (digital art, new media). A shot in the dark, but I reached out to her to let her know that she’s a phenomenal artist and that I’d be honored to create a project with her. You should check her out using the linkage below.

Websites — ++ http://cargocollective.com/kkralowec  ++ http://cargocollective.com/KMKralowec  ++ https://www.behance.net/kkralowec

Social Networks — ++ Facebook  ++ Twitter  ++ Tumblr

Buy — ++ Amazon  ++ ComiXology  ++ DriveThruComics

♦ ♦

Project: CrimeTime

++ Speaking of collaborating with an artist, last weekend I met with my best friend, musical and artistic partner Joshua S. Hooten at a Mexican restaurant to enjoy some yummy food (that carne asada was the bomb!) and discuss our crime comic project.

The skinny is this — We will essentially be putting together a one-shot issue of this first project (which has a title, but is classified for now). I liken it to a demo recording by a band just starting out and trying to appeal to club promoters for opportunities to play shows. So the story will be self-contained but will act as a great tease for more to come with the batch of featured characters we have. Joshua will be handling all art duties digitally, including colors (using his MacBook Pro, Cintiq tablet and various software by Manga Studio, Adobe and Affinity). I will be providing the story and most likely the lettering as well. This will possibly be a self-publishing endeavor and will serve as a promo tool us two aspiring comic creators as we look to co-create several more comics projects for what we hope will be a long career creating together.

Here’s some test images (not final) from Joshua for a couple of characters we’ve been working on.

*Note: you can expect more art images from Joshua here in the future as we further develop our project.

♦ ♦

Movie of the Week

++ Saw THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS last Sunday with the fam. It was immensely entertaining and anyone with pets (we have three), particularly dogs and cats, should find all the humor bits to ring true.

♦ ♦

TV Show of the Week

++ After the excellent and humorous 6th episode “Sundowner” from a couple of weeks back, PREACHER and I have finally reached an accord with each other, I suppose. I’m starting to judge it less in comparison to its comic book/graphic novel source material, finally. Last week’s episode, “He Gone” was fairly good. Still, I have issues with Cassidy and Tulip hooking up so early in the overall scheme of things. And while Tulip’s TV portrayal has been a tour-de-force by Ruth Negga, her likability compared to comic book Tulip has been compromised, thus far, IMHO. Yet, overall, I’m still entertained and intrigued at this point, so I’m in for the long haul.

♦ ♦

Reads of the Week

++ Chapters 15 – 19 of DRIFTER, a novel by Nicholas Petrie.

++ Finished up “Coward” the first volume of CRIMINAL, a recurring comic series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips now from Image Comics. I’ve just started reading the second volume, “Lawless”.

++ Issues #3 & 4 of THE FIX, a comic series by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber from Image Comics.

++ Issue #3 of JACKPOT!, a comic series by Ray Fawkes and Marco Failla from AfterShock Comics.

* Recurring genre here is naturally that of crime and suspense.

♦ ♦

Sounds of the Week

++ I usually listen to a variety of music, podcasts and audiobooks on my iPod daily at work and in my car. This week I mostly rocked a shuffle of tunes. One full album I do recall listening to was FOR ALL KINGS by Anthrax.

♦ ♦

That’s all I’ve got for this week. I’ll be back next week with even more brainjuice. Maybe next time the spotlight will be on writing and storytelling.

-BLR

Images are copyright © Kathleen Kralowec and Joshua S. Hooten, respectively.