Saturday, September 26, 2015

Trolls QQ, I Pew Pew


We've all come across trolls before. People who just want to incite a reaction from others by being offensive or overly ignorant. There is more than one kind of troll though. Some of them actually believe in the ignorance they are saying and will not accept any evidence to the contrary. These are the climate change deniers, the gamergaters, the people who want to deny others their rights because of 'Christian Values', and so on. Some of which will make it their mission in life to destroy you. So pull up your socks, grab your Hellrender axe, and prepare for combat.

I've blogged before about not feeding the troll, but sometimes that isn't an option. Sometimes you have to deal with them, or they make it impossible for you to ignore them. This blog post is about how to deal with the frothy mouthed trolls who want you to have a bad day because they have nothing better to do. The ones who will not go away while trying to find new ways to reach out and annoy someone.

Harassment

I know of many ways to deflect someone's argument. Like if they made a ridiculous argument that makes perfect nonsense then I show them how crazy it looks. Hey I can make insane statements too! If Trump is elected president then Godzilla has vowed to destroy New York. How do you respond to the threats of Godzilla?

The problem is when the Trolls QQ. What I mean is when they begin to get upset and emotionally involved. QQ is used to represent two eyes with tears streaming down. What happens when they take it too far? What happens when they pester you over and over and over again like a toddler with a question? You block them, then they create another account to reach their grubby troll fingers out toward you over and over. What do you do then?

The worst is when they bring it back to their hive to escalate the attack. An entire group of gamergaters or sad puppies might be at your doorstep protesting in public. Blocking individuals at this point doesn't help much when you are being bombarded with thousands of acidic messages from different sources. What can you do then? The don't feed the troll method still works for the most part, but when things get really bad we need something else that we can defend ourselves with.

How to Pew Pew

Pew Pew is the sound of a gun shooting in a cartoony video game like MegaMan. The Pew Pew is how I would choose to fight back. That doesn't mean I support building a real video game gun then going out and shooting people with it. It means embracing the hate. Have fun without being insulting. Be confident that love will win, no matter what.

The first step is to not let it get to you. Haters are gonna hate. Snapping back at them like a rabid pit bull means they win. Remember that people who are looking at an argument from the outside can't tell who is who, so project the voice of reason at every turn. The bad guys only have to win once against the superhero. That one time of snapping back will be a beacon that your opponents can point to forever. Don't give them that ammo. We need all the ammo we can hold onto in this game, there is no extra lives code.

The second step is to be a superhero where your power is to be exceptionally polite. Their hate is going to get out there in public at some point once they realize that you aren't going to bend or break to their will. Control what you can control and don't worry about what you can't. You can only do so much to ensure that others aren't brought into the fray by keeping your website clean. Moderate the comments using a fire dragon. Scorched earth behind the shed looks better than having five foot tall weeds in your front yard.

Step three is to craft a respectful response. Don't engage with their message, and don't allow comments. Agree to disagree and move on. Your position is not changing, and they aren't going to change theirs. What is the point of bickering over it? No one needs that negative energy in their life. This is where you can get up close in their face and give them a huge hug infused with rainbows and cherry coke. Show them that you have love for all even though you don't necessarily agree with them. As I've heard many Christians say repeatedly, "Hate the sin, but love the sinner."

Conclusion

No matter what you do, some people are going to hate. Some people will get angrier when you stay positive in spite of their attacks. It is impossible to please everyone. That's like trying to win a contest of who can pee on your shoes better. You still end up with shoes covered in pee. Make the best of a bad situation by doing whatever you can to avoid making it worse. This blog post is one way you can try to defuse the situation.

I do have some experience with this sort of thing coming from my background as a gamer. Once upon a time I was a league admin for an online first person shooter game for a few years. I've seen first hand the kind of intolerant and ignorant attitudes that congregate within gaming communities. From close to the beginning of online competition global chat has been outlawed in matches for these reasons. I must admit that I did not handle things as well back then as I would now, and I suffered for it. The stress and anguish taxed me back then, and my hope is that this post could help others to avoid that suffering.

If you have your own story to share or if you have another suggestion on how to defuse the situation please post it in the comments. I would love to hear it. This has been one of the toughest blog posts I have written. How do you deal with a crowd of people online who are angry with you specifically? It is a difficult situation for anyone to deal with. I'm not even sure if my solution is the best path, but it is the one I would use today if faced with that situation.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pawn Sacrifice

Rated PG-13 / 1 hr 54 min / Biography - Drama

What is it about?

Bobby Fischer is a chess prodigy, but his true passion is staring a ceiling fans. He can't stand his mother having sex all the time, so he ships her off to California. Don't worry, he put air holes in the box then covered them with duct tape. He beats some of the best chess players in the world to become the youngest Grand Master of Chess ever. However his most amazing accomplishment is solving the Rubix Cube. He does it by peeling off the stickers and replacing them with Mentos. He then decides that he wants to be the World Champion of Chess, but the Russians don't play fair. To get back at them he locks himself in his hotel room and disassembles the phone. Bobby Fischer just wants to eat oranges in his hotel and wear a tin foil hat. Can't have those pesky aliens or Russians downloading his thoughts. Eventually there is a showdown between Fisher and Spassky (the current world champion of origami). They make one paper crane to rule them all.

You will like it if...

You like biographical films based Bobby Fischer or chess. Tobey Maguire gives one of the best performances I've seen from him. Yes even better than creepy Peter Parker in Spiderman 3. Don't make me jazz battle dance you! He fully captures the descent from brilliance into madness that Fischer goes through. Fischer is an enigmatic and interesting character that many of current generation may not have been exposed to. Liev Schreiber plays Spassky who is shown as the Russian antithesis of Fischer. The film tries to paint him as a parallel to Fischer while still being the evil Russian chess oppressor WRA. Fortunately Liev isn't asked to do too much and does an adequate job of it. For a movie about chess the film doesn't delve deep enough into it to make it snooze worthy. Pawn Sacrifice is more of a study of how the game can stress the brain of people who play it at the highest levels. Interesting throughout while managing not to bore you to death with the chess aspect, Pawn Sacrifice is a well made biography of Bobby Fischer. If you are at all interested by the preview then I would recommend this movie when it hits Redbox. It's not one that you should be rushing to the theaters for.

Next Week

The Walk, The Martian, or Attack on Titan Part 1. Vote in the comments or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection depends on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on Tuesday 9/29

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Being a Boss: The Author Publisher

Earlier this week I saw a video of Dame Dash talking about the mentality behind being an entrepreneur. I was inspired to the point where I summoned my Native American roots, did a rain dance, and jumped in the puddles once the rain came down. His words really hit home for me providing a Polaroid picture of where I am trying to go. The biggest difference being that he worked in the music industry, and I am trying to break into the writing / publishing industry. So how do I apply this apple to this orange? Do I use Elmer's Wood Glue or Duct Tape?

Background Information

The video I am referring to talks about taking pride in owning what you do and working for yourself. Within the music industry many of the musicians refer to it as 'being a boss', but many of them do not practice what they talk about in their songs. Being a boss means that you control and have ownership over what you create. If you are going to spend the majority of your time and energy on something then you should reap the benefits of your work. There are many benefits to working for yourself. You can't be fired. You can give a friend or family member an opportunity to work whenever you feel like it. You have the power to fix the problems that you see every day in the process. You can pass it on to your children if you so desire or sell it. This is a powerful concept that most people do not think about when they go to work every day. Think about how much more motivated you would be if you worked for yourself.

The Business

As an author you are already facing an uphill climb. There are millions of books already out there, but you're not just competing against them. You have to compete against everything else out there that could distract or otherwise take up your reader's time. You're competing against TV shows, Movies, nice weather, shiny things, ceiling fans on low, etc.. It's much harder than the music industry where songs can played as background noise in nearly any other activity including reading.

The reality is that most overnight successes take place over a much longer period of time than what you would expect. If you look into it, many authors have five or eight or maybe even a dozen or more books out before they find that bit of stinky gourmet cheese they call success. It's a long haul that requires dedication and hard work. Even then there is no guarantee. You need a business plan to make it all work. A plan like "Step 1: Write Books Step 2: ??? Step 3: Collect the Monies" is not going to work.

This is where publishing and promotion comes into it. Going the traditional path is always an option, and I don't fault anyone for taking that route. If it works for you, great let's throw a party! Taking that route gives the publisher all of the power. Complaining about what they do with it is not going to help since you have sold your work to the publisher. That traditional publisher becomes your customer, which means you have to cater to them rather than readers or following the story in your heart. This is an example of working for the interests of someone else rather than working for yourself. That publisher could drop you, decide to hold off on publishing, or put your work out of print at any moment. They could decide to make edits that change your story to be a slug's struggle to get across a table covered in salt. Nothing you can do about it.

Applying Apples To Oranges

So how do we apply this concept of being a boss to the business of being a writer? Self publishing is the short answer. You become an author and publisher, or you can just take the 'and' portion out of that statement. Becoming an Author Publisher gives you complete control over how everything will be done. It's a lot of responsibility, but you also reap all the benefits of your work.

Accepting responsibility for everything is a daunting task, but don't fret. It's not time to go hide out in the bomb shelter yet. There is help out there. The digital revolution has provided a plethora of independent freelance workers who are eager to help provide editing services, graphic design, website design, chocolate, coffee, and so on. The possibilities are endless if you have the capital to get set up.

If you don't have the funds for the initial setup then I have good news for you. You can do it all yourself. It takes forever and a day to go this route, but if you have to go this way then you have to. There are tons of free tools to help you with graphics. There are writer communities where you can get free editing if you make friends and ask nicely. I usually try to trade not shooting them in the face with a confetti cannon in exchange for their services. That hasn't worked for me yet for some reason.

No matter what your situation is you can become an Author Publisher. There are many paths that you can take towards this goal, but the benefits are the same for everyone who takes this route. If you find that golden nugget of success then you may find yourself at a point where you can negotiate from a position of power with traditional publishers. You can negotiate a better deal with an adequate advance and reversion language that makes sense for you. This is the path toward becoming a successful hybrid author that I see working for many people, and I'm hoping will someday work for me as well.

This is just one of many reasons I am self publishing. Know that for me the story comes first. I love writing and wouldn't be putting myself through this torture if I didn't. Please share your thoughts, your feelings, your love for the poop emoji, or anything else in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Black Mass

Rated R / 2 hr 2 min / Biography - Crime - Drama

What is it about?

James 'Whitey' Bulger is a criminal doing criminal things like cutting the tags off his pillows and wearing skinny jeans. OK you got me, but it should be illegal for grown men to wear skinny jeans if they say they are gangsters. John Connolly is a FBI agent who is looking to bring in new informants, and the first guy he thinks of is his childhood friend who helped him get past that tough level in Pokemon, James Bulger. They form a partnership where Bulger gives the FBI information on where his enemies stash their fluffy stuffed animals so he can take over the gummy bear business. Connolly gives Bulger tips on who is ratting him out so he can give them a handshake with his gun to their face. It all begins to fall apart when people within the FBI begin asking questions about how to play cornhole.

You will like it if...

You like crime dramas based on real criminals. Most people have seen or heard about the story of Whitey Bulger. This film doesn't add much to that story other than the usual dramatization of the story and gummy bears. The acting in this film is about as good as it gets. Depp gives a majestic performance. It almost feels like seeing a rainbow unicorn that speaks English. Joel Edgerton gets lost in the supernova that is Johnny Depp, but his star also shines bright in Black Mass. The problem is that the film takes itself too seriously. Black Mass needs more cow bell. It fails to provide a plethora of iconic lines that make these kind of movies so entertaining. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Departed have that extra personality that makes them much better films. As good as Depp is in this role, I can only imagine what he could do with more iconic lines sprinkled into the script. As a result Black Mass is dry and lacking in personality. Gritty and realistic to a fault, the movie is entertaining, but lacks the extra creamy filling to make it great.

Next Week

The Green Inferno, Hotel Transylvania 2, or The Intern. Vote in the comments or Godzilla will pick the movie.

Friday, September 11, 2015

An Author's Lifeblood


What is a professional author's lifeblood? What do they desire and need more than anything else? *Cuts arm* Watch as my blood spurts all over my blog. Let's make runes with it and summon fluffy demon bunnies! An author's actual lifeblood is made of tiny nuggets of gold that come from their readers. I'm talking about reviews.

Before I really thought about it I used to consume books then toss them to the side like used condoms. I had taken what I wanted and then I was done with them. On the other side of things I see how important they really can be for an author's career. Now when I read a book I feel the need to post a review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Why are reviews so important?


There are quite a few obvious reasons why authors would love reviews. It's feedback on their art that could help them improve. In the case of good reviews it can be a validation or a small stroke of the ego that could cause them to make a mess in their shorts. Negative reviews can cause them to run around in circles like their hair is on fire.

Reviews push sales. Let me repeat that. Reviews push sales. It doesn't matter what kind of reviews an author gets. So if a group of spammers come in to post 2369487 one star reviews, that will still push sales of a book. One author I follow on twitter was lamenting the mass spamming of one star reviews for his latest novel, but when the sales rankings came in he was within the top 5. Next week he could even be #1 in spite of the low overall rating. There are a ton of other factors that make his book popular, but I think the large amount of reviews is one of them.

If people are talking about a book then others will look into it and possibly make that purchase. I can't overstate how important reader reviews are for an author. If you enjoy an author's writing then the most important thing you can do to support them is to post a review. Post your review on all the major book review sites. Yell your review from the top of a mountain. Use sidewalk chalk to replicate your review in a grocery store parking lot. Use the tears of your enemies to paint a watercolor of your review. The power is in your hands to help or to crush an author's dreams. Use it wisely.

Reviews

Here are links to the last 3 reviews I have posted for books I have enjoyed.
The Water KnifeThe Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi







The Fifth GospelThe Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell







S.S. by J.J. Abrams

The Visit

Rated PG-13 / 1 hr 34 min / Horror - Comedy

What is it about?

Becca and Tyler are trying to help out their single mother by giving her a vacation from their constant whining. Parents of kids who just went back to school can relate. While their mother is off on a cruise drinking her face off with her 'most chest hair' award winning boyfriend, the kids are visiting their grandparents. Becca has another motive for the trip. She is making a documentary about the family which she hopes will involve a lot of disco dancing. Her brother is there to help with his sick rhymes. The first night they begin to suspect something is wrong when Nanna starts acting as if Cthulu is tickling her nethers.

You will like it if...

You like horror films with sarcastic characters that keep it entertaining between scares. The acting in this film is fantastic. Even though there are parts that are cheesy enough to sprinkle on your spaghetti, the grandparents stick to their creepy sweet persona. The kids act like real kids rather than kid's faces drawn in crayon on paper bags. When they get scared you can feel it, and sometimes they will react with uncomfortable sarcasm. It kind of reminds me of the first two Evil Dead movies (the ones with Bruce Campbell). The film embraces its campiness and a few of the lines are sure to be quoted by friends. Most of the scares in the film are of the jump variety, so bring your Kris Kross references. The overall creepiness of the grandparents adds to the ambiance like candles to an awkward first date. Throw in a M. Night Shyamalan twist at the end and you have a very entertaining movie. The Visit is right up there with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable as one of his best films to date. Wayward Pines along with this film are slowly repairing his reputation built up by terrible movies like The Happening, The Village, Signs, etc.. I hope the trend continues. The Visit ends up being an unexpected treat for those of us who enjoy campy horror.

Next Week

Black Mass, Everest, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, and/or Sicario. Lots of choices next week, so vote in the comments or I'll go to the one with the most Youtube views.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fear of the Blank Page

We all hit that wall sometimes. That wall of indecisiveness. The wall that tells us, "Ye shall not pass!" What do you do when you hit this wall? I'm here to tell you that you have a sledgehammer, drill, jackhammer, nail file, gummy bear, feather, or whatever else you need to knock down that wall.

I'm not going to address a lot of the things that cause writer's block like distractions, being tired, Godzilla, etc.. I want to talk about the horror of facing that blank page with only your pen to save you. Your mind is completely blank of ideas, palms are sweaty, and the blank page is staring at you like a monster that wants to eat your Cheerios. Don't let it eat your Cheerios!

Bring Your Passion

What are you passionate about right at that moment? Write about it! Everything you know about that subject. I can hear you complaining already "But I have a deadline on this other thing!" Do you want that page to get filled or do you want it to be blank? I've got the controls here, I'm drunk with power, and I order you to write! WRAAA!

Sometimes the reason you can't place pen to paper is that you have something else eating at you inside desperately wanting to come out and play. You have to play with that monster inside of you before it gets angry and makes you stuff marshmallows in your mouth until your throat becomes parched. Do you want a parched throat? It's the first step to making sure you can't scream.

Play with the monster and it will cooperate. It may even help you come up with ideas on that thing you should be working on. It could become a pet that you share with friends and pees on the shoes of people you don't like.

Mark The Page

Place the pen on the page and make a line, a circle, a square, a smiley face with a dragon body, anything that makes the page not blank. That can be enough to clear a mental block sometimes. If it doesn't then you may need to scribble on the page until it is one ball of unholy mess. It is necessary to exercise the demons that are possessing the page. Tear it out of the notebook and burn it while chanting "The Power of Christ Compels You!" Now you don't have to worry about that demon keeping you from writing. Did that work? No?

Find a starter, a writing prompt, a beginning. You can use something you have already written, or another article/blog on the same subject. With a point of origin already on paper, you don't have to worry about that blank page problem. The first few steps are taken already you can jump right into things like a ninja. Don't forget your smoke bombs, throwing stars, and Skittles of death. Once you finish, you can always go back and edit/rewrite the beginning to make it your own.

I have found that doing these two things can help immensely when trying to conquer the horror of the blank page. If you have any tips of your own please don't be shy. Share them with me. I need to know! I have a comments section and probably know you from social media. My monster might pee on your shoes if I have to hunt you down for your secrets.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Transporter Refueled

Rated PG-13 / 1 hr 36 min / Action - Crime - Thriller

What is it about?

Labeled as a reboot of the franchise, this time around Frank Martin is played by Ed Skrine. He's hired by a woman to transport her and two packages. The two packages just happen to be beautiful women. Unfortunately that breaks the rules, so Frank wants to end the contract. They thought of this ahead of time and kidnapped his father to force him to comply. I guess it would have made too much sense to tell him up front. It's not like he would have refused the job. He spends the rest of the film trying to save his kidnapped father who gets kidnapped repeatedly.

You will like it if...

You like reboots that are inferior to the original in every way. Let's start off with the good because it'll take less time. If you like to look at women they are nice to look at in this film. Ray Stevenson does a fantastic job as Frank's father. He's the only character you end up caring about which is an impressive feat considering everything else. Although you do end up wondering how a former spy or special ops guy could keep getting kidnapped so easily. No one else in the movie even tries to play their role. It's like they are trying to read their lines written in crayon off construction paper, and they aren't sure how to pronounce the words because they barely speak English. Blocks of wood could have done a better job. The action scenes are OK in spots, in others they speed up the camera so you can't tell what is happening. The bad guys at times will walk themselves into a trap that they see Skrine set up. You want to yell at them like did you not see what he did right in front of you?! Refueled tries to make it's fight scenes as stylish and interesting as they were in the previous Transporter films, but it fails so bad that it will make toddlers cry who walk near the theater. They don't have to see it, they will just know. No one on the screen is up to performing like Statham did. The comparison might not be fair, but it's unavoidable. One of the sets for a fight scene has sponge rocks and a mat that was paint a different color than the rest of the scenery. Large plot holes, bad guys that don't care that they are losing, bad CGI effects, etc. I could go on and on with how terrible this turned out. Do not go to this film unless you are making a rifftrack or MST3K'ing it. It is not worth your time or money.

Next Week

The Visit, The Perfect Guy, or any other suggestion.
If you have any suggestions please post them in the comments!