Going Against The Grain

“I was driving in England down the Santa Ana freeway
Somebody’s screaming out ‘You’re going down the wrong way!'”
The Swirling Eddies, Driving in England

I will be 42 years old in just under two months. In my 42 years of life, I have seem many things and done many things. I’ve held a handful of different job, gotten married, met our Lord Jesus, written and published short stories, written a NaNoWriMo novel, recorded over 500 new media shows, designed a dozen websites, writing thousands of lines of software code, gone to Disney Land, met a lot of great people, played thousands of hours of games, been crew on a submarine, and much more. Yet my one real dream eluded me, being a professional full-time writer (or at least trying to be).

Oh, sure, I’ve had other dreams. Some my own. Some accepted from/forced on me by others. When I was a child I dreamed of being Superman, but that never panned out. (It is good that my “being Superman” dream never panned out, I figure all things consider, if I had super powers I would end up becoming a villain and taking over the world. This would be done for the good of the world of course, but it would end badly for everyone involved. But I digress.) Later I dreamed of being a fire fighter, which I was in the Navy to some degree or another. Then, after discovering I have an aptitude for Computer Programming I dreamed of being a programmer, which I achieved and found out wasn’t nearly as cool as I though it would be. And so on.

I also dream of bringing about the Zombie Apocalypse and will someday and that will show all you bastards who tried to crush my dreams. All you who said in was irresponsible to experiment on human test subject. I’ll show you all. I will be safe in a bunker with food and water and guns and a large DVD collection; and you’ll be getting your brains eaten by my zombie minions. It will be my finally revenge on the world. Muhahahaha. (Wait, did I actually type that?)

But the one dream that was mine and truly mine, was to tell stories, to write fiction (and well non-fiction). And that dream has eluded me in a meaningful way for many years. It all started in the summer of my Sophomore year of high school. I spend a month, maybe two, of my summer, writing a novella length manuscript called “Brimstone”. It was about a female spy named Randy Brimstone. She was pitted against a villainous organization that wanted to cut off the worlds oil supply. And, in the end, she succeed in defeating their plan. In retropect, it wasn’t very good, although, it was a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end. And it caught the attention of one of my English instructors in High School, Mr Brown (an English teacher at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas NV between 1982 and 1986), because, as they put it, showed raw talent. (Which came as an even bigger surprised to many of my teachers because I never did all that well in English classes.) And Mr Brown, one of my two favorite teachers of all time encouraged me to pursue writing (in one form or another) in college and beyond. My parents on the other hand, being far more practical in there view of life, said my efforts were crap and that I would never make it in life if I pursued writing. And since I respected my mother and feared my father more than I trusted Mr Brown, I went on to pursue electronic and computers rather than story telling and writing.

Well, a lot has gone on since then. I have come to terms with my relationship with my father. (He passed away over 10 years ago.) I have fought through some of my other baggage from the past concerning: writing, careers, dreams, desires, etc. (The fact that I reached a place where I could do that is all due to Christ Jesus, and his work in my life.) And now I am embarking on a journey into the world of the professional writer, which I am finding is a hard road to follow for a number of reason.

Now you maybe wondering why I titled this post “going against the grain”. The title comes from the reality of my new situation. In America, in terms of work, status quo is to find a “career” you like (like might be to strong a word) and then work at that “career” until you can retire or die. Don’t stand out to much. Don’t try to do things on your own, like start a business or write a book or invent the better mouse trap. Just go with the flow and you will have an average, easy life. Doing otherwise makes you different, sometimes admired, often envied, but in the end different. And the world is not a a big fan of those who are different. The world wants to put us all in a “box” that defines who we are and what we do so we can be bought and sold like a commodity. And the world gets very unhappy with those who try to escape the “box” they are in even if it is just to get into a different “box”. The world also gets really upset if your “box” is not of a standard size or shape.

Creative types like myself don’t fit well into the standard “boxes” of the world. We tend to have a grand variety of skills not a skill set focused in a relatively small area like most people. And we tend to want more out of life than the “box” has to offer. That is not to say that creative types don’t get “boxed”, but their “boxes” are always funny shapes and sizes and have rips and tears in them where things poke out; and they usually get shunted off into the manual sorting area. So we often end up “going against the grain”. I would say that is also true of entrepreneurial types as well, but there is so much crossover between creative and entrepreneurial types it is hard to say one is not the other.

Going against the grain is not necessary a bad thing. In fact, I would say that more people should. The corporate “people are just another commodity to trade” philosophy needs to get challenged as often as possible. (Not that I am against capitalism, I am just just against people’s worth being measured by nothing more than what contribute to the world in an economic sense. Which to be honest, Communism and Socialism are more incline to do than capitalism. Humans have value by virtue of of being human and having been created in the image of God whether they choose to accept that fact or not.)

So where am I going with this. Well that is a good question. I am basically, in a long winded, meandering kind of way, saying that I have decided to go against the grain and try to make it as a full-time professional writer. Now I am sure that what illusions I have about the a writing career with be smashed along the way. And that it will be a lot of hard work. But it is the road I am now traveling, although more slowly than I would like.

Don’t worry I have a plan. It not like I’m rushing out to quit my day job, but this new direction has forced me to change a lot of things in my life. I am forcing myself to become a morning person. I find that I am more productive at writing and more creative in the mornings. And I have instituted a new fitness regiment which is also a morning activity. (I think getting my writing “muscles” into shape is harder that getting my actual muscles into shape.) I have cut back on podcasting. So far there I has been some fruit, this blog in particular and a project that should debut in late May of 2010. So something must be working.

In the end, if it all blows up in my face, well, I can say I tried, and I certainly am enjoying the journey. So what are your dreams? Why are you following them? Maybe it is time for you to go “Driving in England”.

The Great Twitter Experiment

For the last three days I have shunned Twitter. In fact, I have shunned all social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc) to see partly, how it would effect me, and partly, if anyone would notice. Now by shunned, I mean did not login to, look at, or participate in in anyway in social networks. This started on Firday, April 23rd and ended Sunday, April 25th. And I have told no one I know that I am doing this.

I hoped by doing this that my general level of stress would go down and that the overall “drama quotient” in my life would be greatly reduced, and that my level of efficiency would be increased. I also hoped that people would miss my presence, but I really didn’t expect them to. And to some degree all these things were the case. Let’s look at some more detailed results.

Day 1 – Friday, April 23rd

On Friday, I found that I did not crave Twitter until I felt a lot of stress. I guess I did not realize that I was using it to let off steam that much. Then again, I’m not sure it was that effective of a tool for letting off steam. Without it, I was more focused on tasks I enjoy doing but it did not help my focus on things I don’t like or care that much about.

As to being missed, we at least one person sent me a message asking if I was okay, and suggesting that I might be dead. That makes me wonder just how big my Twitter presence is considering only have about 400 followers. I think it is sad that the new measure of life is how active on social networks we are.

Day 2 – Saturday, April 24th

Saturday was not really that big of a challenge. I don’t play much attention Twitter on the weekends. But I did find a desire to tweet when I went to the gym and after I got home. I also usually tweet about Saturday Night in the Snark Cave a couple of times on Saturday. It was weird not doing that.

Day 3 – Sunday, April 25th

Sunday was pretty easy, but I did miss the interaction with my friends on Twitter a bit. But again I don’t Tweet much on the weekends.

In the end, I did miss Twitter a bit, but it really wasn’t that much. I think I was a bit more focused without it, but it can be a nice break to send a couple of tweets once in a while. So I guess I am going to use Twitter a bit less going forward and see if I am more efficient.

Thanks,

T

If I had a rocket launcher…

“If I had a rocket launcher…Some son of a bitch would die.” – Bruce Cockburn, If I Had A Rocket Launcher

I like to think I am reasonable person. I try and give people the benefit of the doubt. I try and see the good in people. I’d like to think that people are not stupid. Really. And yet, people succeed is proving to me over and over that they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt I offer them. (Note: I am generalizing here. If you don’t know what that means you should Google it before continuing.) In fact, most people could benefit from a one way trip down a flight of stairs after they have been set on fire. (The origin of the the whole fire stairs thing can be found in a song call Inner Voice by Devo Spice.) This week has has been a particularly good example of this.

My week’s woes started with an email from our friends at the Parsec Awards. Now other than the “BCC email fail” associated with Parsec Awards announcement, I have nothing more against the Parsec Awards than I do against most awards. And my issue with most awards, especially those on the Internet, is that they are nothing more than popularity contest won by those who have the largest audiences, or they are mutual admiration societies. What really pisses me off about the Parsec Awards is that for next month or two all the podcasts I listen to, most of the mailing lists I am on, and a large number of people I follow on twitter will spend there time begging for votes rather than doing something useful, like producing good content. To begin with, I hate it when podcasters (and bloggers) beg me to do stuff for them. If I want to give you money, I will. If I think your show deserves my time to review it at iTunes, I will review it. I will not vote for you at Podcast Alley, for the Parsec Awards, or for you as a Presidential candidate. Asking/begging me will not change that. I also will not ask you to do any of those things for me, and I don’t expect you to vote for me for anything. If you choose to because you thing my content deserves it, great. But I have no expectations that you will do anything to promote my content or help in win awards.

I believe that awards should be given to those who have truly excelled at something not to those who can market or beg better than anyone else. And largest audience is not necessary a good measure of quality. And yes, I have won two awards in my life. And to be honest, I really didn’t deserve either of them. But I digress.

Next, this week has been high on the “high school drama” that permeates my job. Why is it that rather than acting like adults and trying to help solves problems and work together we all go off and do our own thing until something goes wrong and then we all point our fingers at each other? Why does it seem that people would rather find a problem and package it up in a nice little gift bag and drop off for someone else to fix rather than fix it themselves or at least help.

I have spent all week fighting fires, only to be blamed when things I have no control over have gone wrong or when I gotten things done in the time I estimated rather than five minutes after the request was made. What part of “three days” don’t you understand. No one remembers (or appreciates) the good stuff you do, they only remember what is screwed.

On top of that, the idiot’s who run my states highway department started road work this week on my primary route to work days earlier than the announced start dates. This increase an already long commute to an hour and a half each way. Which suck even more now that I am trying to get to the gym in the morning, and, suddenly, early morning meeting are all the rage at the Donut Factory. Now, I admit that the road work they are doing needed to get done, but if you are going to announce dates stick to them. The weather has been beautiful all week, yet I have seen random adherence to the dates they announced. Come on people.

And finally, the icing on that shit cake that has been this week so far, Earth Day was this week. Earth Day. The one day out of the year we all pretend to give a crap about pollution and recycling and clean air and clean water. Then the next day we forget all about it, and go back to throwing out burger wrappers out the our car’s window as we drive down the highway. I am surprised Hallmark has not start a line of Earth Day cards so we can fill up land fills with them the day after Earth Day each year. Now, as you can guess I am no environmentalist. I do believe in common sense environmentalism: reusing things, recycling, burying the body’s of my victims in the forest so they can fertilize the plants, peeing on trees, etc. And I do care about pollution and recycling and clean air and clean water. But can’t everyone smell the hypocrisy here.

Earth day also brings all the corporate Earth Day events (or stunts). How many corporation were out trying to make people believe they care about the environment? Some gave out reusable bags, some mugs, some water bottles, and some literature (printed on paper that when right in the garbage cans). All of which have the company logo of who ever gave them out printed on them. This is so they can make you believe they care, and get you will advertise for them. What a bunch Hypocrites.

For the record, I worked for Aveda Corporation in the past. It was the only place I have ever worked that took environmentalism seriously. In fact, that took it so seriously that we would spend more on a process or product to make in environmentally friendly. I didn’t aways agree with there position on the issues, but at least they weren’t hypocrites. I can respect that.

But mostly, I am mad at myself this week. Mad that I haven’t focused on the important things. Mad that I let myself get caught up in all the stupid drama going on around me. And mad because I have not been good about meeting my weekly goals. Yes, this week has sucked. Sucked big time.

Maybe I should just give up and join the clueless, unaccountable masses. Give up on my dreams. Fall into line and make “Dust for The Man”. Watch “must see tv” everynight, and drink myself to death. And expect the Government to take care of me.

Maybe I should set myself on fires and throw myself down a flight of stairs.

Or maybe I should surrender it all to God and live as the creative force for good in the world He made me to be.

In the end, if I had a rocket launcher, I would probably blow myself up.

Thanks,

T

Nerdcore? Dementia? What’s the difference?

Nerdcore? Dementia? What’s the difference?

I have been seriously been thinking about starting another music podcast. One that would play Nerdcore music exclusively. I happen to mention this on twitter the other day, and found, much to my surprise, that a large number of my followers make no distinction between Nerdcore and Dementia Music. This is a problem. This is a big problem. And I am now here to educate you on what Nerdcore is and what makes it different from Dementia Music.

Nerdcore, or Nerdcore Hip Hop, is a sub-genre of hip hop that focuses on geek and nerd topics like video games, computers, science, science fiction, etc. Now note the key words in that last sentence “a sub-genre of hip hop”. That means that the songs in the Nerdcore genre are delivered in the form of Rap. The Rap/Hip Hop style and the topics are more or less what define a song as Nerdcore. There are Nerdcore artists that would argue that Nerdcore is a unique genre of its own, that it is not a sub-genre of hip hop, but that is up for debate. I tend to agree with calling it a sub-genre of hip hop but I am open to persuasion on this.

The music of MC Frontalot, Schaffer The Darklord (STD), and MC Lars are good examples of Nerdcore.

Here are a couple of videos of Nerdcore:

On the other hand, Dementia is basically novelty or comedy music. It is not limited to a particular style or set of topics. (I believe Doctor Demento coined the term Dementia back in the ’70s.) And Dementia has been around a lot longer than Nerdcore.

The music of Weird Al, Ray Stevens, Robert Lund, and the music played on the Dr Demento Show are an excellent example of Dementia.

Here are a couple of examples of Dementia:

Now to be sure, there is crossover between then genres. Some Dementia artists use Rap and Hip Hop for their music or talk about geek/nerd topics. Some Nerdcore artists try to be funny or use humor in there songs (or rhymes). And there are serveral artists the straddle to fence between to the genres.

Devospice and The Great Luke Ski are examples of artists that straddle the line between the two genres.

So in the end, Nerdcore does not equal Dementia and vice-versa. Now you know. And Knowing is half the battle. (The other half is usually made up of blue lasers and red lasers.) G.I. Joe.

Here are some sites where you can get more info (as well as free music):

Nerdcore

Nerdcore on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nerdcore_hip_hop
Rhymetorrents – http://www.rhymetorrents.org
Nerdcorehiphop.com – http://nerdcorehiphop.com/

Dementia:

Dementia Radio – http://dementiaradio.org
The Dementia Wiki – http://dementiawiki.wikispaces.com
The FuMP – http://thefump.com
The Mad Music Archive – http://www.themadmusicarchive.com/

Thanks,

T

My Weekend

I am always amused on Monday mornings how many people ask me questions like “how was your weekend” or “what did you do this weekend”. In most cases, they really don’t care. In fact, they really only expect to say it was fine or I did what I normally do. Most of the time, I can roll with that because my weekends like most peoples are pretty routine, and if we did something really cool we’re going talk about it anyway.

Because of that true lack of interest, I have often wanted to say some shocking like “I shaved a Baboon with sheep shears in an artistic monkey shaving contest and won second place” or that “I flew to LA and hung out with Jacky Chan, Milla Jovovich, and Ron Perlman at a night club called The Crazy Crab” to try and get their attention. Unfortunately, I figure most people wouldn’t notice. They would just go on with their Monday morning routine as normal.

On the other hand, many of you have actually expressed interest in my weekend actives for some unknown reason. (My weekends are really boring most of the time, and last weekend was a pretty typical example.) But since you have express actual interest, I decided to give the run down of last weekend’s events.

Late Friday afternoon my weekend started. I had just reached the top floor of the parking ramp, where I usually park at the Donut Factory, when I heard to tell-tail sound of my friend The Doctor’s TARDIS. The Doctor and his companion Mel greeted me, and they whisked me into the TARDIS with them. After catching up with my friends over tea, we materialized at a secret research facility in deep space being run by the CIA (Celestial Intervention Agency). In his usual manor, and with the help of his companions, The Doctor ended the evil research being done, and he freed the alien test subjects. Problem solved, we headed back, and The Doctor delivered me home with a fresh pizza from Papa Murphy’s Take and Bake. He even arranged for my car to be in my driveway when I got home.

I bid farewell to my friends and went inside the house. Fortunately, my wife had not arrived home yet so I didn’t have to explain to whole TARDIS dropping me off thing. My wife arrived home, and we baked up the pizza. We had a quite dinner. Watched a little TV. And went to bed early.

The next morning we got up. We had breakfast together, eggs and sausage prepared by me, and then I went off to move this blog from wordpress.com to my hosting, and my wife went back to bed.

My wife went to work early in the afternoon, and I drove into town to get a headlight replaced in our Ford Focus (pronouced Fuck-Us). When I got home, my friend Hugh was waiting for me. We had been contacted by a Navel Seal named Logan and Greg Brady. They had send plane to pick us up so we could help with a giant pirahna infestation in Venezuela. We met up with “Dr” Tiffany (yes, the ’80 pop star, now a genetic scientist) in Venezuela, and we went to work. I can’t go into details as the entire operation is classified, but you might have heard about a “hurricane warning” in south Florida. Don’t believe everything the news tells you.

I got back from Venezuela pretty late and went straight to bed.

Sunday morning my wife and I played hooky from church. (Well, I do that most weeks because I really don’t like that church she goes to, so it was a bigger deal for her.) And we headed up to the cities to grab brunch at Granite City. (The brunch was quite good. And there is nothing like having a mug of beer with breakfast.) Unfortunately, we had jumped on another couple’s (who did not show up) reservation and, as we were finishing our meal, two gentlemen show up and accused us blackmailing there boss. After a wild cash through the city, driving a sports car into a river, and a vist to an questionable entertainment establishment we managed, with the help of Marky Mark (AKA Mark Wahlberg), to stop the bad guys and extract ourselves from a rather dangerous situation.

You might be surprised to find out how much more angry people get about reservation jumping than they do about say attempted murder.

Finally, we then headed home and ordered pizza for dinner. My wife had to go to meeting at church that evening, so I sat down to write. I finished a 100 word story for Snark Tank Radio. Shortly, after than I got a call that there had been a zombie incident in Port Gamble. I grabbed my boomstick, anti-bite suit, and machete, and headed off to help out. Fortunately, I was able to put down a number of zombies and help rescue six survivors in only a couple of hours.

After than I headed home. I was really tired when I got home so took a long hot shower, took some pain killers (my back was killing me), and went to bed.

Well that’s my weekend. It was more or less my regular boring weekend routine. Well, Sunday is usually a little quieter, but the weekend before last was kinda crazy as well with that whole dragon incident. I hope you can now see why I really don’ talk about my weekends much.

Thanks,

T

What is this all about?

What is this all about? Well, that is a excellent question my friend, and I would like to answer it but you will have to bear with me a moment so I can lay some groundwork.

Hello. My name is Taylor Kent. You might know me from such great podcasts as Snark Infested Waters and Snark Tank Radio and Saturday Night in the Snark Cave (all of which I created, host, and produce); or you might know me from roles I played in various productions at BrokenSea Products or GyspyAudio or on Zombie Astronauts Frequency of Fear; or you might know me, if you happen to be from the future, for my best selling novels. And if you don’t know me well … Hi. My name is Taylor. It is nice to meet you.

Now to be clear, I am a geek. I am into: horror, science fiction, b-movies, video/computer games, writing, podcasting, audio production, audio drama, anime, comic books, zombies, Nerdcore, Dementia music, etc. And I am an explorer. Yes, an explorer. Okay, not an explorer in the sense of traveling to wild and exotic places and having awesome adventures (a la Indiana Jones), but in the sense of “I like to try different thing and see where they take me.”

I am also an entertainer. I like being the center of attention and making people laugh and tell cool stories and stuff like that. My outlet of this is my podcasts (which have been going strong since mid 2005), my writing (which has been on and off since the summer of my sophomore year of high school and is receiving a lot more focus right now), and, well, this blog.

And finally, I am a Christian. I know. I know. Does that mean this place is going to be filled with boring diatribes about how everyone is going to Hell and they need to be saved by Jesus. Well, no. (But everyone is going to Hell unless they are saved by Jesus.)

Oh yeah, I am a software engineer by day. That pays the bills right now. And I really don’t talk about that much.

All with all that said, what is this all about? Well, it is a place I can interact with you outside of the context of my podcasts, and, to be honest, away from the word “Snark”. Not that there is anything wrong with the word “Snark”. In fact, I am a bit obsessed with the word “Snark”. (I did name my self the Snarky Avenger and the Fandom Snark, and most of my podcasting efforts have “Snark” in their name.) And I am snarky. But I really wanted to get away from that for a while. I wanted a place were I can be Taylor, snarky or not, and because of that “Are Those My Gardening Gloves?” was born.

Now, I bet you are wondering about the name. I already explained about the “snark” think, and as I brainstormed possible names several good ones came up. I didn’t like any of them. So I turned to my favorite online cartoon series of all time (at least until I find something better), Waterman. In the Waterman series there is a band named 16 Buttons of Justice. (And yes, I have a signed copy of the one 16 Buttons of Justice album ever put out.) In episode 7 of the series 16 Buttons of Justice return with there new Television show, and in it they say the phrase “are those my gardening gloves?” In tribute to both 16 Buttons of Justice (Raccoon X Espinoza and Devon P Farmer) and the Waterman series, I have taken “are those my gardening gloves?” as a name for this place.

My hope is to make this a fun and interesting place you will enjoy visiting on a regular basis.

Thanks,

T

P.S. Here is episode 7 of Waterman for your viewing enjoyment:

P.P.S. You can find all of the awesome Waterman Series as well as Waterman Studio’s Puppets in the Park at http://www.watermanstudios.com/watermanseries/toons.php

P.P.P.S. Snark!