Of Celebrity & Judgmentalism

My daughter is 4 years old and she loves Taylor Swift.  I am okay with this.  My wife, not so much.  She doesn’t actively dislike her, but we got into an interesting debate the other night and it inspired me to write about it.

My daughter is currently aspiring to be a singer when she grows up.  She’s a bit torn though, as 4 year olds tend to be, between being Taylor Swift and Merida from Brave.  I am 100% responsible for that last one.

As we were watching Shake It Off on Youtube the other night my daughter said, “I want to be Taylor!”

I said, “That sounds like a good plan.  She’s a very popular singer and she started really young!”

My wife replied with, “Don’t be like her, she’s slutty and she can’t keep a boyfriend.”

That really got me thinking.  The debate got a bit heated because, while my wife was making an offhanded and only half serious remark, I came back at her in full, “this is why that is a ridiculous thing to say,” mode… and any man who has come at their wife in this mode knows that the fight ends with me on the couch thinking, “I was just trying to make a point…”

Here is what that point was (proving that men never learn their lesson about shutting up and letting things lie 🙂 ):

1. Money Changes People 

Money, sadly, makes the world go ’round.  For those familiar with Pink Floyd’s famous song, Money, it is the root of all evil… but if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away. 04a7cc0c6176ac4bb1a6232c83122802acbb00cf5e77f9b031042e649c7d2a61

Being relatively poor most of my life, I’ve dreamt of being rich and how wonderful it would be.  Who hasn’t at one point or another?  I imagine that if I were to become a superstar right now I’d have a good head on my shoulders about it and be able to handle the pressure.  I’d be smart, or so I tell myself.

If I became rich like Taylor Swift did I am not so sure things would have turned out well…

Taylor Swift made her first record at 16.  According to wikipedia, “she is the youngest singer to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart.”  She then went on have the best selling album of the year in 2009… at 19.  At 26 she is now making 80 million a year and has a net worth of nearly 200 million dollars.  

She is a year younger than my wife.

I asked my wife if, at that age, she had been given that kind of money, how she thought her life might have changed.  She claimed she would not have been different.  I think that is almost impossible.

41embdo202l-_ux342_I can tell you that, as a 36 year old man, I have yet to finish maturing in many ways.  At 19 years old I was quite possibly one of the dumbest people on earth.  If I had been given millions of dollars at 19, I can guarantee my life and my per
sonality would have taken a whole different road.

I would have gotten myself into a whole heap of trouble because the stakes are so much higher when you have the cash to open doors that are closed to most people.  Money turns wild ideas into reality.  At 19 I thought some pretty insane s**t.  Put into that kind of place I think I would have made a lot of decisions I would grow to regret.  Not because I was a bad person at heart, but because given that kind of freedom, power, and pressure at an age and maturity where I wasn’t equipped to handle it would have tempted me past my better judgement.

Many people try to argue that they would be the same person, but I think this is a lie we tell ourselves.  Human beings are defined by their struggles.  All the failures you’ve had to overcome have moulded you into the human being you are.  True, some base form of your nature may remain, but having that kind of money would drastically alter the type of struggles you would encounter.  Which leads me to point number 2…

2. Trust Is A Complicated Thing

My wife argued that she would not have gotten into so many strange relationships with men no matter how much money she had.  I tried to argue that trust is a perilous thing even in the best of circumstances.

Show of hands here from the people who have been burned by someone they trusted.  Keep them up if you have been burned by someone you were in a relationship with.  Now think about how much more complicated that situation becomes when you are world famous and have a heap of cash at your disposal.  Think of the number of flies you would have to swat at daily.  Think of all the work you would have to do to shield yourself from the people who were after everything but the you you so desperately wanted them to know and see and love.

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This.. is… Taylor?

How isolating and frustrating must that be?  The only people you would be able to truly bear everything to would be the ones who were around before it all blew up.  Very few people have lifelong friends that they grow to trust implicitly at age 16… let alone loves of their life.

Putting myself into a situation where I was 19, rich, famous, and surrounded by people who had to be strangers, I can see how I might end up going through a rollercoaster ride in my relationships.  Hell, between 16 and 26 I did go through a rollercoaster.  The difference is, no one cares about my rollercoaster.

3. Monogamy Is A Choice. 

Before I get too many people ready to shoot fireballs at me, let me explain.  I am a happily married man and I have no desire to be with anyone other than my wife.  I love her with all my heart and I am happy to be with only her till I die.

That being said, that lifestyle is what works for me.  If a celebrity, or any other person for that matter, is living a lifestyle that you do not approve of or prescribe to than you are free to voice your opinion, but keep in mind the words of Charles A. Dana, “Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth, or the only truth.”

Since the rise of western religious doctrine the norm has become, “one man, one woman.”  That does not mean this is correct for everyone, even if the majority feels it is.  Human beings have to learn to let other people live how they feel comfortable, even if it makes us uncomfortable.  It isn’t our life.

4. You Cannot Really Know.

One of the oddest things about celebrity is it brings about an open invitation to have your life evaluated and picked apart by any and all human beings.  Why?  Well, you asked for it, putting yourself up there on that pedestal.

Is that really sensical?

I listened to someone ripping another person apart at work the other day and I had to interject and ask how much they really knew about her personally.  The answer was, “you mean outside of work?  I don’t know anything about her.”  But he felt totally justified in lighting her up like Times Square on New Years because she did some things he thought were silly.

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This is my picture of him.  He is 100% this person.

The truth is, we all have a story.  It’s complicated and convoluted.  It has many twists and turns and there are millions of little bits you hide from the majority of the world.  A select few know the real truth about you, and those people are the diamonds in the rough.

Now, hands up again if you’ve ever been laid into by someone who knew f**k all about you, but still took it upon themselves to assume.  How pissed off did that make you?

Thinking about celebrities, none of us know them even the slightest bit, but people love to talk as if they do.  We think that because we read something about them online or in a magazine that we understand the width and breadth of their life and are free to pass judgement on it.

That was the part that got me fired up, to be honest.  How in the world can we as rational, intelligent human beings assume to know the first thing about someone like Taylor Swift?  Let alone enough to be able to say, “she’s a slut.”  Really?  Do you hang out with her?  Does she confide all the deep dark secrets of her soul to you?  No?  Then knock it off.  You don’t know her any better than you know Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse, so what gives you the right to throw off judgement?

I have my own life to live and my own baggage to carry.  You have yours.  Taylor Swift has hers.  My feeling is, why am I going to judge a life I am not living?

Which brings me to my last point…

5. Society Loves To See People Fail.

The reason why so many people are willing to cast judgement on celebrities they don’t know is because human beings take some twisted satisfaction in seeing people fall from grace.  We like to drag people down.

One of my favourite bloggers, empress2inspire, wrote a wonderful piece on empathy that bolsters this point I feel.  People simply lack the desire to empathise with other human beings, especially if that person is perceived to be higher on the totem pole.  Why?  Well, they got all the way up there, so why am I going to feel any compassion for them?

Because they are human, and so are you… I hope.

Bringing others down or judging them, especially when one knows next to nothing about them, will never help one move into their place.  I wish we could learn to stop doing this because it’s just sad.

Newspapers and the internet are trying to get readers.  How do you do that?  Sensationalism.  That’s a fancy word for making something bigger than it is, or even making something of nothing.  If you need a visual, it looks like this: disney-graphics-pinocchio-329861

And people eat it up because we, as a society, lack compassion.

We have no shortage of judgement though.


 

My advice to you is this:  Think back to a time when someone said something hurtful about you and hold that feeling in your heart for a while.  Then, the next time you start bashing another human being, celebrity or not, remember that hurt.  Remember that, innocent or not, you are attacking another human being that you might not know well enough to really be making those judgements about.

Next time, try and think well of them, even if they’ve given you no reason to.  Why?  Because focusing on the good only makes your life more positive.  I would rather think the best of people, as naive as that may sound, because thinking negatively only makes my own life that much darker.

As far as celebrities go, feel free to dislike their work.  But don’t be so brazen as to think you have a right to judge their life as if you know anything about it.  You don’t.  You can’t.  What you know was fed to you by a writer with an agenda.  Be smarter than that.

More importantly, be more compassionate than that.

One More Time… WITH Feeling

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Thank you to all the lovely souls who took the time to look over my changed blog and comment.  I cannot thank you enough for your help!

Big thank you to: The Dog Rules, Dr Wage, Dutch Goes the Photo!, Third Time Lucky!, The Runaway Palate, and, an especially big thank you to Dream Bigger, who went as far as to email me with extensive notes on what she found.  Thank you all!

In the end, sadly, I had to ditch that theme because the errors that existed in it were unfixable by one unfamiliar with more complex code.

HOWEVER!  I have found a theme that I think addresses the issues raised, namely:

  1. The hovering tabs at the top were not accessible when clicking on a lower rank link.  They are stacked in my menu so that there are three parents and then 5 to 2 children below them.  If you clicked on the page of parent 2, parent 1’s children no longer dropped.  I am not tech savy enough to fix that without knowing how to alter the build of the theme.  So, I lose.  So sad.  BUT, the new theme fixed that.  Please click around on the tabs and see that they work.
  2. The stretched image and non pop of the blog title.  This new theme fixed those both wonderfully I feel.
  3. I had to abandon the old image because it is white and, as all things have drawbacks, the new theme will not allow me to alter the colour of the text for the blog title and quote section.  I am sure there is a way around this, but I chose to rise above it and pick a new background.  What do you think of it?  I am going for a celtic theme because I am Irish (don’t let my last name fool you…) Below are the other two images I milled over.  Do you have a celtic or Irish image that you think might go better?  Would you like some credit on my blog for designing some of the images?  I am all for giving people credit, please submit anything you like and I will look it over!
  4. The small text.  The text on this site is bigger.  I fear it might be a might bit too large, but the readability is still good for me.  What do you think?

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Once again, I would love feedback on how THIS change now strikes you.  I am going to keep hammering at this until the website looks and works right both for me and you wonderful people!  After all, if you hate it, you won’t come back… if you don’t come back I will have to go and cry in the corner.  You don’t want that now, do you???

Floating Banner

I made a banner for my newsletter… see it there, following you as you scroll up and down the page?  It’s like one of those ghosts in Super Mario Brothers.  If you turn away from your screen it will actually get CLOSER!!  duh, duh, DUH!

That is my subtle hint that I would love to have you lovely people sign up for my newsletter!

That, and I am wondering if the positioning is right.  Is it obstructive?  Bothersome?  Cool?  What do you think?

As I posted about before, any and all people who sign up for my newsletter will be sent a link to enter into a raffle of one (1) copy of Elizabeth Kostova’s, The Historian.

A big shout out to Ana Spoke, who once again proved to be my WordPress guru and posted this lovely gem that aided me in getting this done.  Her website is full of helpful hints, so go check it out!

 

Free Book Giveaway!

Hello fellow bloggers.  I am hosting a book giveaway and one (1) lucky person will be running off with a free copy of Elizabeth Kostova’s, The Historian!  

All you have to do to enter is sign up for my newsletter.  Easy, right?  The newsletter is published once a month with updates on my novel and the ins and outs of querying an agent as well as some of my own personal history.

We will also be hosting a free book giveaway each month!  Yay books!  

If you are reading this on a computer the link to the newsletter should be on your left where it says, “Join the Olive Branch”

On tablets and phones you will need to drop the menu down.  

Thank you for all your support and continued readership!  

Blogger Recognition Award & One Lovely Blog

I had the double honour of being nominated for two awards in two days by the lovely people of the blogging world (or should I say, blogosphere?)

As someone who has learned in my month of blogging how essential the element of reading and supporting other blogs is, these awards come as a very special honour.  I have elected to post on both awards in one blog (a tactic I learned form another blogger this month) in order to keep from putting one before the other or to repeat myself in any way.

I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog award by The Runaway Palate and I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks for the nomination.  I was attracted to her blog from near the beginning of my journey into blogging due in no small part to her obvious experience in writing, but also a love of food and interesting travel stories.  Being a fellow occupant of the Asian continent myself I saw some common ground and I felt that her experience as a journalist was something I could learn from and appreciate.  I can say that from the time I clicked ‘follow’ on her blog, I have not been disappointed.

Dutch Goes the Photo! nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award and I am flattered to be recognised by a blogger with such a keen eye with the camera.  As a creative mind I find myself more and more drawn to other artists who blog.  I like to see what other creative minds are creating and the pictures and stories that go along with them I find on this site are very inspiring.  The whole work on the Yoga Tree on this site is wonderful.  I may have to use that tree in my writing someday.


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One Lovely Blog rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated your blog
  2. Say something about that person or blog, and include a link to the lovely blog on your post.
  3. Display the award on your post
  4. Tell the world seven things about yourself
  5. Nominate another seven blogs for the award

So, seven things about myself.  Here we go:

  1. I am fluent in Japanese, my wife is Japanese, and my daughter (who is 4) only speaks Japanese with any real efficiency (although she can say, “No thank you!” in perfect English.  I am the embodiment of the 80’s song, “I think I’m turning Japanese”
  2. Every novel I have begun to write was based off of a character created from a friend or close acquaintance.  People I love or admire are the inspiration behind my writing.
  3. The story I wish I had written the most is Alice in Wonderland.  The idea of everything being what it isn’t is just so perfect.  It encompasses the essence of childhood imagination perfectly.
  4. I am a sucker for anything crunchy.  That is why I love apples.  It isn’t the taste, it’s the crunch.
  5. I grew up in Southern California but I have lived in Colorado, and Texas.  I lived in more houses than I had years in my life by the time I was 20.  No, my dad wasn’t in the military, he was in sports marketing.
  6. I am a preschool teacher.
  7. I majored in history and wrote an 100+ page honours thesis for which I won a cash award and highest honours from UCLA.  It was about the Japanese emperor and his status as a divinity after WWII.

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Blogger Recognition Award rules:

Rule 1: Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
Rule 2: Provide a link to the award creator
Rule 3: Attach the award to your post
Rule 4: Nominate fifteen other bloggers, excluding yourself and the person who nominated you
Rule 5: Write a brief story of how you started your blog
Rule 6: A piece or two of advice to new bloggers
Rule 7: Comment on the blogs you have named here to let them know you have nominated them


 

A brief story of how I started blogging?

Well, I started my blog one month ago (about mid-December) to expand my writing platform.  That sounds really selfish and business like but it’s true.  I am a novelist who is working on polishing my first completed work to submit to agents and have been told that having a platform would aid in that battle.

That being said, engaging in the process changed what my blog has become.  I learned through the engagement and community aspect of blogging that this blog and the entire essence of blogging is to give back.  The more you give the more you grow, and the more you grow the more you find that blogging is about inspiring other creative people to create and this in turn adds fuel to your own creative fire.

Blogging is reciprocal and it has been a great experience for me.

All I have ever wanted was to have people read the things that I wrote so I could feel like all the strange things bouncing around in my head had a purpose.  All it took was for one person to say they enjoyed my writing for me to want to write more.  If this blog achieves nothing else, it has served its purpose in that one interaction.  Thank you all for your input and feedback over the last month!  It has encouraged me to keep typing, and maybe someday it will lead to me finally achieving my dream.


 

My one piece of advice to other bloggers:

If you have read my post on blogging you will know what is coming next.  My advice is to read other blogs.  Comment on other blogs.  Find blogs similar to yours, especially successful ones, and try to learn how they became so.  Successful blogging is about interacting.  If you have a blog it’s because you want someone to read or look at what you are creating.  If you want that to happen you have to be willing and able to read and look at what others are creating.  If you want people to comment on your work, comment on theirs.  If you want more, give more.  Blogging is a community and you have to engage in the community aspect if you want to be successful and grow your blog.


 

One award asked for 7 nominations and other other asked for 15.  I am going to shoot for the middle and go with 10.  These ten blogs are blogs I read often and appreciate the work that they make.  I will link back to one of their posts that I genuinely enjoyed so you can see what about them I liked so much.

  1. Vasa and Ypres – as a fellow creative writer I really appreciate her literary style.  The story is very engaging and her prose is wonderful.
  2. leet_g33k – As a fellow lover of scifi/fantasy, I really enjoy his sarcastic wit.  Reminds me of Adams a bit.
  3. Beilin Ye – Again, another fellow creative writer with great sarcastic wit.  Still waiting for the follow up to this one 🙂
  4. Girlygeekgirl – One of my favourite bloggers.  We see eye to eye on a lot of things… just not our favourite NFL teams.
  5. The Caffeinated Writer – Another fellow writer who muses in a way that I like, which is rare indeed.  Sorry, just gave you a heap more awards to deal with 🙂
  6. The Dog Rules – A fellow animal lover and a person who knows how to tie life lessons into the love of animals and the interaction us humans have with  our pets.
  7. Elan Mudrow – I don’t like poetry.  That I rush to read every post by this blog is a testament, in my eyes, to how good it is.  It’s mainly long poems and they are fantastic!
  8. Only 100 Words – The stories are very compact and the punch this writer manages to get in with so few words is amazing.  Love your work.
  9. A Narcissist Writes Letters, To Himself – If you ever need a good laugh, this is the place to find one.  I am still smiling after reading this post again.
  10. Girl at a Desk – Another writer who has a great sarcastic wit.

 

Thank you again to both The Runaway Palate and Dutch Goes the Photo! for your nominations.  Recognition from two great blogs such as yours is a real honour and I am truly flattered!


 

*I will get to commenting on your blogs this week but I can’t get to you all right now.  I hope the pingbacks show up so you know I love you 🙂 *

Star Wars Episodes : A Battle Royale

This week’s Battle Royale will be between the episodes of Star Wars. Which one is best? Which one is worst? How fast can we all agree that Jar-Jar was the only redeemable thing about the entire series?

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Unfortunately your original poster has now been replaced as he was justifiably struck by lightning.

There are several factors that go into how and why each episode wins or loses and I will give you my reason for one side of it in five points (ie: Why such-and-such episode lost, or why such-and-such episode won, but not both. Eventually all 7 will get their blurb as we go along)

Disagree? I would love to hear your opinions as well. That’s what the comment box down there is for!

This Battle Royale will be fought king of the hill style. That said, enough with the preliminaries, let’s get ready to rumble!

Episode I: The Phantom Menace star_wars_episode_i___the_phantom_menace_by_1darthvader-d6ieq34

vs. Episode II: Attack of the Clonesstar_wars_episode_ii___attack_of_the_clones_by_1darthvader-d6h1rtx

Why Episode II Lost:

1. Anakin Skywalker was a whiny b*$#%.

Anakin whined incessantly throughout the whole movie about how people were holding him back and that he was stronger and better than anyone.  He shouldn’t have been whining, he should have been boiling angry, he should have been, “is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a b*$^h?” angry.  Think of how much better those lines would have been if he had half whispered them through clenched teeth.  “In a lot of ways, I am better than them.”  Not screaming or throwing a tantrum, but litteraly fuming.  Instead he was like, “mom threw away my favorite One Direction T-shirt! I hate that whore!”picture-71-1024x640

2. A love story with characters who have no chemistry.

They were animals and Anakin slaughtered them all like animals… and then Padme hugs him. Really? He didn’t have a single redeemable trait throughout the entire movie but Padme has to say how she loves him, because that is the way the story is written. It’s totally unbelievable. Why would you love him? What is there to love about him? They were trying to go for the loveable cocky dick perhaps, but Anakin will never be Han Solo. He was just an immature jerk.  Both Anakin and Padme were completely wooden characters going through motions that were quite obviously dictated.  It did not feel inevitable.  For the fans, do you remember how inevitable it felt right before Han Solo kissed Leia the first time?  Your whole thought process is, “fight it all you want girlie, you love him.  We all do.  It’s okay.”  In Attack, as soon as Padme says, “I love you,” to Anakin my first reaction, in the theater, was to blurt out loud, “Why??”  There is no answer to that, don’t even try.  If you can’t read all the parts of the following picture, please click here.  It’s a perfect representation of this point.

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3. Obi Wan the bumbling idiot & his more powerful apprentice.

Obi-Wan was played up as a clumsy doofus that can’t hold his own without Anakin around. They get into happy banter about how Anakin has to constantly save Obi Wan’s life.  Why?  As a writer I can tell you what has been told to me a hundred times, don’t dump info like that – PROVE IT.  Prove that Anakin is better, and not by just flying his little ship and jumping off of stuff.  But then when they do try and do it at the end all they succeed in doing is make the defeat of Anakin by Obi Wan in the following episode implausible.  tumblr_lzmtv8kshs1qfkrgao2_1280

Obi Wan also has difficulty fighting Jengo Fett. Why? Because Jengo Fett needed a backstory.   Why? Because too many fan boys decided that Boba Fett was uber cool. So now stupid ass Jengo Fett becomes a HUGE part of the narrative and he has to be super badass. So badass that he can take on a Jedi? No. Shut up. Then he forced Mace Windu off that balcony like he’s the Bounty Hunter version of Doc Holiday. Again, shut up. Does anyone remember how Boba Fett died? He was knocked off Jaba’s shuttle by a half blind Han Solo… who wasn’t even intending to hit him… as Han was shouting his name. Boba Fett looked cool, but he was not some great bounty hunter ninja pirate.

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4. Yoda fighting with a lightsaber.

Yoda is in CG now. Why? So he can have the most unnecessary lightsaber fight of all time. That whole scene was just stupid. At the end he goes back to limping with his walking stick? Really? Horrible. Just, horrible. Yoda should have been similar to a mage in an RPG. His force ability should have been off the chart. If he was going to fight, it should have been a huge magic battle a la Voldemort v. Dumbledore. And let’s not forget the line, “around the survivors, a perimeter create.” Ugh.13738b36a2b3c0d2357548ce647dabfa

5. Destruction of the Jedi mystique.

Then we have the epic Jedi slaughter fest at the hands of an army of droids and oversized wasps with guns. So, all these lives lost to prove, what? That the Jedis are not nearly as powerful as everyone assumed. Fun.star_wars_ii_attack_of_the_clones_meme_by_amagydragon25-d83we39

6. In the end, it’s all Jar-Jar’s fault.

Jar-Jar ends up being the foil that puts the Palpatine in power. Great story telling there, use the stereotype character you made that stands for stupidity to kick off the undoing of the entire republic. That needed to be a bigger moment and involved a plot line grander than, ‘We need someone stupid enough to do this. Jar-Jar!’

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Episode II, you are the weakest link.  Goodbye.


A new Battle Royale! will be published each friday.  Next week I will be pitting Episode I of Star Wars up against Episode III.  The movies will duke it out until we have crowned a king of the mountain.  As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback… especially if you disagree with my point of view.  Let’s hash it out, bro!

Of Selfies & Narcissism

**I do not own any of the pictures used in this post.**

Advances in technology have changed the face of the world drastically over the past 20 years.  I am 36 years old and when I was in high school the most advanced piece of equipment I had was a pager and our computer at home had AOL dial up.  Remember that annoying telephone dial sound?  And heaven forbid someone pick up the house phone while you were trying to connect to the internet.

Now there are multiple computers in every home and we all live on high speed internet.  There is a smart phone in every hand, a tablet in every bag, and a kindle to replace your gaudy bookshelves.  Pretty soon The Sims will replace your actual family members and conversation with fleshy humans will be obsolete!  Yay!

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OMG.  Hot.

This post will not delve into all the finer points of the rise in technology, but one minor aspect that has come along with it — the selfie.

One definition I found that I feel sums it all up came from Urban Dictionary.com:

A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

The rise in the number of “selfies” spreading like wildfire across the internet makes me a bit nauseous and it got me thinking recently.  Here is what I came to:

1. The ratio of women to men is pretty skewed.

I used the almighty Google to back my claim in this regard.  I typed in the word ‘selfie’ and then counted out the first 100 pictures.  There were 112 faces in those pictures and 73% of them were female.  22% were male.  A staggering 2% were Woody from Toy Story.  Figure THAT out.

What does this mean?  I think the reality that physical image weighs more heavily on females than it does on males is not a question in this day and age.  Some smart, attractive women have also used this craze to get themselves paid quite well because there is a whole gaggle of stupid males out there who will constantly stare at pretty women on the internet like slobbering neanderthals.

2. Selfies have given rise to the god awful facial expression known as “Duck Lips.”

Have you seen this face?  Urban Dictionary provided me with another invaluable definition once again:  image

Where one’s lips look like a duck’s bill(beak). Most ** make kissing faces while they take endless pictures of themselves and post them at various places on the internet. They think it looks really cool, but they actually look like an ugly a** duck. It looks really AWFUL, and makes me want to destroy the internet because so many people are doing it.
Guy1: Yo did you see her myspace? 
Guy2: Yeah! She looks like a real ** with those duck lips!

I know there are plenty of people out there mocking the face now, as it rightly should be, and good on you, but there are honest to goodness people who believe this face is hot.  Like,”you know you wanna f*%$ me,” hot.  I am here to tell you that, no… no, you are not.  Stop pursing your lips like a pouting baby before someone comes along and pulls them off your face because you are no longer mature enough to use them properly.  Ugh.  The sad thing is that Duck Lips are now being replaced by another horrid thing called Fish Gape.  Will the insanity never end?

3.  The world is antisocial enough as it is.  Do we need one more excuse not to talk to actual people?

One of my largest gripes with selfies is that they are taken in one of two settings: in one’s own home, quite obviously in one’s room or… even stranger… one’s bathroom (seriously, what the hell with that?)  or in a massively public place near a landmark or monument type structure.

In regards to the first instance, I will tackle that in point 4.

The second instance however is just sad.  Many times you can actually see other human beings in the background of people’s selfies.  Is it really so trendy to take the picture yourself now that you can’t just stop and say, “excuse me, but do you mind taking a picture for me?”  How many times have you asked someone that question?  How many times have you been asked?  Why are we actively seeking every reason in the world to not interact with other human beings?  It’s not a hard question to ask and it’s a request that the majority of people would be happy to do, but we are passing it up to take subpar pictures in order to be trendy.

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Look at all those people at the Colosseum… JK! Look at ME, damn it!

I don’t get it.  I really don’t.  It’s like the people who go to Starbucks together to study and spend the entire time instant messaging each other through their computers.  TALK, damn you!  Are other people really that scary?

4. When did narcissism become sexy?

Selfies are a form of ego masturbation in my opinion.  Looking at the picture above do you think the girl wants you to focus on the colosseum… or her, “I’m so cute!” face?  Go with B.  It’s sure fire.

For that matter, take a look at the majority of selfies that are taken.  What seems to be their main purpose?  For you to look at that person’s marvellous face, and only that.  To bask in the glory.  I was always taught growing up not to spend too much time looking in the mirror because no one likes vanity.  Now vanity has become a typical mode of self promotion.  When did the world become okay with such blatant self love?

I will temper this by saying that this comes from a man with a headshot on his about page.  This is a picture of me all prettied up and one could argue that such a photograph is also vain in its own right.  I would counter this by saying I only paid for and produced that picture at the request of my writing mentor who claimed that all real writing professionals need one.  I had a reason for my picture and made sure I found someone else to hold the camera.  If you are obsessed with taking selfies, do you ever stop and wonder why you love to take pictures of yourself so much?  I think you might not like the answer if you can be honest about it.

5.  The only thing more ridiculous than the selfie is the selfie stick.

This… just this:

pretty brunette making selfie with a stick

Now you can get a wide angle of my kissy wissy face.  Vomit.

It wasn’t bad enough that people were obsessed with looking at pictures of themselves and their total lack of actual friends (as opposed to their 2,000,000 Facebook friends), but now we had to give them a stick to produce a wider angle?  Seeing people using these things always makes me sad for society.

 

I actually saw someone once trying to set up this perfect shot of themselves and the struggle was quite fierce.  I walked over and offered to take the picture for them and they looked at me like I was speaking alien.  Do you not realise how much money I spent on this stick? their face seemed to say.  They had bought the stick and now they were going to use it.  Never mind that the help of a real live human would have ended their struggle with the perfect shot much quicker, the point was that they didn’t want me interfering and the purchasing of said stick had guaranteed them of harassment free picture taking at any time and from any spot.

It made me sad that such simple interactions are now becoming obsolete because so much of our young society is antisocial and vain.  They don’t want to talk to you, they want to text you.  They don’t want to visit with you, they want to Skype you.  They don’t want a picture with you, they want you to like their selfie on Facebook.

Who knows, maybe in another 10 years we won’t even have to leave the house and we’ll have cameras going 24/7 in our homes to catch us from any sexy angle we choose.  I pray to the gods I don’t live to see it.

What do you think about selfies?  Do you take them?  What is your reason for doing so if you do?  Where do you take them?  I hope I am not alone in my hatred of them.  Happy blogging all!

Of Disneyland & Memory

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*Not all images belong to me.  For what I borrowed, thank you.  For what I didn’t, I’m sorry.* 

Disneyland is a polarising place.  For those that love it, it’s a magical obsession.  For those that hate it, it’s an overpriced land of extravagance. 

I am of the former persuasion. 

Having just returned from a two day, three night trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea I will submit the things I learned from my trip to The Happiest Place on Earth. 

Did you really pay 20 dollars for that? 

0520wall20of20hatsOne of the most amazing things about Disneyland is that they sell the most ridiculously overpriced novelty items, items that cannot be used without some level of embarrassment on the days following a Disneyland trip, and people buy them up like crack.  I saw endless items that were obnoxious to the point of being an eyesore but countless people dropped nearly 40 dollars for them.  I cannot remember a time in my life  that I saw a person wearing their ‘special’ Disney purchase outside of the park.  So you spent all that money on something you would love intensely for one day?  It’s like people become drunk on the Disneyland experience and cannot fathom their life outside the park.  Buying a bright orange Tigger hat complete with tail is not only normal, but expected.  They must wake up the next day feeling like an alcoholic, take one look at that ridiculous purchase and think, as many of us have at one point or another, “I am never going to drink again as long as I LIVE!”

This attraction brought to you by Tampax, for when you are riding your own Splash Mountain.

japan20900I understand how business and promotion works.  I am not, contrary to how this post will end, 4 years old.  It was still sad to see that every ride now has a sponsor.  I don’t know that the LA or Florida Disneyland’s are like this, but the Japanese Disneyland had a sponsor for every ride.  It was VERY subtle and you really had to be looking to see it, but when you got to the main sign for any ride, there it was.  “Space Mountain” and under it: brought to you by Coca Cola.  It made me think of Fight Club.  “When deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.”  

Disney at night is my personal heaven.

IMG_2710Disneyland during the day is always a bit congested and can feel really hectic.  When the sun sets and the lights come on it is a world of quiet tranquility.  This is an odd statement seeing as how there are roaring rollercoasters and shouting people just like during the daytime, but the night just seems more peaceful.  The night also brings on the light parade, the fireworks (in the current case it’s a projection mapping show too.)  The night time is when Disney becomes truly magical.

Disneyland engages all 5 senses like very few things can.

tumblr_m74w38a4x51ragq9ko1_500People who had one home they grew up in their whole life talk about how that place brings them back to being a child.  I had many homes, so I don’t know what that feels like.  I think it feels something like going to Disneyland for me.  Why?  Because Disney is amazing at engaging all five senses.  The magic kingdom layout is almost identical no matter which park you go to, thus the sights are familiar and comforting.  Then there is the lingering smell of caramel and the tastes of the  candies, the sounds of all the familiar jingles, even the feel of the railing, the faux wood they use in the lines for many rides, is the same.  I was half a world away from the place of my birth but, if only for a moment, I was back home.  Looking at the ride attendants in their familiar costumes and listening to all the songs and jingles I have heard so many times, I could have been back in California.  It was an amazing feeling.

Going with a 4 year old is like going with a schizophrenic

301054_429772953724432_2061724935_nTaking my daughter for her first trip to Disneyland was sensory overload for her.  She wanted to do everything, all at once, RIGHT NOW!  She wanted to buy everything in every store.  She wanted to touch everything.  She wanted to ride all the rides at once.  Except the ones that went into a dark place, those could go blow, until she got used to the idea, then she wanted to ride again.  NO, she was not going to GET OFF the ride.  She was going to ride it again, thank you. Daddy, tell that stupid person we aren’t getting off!  I was dealing with a person broken by joy.  But still…

Going with a 4 year old is pure magic

IMG_2748As insane as my daughter made the Disney trip I cannot image going without her now.  Her reaction to everything brought back the magic so many of us lose the older we get.  That is what Disney brings out in me, and it brought it out in my daughter as well.  The look on her face when she laid eyes on THE Mickey Mouse was akin to looking at the combination of a person who has just come face to face with God and a teenage girl who is kissed by her idol crush.  There was screaming, there was crying, there was twitching, and there was the idiotic smile only the truly joyous could possibly conjure.  Everything about Disneyland made her smile.  Watching the light parade with her brought me back to being 4.  All of it was amazing.  It’s a parade of lit up floats but to her it was 100% magic.  I could see it in her eyes.  My heart was full to burst with the joy she was radiating. 


I learned a lot this trip.  The joy and freedom my daughter felt being at Disneyland reminded me why I love it so much.  It is also the very reason why so many people buy the stupid Tigger hats.  Because Disneyland is a place where you are supposed to just be happy.  It’s a place where you are allowed to be 4 as well, even if you’re 90.  No one judges because we are all in it together.  It’s a huge playground and the age requirement is 4.  You can’t be older to ride that ride.  So we buy our stupid hats and we breathe in the sweet smell, hum all the silly jingles and wave like idiots at Mickey when he waves at us… or even when he can’t see us.  It is a place of unparalleled freedom and happiness.  As adults we resent the prices and the crowds, we curse the lines and get frustrated at how stupid some people are.  In the end, if you choose to focus on these things, you may well come to hate Disneyland.  For me, I will never be able to see anything but the joy and nostalgia it holds for me.  I picture myself as an old man, sitting with my grandchildren watching the light parade that I watched as a child and remembering that there will always be a place, if only for a day, I can be a kid again. 

When our trip came to an end I was carrying my daughter to the train.  She was strung out from two days of the ultimate high and ready for sleep, but then she saw a huge picture of Mickey Mouse waving goodbye to everyone, saying, “Come Back Soon!”  The fuse was ignited one last time and, screaming Mickey’s name in my ear, my daughter let the magic erupt one final time.  I couldn’t help but smile like a big, dumb idiot.  She waved at Mickey with all her four year old might and shouted, “Mickey, bye bye!  Thank you, Mickey!  Let’s play again!”  Knowing then that her time at Disneyland was really over, she buried her face in my shoulder and cried. 

So did I.

Thank you, Mickey, for everything. 

My Very Own Monkey

I’ve created a Mailchimp account to help support my *aspirations* as a writer!icon-mailchimp-mobile

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I promise I won’t send more than one a month and I will make sure to give something away with it!

To kick it off I think I am going to do a book giveaway, so if you would like to sign up for my newsletter I will put you into the pot for the first one.  Make sure to list three books you would be interested in receiving for your prize and I will announce what book I chose when the giveaway starts.

The link to the newsletter is on my sidebar, just below my menu buttons (where it says: Join The Olive Branch)

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