A Glance into Brandon's Imagination

Life

Calling Your Own Fouls

Recently, I’ve been playing a lot of basketball. Mostly pickup games at the gym. Now, I’m not the most spectacular player by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I’m often reminded by my teammates that I’d probably fit in better on a football field than a basketball court, but I’m still learning.

The nature of the pickup game, though, is such that there usually isn’t a referee. Most often, there’s nobody whose job it is to make the calls, enforce the rules, and make sure that everyone’s playing fair. Because of this, it’s really left up to the individual players to call our own fouls, track our own out of bounds, and watch for travelling, keep track of the score, and decide what is and isn’t “fair play.”

It’s a raw version of Huizinga’s magic circle, especially considering that, regardless of the individual players’ full, half, or even just partial understanding of the rules is generally just submitted to whomever the players believe best understands them.

Put another way, I often have a hard time with the intricacies of basketball rules: Three in the key, hand is part of the ball, proper screening, hand on the back when you’re defending, boxing-out techniques, foul rules on rebounds… There are just so many things that I don’t completely understand the specifics of, and so I generally try to take what more-experienced players on the court tell me as truth.

All players, upon entering the court’s magic circle, agree to abide by the group’s consensus of calls on the court, for most anything, except for one rather specific instance.

Fouls. Everyone is expected to call their own fouls. When you foul someone, you’re expected to say something, so that the offended player/team can get the ball back and everyone can start playing again.

Maybe a Foul.

Maybe a Foul.

Now, of course, because it’s a bunch of human beings playing, as opposed to robots, this opens up the system to abuse, as players are allowed to self-determine what is and is not a foul. The system’s effectiveness is determined by honesty, which can sometimes be difficult to ascertain when both individuals in a situation are in conflict, each with a stake in the outcome of a decision.

So, we appeal to sportsmanship, and the desire for fair play, in the hopes that our own common decency will allow us to look a little past our personal gain towards the greater goal of everyone getting back to the game and playing again.

Granted, the stake and the repercussions may not be all that high in a pickup basketball game, and so generally things go relatively smoothly. But not always.

On Facebook, forums, and message boards, or even in random conversations in real-life, I feel like we similarly enter into a “magic circle” when we offer an opinion. We agree to allow for others to look over something that we’ve stated, and respond to it.

Much like a game of pickup basketball, we tend to pick teams quickly, deciding for or against a given opinion, with those who don’t care choosing not to enter the circle. What is interesting, though, is how quickly we end up in a foul situation, with two or more individuals battling over a “call” that was made.

The desire is not to get back to the game, instead, the game is transformed into “winning the call,” and we pride ourselves on our own moral victories over another individual simply because we were “right” and they were “wrong.” We delude ourselves into believing that the “call” is what’s important, when the reality is that even when you have a referee, sometimes the wrong call is made. Sometimes it doesn’t come out in your favor, but you’ve got to keep on going, and keep on playing anyway.

But so often, we don’t do that. Instead, we focus on the call, we let it boil inside of us. We get angry, bitter, or spiteful that someone would dare make the call against us. Or, on the flip side, we instead make the call pre-emptively, assuming a foul before the play has even occurred. We call foul when, in fact, the play was clean to begin with.

Now, of course, the metaphor is starting to get away from me here, but I’d just like to leave it at this – We, each of us, are either playing the game, or we’re standing on the sidelines watching. Each time that we engage someone else, each time that we decide to share our thoughts with others, we consciously decide to take a shot.

From that point in, you’re in the magic circle, you’re on the court, and you don’t always get to decide who’s going to be playing with you. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t show a little good sportsmanship. Play the game.

Because unlike basketball, there’s not always a clear winner. But if we don’t learn to call our own fouls, you can be sure there will be plenty of losers.

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The Deafening Silence

“If you’ve ever seen the look on somebody’s face the day they finally get a job, I’ve had some experience with this, they look like they could fly. And its not about the paycheck, it’s about respect, it’s about looking in the mirror and knowing that you’ve done something valuable with your day. And if one person could start to feel this way, and then another person, and then another person, soon all these other problems may not seem so impossible. You don’t really know how much you can do until you, stand up and decide to try.”

- Dave Kovic, Dave

My life, especially for the past few months, has been consumed in the not-so-glamorous work of job hunting. Each day is a malaise of cover letters, resume adjustments, application searching, emails, phone calls, and searches of every job listing service under the sun. It’s a routine that’s taxing, not only on time, but more often on confidence, on self-worth. Every job is another hope ignited, and every morning is a search for a response, for a reply, for some sign from the universe that I’m doing all that I can, and eventually it’s going to pay off.

But each morning I wake, I open up my email, and the only consistent responses that I seem to get for anything is a bit more junk mail to sift through because that job site has placed my email onto yet another mailing list for something else I don’t need or simply can’t afford.

It’s a maddening endeavor, with very little light in a tunnel that doesn’t seem to have an end, and when you express the frustration of it to someone else, their response is always the same – “Yeah, it’s tough.”

All of that, though, is just part of the process. It’s part of the “way it is,” and it’s awful, but there is a single, simple thing about it that bothers me more than everything else in this job-searching system combined.

enjoy-the-silenceIt’s the silence. I can’t stand the silence.

Email after email, application after application, the most common response that I get is just no response at all. I’ll often get an automated “We’ve received your Application” message when I apply at a company’s site, but there’s no common courtesy of responding back, even as days, weeks, or even months go by. Some companies have an automated system that changes from “Application Received” to “Please Check for Other Opportunities,” but there’s not even an email letting me know why I wasn’t considered for the position.

Do I not have enough experience? Too much education? Am I too old? Too young? Too male? Too articulate? Not articulate enough?

Am I too brash? Too friendly? Is it because I live out of state? Or is it because you didn’t like my last name? My first name? My hair color?

Is my resume too colorful? Not bright enough? Not outlined like you’d personally prefer it to be? Do I take things too seriously? Do I not take them seriously enough?

Did you need someone more mold-able? Or someone more established? Did you need more passion? Or was I just too intense?

All of these things – Any of these things… They all could be reasons why I’m not getting a response. Why I’m not getting a call. But I’ll never know. It’s not as if I’m applying to things that I have no experience at all in doing. I’m familiar with the requirements of each position, and I always apply to those jobs that look to be something I could fulfill, so why is it that my effort in applying doesn’t even merit a response?

I am very much aware that the world doesn’t owe me anything. It doesn’t.

But, the world asks for effort, and, (unless I’m very much mistaken), companies are looking for people to fill the positions that they are putting out listings for. So why is it that my efforts don’t even merit a reply of “We’re sorry, but you don’t quite meet the criteria that we’re looking for. Please gain more experience in [BLANK] and apply to us again in the future.”

Perhaps that’s unbelievably unrealistic of me. Perhaps I’m asking too much, and it’s not reasonable to expect an HR individual to respond to every email and application they come across. I get that.

banging-head-on-wall

But to receive nothing, especially from those with whom I’ve had personal contact with, those whom I’ve had conversations with… It makes me think that putting my head through a wall might be a better way to gain some notoriety. (At least I can be fairly certain there will be a  tactile and tentative response!)

Ah well. At least each day is a new opportunity, and if anything, this is a great lesson to keep in mind for myself – If the tables are ever turned, you can bet that I’ll make sure to respond. I don’t know when or if that’s ever going to happen, but this lesson in frustration is definitely something that will be sticking with me for the rest of my life.

Don’t mean to be so negative, but everything’s an opportunity to learn, right? One day at a time, take a deep breath, and try it again. There’s gotta be something out there!

- K

PS – Hey, anyone need a producer/project manager/film guy/graphic artist/writer/designer? I know of a good one!


Are you the Protagonist? Or just an NPC?

[Alright, I've got these thoughts in my head, and I need a chance to ramble. I wanted to go over a few talking points, and as I read through this after the fact, I realize that I'm all over the place. Sorry if this is a little unfocused, but it's been driving me crazy thinking about it all, so I just wanted to get it onto the post. My blog, my show. Here we go! - K]

Back during my “film days,” I remember often writing down an adage that seemed rather catchy:

“Each of us is an extra in someone else’s movie, but we get to decide if it’s a speaking part.”

I considered myself rather profound. (My unbelievable modesty notwithstanding.)

But as I’ve gone into games, the medium in my head has shifted. I see games everywhere, and there are a lot of comparisons to be made.

I now see a more clear distinction between different types of “characters” in a game. There’s always the protagonist, whom the player controls. There are supporting characters, who are sometimes there to help, sometimes there to annoy, and sometimes there to even backstab you later on down the line. As you continue on through your quest, this group of yours grows as more and more people shift to your cause for differing reasons.

But throughout games you, as the player, are the motivating factor. Yours are the actions that change the world, save the land, and defeat the great evil threatening everyone. In games, you are the central, pivotal figure in everything that is happening.

That’s why I love this video – Gamers will get it. Even partners of gamers may get it. Others probably won’t, but it’s an awesome video, so I’m going to include it anyway.

Is it any wonder why games often feel so addicting? Who doesn’t see themselves as the center of their own world? Now I’m not talking about the center importance of the world, you understand, but we all contextualize the importance of something by how it affects us. Whether our reaction is to help, to hinder, to hug, to hold, to hurt, or to hassle, we react to the world in very personal ways, with our very personal selves.

We get to choose how our journey continues. We get to choose if we’re going to go out and start gaining XP and get better at skills to eventually take down the dragon, or we get to choose to spend our time just fishing at the pond.

The movie Gamer starring Gerard Butler has been a strange fascination of mine ever since I saw it. The movie has some really interesting things to say once you get deeper into it, especially about our own lives. I don’t want to go too deep, (mostly because others have already done so), but I wanted to discuss a few things that seemed interesting to me.

In the movie, players are controlling these death row convicts for two reasons: 1) It’s the biggest “game” in the world, and 2) If the “avatar” survives 30 rounds, he gets his freedom.

Gerard Butler’s character Kable has, at the beginning of the film, survived 27 matches, which is more than anyone ever has. This has made him, as well as the kid who “plays” him, rather famous. As well, he’s a man who was wrongly convicted, and so has the “not-really-being-a-killer” going for him, which doesn’t mean much in the gunfight, but plays out later in the film With that set-up, here’s the scene (Take note – This is definitely NSFW):

Despite the uber-violence throughout the scene, with all the bullet, explosions, death and destruction, (as well as a gamer-inspired “teabagging” around the :42 mark), I wanted to focus just on a couple of small things.

At the 1:18 mark, you see two people exchanging monopoly money back and forth. This is because, for minor offenders, there is an option for them to act as pre-programmed “NPCs” in the fight (Non-Player Characters). If they survive that round, they are set free. (Hint – They almost never do.)

What’s poignant to me about that little part, though, is the thought that these people are doing this on a gamble for freedom. It’s a risk/reward system to be sure, but at what cost? How often have we, in our lives, stood by while something happened, hoping for no one to notice us, even though the world around us us out-of-control? We see the insanity around us and yet we are still compelled just to keep our heads down, and exchange little pieces of paper like they’re worth something.

What’s most telling to me, though, is when the guy flinches as blood splatters his face, and yet he keeps right on going. He reacts, but doesn’t act, if that makes sense. Do we?

(There is, of course, SO much more to consider in those little situations, but that’s beyond my scope right now.)

At around 1:55, Kable hears glass as it’s stepped on behind him, and he whispers “Turn me around.” Now, in the film, Kable can’t actually talk to the player, so the whisper is more of a plea, but do we do this in our own lives? We get that nagging feeling to “turn around,” to do something, and then we don’t? Perhaps we only write a Facebook post about it. (Or, we write a blog post about it – I’m not above the irony.)

Who is controlling you?

Think back about your own life as a game. In most games, the player controls the main protagonist. As I said before, this individual is the driving force of the game, the mover, the shaker. Nothing occurs except where this person roams, and nothing changes except what this person decides and is able to bring into being. Are you that protagonist in your own life? Or are you simply an NPC, doing only that which you’ve been “programmed” to do – Saying what you’re “supposed” to say, going where you’re “supposed” to go, and being who you’re “supposed” to be?

Are you just an avatar in someone else’s game? Or are you really in control of your own life? Are you a mover and a shaker? Or are you just going along a pre-determined path?

One of the creepiest scenes in Gamer (among several) is a scene starring one of my favorite actors, Terry Crews:

What strikes me here is a correlation between what “freedom” is believed to be, and what “freedom” really is. In this scene, Kable is still scheduled to play another game. In that game, he’s not in control – someone else is dictating his actions. But the killer? The person who is really out to get him? He doesn’t follow the rules. He doesn’t care about the laws. To him – One who already disregards the rules, more rules will not affect him, and he knows it.

In a world where each person is absolutely controlled, fenced, and convinced to do things in a specific way, is the free man really just the one who chooses not to follow the rules anymore? What does it say about a society when the homicidal killer is the one who seems the most “free” in it? Of course, he’s still in the game, and he’s still in the system, but he has no question – when he chooses to move his hand, it’s him who is in control of that decision.

Anyway – Just weird thoughts. Food for thought, I guess, or perhaps just nonsensical ramblings. I guess there’s just one question that it call comes down to, that is really the only thing I wanted to ask all along – In this game of life, as we build up our inventory, gain XP, and strive to “win the game,” there’s just one thing that you need to ask yourself:

Are you the Protagonist? Or Are you an NPC?


Changing the Costume, Changing the Self

Everyone around us is constantly telling us who we are, what we can do, how we’re supposed to do it. Screw that. We get to decide who we are, and if we don’t like the way things are going, we can change it.

I have a bit of an obsession with superheroes. And not necessarily about individual heroes themselves, but about how they carry themselves, how they act, how they present themselves and their persona, and how that changes the reader’s perceptions of them.

See, how a superhero presents himself defines what we, as readers/viewers and fans, perceive about them, whether those assertions are true or false. While there are certain narrative considerations to keep in mind, the superhero’s background is often the determining factor in how that character chooses to represent themselves, which is again a determining factor in how that character is perceived.

Let’s take, for example, a character like Superman.

Superman is probably the most powerful “superhero” ever, and though there are technically other heroes and forces stronger/better/more capable than he is, and there is constant debate, he’s usually the go-to character when people want to have an argument, as he’s the subject of several “Can He Be Beat?” articles. (This is one of my favorites.)

Because of this powerful perception, Superman is always depicted as shoulders-back, chest-out, and chin-up. The flowing cape is really just a bonus, because this stance simply radiates power all on its own. Even if he weren’t the most powerful being of everness, he’s perceived as such simply by the way that he carries himself. Notice, even when he’s floating in mid air, he assumes this stance. It’s not just what he does, it’s how he chooses to be perceived, and it’s the key to his becoming “a hero.”

I’ve often made fun of how easy it would be to sniff out Clark Kent’s “secret,” but the truth is, were he a good enough actor, it’s conceivable that he could convince others, sheerly by posture, movements, and actions, that he wasn’t a strong man. He could hide himself in plain sight, under a “tucked in” persona. It would depend on how physically large he was, I suppose – When they draw Supes as a seven-foot body-builder, you’d have to be blind to not see Superman under the barely-contained white shirt and tie – but it certainly becomes more possible.

batman-superman

That posture is used by many heroes, some who aren’t nearly as powerful as Superman, though. Captain America often holds that stance, as does Iron Man, Wonder Woman, and many others. In their personas, that stance sends a clear message of “I stand tall, no matter what’s coming.”

Compare that stance to those normally assumed by a character like Batman.

Batman is all about creating intimidation and fear in the eyes of his opponents. (And, some would say, in the eyes of his allies as well.) While the character never lacks for confidence, it expresses itself in the use of making the man seem larger, more powerful than he actually is. The smoke, the appearing from dark shadows, the disappearing into nowhere – That’s all an act, but when you see Batman “posing,” he’s hunched, almost exclusively from a high place, looking down on the person.

Does that personal affinity for looking down on others come as an expression of his history? Does it come naturally from his background and wealth/status? Or is it something he’s simply utilizing for perception, not only his own, but also for those he’s looking to “impress?” (Or scare the begeezuss out of?)

You can think of most any notable hero, be it Spider-Man, Wolverine, Green Lantern, Black Panther, Punisher, Daredevil, Flash, or whomever, and can instantly see not only who they are, but who they perceive themselves to be. They’ve made a conscious choice in how to represent themselves, and everything about them emulates from that core belief that they hold inside of them.

In our own lives, I believe that we can do the same. We may not look as good in tights, (or we might!), but we can choose to “change our costume,” and become a new person whenever we please, not only when danger strikes.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been taking it upon myself to change who I am. Not necessarily to become a superhero, but to change my own perception of myself. In my undergrad, a combination of frustrations as well as outside perceptions combined to give me a mental picture of what I thought I was. I’d always considered myself smart, but I came to believe that aggression=power, which is fundamentally untrue. (Sorry, Wolverine. And Hulk, too, for that matter.)

At the beginning of my current MFA program, our instructor brought in a specialist to run us through an exercise where we would interview with this person for five minutes, and he would only ask us a single question. It was up to us as individuals to fill that five minutes with speech, and we quickly learned how difficult that can be. The interviewer didn’t respond to our questions, didn’t respond to our jokes, jibes, pleadings, or anything else, which I’ve heard described as “social quicksand.”

With no way out of that awkward situation, our core perceptions of ourselves quickly rose to the surface, as we struggled with the stress of the situation. For me, my aggressive nature came out. So as to not appear weak, I leaned forward. My face started becoming more intense. I made allusions to “muscling through” challenges, and overcoming difficulties by “breaking through” them. Everything about myself was quickly brought into light, and even before he took the time to analyze that, I realized who I personally believed myself to be.

And I didn’t like it.

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I’ve thought about that night a lot since then, and it’s a mental image that I haven’t been able to shake. (Funny enough, it was an impromptu exercise on Halloween, and I happened to be dressed in a Captain America costume, which not only made the experience a little more awkward, but is perhaps where my mind makes the connection.)

I made a determination since then, that I wasn’t going to be that person anymore. I was going to start letting go. It wasn’t a quick fix, by any means, but it’s certainly changed who I am over the past year and a half. I’ve traded that aggression for confidence, or at least that’s what it feels like. I’m not often quick to anger, but instead quick to laugh. I smile more often. I don’t carry myself as a brute, but I walk tall, shoulders back.

I’m much more assertive, and I make my opinions known. I don’t back down from challenges, but I don’t respond with fury, instead with confident assertion.

It’s funny, but the friends that I’ve made here in Salt Lake likely have little idea of the change that I went through. Those who knew me from before, though, that’s a little different. I had a friend, recently, whom I hadn’t seen in years, and he commented on how I just seemed… different. That’s what I attribute it to.

Just like a superhero puts on a costume and becomes a new person, each of us can do the same. We decide who we are, and we are able to teach others how we should be treated. If you want to be more confident, then act more confident. Carry yourself with confidence. And if others try to shoot you down, ignore them. If you want your opinions to matter, then make them matter. Be proud, and put your hand up. You don’t need someone else’s permission to do what you want to do, and what you want to do means something to you, so it’s important.

Watch the way that you sit. Do you scrunch in your chair? Do you hunch forward? Do you constantly rub your neck?

It’s funny, but when we succeed in something challenging, we often throw our hands in the air, chin up, taking up as much space as possible. But when we’re insecure or threatened, we close off, making ourselves smaller, almost willing the world not to notice us. No one had to teach us these behaviors. (After all, a blind person, who’s never seen anything but black, will perform the exact same actions.) It’s just part of who we are.

I’m a strong believer in making of life what you want it to be. You don’t need to be tied down by anyone else’s opinions of you, or what others may say. Social constraints be damned. This is your life, not theirs. So don’t spend your time worried about how others perceive it.

Instead, take charge of it. You get to decide who you want to be, and you get to decide how you want others to treat you. The power is all in your hands.

Superheroes put on a costume when they’re ready to act. You can mentally do the same thing every day. Inspire yourself with confidence, and go out there and face it.

You’ll be happy that you did.

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Line In The Sand

Betrayal.

This word holds such power, evokes such anger. It is the declaration of a blatant injustice, and as such, creates a feeling of hatred that’s universally understood, and almost universally despised. It’s one of those words whose meaning is so immediately repulsive, it’s surprising it’s seen as often as it is.

See, in movies, betrayal is often displayed in very showy, blatant overtures. The hero gets his final showdown with the villain, when all of a sudden, the friend who’s been with him the entire story suddenly turns his gun to show his true colors. It’s dramatic, the emotional pain is palpable, and you just know that the hero is definitely going to give that guy what’s coming to him later on.

As a plot point, it makes for great story. As a life tool, it makes you an enemy faster than almost anything else, and there’s no quick resolution that’s going to bring you back. When you betray someone in “real life,” that action will carry repercussions for the rest of your life. How about a recent example? (I don’t want to get too specific here, but those who know, will know. Those who do not, will not. Let the meanings find those who are seeking for it.)

I know of a man who looks only to elevate himself. His actions speak volumes of his own self-aggrandizement, his lofty ambitions of proclaiming to the world of his own self-importance, when in reality his personal significance is quite lacking. I believe that this self-awareness grinds on him. It bothers him. And yet, it motivates him to action, pushing him to carve his own glory from the rock of indifference. He’s not content to be ignored, and so, like the child whose wails are ignored, he screams ever louder, until such time as those around him give him the attention he desires.

On the other hand, I know of another man. This man also seeks for personal glory, for opportunity and the chance to shine. Struggling against the indifference displayed by those whose attention he desires, his approaches are similar. But instead of screaming for the attention of those around him, he speaks with them. He gets to know them. He displays cunning and forethought, applying his talents and skills to the tasks at hand, to not only elevate himself, but to also bring those around him into greater heights.

The comparisons between the two men are quite similar in many ways, but there is a single aspect which separates them – A gulf, a chasm which leaves them miles apart. And this aspect can be found in a single word:

Loyalty.

Whereas the second man would offer his compatriot the shirt off his back, the first would ignore the one in need, unless it somehow benefited him. The first feeds off the work of others, offering little yet grabbing at every opportunity to promote his own status. The second, more humble, still looks to improve his status, but not at the expense of those around him. He doesn’t look for lofty titles, or the praise of strangers, but looks to bring up those around him.

I have the odd opportunity to know both of these men. I watch as the first is so quickly despised by those who see through his charade, while the second is loved by those who have the chance to meet him. Until recently, the feud between these two was something for which I was only on the sidelines. I was but an observer who was mostly unaffected by the actions of each, one to another.

Recently, however, I was brought into a closer proximity. Suddenly, I find myself in the midst of a battle where the lines have already been drawn. Actions have already been taken, and so I was forced to quickly make my stand.

Do I take the side of he who I am proud to call my friend? One who builds me up, takes me in, and pushes for my success? Or do I stand with the worm who cowers in shadow, acting with malice behind a conniving smile?

There is no hesitation. I know which side of the line I’m on, and I know who has my loyalty. I am not one to hide in the shadows, and I refuse to bend my will to one whose actions are designs solely to plunder the ideas and desires of those around him. Instead, I will plant my feet, and I will defend that man whom I trust.

The line has been drawn in the sand, and though this conflict will not be resolved with bullets or blades, the consequences remain palpable. But moving forward, I take comfort in knowing that we did not strike the first blow, and the whirlwind that is coming is reaped by one whose calculated betrayal deserves everything which it returns.

Comeuppance will be potent, indeed.


Filing My Dreams

moleskin

I have a bit of a love affair with Moleskine notebooks. I’ve used all kinds of other pads, and I always keep a pen with me, but I always come back to two specific books. One is a pocket-size, the other is about the size of a large index card, and both are sketchpad style without any lined pages. I’ve found that I prefer to carry these with me everywhere, and I always seem to have at least one of them on my person.

There’s just something about writing on a page that feels so much more personal than typing. I realize the irony of typing such a statement on a keyboard, but it’s true. Having kept journals for several years, and having written in my notebooks for even longer, there’s just a personal connection there.

The blank pages allow for the creation of just about anything. If I want to draw, I draw. If I need to write, I write. There’s really no rhyme or reason to the notes, dreams, ideas, sketches, or quotes that fill my books, excepting perhaps the class notes that I take in my larger one.

But recently, as I was going through my room, I realized that I had a bit of a concern. Though the free-spirited notations are helpful in getting ideas onto the page, it’s a bit of a nightmare to go back and try to actually find information that I’m looking for.

So, yesterday I started looking around, and I stumbled across an online program called “Evernote,” which advertises itself as something of a “thought organizer.”

Using either my phone or desktop, I can upload, adjust, file, and organize just about any text or images that I come across. Though this is taking a little time as I go through a page at a time, it’s been quite helpful to be able to organize my thoughts, and Evernote makes it pretty simple. I take a picture with my phone, and it automatically syncs with my computer, and I can later add notes and whatnot whenever I get the time.

(The mobile app does allow all the editing features from the phone, but as I kind of loathe texting in long strings, I generally just add a couple reminder notes and fix it later.)

If you’re like me, and have a ridiculous number of notebooks and papers with ideas scattered everywhere, this can really help you make some sense out of it all, and actually do something with all that stuff. Ideas are great, but if they don’t lead to action, then what use are they?

Anyway, that’s just something interesting I’ve found that’s been helpful this week. You know, looking back, that’s kind of been my trend for the last couple of weeks, so perhaps next week I should look into a post that’s more visceral and angry and emotional and whatnot.

What am I talking about? I don’t have any emotions. That would ruin my mechanical interiors. <grin>


Why I Shop At Best Buy

I’ve talked with friends in the past about how the best way to keep up a business’ image and goodwill is to create customer loyalty. Now, I’m not talking about some kind of reward program, or constantly reminding the customer that he’s “important” to the store. Instead, it’s just treating the customer like a person, like someone worth valuing, even when they’re kind of dumb, and doing your best to take care of them when they need a hand.

For my little story, the power went out on Friday night. I was out and about, and came home to a dark house, where none of the switches worked. Sometime in the night, the power came back on and suddenly half the lights in the house were on and I had to take care of that in the morning.

With the sun up, I went to check my emails and the like, and found that apparently, the power surge had somehow fried through my router. A quick call to Comcast and they reset my modem, which worked fine if I cabled directly to it, and I was back on the net, but I knew that I needed a router to take care of the several other things on my network.

So, I looked up Netgear. I figured they could help me get the newest firmware or whatever to get things back into shape. Instead, they informed me that technical support for my router had only lasted ninety days from the day that I registered it, so I was basically out of luck unless I “extended” my service plan with them for and annual fee. This bothered me a great deal, specifically because I had already spent nearly an hour on the phone waiting through a hold, and then re-confirming all of my information with a first rep, only to be told by the second rep that he couldn’t help me at all unless I paid them more money.

I was feeling a little angry, and wasn’t sure what to do, because I didn’t know where I’d placed the receipt for the router, having bought it over a year ago.

But, I did know where I’d made the purchase, so I packed up the thing with all the cables and paperwork, and made my way to Best Buy.

Having picked up the Extended Service plan, I walked up to the counter and explained my situation. The woman at the counter, Belma, was extremely helpful, and took care of all the details, even though I didn’t have the receipt for her. She had it all set and handed me a gift card, and said to go pick out the one I needed.

It all worked like a charm, and I still have something like ten dollars on the card for something else down the line. That’s kind of awesome.

I know that it’s not exactly “trendy” mention these kinds of experiences, but I felt that I needed to. After having been screwed with just an hour previous, it was awesome to have someone really help me out instead of hiding service behind a wall of “that’s-not-our-problem-it’s-yours.”

Best Buy’s got my loyalty, and it’s where I’ll keep buying my electronics from. They’ve earned it.


Mobile Game Flirtations

I’ve slowly had to change much of my “playstyle” over the past year, and maybe that’s what’s drained on me a little. I like to “finish” games. I like to get to a point where I know how it’s played, can explain the mechanics, and I’ve mastered it at least to a good degree. I don’t necessarily need to understand everything about the game – in a game like Fallout or Skyrim there’s so many possibilities that it’d be truly difficult to get into all of them.

But the one thing that I’ve always been a little hesitant to get into is “mobile gaming.” I guess I still just have some reservations about it, because it’s really been reserved mostly for “casual gamers.” While games like Infinity Blade have shown that more “hardcore-style” games can be played on the system, there’s still something missing on a phone or tablet that is there on a console or PC. Precise controls, deep experiences, complex gameplay… That’s my bread and butter, my personal preference, so when it’s missing, I don’t get as interested.

That tended to change, though, when I discovered a small game by Kairosoft called “Game Dev Story.”

Essentially, the game is a management sim where you run your own game studio. As a student producer, this kind of thing really appealed to me as a way to see the “big picture” of game development. While I was studying about the details of game design and how to pitch an idea, this game was showing me how all the cogs fit together. A game design was made, resources needed to be allocated, and sometimes you needed to make the best of a bad game by marketing the living crap out of it to make a profit.

It’s an awesome game. I don’t know if people who don’t enjoy games in general will get as much out of it as I do, but I highly recommend it.

With that in mind, I noticed that Kairosoft had released their newest game, Dungeon Village, just within the past couple of weeks, and so I gave it a trial run.

I purchased it about twenty minutes later.

Dungeon Village is a game set in the world of adventurers and monsters, a world like that of Diablo or Torchlight. There are problems to solve, and adventurers are coming to help, but in the meantime, you’ve got a town to keep running and monsters just outside the gates.

You play as the mayor of a small village, and you want to increase the attractiveness and population of your town so that adventurers will want to live there, and keep your town protected from the monsters and creatures that seem continually determined to crop up.

It plays like a quick-paced mobile version of sim city, and there’s much to think about. Do you spend your money bestowing gifts on adventurers hoping they stay? Or do you strive to increase revenue by raising the prices at the inn or armor shop?

It’s an interesting and welcome twist on a familiar setting, and I’m very pleased with the game. I could go on talking about it, but this isn’t meant to be a review, just a hearty recommendation.

Like I’ve said before, I’m not much of a mobile gamer, but this is the kind of thing that I think just belongs on a mobile device. Pick-up-and-play, on-the-go style of gameplay… Kairosoft just knows how to make something that is a pleasure to play in short bursts.

And now I’m just trying to avoid thinking of some way that last sentence can be construed as a dirty joke.


Streaks & Rage

My roommate and I were talking last night, and we came to a rather unique conclusion. Being that we’ve taken to playing League of Legends with a number of my fellow Master’s program cohorts, (as well as numerous good-natured folks along the way), we’ve spent a number of nights hammering away at the keyboards with the goal of victory in our minds.

Thing is, though, some of those nights have gotten a little later than we may have hoped, and several specific situations seem to apply:

1) If we’ve lost three in a row, we’ll continue to play until we get another win before we call it a night. The comments usually stem from the idea that “I don’t want to end the night like that.”

2) If we’re on a winning streak, we’ll keep on playing until we lose. Apparently that confidence obliterates the need for sleep, because after a win, I personally feel quite refreshed enough to play another match, regardless of the time.

3) Mixed results nights will fizzle out at or around midnight. It seems that if we’re winning and losing at a fairly even ratio, we’ll just kind of get worn out early and turn in. (Unless one of the aforementioned situations occur during such a mixed-match night, at which 1 & 2 will supercede 3.)

It’s a strange and unique situation that I’m still trying to understand, but one that I can completely relate to. When I used to play MAG, or even now as I play through Battlefield 3, that kind of multiplayer play pattern seems to continue.

When you’re tired, and your inhibitions are a little worn, these behavioral patterns start to emerge.

But what does this mean in the grander scheme? I wonder, personally, if there’s a way to utilize this type of play pattern. If the player can be convinced to continually just play “one more,” it means that we’ve hit upon the addictive patterns that gamblers seem to deal with.

Gamers, generally, are all-too-familiar with the late night gaming marathon. Anyone who’s spent a decent length of time with the console or PC has witnessed the sunrise behind them as they bask in the glow of the screen before them. (I remember a distinct experience with Dragon Age: Origins a few years ago with some depressing fondness.)

But when it comes to competitive drive, especially in multiplayer “match” gameplay, it’s interesting to see how frustration at losing will manifest itself. For me, I become focused, vindictive, and merciless. I start to seethe a little, and then more, until I angrily utilize my fury in the game at hand.

This is something that I’ve known about myself for a very long time. It never mattered what the competition was, be it football, basketball, ultimate frisbee, or whatever video game – When my eyes thinned, it was time to be serious. My brothers often joke with me while we’re playing split-screen on games. We joke and laugh, but I don’t take to taunts very well. I don’t personally know where the “line” is, but they can tell when it’s been crossed.

One of them will often say “Oh, man! You made Brandon mad!” At that point, I proceed to slaughter the entire team with extreme prejudice. My rage has been something I’ve had to continually keep in check throughout my life, and I do my best to only utilize it when I need it.

I’m a person of competition, and I know that. I hate to lose, and I don’t joke well on a losing streak, which is something that has also bothered me about League. Thing is, in League anger doesn’t always help you. It helps quite a bit in shooters, as the increased focus will often allow for more desperate and ballsy strategies that create a very high-risk, high-reward situation.

But in League, getting angry can be very bad for your situation. Getting right in to fight can end you fast, no matter how awesome you think you are.

Oy. Random strings and random thoughts. But such is my mind.

I’ll be back next week with something a little more structured.


The Fields of Battle

Back in 2010, I became a founding member of the Talon Strike Force, a then FPS gaming clan built around the game MAG, which I’ve talked about several times (and continue to use as a base point for most online games in general). Just prior to this, I had been in a clan called Raven’s Eye, under the tag “EYE,” and had had some genuinely good times with them. What surprised me was when the leader, KrusaderX, decided that he’d had enough of it all and didn’t wish to lead the clan any longer, but instead of transferring leadership to another, decided to disband the clan completely in order to preserve the “name” of the clan.

At the time, I was quite annoyed, but at the same time I wasn’t all that worried. Though many of these people had been my friends and virtual brothers in arms, I’ve always had a knack for adaptability, and was sure that something would come along. As such, when RocketRob99 contacted me about forming another clan, I completely supported him, and so became the first “Talon,” though the name had not quite yet been decided on. Soon after, we were joined by another former EYE, DeathloksRevenge, and the three of us put together the Talon Strike Force, under the tag “TLN.”

A lot has happened over the years since then. For quite some time, I was very involved with the clan, and knew almost everyone in the game by name and voice. I could hand-pick a squad of players with whom I knew we could defeat anything in our path. And I think that that is what contributed most to my later problems. I started to get a little too cocky, a little too big-headed. My pride grew too much, and I began to see many in the clan as “beneath me,” which is just a terrible attitude to have.

Eventually this culminated in a split, as I foolishly followed my pride away from the clan, abandoning the team that I’d spent so much time building up. As the weeks passed, and the group that left the Talons eventually sputtered to a halt, I realized how stupid this all was. I realized how a clan is less about “skill,” and more about camaraderie. You play games with others because you enjoy their company, you can laugh and have a good time, and you know that, win or lose, you’ve got some pals to prop you up.

In those months between, as I got busy with “real-life” and other things, I realized that I had really screwed up. I’d betrayed the people who had looked up to me, and I’d left my friends behind in pursuit of some arbitrary “glory” that I’d come to realize was never there to be obtained in the first place.

I took the time to type out a letter of apology, mostly to Rob, describing my feelings as well as my personal regret. Though he was more than willing to let me back into the fold, I’ve come to realize that things have changed a little bit.

The saying “you can’t go home again” has a universal context. The fact is, once you leave a place behind, even returning to it never quite feels the same. Something is always just a little off. Friends have had experiences and relationships have changed while you were away. While they may still respect you for some things, in other ways you’ve become the visitor, and no longer one of the tenants. This happened to me when I left Talon, it happened to me when I moved up to Orem, and then when I moved back to St. George, and again now that I’ve moved to Salt Lake. Returning back to my old friends, my old haunts, and even my old high school… It never feels the same, and I don’t think it should.

Life is about progression. It’s about moving forward, no matter how slowly you have to go. You can look back fondly on the things behind you, (or look back with a tinge of regret), but the fact is that you’re here now. It’s now now, not then. You’ve got to take stock of who you are, what you’ve got, and what you can do with it. There’s no sense in constantly longing for those things that you can’t possibly get back, but instead you can spend your time forging new strides, and building new relationships.

As far as Talon is concerned, I’m slowly getting back into the mix. I picked up Battlefield 3 a couple of months back, and have slowly been building up my skills again, utilizing the thousands of hours that I’ve played over the years. I’ve been getting myself back involved with the clan again, and things have been going well.

Now, before you think that this is all a sad tale of loneliness and heartbreak, understand that it’s not. I’ve actually been legitimately busy over the past nine months, and the fact is, this summer is the first time that I’ve had some extra hours to actually play a few games for a legitimate amount of time. It’s an odd experience, almost from another era in my life, which is perhaps why these feelings of nostalgia seem so potent at the moment.

But the thing is, there’s life lessons to be learned in any endeavor. There’s things to take away from every situation that you find yourself in, and the fact is, no matter what social circles you navigate, you’re always going to run into the same dramas, the same highs and lows, dressed up with slightly different shades. If you can take the time to learn from each one, and use that knowledge to help better resolve problems in the future, well… That’s all anyone can really ask for, isn’t it?

Alright, that’s enough long-winded soapboxing for me. I’m off to Taco Bell, to have me a burrito.


Keep Calm and Ride On

When I was sixteen, I would have laughed in the face of anyone who said to me that I should just forego driving and ride my bike. I remember wanting to drive so badly, because having that license and having my keys and my four wheels represented the freedom to go anywhere that I wanted. I was fully on my own on the open road (Or, at least, I could drive myself to school and back).

Now, though, after finally having settled in to my new apartment, and figuring out where all the TRAX stops and bus stops are to take me where I need to go, I actually don’t feel much of a compulsion to drive anywhere. I’m more than happy to just let my car sit in the parking lot, only starting it up when I need to go pick up a piece of furniture, or when I need to go drive down south to visit people. (Which I should definitely do more often, but that’s the subject of a completely different post.)

The thing is, in a city with a decent public transportation system, having a car seems like even more than a hassle than a benefit. When I ride my bike, I feel better just cruising around, I slow down my pace a little, and I force myself to plan for the extra time, which lets me keep from getting stressed out, racing to make it to an appointment because “I can make it in fifteen minutes.”

Ever since I parked the car and hopped on the bike, things have just felt better, and it’s a difficult thing to describe. I’m less stressed out, and I even feel like I’m more productive because I have to legitimately plan out what I’m going to be doing every day. Plus, I get to see the city in a much more interesting way instead of blurring it all as I cruise by places at 40 MPH. If I want to stop in at a place that I think looks interesting, I do, and I don’t really have to look for a parking spot. Instead, I just lock my bike to a tree or something.

I guess what I’m saying is this – If you can figure out a way to park the car for a while, then do so. There may be a whole big interesting world just a couple of blocks away, that you’re completely missing because you’re not taking the time to look around and see what’s out there. I know that’s not for everyone, and a lot of people need to drive to get to where they’re going, or else their two-hour commute will turn into seven.

But if you can, I’d wholly recommend it.


Inflation and Deflation

I’d like to say that I’ve finally overcome the biggest hurdles, but my heart tells me otherwise. Instead, I find myself wondering if I’ve only just started the first couple of steps. And then, I go on to worry a little because these first couple of steps have been an absolute and complete pain in the ass. <grin>

About three weeks ago, I left St. George and headed up for Salt Lake City, hoping to get a head-start on looking for housing and work to support myself through grad school. As with any new opportunity, my thoughts were optimistic. I figured, “Hey, I’m a skilled and fairly smart guy. I’ve got a Bachelor’s degree with a 3.6 GPA, and I’ve got a wide range of skills. It shouldn’t be too hard to nail down a part-time job.”

And then I got here.

Apparently, there are no jobs at all in Salt Lake City. Or, (and this is a little more unnerving), maybe I’m just not qualified for them. You know, because I spent four years in school, I’ve become the well-rounded and studious adult that the system wanted me to be, but apparently that’s not enough time and effort to get a part-time job serving tables at Old Spaghetti Factory. I’m just not sure what the deal is. No matter where I look, it seems like the opportunities are just consistently out of reach, and I really am unsure of what’s going to happen over the next few weeks.

Is a Bachelor’s Degree just not enough anymore? Is it now so common that even food service is looking to get all picky about it? Am I going to need a Doctorate’s to work at McDonald’s in the coming years?

I just moved into a new apartment up in Salt Lake, and now I’m out of money and out of time, because school starts on the 22nd. Then I get to juggle a school workload with trying to find some kind of job, when I could have had something in the first place. Things are just looking dark, and it seems no matter where I look, there isn’t much light coming from anywhere.

Throughout my life, I’ve always been one to deny that things happen for a reason. At least in the past, things have always worked out in the end, and I guess I’ve just kind of learned to expect them to. I’m usually not one to panic (too much), because usually I’m able to find a way to make things work. Usually there’s some kind of path that I’m supposed to be on. But right now, it just feels like there’s not much. Frustration is intermingling with desperation, and the world is looking a little too grim for my taste.

The most frustrating part of it all, though, is that opportunities keep coming up yet they’re always just out of reach. I’ll get a call from a company, have a (to me) really good interview, they’re all smiles and assurances, and then I get no call. No job offer. Instead I just get to sit and wait. If these people aren’t going to hire me, then why don’t they just say so? Why don’t they just tell me? I can take rejection, but it’s the anticipation, the build up, the hope, and then the nosedive that really bothers me.

But, I guess I’ve ranted for long enough.

Tomorrow is Grad School Orientation, which means I’ll be spending the day at the U figuring out what this whole program is all about. I’m looking forward to a day of putting my pressing concerns on hold, and just hanging out a little. I hope that all this is worth it in the end, and that all of this will eventually lead me to a future of not chasing job leads every day.

I know that this is a little too much rambling, and a whole lot of “not-really-anything-constructive,” but I just needed a chance to blow out some steam. I left my heavy bag down south, so pounding away at a keyboard is about the only way I’ve got to get some stress out of my system.

Here’s hoping for a brighter tomorrow, and to pushing through your trials in the pursuit of your dreams.

- K


Respect IS Worth Fighting For

Let me say that my comments this week aren’t necessarily going to be ones that I haven’t already shared before. In fact, they are definitely ones that I’ve had before, but I find them important enough that I’d like to go over them again just because of a recent “occurrence” that’s kind of driven them home to me.

Sarcasm and teasing are part of any game. You taunt a little, you get into the other players’ heads, and you make them react to you differently than they would react to any other players. You make yourself a threat on the field, and suddenly you’ve got some control of the other team’s focus. Sometimes that’s by making yourself look more important on the field than anyone else, or sometimes it’s by just being in the way as often as possible. Mind games are a part of any competition.

I can take jibes and jabs, and I dish them out just as easily. But there is definitely a point where things get a little out of hand. Competition creates frustration that can easily spill into heated problems if you let them. And there is definitely a time when a loud-mouthed punk starts to grind on you.

Disrespect. It always comes down to disrespect. When you start to disrespect your opponent, that carries it too far for me. I’ll admit that I’ve often fallen on the wrong side of that coin. Winning tends to make you feel that you’re more superior, and even better than the people that you’re playing against.

But once you lose that sense of respect… Things all start going downhill.

I don’t tolerate disrespect. Not to me, not to my family, and not to my friends. It’s a moral standard that I’ve tried to hold up for as long as I can, and it’s one that even some of my closest friends have a hard time keeping track of. I never say anything to my friends in an effort to disrespect them. When it comes to those closest to me, I am fiercely loyal, some may even say “blindly” so.

But perfect strangers… I always try to remain respectful at the first. On a blank slate, I try to look for the positive outcome. I expect to respect, and to be respected. But that’s not always the case. Some people just have no respect for others, and it shines through only far too easily.

When a person disrespects me, that’s when the gloves come off. That’s when I get angry, and boy, people don’t like me much when I’m angry.

But I have to wonder to myself… Is that such a bad thing? To fight for respect, either for yourself or those you care about? Is that wrong?

Entire wars have been fought over respect. The war for America’s independence was fought, not just for freedom, but fought so that the world would respect our right to freedom. America was ridiculed, put down, until finally we got tired of it and fought back in a war that we had no right to win.

Sometimes, I think that getting angry about disrespect is the absolute correct response. Of course, violence doesn’t always solve everything, but I personally believe that there are some times when it is completely justified. Sometimes, a person just needs that one person to stand up to them and say “No.”

In a permissive world that we live in today, it’s rare to see people stand up to bullies outside of fiction. Why do we simply fall prey to the whims of those whose voices are the loudest, and whose whining is the most annoying?

I refuse. I refuse to be intimidated by stupidity, and I refuse to let jerks tell me what to do just because they think they deserve it.

If it comes down to a fight, so be it. That will work for me just fine. Because respect… That’s something that I think is worth fighting for.


It’s Good to Have a Little Elbow Room

One of the most difficult things to deal with when trying to get into any field, it seems, is people trying to get you to specialize. I’m not sure why, but most people expect you to be able to describe yourself with a single title. “I’m a doctor,” or “I’m a police officer,” or maybe “I’m a writer.”

But the thing of it is, most of us just aren’t that way, especially in arts and entertainment. Throughout my schooling and career, I was always asked what I wanted to be, or what I was going to school for. Most often, I would have to resort to describing my major, “Digital Media,” or maybe whatever happened to be the focus of my studies that semester, like “Film.”

This can be especially problematic when you start looking for jobs, and people are surprised that you’ve worked a wide swath of jobs. For me, I’ve worked as a film grip, a key grip, and an electritian. I’ve worked as a producer, a production assistant, and an art director. I’ve been a writer, a UPM, a graphic producer, and a retail salesman. I’ve worked in landscaping, food service, and as a roadie. All of these things apply to who I am and what I know how to do, and how I can approach a situation or problem, and it does me a serious discredit for someone to ask me “what I do,” and expect a simple, no-frills answer.

Over the past year, however, I’ve come to better understand what I want to do in my life. Gaming, to me, has always been a great passion of mine. I’ve sunk more time into video games than I have into anything except perhaps my writing, and that drive to experiences these interactive stories and situations finally just clicked for me. Getting accepted to Grad School to start my gaming career finally just solidified my course for me. I knew what I wanted to do.

What’s been more freeing for me, however, is that I finally am able to portray myself the way that I want to. When you’re working in film, people tend to want a certain kind of person for a certain kind of work. They want you to be focused on the job at hand, and your experiences outside of the scope of that job seem to be mostly disregarded, because you’re expected to be compartmentalized.

But now, my hobby and my career are starting to blend. I can be a gamer, and that’s finally a good thing. I can start to portray myself as having this passion, and it’s not only understood, it’s encouraged. Of course, there’s a healthy dose of work to go along with it all, but it’s just good to have a little elbow room. It’s nice to not be stuck in a compartment that wasn’t exactly of my own choosing.

And when people ask me what I want to be, then I can explain that I want to be a producer. But when I go to explain myself, I’m not above telling people that I’m a Gamer, Producer, Writer, Artist, and a Jack-of-All-Trades. I’m finally starting to realize that it’s not a bad thing to just be who I am, and let the chips fall where they may. No need to worry anymore what “the masses” think, because I’m going to find a group that wants me for who I am.

I’m ready to rebrand myself so my brand is more true to me, and I’m ready to show what I can be. Here’s hoping that the hard work is going to pay off.

- K


Indecisive

I look at my clock as it ticks over to 3:11 AM, yet still my mind is racing, unable to rest, unable to stop. The wheels are turning, spinning, twisting, and grinding, unable to complete their rotation without hitting a snag, and shredding my thoughts into pieces. I glare, wander, click and tap, unable to find a suitable direction at which to aim my furious consternation.

It’s as if my purpose refuses to remain steady, with the moorings that once held it in place in sudden disarray. My thoughts taunt me, goading me into action, and yet giving me no path to walk. I am before the Cheshire Cat, with the self-same reasoning as Alice in her Wonderland. I know there is somewhere that I need to go, but I am very unsure of where it is, and how to get there. So, I doom myself to begin walking in some direction, realizing as I take my ninth step that it is, in fact, the wrong direction.

Is this a common occurrence? Does every man sail through the same seas of confusion? Or am I alone on the ocean, adrift with no compass, with no wind and no motor?

If only there was a method of determining my course. Even a path that might eventually detail my desires in such a way as to make them known to me. Such would save me an eternity of grief at having chosen the wrong course. Because to me, there isn’t much worse in my own life than setting down a path toward a goal and realizing five years down the road that that goal was actually not fit for me.

I suppose that each of us is on some path to happiness. We may call it by other names, be it wealth, status, or stability, but in the grand scheme of things each of us is searching for that something that we can be contented by. So many people seem to have a passion for their goals, a fire that burns within them, driving them to achieve the grand heights that they have undertaken to accomplish. Nothing, it seems, can stop them. They are the climbers of their individual Everests, and they refuse to be dissuaded by simple trivialities or obstacles.

I once had a driving force within me. I was determined to complete my schooling, and so I pushed myself as hard as I could until that job was complete.

Yet now, as I am in possession of the fruit of my labors, I find myself in an odd predicament. Instead of being ecstatic, I feel lost, unable to determine for myself the course that my life should take. I have been exhorted to chart my own course, to reach out and grasp my future, but despite the bumper sticker catchphrases, I remain unfulfilled.

Could it be that life has simply lost interest in me? Was my purpose simply to come to this point and then fade into obscurity? Or is there something else that I am meant to accomplish?

Answers… I don’t write searching for answers, necessarily, but one or two would be nice. I’m not looking for everything, only a direction. If my destination is not to be determined for quite some time, so be it. But were I to have a path, a sure path that agrees with my personality, then I could begin my journey anew.

Until then, I’m afraid, my wheels are continually turning, spinning, twisting, and griding, unable to complete their rotation. My motor is, in fact, running, it simply is providing no power to move me along.

Instead, I am looking for a destination.

- BK


Pipe Dreams

While I often have my own way of looking at the world, I don’t think that many other people share my vision.  You see, I don’t really understand the phrase, “That’s just how it is,” or even it’s cousin, “It’s always been done that way.”  For me, the world is a candy store of opportunity, and I have just as much right to the best chocolates as anyone else around.

However, I’ve recently had to start coming to grips with the fact that maybe I’m looking at things from the wrong perspective. Take a look at this comic. While the ending is all about the punchline, it kind of got me thinking about what a dreamer I am. I still believe, in my heart of hearts, that my dreams really can come true. I’m not content to leave myself in the confining realms of possibility, when impossibility seems like it’s so much more fun.

Why can’t I learn something new? Why couldn’t I become an overnight rock star, or a film-directing sensation? Why couldn’t I invent some widget worth a million bazillion dollars? Who’s to say that I won’t someday be famous world-wide? While not every possibility is likely, I personally believe that so many things are within my reach, and there really is nothing to stop me.

But then again, I take a step back, and I realize that there’s only really one thing stopping me. It’s all about hard work. While there are plenty of sources to tell you that the world is your oyster, it fails to mention that you’ve also got to figure out how to fish that thing out of the ocean. It seems like there’s always some star that appears out of nowhere to become an overnight sensation, but it quickly becomes apparent that those people are often a flash-in-the-pan, one time deal, and they quickly fade into oblivion.

I’m no expert, but I believe that hard work is the key to lasting success, and perhaps that’s a bit of advice that I should continually strive to understand. The world isn’t going to just hand you everything on a silver platter, often you’ll be holding up numerous platters to others along the way. But someday, when you’ve earned it, that platter just may be extended to you, and you’ll finally be able to see what was hiding underneath it all that time.

- BK


Perspective

Well, the site may look a little different, but that’s just because it is. I’ve decided that I needed to bring this thing in line with the portfolio idea that I’ve been planning to create for months, and so I just started working on it. The past couple of weeks have let me figure out at least some of what I want to do.

Interestingly enough, I think the most profound thing about looking through some of my previous projects is the strange diversity between them. I’ve done a lot of different things for a lot of different people, and it’s strange the stories that arose from each and every experience. It’s not so much the end result, I guess, but more the ride that sticks with you – Or at least that’s what I’m coming to understand.

I’ve had the privilege to work with a lot of really amazing, wonderful people over the past few years. I’ve met some great friends, had plenty of excellent experiences, both great and not-so-great. I look back through my memories and really just have to smile at all the crazy adventures. Life really tosses some curveballs at you, I guess. It’s just about knowing how to swing. (Man, I’m sounding really metaphorical today.)

I don’t really have anything huge or mind-blowing to share today. I just wanted to note down that the site may look a little different, but that I’m still the same old me, just writing my stuff as I see it. Expect to hear more from me soon.

- BK


block breaking

Though I keep checking back in on my blog almost daily, I seem to have the hardest time actually putting things up right now.  I look back at old posts, and I learn a lot about my own tendencies and personalities.  I realize that I’m critical, but hopeful.  I’m brash, but curious.  I’m service-oriented, but very self-righteous.  And despite all the good in the world, I often seem to drive straight for the bad, and describe it in vivid detail so there can be no mistake of what my negative feelings are towards something.

It’s a conundrum that has been bothering me lately, and I think that it’s linked to my difficulty to write.  Though I want to put down a post, each thing that I think of seems so negative, or not professional enough, or not exactly coherent.  And then if I try to write, I start putting doubts into my own head, and I feel like no one’s really reading what I’m saying.

“And why should they?”  I ask myself.  “It’s not like you’re putting up anything of real substance.”

Then I pause.  I think.  What is it that people want to read, then?  Why do they come here?

But in that haze of trying to think of something crowd-pleasing to write here, I’ve finally realized my real problem.  The true reason for my strange and indescribable writer’s block that seems to limit my very ability to put a viable statement into words.

I’ve started worrying about what “they” think.

Long ago, I stopped worrying what “they” think, and it’s a defining trait that I’d taken to heart.  But the trials that I’ve been going through the past few weeks have started to eat at me.  They’ve started to introduce doubts into my mind.  Thoughts of weakness, or maybe depression.  Feelings of self-pity, or general worthlessness.

But wallowing in the depths wasn’t going to help me.

And while the words may not be all bright colors and sparkley letters, they’re mine.  I can say what I like, and this is my space.  If you are here to read about my thoughts, then you’re bound to read, and if you want to stop, I don’t much care anymore.

So I’m going to start posting again, and I don’t care what anyone really thinks about what I decide to put here.  It might be advice.  It might be fiction.  Perhaps a review.  Or it might be stupid poetry.  My decision, no one else’s.

Here we go.


back to business

This morning, I woke up to find my neighborhood covered in three inches of snow – in May. I then looked out in the backyard, and found that the big cherry tree behind my garage had mysteriously fallen over.  I just stood there thinking…  “What happened last night?”

Looks like I’ve got to go find myself a chainsaw.

I’m taking this as a sign of change.  Something needs to happen, and I can’t think of a less subtle way to quickly get my attention.

For the past week or so since graduation, I’ve just been job hunting.  Everything’s been about trying to take the next step in life, and though I’ve applied for numerous positions, the prospects aren’t looking too bright.  Honestly, for the “accomplishment” of spending four years trying to merit a school’s approval, it doesn’t seem like anyone cares too much.

In any case, things have gotten a little… Shall we say depressing?  With not much to do, and not a lot of money, I’ve had some time to think about my life, and what my next steps are going to be.  And steps require movement.  They require effort.  They require…  say it with me…  change!

I’m tired of sitting still.  Nothing is going to come to me, so I’ve got to make myself come to it instead.  There’s no easy answers, and there’s no easy favors.  Everything’s got a price, and I think it’s about time for me to start paying up.

You can only stay in one place for so long.  I mean, seriously, even the tree wanted to get going.  And even if it lands me right on my face, at least that first step is going to be epic.  Gotta get moving, and I’ve got to get doing.

So it’s back to business, for me.

Oh, and if anyone’s got a job that you’d like to shoot me towards, I’d be more than happy for the help.


a pot of gold

Questions and concerns are running rampant through my mind, the chief of which is simply, “Why in the world am I doing this?” Of course, it’s asked in a semi-serious tone, but the little part of my mind that still has a few shreds of sanity has to ask. I mean, what would compel someone to spend so much of their time in pursuit of something with no guaranteed reward?

Here I am, working on something that no one else is forcing me to, putting aside much of my free-time and social engagements, as well as numerous work opportunities, in order to make a dream become a reality. It’s truly chasing the rainbow, hoping against hope that there’s some mystical pot of gold when we finally get there. But that ending is still pretty far off. I’m still in the middle of the journey.

It’s all about chasing a dream. What is life if you don’t take the time to squeeze every last drop out of it? If you never take the chance to try to make your dreams come true, then you’re always going to wonder whether you could have. Me, I can’t live with that kind of regret constantly hanging over my head. I need to know. I need to give it a shot. I need to put myself on the line and show the world what I can do.

What I can’t understand, though, is why that seems so important to me. The world will keep spinning whether I try or not. The sun’s still going to come up tomorrow, and time won’t stand still just because I didn’t do anything. Instead, life will continue with or without me.

Then I remember – I am the only one of my kind. And I don’t mean species or race or family or any other relation. Instead, I’m the only me there is. I’m the only one who is able to tell the world what I have to say, and there’s no one else out there who’s going to say it for me. You either make history, or you become history. This is my only chance, these few years, to show myself, and then to show everyone else what I’m made of.

This weekend is a big step in a brand-new direction. Here’s just hoping that pot of gold is still waiting for me when I get there.

- K


a beautiful oblivion

Even as I sit here, typing on my keyboard, I realize that I should be getting to bed, not click-clacking away in front of the computer screen.  But there’s just something compelling me right now.  For some reason, I have this urge to write something out.  It’s this need to be typing, to be creating.  It’s as if the blank page here is an invitation that I just can’t ignore, and I must somehow fill it with something.  I just can’t leave space white any longer.

This need is only compounded by the fact that I haven’t put anything up in a few weeks, even though I’ve checked the page several times, and often said out-loud to myself, “I should really put up a post.”  It’s like my dust-gathering journal that I will often write in out of guilt, simply because I’d committed to myself to do it, wrote in it for a grand total of a couple days, and then placed it on the shelf with a number of other unfulfilled good intentions.

Another reason for this obtuse barrage of prose comes from the fact that I just finished a 12-hour day on a set that didn’t really need me.  I mean, yeah, I did move a couple of things from here to there, but there was no challenge, there was no hustle, and there was no brainpower to my entire day.  The most stimulation that I got out of today was the four cans of Dr. Pepper that I downed from craft services.

Honestly, standing around for 12-hours in the snow while having to move a shiny board a couple feet every half hour or so is anything but fulfilling, and I guess I just need some kind of outlet.  While I’ve definitely worked some mind-numbing jobs in the past, I’ve never been on such a dull set before.  It was just kind of absurd.  And the problem is that I’m supposed to go to set again tomorrow, and I need to find some way to keep things interesting.  Maybe I’ll bring a book or something, which is unbelievably taboo on most sets.

But geez, if they’re just having me do a free job for twelve hours that you could get any half-trained monkey to do, then I need something a little more interesting to dwell on.

And since I’m talking about life, why is it that my life seemed ready to pounce on me as soon as I got back from winter break?  It was like everything was waiting for the moment that I returned to attack me all at once.  I’ve got three shoots in the wings, my pilot jumping into production, my family needing help down south, on top of schoolwork that’s just starting up along with a broken heater that needs repairing and a mess of classes to go to that I would really rather just ignore.

Oh well.  If I wasn’t able to juggle that kind of list on a daily basis, I just wouldn’t be me.  My life is one that just demands constant organization, and I’ve just had to get used to that.  So good to meet you, 2010.  Welcome to my world.  I’m going to kick your ass.  Ha!

- K


learning to join the dance

There was a time in my life when I loved to dance. I actually enjoyed moving to the rhythm, going crazy, and not caring what anyone else thought. For me, it was one of the strangest phenomenon – The ability to act like a complete and utter nutcase, jumping, jiving, leaping and writhing to the music, regardless of skill or finesse. And to top it off, it was perfectly acceptable. It was all about having a good time, and I went to dances often, and often I would show myself to be quite the “dancing fool.”

That seemed to change a few years ago.

I like to think that I’ve started to “grow up”, but if I’m truly honest with myself, I know that that’s not the case. Instead, I believe that it has something to do with self-imposed shyness and fear in the wake of troubling times. I feel like, in the time that it’s taken me to get over certain relationship troubles in my past, I’ve shunned such activities, putting them to the side for fear of conjuring up old memories.

But even as I type that out, I can see the illogical stupidity of it. Why should I allow some old thoughts stop me from doing something that I used to enjoy? Why should someone else have the control over who I am, and what I do?

It’s a mental battle, one that I have with myself every time I see the opportunity to dance. It happened to me just the other night. Friends and others were up dancing around to some crazy music video, and there I was, just standing to the side. I couldn’t compel myself to get out on the dance floor, even though just about every other person in the room was out there.

I’ve got to make the effort, but I think I still need to gain the motivation. It’s not about doing it right, I guess, it’s just about doing it at all. I can’t just wait for the music to come to me, but instead, I need to forget the fact that I don’t know all the steps.

I just need to join the dance.

- K


a soul’s subtle rage

I’ve been having a weird sense lately that maybe I’m walking in the wrong direction.  Not so much in that physical sense, but perhaps because there’s some things that I just can’t seem to get out of my mind.  I feel like every step I take, I’m getting farther from where I’m meaning for myself to end up, and yet the whole experience is just so intangible that I don’t know how exactly to turn a 180°.

While I’m happy to be working on films regularly – The past three weekends have consisted of two paid jobs and a free favor, with another shoot scheduled for this weekend – I wonder if perhaps I should be more hesitant to give up my time so readily, especially in pursuits that aren’t necessarily going to do me any good.  By which I mean, don’t really have a clear benefit to me, personally.

Even though movies are honestly a series of well-planned coincidences, I don’t think life works out quite that way.  If it did, then I don’t think movies would be as popular as they are.

What’s been bothering me most lately, I guess, is the fact that I’ve been constantly working projects for other people who, while they absolutely appreciate my work, don’t seem all that interested in helping me further my own ambitions.

I work early-to-late long hours for people who have yet to show me the courtesy of giving me a copy of the finished project.  I volunteer to help others, knowing that in doing so they aren’t going to be appreciative of the time and effort that I’m sacrificing for them for little or no compensation.  And while I harbor a deep hope that someday it’s going to come around and something good is going to happen, my rational mind continually reminds me that I’m making movies, not living them, and there really isn’t some bit of deux ex machina coming in the next hour or so.

I am compelled to help them because I know, in my heart, that I am the one for the job.  I am the worker in the shadows, the one behind the scenes.  When I’m at work, I’m not looking for the spotlight, I’m looking to make sure that my job is done right, done fast, and done efficiently.  I’ll do the job so well that you won’t even know it was done, and perhaps that’s part of the problem.

It’s a thankless profession, one that so many people don’t even know about, let alone understand.  I tell my friends that I’m going to be working on a set, and instead of interest or understanding, all I get is a sense of disappointment that I’m not fitting in with their vision of the world.  My family seems to feel that I’m wasting my time, not getting on with my life, stuck instead inside some bachelor’s limbo.  Other “experienced” voices continue to call out, informing me that my ambitions are too high, my skill level is too low, and that I might as well just give up now, because there’s no way that I’m going to succeed.

Well you know what?  Screw them all.  I’m sick and tired of being passive, being dogged on, being ridiculed, being told I’ll never make it.  There’s a blazing inferno burning inside of me, and I couldn’t care less what people are thinking anymore.  I couldn’t care less what I’m “Post To” be doing.  I’m supposed to settle down.  I’m supposed to get a steady job.  I’m supposed to enjoy holidays in a specific way, know the names of certain bands and celebrities.  I’m supposed to be home watching football or baseball or basketball every other night, memorizing stats and especially knowing the histories and tendencies of a favorite team in each league.  I’m supposed to not worry about the technical sides of things, because those aren’t important.

I’m supposed to allow people into my home, offer them my hospitality, and be understanding when they verbally spit in my face and walk away.

Damn it, I’m so tired of doing what I’m “supposed to” be doing!

I don’t want to do it anymore.  There’s things that I’m constantly allowing to slip, and I’m so sick and tired of it all.  I’m tired of allowing myself to stop striving for the greatness that I know is within my reach.  I’m tired of listening to failed people tell me that it’s not worth trying.  And I’m tired of trying to fit myself into someone else’s paradigm of what my life should be.

So for those of you reading this, wondering what this means, here it is.  I’m done with the charade.  I’m done with pandering others, allowing them to pull me down.  I’m tired of being told that I’m somehow stupid simply because I look at the world from a different point of view, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to put up with people telling me what I should be doing, when they themselves aren’t doing anything with their lives.

I’m not going to listen to the garbage that people seem fit to barrage me with, because it’s doing nothing to help me.  I’m not going to concern myself with whatever standard that anyone else sees fit to apply to the way that I work, or the way that I live my life.  I’m taking back the controls, it’s time for me to drive.

- Karratti


procrastination

Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow? Because it needs to be done, and I’m such an idiot for not just doing it and getting it over with.

I seem to have a problem with not wanting to start something, especially something that I can’t readily finish in one setting. I put off script re-writes because I know I don’t have three hours to dedicate to it. I put off finishing graphic projects because I don’t have the idea solid in my mind yet, and I know I’ll just sit there staring at the screen for hours. I put off asking that girl I’ve been eyeing for months because I tell myself I just don’t have the time for it.

But let’s be perfectly honest here – There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for why I keep putting things off. I just believe that if I do it later, I’ll be able to avoid doing it, as if putting my head under the sand will truly make all the demands of life actually go away.

But life doesn’t really work like that.  Life is a constantly moving bulldozer, never needing to refuel, never needing to stop for any reason, which will simply run you over if you don’t keep moving with it.  And it really will run you over, especially if you keep on putting things off that you know you should get to.  And there are a number of things that I know I should get to.

I need to stop pondering and start doing.  Because if I don’t, then the years will continue to roll on, and I won’t accomplish anything.  It’s about time to take control.

And I will.

You know, as soon as I get around to it.  <grin>

- Karratti


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