Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TWIS: Processing Hate... and Excuses

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. With work back in full swing (I work full-time with special needs kids in an elementary school), along with my personal training gig and writing full-time (3rd edit of The Last Angel), it's been a bit chaotic. I kept telling myself I didn't have time to post a coherent blog until I realized I was spending more time dropping five hundred word comments on Facebook threads. Not particularly productive. So instead of commenting there, I figured I'd post them here and give more people a chance to throw eggs at me. (Or nod sagely in agreement)

This Week in Sports (T.W.I.S.)

News is always bad news, but this week has been particularly tough. First, the Ray Rice video broke the NFL and finally shattered that thin glass separating our conscience from the horrific and violent stories consistently brushed over by the league. 87 arrests by 80 players in fourteen years, and yet suddenly the climate has changed. Hell, even after the first video of Rice pulling his unconscious girlfriend, Janay Palmer, out of the elevator, the outrage was on its death knell until the second video of him punching her in the face and knocking her unconscious was released. We had to see it to process it.

Maybe we didn't believe that someone, someone we watched play our favourite game on Sundays, could actually commit such a hateful act. Maybe we'd learned to disconnect our conscience from reality when we read the other stories. Maybe we came up with other reasons (she started it) for him to be pulling her unconscious form from the elevator. Either way, it was the tipping point. We saw it. We were forced to deal with it. And now, everything is different. Will it last? Who knows. I hope so.

But the gut punch has been listening to people like Panthers coach Ron Rivera. Listening to him talk about the "changing climate" regarding his own player, Greg Hardy, who has already been convicted of beating up his girlfriend and threatening to kill her, as if it were somehow the media's fault, or the fault of the "changing climate" to inexcusably play Hardy in Week Two.

These coaches, and in extension, the talk show hosts and fans who keep insisting that these players should be forgiven and given their jobs back and what right does the NFL have to prevent their employment, echo like the sound of a cat being tortured in the back alley. Have they so completely lost their sense of right, of kindness, of freaking life, that they can no longer find their way out of the maze of psychological dependency on a team or a sport as some kind of last frontier where everything goes. And oh yeah, fuck women and fuck morals, it's football! No pussies here! It's hatred run wild, and processing it has been increasingly difficult.

Adrian Peterson, who stuffed leaves into the mouth of his naked son and beat him with a switch until the boy had lacerations on his legs, his buttocks, his scrotum and yes, his hands, where he held them up, trying to prevent a 210lb NFL athlete from hitting him, has somehow become a discussion on spanking. This sparked one of the most idiotic comments from Charles Barkley in his terrific broadcasting career when he suggested that "every Southern black person would be in jail" if they were charged the way Peterson had been.

To be clear, spanking is favoured in uneducated areas for a reason. Studies have shown how damaging it is, how unnecessary it is, and yet, even though Peterson's son had welts on his freaking scrotum, some people are insisting this is a spanking issue.

Yeah, I got spanked. I was never abused. If people can't figure out the difference, then maybe we're all stupid.

All in all, its felt like a week of processing hate and excuses. I'm glad the sponsors are speaking up. I'm glad Hardy won't be playing this week. I'm glad Peterson won't play again this year. But that window is shattered now, and I'll be watching closely. I shouldn't have to swallow my conscience to watch sports. And if it continues to be a problem, maybe I'll stop worrying about processing hate, and just change the channel.


Saturday, September 06, 2014

New Blog Plan; Other News

Hey folks,

I apologize for not posting this week. I'm back at school, working at my day job as a special needs worker. It's my third year at this elementary school and my third year with the same student, a true blessing. And while I enjoyed being back with the kids, it was sad bidding farewell to those late nights sitting out on the porch with a great book, promising myself 'just one more chapter!'

It was a quiet summer for my wife and I, though I did manage to write a new urban fantasy novel (The Last Angel) in two months. (Woohoo!) I'm working on the second draft now and it should be finished soon. As to the question why that one took two months and my epic, Second Blood, took five and a half years, I'm not sure I have an answer to that. Not a full one anyway. Part of it has to do with the genre. Urban fantasy is a blend of noir detective and fantasy, it's quicker to write and develop. The world building is far less intense, too. And I think that understanding the way the publishing industry has changed makes a difference. I spent two years polishing and re-polishing Second Blood. Now that I know I can self-publish so easily AND have it be a worthwhile process, frees me up to just go for it. I have another urban fantasy novel in the works as well. The goal is to write three books a year, one in each series. Ambitious, but not un-doable.

New Blog Plan

What I'm trying to develop now is a plan for this blog. I'm fairly certain I can manage four posts a week, although they'll be shorter than the ones I used to post. Unlike some blogs, Trials of a Kind Life is a pretty wide open topic. (Believe me, there are a lot of days I wish I was writing about one thing. Thing is, I'd get bored of that pretty quick.)

So here's what I'm thinking:

Post 1: Sports

Post 2: Movies

Post 3: News Item of the Week

Post 4: Books

I'm not sure if I should lump books and movies together or not, maybe have a another topic? I'd love some feedback on it, so feel free to drop in some suggestions. I appreciate you stopping by. :)


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The Lady at the Bus Stop (RAOK Alert!)

There's a Bingo Hall just down the street from us, a large building that also houses the Fitness Connection where Bethany (my wife) and I work out. A few weeks ago, she met an elderly woman waiting at the bus stop. The woman stopped my wife and asked her if she was was going to take the bus. Bethany was headed to the gym. On a whim, she asked the elderly woman if she needed help.

"Oh no, Dear," she said with a smile. "I just wait here every morning until someone comes along who can use my transfer. It's good for another hour."

When Bethany told me that story it brought a smile to my face. Such a small thing, you know. And yet, what a wonderful act of kindness.

Sometimes, it's good to hear about large extravagant acts of generosity. But for my money, these little ones often mean a lot more.


Monday, September 01, 2014

Rudy: Dreamers vs. dreamers

Fall is here. For many of us, school starts tomorrow. We'll send our kids off, or head back to work, or we'll head there ourselves in pursuit of new dreams and new goals. It can be an exciting time, especially if we allow it to be. This post is for all my fellow dreamers out there, in honour of one of the most famous dreamers ever to grace the silver screen.

There are a number of great scenes in the movie, Rudy, that deals with what it means to be a dreamer, but I'll only reference a few of them. When Rudy's best friend dies in a mining accident, he decides he has to leave. That if he doesn't try to get into Notre Dame now, he'll never make the attempt. His dad meets him at the bus stop and tries to discourage him. Only rich kids and great athletes go there. He tells him a story of his own childhood, how his father lost everything "chasing a stupid dream."

Rudy's father is not trying to be hurtful or petty, he's trying to protect his son from crushing disappointment. It's an act of love. But Rudy is young and stubborn and knows that if he just doesn't do something to change his life, his life will never change.