Tag Archives: fiction

O.J. Simpson and Donald Trump; or, How We Never Learned Our Lesson

When it comes to the convergence of popular culture and politics, there is no need to look further than the previous few years. America believed that an unqualified real estate mogul and reality television star was fit to be the President of the United States. That decision was based upon the sea of red hats with small, white block text, slogans, outbursts and high drama that played off of the emotions of his intended audience. The pageantry was able to blind people to what many have perceived as the sad reality; which would be that Donald Trump is a guy who inherited money and power, meaning that he is and always will be out-of-touch with the people that he pandered to. Yet, he appealed to their baser instincts, sold the con to them and here we are, in an age of uncertainty while his followers continue to spout off catchphrases and formulate theories about his opposition.

Somewhere along the line I made the fateful decision that I would watch American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson on Netflix. I’m not entirely certain why, but it was simply one of those knee jerk decisions one tends to make while mindlessly browsing on Netflix for some background noise. While I remember a lot about the OJ fiasco, including the trial, the pop culture fallout and OJ’s subsequent legal problems and jailing, but I never found much of a reason to revisit it, even this FX series that many have heaped praise on. Still, I turned it on, expecting it to be campy, ridiculous and something I’d turn off before the credits rolled on the first episode.

Instead I’ve found myself reliving the trial and the fanfare, all while aghast at the shocking parallels to our modern predicament that I was finding. The loose threads began to intertwine and form a tapestry that was impossible for me to not marvel at with each passing episode; The OJ Simpson trial and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign were hilariously similar.

Before you say it, yes, there are very, very obvious differences. The defense was able to weave a tale around a racist detective with a serious history of abuses, outbursts and violence against black people, this all happening after the LA riots over the Rodney King beating by the LAPD. To say that LA was a powderkeg in the 90’s would be an understatement, in fact, many were concerned about racial tensions reaching a head with the OJ case. But stick with me here.

The OJ Simpson trial was in 1995 and we haven’t learned a goddamned thing about the allure of celebrity or how hucksters can appeal to our raw, emotional sides to get us to react strongly to their narratives. OJ Simpson’s “Dream Team” was able to construct narratives of conspiracy, racial bias and everything else all without refuting or disproving the mountain of evidence that was collected to prove that OJ Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

The prosecutors had assembled what was a logical case against Simpsons; one that felt like a “slam dunk” only for it to fall apart due to their “side” having a few bad apples involved all while the opposition spinning yarns to set doubt into the minds of the jury and the public, enough so that what was most likely a murderer walked free.

Does any of this sound familiar yet? Because it should. All of this because of the public’s distrust and frustration with a system that they found to be unfair while someone was able to take advantage of these emotions by painting their opposition as corrupt, uncaring and incapable of being fair or objective. This is exactly what the Trump campaign did to win the election, that’s why it should feel familiar.

Let’s look at the similarities.

The blinding allure of celebrity.

While no one can be certain if good ole’ Bob Kardashian really was the reluctant good guy like he was portrayed in the FX series, or if he somehow actually had the prescience to lecture his children on the perils of celebrity without virtue or that his family name would live on in part thanks to a rapper named Ray J’s junk is up for debate, but the rather ham-fisted attempt to look at the concept of celebrity makes an interesting point here. OJ’s main argument for his innocence was that he was OJ and that people loved him. He was OJ, he couldn’t have done that, right? It didn’t matter how much evidence there was, he was rich, powerful, well-known and beloved.

Donald Trump’s name alone speaks to people. Trump has his real estate ventures (even the ones that he simply licenses his name to), his steaks, his goofy hair, his lines of clothing or products only found in SkyMall and yes, his time on “The Apprentice,” catchphrase and all. This is a man who had been in millions of American homes for years, hammering in his gauche sense of class into the working class’s collective minds. I mean, this was the Miss USA pageant guy, this guy knew how to make investments, am I right?

Most of us look to Trump and see a lot of bluster and not much substance, but we also weren’t his target audience, either. His target audience knows his name, knows his brand and have stayed in his hotels, they bought his dumb hats, they repeat his catchphrases and consider him to be a successful businessman, even if he wasn’t. He’s said that he’s helped people, so of course he has, right? It’s a face that you can trust, just like OJ’s. OJ was in Lethal Weapon, he wasn’t a bad guy. Trump was at Wrestlemania, he can’t be a bad sport.

The champion of a disenfranchised people.

The show went out of its way early on to point out that OJ was a hero in the black community, but perhaps not as much before the trial as he was after, even if that was brief. OJ made a name for himself and left everyone behind, not looking back because he had made it on his own merits, everyone else would need to drag themselves up like he did. The defense was able to make him a more sympathetic figure all around, endearing him to the black communities that didn’t hold him up as a hero as one of their champions.

Much in the same vein, Donald Trump has never been the hero to the working class. Literally a man who spent his life in a gilded tower looking down upon everyone else, stories of his stingy interactions with the common people plagued him throughout his campaign. Still, he persisted to push that he was for them, even if history told a different story. Trump went from a New York elite billionaire to the hero of the disenfranchised white person almost overnight thanks, in part, to his campaign targeting these people and playing off of their very real fears and insecurities when it comes to job opportunities, healthcare costs and boogeymen ruining their lives.

So while the media found it offensive that he’d retweet white supremacists and not disavow support from David Duke, the disenfranchised white voters began to see someone who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty with these people, even if he claimed not to agree with them 100%.

An emotional plea.

Perhaps the most effective parts of OJ’s defense were the emotional pleas and grandstands that his legal team, headed up by Johnnie Cochran and Robert Shapiro, were able to make. Playing off of his appeal to the disenfranchised and taking full advantage of his recognizable, heroic facade they were able to plant the seeds of doubt that a man as beloved as OJ Simpson could have committed a grisly murder. The signs were there, the evidence was there, but wouldn’t it make sense if a white cop who hated black folks wanted to see a prominent black man get taken down a notch?

The showmanship of the trial has been legendary, including the memorable moment where OJ Simpson was tasked with slipping on the famous bloody gloves only for him to put on a show, struggling with them and keeping his fingers spread out to act like the gloves didn’t fit him. “If it does not fit, you must acquit,” Cochran repeated in a refrain at the jury during his closing arguments. That moment has lived on far beyond the trial itself and will perhaps be studied for years to come as either ridiculous or brilliance (perhaps both) by legal scholars.

But they knew what they were doing. They appealed to a sympathetic audience that the LAPD was crooked and racist, that the system was rigged against black people and presented evidence that was at times compelling. Trump’s team, masterminded by white nationalist Steve Bannon and whatever the hell Reince Priebus is, made similar pleas to their audience. Telling people who perhaps didn’t fully believe in the concept of “white genocide” but hadn’t ruled it out yet that Mexicans coming over the border were rapists, job thieves and “bad hombres,” well, they were compelled to agree. Instead of being seen as a crazy, racist old man, they saw him rallying against the perception of “PC culture” that parts of the media had been hardening them against. You know the types, the ones who have been regaled with stories of participation trophies, Tinder and “safe spaces” running rampant (note: they aren’t) keeping them from having the America that THEY wanted. Those damned “social justice warriors” won’t let them call a spade a spade anymore, but Donald Trump, well, he was speaking his mind.

That apparently meant pushing nationalist agendas, painting entire swaths of Muslims and Mexicans as awful people who would look to undermine this great nation. If Johnnie’s refrain of “If it does not fit, you must acquit” won over the jury, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” spoke to people grieving over the loss of industry to nations paying pennies on the dollar to their workforce while corporate fatcats counted their profits while these people slipped further into opiate-dulled despair.

A white woman serving as “the man” while her sane counterpart falls to pieces.

It can also be noted that in both the OJ Simpson trial and the 2016 presidential election the opposition was a woman. While that may seem like a minor point, the realities that women face are still much different than that of a man. Marcia Clark’s personal life, wardrobe and hair choices became a matter of national attention, taking the LA prosecutor’s role and brushing it aside to judge her as a woman.

Much in the same vein, Hillary Clinton faced a lot of strange blowback because she was a woman. Perhaps Democratic Clinton die-hards pushed too hard against the disenfranchised Bernie supporters with concerns about her as misogynists (although, clearly, some were), but there was a lot of grief that went her way about everything from her pants suits to her “creepy grandma smile” became a matter of debate. Hillary represented the system that people didn’t trust in this election, much like Marcia Clark played the role of having to sidestep racist cop allegations (which were pretty much true in the case of Furhman) while the defense built an entire case around the LAPD being racist, with her as a stand-in for that organization.

As an aside, you could make the case of Christopher Darden playing the role of Bernie Sanders during this whole debacle; him being the loveable loser who sympathizes with the points of the other side, but still feels a moral obligation to see them thwarted.

A belief in the system turns a slam dunk into a failure.

A scene in the show during the jury selection procedure saw Marcia Clark talk about believing in justice, the system and the good of the people. Everyone within their department saw the mountains of evidence against OJ and saw the case as rather academic. Who wouldn’t? What they didn’t take into account was a team of lawyers and experts willing to do whatever it took to create narratives that would plant doubt into the minds of the jury to ensure that “reasonable doubt” was there when it came time for them to deliberate. The end result was jarring to most onlookers.

A Hillary Clinton victory seemed in-the-bag to most pundits and, well, the rest of the world. In fact, the lead-up to the election featured talk about how Trump wouldn’t concede to her victory and would fight the election results, not about what he’d do when he won. He whined and droned on about the system being rigged for weeks before that polls that all showed a certain Hillary Clinton victory were proven wrong. The thing is, polls don’t work if the people being polled are too ashamed to admit that they are voting for someone. So while SNL joked about just calling her “President Clinton” already and Trump’s chances looked slim, reality hit most of us pretty hard on election night when Trump broke away with the Electoral College and the numbers just kept coming in as in his favor.

They didn’t account for the emotional pleas, the theater and the catchphrases.

We’ve learned nothing.

To put it plainly; we, as a people, have learned absolutely nothing. Perhaps history will give Trump the same treatment that OJ has received, including him being sued for the wrongful deaths of Ron and Nicole later on and being sentenced to pay millions (which he never did), then OJ fleeing to Florida and laying low until he was arrested for a sports memorabilia assault and sentenced to 33 years in prison. So yeah, OJ probably did it and yeah, OJ wasn’t a good guy like he played on TV.

Will Donald Trump see the same just desserts, or will he somehow escape his four years without being impeached or found to be a criminal that many believe him to be? That remains to be seen.

What’s troubling, though, is that something from twenty years ago can feel this relevant and that people keep making the same mistakes when it comes to the idea of celebrity and trusting the man on television.

Back on the Writing

Perhaps the most difficult part of fatherhood for me has been the time suck that it has been. Sure, it’s probably that we had twins and didn’t just have a singleton. I get that. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to hold back my disdain for the other new parents I see on Twitter and Facebook who are doing normal things with their lives.

I haven’t even seen Rogue One yet. Think about that.

But such is life, I wouldn’t trade my two little guys for anything in the world, even if it is exponentially more difficult to deal with twins. That’s not what I’m here to talk about though. Oh no. Instead, I’m here to talk about something absolutely magnificent that happened somewhere along the way; my kids sleep.

They sleep damnit, even if it isn’t always restful and I have to go in what feels like dozens of times a night (a dozen maybe, in reality) to put a pacifier in and soothe them, they sleep. No longer can I expect the regular disturbances throughout the night where they wake up screaming and need to be picked up, changed, fed, comforted and rocked back to sleep each and every time. This was happening at least once a night for each, always at different times, usually more than once for at least one of the kids. Probably Lennox. Yeah, Lennox.

But the best part about them sleeping is that suddenly I have time to work again. If you know me you know that I’m a workaholic, or at least I became one in the past few years. There wasn’t a day where I wouldn’t wake up, grab something to eat, then head into my office and start working. Occasionally I’d take a few days off here and there, but I am a creature of habit to a fault and this was my daily routine.

Since the kids were born that routine went into the trash. After Uproxx gave their part timers a boot my work time was whittled down to nothing. After Lori went back to work it was essentially I’d steal a few minutes here and there to throw up a post on LiverKick. That’s it. Even something simple as leaving the house and seeing other human beings became painfully difficult. The only time I’d get out would be Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays when I’d take Ichi to the vet to get fluids for his kidney disease. Think about that.

Now, I love my kids beyond how I ever imagined I could love and have greatly enjoyed watching them grow in their seven months of life, but it was starting to take a toll on my mental health. For me, writing was a way to clear my mind, to let off some steam and to keep my sanity. As soon as they were born I lost that and I steadily lost more and more of it until there was nothing left.

This is why the marvel of them sleeping has me so excited. In what has just been a little over a week of them sleeping I’ve gone back and worked on a revision that I’ve been really wanting to get to on what I suppose is my next book. As it turns out, I was incredibly close to being done with it, just needing to bang out 10,000 words, which I was able to do in a week’s time. Now I’m back at the editing stage again and it feels great knowing that I’m making progress in my work once again.

Now all I have to do is keep it up.

A Playlist For the Apocalypse

So here we are, no longer at the precipice of something awful, but fully immersed in it. No, the world didn’t end and yes, the sun still rises everyday, but we’ve gone backwards.

That sneaking existential dread that many of us felt as this election approached was well-founded. The next few years are going to be interesting, but most importantly, those of us that care need to do more than just be upset. As an artist I’m going to do my damnedest to just create, to make sure that I do my part in contributing towards the positive.

All of this has me listening to music and wanting to share it, so here is my late night playlist of existential dread.

Prince – Avalanche – From One Nite Alone and is one of those times when Prince traded in talking about the physical or spiritual to talk race. The few times when he took the gloves off to discuss race it felt important.

Neurosis – Stones From the Sky – Perhaps one of those songs that helped to best define my 20’s. Neurosis always understood that feeling that something was wrong with the world and how the hell do we cope with it. “You’ve been shown, over and over, don’t you know?”

Neil Young – Rockin’ in the Free World – Do I even need to explain this one?

Kyuss -Whitewater – A lot about what appeals about music to me is the feel. The idea of creating something that through music and lyrics (even without delving into the meaning behind the words) can evoke a strong feeling. This is that.

David Bowie – Man Who Sold the World – Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of this album. It’s okay, but not his strongest by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, this song feels relevant to now.

Pink Floyd – In the Flesh – Perhaps the easiest connection to Trump is Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Not only does Donald want to build a literal wall to keep “Mexican rapists” out, but it’s easy to make parallels between this very personal look into being famous and building up emotional walls to keep everyone from hurting you.

In The Flesh is, well, the culmination of that insanity and shows a lot of the fears that many of us have of what Trump means to people manifesting itself in truly shameful ways. “Are there any queers in the theater tonight? Get them up against the wall.”

Night Terrain – American Dream – Well what the hell, I can be proud of my own stuff here and there, right? Not only am I dashingly handsome, but I can play guitar pretty well. I’m proud of this song and all of the work we put in to make it what it was and say what it said.

maudlin of the Well – Geography – Written through lucid dreams and astral projection, it’s hard not to love maudlin of the Well. Bath is a concept album about giving a kid a bath, but not really. “Your art is like your grin. It delivers me.”

David Bowie – It’s No Game (Part 1) – “To be insulted by these fascists, it’s so degrading.”

I chose part one because part one is still raw and angry, while part two is resigned and subdued.

Seasons Change; or, Neoliberalism, White Nationalism and the Brooding Hero Doldrums

Tracking change in one’s self can be a bit of a stumbling block at times. How can I know when I’ve underwent a change? Is there any sort of clear sign that I’ve changed directions, or is it much more subtle that one day I wake up to find myself unsure of many of the ideas and things that I held dear previously? This is something that I’ve been grappling with on both a personal and professional level of late.

Personally because of the birth of my two boys, professionally because personal growth is linked directly with growth and change as a writer. Not only have I focused on some of the holes in my writing, but story concepts and what I tend to focus and and treat as important has changed drastically. This year has been quite a year for a lot of this change considering that it’s an election year and perhaps one of the oddest, most contentious that I’ve seen in my life thus far. 

Breaking things down to simply “liberal” or “conservative” feels crass to me, because there’s so much more to life than either A or B, and there always has been. When it comes down to it, do I favor one side? Absolutely, but this election in particular feels a lot less about that binary choice and instead an ideological landmine. The one side of the coin represents the resurgence in neoliberalism, which may indeed have some merits and shared concepts with the core of liberalism, but a lot of deviance from the core tenants and things that I surely don’t support. The other represents a whole plethora of things which is almost difficult to unwrap at times.

Voting for one side means letting corporations continue to reign supreme in this the age of Late Capitalism, but it also means continuing important social services, the rights of women, people of color, LGBTQA+ people, religious folk outside of Christians or Jews and many, many other things. On the other hand, it also means that the war machine will have no end in sight and siding with what has proven itself unable to defend off the claims of being “crooked” because, at their core, they are simply working a system that is broken much like many before them, but they know that most of it is shitty.

I can’t even fathom diving into everything about Donald Trump. No, not all Trump supporters are overall-clad hillbillies looking to lynch anyone different from them while waving the Confederate flag and blasting off their guns. At the same time someone like Trump has an appeal to people who feel marginalized and underrepresented, sick of things getting worse (at least for their perception) and who yearn for the days of old, where America was a nation of producers and not simply consumers and servicepeople. It’s the people who watch South Park and see the P.C. Principal and say, “Yeah! Why can’t I say what I want?” and entirely do so without irony or empathy towards other human beings. It’s the people who may not be overtly racist, bigoted or xenophobic, but can’t understand how life is for people other than themselves. We all live in the same country, right? We all have the same opportunities and live under the same laws, right?

At least to me, those are very, very flawed lines of thought and ignore the hardships that people outside of the white, middle class have experienced. If America is to be a great place, it needs to be a place of understanding and opportunity, even if it means that us white guys might find ourselves making concessions and that life might be a bit more difficult. No, I don’t have the same boundless opportunities that my grandfather or even my father had and no, my college education didn’t give me a step up over anyone (even though it was drilled in my head that it would) and that’s okay. The reality is that there are people that are just as smart, driven and talented as myself out there who haven’t been given as fair of a shake as I have; women, people of color, people of different religions or sexual orientation and that’s a bummer.

So while you might be wondering how this diatribe on modern politics links up with my own personal and professional growth, I’m getting there. Like I said before, I’ve got two kids to worry about now and the world is a weird place, which has caused me to do a lot of self-reflection. Part of caring for kids is watching TV. As much as most of us who have kids would like to pretend otherwise, feedings are tedious and not that interesting affairs that involve sitting in one place, holding a bottle and running through mechanical motions. There’s also the fact that after they go to sleep the idea of just how daunting and exhausting the whole thing is creeps up on my subconscious. After re-discovering the soundtrack to the show Cowboy Bebop I decided to repurchase the show in a digital, HD format and watch it again. That show meant a lot to me at one point in my life (or perhaps it was just the soundtrack) and I was wondering if it held up.

It didn’t.

Now wait, before you decide that I’m the worst and that Cowboy Bebop was awesome, hear me out. The whole show is essentially based on the whole idea of the lonesome, stoic hero and his journey of self-discovery, badassdom and his feeeeeeelings. The thing is, in retrospect, it’s not all-that deep and was just a kind of fun show about kung fu, spaceships, guns and dysfunctional people in ridiculous situations. A character like Spike may have appealed to a younger me, a loner me who felt disenfranchised and lost in the world, but for adult me it feels so alien. I have a family now, I have concerns beyond being some sort of complicated man who broods and tries to appear deeper than I really am. The episode where Spike confronts Vicious in the church at one point felt meaningful to me, now it just seemed comical. 

But that song, right? At least I still have Yoko Kanno, I guess.

This kind of reflection can be a bummer, but also enlightening. I’ve been working on diversifying a lot of what I write and trying to not only appeal to broader audiences, but to tell more interesting stories. The book that I’m working on was fun, but sort of derivative. That was kind of the point, but really, it was another story about another loner of a man living in a cruel world with a bone to pick. If Max Rockatansky could take a backseat to Imperator Furiosa to break the doldrums of the silent, cool hero, I could do that in my work as well. That meant taking a lead character that in a lot of ways was built off of the archetype of the Clint Eastwood/Mad Max mold, and shifting focus away from him.

I began the story over 12 years ago and picked it up as a bit of a vacation from my other books, then got wrapped up in it. Along the way I decided to add other characters to share the stage with their point-of-view, but he was still very much the focal point. That all changed when one day I was sitting there, staring at a revision of one of his chapters and said “Why am I focused on him at all?” The truth was, I had no idea. My favorite character wasn’t some heroic badass, it was the female engineer who had a complicated relationship with a rather simple, brutal idiot of a man.

So I decided to scrap his chapters, but keep him as a driving force of the action. He still exists, his badass fights and one-liners are still there, but seen through a different character’s perspective. So while he might be pushing the plot along, the story has morphed from a tale of sordid revenge and nihilistic views on humanity to the strength of a few people to survive the worst of conditions in a cruel, unforgiving world. The thing is, I enjoy this so much more and it has been a paradigm shift of my work of late.

For years the whole male power fantasy has been something for me to deride, but now I’ve finally found a way to write action without getting lost in those concepts. It also shows in what I consume now when it comes to media and art. Books like Daniel Abraham’s “Dagger and Coin” series have become far more interesting to me than the stuff that I used to read. I mean, it’s a book series that yes, features a brooding merc of a man with a complicated past who does heroic stuff, but it’s not his story, instead it’s the story of Cithrin, an orphan girl who was adopted by a banker at a young age who found her own path in a war-torn world through cunning over violence. It’s also very much about a chubby nerd who has a power fantasy, gets that power, but only to those looking from the outside, with him a prisoner in his own sad life and the pawn of the men who stood behind him in the shadows.

That’s the kind of stuff that we need more of, not the brooding hero with the murdered wife and kid being lost in the world. We’ve heard that story before and while it might resonate with a younger male, there’s enough of that for them already.

In a way, it’s very similar to why the new Ghostbusters movie wasn’t some awful affront to good taste that ruined childhoods. In fact, it was a fun movie that poked fun at itself and took a goofy concept that people grew up loving and put its own stamp on it. Sure, it was a remake/reboot in a world with too many of them, but if that movie alone has destroyed your childhood you are far more fragile than the people you jab at for being “SJWs” or whatever.

As much as I love Blade Runner, it was a simplified, overstylized adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep with a ton of the meat of the story cut out in lieu of beautiful, futuristic wide shots and for Harrison Ford to brood. I, Robot became a Will Smith summer blockbuster with zero real understanding of Asimov’s laws of robotics or what made his stories compelling. What I’m saying is; get over it, you aren’t special.

I’m not saying that I am, either, I’m just a guy that chooses to write about it all.

The Princess in the Distant Castle

The aging plumber stood at a slouch, an artifact from the decades of mushroom-hopping, ingesting and turtle smashing in a bespoke suit. The subtle pinstripes of said suit were only visible to the discerning eye at extreme close range, watching as Timmy sat disinterested on an old, broken down couch. Their relationship had existed — much like many of his relationships — for dozens of years, dating back to their childhoods and extending deep into the throes of adulthood. Timmy, like many before, had changed. A lot had changed, including the Plumber himself.

“So,” Timmy said, breaking the silence.

“So?” The plumber sheepishly replied.

“You look good.”

“Oh,” he said, patting his white gloved hand on the breast of the suit. “Thank you.”

“Yeah.”

Timmy wasn’t a boy anymore, he was a man just barely into his thirties. His childlike, devil-may-care smile had been replaced by a frown and a five o’clock shadow that persisted throughout the days like a symbol of his disdain. The Plumber had changed since those early days as well, those times that they shared in the late 80’s. Everything was so fast and loose then, concerns weren’t of the narrative or existential kind, simply the shared thrill of the chase, the contentment in the princess being in another castle meaning more time together.

Things changed, though, for the both of them. The world lost its core innocence while they both grew, their once immeasurable bond slipped while the years of wear and tear battered at their hull like the unrelenting sea. The Plumber knew his role, but also knew that there was a world outside of Timmy and his like, even if it was difficult for him to fathom. This hurt Timmy, he could see it in his eyes, in the way that he glanced at the Plumber longingly before the look of betrayal sunk in. Sometimes that was what happens when two friends grew apart; their worlds once converged, but over time diverged and grew on their own, only for future meetings to become painful and strained.

“Hey,” Timmy said, “you think that we could break out a turtle, you know, for old time’s sake?”

“Oh wow,” the Plumber said. “I’d really like to, but I don’t do that anymore. My back, you know?”

“Right,” Timmy said, crestfallen. “I forgot about that.”

“I’m sorry, I know that we shared some good times, but a lot has changed since then. Look at yourself, Timmy, you’ve grown into a fine man. What about Patty?”

“She’s out of town and you know how she thinks that you are kind of, well… childish,” he said. “I just thought that we could get together again, old time’s sake?”

“I’ve just moved on is all. Patty is a smart girl, you know, she might be right. I’ve changed as well, Timmy.”

“I get it, I get it. Fine,” Timmy said.

“I’m getting older, the world is changing, this isn’t the mushroom-stomping 90’s anymore. We can’t delude ourselves. You are grown up now, Timmy. You’re starting a family. You two are trying, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, we are,” Timmy said. “And I know all of this, but I just… Remember the good times?”

“Of course I do, but I’m not that person anymore, neither are you.”

A tense silence fell between the two men, the Plumber burying his hands into his pockets and searching for something to say to lessen the blow of the inevitable. This was a terrible idea and he knew it going in, but still felt a sense of responsibility towards this kid, just like the rest of the kids, and it ate him alive knowing that he couldn’t be that avatar for their childhood anymore. The gravity of his influence hadn’t eluded him over the years, but instead weighed heavily around his neck like an albatross in the calm seas. Everyone wanted him to be something different; to freeze himself in time at whatever period they wished and to never change, but change was inevitable, and in a lot of cases, the Plumber was happy with his own evolution.

“Oh hey,” Timmy said. “How about this?”

He was trying, which the Plumber appreciated to some degree, but he did wish that he’d just let the Plumber move on, without these painful reprieves to delve into past history. With a sigh he lifted his gaze from his shoes only to see a turtle next to Timmy’s couch, crawling along the tile floor with its red shell glistening under the soft white overhead light. Red shell, fire, it all flooded back to him like a fever dream. It looked up at him with its cartoonish, bugged eyes that had no mal intent behind them. He couldn’t bear the thought of hurting such a creature again, especially after all of those years.

“Oh, wow,” the Plumber reacted. “Hi there, little fella.”

“Don’t you just wanna hop on his shell, for old time’s sake?”

A swell of emotions overtook him while staring down at the hapless turtle, conjured from the nether for nothing but simple amusement. What was that turtle but his sad reflection? It drove him crazy. Tears began to streak down his weathered cheeks, catching at his carefully manicured mustache while he turned his back to the boy that he once knew and the man that he couldn’t stomach and walked towards the door.

“Hey, wait,” Timmy said. “Where are you going?”

The Plumber paused briefly, considering the range of emotions tumbling through his consciousness and the many things that he wanted — no needed — to say, before realizing that none of it mattered anymore. He stepped through the door one last time, the stark realization that there would need to be another castle and another princess for both men.

Book Review: Legend of the Galactic Heroes Volume 1

Man.

I grew up as the occasional anime viewer. I was a dork, but not a superdork, basically. About two years ago now a friend of mine recommended this series to me. Not only did he recommend it, but he insisted on me watching it. So I did. I’m not sure that even he knew the profound impact that it would have on me.

Fast forward to now and the novels that the series was based off of are finally being translated into English and released to the public. When I found that out I purchased this and devoured it as quickly as I could. I’ve been immersed in contemporary science fiction for the past two years now and I’ve mostly found myself in the land of malaise more than being excited about what’s out there. Reading this was just a reminder of what great science fiction can really do to a reader.

While I’m already intimately aware of the story, characters and lore of LoGH, reading the novel was a treat. The narrative style and point of views featured throughout the novel added depth and interest to one of the deepest, most interesting series that I can think of. Since this was a translation it’s difficult to really hyper-analyze the prose itself, although it was punchy and kept the tone that fans will recognize from the show. That means that the narrator keeps a rather dry, historical perspective on events, but when it shifts to the point of view of the characters everything felt weighty and substantive.

The way that this series handles a rather objective view or humanity, society, governmental systems and the whole concept of “good” or “bad” is really without peer. Yes, it’s a series about war, but it shows both sides and endears the reader/viewer to characters on both sides of the story, instead of looking to say who is bad and good. The whole thing works because of just how strong these characters are, too.

This isn’t an overly-complicated piece of literature when it comes to language or science, which tends to be what trends heavily for science fiction these days, but the story and the characters are just so marvelously done that it’s impossible not to recommend this book. If somehow you haven’t seen the series (which doesn’t seem like a stretch), I implore you to check out this book.

Originally posted on Goodreads.

Falling Home

I’ll admit it, I’ve had sort of a tough time coming up with something to post on here of late. There is a lot of stuff going on in my life, but some of it I’m just not comfortable talking about, some of it pertains to my writing career and some of it is just regular life stuff. Needless to say, just like always, I’ve been working a lot. That’s kind of what I do. Hell, this is technically working and it’s 2:06am on a Sunday morning.

Science fiction has been on my mind a lot and I’ve been questioning what my path will be moving forward. I’m a few drafts into the follow-up to Terminus Cycle and I’m not entirely sure that I feel like it’s done. In fact, my latest thinking is that I need to do a rewrite on it. That is disappointing considering that it’s 140,000 words and I’ve put a lot of work into it, but releasing it as it is really won’t be doing myself any justice here. Not that it’s bad, but it’s just missing a key something from it that is hard to put your finger on. I’m pretty sure that I’ve figured out what it’s missing and how to fix it, but that project is shelved for the time being.

If you were actually anxiously-awaiting the follow-up I’m genuinely sorry that I’m not living up to my original road map for this whole series. Originally I had envisioned book two being out by the late summer and that would have been entirely possible, but realistically, it wouldn’t have been very good. I work quickly enough, but working quickly doesn’t always equate to pumping out the best work, that’s why revisions and rewrites exist.

Ironically, the book that I started working on during my off-time at the end of last year is nearing completion. I’m going to give it another revision pass before I start looking into beta readers and feedback on it, then go from there. This was me revisiting an older story that I worked on over ten years ago, but fleshing it out, honing the style a bit and making it a bit less, well, ridiculous. I guess that you could still call it science fiction, but it’s post-apocalyptic fiction for sure.

For those of you that know me you know that I fucking hate zombies with a passion now, although I used to really be into them over ten years ago. There may be some in this, but I promise you that this isn’t another stupid zombie book. This book was fun to write, it’s action-packed and has a pretty interesting cast of characters. I’m not sure if I’ll shop this around to traditional publishers and agents or if I’ll just toss this one up on my own yet. As much as I feel like this could be *the one* that sells really well as an indie title, the allure of being traditionally published is still a big one for me right now.

I guess I finally did something with my life-long obsession with Mad Max.

But, really, who knows, right?

I’m still in sort of a daze as my grandfather passed away on Thursday from a rather short and brutal battle with mesothelioma. This has really been a dick-punch of a year thus far, hasn’t it?

A Fond Farewell; or, All Hail the King of Strong Style

Last night was a strange night for myself, both as a grown-ass-man and a fan of such an oddity as Japanese pro wrestling (which I call pro wres, because that’s what they call it, not “puro” or “pure-o-ree-sue”). Last night I got to watch what will most likely be Shinsuke Nakamura’s final match within a New Japan Pro Wrestling ring, alongside some of the names that he came up with, or that he competed against for years. I was tired while watching the opening matches, found myself doing the dishes to stay awake during the intermission, but still fixated on the video reel that they threw together of his farewell press conference and career retrospective.

My god.

In a way, it’s kinda crazy. I got to watch Shinsuke Nakamura throughout his entire career with New Japan Pro Wrestling, with all of the bumps along the way. That means from the rushed young lion phase of his career right into the “Supernova” phase that saw him, a young wrestling prodigy, tasked with carrying not only the struggling company on his shoulders, but the struggling world of pro wres as well. At the time Shinsuke was an awkward young guy, there was supposed to be a chip on his shoulder, but instead it seemed like he was just some young kid thrust into a position that he clearly wasn’t ready for and everything that came with it.

They wanted him to fit a mold, to become the living embodiment of stars from years past like Nobuhiko Takada and the legendary Shin’ya Hashimoto. They didn’t want him to be himself, and perhaps, he wasn’t quite sure who he was at that time, either. I got to watch him grow from that awkward kid with an entire culture and history of pro wres on his back to a confident, self-fulfilled performer who was so incredibly sure of himself that it was hard to believe that he was ever anything else but the King of Strong Style.

I’ve been following his career since the beginning, watching while he journeyed from that awkwardness to not only accepting it, but being proud of it and turning it into a vehicle to express himself to the world and be proud of who he was. All of that happened while I, myself, grew up and had to deal with similar issues. We all grapple with these growing pains and becoming the person that we really should be, which sometimes is a stark contrast from what we envisioned for ourselves.

A tearful goodbye.
A tearful goodbye.

For Shinsuke Nakamura he wanted to be what New Japan and the fans wanted him to be. He wanted to be that bad ass, that saviour of Antonio Inoki’s vaunted Strong Style pro wrestling, but it didn’t fit. Nakamura wasn’t that bad ass by nature, he was a kooky, eccentric guy that absolutely could be an asskicker if he wanted to be, but never seemed comfortable in that role. So he spent years in the black, Lion-mark trunks trying to embody the perfect Inoki warrior without anything ever fitting.

Similarly, for years I tried to fit into a mold that I felt I should at least attempt to squeeze into. I wanted my father to be proud of me, I wanted to prove that I could do these things that no one thought I could ever do. I, that eccentric kid growing up whose self image was that of a quiet, conscientious kid who could follow rules and make everyone else happy, wasn’t really that kid. The shock on my face in fourth grade when my teacher singled me out as one of the class’s biggest troublemakers and loudmouths was palpable. That was a joke, wasn’t it? When my desk was moved to the center of the room alongside other kids that I had always turned my nose up at and believed that I was somehow better than was a strange wake-up call.

Yet that quiet, nice kid was still what I strived for. Climbing a corporate ladder, taking advantage of these “born leadership abilities” that I had and “making something of myself” felt important. In fact, while I was doing that my father was so incredibly proud of me, to the point where it broke my heart at times. After years of being disappointing to both myself and to my family (or at least perceiving that disappointment), I was finally doing the right thing. Of course, it wasn’t actually the right thing for me. Creatively I had died a slow death, watching as all of those ideas that once filled my mind became less and less tangible or exciting, instead setting it aside to take life “seriously.”

When people think of intellectual pursuits or viable forms of entertainment I’m sure that professional wrestling is at the very end of the list, if not barred from that list entirely, yet it’s something that I’ve always been drawn to. As a bigger kid growing up who wasn’t exactly great at traditional sports I saw pro wrestling as such a natural fit for myself. I could do that, I thought. People liked me, and if they didn’t like me, they at least listened to me when I spoke, even if I never saw myself as deserving of that attention. Literature was always my main hook, but pro wrestling never quite went away, instead I searched for something that I could assign more meaning and value to, which led me to watching stuff beyond the traditional, southern-style wrestling in the US.

When I first saw Shinsuke’s new attitude I wasn’t sure that it worked. That awkward, vanilla, boring guy was gyrating, dressing in tight leather pants and acting like a mix of an 80’s rockstar and a traditional martial arts bad ass a la Hashimoto. That guy and the new guy in the ring were such disparate characters that connecting the dots seemed nearly impossible. A mohawk that he didn’t even bother to spike? The “YeaOh!” call after his matches and the weird peace sign-finger gyrations. What?

I was absolutely skeptical, yet I had to keep watching. Something about him was magnetic. Not only had he finally gotten more comfortable within his own skin, but he was one hell of a performer. In fact, he was probably one of the best that I had ever seen in the ring, which was saying a lot. But all of this happened while I myself was grappling with who and what I really was and where I was heading. I was watching someone that I had given up on entirely remake himself and find his true, inner self in a strange embodiment of self-actualization, and he was absolutely stellar.

Right now I’m in a different place than where I was when I first saw Nakamura back in 2002. A lot has changed. Some of the bad, some for the good, some for the great. I have a lot of incredible things to look forward to and for that I’m eternally thankful. Last night I thought that I wasn’t going to make it, but talking to my wife after she woke up kept me up long enough to tune in to watch the match. A lot of that was strange, looking back. I was laying in bed, watching a live New Japan event on my phone while my wife sat next to me reading something that I had wrote on her Kindle. The difference between that kid locked up in his bedroom with his latest giant box of VHS tapes from Lynch sitting on that ugly, green shag carpet upstairs in my parents’ old house and that 33 year old man in bed was that of night and day.

A Young Shinsuke. Still kind of a giant nerd.
A Young Shinsuke. Still kind of a giant nerd.

This entire week I had been reflecting on my work, past and present, and was coming to certain conclusions about where I needed to head next. Some of that reflection was that my work has improved so much that I almost don’t recognize my past work as my own anymore. The novel that I’m currently in the midst of revising was worked on as a sort of fun, relaxing break from what I considered my “serious” projects, but now I’m finding that the writing, the style, the narrative and the characters are simply much more striking and interesting than anything else that I’ve ever done. That meant coming to the tough decision to shelve the science fiction book that I was looking to release next to give it more time to sit before I return to it and give it a full rewrite to get it to exactly where I want it to be.

Sometimes self-realization requires accepting of one’s self and to strive for exactly what you want yourself to be, as opposed to trying to fit into a mold that seemed like an okay fit at the time, but the further you got the more of a pain in the ass and restrictive it grew to be. I’ve had a lot of influences in my life and I’m not about to pretend that Shinsuke Nakamura was the main one, but it would be crass to ignore the impact that his work and journey has had on me.

AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura on 1/4/2016. Now both with WWE.
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura on 1/4/2016. Now both with WWE.

So last night I got to witness the send off for one of the greatest in-ring performers of this generation, of a guy that I got to watch grow while I, too, grew alongside him. The tearful, emotional send off from some of the most hardcore fans in Japan, his friends and rivals had a profound impact on me. That was a man who impacted lives across the world, and this wasn’t his funeral, nor was it his retirement, simply a send off while he prepared for a new chapter in his life in America under the WWE banner.

Will I enjoy his work in WWE the same as I did in New Japan? Who really knows. WWE is essentially the popcorn movie to pro wres’s action-drama style, the summer comic book movie featuring the big stars, the big special effects, sometimes a profound story but mostly a bunch of bullshit with talented people involved uniformly, while pro wres can be a lot of things, overlapping a lot of different genres. But I’ll still be watching while I, myself, evolve and grow into the man that I’m comfortable and happy being, in hopes of one day being able to be as happy with myself and my work as the King of Strong Style was with himself.

#YeaOh.

(If you’ve never seen him… just watch)

Of Art, Viability, Respect and Genre; or, Self Reflection and Forgiving George Lucas

Some of the topics that I grapple with from time-to-time have to do with commercial viability and creator intent. As a writer, I’ve always felt that my strengths were more along the lines of the absurd, strange and thought-provoking nature. The first novel project that I worked on was predicated on wanting to make big, bold statements and to do so through a carefully-tuned, broken narrative structure. It may have been a bit of a large undertaking considering my lack of experience in writing novels and the commitment to the art of long form.

When I reflect on that story, sometimes I cringe and other times I get nostalgic and want to start it all over again and make it work. Basically, I always looked at writers who were presenting stories that were a bit different and looked up to them, wanting to be able to add to that lexicon of work some day. I saw writers like Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Thomas Pynchon, Haruki Murakami and even David Foster Wallace and that was what I wanted to do. Granted, my technical knowledge and interests might not line up with some of them, but I always wanted to create something that was frustrating for all of the right reasons and was left open to interpretation. A lot of my short fiction that I produced throughout college fell along those lines, including tales of god-like airline passengers that crash a jet to make a point, a young army veteran with a sheet of metal lodged in his head that kept him teetering the line between lunacy and lucidity and scenes of extreme, casual violence.

When I ventured off on my new journey into writing in late 2010 I found myself in a bit of an impasse. That crazy novel that I had began back in 2006 hadn’t gotten very far and looking back at it, well, it was a mess. I had some complicated ideas for it written out somewhere, but the actual novel itself had a lot of problems. Having never written anything longer than 20-or so pages before I found myself having a difficult time keeping tenses correct, which was only compounded by taking weeks and months off in between writing sessions and opting to write in a stream of consciousness fashion. This led to some utterly profound and interesting segments as well as some complete garbage that simply couldn’t be saved.

So the idea was to simply start over. The thing is, I was severely “out of shape” mentally. While I’ve tried to never masquerade as anything beyond what I am, I always considered myself a pretty smart guy, but not reading or writing on a consistent basis for a few years while working a menial, soul-sucking job left me without much left in the tank. Picking up old favorites to read was difficult, trying and frustrating, my mind quickly wandering elsewhere, which was a problem. I felt like I had simply let any intelligence and wit that I once had fade and degrade beyond repair. If you’ve known me for a long time, you’ll know how absolutely soul-crushing and difficult this was for me. But I persevered, I kept trying and eventually that hazy cloud began to roll back a little bit at a time.

I became deeply entrenched in MMA and kickboxing, simply because I had been involved in both for so long and it was the world that I knew, as well as the world that knew me. A large part of my identity after college was tied in with those sports and my work writing about both (kickboxing, mainly), so I rolled with it. One day I sat down and decided to work on a short story, with the concept being imagining what it would feel like for a down-and-out fighter who was once incredibly famous and successful to be to get out of bed with all of his physical and emotional aches and pains. I wrote for many hours straight and eventually found myself sitting on 14,000 words and a lot more left to say. I had unwittingly found myself a new novel project, which would go on to be “The Godslayer.”

Once again, in retrospect, I see problems in that book from on the sentence-level to the conceptual-level. Agents and publishers didn’t seem overly interested in it, but were encouraging for me to keep going and come back to them with something marketable. Men don’t buy books, never mind sports fans, they said. I shrugged, figured that with my contacts within the industry I could release it, get some support and go from there. I also wanted to do so without spending money, which was a very big mistake. I think that “The Godslayer” is a good story and I’m glad that I told it, but I think that my exuberance for releasing something and hoping for some commercial success may have clouded my better judgement in giving it the fine-tuning that it deserved.

I’m talking revisions, editing, the works. Maybe some day I’ll revisit it, or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll someday try to wipe it from existence, who knows. That cloud that I spoke of before had rolled back some, but I found myself back in a familiar place again; working hard, long hours and finding myself mentally and physically unable to do much else beyond work and be grumpy. My identity being tied to MMA and kickboxing led to me getting more and more work in the field, going deeper and deeper into the well.

My dream of being a successful novelist was still there, but I had placed it on hold in hopes of making enough money so that… I’m not really sure? There wasn’t really an end in sight, just this thin hope that if I saw enough success in what I was doing I could some day stop and leverage it into publishing books. No, it doesn’t really make much sense, but that was where my mind was at.

When I was thinking about my “career” as a novelist, I found myself frustrated and dejected. “The Godslayer” did pretty well considering that the marketing that I had was calling in favors with friends to publish articles about it, making podcast appearances and writing guest articles for websites to promote it. Also, yeah, like I said before, kind of a mess of a book that I should have been more careful with before releasing. I had always loved science fiction, dating back to my love for Star Wars and the expanded universe novels being what got me into reading when I was younger, pushing me off into other science fiction and later other books outside of sci-fi, so why not write sci-fi? Science fiction has that commercial appeal with readers and, in my mind, there was a lot of garbage out there already. I could probably do something pretty cool, pump out a series pretty quickly and follow the blueprint that a lot of self-published novelists had set over the past few years. I’m a smart dude, I could do this no sweat.

In summer of 2014 I decided to step away from as much of my work in MMA that I could and focus solely on this new plan of whipping up a science fiction series quickly, getting it out and getting some buzz going. My point of reference for science fiction literature ended somewhere in the late 90’s and I had grown to be of the mind that not much had happened that was worth reading or being concerned with after then. I had kept up with television and film, for sure, with some all-time favorites being Star Trek DS9, Babylon 5 and Firefly on the TV side and, well, not many new sci-fi movies were classics, exactly.

Anyway, I made another mistake here, that mistake was not respecting the genre properly and understanding it. I knew that there was stuff out there that did well, I have a general understanding of what they were, how they were written and how well-received they were, but I hadn’t really sat down and acclimated myself to a lot of the work out there. I knew the classics and knew that there was a market for science fiction so I went for it, hoping to churn out a ton of books in quick succession.

This is where “Terminus Cycle” came in. I’ve talked about disappointments with it before and I stand by them. Reflecting on it, I made some mistakes, and perhaps the biggest mistake of all was not having the respect for modern science fiction and understanding the market. My determination to be successful led me to push for something that I felt would be commercially viable as quickly as I could to build up a library of work. My intent for it was all over the place, with my stress levels on the rise because I wanted to release something that was really, truly great, something that would stand the test of time, but I wanted to do it quickly. That sort of devil-may-care attitude blended together with the pressure that I put on myself to not only write something substantial, but that would help to push my career forward led to some errors in judgement.

My intent was there, but man did it not translate into exactly what I had pictured for it. I honestly shouldn’t be talking about my own perceived failings that much because there were a lot of people that enjoyed the book and have been asking about the follow-up. In fact, those outweigh any of the more critical opinions that I’ve seen, but even then, I have a hard time with it, as just about any artist does with their work. Part of why I’m writing all of this out, though, is because I was watching the recent George Lucas interview from Charlie Rose. George Lucas has been put through the grinder over the past fifteen or so years, which the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has only stirred up yet again.

Personally I see a lot of what Lucas has done and find stuff wrong with it. There is a lot to poke holes into when it comes to his work, from dialogue to human interaction to pacing and his incessant meddling. But still, George Lucas was the guy who created Star Wars, doing so being a tremendous risk at the time. Yet he succeeded. What followed was a career of commercial films that ranged from huge successes to near misses, all of this from a guy that never wanted to create commercial, Hollywood-style films.

When faced with what he saw as another ten years of his life to create a third Star Wars trilogy and a few commercial busts on films that he helped produce, Lucas decided to hand the keys to LucasFilms over to Disney for a hefty chunk of change and to move on. His ideas for the next few Star Wars films were rejected outright by Disney and he decided that it was time to simply walk away from something that had both consumed and defined his life as an artist and a human being.

Undoubtedly George Lucas fucked up a few times in his career, with those fuck ups only amplified by the fact that Star Wars has been such a beloved franchise that many fans grew up with. Lucas claims that he’s making films again, but that they are more like his early works, the experimental kind that most likely won’t see the light of day but make him happy. Star Wars was an obsession for him, they were his creation, but he’s been forced to move on.

Star Wars, was, if anything, a part of his quest to prove that he was more than just the guy who got lucky with American Graffiti, that he could create a new sort of fairy tale that at the time was incredibly innovative with its use of technology and filming techniques. He, of course, looks back at all of his past work and hates most of it, which really resonated with me today while watching this, because I understood it.

I’ve been wanting to work my way back to what got me passionate about writing in the first place, but I’ve had a number of detours and each time I walk away with more knowledge and understanding, but I also walk away disappointed and frustrated with myself. Along the way, though, I’ve found a new found respect for science fiction literature by spending the past year consuming as much of it as I could, finding myself enamored with the likes of James SA Corey, Ann Leckie, John Scalzi and many more. I read some really great sci-fi and some really mediocre sci-fi. I’ve also read some sci-fi that I don’t really enjoy, but understand the appeal of.

What taking a crash course on modern science fiction has really done for me is to give me that newfound respect for the genre, but also to harden my resolve when it comes to writing science fiction. There is a lot of great stuff out there and I feel like I have a very good grasp on what I want to contribute to it now. I have the “Terminus Cycle” follow-up in a good place right now and I even have more ideas that are bubbling over in my mind, just ready to come out when I’ve got the time and will to work on them.

George Lucas definitely has his shortcomings, as do we all, but he helped to shape a genre for generations to follow while also pushing the world of filmmaking forward into a new direction. That wasn’t always his intention or what he saw for himself, but it became his legacy because sometimes that is simply what happens in life. For myself, I’m happy that I’m at a place where I’m seeing my own shortcomings while also seeing growth and understanding what I want to do as I move forward as a writer.

As I write this it is 2016 and it’s time for forgive George Lucas and respect what he did and how he changed all of our lives, just like we all need to give ourselves a break sometimes and not be too hard on ourselves. As long as we are all learning and trying to move ourselves forward there is no sense in beating ourselves up over silly mistakes or perceived past failures.

So I’m going to post this without proofreading it because, hey, it’s a blog post and I’m tired. So sue me.

A New Star Trek on a Weird Streaming Service; or, Why Can’t Star Trek Fans Have Nice Things

To say that I’m feeling conflicted about the news that there will be a new Star Trek is to put it lightly. I’ve had my struggles with getting through Voyager, and Enterprise was just almost entirely unwatchable. Yet.

Yet.

Star Trek will always hold a place in my heart, though. I’ll always be willing to give something Star Trek a shot just because of the rich history. There were times when The Next Generation dragged on a bit and yeah, Deep Space 9 was incredible but some of the time traveling stuff became a bit grating after a while, as was the late focus on Chief O’Brien being a schmuck. Give the guy a break, already.

The shiny, new JJ Abrams movies are rather divisive when it comes to Star Trek fandom, with hardcore fans claiming that they are an atrocity while others are okay with the more action-oriented take on classic Star Trek storylines. I enjoyed them for what they were and it was fun explaining the story parallels between the awesome Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness to my wife. Of course, she then couldn’t sit through Wrath of Khan, which may be a huge negative for the modern films. Anyway, they are mostly fine.

Now there is news that there will be a new Star Trek television series debuting in 2017 on CBS All Access. The first episode will air on CBS proper, but then every following episode will stream on CBS’s web streaming service which, dear god, this is an awful idea. Television is really starting to fragment and consumers need to have a variety of subscriptions to keep up with shows now. Like I love the show Community but Yahoo! Screen was a terrible platform for the last season and I still haven’t even finished it yet. Mostly because of how obnoxious of a platform Yahoo! Screen was, and it didn’t even cost money.

The question is this; is Star Trek once again positioned for failure?

I understand on a base level that this is a ploy to get people interested in CBS All Access, but at the same time, putting Star Trek behind a $5.99 a month paywall seems ridiculous. Is Star Trek a strong enough brand name to push people to sign up for a streaming network that feels, at best, unnecessary? Netflix, Hulu Plus and every On Demand give consumers access to just about everything, why start another worthless subscription site and then bury a new show behind it?

What’s worse is that Star Trek fans have been burned so many times now. Voyager wasn’t great, but it had its following, for sure. Enterprise was just not good, with only the hardest of the hardcores sticking with it for the entire run. The show just wasn’t good, though. Michael Dorn (Worf) has been attempting to get his own Star Trek show picked up for ages and this apparently won’t be that, so really, what is this going to offer Star Trek fans? The films have already taken on a drastically different tone than the rest of the franchise, the last few series weren’t great, why can’t Star Trek fans have nice things?