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My Metal Heart: The 1980’s part 1

In 1980, I turned 9. What this means is that I entered my 2nd decade, the teen years, as the 1980’s got into full swing. My dad and uncles all listened to Rock Music, more or less. So, I grew up listening to Los Angeles Rock radio. KMET, KLOS, and, later, KNAC. All three of these were crucial, to one degree or another, to the 80’s metal scene, which did, after all, come of age in Los Angeles.

I remember well my mother telling me that she knew my love of heavy metal was a phase that I would grow out of. Nearly 40 now, I don’t think she was right about that. I still buy metal albums and still bang my head on occasion. Maybe not as vigorously, but still. Metal was the soundtrack for my adolescence and, I think, a completely underrated musical form. So many people think of it as throwaway music, and some of it may be. But, there’s a lot of great music in metal. I thought I would look back over the decade and pick out some of the better albums of the time, along with some commentary about their place in my own life.

My dad liked The Doors and Bruce Springsteen. My uncle James gave me The Eagle’s first greatest hits album for Christmas about this time. Up until now, the only albums I owned were two Abba albums (the first two, I think) and The Bee Gees (with Peter Frampton!) Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack to the musical film. If you haven’t seen this gem, you really should. Not because it’s good, but because you will be blown away that it even exists. The Eagles’ greatest hits goes into full repeat mode on my record player. CD’s had not gone mainstream just yet. Then, not long after that, I discovered Rush.

I “borrowed” my uncle Chris’ copy of “Exit Stage Left“. I never gave it back. I wore that cassette tape OUT. I listened to it so many times that eventually I had to buy another copy. I didn’t give it to my uncle, either. I kept that copy too.

Exit … Stage Left

As I look at the metal albums of 1980, it’s funny because they seem like “old” albums to me. All of them came out before I was really paying attention to metal. Iron Maiden and Ozzy still scared me at that time. I was in 5th grade at the time. I own several of 1980’s best albums today, of course.

British Steel” is not my favorite Judas Priest album. But, it’s got some awfully good songs. In my opinion, they don’t hit their stride for a couple more albums, but this album does have “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight” and, I also like “Metal Gods” today. But, like I said, this album feels like it came out way before it really did. It seems ancient to me. It doesn’t feel all that scary at all. And, metal should be scary to some degree. This album still feels like “Rock” music. Not all that metal, really. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Judas Priest, but this album shows that they always wrote goofy lyrics. “Grinder”? Grinding meat? You gotta be kidding me. That’s freaking awful. And, for that matter, “United” would totally not sound out of place at a Tea Party rally. Seriously. Close your eyes, listen, and tell me I’m wrong.

Then, there’s Permanent Waves. I have to say that this is my favorite Rush album now. It’s really a great album, which is saying a lot for me because I love every Rush album (and that’s not an exaggeration, I really do). But, it’s got “The Spirit of Radio,” which is one of the most “feel-good” songs to me. That also happens to be the opening song to “Exit Stage Left” so I cut my teeth on it. I knew the live version so much better than the studio version, for sure. Permanent Waves also has my favorite Rush song on it, “Natural Science.” Good lord, this song is a monster of metal. A lot of people will debate if Rush is really a metal group. Well, I tend to say that if they aren’t metal then they had a huge influence on it. You can’t listen to “Natural Science”, though, and not feel the metal. “Freewill” is probably the next best known song from Rush after “Tom Sawyer,” I think. It’s a great song and was the first time that Neil Peart addressed atheism in lyrics. Interestingly, during the Satanic Scare of the 1980’s, I recall a rumor going around that Rush was a Satanic band and that the band name was an acronym for Rule Under Satan’s Hand. Hilarious given that Peart is an outspoken atheist, Geddy Lee of the same thought but quieter about it and Alex Lifeson may have some faith but I don’t recall him talking about it. In any case, it just goes to prove that none of the critics of metal really listened to the music or they would have realized that Rush didn’t believe in the devil anymore than they believed in God.

Oh, “Blizzard of Ozz!” I think today, it’s hard for people to remember just how dangerous Ozzy was back in the day. “Crazy Train” gets played in ballparks for God’s sake! And, Ozzy is an addled buffoon on a reality show. I have never watched, those, by the way. I love Ozzy too much to jump on the exploitation wagon. The man is the Godfather of Metal, if you ask me. Black Sabbath is the first true metal band and Ozzy’s voice was instrumental in its success. I got to see Ozzy in concert on the No Rest for the Wicked tour and he was still sharp. He loved performing and he loved his fans. He kept running back and forth from the wings of the stage with buckets of water to throw at the crowd and kept telling us he loved us. And, I believed it. Ozzy was the man. And, Randy Rhoades was the engine that made his voice fly. And, just as I write that sentence, I have to admit that the awful pun was totally unintended. Randy was killed in a plane crash after the second album, “Diary of a Madman“. He was a beautiful guitarist. If he had lived he would have gone on to be one of the most innovative guitarists of his time. If you listen to Ozzy’s Tribute live album, you can hear that Randy was just a wizard on the fretboard. It was unnatural. Just like Ozzy’s voice. Ozzy didn’t sing the best, but his voice had such a weird tone to it that it was easy to believe he trafficked with the devil. Anyway, this album is one of the best metal albums and is a must-own for any metal fan. Nearly every song is a classic. Forget “Back in Black” (probably my least favorite metal album EVER), this is the quintessential 1980 metal album. As for Ozzy being Satanic, well, he was a drug addict, alcoholic madman but not evil at all. He was just nuts. Again, proving that the people attacking him didn’t even really listen to the music, “Suicide Solution” is as anti-alcohol as any song, but the religious freaks decided it was tempting people to kill themselves. Idiots. The song is obviously saying, “Don’t kill yourself! Your alcohol abuse is killing you. Stop it!”

But, to be clear, I didn’t own any of these albums in 1980. We have to move ahead a couple years before I started buying metal album when they were released. They didn’t really become a part of my metal heart until later, but they did, eventually, get there.

In 1981, I turned 10. Amazingly, it’s also the year that some of my favorite metal bands were born. Queensrÿche, Metallica, Mötley Crüe, and Pantera. It was also when the umlaut really came into it’s own. Of course, Blue Öyster Cult did it first, but, when I think of the metal umlaut, I think of Mötley Crüe. (Nerd note: the iPad has an unadvertised feature that allows you to hold your finger on a key of the virtual keyboard, assuming you have the foreign keyboards installed, and up will pop a little menu offering accented letters. This includes umlauts. I wonder if any of the Apple designers were metal heads because this makes using the umlaut far easier than on a regular keyboard. Try to do it yourself. Where is the umlaut on a regular keyboard?) Again, I didn’t listen to any of these bands in that year. I suppose no one did that year. Other than Mötley Crüe’s “Too Fast For Love,” none of them had albums released that year and even, at that, Too Fast For Love didn’t come out until November. (I don’t recall this. I looked it up.) I’m not positive, but I think that the album took some time to catch on, too. Mötley Crüe was one of the first of the Sunset Strip bands to achieve success. Too Fast For Love is a kick in the head, a raw blast of glam metal. It was released on Mötley Crüe’s own label and it sounds like it too. “Live Wire” and “Piece of Your Action” are classic Sunset Strip style. When Mick Mars busts out that buzz saw riff that starts off “Live Wire” and Tommy Lee bangs on that cowbell, you know you’re having fun now. Turn up the stereo, roll down the windows and live it up.

Moving Pictures” by Rush is widely regarded as one of their best, if not the best. And, it deserves it. “Tom Sawyer,” their biggest hit kicks off the album. You might have heard “YYZ” on Guitar Hero. “Red Barchetta” was the second cut on “Exit Stage Left” and therefore had a special place in my heart. “Limelight” is another one of their biggest hits. Then, there’s the fan favorites, “Witch Hunt” and “The Camera Eye.” “Vital Signs” rounds out the album. It’s one great song after another. It’s also funny to me because the album is only about 42 minutes long! I don’t really know why it was, but most albums were about 45 minutes long in those days. I think it had something to do with LP vinyl format. When the CD got popular it became more common for albums to be longer, closer to 60 minutes, and nowadays they can go to 75 minutes with more compression. Anyway, this is a great album and was my favorite for a long time. It was the second Rush album I personally bought. The first was “Signals” which I will talk about later. However, “Tom Sawyer” gets played so much on rock radio that I got sick of it. Well, as sick as you can get of something that is completely awesome. I’m just burnt on it, is all. The sound quality on this album is as good as you can get, too. Perfect.

The next year, 1982, I was 11 and my love of music was really taking off. I remember getting really excited listening to KMET 94.7 when they first started playing “Subdivisions” by Rush off the “Signals album. This was my “first” Rush album because I remember when it came out and I went to the store to buy it. Those were good days. A few blocks from my house was the first record store I every went to, Licorice Pizza. That place was coooool! I felt cool just walking in there! It was a little dark in there and there was lots of wood on the walls and the record shelves were made of wood, too. All record albums back then. There was, I believe, a cassette wall, too. But, I bought record albums. I can still remember going in there, walking over and finding “Signals” on the end cap. I also remember the salesperson trying to talk me out of buying it. He told me that “Moving Pictures” was better. He might have been right, in a sense, but it didn’t matter to me. I wanted “Signals.” I took it home and began the “ritual.”

Okay, it’s not as weird as it sounds. But, I had a routine that I followed every time I got a new album. I would sit in the living room at the family stereo unit. It had a radio receiver, a turntable, and a cassette player/recorder. It would record the sound from LPs! So, I would get the album out, put on headphones, my dad’s old brown, closed-ear, plastic cans. It even had a curly pig-tail cable. Vintage! I’d put the LP on the turntable, insert a blank cassette, and record the album while listening to it for the first time. Ideally, the record sleeve would have the lyrics printed on it, along with some liner notes and credits. God, I loved reading those on every new album. I would read the special thanks, the producers, the whole thing. And, I would follow along with the lyrics. I taped the album because I had a tape player in my room that was better than my turntable, plus, I feared I would wear out the album. If I wore out the tape I could just record another copy. When I got my Walkman (To be honest, I never owned a Sony Walkman. I had Panasonic portable tape players. I always liked Panasonic, for some reason. Never been a big Sony fan.) it paid off because I had lots of cassettes ready to go.

“Signals” just spoke to me. There’s a melancholy about the album that I completely related to. The first song, “Subdivisions” dealt thematically with alienation, something I was starting to feel as I began to feel different from my peers. “Analog Kid” had a longing in it, looking for something that we almost had and then lost. The boy in the song lies in the grass, unmoving, staring at the sky, as a hawk goes soaring by. His mother calls him back and he throws down his baseball cap and covers up his eyes, the lyrics tell us. Why does he cover up his eyes? Is he upset because he wants to continue to commune with nature? I don’t know, but I do know that, even though I didn’t know why he did it, I surely understood how he felt.

“Losing It” is another of my very favorite Rush songs. The crazy thing is that it’s a very downtempo song, and deals with the heartbreak of losing your creative abilities. Admittedly, it took a few years for me to understand the song and for it to truly resonate with me. But, it did. Overall, Signals is not the greatest Rush album, but it’s probably my 2nd favorite after “Permanent Waves.” I have a very vivid memory of listening to it on headphones on the way up to Barstow to visit my grandparents one weekend. Those car trips seemed amazingly long to me, but listening to my music shortened it up, for sure. We were going up the Cajon Pass and the song “Chemistry” was on and I was happy in my little heart. The sun was shining, inside and out. Nice.

Two albums that came out this year that I came to love were Scorpions’ “Blackout” and Judas Priest’s “Screaming for Vengeance.” Blackout has the title track and “No One Like You.” This is the album that preceeded their big commercial success. So, they hadn’t jumped the shark yet. Vengeance is a great album. It announces its presence with authority as “The Hellion” blasts off and careens headlong into “Electric Eye.” Then, the classic “You Got Another Thing Coming” hits you between the eyes. In my opinion, this is the 2nd best Priest album. The songs are hard-edged and hard-hitting. The lyrics aren’t too stupid, either. For me, the best things about Priest were Rob Halford’s voice plus Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing’s twin guitar attack. Oh, and the album cover is one of my all-time favorites, too. So badass! What is it? Well, obviously, it’s the Hellion who is coming to kill you, screaming for vengeance! How can you not love that?

Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” is a helluva album. I didn’t buy this album until later and honestly, it scared me for a long time. It just seemed so damn demonic! And, it was, in a good way, though. In reality, though, it’s not a very scary album at all. It’s about as Satanic as any horror movie or Poe novel. In fact, one of the things I’ve always liked about Maiden was their literary-minded songs. The songs were stories and were often based on movies, books, or poems. Classic songs like the title track, “Run to the HIlls” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” make this a must own metal album. This album also represents a maturation for Iron Maiden, to me. The songs feel more polished and complex. Earlier albums sounded raw and unfinished but these songs are ‘true” Maiden to me. Hallowed Be Thy Name is a great example. It starts off slow, quiet, and brooding, a man about to be executed. The song builds to the end, howling in impotent rage against his sad destiny. Masterful.

In my next installment, I will look at 1983. I was 12 years old and started buying metal albums when they came out. Metal would become a full-time part of my life and identity.

In case you care, I’m using a new blogging app

Just in case it’s the sort of thing you’re interested in, I’m using a new app for blogging on my iPad. Blogsy for iPad. So far, I like it much better than the Blogger app I was using previously. This one makes using images easier and has a pretty decent feature set for your formatting. The other app had this annoying habit of not scrolling up automatically when I got to the bottom of the screen and forcing me to push the screen up manually. Not a big deal, but when you get a good rhythm going it’s kind of lame to stop so you can read the screen.

I tried blogging straight on the web interface for Blogger but I didnt like it. Once, it actually refreshed the page automatically and lost a big portion of text. So, now I only go to the web to do some final touches. I much prefer using an app to write.

Blogsy has integration with Google image search, YouTube, and has a built in web browser which is awesome for finding links to drop into a post. Oh, and did I mention you can drag and drop images and links. Nice!

Grips Make Good Money: Another Thing I Learned in Film School

It’s 1996, my first year in graduate school, in the Graduate Screenwriting Program. I am taking CNTV 190 (if I recall correctly) which was a basic production course. In it, we use video cameras, mostly Hi8 digital video, and shoot and edit short films. There were, I think, about 15 or 20 of us in the class and it was taught by a man whose name I have forgotten. He was tall and had curly, sandy blonde hair. If I’m being truthful, I will say that he seemed like a nice guy but was kinda goofy.

And, being a GSP student I had no respect for him.

I mean, I started out the class having respect for him but then as we went on, he just killed it. First off, he let us know that he wasn’t some kind of terribly successful screenwriter or filmmaker, which was a major disappointment. And, it’s not as if he’d worked on a bunch of cool movies or TV shows. Then, finally, he had the temerity to say during one class that working as a boom operator was a good job because it was easy, steady money.

Bear in mind, we all think we are going to be rich screenwriters and filmmakers. We think we will all be selling scripts like Shane Black, Joe Esterhaus or Shonda Rimes and not because we were necessarily that good (or lucky!) but we thought we were and would be. Part of what contributed to that was the fact that the 34 of us had been chosen to be in the GSP out of hundreds (I had heard over 600 applicants had applied that year). That seems to me to be rare company in which to be. And, I should also make clear that when I say “we” I should say that not all of us thought this way, but there were several. And, probably several of the GSP students really were that good. It seemed as if there was also someone on the cusp of “making it.”

But, here’s this guy telling us that, gasp, holding a microphone on a stick over your head to help the crew record the sound of the actors is good work if you can get it. And, to me, and probably others it was ludicrous, the sound of throwing in the towel, true nightmare death. Like, when a cancer patient is tired of fighting, tired of the chemotherapy, the radiation, the surgeries and just wants to rest. And, they resign from the fight. That’s what this sounded like, only in filmmaking terms.

The sad and true thing is that this man was giving us good advice. He was giving us something good and we treated it like someone in the room farted. Why was it good? Because the truth was that most of us would never really “make it” in the film industry. Most of us would never make that big script sale like we wanted. Heck, most of us wouldn’t even work long term in the film industry. You know how many thousands and thousands of people are writing a great script? You know how many thousands upon thousands think they will be great directors, actors, producers and so on? But, something like 120 films get made every year. Some more go straight to video. A bunch of others films go into turnaround and/or get stuck in development. And thousands get recycled. I mean they are run through a shredder and recycled.

Because that’s the business. Most of the Screen Actor’s Guild is out of work at any given time. Most screenplays “aren’t right for us at this time.” They “just aren’t what we’re looking for.” Working in film as “above the line” talent (as in, the director, screenwriter, main actors, producers) is very rare, relatively speaking. Most of the jobs in Hollywood are “below the line.”

And, let me just say, as I write this, that if any of this is factually wrong it’s probably because I have been teaching for ten years and haven’t actually worked in the industry for about 11 years. But, my point remains true. And important.

It’s that turning up your nose at a decent paycheck is just dumb. See, if you want to work in the industry, you should look for work that’s in demand. Yes, write your screenplay, yes, take acting classes, yes go to your auditions. But, realize that most likely, if you’re lucky, you will work in far less glamourous activities if you want a career in show business. And, for me, I would think that if you really love filmmaking, then why not do it? That’s living the dream!

I have a friend whom shall remain nameless because I don’t have his permission to tell his story (though I doubt he would mind, but still) and he “made it.” He sold a screenplay for a fistful of cash. He got a lawyer, a manager, a Writer’s Guild membership. He was, and is, still, to me, THE MAN. He took meetings, lunches, and probably a dinner or two. He went on all the studio lots, and sold some more work, did a few rewrites, met famous people. He was living the dream. And, then, after about three years, the money was running out and there wasn’t more work coming in. So, he had to get a job. He started working as an editor’s assistant. He was working in, gasp, reality TV. But, to me, he was still living the dream because he was surviving and working in the industry.

He didn’t give up like I did.

Of course, the punchline to this whole story is that if counted all the money I made since I graduated from ‘SC and all the money he made, even counting the screenplay he sold and compared the two piles, I think I made more than he did. Know why? ‘Cause teachers is crazy rich, yo!

No, not really. It’s because my paychecks were steadier than his is all.

More importantly, though, is that we both enjoyed our lives, as far as I could tell. We both survived and did work we liked. I directed school plays and he did sketch comedy. I graded essays and he made short films. And, both of us had lives.

So, the thing is that a job is a job. A paycheck pays the bills. Today, I don’t think your job title makes you a better person. But, I think a better measure of your success is if you are doing what you enjoy with your life. And, are you adding to other’s lives? You know, that teacher that I disrespected and scoffed at? He was trying to give me something useful and helpful, he was trying to have a positive effect on my life and I didn’t take it. The arrogance of youth and all that, I guess. But, now I know, grips can make good money, too.

Pluses and Minuses

I get asked a lot of times, “Don’t you miss teaching English/Drama?” To be clear, no one ever uses the slash there, but rather I employed that to suggest that sometimes people ask if I miss teaching English and others ask if I miss teaching Drama. Usually people don’t ask about both. And, now that I think about it, it would have been shorter just to explain that instead of using the slash and explaining why I used that. Yeah.

But, last night, as Prom was winding down, a former student asked me this question and I thought about it right now. I like teaching ASB really. It’s very hard, though. Like a lot of things in life, there are pluses and minuses. I mean, I went to film school, right? I paid upwards of $80K for two different degrees in film so I could be a public school teacher. You might think that I regret that daily.

I regret deferring my freaking loans for ten years while my ex-wife got herself a degree she later claimed she never wanted. I regret deferring them thinking that when said ex-wife got her degree and license she would practice privately and help me pay them off. I regret not really understanding that capitalizing interest snowballs awesomely in ten years.

But, I don’t regret the degrees. I am super happy that I went to film school because it was so fun and I love movies and USC was the school I always wanted to attend. That was all great. Not digging the student loan payments, but the diplomas look awesome on the wall behind me.

Like a lot of things in life it has pluses and minuses.

Teaching ASB is, sometimes, insane. If you teach English and your lesson one day is so awful and flops then only the kids in the class know. And, if you do an awful job teaching them to write persuasive essays then usually only you know. It’s not like they take those essays and plaster them around the school. But, if you screw up in ASB then most people in the school and maybe even in the community will all get to see it. Yeah, that’s fun.

So, that explains why I was nervous driving to Prom last night. You never want to ruin Prom for 500 kids who were looking forward to this night for the last three years and just spent several hundred dollars getting ready and whatnot. That’s a good deal of pressure. So, being an ASB director is stressful sometimes.

But, I became a teacher because I wanted to have a positive impact on people’s lives. I have said that I’d like to earn a big funeral. I hope that my life will have been spent well-enough that a lot of people will miss me. My mother had a big funeral. There was really a lot of people there and most were people she had helped. So, I was inspired to get a job that would have a positive impact on people’s lives. And, teaching is totally that. Every morning, as a teacher, you have an opportunity to change lives.

The question is not whether you will have an impact on lives. The question is if that impact will be positive or negative.

And, that’s what I really love about ASB. Every day I get a chance to make the lives of 2400 kids better. I can improve the community. I can help 80 teachers and more than 100 staffulty happier and better workers. That’s an amazing opportunity!!! Scary, but amazing.

It has its pluses and minuses.

The Puppet Show

Honestly, this whole government shutdown looks like a puppet show to me. I listened to this Senator or whatever on NPR this afternoon talking about the budget and how the Democrats are willing to cut something like $33 billion from the Federal government. But, now the Republicans want to cut $40 billion. Dude, it’s only, like, $7 billion more, how tough can that be to cut?

So, this Democrat was all, like, “I don’t want to make these cuts but I also don’t want to shut down the Federal government!” She said, a minute later, “You don’t want us to shut down the ENTIRE Federal government.” She really emphasized the “ENTIRE” word. Wait, was a partial shut down possible? So, the only real reason to emphasize “entire” was to be rhetorical. In other words, it was to emphasize to the listener the severity of the proposed shutdown.

It’s a puppet show. I bet you the Democrats are just as happy to make those cuts but they don’t want to lose votes. So, they’ll kick and scream and then vote for them anyway. I bet they have as much trouble voting for those cuts, and more, as President Obama had extending the Bush tax cuts to the richest citizens, those making over $250K a year.

I remember when I used to take in the news as truth. It was so much easier. Just listen or read and go with it. But, now, I realize it’s propaganda. The corporations and the politicians feed the news to the media who report it the way they want to. All of the media have their biases. Fox is a media arm of the Republican party all the way. NPR has a clear liberal bias though, I think, they try to be fair, it’s just very difficult some times. Admittedly, as a progressive myself, I probably have a hard time seeing NPRs bias since it’s probably my own as well. CNN is almost as bad as the local news. It’s sensationalist and full of sound bites. It’s newstertainment, not really news.

Other proof of the puppet show? The Republicans criticizing Obama for taking too long to act in Libya and yet being indignant that he did it without consulting them. If he had gone in sooner they would be complaining that he did it without a UN mandate or without the international community or rashly or whatever. Obama will get criticized for whatever he does. It’s just a show.

If you watch the news and think of it as a Reality Program rather than information you can use to make good decisions and form opinions then it makes more sense. Try it sometime. I think this is why The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is so popular.

My Response to: "Against the Wind: Is Twitter and blogging all about narcissism?"

Against the Wind: Is Twitter and blogging all about narcissism?: “Is Twitter and blogging all about narcissism? I came across a couple of “regular” blogs today that were not education related. I did not …”

I read this blog post today and it reminded me of all the times lately that I told someone about using Twitter and they said, “Oh, I don’t want a Twitter.” (Note: You can substitute “Facebook” for “Twitter” and the conversation will probably go about the same way.) You don’t want a Twitter?
“No, I don’t care what everybody’s doing all the time! I don’t want to hear about how they’re eating whatever they’re eating or taking a dump!”

I have to say, in all the years I’ve been using Facebook or Twitter, I can’t think of the last time someone posted that they were in process of evacuating their bowels. And, if someone is, and you’re not interested in it, why not unfollow that person.

That’s what’s awesome about Twitter versus Facebook. On Facebook, you are “friends” with someone. It’s pretty serious to be “friends” and then “unfriend” them. But, on Twitter, you follow. And, really, how hard is it to follow or unfollow someone. I follow all kinds of different people on Twitter. If you say something interesting once, I will probably follow you. Why not? If you get on my nerves I can just unfollow you. And, if I get on your nerves, you can unfollow me! Easy. And, realistically, Facebook could go that way. But, Facebook is a different tool, to me.

This points out another difference between the two, in my opinion. I use Facebook to network with the people I actually know. Facebook is personal and casual. But, since I’m “friends” with over 400 people, I do have to bear in mind that ALL OF THEM will read any given status I put up. Now, if you’re truly narcisstic, then that is a best case scenario. Hell, that’s a dream come true!

I turned to Wikipedia for a look at Narcissim…

So, basically, everyone is a little bit narcissitic. But, a real narcissist is chiefly concerned with themselves at the expense of others. Someone with a narcissistic personality disorder has an inordinate need for attention and approval. In addition, a narcissist has an inflated sense of their abilities. They think they can do more than they can or are better at what they’re doing than they are. I noticed also that psychological tests that identify narcissism show that it is increasing in the United States and that they think it is related to social networking.

It might be, but I think, that it probably has more to do with parents patting their kids on the head for everything. I mean, giving a trophy to every kid on the soccer team, even when the team lost every game, has to have some kind of an effect. I think that the parents of my generation are way too worried about increasing their children’s self-esteem. A wise man once told me that positive self-esteem is the product of doing esteemable acts. If you do things worthy of esteem, you will have a good self-esteem. So, if we tell kids that everything they do is worthy of esteem, we are encouraging narcissism. Just saying. Now, social networking is being invented by children of that same generation, so they’re probably related. But, social networking isn’t making you narcissistic.

Blogging is, though. ha ha

There is healthy narcissism too. I don’t think you can write, paint, lead, direct, or teach without some kind of narcissistic tendencies. It’s a normal human trait. But, like many traits, if it is out of control, it’s a problem. There is a note on that same Wikipedia page near the top that says some think there is a disproportionate number of narcissists in medicine, finance, and politics. I believe it. I bet there are a bunch of them in teaching and entertainment, too.

Okay, so that was a huge digression about me defending my narcissism. And, being narcissistic, I am going to leave it there instead of deleting it. But, back to Twitter. If the people you are following are only talking about the nonsense they did today then you should unfollow them if you don’t care what they did today. The people I follow on Twitter post links to news and stories that I care about. They say things that are interesting to me. I follow tech writers, teachers, entertainers and several comedians. I love following comedians. The good tweeting comedians will drop a funny nugget at least once a day. I use Twitter to learn and to find out what’s going on. I follow people that post about current events, especially events I care about.

Twitter is a tool I use to gather a bunch of information from a variety of sources into one place. Facebook is where I try to share some of that information with people I know and care about. And, blogging is where I reflect on that information and add my part to it and hope to share my thoughts, reflections, and knowledge with others. Plus, you know, I just like writing.

So, that is my take on social networking. Narcissistic? Yes, obviously. But, in an healthy way? Not necessarily. I guess I could have saved a lot of time and just written those couple of sentences… but then, I’m a narcissistic writer, don’tcha know.

What and Why?

The Gurp Files is a collection of thoughts, ideas, essays, memoirs and other non-fictional pieces that I wrote. I don’t intend it to be a journal or diary. I may reflect on situations and events but I really hope it doesn’t become some kind of whiny, self-indulgent mess.

That being said, I think there is a real and true narcissistic and arrogant component of writing inherent to the activity. I would swear to you that I read an essay on writing where Stephen King talked about the arrogance of writing. But I can’t find it right now. So, if you know where it came from, I’m trying to give the proper attribution; I don’t want to plagiarize. Anyway, the idea is that you have to have a certain amount of arrogance to think that your thoughts and ideas, your musings and plottings are not only worth writing out, but that others might be interested enough to read them and even further that they would benefit somehow from what you have written.

What the Hell, though, someone has to do it, I guess.

I guess I do have that arrogance. And narcissism. I’m narcissistic enough to think that I’m interesting and to sit around and think about what I think.

Some writers will talk about a compulsion to write. I don’t think I possess that. I *want* to write I guess… But the actual act of the sitting and the typing and the *gasp* rewriting and revising… Hmmm, not so much. I’d ray her play a video game, watch a movie or ride a bike.

But, then again, what I really like more than actually writing is having finished writing. I like having done it more than doing it. I know, like that makes sense. Right?

So, why are these called The Gurp Files? My initials are G. R. P. When I was younger, much younger, my mother would sometimes pronounce my initials as a name. Gurp. As you will likely read, my mother’s life, and death, had a profound impact on me. And, I just like the way it sounds. It’s funny and kind of self-deprecating. So, there you go.

Hopefully as you read through more of the files you will find that they justify themselves and that the what and the why is self-evident.