This week I’ve been listening to an audiobook called Mastery by Robert Greene, author of the 48 Laws of PowerIt’s long as hell, so let me give you the gist. If you want to be truly great at anything you need to go for something you have a little natural talent at as hard as humanly possible and be willing to be completely destroyed by the process. You can’t compare yourself to average people when doing this. You can only measure yourself by the all time greats in your field. If you come up short, you will have failed at mastery.

This is of course extreme, but so is the path to becoming a master. There’s some overlap with Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of needing 10,000 hours to master something, but it’s not exactly the same. I’ve always understood Gladwell’s perspective to be that all you need is time. Greene would say you need time and intensity. So what does intensity look like?


For Stephen King it means reading at least four hours a day and writing at least four hours a day. Not counting the reading and writing  I do for my day job, I’m lucky to put an hour of each in per day. Sometimes if the house isn’t too fucked up on the weekends I get a few more hours.

I believe Greene and King are correct. In order to master something, you have to go harder. Much harder. And for that there are only two possibilities. Drop out of life, live as a derelict and dedicate yourself to nothing else or give up rest until you can make a break for it.

The former is for bums and trustfunders like Thoreau. The latter is for full metal jacket  types like Bukowski.

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On to the questions.

Should there be a genre distinction between apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction?

Personally, I don’t mind these categories mixing a bit on the shelf. There’s a ton of overlap and people tend to be fans of both. If you’re the type to enjoy genre taxonomies, then the distinction is legitimate and can be fun to explore.

Post-apocalyptic is a bit easier to categorize. Civilization is already broken. Surviving or rebuilding is the focus. It’s about distilling what is essential to human survival. What type of communities would thrive? Do our morals have any place in a wasteland? Would you eat your dog or a baby? The Mad Max franchise and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road are the best examples.

Apocalyptic functions as more of a prequel. Society is slipping, often the viewer is asked to think about what they would do to stop it or if it was even possible to escape the fate. The Terminator series is apocalyptic. The dark future is mostly seen in dreams and flashbacks/forwards. Sarah Connor must prepare her son to thrive in this environment. She must choose whether or not to kill an innocent man to save the world.

An interesting question for apocalyptic fiction to explore now might be something like “what will end the world faster, globalism or nationalism?” The post-apocalypse version would be “what do we do now that globalism or nationalism has destroyed the world?”

Have you ever experienced a random act of kindness towards you from a stranger?

I’ve had some very new friends do me some serious solids, but I can’t think of a single time a total stranger has done anything nicer for me than letting my car in a lane.


I’ve sold my app for over 10 million dollars yesterday. How do I tell my family and friends?

Don’t say shit. That’s how M.C. Hammer lost all his money. Quietly pay off your own debts, get a financial manager to set you up for early retirement, and then give generously to only your closest family members.


What celebrity do you find to be most overrated in looks and/or talent?

I hate to be so cliche, but you could pick any member of the Kardashian clan for a solid answer. Without photoshop, the forces of darkness, and the imminent decline of our civilization, I doubt we’d even know them.

If I wanted to be a contrarian and answer this more interestingly, I’d say Beyonce. I like her and think she’s very beautiful, but it takes an enormous team of people to write her music, choreograph her performances, and put her appearance together. I consider her more of an amazing consumer product than an artist.

I know I’ve lost a few of you on this one, but imagine Queen B went into  isoaltion for a year with a sewing machine and pro tools, what do you think we’d see if her staff wasn’t involved? I’m rooting for her, but I’m not expecting anything even close to her recent BET performance.


Could there be a more boring vp pick than Tim Kaine?

I don’t know that he’s boring, but I haven’t seen anyone except people who make a living being excited about Clinton excited about him. Right now, I wonder if Clinton would’ve made a different choice if she knew the Wikileaks emails were going to reveal what the DNC did.

Honestly, I’m really just a casual follower of national politics, so Tim Kaine wasn’t someone I was familiar with. I don’t think I’m going to sink too much time into exploring him because VPs are so fucking irrelevant to life until some lone crazy obsessed with Jodie Foster gets near the president. That said, he seems to be a pretty good dude. Clinton could’ve done much worse.

If I was running the Clinton campaign, I might’ve gone with Warren instead. The double female ticket is undeniably appealing to many. Her populist, anti-banker agenda has a lot of support. She’s unquestionably progressive enough to appeal to the Sanders camp and she’s not afraid to mix it up with Trump on social media.

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My suspicions are that Kaine was chosen for three reasons. He’s relatively safe, he speaks Spanish, and the Clinton camp thinks he has some appeal to liberal religious voters who see through Trump’s heresy.

The first reason, safety, is obvious. Why bring a nut job on board? Sarah Palin did enormous damage to John McCain’s campaign. I doubt we will see an edgy VP pick for at least 20 years, especially now that we’ve had several failed VP runs for president. It’s no longer a pipeline for candidacy. And thank god, because Joe Biden is the Gary Busy of politics.

Kaine’s Spanish is very solid. The Democrats would do well appealing to this growing voter base. Trump’s strategy looks like he thinks he can scare more whites into voting than he can convince Latinos to switch. You’d have to be crazy not to go for them. I’ve never seen any studies that quantify whether speaking a voting block’s language actually helps, but Clinton’s ever changing accent would seem to suggest she believes it does.


Kaine’s Catholic proclivities are interesting. Thanks to Wikileaks we know that the DNC wanted to weaponize Sanders’ faith (or possible lack of) against him. If they believe in faith as an offense, it follows they might consider it a defense. The most politically relevant consequence of his belief is that he’s pro-life, which the feminist base hates. He also believes his faith shouldn’t be applied to a woman’s decision, which the religious voters (especially Catholics) hate.

I’m reminded of Revelations 3:16: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” This is not the election for fence sitting and I don’t think anyone except little old ladies that go to Mass everyday will care about his religion.


Should I be embarrassed by my job title?

Only if you have one of those stupid, made up Silicon Valley titles like “Director of First Impressions” or “Happiness Coordinator.” If you can tell a World War II vet what you do without needing to explain it too much, you probably have a good title.

Do you know if marijuana can cause emotional numbness or apathy in someone even when they are not high? Basically change the brain? I know SSRIs can do this, but kinda curious about weed. Just couldn’t find any solid research.

The big problem with cannabis research is that there isn’t much of quality being done. The way it’s scheduled by our government severely limits what can be explored by researchers. So most everything from promising cancer benefits to PTSD treatment possibilities is largely anecdotal or based on rat studies.

My personal experience is that I often feel pleasantly and sometimes unpleasantly numb for a few days after smoking even the smallest amount. Keep in mind, this is a sample of N=1 with no control group, which is about as unscientific as it gets. After a few days off the Devil’s Cabbage I always go back to feeling as hostile as usual.

It’s my suspicion that it’s really hard to harm yourself with cannabis unless you have an addictive personality. To paraphrase Joe Rogan, “if you’re an addict, you can fuck up your life with cheeseburgers and scratcher tickets.”

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What is your blog article pic selection process?

Despite being a writer, I’m a fairly visual thinker. Usually an image from a film or something will pop into my mind as I write and I just go look for it on Google. The internet is so well filled, it never takes more than a few seconds to find exactly what I want. Sometimes I get on a kick and use a bunch of similar images. For example, everything from today is taken from Akira Kurosawa films. I make these decisions with very little forethought.

If I don’t want to break my flow for writing I’ll leave myself a note in the text where I want the picture to appear that looks like this: [PICTURE OF E.T. FLYING]. The main reason I even include pictures is to break the text up and make it a little easier on the eyes.

Since my blog isn’t monetized, I get to claim fair use, but if I put this stuff into a book or something, I’d have to lose the images. If that ever happens, I’ll probably just start using my terrible art skills to illustrate it, sort of like Hyperbole and a Half. Except with way worse art. I think that would be a better end product, but it would be almost possible to keep up the daily pace doing that unless this was my full time job.

If someone asks if you are intelligent, what’s the best way to answer without sounding conceited?

It really depends on what they’re actually asking. If they think you’re a dunce, and want to hear you defend your 9 volt brain, that’s one thing. If they’re trying to praise you, that’s another. Either way it’s a weird question. I can always tell if someone is smart or not within a few seconds of talking to them and never feel the need to ask them about their IQ.

Because I’m pretty well read (which is not the same thing as raw intelligence), people will sometimes say something nice about my brain.  Since reading is something I work on, I’m not terribly embarrassed by the compliment. Usually I just say something like “thank you, that’s very nice of you to say” and then shift the conversation to them.




The idea that you can somehow hack creativity by indulging in the temporary madness of inebriants is a lie. A soft correlation between excess and artistry was noted by the advertisers of poison and soon enough we all came under the spell of the somnambulant promise of the chemical muse. 
John Coltraine, a notorious heroin addict, said he did his worst writing while under the influence. William S. Burroughs wrote his best work free from the needle. Both are often cited as opiate heroes. 

There might be something to be said for having extreme experiences, but you have to return from the abyss to make something worth remembering. And honestly, no one needs another first person dope memoir. 


For many, this speech was like watching the unblinking eye of Sauron call to Middle Earth’s armies of evil. It was like watching a speech if we had the glasses from They Live on. It was as if The Walking Dead’s Nagen took his barbwire wrapped baseball bat to the head of hope itself. If you’ve ever wondered what a State of the Union speech would sound like if the figurehead in chief was honest about the impending apocalypse, now you know.

The Republican party spun its head around and vomited green bile in front of the world. If CNN’s polls are to be believed, 75% of their viewers, not exactly the Fox faithful, reacted positively to Trump’s speech. According to their own data, which they completely downplayed, 56% of their viewers would consider voting for him. Think about that. This is from the channel the Right calls “The Clinton News Network.” I’ve long suspected humans prefer super villains and now we have proof.


It doesn’t help that we hear the words “the state of the union is strong” each year from our Presidents, no matter what is happening. Lately it seems like a load of bullshit. I don’t know anyone who feels confident about the future. Not one soul. Nearly everyone is living check to check. Any tension you can name is at an all time high. Companies, even the friendly ones with heartfelt mission statements, will cut you loose the second their consultants tell them to. Murder rates are up. Tent cities are everywhere.

Sure, there’s the occasional cat cuddling with a duck video to warm our hearts, but we all know it’s pablum. Cats like to kill birds and pretending otherwise is foolishness.


Trump’s speech was full of inaccuracies and blame, just like all political speeches. Sometimes you don’t notice those things because the person speaking is telling you things you already believe, blaming people you already hate. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an equally dark speech from Hillary, just with a different set of enemies. And as her lead diminishes and the world burns, we just might get one. If the lack of success of the planned protests at the RNC are any indication of the Left’s growing tepidness, she will have to do something to energize her base.

The choice between Trump and Hillary is really just a choice of who to blame. Who will be the scapegoat for your failures? Who is taking from you? Who spoiled the milk? Who left the toilet seat up? Who farted?

No matter which ghoul takes the reigns of this hellbound carriage we call America, half of you will be angry. Half of you will think it’s finally going in the right direction. All of you will notice rising heat and the choking scent of brimstone. These people have no solutions for you. You have to have solutions for you.

Personally, all I want to know is when I should gas up the last of the V8 Interceptors. My pick, Gary Johnson, is probably not going to do that well, even though he could actually win if everyone who says they hate Hillary and Trump voted for him. He’s on the ballot in all 50 states. Remember, only you can prevent Revelations.





Ted Cruz is an evil ventriloquist’s dummy come to life. His ideas are progressive only for the Dark Ages. He wears his faith as a decoration like the Pharisees did. I do not like the man.

But what he did at the RNC took some guts. He stood in front of a mob and held his ground. He is no martyr, though. Trump attacked his family and he’s holding a grudge. I can respect that. Your family should be your number one priority and if anyone fucks with it you should be willing to burn them to the ground no matter what the cost.

Will it do any good? Probably not. Both parties have weaponized the anxieties of their bases. Each side has ignored the concerns of the opposition.  There is no compromise candidate. The Democrats are flying the flag of a criminal dynasty. The Republicans have summoned a demonic orange monstrosity and it has broken loose. The third parties are full of kooks and rejects. The libertarian candidate for senate in Florida, Augustus Sol Invictus, literally sacrificed a goat and drank its blood. Even my man Gary Johnson, Libertarian presidential candidate, has issues.

If Trump loses, Ted’s calculated stand might win him some points with certain voters, but his party is fucked and must now pander to a frothing herd. Democrats will continue to gorge their useless thralls with heartfelt lies. The elections for senate and congress coming up should be excellent battlegrounds for third parties, but most are so disorganized and underfunded there’s no way they’ll triumph.

We are in for some bad times. There are jackals at the gates. Our citizens are weak and slothful. Our leaders are nothing but schills for corporations and grievance peddlers.

Anyone who wants out must make war on themselves first. Carve out all the weakness from your heart. Pry the deposits of calcified ideas from your brain. Become stronger than those who would control you. A chair and a whip is no match for fangs and claws. It’s a magic show. And magic is for kids and dullards.

After the devils take possession of the government in November, it’s time to get active near your own homes. Pick up trash. Make sandwiches for hobos. Help old people carry things. If you hear someone say something you know to be false, bludgeon them with the facts. If they persist in error, cut them off so their poisonous logic can’t infect you. Move on. Find doers on your wavelength.

They are out there. We are out there. You are out there.



A successful break from the arms of Morpheus requires proper stimulants. I like to put my feet on the floor with a conqueror’s mindset, ready to crush the skull of weakness in my mighty grip.

For this, I need coffee.

Coffee has been a staple of my morning routine for well over 20 years. I average about 8-10 cups a day. I have two before I leave the house and a third when I get into the office. I have foolishly tried to face my addiction, but it always wins. The black cup will surely be a part of my life until I am killed by my enemies or ass cancer. Whichever gets me first.


I’ve been experimenting with two new stimulants recently. The first is a high dose of B-12 with my coffee in the morning. I got the idea from Red Bull. Though it tastes like what I imagine Optimus Prime’s urine to taste like, the energy drink doesn’t really have that much caffeine in it, but it’s loaded with B-12. Some say it’s the vitamins that really gives you the boost.

This mix seems to work really well. I found a bottle of B-12 at work and started doubling the dose when I drink my first cup of coffee in the office. At a certain point in the day I usually feel a volatile jitteriness from all the caffeine. Now I feel alert and noticeably mellower. I mean, there’s still that undercurrent of undying hostility I’ve come to expect from poisonous levels of caffeine, but there is now some level of the millennial mental  infirmity know as “chill.”

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The most interesting performance enhancer I’ve been using is classical music. I’ve always dabbled in the genre, but YouTube has made it really easy to find things I like. As a metal fan, I like big sounds, so it’s basically all Beethoven and Wagner for me.

I can’t listen to podcasts or music with lyrics when I write and I’m always looking for something to drown out the cursed sounds of our open office. I’m finding this music along with orchestral scores is just about perfect for getting into the writing zone. This is what Bukowski always listened to and that’s where I got the idea. So far, so good.





Right now many are enjoying some high quality schadenfreude at the expense of Melania Trump’s alleged plagiarism of an earlier speech by Michelle Obama. The memes are amazing and I think this is a tremendous learning opportunity for our nation’s D and C students. The truth, as they say, will out.

As a professional writer, I abhor plagiarism. It’s a form of creative theft and it should be rooted out wherever and whenever possible. Writing for a living is difficult enough without the greedy cut-and-pasters of this world taking credit for other people’s work. Whenever we can publicly shame an unoriginal cretin you will find me right up front with tar and feather at the ready.


Before we get further into this post, let me be clear, plagiarists can go fuck themselves. Creativity is a gift from the gods and to steal the words of another surely angers them.

I think it might be worth considering speeches, especially political ones, have a bit of a different history than term papers and blog posts. Google the words “politics” and “plagiarism” and you will find many articles written about the history of verbal appropriation.

By the week’s end I imagine your social media feed will be flooded with with comparisons of allegedly plagiarized speeches by every single active politician. Here is one that covers the fairly well known case of Obama’s use of Deval Patrick’s material (it should be noted Patrick said he allowed Obama to “borrow it” after the story broke) :

I’m showing this one above so you can see the sort of thing I’m talking about. One thing I hate about the modern media cycle is the “well-if-am-then-so-are-you” attacks. They are unbelievably dreary.

Anyway, speeches are not purely creative, they have a job to do. They are rhetoric in the purest form and are designed to convince an audience of something. Rhetoric, which is what my bachelor’s degree is in, is sometimes defined as “the art of persuasion.” If you’d like to know more about it, this series of articles from the website The Art of Manliness, is pretty decent. 

In my program at UC Berkeley we studied classic orators, like Cicero. If you read many of the great speeches, you’ll find striking similarities. This is because there are established best practices. It’s sort of like how romantic comedies keep to a basic three act structure. There’s a form and deviating from it too much will cause you to lose an audience’s attention.


Political speeches also reference previous historical periods or events to root the speaker in history and manipulate the emotions of the audience. Even nearly identical words and phrases can be used to kind of piggy back on the emotional resonance of well know speeches. This is a powerful technique and humans seem to really like it. Consider how many famous songs either mimic or directly sample popular melodies.

The definitive book on this subject is Aristotle’s The Art of Rhetoric. If you’ve read that book, just about anything else you read on persuasion will seem redundant. A good book to pair with Aristotle’s is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. This latter text lends the reader of the former some new insight from modern psychology and presents the subject through a more modern lens.

One of the most interesting cases of speech plagiarism has to do with Dr. Martin Luther King. Issues with his PHD dissertation are widely documented and it’s possible sections of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech are lifted from other sources. I’d recommend starting with this Wikipedia article if this is new information to you. The article does a pretty good job of staying neutral and makes a useful distinction between plagiarism in an academic and rhetorical setting. Unfortunately, a lot of the people writing about this are racially motivated and you will find some very shitty opinions on this subject.

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Dr. King’s alleged plagiarism is about as radioactive a topic as it gets and before you freak out on me, it’s been a topic of conversation for decades. I decided to use it here because it’s a very provocative example.

The PHD dissertation speech is usually explained away as simply some sort of misunderstanding of the rules of citation. As someone who tutored fellow students in college, I think if you assumed positive intent, this is a reasonable explanation. Though, you should not make a practice of giving sainted figures a pass.

The “I Have a Dream” speech is delivered in the tradition of African American oratory, which includes call and response techniques often used in church that leverage phrases that would be known by the audience. If you’re interested in this type of thing, American Radio Works has an incredible series on language and speeches called Say It Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches.

It’s certainly a bit gauche to compare Melania Trump to Dr. King. That is not my aim here. Honestly, I think it would be difficult to tastefully compare him to any modern celebrity or politician. Even if he stole the “I Have a Dream” speech from someone word-for-word,  the power of his delivery and the timing of it in American history would be more than enough to excuse it. The same could not be said for any words I’ve heard in this terrible election cycle.

What I’d like you to consider is that there is a history of plagiarism in political speeches and that many of the people throwing stones would do well to remember they too are dwelling in glass houses. Audiences should remain aware that all political speeches are trying to convince you of something. Listen to the content. Take apart the arguments logically. It’s important.


Ultimately, this plagiarism business is a distraction. I would love to see this amount of attention given to our abysmal candidates’ policies. The effort to produce every article about this, including the one you’re reading now, would have been better spent examining all the retrograde nonsense the ghoulish reptilians running the RNC are floating on top of a turd ship of populist anger.

When the DNC convention rolls around, we will doubtlessly see some similarly clownish flub taking the place of any coverage of the Democrat’s awful economic plans and soul killing nanny state expansion.

If there’s a lesson to be learned in this, it’s that we should always be careful to properly cite our  sources, no matter how biased they may be.

Addendum: I hope you might consider the above, especially the Dr. King stuff, requires a lot of maturity and honesty to discuss. This blog has always been about thinking out loud and learning. If you think I misspoke or misstepped, I look forward to learning from your perspective.




Most of my worst writing is done in the evenings. After the dogs are walked and all manner of other bullshit that resembles what a prequel to Fight Club, where the narrator finds himself cleaning his Scandinavian furniture, is accomplished, the will to be creative is low. This low energy must be overcome somehow.

The best thing I’ve found is simply to get the writing done early. To wake up before the choremongers and attention vampires come to eat your soul away. I would love to have a little shack on some land where I could walk to in the mornings and be way from all the noise and nonsense, but I do not have that. One day.