# writing

## Commentary: What not to post

Some site called “Thrillist” posted a story this morning titled: Things no self-respecting adult should be doing on Facebook.

Posting “chain” statuses – I don’t give a fuck how badly “Tweety\Tinkerbell\Random Fucking Butterfly wants to fly,” I’m not sharing your stupid schmaltzy graphic. Same goes for “I want to see this photo of my kid holding a(n) Autism\Cerebral Palsy\Childhood Leukemia awareness sign on EVERY wall on Facebook” or pretty much any other picture that tells me to “Hit LIKE and SHARE if you agree. :D”

Being an annoyingly over-enthusiastic, semi-delusional sports fan – GOOOOOO C-A-N-E-S cuz we’re #1 and it’s ALL about The ||_||

Posting pictures and/or bragging about drinking/drug use – Father was a RAGING alcoholic so I learned THAT lesson pretty early on (and then was forced into rehab which never believed I never drank anything and thus I was labeled as a “liar\in denial” for the length of my stay)

… and then apologizing for it the next day – I NEVER got an apology for the awful things dad did when he was drunk (as it was always – ALWAYS – MY fault). Other people prescribe to the same philosophy as my likes to say “no-one mistreats you for ‘no reason’ – you obviously GAVE them a reason otherwise they wouldn’t have acted like that! Gah, grow up and take some responsibility for YOUR actions!”

Sending multiple invites to your art show/improv show/band’s gig – Did I mention I have a FB page for this blog? Facebook.com/lifeintheuncannyvalley

Treating your profile like your personal blog – Soo yeah, they want me to log onto WordPress and write a 10-15 word post? I have tried turning “overly long” FB posts into blog posts before, and it never works.

Friending people you don’t actually know – One of the things I took away from my disasterous Chicago trip is we don’t “actually know” ANYONE.

Sending out a million invites to Farmville – But Zynga said if I post it on my wall, my friends WILL help me out. They didn’t. They don’t. They never fucking will. That’s one of the reasons I quit my FB\mobile gaming blog.

Bragging excessively\Bragging Humbly – This is blog “will NEVER have any fuking followers, ur a pethatic LOSER and no-one will tek ur fuking joke of a blog srsly!”

Posting cryptic messages or lyrics that nobody gets – I hate having to guess what people are posting about just for them to say “oh no, nuthin lik that I was listening to music while I was on FB lolz”

Selfies, of any variety – Not on THIS blog. I’ve seen how mine come out, and you don’t want to.

Going on rambling, incoherent political rants – I USED to post stuff like that here (and considered starting a spin-off blog for that kind of material), but I realized that’s not the point of this blog. If I ever figure out what the point of this blog IS, I’ll let you know.

Talking bad about your job (past or present) – The ONLY outside jobs I ever had was a 30-day stint at McDonalds, sweeping floors at Benchmark Young Adult School and a freelance gig at The Miami Hurricane. Literally, every other job I had was self-employed.

Posting cheesy motivational statuses/pictures – Fuck you. That’s the reason I created this blog’s Facebook page in the first place.

Giving a shit about relationship statuses – Nope, but people REALLY hate when you assume they’re still married to their ex. They also hate that you know their “relationship status” at all – even though they’re the ones posting about it.

Desperately begging for someone to hang out with you – That was how I got to Chicago, and I think I mentioned how well THAT went. Now if people want to hang out with me (ha), they can do so. If not, their loss.

Annoyingly self-promoting – Did I mention I have a FB page for this blog? Facebook.com/lifeintheuncannyvalley

Blocking your relatives – Believe me after what happened at Bay Lake Towers (and the resulting fallout from it), I strongly considered it, but then only proving THEIR point. They are more than free to “block” me, I don’t gaf.

Oversharing – I can’t stand “wow, look at this steak I made for dinner” posts or when people get into overly detailed posts about their sex lives as I really don’t need to read that.

A couple things they forgot:

Clickbait – It seems like every page I subscribe to is loaded with headlines like: “This picture looks normal, but look closer!” “Everything seemed normal until the doctor found THIS – MY HEART JUST BROKE!” and “They didn’t suspect anything unusual until THIS happened – SHOCKING!

Not to brag, but you won’t find shit like that on my page. Annoying demotivating memes and depressing cartoons? Yes. Clickbait? No.

Angry\Libelous posts – I’ve been the victim of quite a few of these – often because they are pissed off at something they did to me but are outright lying about it so that everyone can see what an asshole I allegedly was to them (correcting the record makes me look like an even bigger asshole, not correcting it only confirms it – it’s a lose-lose) or something that has absolutely NOTHING to do with me, but again  blamed on me anyway cuz I obviously and this is “karma” for that.

Basically, the lesson is: Don’t post anything on Facebook, don’t friend anyone, and delete your account.

## Editorial: On writing

I have been working on a story every day for almost a month now (I know, I’m “supposed” to finish writing a book in a month, but I’ve only got about 11 pages and no title). It’s missing some “world building” sections about rules and whatnot, but for the moment I think I have a good(ish) start.

I have three projects that are somewhere between half and 2/3 finished but no idea where I’m going with them (the endings I have… just the chapters leading up to them are missing). I considered turning part of one of those books into either a short story or a play (or both), but, unfortunately, I realized the rest of the story wouldn’t work as well on stage.

I have a few abandoned projects. I miss the one about the museum as I was having fun with it…until I realized my protagonist was an unlikable dick – and he was based on me (I interned at a museum when I was at UM). Maybe that’s why my fictional bf from that story is the protagonist in this month’s story… or maybe I just like writing idiots.

Whatever, I need to get back to work. I have photos to edit, and maybe when I’m done I’ll come up with a good idea for one of my stories…

## Random ramblings

I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking about this blog lately – particularly how many of my posts don’t seem to match my own stated theme.

For instance, while the shots of Disney landscapes are pretty and add substance to my claims of this being a “photography” blog, do they really belong here or should I find someplace else to post these shots and even then I still have to ask: just Disney, theme parks in general or would I post any kind of photos I want? Heck, I still remember my Photography professor at UM telling me in her pleasant English accent: “the best thing you could do for photography is to put your camera down and NEVER pick it up again.”

I’ve already decided that my political thoughts have no place here, but I’m not sure if I should spin them off into a separate blog or not – particularly since they have the “page views” to match their substance. Also, like the photo thing, I can’t find a clever name that wasn’t already taken… or, more aptly, a free one that I actually like. I also considered writing a weekly\biweekly column, but I don’t know of a single publication – including The News-Item – that would print unsolicited, unsubstantiated and largely uninformed drivel on a regular basis from someone who’s called nearly every presidential election wrong since 2000 (believe me, Dick Morris wasn’t the only one caught off guard by Obama’s reelection).

I also strongly considered “restarting” my FB\mobile gaming blog, but this time the hurdle is legal as that was created under the umbrella of Park\Mosher Media (just like my art\theatre blog) – a company I founded in 2011 after two years of unemployment but whose name expired in 2014. It was this (and a 13” snow storm in February of that year) that finally pushed me to move to Florida permanently. Ultimately, to borrow a term from the theme park industry, the blog is SBNO (Standing But Not Operational) and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future…

Do I continue posting those silly memes on Sunday? Probably not, but  should I delete the ones I’ve already posted? Should I post more about UM (it’s already one of my banner photos, even though said photo isn’t mine)? The aforementioned News-Item suspended their RSS feed a while back 😦 , but I still get news from Baltimore area blogs, should I post about that or just focus on events in Florida?

UPDATE: Yahoo has just announced that they will be closing their Games division in May. This site was the third leg of my coverage triad (the other two being Android and Facebook) for SSG. I do have some stories I’ve been working on on\off since January, but this news pretty much cements my decision not to restart that blog. (3/13/2016)

## Things I miss about Baltimore

Obviously, my recent trip back to Baltimore for the Maryland Film Festival didn’t go as well as I had hoped. It did remind me of some of the reasons I left Charm City so in that regard it wasn’t a total loss. However, for the sake of fairness, I’ve decided to compile a brief list of some of the things I miss about Baltimore.

• Walkability – I could walk from my apartment in Bolton Hill to movies/theatre in Station North or restaurants on Charles Street. Not to mention coffee shops at both ends of UB and Light Rail/Circulator to downtown/1st Mariner Arena – sorry, “Royal Farms Arena” – and a quick walk to Metro Subway to get to the zoo.
• Landmark Harbor East – Okay, so it was super expensive (like everything else in the neighborhood) and a pain to get to from Bolton Hill, but it was newer, cleaner and in far better condition than The Charles – plus they had a wider variety of indie/mainstream films (Orlando theaters only show mainstream movies).
• Station North – Sure the already sketchy area has lost some of its artistic cache when two of its biggest draws – Everyman and Single Carrot theatres – moved out (the former to downtown and the latter to Remington), but this area is constantly growing and changing from the Maryland Film Festival to Annex’s “Chicken Box” to the upcoming Motor House theatre complex and the energy that comes from having both MICA and the Baltimore School of Design as neighborhood anchors.
• Inner Harbor – Dining at Harborplace, coffee at the Barnes & Noble and movies at the Science Center – all without the crowds usually associated with downtown tourist traps. Okay, the National Aquarium is usually crazy but otherwise it’s pretty quiet…except immediately after an Orioles game.
• Entertainment/Events – Pick a weekend and there is bound to be SOMETHING going on there somewhere – from daytime events SoWeBo Arts Festival and Olde Tyme Christmas to nighttime entertainment like “Final Fridays” and “Constellation Thursdays.” It was my JOB to cover them – all of them…which was why I had no life.
• Connectivity – Like the first point on this list, Baltimore is easily assessable to other cities on the East Coast like D.C, NYC and Philadelphia via its convenient downtown Amtrak station. Going beyond the Eastern Seaboard? The city’s Light Rail line connects directly with BWI airport making getting into and out of the city a snap.

## Film Fest 2015: Saturday (part 2)

I got off the Circulator and walked back over to the Tent Village where I caught a shuttle to the Single Carrot Theater in Remington. I’ve never actually been inside this new building, but their new space was a LOT bigger than the architectural drawings I saw at their temporary venue on Charles Street made it look.

The show started on time and without issue. Unfortunately, I had a very loud dry cough for most of the week (it was what woke me up both times at yesterday’s screening) and about midway through the show I checked my pocket and discovered I was out the cough drops I put there before I left. I had no choice, I pulled my bag out and as I carefully fished a few out trying to make as little noise as possible and just as I had a few in my hand I could feel a HARD slap against my left knee.

“WOULD YOU QUIT MAKING SO MUCH DAMNED NOISE,” the woman in front of me said in a low threatening growl with her waving finger shoved an inch from my nose. “I’M TRYING TO WATCH A DAMNED MOVIE!”

Apparently, she knew that I wasn’t even though I was, but it’s okay as her act of aggression was completely justifiable because, well, I’m me and abusing me is somehow okay. Me treating someone else like that is NOT okay, but those are the “rules” and I’m not allowed to object to them. I never have been, and today wasn’t a good idea to do to try it.

“I’m getting a cough dr-“ I said quietly, my knee still hurting from her assault on it.

“SHUSH,” the woman next to her said. “NO TALKING DURING THE FILM!”

I never even got to put the cough drop in, but the good news my cough went away. I spend the next 35 minutes feeling that hand burned into my knee as the people around me shouted at me in my head. If I wasn’t seated in the middle of my row I would have left 20 minutes ago, but now it was impossible without enflaming people anymore.

The movie finally ended, and the director led a somewhat dull Q&A which the angry finger pointing lady didn’t stay for. I won’t spoil the film for you as well, but I will say I already told you the most interesting part of this screening.

My next screening was also at SCT so I took the opportunity to attempt to gather up my thoughts on the movie itself – not on the screening just on the movie itself…but I couldn’t. My knee stung like hell, and I kept worrying someone was going to recognize me from the show and punch me too.

An hour passes and I went back into the theater, once again I was near the middle of my row. Fortunately, this film was much better, even if that damned cough did return about a third of the way through.

There was another dull Q&A afterwards, and then I took the shuttle back to MICA. I tried getting a slice of pizza at Two Boots, but the line was too long so I took the train back to Baltimore Street. When I got off, I realized it was almost 7:30 and I hadn’t eaten since noon so I got a 6” sandwich and a cookie before heading back to the hotel.

When I got to the lobby I could see people getting off the elevator I had been on earlier and to my surprise it took me to my floor without issue. I opened the door to my room, threw my bag on the bed and prepared for a shower. As I took my shorts off, I noticed the seam had split slightly at the crotch so I threw them away making room in my bag for the item I didn’t buy. Whatever, I’d worry about that in the morning, but first I have a pair of reviews to write…

## Film Fest 2015: Friday (Part 2)

I got to the light rail stop on Baltimore Street around 4pm and when I got to the ticket vending machine I could hear an old black man singing Bob Marley slightly off key to himself coming up from my south. As I’m putting my money into the machine I can literally feel him breathing on my neck.

“Do you mind? I’m trying to do something here.”

“Ain’t no-one gettin’ yo way, I just here to collect my change from dat ‘chine chu at.”

“Could you at least find somewhere else to stand?”

“Wha day hell wrong wit chu, boy?”

Perfect, now I have to explain a disease I was never officially diagnosed with to someone who more than likely only “asked” that as an insult. I collect my ticket AND my change (since I had to get back somehow) from the tray and crossed over to the northbound track as my “friend” ranted on.

“Bah,” he said waving his hand dismissively as he continued up the street. “Nah wooomah nooo cryyyyy.”

The train arrives. I get off at Mt Royal and head into the Barnes & Noble where I accidently insulted the barista working there while trying to make small talk. I try to come up with a way to apologize and/or explain when the manager appears, and asks what I want to drink. When I tell her, she cuts me off with a giant smirk saying:

“Decaf? Oh darn, we are compleeeetely out of decaffeinated beans. Looks like you’ll have to go SOMEWHERE ELSE for your beverage! Sorry about that, have a nice day.”

“Yes, I will,” I said ignoring her retaliatory display.

We BOTH knew there is no such thing as “decaffeinated beans,” but I might as well let her think she “won.”

Besides, my film was in 20 minutes, I could just head to the venue and find a seat…which was a pretty good idea as said screening was nearly sold out (something I take partial credit for). Fortunately, it was only an hour long and I found myself in the shortest Chipotle line I’d ever encountered in Baltimore.

With that formality out of the way, it was time to get back (yes, the room was turned this time) and hammer out my thoughts on my second film and rewrite the review from this morning. This was going to be a long night…

## Film Fest 2015: Friday (Part 1)

Note: I missed the first full day of the Maryland Film Festival due to a delayed flight. I was supposed to see my first show at 7:15 that evening, but I didn’t land at BWI until 9:45pm so my coverage is a tad abbreviated – particularly since it was cheaper to leave on Sunday (actual last day of the festival) rather than Monday.

I found the tent village at 10:05am after dealing with a disappointing breakfast in the hotel restaurant and a particularly demanding – and entitled – homeless woman at the Circulator stop on Fayette St. If I had time, I would have stopped at the McDonald’s next to the village and gotten a REAL breakfast, but I was there to get tickets not to eat.

Tickets prices have gone up since my last visit from $10 up to$12, but there was a “3 for \$30” promotion that I didn’t notice until after I already purchased my FOUR tickets. Though I will say the volunteer at the festival tent was friendly even if I had to explain to her the times and venues to her so she could explain them back to me. How do I keep getting into these stupid sitcom-like situations anyway?

I arrived at the Walters Art Museum about a half hour before my first movie was set to start and took 15 minutes to write down everything that happened to me today before putting away my notebook and heading inside to the auditorium…just to find the film would be “delayed” (not the word I wanted to hear) due to “minor technical difficulties.”

The program, started about 10 minutes behind schedule, but since there was no “host” the film started immediately. I won’t get into my thoughts on the film here, but I fell asleep twice during its 104 minute runtime.

I walked down Charles St towards the Inner Harbor looking for someplace to have a nice lunch. I didn’t want fast food or a food truck, but an actual sit down meal so I was disappointed when the time on the check from Pizzeria Uno was only “1:37pm” – I still had nearly three hours until my next movie!

I took the Circulator back to the hotel, but the room wasn’t turned yet. I considered going down to the pool while waiting for housekeeping for come by, but it was too cloudy/breezy to swim so I stayed put and struggled through my first review until it was time to leave for my second screening.

## Orlando Apt Hunting: Day 1

My first tour of the day was at 1pm. I left the hotel immediately after lunch and found out that Google Maps gave the wrong directions right out of the gate. I spent almost 45 minutes trying to find a place that was only a 15 minute walk from the hotel.

“Wait,” the leasing agent said incredulously. “You WALKED here all the way from Disney? That’s impossible – that’s at least a 30 minute walk plus buses to anywhere else in the world!”

Congratulations, you lost your sale right there. However, I wasn’t about to waste a 45 minute walk so I dutifully continued my tour. The unit (which I was told was the “only one available”) was small – literally half the size of my current unit in Baltimore – and at the very back of a pretty if sprawling complex.

I return to the hotel and try to check my e-mail, but I couldn’t connect to the free in-room wi-fi service. So I go downstairs to the lobby and set up an appointment for later that afternoon. I went back upstairs and fell asleep prolly from all the walking in the shade-less heat.

The next apartment I toured wasn’t all that hard to find – it was directly across the street from the hotel village. This unit wasn’t huge either, but it was considerably larger than the one I toured 3hrs ago. It had a large screened-in porch (it was on the ground level), a small kitchen and a walk-in master closet that was about a third the size of the one I have in Baltimore.

I thank the owner for his time, and head back across the street. This time I was able to connect to wi-fi so I checked if there were any new ads posted. There were – TWO of them at the complex I toured this morning. Both of them are “available now.” This means the agent means either the agent lied to me…or he’s lying to other prospective tenants – both scenarios are pretty bad.

## Closing time

Wow, I just forced myself to check the site stats on my blogs: Only 338 unique visitors for my mobile gaming blog since October of 2012 (the art\theatre blog is around 1200 but it got an inherited readership… and a six month head start).

I don’t care how many people read THIS blog, but for the other two that number it is downright discouraging – to the point that it makes justifying their existence next to impossible. That’s why today when I posted on a story I wrote back in December (and dated as such), I followed it up with a simple graphic dated two weeks later (Dec 29th) with the caption “sleep tight…and Servus.”

I also plan on doing the same for the art\theatre blog when the theatrical season ends in late May, and the truth is: it’s a long time coming. I’ve been increasingly bored with the whole routine lately. Seeing shows ONLY because I feel I HAVE to, and I realized that not only is that unfair to the actors\set designers\etc. but, more importantly, it also isn’t a very compelling reason to continue writing a blog I have zero passion for.

The only problem real problem I see with this decision is that it means I’ll be unemployed (again), but like the saying goes:

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…

## Missed connections

Everything about today was off, which stinks since it was the only good day this weekend (rained all day on Friday, snow expected on Sunday).

I left the apartment at 10:48am, made my way down the hill towards Charles St and as I began eating my sandwich, I could see the northbound circulator zipping by the window. I thought nothing of it until I was finished eating and made my way around the corner just as the same bus was pulling away from the curb. Great, now I’m stuck waiting out here in the cold until…I checked my phone for “next bus” time (which, naturally, wasn’t working), and when I looked up again there was another southbound circulator pulling up to the curb.

I arrived at Inner Harbor at 11:31am and the first thing I saw when I disembarked the bus was the westbound circulator passing above me on Pratt St. This time it really was a 15 minute wait (not counting my time walking to the stop), and, because they realigned the western part of the route and renamed some of the stops, I had no clue where I was going when I got on.

I disembarked at the renamed Mt Clare St (which was located in front of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, but now two blocks away with a different name) at 12:01pm just as the whistle of the departing 12’o’clock train blew. As you can guess by now, that was the train I was hoping to catch when I left this morning.

So I enter the museum and a young man sells me my ticket for the exhibits, holiday layouts and the train ride to Mt Clare House (the only reason I was visiting the museum today). I wander around the roundhouse looking at all the elaborate holiday layouts which all looked almost exactly like they did last year (to be fair, all S-guage layouts look like cheap plastic junk to me). Then I went outside, walked around their permanent outdoor layout and got a quick snack in their café before it was time to board the train.

I made my way to the platform, told the ticket taker I was going to Mt Clare and he told me to take the car on the right. The attendant saw the Mt Clare ticket, and he directed me to the door on the right. I walked about halfway through the first car until I found an open seat with an unobstructed window. I sat down and about a minute later the train whistle blew and we began our slow and initially scenic ride through west Baltimore. As the train passed into less scenic area of the route, Frosty made his way through the cars to wave and have his picture taken as his grumpy-looking handler gave out lollipops (just to the kids).

Ten minutes into the trip, the train stops for a minute or so and then begins moving backwards (technically forward as the engine was facing the wheelhouse as we left). I asked the conductor when they were letting people off and he hems and haws and eventually gets around to saying I missed back when we stopped.

So the train pulls into the same station it left 20 minutes ago with me still on it. I step off the platform the conductor pulls me and an older couple aside as he proceeds to wish the rest of the guests a good day. Eventually, a manager comes over gives the three of us was a halfway sincere apology and instead of a refund he offers us complimentary driving directions so we can drive ourselves there in our own cars on our schedules. This is, of course, really nice of him because if I take the 2pm train, I’d have no way of getting back.

That’s when I had to tell him about the accident that nearly took my life and how the state awarded me for my pain and suffering by revoking my license. I literally cannot drive so if I don’t take the train I cannot get there (unless I leave the museum, wait around for a cab, give the driver precise turn-by-turn directions, pay him for my time and tip them for the pleasure of their being rude to me). He then offered to “let” me ride again and they would make sure I got off at the manor (apparently, they run a special, unadvertised pick-up-only trip to the mansion at 3pm).

It turns out, when I was finished with the manager I checked my watch and it was 1:25pm so I had just enough time to use the restroom on the far side of the roundhouse before heading back to the platform. Oddly enough, now everyone was keen to direct me to the “Mt Clare car” (even though they knew full well where I was headed on my previous journey) which was empty save for one other family.

As I sat down in a seat with an unobstructed window, a worker with an orange\yellow vest told me I “couldn’t sit there” (no explanation given) and then leads me to the front of the car and points to a seat next to the other family. “Sit here,” he said pointing to a seat with an unobstructed view of an informational poster and then promptly left through the end door. If I wanted scenery, I could just lean my head really far back in the seat.

Fortunately, Santa arrived (with the same grumpy attendant from before) to take pictures with the other family but when he was finished with them the conductor opened the train door so all I got from the jolly old elf was a pat on the back and shove out the door.

The mansion, like the 15 foot platform the train drops you off on, was smaller than it looked from the tracks. Granted there were additions, subtractions, restorations and the excavated outline of its foundations (though very little is mentioned of the latter on their website). Like most historic homes, the rooms were roped off with a docent standing at the entrance to explain the purpose of each area. They even had a special wedding gown on display in the master bedroom (which I initially mistook for a part of the bedspread).

As nice as the grounds and period furnishings were, I was there for the “holiday open house,” and I was sorely disappointed with what I saw. I liked how they had musicians in the foyer playing live carols, but the house was barely decorated. Yes, there was a Christmas tree in a corner by the entrance, but most of the wreaths\greens were shoved off into a side room with a plain handmade sign that read “for sale.” Even with the room by room tour, I was in and out of the house well within time to catch the train back to the museum.

I disembarked the train just in time to hear the announcement about closing “promptly in 30 minutes” which was just as well since I was leaving anyway – a full hour behind schedule. I made my way two blocks west on Pratt St to the new circulator stop, and was surprised to see it come around the corner as I arrived at the stop. Naturally, the driver turns to us and says he’s off duty and we’d have to wait on the bus until his “relief driver” arrived (about ten minutes, but at least the bus was heated).

I took the circulator to Pratt\Howard and just as I was coming off a man was standing there telling me he needed change for the light rail. Could I please help him? I considered crossing the tracks and slowly making my way over to Fell’s Point for the boat parade and lighting of the Christmas tree, but it was way too cold to stand around so I headed over to the ticket machines. Besides, I knew I’d probably run into more panhandlers as I approached the harbor.

A Penn-Camden train came around 4:07pm, but it was full. Ten minutes later, another shuttle train arrived – and it was nearly empty. When the train arrived at Mt Royal station, I disembarked without being hassled for change, but finding out that the Starbucks behind the station had closed – an hour ago.

I didn’t get a hot coffee, but it was still warmer back in the apartment than it was outside…