Friday, October 21, 2011

Closing Time.

I'm closing up shop.

In the words of Death, I'm turning out the lights, putting the chairs up on the tables, and locking the doors.

This will be my last post at this blog. I've mostly failed at keeping it current, I've mostly failed at saying the things I really wanted to say, and I'm mostly frustrated with the way it's turned out.

Despite all that, you--my dearest readers--have been much more supportive than I've deserved, much more attentive than I have been, and much more forgiving of my scheduling (or lack thereof) than most sane people with normal attention spans would ever have dreamt. I want to thank you, from the bottom of my cold black heart, for everything you have done to encourage me.

In fact, it's because of you that I have the courage to take the next step: I've started my very own website.

Though it's not finished yet, and I'm currently tinkering with options, and I'm learning my CMS with all of the grace and poise of a baby giraffe on roller-skates, I have staked my claim at www.mitchellwillie.com to my own little personal corner of the interwebs. I'll be using it as both my personal and professional homepage, a platform from which to launch official news about this writing thing I'm trying to make my life, and (most importantly) a place to connect with my readers and friends. I invite you all to join me there, where you'll find I'm hosting the full archive of this site, complete with all your comments and love.

As Semisonic said, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." I'm hoping that this beginning's end has birthed something wonderful for my future. I hope you'll join me there.

Closing time. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

So easy, a Tea Partier can understand it!

I'm going to do something 99% of you don't have the balls to do.

I'm going to divulge my full, complete, unabridged financial situation online, to total strangers, on the Internet.

Why would I do such a thing? What could possess me to reveal such a personal thing to scads of people I've never met, opening myself to ridicule and derision on the World Wide Web?

Because apparently that's what it will take for some of you to understand why I support the Occupy Wall Street movement, and its offshoots and splinter protests.

I am a white, Republican male, and college ruined my life. I decided to go to a local University, knowing my grades in high school hadn't been the best (but that's a rant for another industry). I'd always had problems keeping a job because I do have a touch of an attitude problem--I like to be treated as a human being in the workplace, and employers don't like that so much. Again, rant for another industry.

So I get it in my head to go to college (I won't lie, there was a really cute blonde involved) and make something of myself. I had no credit. I come from a poor family (sorry for outing you financially, mom & dad!), and I wasn't working at the time. I didn't have the grades for scholarships, and as I'm not a minority and can't get pregnant, I only qualified for one grant.

I had to borrow money for the application fee, and if my high school drama teacher hadn't paid for my ACT test my junior year, I'd really have been up a creek, but I got things settled themselves. I got a job on campus, and a credit card to help build good credit (having no credit is worse than having bad credit), and a cell phone to keep in touch with the folks. They were paying most of it, for which I still owe them, but I footed most of the bill on student loans.I didn't own a car (couldn't afford one) and I could barely afford to do laundry, but I made it. And I was proud of myself.

Until my 8-5 classes (five days a week) and my midnight work schedule (12-8) started to clash with my homework (usually at least 2 hours per class each night) and the extracurricular activity I had, fencing, which was also my only non-walking-to-class exercise. Oh, and the cute blonde? She wanted a cut of my time, too. And my neighbors didn't understand that some of us slept from 5-10, and liked to blare loud music while they studied. And I got shoved in charge of a small campus newsletter protesting the campus-run journalism organization's tastelessness and unprofessionalism, a position I did not request.

It was just too much. I took a semester off, and though I filed all the proper paperwork, the University still claims that I owe them $1300 because the paperwork was misfiled somehow. This also caused my student loans to come out of deferrment immediately. Since I didn't go to school there, I also lost my on-campus job, causing the full weight of the cost of my "education" to be felt immediately.

In the years since, I have had a run of bad luck with bad employers. I've been asked to leave a job because they demanded that my sick days be covered by a doctor's excuse, though I got no health insurance and they refused to pay me enough to see a doctor. When my parents bought me a car for my birthday and it basically imploded, I was working as a delivery boy. They cut my hours because I couldn't drive, but that also meant I couldn't afford to fix my car. I've had jobs blatantly steal money from me, denying me paychecks I have worked 20-40 hours a week to earn for reasons they've made up, because I couldn't afford to take them to court over it.

When I was in college, I lost my bank account. There's this lovely thing called "ChexSystems" that banks join that's like a credit-reporting-agency stoolpigeon, only for your checking accounts. Since most banks belong to it, screw up at one bank (or in my case, lose the receipt that proves you paid that bank off in full), and they'll hold it against you for at least 5 years, and you won't be able to get a checking account anywhere else. Last time I looked, it would cost me $350 plus the opening minimum deposit to clear up this ChexSystems nonsense from before 2007.

Since I can't get a checking account, there are a lot of places that will hire me, but refuse to pay me--most businesses refuse to issue paper payroll checks anymore, and rely solely on direct deposit. They won't FIRE you, they'll just not pay you. And somehow they can get away with that without being prosecuted into the ground.

I live in a rural area. The city limits of the town my Post Office says I live in is a two-hour walk away. It is the nearest source of employment. I don't have a car because I can't afford one, but I can't find a job without walking at least two hours in either the hot Kentucky sun, or the chilling Kentucky wind, and looking a wreck when I actually get to anywhere hiring.

And should I find anything in this little podunk town, I will most likely not get it. It's the kind of town where everyone knows everybody, so one irrational dislike will lead you to becoming a pariah quickly. I can't get a job in the service industry, either, because I can't afford dental care. Nobody will hire a waiter with a broken smile.

I can't look in other towns, with more possibilities, because I can't afford the gas money required to borrow a vehicle. $10 might as well be "I won the lottery!" to me, and spending it on an all-day job hunt in another town, which rarely turns up any possibilities, only becomes more complicated if I actually become employed in said town. How do I expect to borrow someone's car for enough paychecks to buy a clunker of my own?

I cannot get a credit card. My credit is shot because my student loans are in default--between my inability to find stable work, and outright lying by my lenders. I could get a secured credit card to raise my score (a whopping 502!), but that would require a deposit of cash. At a bank.

Banks are institutions, like credit companies, that only make money if you're poor. They charge you to use your own money, money you've earned, and they charge you more when you run out. They cannot remain viable unless you are in debt. This means I have to resort to cash, which I cannot use online (where most of my shopping is done, due to my lack of a vehicle), and most businesses frown nowadays if you aren't paying with credit or debit. I've actually been turned out of an establishment for attempting to pay in cash.

Furthermore, because of their consistency to charge excessive fees when they know (as they're handling your money) that you cannot afford them, banks and credit corporations are actually creating money out of thin air; charging you dollars that don't physically exist, because there's no caps on what they can charge. The U.S. Gov't does this as well, leading us to our current economic issue:

The more money "exists", the less each bit of it is worth.

By charging you cash that doesn't physically exist, cash that's already well beyond its ability to be backed by tangible assets, banks and credit unions are getting rich with invisible money WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY completely devaluing the American dollar.

So, let's review:

  • I cannot get a job without a bank account.

  • I cannot get a job without a car.

  • I cannot get a car without a bank account.

  • I cannot get a car without better credit.

  • I cannot get a bank account without a job.

  • I cannot get better credit without a job.

  • I cannot get a car without a job.

  • I cannot afford basic dental or healthcare without a job.

  • I have been turned away from jobs for my dental problems.

  • I have been turned away from jobs due to my credit rating.



If, after reading this, you still believe that the current economic system of deflating the dollar by backing it with government trust and no actual tangible value, leaving it to be created and destroyed at whim digitally by banks, credit companies, and the U. S. Government, actually works, please either
  • Give me some of the billions in your bank account, or

  • Go have your head examined.


Hope your health insurance covers that.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Open Letter to mc chris

We love your music. Really, we do. You spit clever and dorky. Your voice, while unorthodox, grows on the listener after only a couple of tracks. The work you do to raise awareness and cash for CF research is awesome. Your appearances on ATHF steal the spotlight in those episodes, that shit you did with Childish Gambino is my favorite jam, and everybody adores your Goonies rant.

All that being said, chris (can we call you "chris"?), you do not have the best PR stance.

I understand rappers are also average joes (one of my favorites told me just last night "WE IS ALL PEOPLE!"). I understand everybody gets down sometimes, and when people say things that hurt our feelings, we get a little bent about it. The difference is how we handle it.

I'm neither rich nor famous, so I can't say I know how you feel, but when people I don't know talk shit about me I handle it like an adult. I don't focus on it for days or weeks, making mad multiple posts on FB and Twitter about how I'm sick of the haters.

Fuck, I wish I HAD me some haters. That's how you know you made it. If I had bitches talking shit about me all the time, I'd know I was famous enough to flame. That's a big deal.

Yet, everytime someone talks trash about you, you let it get personal. You let it get inside you and fester and hurt your feelings and make it out to be more than it is. Some people are jealous. They will talk shit. That's a professional issue, not a personal one. It's got to do with your professional persona, and your music, and your fame.

Maybe they're jealous, maybe they genuinely don't like your music and they have nothing better to do with their lives but troll you because they can't get laid. Whatever the reason, LET. THEM. TALK. SHIT.

Every time you respond to your WHOLE FANBASE the way you have recently, two things happen:
  1. Kissasses come out of the woodwork to dick-ride you in hopes that you'll acknowledge their puny existence.
  2. You lose real fans.


That first group is gonna love you no matter what you do, because you're famous and they're not. They're not real fans, they're nut-huggers from the Alien porn parody, riding your dick because you're famous and they aren't. They're living vicariously through you, and may or may not actually give two half-price fucks about you or your music genuinely.

That second group, though? That second group is the group that comes to your shows because they like what you do. They buy your records because they fucking love your music. They go to your shows because they love hearing your rants. They're loyal, but they're not blind. They love you, but not enough to put up with abuse.

I'm in this second group. I fucking LOVE your music. Your tunes are the seed for my most-listened-to Pandora playlist, I blare your shit in the car, I listen to it while I code and game and read comics and shit. I'm forever telling people to check your music out, give you a chance, quoting your song lyrics as evidence of genius.

But I won't be spoken to that way.

I respect your art, and your struggles, but I respect myself, too. And if you don't respect me, as a fan, then maybe you don't deserve fans. I'll just file you away in the box marked "Makes Great Music, But Is A Total Douchebag" with Kanye "What-A-Twat" West.

I'm sorry you've had it rough lately, mc, but don't take it out on your fans. Don't. It's bullshit, and we don't fucking deserve it.

In closing, let me try my hand at this "rap shit":

You may think you're flawless,
that you're the most stylish,
But Donald Glover picked the wrong name:
bitch, you bein' childish.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Intolerance of "Tolerance"

Lately, I've been hearing a lot of people speaking out against religious tolerance. Almost as many more have started championing religious tolerance. It occurs to me that neither of these groups really realizes what those words mean.

Pro-tolerance shouters want every religion to be "right." They want every religion to be seen as the right path "for you." They're religious individualists, believing that whatever you choose to believe is accurate and correct, that all religions share the truth, and that everyone will go to their faith's afterlife when they die. This is not tolerance. This is pluralism.

Anti-tolerance loudmouths say that none but their religion (or no religion, as the case may be) is "right." They want every other religion to be seen as the wrong path, publicly, for everyone. They're religious fundamentalists (or atheists) that insist that all views but theirs are rooted in superstition and lies, and that everyone but them (or no one) will go to an afterlife at all when they die, and therefore, only their way should be taught. This is not tolerance. This is ignorance.

Both of these camps believe that "tolerance" means "acceptance of truth" when religion is involved; that to have "religious tolerance" is to agree that all religions are true in their own ways. Tolerance is not acceptance of truth.

Tolerance, according to Google, means "the ability or willingness to tolerate (Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference) something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with."

For those of you following along at home, that means "religious tolerance" doesn't mean "all religions are right", it just means "a right to all religions." You don't have to believe the words of Moses, Christ, or Mohammed to tolerate Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. You don't have to believe Ganesh exists to tolerate Hinduism. Your answer to the famous Lovin' Spoonful song does not make you a Wiccan by default. Believing God is nonexistent is not a prerequisite for tolerating atheism. And believing in creationism doesn't mean you don't "tolerate" science.

Whatever your worldviews, whatever your faith (or lack thereof) teaches, religious tolerance is not "everyone is right." It just means "your faith is not my faith, but you have a right to have it."

Religious tolerance of this sort, the true sort, the sort where you keep your own beliefs in the absolute nature of your own faith, while acknowledging that others exist, is the sort that will start to bring about real conversations between faiths.

You don't have to like what they believe. Just know they have a right to believe it, even if you think it's wrong.

=Further Listening=

Friday, September 16, 2011

Here's to the Losers

Hi. For those of you just tuning in, my name is Mitchell, and I'm a fucking psychotic. writer.

That means I'm crazy. And spastic. And prone to bouts of depression, self-loathing, anger, and all manner of egotism. Whatever I feel, when I feel it, is the most real it's ever been.

Which means that my bad days are really, really bad. This was one of them.

But, as long as the Good Lord keeps making pussy and pork fat, I'll have something to live for.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

formspring.me

Ask me anything you'd like. Anything at all. http://formspring.me/steamboat28

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

GG, GG.

I have a list of role models that I cite to the public with frequency. It includes fictional characters (Willy Wonka), people of questionable morals (Vlad Tepes), and geniuses of all levels (from Einstein to Alton Brown). However, if you were too ask me to name only people who have had a serious impact on my life, my personality, and my worldview, only four people come to mind: Jesus Christ, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jim Henson, and Gary Gygax.

I'd to take a moment, on his birthday, to thank one of these people. He has helped me learn to solve my problems without fear or violence, he has shown me that there are a near-infinite number of solutions to almost every problem, and he has encouraged me to think outside the box.

He has helped me to make the greatest friendships with the greatest people I have ever known. He has given me a safe place to explore my personality, from either side of the cardboard screen. He's given this nerd boy something to do all those Saturday nights I could never get a date, and a place to show just what kind of person I can be. He's helped me tell stories in grand ways, and taught me the value of random chance. The worlds he created have been my imagination's playground for years, and I can only hope that my children, and their children, will appreciate them the way that I do.

Ernest Gary Gygax, wherever you are, whatever you're doing, thank you. Thank you for giving me a place to ask all those questions that don't fit into a normal day. Thank you for letting me use dice to understand that life isn't always fair, and to use my INT and CHA scores to overcome that. Thank you for showing me that DEX is far more useful than brute STR, that Craft (anything) really is worthwhile, and for helping me improve my Perform checks. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet the greatest adventuring party a guy could have, and letting this guild of wayfarers spread the joy of the worlds you've created to others.

I don't think it's a coincidence that you share initials with the phrase "good game." I think there's some cosmic humor in that fact that underlines the importance you've had in the industry, and in our hearts. I don't think I'd be the same without that printed cardboard screen, or those plastic dice in my hands. I don't think I'd be the person I am without the influence of Dungeons & Dragons, and your sense of adventure and wonder.

Thank you, Gary Gygax. Happy birthday, and until we can meet in the other plane, gg GG.