Apr, 2013

Vimeo works. Blip works. DailyMotion works. Porn sites work. YouTube? Needs special attention.

YouTube’s performance has been going downhill for over a year now. It started gradually. Videos would take longer and longer to buffer. It used to be possible to pause a video and allow it to load for a while so that it would play all the way through without stopping. Then that stopped working. Pausing the video also paused the buffering. Videos would only buffer as the video was playing and then only a few seconds ahead. Later, videos would buffer partially and stop.  Buffer a little then stop. Buffer. Stop. Red light. Green light. Until the five minute video was finally complete…twenty minutes later.

Even as annoying as that scenario was, somehow I built up the mental  fortitude to deal with it without complaint. First world problems. But recently, YouTube videos have literally become unwatchable. That’s not hyperbole. True story: I attempted to watch a few videos and each refused to even play! Even after refreshing the browser, clearing the cache and all that other nonsense techs tell you to do that doesn’t get to the heart of the problem.

YouTube totally gave up. It just quit. Rolled over on its back and died. This is a massive problem for a video site to have. Videos should be watchable as opposed to not watchable IMHO.

And I’m not the only one who has experienced this issue. In fact, my experience is predated by many others. There are countless threads on the Google Groups forums going as far back as 2009. Clearly this issue is widespread and growing. Not just in the U.S. But also worldwide.

The strongest theories regarding the reason for this issue include: YouTube servers misbehaving, YouTube having a scaling issue or a glitchy update, and/or ISP throttling. But so far, the theories are really just guess work. No one seems to have any hard evidence of any theory because YouTube is mum about the issue and ISPs are tight lipped, leaving users to seek out and discover a solution for themselves. One thing seems clear however: the problem doesn’t appear to be you, dear Internet User. Your Internet speed is not the problem. The size of the video you’re trying to view is not the problem. Your browser is not the problem. Your operating system is not the problem. It is a YouTube/ISP problem. And it doesn’t appear that they are rushing to fix it.

Of all the various solutions being tossed around—not by YouTube or ISPs, but from fellow users like you and me—most didn’t work for me at all. One worked temporarily (Thank you, Mitch). Another is currently working for me (Thank you, Ashish ). But I’m not confident any solution is going to be permanent. Workarounds have a history of being temporary. Because they don’t get to the heart of the problem, which is the job of YouTube and the ISPs.

But thank you to all the users seeking and sharing solutions. As of now, I’m back to watching cats play with vacuums and twerkin’ videos.

Dec, 2012

I’m not a film reviewer/critic. I have yet to find a professional critic who completely shares my tastes in entertainment. But that’s because we’re all just people and we like different stuff. And that’s cool.

The Hobbit

All across the Internet, reviews of  THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY warned me of a bloated movie-going experience upon viewing Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth. And if I were to nitpick the film, I’d surely find flaws—areas where elements could be tightened up and what not. But flaws are in everything. Because nothing and no one is perfect. Not even the greatest films of all time.

And for me, THE HOBBIT not only worked as filmed, but I found it entertaining, funny, and enchanting.

One of the most frequent criticisms thrown at AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY is the dwarfs’ extended stay at Bilbo’s hole in the ground at the very beginning of the film. It actually doesn’t take that long. It takes about as long as it took Frodo to leave the Shire in FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. Maybe even faster. And it also strikes similar notes of FotR with a few quick nods to that first film in the previous trilogy.

In FotR, the extended opening sequence was important for raising the stakes. I think the slow build of THE HOBBIT serves a different but similar purpose, and honestly, the first time I watched FotR, I had a similar feeling—that it took a long time to get where it was going. But after multiple viewings of that film, I’ve grown to appreciate the slow build that introduced us to the Hobbits. And going into AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, I kinda expected the journey to begin almost, but not quite, leisurely. Thus, I enjoyed spending time getting to know the dwarfs, reuniting with Gandalf and empathizing with young Bilbo. Especially, after anticipating that once things got going the story would only grow more intense. That’s what stories are supposed to do.

“A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

As an audience (especially in these modern times), we tend to rush a story along because we want to see what’s next. Heck, in this particular case, we already know what’s next. That’s precisely why we want to hurry it up. But the characters themselves must remain true to the world they exist in regardless of speed. Storytelling isn’t particularly about fast or slow. It’s about telling the truth of the characters and that world. And that’s what Peter Jackson has done.

Aug, 2012


I feel as if Tumblr as a whole gets upset far too easily. If you see someone doing something, like, say, eating meat (this is just an example), you can bet there will be someone there to viciously attack the person.

They will insult them, degrade them and harass them so that the whole world knows what an awful person they are. But when it comes straight down to it, harassment of that nature isn’t beneficial to anyone, not even the one sending it.

What does the sender achieve? What kind of a life must one lead, in which they are filled with so much negativity that they must delegate it to others? Why would someone choose to live their life this way? Not only are you lowering the quality of life of another human being, you are lowering the quality of your own. Calling someone “disgusting” and berating their life choices- regardless of which choice that may be- makes you no better than those at places like the Westboro Baptist Church, where religious extremists do just the same thing to people every day.

It also does not help the other party. Do you honestly think that someone is going to listen to you while you berate them and insult them? Do you really think insulting someone’s choices will make them “see the light”? Because it won’t. You aren’t facilitating change; you’re facilitating hate.

The point of this post isn’t to upset anyone. It’s to ask Tumblr to be a little more positive. Try to be happy. Optimistic. Don’t harass those around you for their life choices. It will make everyone happier. Try not to be hateful. Because for every nice and accepting person on Tumblr, there is a veritable hoard of hateful people standing right behind them.

So let’s just try and get along, all right?

I would even extend this more broadly toward American culture as a whole. Not just Tumblr. These days, when two party’s have a disagreement, they fight it out to the death. The other side must not coexist! And I’m not just talking politics. I’m also talking Janet vs. Americans who hate breasts; Kanye vs Taylor; [Insert comedian here who said comedic stuff] vs. [people who don’t share that comedian’s sense of humor]

It’s becoming more and more frequent that when someone to does or says something someone disagrees with, they get bullied into an apology or into disappearing all together. Some even receive death threats.

Now, death threats are an extreme example of harassment and it can be argued that the they come from the most extremist of personalities, who are few, existing on the fringes of any group. I would agree, mostly.

It can also be argued that dissenting voices tend to be loudest due to their passion. We barely hear from the kind and thoughtful personalities because they’re so soft spoken. Again, I would agree with this.

However, any amount of unkindness and lack of civility helps no one or a situation…if, in fact, helping is what these people are trying to do. Sometimes I’m not so sure. And the mentality of such individuals tends to imply that they are immune to making mistakes themselves, which is obviously untrue.

When we do something dumb, we let it slide with an explanation, but when someone else does something dumb, we crucify them.

It seems that portions of American society is losing comprehension of the subtle options in between love and hate, good and bad, right and wrong etc. There’s usually a middle ground, but we seem to be blinded by the forest of “Likes and Dislikes”. Indifference, tolerance, understanding, and the concept of “Live and Let Live” is becoming a lost art.

Aug, 2012

I am going on my annual hiatus from the Internet, beginning effective immediately.

This is actually the first time I’m ever making such an announcement. The last few times I went on hiatus from the Internet, I just simply disappeared. And no one cared. *sad face*

This time is different because I’ve developed quite a few friendships here and have amassed enough of a modest following that I thought it might be considerate to let you know that I’ll be gone for a while. Don’t want anyone to think I kicked the bucket.


So, what is this hiatus junk about? Why are you doing this?

Twice a year I take two longish breaks from the Internet. One is just for me to recharge my batteries, the other is dedicated to my writing.

Different stages of the writing process require their own specific level of focus. Writers of fiction must live in an entirely separate world from reality and embody the head-space of our fictional character(s). It all must be real to us so it can be real to the reader. And with my current novel, I’ve arrived at the stage that requires me to stay in Wonderland for awhile and see how far down the rabbit hole goes.

But just as a smartphone ringing in a quiet movie theater can jolt you out of the illusion of a film, so can the Internet barricade a writer out of his or her story.

My stories are more important to me than any other creative work that I do, and I only want to devote much deserved time to them. I have quite a bit of work to do on my unfinished novel MONSTER BAKERY and I’m going to focus on it with every fiber of my being with the least amount of distractions.

My Internet usage is one of the few distractions under my control. So, I will be cutting the Internet cord—figuratively speaking of course. That means zero social media. No twittering. No facebooking. No tumblring. Nothing. Not even to check updates. All push notifications, except email, have been set to off.

In addition to writing, editing and world-building during this hiatus, I’ll also be binge reading many of the books languishing in my “to-be-read” pile. They have been shamefully neglected in favor of bite-size servings from my fellow bloggers. I’ll have to re-acclimate myself to reading long-form text.

What’s Monster Bakery about?

A teenage sorcerer gets his first job ever working at a magical bakery run by monsters who despise his infamous reputation as a monster slayer.

How long will this hiatus last? When will you be back?

Each year I try to go for a weeks’ hiatus, initially. But it often goes longer. My longest hiatus was a little over a month. We shall see.

Side note: Batman may vanish and return for the exact same amount of time as I do. I assure you that it’s merely a coincidence. We are not the same person.

You’re not going to connect to the Internet at all?

Usually, I go cold turkey. I completely stop all Internet usage and just focus on the task at hand. I shut off my modem and become the old man who lives upstairs and starves his pets and doesn’t come out the house cuz he thinks his car’s possessed.

Why Now?

Why not now? It just feels right.

What if I need to get in touch with you?

Those that contact me regularly already know how to contact me. But if you’d like to say hello and check up on me, I’m always available through email: [email protected]

Email is probably the only thing I must check regularly so if you show my inbox some love, I’ll see it and will respond. Any asks sent to me will be answered privately when I return.

I’m going to unfollow you since you won’t be feeding my dash.

That’s unfortunate. And also not a question. But it’s cool, and sorely expected. I’m not here to hold anyone hostage. I appreciate everyone who follows me and I would love for each and every one of you to be present when I return. But I don’t expect you to do anything you don’t want to do. Do as you please. I won’t hold it against you.

You’re going to miss out on lots of cool shit. You’ll be out of the loop.

I know. I actually look forward to severing myself from the “always on” nature of the Interwebs.

Every year that I go on a hiatus, I return feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I like to think it makes me harder, better, faster, stronger. It’s a lovely feeling. I highly recommend the experience.

Remember, this is not goodbye, my friend. It’s: See you later, Alligator. 🙂

Aug, 2012

In her tongue-in-cheek article, ‘Best of’ lists – what are they good for? Absolutely nothing, Bim Adewunmi gives these interesting reasons why she hates lists such as the British Film Institutes Greatest Films Poll:

• They remove originality of thought. Have you ever tried to compile a list of the best books of all time? Have you automatically written down any or all of these usual suspects – Dickens, Nabokov, Austen, or Woolf – without even realising? We’ve all done it. These authors and their many works are undoubtedly excellent, but is that the only reason they came to mind? No, they’ve been “normed” into your life. Who wants to be the lone wolf standing up in class and saying The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic is their favourite book of all time when everyone else is nodding soberly along to Madame Bovary? Break free of the tyranny of lists! PS: the Shopaholic series is a delight.

• They kill joy. We’ve all used the clapping Orson Welles gif to punctuate Tumblr posts, sure, but have you ever watched all of Citizen Kane? All my life, I’ve been told it is the best thing my eyes will ever see. I have Citizen Kane fatigue. This is what lists do – when the hype gets too much, all joy is extracted from the endeavour. For example, I’m fairly obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In previous years, I would wax lyrical about how amazing the show was, sitting people down and explaining – season by season – how layered and brilliantly conceived the show was, before pressing a box set into their hands, telling them: “Just watch it.” Inevitably, my overactive hype machine sucked all the joy from the situation. The simple pleasure of accidentally stumbling upon the magnificence was gone. The expectations are too high, the disappointment inescapable. These days, I’ve scaled back my enthusiasm. If people want to appreciate the wonder of a groundbreaking and perfectly pitched series that exquisitely explored the ideas of autonomy and feminism via a wisecracking teenager who battles supernatural beings, they will.

• They confirm your most depressing fear: you are desperately uncool. By definition, lists are exclusionary, separating the wheat from the perceived chaff. And while we all have views that might be considered a bit left field, we imagine those mark us out as cool mavericks, not social pariahs. But imagine the explicit confirmation that you’re wrong about everything – your favourite film, your most treasured book, your most beloved album. All wrong. Your very opinion: invalidated. No one wants that. The NHS couldn’t handle the strain of all the crushed egos.

My comments after the jump

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Aug, 2012









Want to see more? Browse beautiful photos at Yellowstone National Park, as well as #grandprismaticspring!

Located in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Prismatic is the largest hot spring in the United States — third largest in the world — spanning 80 by 90 meters (250 by 300 feet). The spring’s picture perfect vivid colors are the result of hard working pigmented bacteria that grows around the edges of the mineral-rich water, and the center of the pool is completely sterile due to extreme heat.

Fun Fact: The Grand Prismatic Spring served as inspiration for when I was imagining the Norse primordial void Ginnungagap as I wrote Burn in Hades.

Excerpts from Burn in Hades:

…he reached the abyss of Ginnungagap. It stretched for many periods of sleep in front of him and miles to the east into the Inferno.


…he traveled along the orange and green edges of the Ginnungagap until he came to a bridge, which cut through the yawning abyss…


The dark blue liquid that filled the gap was frozen, yet at the same time it boiled like a stew. It was stuck in a continual loop of freezing and thawing into bubbles of gas, and the steamy mush smelled worse than the river of puss in Xibalbá. Sometimes it spewed so high into the air it touched the black clouds, and what the sky didn’t boil to vapor would instantly freeze in place, only to thaw seconds later and crash down on the boat in slushy chunks and then evaporate.

See my version of Ginnungagap on the fantasy map I designed.

Jul, 2012

My modem decided to not live on this planet anymore.

The clone arrives in 24-48 hours. I’ll resume normal posting by Friday after me and the clone get properly aquainted.