A Modest Social Media Proposal

by Shelt Garner

It definitely seems as though we’re in a twilight of the gods moment when it comes to technology and, specifically, social media. We’re careening towards a brave new world of AI — even, maybe, a Petite Singularity — and, as such, all our notions about the nature and importance of social media will seem rather quaint soon enough.

And, yet, I continue to feel a bit of frustration over how bad social media is these days. I have a very specific vision of how one might bring the fun back to social media. But, alas, I’m flat broke, can’t code and have no desire to learn. So, in that respect, all my talk about this matter is just very prolonged bout of mental masturbation.

That’s why I’ve found a lot of joy writing a novel — writing a novel is something I can actually do using the resources I have at hand.

But back to my social media vision.

The key thing is my little social media daydream addresses the sweetspot of the using, say, Twitter. What I would do is actually have a paid editorial staff that would post to the service so as to make it really useful.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, the service’s UX would be inspired by the old Usenet Newsgroups. Each user would have the ability to create an endless number of Groups that they would Post into. This idea solves a lot of problems when it comes to managing not only different elements of your life, but also grouping subjects together in a meaningful way.

Of course, by definition, having Groups causes an inherent design flaw that would have to be overcome. I think one solution to this problem is the use of the traditional newsfeed concept. As such, while you would subscribe to a Group, there would be a way to cut through all the Groups and see an excerpt of individual Posts within those groups.

That would be one way to prevent the problems associated with no just Usenet News, but Reddit as well.

Another element of this concept that I like is how within each Group you would have threaded full-page Posts. You could have essentially a whole multimedia Webpage that was threaded inside of a Group. This part of the service opens up all kinds of advertising possibilities.

Anyway, baring something I can’t predict this all just a daydream. It’s too bad. I think people would really enjoy it.

A ‘Woke Cancel Culture Mob’ Conundrum & The Six Novel Project I’m Working On

by Shelt Garner

I saw on Twitter today where someone was articulating an idea that is pretty much my worst fear at the moment — they essentially said “thanks, but no thanks” to people like me writing novels with non-white characters in them. Or, more specifically “love interests.”

The heroine of the first three novels in my six novel project looks like of like the above — that is, Nicole Scherzinger.

Well, jokes on you guys, my HEROINE is a POC — or, more specifically, Amerasian.

Now, there is a very specific reason for why I did this which gradually snowballed into something really cool. I needed an excuse for a character to abscond to South Korea later on in the series and what better way to do it than to make his mother — who is the protagonist of the first three novels — Amerasian?

I made this strategic move being only vaguely aware that there would be people in the POC community who would be annoyed that a CIS white male such as myself would do such a thing. I just did what I felt was best for the story, not really thinking about the broader creative and societal issues at play.

There are a lot of different ways this might play out. One is — no one will care and I’m over thinking things. Two is, if this series becomes as big as I want it to, EVERYONE will care and I’ll face something akin to an American Dirt situation.

…or Maggie Q?

Now, one issue that I find myself thinking a lot about these days is marketability. Is there a chance that the very thing I think is a positive — the organic “representation” in the novel, will be seen as too “woke” by some and that, by definition, will turn them off? I hope not.

I am dubious of the whole idea of a work of art being too “woke,” attributing most of people’s quibbles to what they’re watching or reading sacrificing good storytelling for banging a message over the audience’s head. I’m watching Andor right now and even though it’s obviously got some elements to it that might be thought of as “woke,” it’s good enough that I don’t even notice it.

…or maybe Olivia Munn?

It’s just a story. An interesting story that is, unfortunately, taking me some time to get into.

Anyway, I totally validate the criticism of CIS white men “telling the stories” of POC. Ok, I get it. But I’m ornery and, as such, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. The framework of the story is really, really strong and now all I have to do is buckle down and wrap up the first novel.

I Struggle To Imagine A World Where NBCUniversal Cancels SNL After The 2025 Season

by Shelt Garner

All good things must come to an end, and, yet….SNL? And, yet, apparently there are rumblings within NBCUniversal top brass of doing just that once Lorne Michaels retires after 50 years after the 2025 season. (The show first aired in 1975.)

Long-running SNL cast member Kenan Thompson

The only reason why I could maybe see the show being canceled is TV executives are so wealthy and oblivious to how the average person interacts with TV that they would see the show strictly from a monetary standpoint and not from an entertainment or cultural metric. To them, it’s too expensive for the ratings it gets and so, once Michaels isn’t there to protect the show, it’s time for it to go.

And, yet, SNL serves as such a crucial element in the comedy entertainment industrial complex — and has so many very powerful fans and allies in the industry that I suspect any attempt to actually end the show once and for all would come under a huge amount fire. A lot of people, young and old, really love SNL and would be shocked if it was canceled.

But I know how the real world works and there’s probably a 50 / 50 chance that SNL will, in fact, be canceled whenever Lorne Michaels retires. He may even ask that it be canceled so there’s no cruddy replacement with its name but none of the talent. That’s kind of a dark scenario, though.

More likely, I could see Michaels negotiating for SNL to move to ABC or CBS with some sort of assurance that it would live on in the streaming era for decades to come. Or, the TV suits at NBCUniversal could all scare the shit out of us, only to change their minds at the last moment and pick someone new to take over the show and we move on like nothing happened. Like how Trump wanted to turn the Kennedy blue Airforce 1 into something painted like a WWE event…and then nothing happened.

So, we’ll see.

CPAC’s Plot Against America

by Shelt Garner

As a loudmouth crank, the idea that the American Far Right is publicly and conspicuously embracing an autocratic thug like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán by giving him a starring role at the current CPAC meeting give me pause for thought. For a number of reasons, there is not a direct 1-to-1 between the United States and Hungary politically. Should the States slide into autocracy there’s a chance that we wouldn’t stop at a Hungary-style version. We could — glup — very well careen towards an autocracy that looks a lot more like Russia or Nazi Germany.

Issues like race, the far more flexible role of women, income disparity and the being a much, much bigger nation cause the US to either drive into the ditch of hard core, old school fascism or, well, a civil war.

But I’ve all but convinced myself that we’re not going to have a civil war. The center Left in the US is just so concerned about dumb shit that it’s going to be totally outmaneuvered by American fascists like those at CPAC when the time comes. It definitely seems as though this is pretty much a forgone conclusion. The only doubt that it will happen is, well, I can’t predict the future and, as such, there’s always a chance that something I can’t expect might happen instead.

Viktor Orbán

What that might be, I don’t know.

The point is — it’s wishful thinking on the part of CPAC that they will get a Hungary-style autocracy in the United States. They are probably going to get an autocracy, but soon enough, once the connection between the governed and the government no longer exists, MAGA will consume the United States like the Nazis did Germany and, well, either get out or think long and hard about what you believe in, in the real world.

Long “Mueller, She Wrote” rants about how Trump is just about to be arrested won’t cut it anymore.

America On Edge

by Shelt Garner

For some time, I have suggested that all America needs is a slight push and all hell is going to break loose. And I still think that. There are two reasons why I believe this to be the case.

One is, I continue to get a trickle of people to this blog looking at my hysterical “terribly negative” predictions of doom and gloom for America’s future, specifically the possibility of civil war. Not that it’s all that many people who are thinking this, but there definitely are a number of people floating around the country thinking enough about civil war that they’re searching for it online.

The other is each new mass causality event in the United States seems to make people even more anxious than they already are. To me, that seems to indicate that the nation is a lot more on edge than it has been up until recently.

As such, it’s at least possible that if some big historic event happened in the US that left us all wondering Which Side Did It long enough for the guns to come out.

Or not. It could be that that isn’t at all what is going to happen. It could be that I’m overestimating how fucked up things are in the US and it will be a lot later, like around 2024 – 2025 before everything is primed for something catastrophic if we get just a little bit more pressure put on our society.

At ~100,000 Words At The End Of The Second Act Of The First Draft Of The First Novel In A Projected Five Novel Project

by Shelt Garner

After several years of hard work, I’m finally — finally — about where I want to be with this first novel. I’m now officially about to break the book (as you might say if you used magazine parlance) on the third act of this novel while being at about 100,000 words. That will put me still in the sweetspot of a first novel (80,000 – 120,000) once I wrap up this first draft.

Then I give myself a month off to read, daydream and generally develop. Then, around July 4th weekend, I’m going to throw myself back into the first novel. I’m hoping that I can keep the word count down. My fear is as the story gets better, the whole thing is going to balloon towards 200,000 words.

So, I’m going to have to combine a lot of scenes and maybe even reimagine some of the novel to make sure I don’t blow past the wordcount sweetspot. I thought I was going to do that with the first draft, to the point that I had a “second track” novel thought up that would be shorter and the calling card that I feared this novel couldn’t be because of word count.

But, now, I think maybe I can use this mystery-thriller as my calling card and the one I try to pitch to literary agents.

I always thought my first novel would be scifi. Oh well. Lulz. Let’s rock.

Fixing Star Wars

A lot of ink has been spilled by people complaining about Disney’s handling of the Star Wars franchise. They’re slowly getting better, but that improvement has come largely on the edges. The main franchise continues to be a shit show of half-measures and muddled movies that seem to be just crap put together in a hap-hazarded way.

The last few franchise movies have been so God-awful that I have simply walked out of them. The issue is not Kathleen Kennedy being “woke,” is that apparently Disney on an institutional level is not fans of the franchise and have no idea what to do with them.

For me, Disney has not one, but several existential problems they have to fix with the main franchise of Star Wars. All of these are extremely difficult to fix because of what Star Wars has become as a cultural and, most importantly financial standpoint.

Off the top of my head, the biggest problem of Star Wars is what you might call the “Bloatware Problem” Disney looks at Star Wars and sees dollah bills — selling toys — and also an opportunity to sell the “woke” agenda to a fan base of mostly center-Right men. Disney has done this to the point that the whole thing is unwatchable now.

But it gets worse.

Star Wars has always been camp for little kids. Despite the best efforts of middle-aged fanboys, Star Wars has no internal logic that functions. Things just happen for no fucking reason. They have begun to try to fix this problem by using the rubric “A Star Wars Movie” for some of the darker films, but Disney wants to sell toys, so it’s difficult to have sex or gore in a Star Wars movie.

There are no ready fixes to these problems.

I do think if they just would cool it with do ANY Star Wars movies for a few years, it might help to clear the air. Then I would really lean into using the massive universe that Star Wars has and explore the stories of lesser known characters.

Go to a planet that doesn’t have just one type of climate, for instance. Anyway, whatever. Until Star Wars gets its act together, I’m going to try to make my own interesting worlds for people to play in.

[Spoilers] Let’s Fix ‘No Time To Die’

by Shelt Garner

Ugh. No Time To Die was a really good film, and, yet, that third act was a huge let down. “Teerrbile,” as my some of the Southerners I know might say. The issue is this — we have this GREAT concept — Bond with a family in danger….and it’s just dropped when Little Bond Daughter bites the finger of the bad guy?

More Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the next Bond!

What the fuck where they thinking?

So, let’s fix it.

Act 1

Inciting Incident: Bond gets called back into service to stop The Bad Guy.

Bond finds out not only does he have a family, but The Bad Guy knows this too and has kidnapped them.
Act 2
His personal life and his mission keep intersecting in ways that force Bond to reflect on his life and all the women he’s banged over the years as well as what he might have had with Vespa. This happens in the context of vintage flashbacks from throughout the last 60 years of Bond that the audience sees in glimpses now and again.

Midpoint: Bond’s baby mamma dies in such a way that it leaves him thinking his daughter is dead, too — has a moment of grief.

He finds out his daughter isn’t dead and this only redoubles his efforts to stop the fiendish plot of The Bad Guy.

Bond manages to get his daughter back, but they’re on the run. The Bad Guys are chasing them through the woods and you lean in as you watch all of this, wondering, are they really going to kill Bond’s daughter? They don’t and the family Bond gets captured.

Bond is forced to have his “Bow, to Lord Zod” moment that is in the real movie. But, hopefully, you would have built out the emotional framework for this scene so when it happens, there is a lot more identification with the audience than what was actually there in the real movie. I found the real scene rather perfunctory.
Act 3
The Bad Guy escapes with Little Girl Bond and the chase is on. But this time, our Little Tyke Bond is far more street smart and makes life hell for The Bad Guy to the point that it’s both amusing like a Roger Moore Bond movie and emotionally compelling.

The climax of the movie is structured such that Bond is forced to work with his daughter for some reason. There’s a massive fight between Bond and The Bad Guy and just as it looks as if The Bad Guy is about to murder her dad, Little Tyke Bond shoves a Glock to her dad and he shoots The Bad Guy dead.

For a moment, all is well.

I would use the new 007 as the person who is babysitting little tyke Bond in the last few scenes as he prepares to kill himself off.

America’s Looming ‘Battle Royale’

by Shelt Garner

The American center-Left has to go beyond angry Twitter rants and move into the more difficult stage of figuring out what the fuck we’re going to do in the real world. The first thing we have to do is do triage. Things aren’t great.

American democracy is in its twilight.

Not only is autocracy very, very popular with huge swaths of the American body politic, you have Steve Bannon actively working on an “administrative coup.” So, it’s very possible that Trump is going to win fair and square without the aid of Bannon’s shenanigans.

So, what does that mean for people who believe in Lincoln’s dream?

We’re fucked.

If there isn’t a civil war, then I would suggest if you can to leave the country. Everyone who doesn’t believe in autocracy is going to leave the country gradually anyway, so lulz. For a lot of people, autocracy is an abstract that is difficult to understand in real terms. That is, of course, until ICE or The Patriot Front starts knocking heads and then, suddenly, the difference between autocracy and democracy becomes a lot more clear.

So, if we slip peacefully into autocracy, we simply gradually become identical politically to Russia and that’s it. In a generation President DeSantis will be eying a chunk of Canada in an effort to secretly have some sort of defense against a warming earth. (Or something.) Form follows function.

Now, we come to the other, more horrific possibility — civil war.

I still don’t think we’re going to have a civil war. And, yet, Trump IS a lazy idiot and the MAGA New Right IS rather bloodthirsty. So, it’s possible to imagine a scenario where the fascists self-own and Blue States are forced to deal with the existential. If that happens, then you have a lot of concrete things to address.

A lot of the excesses of the identity politics, or cancel culture, or whatever the fuck you want to consider will burn off pretty quick when you’re too busy bombing yourself into the stone age through seized WMD to think about your pronouns.

The same dynamic of the first Civil War or WW2 will be at play. Every able bodied person will have to contribute to the war effort. Everything will be thrown up in the air and everything will be up for grabs. There could be a race war in the South. New York City could declare itself a free state. The United States could have a civil war and there not be any sort of clear endgame.

We could just break up into a number of waring states with various shifting alliances and there won’t be any re-uniting of the nation. A lot would depend what California decides to do. If it just leaves the Union because it can then, we’re really fucked. But if it stays and fights, then it can be the Blue State arsenal of democracy.

Things would get a lot more radical. During the civil war, the two sides would grow more radical. In Blue States, especially, suddenly politics would start to work with a big bang because there are a lot — a lot — of popular policies that Blue States want to enact but haven’t been able to because of Republicans.

I don’t want a civil war. But there comes a point, much like 1860 – 1861, when history makes that choice for you. We have to do everything in our power to prevent and avoid a civil war.

But we also need to begin to game out what we’re going to do should one start at some point between Election Day 2024 and Certification Day 2025.

A Return To South Korea

by Shelt Garner

On or about July 24, 2004, I arrived in South Korea for the first time. I was a down on my luck drunk American at the time. Little did I know the adventures that would await me.

It’s fast approaching 20 years since that fateful day, and I find myself wanting to return to South Korea (specifically Incheon, Seoul and Busan) one last time before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

While I think I can pull it off, the whole issue of when it might happen is still very much up in the air. I’d like to do it in 2024 as close to 20 years to the date as I could get, but that’s highly unlikely. More likely, I’ll be happy if I can accomplish this goal a few years on either side of the exact anniversary.

My favorite ROKon Magazine cover.

If I did do such a trip, it would be part of a Japan – ROK – Southeast Asia trip of about two weeks. Now, one issue I’m well aware of is there both a lot of love and a lot of hate for me floating around Asia, even to this day. For every person who would flip out seeing me for a good reason, there would likely be two or three who would do the same but out of anger.

I was a very interesting person in Asia.

Anyway, it’s all very up in the air. I just have a general desire to return one last time to my old stomping grounds in South Korea. I’ve changed a lot — a whole lot — and know that but for the mutual distaste between myself and little Korean kids, I would still be there.

Sometime in 2004.

But there is always the very small chance that I will sell these four novels I’m working on and will make enough money that way that going to Asia won’t be that big a deal anymore for me. That, of course, is at the moment just another instance of me being very, very, VERY delusional.

One man’s hope is another man’s delusion.