Monday, August 29, 2011

Aliens are Dodger fans

On August 26th 2011, I attended my first LA Dodgers baseball game. My girlfriend and I started a bucket list and on occasion we are able to cross off our accomplished goals. Sunday was baking in 100 degree weather with friends watching the Dodgers play the Rockies. We had great seats that kept us in the shade and the $10 bud lights were some of the best tasting beer I have ever had. I was a bit disappointed that the peanuts were the same bag you can buy at your local grocery store (only 5x the price) and they stopped serving Dodger Dogs in the seventh inning. But it was a great first game to have attended and after 11 innings, the Dodgers won. Go Blue!

But what made this game a memorable experience is the unexplainable activity we witnessed in the sky. The Dodgers weren't doing too well in the first four innings and I found myself zoning out and looking at details around the stadium. That was when I spotted the white orb set against the clear blue sky. It was bright and would pulsate slowly, dimming and illuminating like the butt of a light bug. Then I noticed another one close by, but not as bright. Without thinking much, I said "I think I see a UFO".

Now, at this point I didn't really believe it was a UFO. But it slipped out like sarcasm. My friends looked up as I pointed out the orbs. The biggest skeptic in the group passed them off as balloons. I had my doubts. About this time, the dimmer of the two started making it's way south. We discussed the possibility of them being planes, but as an actually plane soared by we realized how absurd that was.

The lonely, pulsating orb was now joined by six other orbs all lined up to form an upside down L. The skeptic was the first to notice this behavior and pointed it out. I looked around and noticed that everyone else had lost interest in the game and was fixated on the sky talking about UFOs and government aircraft. It was like a scene straight out of a Michael Bay movie.

We were still trying to rationalize what hell we were looking at. I mentioned it could be stars, despite the one light traveling southbound in the clear blue sky at approximately 4PM. sometimes the stars come out in daylight, right? I was reaching for some sort of sensical explanation. Then one of the "stars" zoomed southbound and the other five just disappeared, leaving the bright pulsating orb alone, again. Throughout the next half hour, it too, faded into the distance.

The next day I searched youtube for other sightings. It looks like there were others who saw UFOs on August 26th in their neighborhood, including New York.





I'm not saying I believe that what I saw were spaceships transporting aliens from another galaxy. But I can say that it defied any publicly known identity. UFO, as we all know, means Unexplained Flying Object. And that is exactly what it was.

Although I believe that anything is possible, I am a die-hard skeptic. I only come to conclusions when I have collected all the information I can which results in an overall fact. But even then, I'm the kind of person who questions everything. Even if the government and the Vatican came out and informed the people of earth that we have been visited by life on other planets, I would question it. After all, when have they ever told us the truth before.

This experience got my mind thinking and I conceived of three basic plots for Sci-Fi stories. Which is your favorite?

1) All ideas of man's origin are a lie. There is no God. We did not evolve from apes. We were genetically created by Aliens and placed on this earth like a child's sea monkey collection. Only, we don't get to swim around all day, eating and pooping in an underwater kingdom. Our main purpose is to harvest precious gold materials for the Alien race who are dependent on this element. It has always been this way. Discoveries of past fallen civilizations are proof of this. Artifacts of mummy remains left in the streets tell of an aerial attack. Hype is released to buy up gold, trade in gold for money and mine for gold. Which is exactly what the humans do. Every 2000 years, the Aliens come for their gold. That time is now.

2) There is a spiritual battle going on, unbeknownst to humans. What we believe to be Aliens from another Galaxy are actually demons and angels. The Angels come down from the heavens in aircraft to give us hope and watch over us. Where as the demons, a reptile like species, live underground and travel through tunnels. The demons too have aircraft, but they come up from the ground through volcanoes and oceans. We are nothing more than pawns in the game between good and evil. If the demons can strip the soul away from the game piece, they win that soul. How do the demons strip the soul? By eventually transforming the human into a mindless, apathetic, loveless robot.

3) In an attempt to gain control over the entire planet, the powers-that-be have been strategically maneuvering into a single world government. This government will be a giant dictatorship enforcing one religion, one race, one view over the entirety of planet earth. Slow steps have been made by destroying the value of paper money and converting to a single world currency made of gold and by removing the boarders between landlocked countries. But a tricky procedure is to attain one government. How is this possible without upsetting other countries unwilling to go along with the plan or evoking a citizen's riot? Fear. Presidents begin to speak about the possibility of life on other planets. If there is an attack, our only chance of victory is to retaliate as a single planet rather than separate countries. With advancing technology, it becomes possible to project holograms (so incredibly lifelike) to fool eyewitnesses. UFO sightings happen all over the world, conditioning people to believe in life on other planets. Then, a carefully planned mock attack stirs a panic among all earthlings. They relinquish control and the dictatorship is formed.

These are all fun ideas. Possible? I don't know. I'm just exercising my creative brain muscle.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

West Memphis Three on the cucking stool

Medieval times, England- A seemingly foolproof technique for identifying witches was with a cucking or ducking stool. The cucking stool derives from wyuen pine which means "women's punishment". It is basically a wooden stool fastened to a giant lever. The supposed witch was tied to the stool and dunked repeatedly into a large vat of water, pond or stream. This form of interrogation was later accomplished absent of the chair by binding the victim's right thumb to the left toe. A rope was tied around the waist of the accused who was then thrown into a river or deep pond. In either method, the verdict was the same. If the accused drowned, she was deemed innocent. If the accused survived, she was deemed a witch and burned at the stake.

August 19th 2011, America (land of the free)- A surprise hearing was held in Jonesboro Arkansas regarding the release of three men known as the West Memphis Three. For almost 18 years, the WM3 have been imprisoned for the murder of three boys. Although there was no evidence to have put them there in the first place, the WM3 have spent two decades trying to prove their innocence. The judge offered a deal with the prosecutors; The three men would be released from prison if they change their plea from not guilty to guilty. Tired and worn down from fighting, the WM3 agreed.

These two methods of judicature seem equally asinine. It is hard to believe in the American Judicial system with numerous cases like this. While it is written in ink that we are innocent until proven guilty, it is clear that we are all screwed unless we can prove otherwise.

I've been involved with the WM3 for about five years now. I don't know the accused men or their families but have been drawn to their situation; growing up an outcast in hicksville. I grew up on a farm in the sticks outside of a town with a population of 3000. Not only was I the same age as the accused Damien Echols, I had long dyed hair and wore black. But more than feeling a bloodline among the freaks, I gravitated towards the cancer in our judicial system made apparent by this case. That is what I fight have a fair and just America.

Martin Luther King Jr said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." That quote has been tattooed in my memory. I feel that we need to choose cases of injustice in our communities or that are close to us and fight to make them accountable.

I was away on a trip when this surprise hearing for the WM3 happened. All weekend my phone blew up with emails, tweets and facebook comments from fiends that are familiar with my involvement. I often question my efforts being unaware of what kind of an impact I'm making. Is any of this getting through? Am I handling things to my full potential? Does my little contribution make a difference? It was at this moment that I knew it had. I left writings on the walls and they had been read.

When I was finally able to soak in all the information I was ecstatic, confused and frustrated. As happy as I am that the WM3 are finally free, what I've been trying to fight and bring awareness to (which is injustice) still infects this case. The supreme court ruling that the WM3 are guilty and set free with time served is not justice. Again, victim's are being charged for a crime with no evidence against them. The case is being closed with the murderer(s) still in question. Individuals in power are not being held accountable for misrepresenting their position of authority.

I'm uncertain where I go from here. I will stay in contact with the WM3 organization and see where I can help. I still have a few sizes left in the two WM3 shirts that I created to raise money and awareness for the cause. They can be purchased through I will continue to pass on all proceeds to the organization as they will continue to have use for donations.

Wherever my path leads, I believe the WM3 are on it and I would like to take you with me.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I quit this publishing business!

It looks like my last post on ebooks generated emotions for many of you readers. In addition to the few comments to the blog posting, I received tweets, comments on facebook and personal emails. Those responses were broken up into two groups: Those who oppose digital books and those who support digital books. The general consensus of those who support this new technology use the same bases for their argument. The ebook allows one to obtain and carry an extensive library of literature that was never possible before. Also, the ebook allows more authors to be circulated without the stoic bouncing of editors and publishing houses.

These are all very valid opinions and they are neither right nor wrong but suitable for those making them. As is my opinion. The only factual point that I can make against ebooks is my love for the printed material opposed to the digital age. But there are a few arguments I would like to make against the ebook supporters that I chose not to bring up in the last posting.

First of all, I can't argue with the fact that the ebook allows for an individual to acquire and store more volumes of a fault. I compare this to the music industry and the same demise will follow. In 2009, a study followed 900 popular books. Of those books, each title was illegally downloaded around 10,000 times. This does not include all the other titles that were downloaded for free. If I did some more digging, I'm sure that 2010 would prove to have greater numbers. I can see why people approve of the ebook because you can own more than you can afford. It's the American way. I look at my book shelf as I write. I may only own half (or even much less) as many books in the physical form next to someone and their ebook collection. But each and every book means so much to me. I paid for it. If there were three books I wanted and could only afford one, that book means more to me because I chose it over the others.

Let's face it. Ebooks make it all too easy. Too easy to own. Too easy to steal. It will all trickle down (it's already begun). Book stores are going out of business. Publishers will publish less. Authors will lose jobs. Even those that will still publish independently will do so in less volume because they will have to have a day job to pay the bills. Digital music killed the music scene and digital books will kill the publishing scene.

Secondly, the ebook does allow for more authors to get their work seen. This is both good and bad. I understand the difficulty in getting published. I submitted my work to comic companies for almost a decade before I received my first publishing gig. And I still haven't been hired to illustrate a comic book. But it should be difficult.

Look at digital film and youtube. It is so extremely easy for anyone to get their hands on a digital camera, make a film and have it seen by millions of people. It doesn't even have to be good. Now, talent scouts will pick up individuals based on their youtube views. Does the amount of views equal quality? Absolutely not. This technology unleashed a beast of mediocrity.

The same is true for publishing. It shouldn't be easy to get published. And if you can't get a big publisher to believe in your work, then maybe you should have some ordeal that signifies your own confidence in your abilities. Take the risk and drop a few thousand dollars to get your book published and distributed. Rewards come to the deserving. Maybe I feel like the pot of gold should require some talent, effort and/or gamble. Maybe I think it is all too easy and we live in a society that expects entitlement.

Now playing devil's advocate, are there talented-hardworking authors out there that are not getting published? Of course. Be it bad luck, faulty charisma, censorship or that their work is never looked at and instead tossed in the garbage, they just can't get a break. Will the ebook rectify this unfortunate situation. Possibly, with an equally negative side effect.

Now here's where I may loose some of you. It appears that the ebook makes it easy for alternative literature to bypass censoring government. Hurray for the revolution, right? What will happen when the government owns the computers and the internet you rely on for this distribution. I'm going to give you the puzzle pieces and you can put it together however you like.

In 2001, George W Bush passed a law called the Patriot Act allowing government access to your computer and web activity without warrant. Nothing is being done to stop monopolization. Time/Warner/Aol are talking about merging with AT&T. AT&T are talking about merging with Verizon. Verizon is predicted to merge with sprint. We are close to one company owning and running the internet and phone service. In 2009, Barrack Obama increased and established a cybersecurity facility in the white house with an executive order to centralize all cyberactivity to be monitored and controlled by any one country. The government is attempting to take control of the internet as a whole with the “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act” (“PCNAA”). Amazon, the largest online retailer, is the creator of the best selling ebook reader Kindle.

In July 2009, The New York Times reported that deleted all customer copies of certain books published by MobileReference, including the books 1984 and Animal Farm from users' Kindles. This action was taken with neither prior notification nor specific permission of individual users.

If Amazon can do this, do you think alternative literature will exist in the future with the ebook? The government will control the one company that operates our internet service, which circulates literature, which we put on a computer device that is accessible to all of the above. It's a lot easier to delete a digital file with the push of a button, then to form a book burning mob and hunt down books. We as a society are making it easier for the government to control what we read, release disinformation and rewrite history.

This is just a theory of course. But my old man always taught me to look under the hood before I buy a car. Excuse the biblical analogy, but if the apple didn't look so ripe and delicious, do you think Eve would have taken it?

I'm not really going to quit in the publishing world. I just figured a tragic title like that would generate more attention. But there are many independent publishers, bookstores and authors who can't lick it. I'd rather see them stick around than obtain this technology. Zeitgeist. The sign of the times. Like Pee Wee once said, "I'm a fighter, Dotty. A rebel". No matter what happens, I'll role with the punches. If I have to, I'll release my books digitally. Although I don't know how that will help when a book that has not been coded into an ebook sells more copies as a whole than those that have been digitized.

I'll restate that so that you don't misconstrue me and focus on how much more ebooks sell than hardcover books. A book that is in the physical form ONLY has a larger percentage of purchased sales than a book that has been digitized because you can't access that book for free (without shoplifting of course). Get it?

And who has the balls to actually go into a store and shoplift any more?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Preserving life on the shelf

#%$! the whales! Save the books!

You could call me a purist. Maybe a fundamentalist...An individualism fundamentalist. I have a strict and literal adherence to the existence of individuality in all things. I could write a 500 page thesis on this belief going into music, film, human liberties...etc. But I will focus briefly on books.

It is in everyday I breath that I am convinced that I was born into the wrong era. The things that I adore and make me happy are slowly becoming extinct. And it troubles me. In my lifetime, I believe the manufacturing of books in the physical form will be extinct. I strongly oppose this movement. There is nothing like the touch of a hardback book. I've removed the dust cover on every book I own, to run my finger senses across it's skin discovering a sensation of slick, cloth, leather or embossed textures. This is the individual personality of the book. And as the book lives on, it's physical characteristics do too. Abrasions tattoo the surface telling the history of every accident, fall and scrape. Years and hard life can be identified by the fragility of the spine like the eyes of a dope fiend. Pages get brittle and yellow. They start to crack and fall out. Some books have inscriptions from the buyer like a birth certificate as a reminder when and why this individual came into the world. Books are individual lives. The Kindle is not.

The Kindle is a slick hard device that digital clones of books are loaded onto. You are not reading a book on a Kindle anymore than you can touch a hologram. Your defiled reproduction of Chuck Palahniuk feels the same as your reproduction of Charles Baudelaire. This is because their soulless essence is imprisoned in the same body along with any number of other faux books (a concentration camp for literature). A gift from a loved one in the form of digital literature is made up of zeros and ones, the same as every other meaningless and forgotten gift. The only thing that differentiates one from another is the difference of words and their arrangement, as they appear to the reader on the screen.

What does this have to do with individualism? Although greatly flawed, I like who I am. I am the result of 35 years of experience that is not identical to another human out there. Yet, I am no more superior or inferior to anyone else. Nor do I feel like my existence is significant when compared to the size of the cosmos I'm lost in. But it is my god given right to be an individual and it is that liberty that I fight for. Every book I've read (along with all my other experiences) make up who I am.

When there are no more books being printed and the only way to receive literature is through digital mutations of the glorious form, our selection will become chosen. The printed word cannot be controlled, no matter how many mobs instigate burnings. A copy will get out, someone will reprint, and through the power of the black market the book will live again. This will not happen with the Kindle. I can't make a zine and sell it through the underground with a Kindle. The books that will be released for this device will be heavily controlled and censored. Many books will not be cloned and their physical form will be buried among garbage.

Some, if not all, of you are questioning this thought process. We have already given away too many of our rights. With the Patriot Act we've allowed government into our lives. Not only can they crack into our computers, but also into our smart phones and Kindles. There are attempts to control the internet. Alternative news sources are already being shutdown if not framed for lunacy or corruption. Say goodbye to our freedom of speech. If we are that close to the decay of the first amendment, we are closer than we know to controlled censorship. That is why the Kindle is an attack on everyone to exist as an individual.

So when I received an email today from a 14 year-old who loves books and adventures to the library, I smiled a bit knowing that there is hope for the future. He writes:

Dear Gris Grimly,
My name is Daniel ******. I am 14 years old born ******, 19**. I live in ******. I love to go to the ****** city Library. Its very interesting to hear from most of the librarians that they rarely see kids my age being so interested in books. I love books. They're amazing. You have to really seek in a book. Some people think,"hey, this is just a book". But for me a book is a wonderful adventure! When i grow up i want to be a director. I love movies. Your books are great. I love them. I read most of them but I'm trying to read them all. Too bad my library doesn't carry all your books. I wish they did. I especially wish they had pinocchio! I heard there is going to be a movie based on the book pinocchio. Is that true? I love your art work. It is really nice and well done. Are there any new books coming up? You are an amazing illustrator and what you have is truly a gift.
Daniel ******

Unfortunately, I have to keep up with the Joneses. That mean if all of you out there continue to buy Kindles and digital want-to-be books, I will have to produce to meet the demand. I say it again...UNFORTUNATELY.

Buy books. Support individualism.

Be Grim!
Gris Grimly