Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

What I saw today and how I reacted

On my way into my office today, there was a woman breaking up with her boyfriend/significant other/ whatever over the phone. Loudly.  With emphasis.  And she kept repeating “I don’t care!”

That’s the gist of it, isn’t it? When it’s over, one of the people just doesn’t care.  It doesn’t matter how they got there or what happened, they have reached a point where they no longer care.  I have been snarky at times with my ending things with the phrase “I think we’re done here”, which Thom Lange says should be on my tombstone.  (Children?  Make a note of it.)

Oddly, I have never gotten to a point where I just don’t care. I have gotten to the point where things need to end, I have gotten to the point where, for my own mental well being I have to walk away, and I have gotten to the point where I realized that when you take the “L” out of Lover it’s Over.

But I do care.

When I ended my last close friendship, I said Goodbye. The person said, “No, good night” and I replied, “Goodbye.”  It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t that I didn’t care, it was just…I thought we were done there.

When it’s over, it’s best to just snap it off and walk away. No amount of arguing, yelling or anything else will bring it back because….someone just doesn’t care.  I felt bad for both people in that conversation, but I felt worse that it had to be done over the phone.  It’s probably also why I’ve had the idea of telling the people you love how much they mean to you infusing all of my thoughts today.

Much love to friends old and new, and no matter how upset I get, I do still care.

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My thoughts on the passing of comics giants last week

I don’t think a lot about my passing. I won’t know about it, it will be for others to deal with. But in reading the stories about artists, writers and others who have passed so far this year, there are a lot of “Oh, I loved their work.”

The ones that stick, however, are the ones where you read about how kind someone was. How he was friendly to everyone, about how she loved to show people how to do something, about they quietly gave to help others. Vonnegut said that you need to be careful what you pretend to be, because it’s who you become.

So, in 1999, I decided to pretend to be kind and to love unconditionally.

The people in my life have flaws, we all do, but I chose to think of them as their best selves. Not the disagreements we have had, not the times when they fell short, not the times when communication was messed up, because those things don’t matter to me.

Let me repeat that for those in the back of the room: THAT SHIT DON’T MATTER TO ME!

They may be too busy to talk to me for long periods of time, or they may forget things we had planned, or they may screw up, but other than the momentary annoyance, it doesn’t matter because I will always see them as their best selves. Guess that’s why I have forced myself to learn to forgive and love unconditionally. It doesn’t come naturally, and I struggle with the bar I have set for myself.

I’m gonna keep being kind. And I hope that is what people remember me for, but all I can do is keep doing it and hope that I live up to it.

Much love to those who have lost someone recently or long ago and that you remember them as being their best selves.

Because dammit, that is who they are.

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Late Night Wars 2017

I am going to write about something I am interested in that isn’t comics, fiction or emotional truth. Late Night Television.

Sorry, kids, they aren’t all going to be deep thoughts.

Back when the big Late Night Wars happened, Leno took over the Tonight Show and Letterman moved to CBS. For the first couple of years, they traded the #1 spot back and forth, and me, being a huge Letterman fan, was happy to see that Dave showed he could work at 10:30, which was an actual concern at the time.  However, the OJ Simpson trial started and Leno went all in on it.  He did tons of OJ jokes, had bits like “The Dancing Itos” and the like, while Letterman found the whole thing vile and refused to mock it.

Letterman was asked later about it and he said that he couldn’t make fun of a situation where two people were brutally murdered. He took the high road, and Leno pulled out ahead in the ratings, where he stayed until his disastrous 9 pm show.

With Leno and Letterman both being pushed out the door due to their age, the Late Night scene shook up. On ABC, you had huge Letterman fan Jimmy Kimmel, on NBC you had Jimmy Fallon who sees his version of The Tonight Show as a comedy hour and the interviews are a vestigial nuisance, and Steven Colbert struggled a bit moving to the late night talk show circuit.  He had great interviews, struggled with his comedy bits and really just seemed like he was doing someone else’s show.

Until January.

Much like Leno, he has found his breakout, and that is mocking Donald Trump. Last night, I don’t think he had a non-Trump joke in his monologue, opened with his “cartoon Trump” bit, did a Trump segment for his second comedy bit and then interviewed Anderson Cooper about covering Trump.  AND he is now beating Fallon in total viewers and is slowly catching up in the 18 – 49 demo.

Fallon’s interview with Trump, where he made it seem like it was all in good fun is REALLY biting him in the ass, as it is cementing him in many people’s minds as a shallow goofball, and his “Party game” aspect of his show is starting to wear thin with both viewers and (according to what I read) publicists, who want their clients to push product, not play beer pong.

It’s gonna be interesting to see how it all shakes out

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Sunday Morning Musings

Sunday morning, at the group home for developmentally disabled adults, my primary task was to make breakfast. Seems simple, you read the menu and give people what is on the menu:  Oatmeal, toast, juice, milk and coffee.

However, some people don’t like oatmeal, some are on a diet, some have extra things they get with breakfast, and they are taking their morning meds at the time, so some people need their meds before they eat, some after, and some take so long to eat that if they don’t get their pills first, they will be late because they take 90 minutes or longer to eat.

On top of juggling all of that are the people who have a specific cup they use, or a way they want their toast, or what they want ON their toast and so on…and many of them don’t ask for it, since they have pretty much the same thing every morning, they are used to it Just Being Done The Way They Want It. That means, if you miss something, they may pout, or stare at their plate, or leave the room, and not tell you why they are upset.

It sounds goofy when you write it that way, but we all have a little of that in us. We want things the way we want it, when we want it, and how we want it. And at our worst we get upset when those needs aren’t met, but we don’t tell the people involved why we are upset.  How many times have you said, “They should KNOW,” when it comes to a disagreement.

That’s just it, we don’t know. Maybe we haven’t known you long enough to know, maybe we are too wrapped up in our own head to know, maybe we are doing what we fee is the right thing and it’s taken the wrong way or maybe communication isn’t very good.  I once had a GF mad at me for a week because I’d done something in a dream that made her question my honesty (for the rest of the relationship she keep asking what I was hiding from her).

So, start asking people what they want. Start telling the people you care about what YOU want.  Don’t leave the room and hope we’ll figure out you want jelly on your toast and not cinnamon sugar, or that we don’t like pineapple juice or that we feel alone and just want to hear that things are OK.

Much love to friends old and new and I hope that today, someone you care about is able to ask for what they want, or YOU are able to ask someone you care about for what you want.

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7 Kray Z Years

7 years ago, I finally figured out how to record Skype conversations and Joe Rider and I fired up our computers and talked comic books for an hour or so and called it a podcast. I called it “Kray Z Comics and Stories” to bring in the references to a mini-comic about Joe called “Kray Z Rider, Comics Retailer” and “Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories” to let people know that it would ALL be comics.

For the first two years, we were just doing it for fun, the show came out when we had time and we slowly figured out what the hell we were doing. Now, we are about 3 months from recording our 300th show.

We wanted to do a comic podcast, and because we wanted it to be different than others, we brought our years of experience in comics retail, running comic conventions and decades of collecting, as well as other influences to make something we hoped people would like. From there we spun off a solo podcast for myself and then Joe, a podcast where I am turning the novels I have written into audio books, a new podcast where we talk about comic series in review as if it is DVD commentary of the comics, and other podcasts.

But, every Monday, we drop a new episode. We’ve had guests, co-hosts, new segments, and over 700 hours of audio since then.  Not everything has worked (conventions), some people didn’t quite work on the show (not giving any names) and some were amazing, but every hour was a joy where we got to talk about the things important in our lives.

In doing so, we’ve helped people find new comics to read, learn about creators and companies they may not have known about, had a companion on trips and at work and I have gotten e-mails from people who say that the show is an important part of their lives. There have been lots of changes in our lives, in the show and in the comics industry itself, and we’ve done our best to make all of those things make sense even if they don’t SEEM to make any sense.

7 years is a long time, and a lot of podcasts I loved have faded, didn’t last that long, or ran out of steam. We are still growing (over 800 downloads in the first week after a new episode drops), still trying new things, and still looking to have fun every week for 90 minutes. .  I always say we’d do this even if no one listened (and for the first year or so, I don’t think anyone did), but knowing that people like it makes it worthwhile.

So, I want to thank Joe for putting up with me, the co-hosts we’ve had over the years (no matter our current status), the incredible guests who have agreed to speak with us, other podcasters who have given advice or helped promote the show, anyone who has EVERY said anything kind about what we do and the listeners. And for the cuppa haters?  If we had a dime for every hater that made us slow down we’d have ZERO DIMES! (How you doin’?)

We’ve got cool stuff planned for the coming year, we’ll always be looking for new ideas and it always comes back to the core: Friends talking about comic books and telling stories about their lives.  As long as we keep the core, nothing can bring us down.

Thank you so much!!

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Themes

I was asked again “How do you have time to do all the stuff you do?”

The idea is simple, the reality is more complicated. I work two jobs, have a buttload of podcasts and write fiction.  The way I get things done is to put my time where my interests are.  I am not a “goal” person.  I don’t have goals.  I have themes and they are how I decide how to spend my time.  My themes are simple:

  • Help people
  • Tell stories
  • Don’t die

My full-time job is in benefits where I help people get and understand their medical coverage and other things related. I admit it’s a bit of a stretch, but after 20 years in Juvenile Justice, with the last 6 of them being in that field full-time, I have to have a job that offers a career and decent pay.  However, I still work part-time in social services at a group home for developmentally disabled adults.  It’s not a job you’re going to make money at, but it’s a great side hustle and it helps a population that we don’t think about much.

I’m there a LOT because they have sleeping shifts. Since I live alone and have no significant other, pulling those shifts makes extra cash, gives the clients security, and helps everyone involved.  I may complain about not being home, but last night, I helped a client who was FURIOUS with the other staff working calm down and go back to bed at 4 am.  That’s the good thing I did last night.  That’s what keeps me going.

So, the podcasting and writing are where I tell stories. In order to be good at those things, I need to be well-read, knowledgeable and getting information that I can churn into the stories.  So, I read, I listen to podcasts and watch documentaries (NOT reality TV shows) to get more information and see how people construct stories.  Wanna write?  Ya gotta read.  Please listen to my podcast when I post them, if you’re interested, because they are incredibly important to me and I think you’ll like them.

I am back to losing weight and getting back to the gym to keep healthy. I post food things because I enjoy cooking and like to cook healthier.  I’m going “non selfie” for a while in order to focus on getting healthier like I did a year or so ago.  I also try to THINK positively, as that helps with your health.  I may push myself hard, but I know too many people my age who haven’t taken care of themselves and talk endlessly about how the world is falling apart and so on and so on.  I embrace the things I love, celebrate the people I care for and am fighting my anxiety to be a better person.

So, how do I get it all done?

I focus on my themes. I push myself to be better.  And I don’t waste time on things that aren’t working.  If a story or as podcast or a relationship becomes negative or doesn’t work?  It doesn’t fit the themes.

What are your themes? How do YOU focus your time?

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A little about me so that Homeland Security has something to arrest me for

I read over the weekend that the Border Patrol was taking people phones and looking at their Facebook posts to determine if they were a risk or not, and it is alleged that the Trump Administration is looking for the authority to read people’s Facebook statuses to see “where they are, politically.”

So, since I want to be a good citizen, I am going to make it easy for those tracking me, so here are the main things I like or believe in:

  • Pizza is one of the best foods on the planet
  • Pie is the best food on the planet
  • I’m a friendly atheist, after going through an angry atheist period.
  • I’m a liberal in the mode of Paul Wellstone, Harry Truman and Bartcop. Not a Democrat, a liberal.
  • I am a friend to creative people. Artists, writers, dancers, singers, anyone who does creative stuff
  • Christina Hendricks is darn pretty. As is Kate Micucci.
  • I like-a da comic books.
  • No, really, I love pie. Pie is great
  • I do not wish they all could be California girls
  • I think the current “President” is a short fingered vulgarian and have though that since 1988.
  • Diet soda makes me go. Hot Tea is my favorite drink.
  • I drink rarely because I work all of the time. In fact, not a day goes by that I am not asked to take on more hours and more shifts.
  • I mean, have you seen the picture of Christina Hendricks in a corset? Great Googley Moogley, the only picture I’ve seen that takes my breath away more involved a chef in a bikini.
  • I help people because I feel we are in in this together and the only thing that can fix the state of the world is us, doing small things to help each other.
  • I need pie as soon as possible.
  • I believe in punching Nazis. Nazi ain’t got no humanity. They’re the foot soldiers of a Jew-hatin’, mass murderin’ maniac and they need to be dee-stroyed. And the Nazi won’t not be able to help themselves but to imagine the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot heels, and the edge of our knives.
  • OK, I won’t do any of that stuff, but damn but I love Quinten Tarentino’s writing.
  • I like crime novels, detective novels, literary novels and pulp stuff. I don’t read much SF and Fantasy any more because it seems like everything is part of an on-going series.
  • I like professional wrestling, art films, TV shows like Justified and Deadwood, comedies like Kimmy Schmidt and The Good Place and Dawn of the Dead and Blue Velvet are my favorite movies.
  • That bikini pic? Best Work of Art ever.
  • I judge people by their e-mail service. AOL?  Really?
  • I like kind people. I will put up with selfish people, I eliminate narcissists, racists, and users from my life.  We’re all flawed, but when those flaws become hurtful to myself or the people I care about, I walk away.  I forgive everyone, and have been willing to pay the price for that.
  • I also judge people on how they treat wait staff and if they wait for people to get OFF the elevator before they try to get ON.
  • Really, if you want me to be your friend, send me pie. I’ll do pretty much anything for pie.  Everything the things I won’t do for love.

Hopefully, this is enough for our new Russian Overlords to know me and I am not brought in for “enhanced interrogation*. If not, can any of my foreign friend hide me in their attic for a few years?

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Today, we do the tell

This you know:

the years travel fast, and time after time I done the tell. But this ain’t onebody’s tell. It’s the tell of us all, and you’ve gotta listen and to ‘member, ’cause what you hears today you gotta tell the newborn tomorrow.

I’s lookin’ behind us now into history back. I sees those of us who got the luck and started the haul for home, and I ‘members how it led us here and how we was heartful ’cause we seen what there once was. One look and we knewed we’d got it straight.

Those what had gone before had the knowin’ and the doin’ of things beyond our reckonin’ — even beyond our dreamin’. Time counts and keeps countin’, and we knows now: finding the trick of what’s been and lost ain’t no easy ride, but that’s our trek. We gotta travel it, and there ain’t nobody knows where it’s gonna lead.

Still in all, every night we does the tell so that we ‘member who we was and where we came from. But most of all we ‘members the man who finded us, him that came a-salvage. And we lights the city, not just for him, but for all of him that are still out there. ‘Cause we knows there’ll come a night when they sees the distant light and they’ll be comin’ home.

-Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

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Ten Albums

The ten albums that meant a lot to me as a teenager? Geez, I didn’t have the best taste until I got to college, but…

  • Beatles – The White Album: Yes, they had better albums, but the experimentation on this one opened my eyes to things you can do with art
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack: Duh
  • Star Wars Soundtrack: When I was a little kid, soundtracks were pretty much the movie on a record (Disney did that for their musicals), but this was the first SOUNDTRACK I owned, and it showed me how much music makes a movie
  • Elvis Costello- Get Happy: My baptism into punk
  • The Ramones – Rocket to Russia: Pure energy and rock and roll, this was where it all started with my love of garage, punk and simple three chord rock
  • The Psychedelic Furs – Talk Talk Talk: Yeah, post punk and new-wavish, but really spoke to my teenage angst on a deeper level than most pop music…and probably when I started moving away from pop music.
  • The Cars – The Cars: Pop, new wave, etc… Slick studio work and clever wordplay made this one of those bands that everyone seemed to like in the early 80’s.
  • Steve Martin – Let’s Get Small: I listened to this recently, and it’s SO much a product of its time that it’s just confusing now.  But at the time, it was funny in how it deconstructed comedy and pushed irony to the furthest limit.
  • The Blasters – American Music: I’ve ALWAYS been a rockabilly guy…this album and the Stray Cats made me dig into that genre and love it.
  • The Blues Brothers – Briefcase Full Of Blues: Damn.  Still so damn good.  Damn.
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“Fake News”

OK, I’m going to say a bit about the whole “Fake News” thing that is going around and my feelings on Trump‘s connection to the story last night.

Donald Trump started in 2011 questioning if Obama was a US citizen. He lied about sending out “teams of investigators”, that he had “shocking evidence”, and we are STILL waiting to hear about the researchers he had in Hawaii who have a Bombshell Announcement they were about to deliver in 2012.  He said that Ted Cruz’s dad was involved with Lee Harvey Oswald, that Hillary Clinton is “terribly sick”, that thousands of people cheered the call of the World Trade Center, cited the National Enquirer repeatedly and said they should win a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting, that he would release his taxes after the election, that he had a Big Announcement last week on the Russian Hacking, and on and on and on.

Now, there is a report that the intelligence briefing said that there is information being discussed that he has financial ties to Russia, and that Russia has blackmail material on him. He has, as is typical, gone off on twitter as if he’s commenting on a You Tube video and immediately went to “What is this, NAZI GERMANY”?

First off, the nest story just said “This is what was in the intelligence report”. Not “This happened”.  So, that’s not fake.  Second, the report was given to Trump on Friday.  He is weaseling around it and saying that they never told him the information, but….let’s just say time has shown that The Donald doesn’t read his homework. Third, the scumweasels at 4chan are claiming they trolled everyone with this, however that story falls apart when you start looking at it (http://gizmodo.com/4chan-idiots-claim-they-invented-the-trump-piss-report-1791067589) and when you remember that it’s been floating around out there for almost a YEAR in various forms.

So, is it fake news? Nope, the report that he was given a briefing with this information is true.  Now, is “Golden Showergate” true?  Dunno. But with Trump spreading so much fertilizer, he shouldn’t be shocked that some of it gets on him.

Oh, and just so you know the difference between Fake News and poor reporting, Trump did not tweet “What is this, Nazi Germany?” He tweeted “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”  And the answer is, no, Nazi Germany ended in 1945.

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