Agent of Change

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

What I am thinking about today 1/8/2018

What I am thinking about today:

  1. Chris Jericho dedicated his WrestleKingdom match to Eddie Geurerro and Chris Benoit. The whole Benoit story is devastating to me, since I just keep thinking about how I would react if someone I had known for years did something horrific. It’s a tough question, and I can see why Jericho dedicated his match to Benoit, and I can see why people are upset by this. In the end, it’s not my call.
  2. We are about the see an avalanche of political books after Fire and Fury made a bajillion dollars over the weekend. And months from now, they will be sold to used books stores and stocked on tables, mostly unread like all of the other “big political books” of the last 25 years.
  3. I am reading about how comic shops are faltering and in trouble, while articles OUTSIDE the comics industry talk about how sales are higher than ever. To me, this shows that the terrible distribution system created in the late 1970’s that saved comic book publishing is in need of an overhaul. I also wonder about the viability of the monthly comic book. The next few years will see profound changes in this industry.
  4. The pace of events seems to be speeding up even more over the last two years. More and more people are feeling overwhelmed, overstressed, and that things are out of control. When this happens, it’s OK to step back, slow down, and disconnect. Social media, politic battles, shifting marketplaces and the pace of work continue if you are attuned to them or not. It’s important to note how many people are trying to go back to cooking meals, playing board games, coloring, and the like. It’s not nostalgia, but an attempt to slow things down. Take that time, recenter yourself.
  5. I have known people who constantly are throwing chaos into the world, and while you are in it with them, it’s thrilling, and exciting, and you feel important, but it also keeps you from examining if you happy or satisfied while in the whirlwind. Things don’t have to feel chaotic in order to be important. Just breathe for a bit and enjoy your burrito..
  6. You’ve got to love everybody and make ‘em feel good about themselves.

No goals for 2018

I don’t do “goals.”

Goals are black and white. You either succeed or you don’t.  It doesn’t allow for exploration, for sidetracking, and for finding out what is along the path.

Bruce Lee said that if you focus on the finger pointing at the moon and the moon itself, you miss all of the heavenly glory inbetween. Neal Peart said in a song lyric that the point of a journey is not to arrive.  JRR Tolkien said that not all who wander are lost.

So, I don’t have goals. I have themes.  When you have a theme, you can explore, find out what works for you and grow as a person, rather than have a goal that you either meet or fail at.

My theme for 2015 was health. I had been diagnosed with extremely high blood pressure and, with medication, exercise, meditation and changing my eating habits, I brought it down to where my health is pretty damn good.  My other theme was service.  A person came back into my life who asked that I assist them with getting their life back together.  Along the way, I learned that I am pretty damn good at helping others, and made it a major part of my outlook.

The theme for 2016 was growth. I wanted to grow my podcasts and get better at getting the word out.  I tried a lot of things, live broadcasting at conventions, adding three new podcasts (two of which have stuck) and expanded my social media reach.  I quickly learned that I no longer cared for going to conventions, that one of the podcast additions was harmful to our long-term growth, and that I had made mistakes in who I trusted, so the theme for the rest of 2016 was fixing what had been broken.

Going in to 2017, the theme was recovery. I had a full-time job with decent pay for the first time since the great recession, and benefits for the first time since then.  I had a LOT of dental work done, replaced by beloved old car, finished up a wonderful therapeutic program for my anxiety issues, and build up my finances better than they have been since the glory days of the 90’s.  As other things fell into place, my theme became exploration.  I took road trips, I visited places I hadn’t been before, I got involved in subcultures other than the comics ones I have known, and am starting to explore even more.  I will be blunt, I do dislike going places alone, but you have to look at places to see where you belong.

So, for 2018, what’s the theme? I have a few.  First is to continue to explore.  We have a lively classic film society here in the Twin Cities, a wonderful arts community (actual art, not crafts, which is its own thing), and one of the most active theater communities around.  I want to start going and doing more.  I want to see indy wreslting, art openings, open mike poetry readings, grindhouse film showing and the like.  I want to get in my car and see where it takes me and learn everything I can stuff in my head.  I also want to create more finished content.  I want to put out at least two podcasts a week, get my novels up on Amazon, and bring a notebook with me everywhere I go.  Will I do all of it?  Probably not, but I will have fun exploring what happens along the way.

Much love to friends old and new, and if you can only do one theme this year, do the one that I have done since 1999: Be kind. Always be kind.


What kind of week has it been

I don’t talk about my full-time job much. First, there isn’t a lot interesting there as it’s a pretty standard office/benefits job.  Second, I am happy to have the job after searching for a stable full-time job for quite a few years after the Great Recession, no matter how uneventful it is. And third, I simply see it as a way to pay for my life, not my Purpose.  The podcast, writing and in some ways, the group home job are my purpose.

However, I only want to work a job where I am helping people, and working in benefits does help people.

This week, I had a day that was disturbing. I started the day by reposting a thing I wrote a year ago about not going out of your way to hurt people, no matter what they have done.  It’s a big part of my outlook on life, and is probably the biggest change I made in how I see the world I made in 1999.

I got a call from a women whose estranged spouse had changed their medical coverage for the coming year without telling her. She was being moved to a medical plan with a deductible from an HMO plan with no notice other than a letter stating that she will be dropped from her HMO on 12/31. She called in tears, as she was dealing with her son’s severe health issues and her own health issues, and she didn’t even know if she would have coverage.  Once I assured her that she would, she didn’t know how the deductible plan works, was scared about the heavily increased out of pockets costs, not knowing if the doctors who were treating them were with were in the plan and how the change would be happening.

I explained what I could, and got her to a phone person at the new medical plan, who stayed on the phone with her for an hour making sure to get everything set up and squared away. We assisted her in finding community resources to help her with the steep deductibles and other issues resulting from the change, and it all made me feel crushingly depressed.

But one thing that she said sticks. “How could he do this to us?”

There have been a lot of people in my life who have done dirty by me. From the bullies in grade school to the jerks who see everything as a competition, to people who are mad at the world when they cross your path, company weasels who discard you with the promise of a few more dollars of profit, and people who discard you when it works best for them after they have taken all they need from you.

There have been times when I have been in a position to exact revenge, make their lives worse, twist the knife a bit harder, or worse. Since 1999, I haven’t done it.  To repay people in kind just means that everyone loses, everyone gets hurt, and the darkness grows a little more around us.  It feels like most of the people in the US, at least, as simmering pots of resentment, looking for someone to lash out at.

“Somebody has to pay for this!”

“If we can’t be friends, we must be enemies and I destroy my enemies!”

“The world is laughing at us, but they won’t laugh at us anymore!”

Repaying darkness in kind simply makes the world darker. Revenge doesn’t make you feel any better and while it may be best served cold, it’s not a filling meal.

“How could he do this to us?”

Because he’d been told by society that there must be winners and there must be losers and if you aren’t winning, you’re losing. Because he’s been told that we need to exact revenge against any perceived wrong or you aren’t “strong.”

Because we focus on our differences and disputes rather than what we have in common and our agreements.

I don’t have answers, kittens and kaboodles. I know when I would lash out at people, it was because I was hurt and I wanted someone else to hurt like I did.  Thankfully, I have learned that I don’t need to be like that.  There may be people out there right now who are planning things to tear me down, throw roadblocks in my path, or whatever rather than simply telling me that I made a mistake and they are angry about it.  Or, they have told me that and feel the need to keep attacking.  I can’t do a damn thing about that, so I TRY not to worry about it and hope that someday, they will find a measure of peace and joy to replace the hurt and anger.

I’m not a Christmas guy. Too many years of bad holidays, too many times of working on festive occasions and too many years on my own have drained me of that, but I have replaced it by trying to be kind and wishing people joy every day. I know that me seeing Christmas as just another day causes some people discomfort, but I see it as just deciding to do my best for other people every day instead.

Much love to friends old and new and remember, you don’t need a specific date to do good things…or at least refrain from doing hurtful things.


Fight me. Fight everyone!

Trump has been quoted recently as telling people working in the White House to think of the Presidency as a TV show where they vanquish their enemies. Support him or not, you have to admit that he’s at least honest about that.  The things he has done since taking office have all been about taking things away from people.

That is why, when my right wing friends say “Is there anything Trump could do to win you over,” I think of that quote. I have come to realize that there are people I just have a fundamental disagreement with and will never EVER see the world their way.  I used to be friends with someone who said on a routine and regular basis “If we can’t be friends, we must be enemies, and I destroy my enemies.”  In my observations, as time has gone on, the number of friends diminishes and the number of enemies will constantly increase, and the only person who gets destroyed is the person sowing enemies

The people in power, in my opinion, are put there to help us, not to fight us. They are to work toward making lives better, both for the people they govern as well as the lives they can assist around the world.  It can be through making it easier for people to learn the skills needed for the jobs of the future, finding ways to assist those who can’t function in the modern society as easily as others or simply by showing kindness as a possible and preferred solution.

When you wake up every day looking for a fight, you’re going to find one. When you wake up every day looking for a way to help people, you’ll find that as well.  The world is what it is.  You can’t change it very much, so you have to change how you interact with it.


Today’s thought

Peace of mind that transcends any and all objectification of accumulated creature comforts or the opinions of others who confuse wealth and public recognition with character and self-respect. Peace of mind is available to anyone willing to pay the wages of disillusionment. To let go of the child’s concept of a world that never has or ever will exist is the cost, but the reward is tranquility.


2017 Year in Review

In the spirit of the year in review, I like to go over how the years has gone and give myself an honest assessment of things went. So, here’s what I thought of 2017.

As we finish up the year, I am generally pleased with how things have gone. After the nightmarish dumpster fire of 2016, this year was busy, with the group home throwing me tons of hours that went into my savings account, a retirement account and finally, into a new car. I have already moved up two spots at the full time job, and am working on becoming HR certified (1st of 3 tests on the 29th). Like most Gen Xers, the job market has been pulled out from under me repeatedly through my “career”, but thankfully, I keep landing on my feet.

Podcast wise, I didn’t ALL of my marks for the year, but we have our 300th episode of Kray Z, started “Series in Review” and “Bad Advice”, and with my crew, we will have produced over 150 hours of content.  The show moved into 2017 better than it had been for about a year and a half and I am proud of how we’ve grown in our skills, topics and entertainment value.  If you quit listening in 2016, come on back, as we’re better than ever.  It’s not just ME saying that, but the listeners have been giving us solid feedback about how we stepped up our game.

I had some amazing guests on the shows, lots of good comic talk and growth in listenership to where we routinely get 1000 downloads of a podcast the first week, so thank you for listening, telling people and I am glad we entertain you. We’re about to start year 8, and baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Writing wise, I finished up a novel and got 50k words into a new one, and will be buying myself ISBN numbers so that when they are ready, they will be all professional like. Dan still has copies of the first World Wide News collection, and it makes a great Festivus gift!  Buy two, they’re small!  And, for those of you who prefer digital, we will be releasing that book in that format soon on Amazon!

In my personal life, my anxiety issues are being helped with medication, meditation, and awareness. After the nightmarish year that was 2016, I have made huge gains in dealing with that.  I also removed the things that were exacerbating the issues and haven’t looked back. Retiring from conventions and removing toxic people from my environment has done wonders for my outlook and returned my life to doing things I enjoy with good people.  I traveled more, read more, and have done more socially conscious stuff that I am proud of.

I took a trip down the Mississippi River road, taking my time and exploring the small towns and stopping anywhere that looked interesting which revived my love of road trip with no destination. Now that I have a new car and no worries about breakdowns, I look to spend more time doing that.  I have many fond memories of getting in my car with a notebook, spare time and no destination, and there will be a lot more of that in my future.

Where I stumbled this year was that I wasn’t able to move forward on turning to Novelcast novels in eBooks, mostly because I got bogged down in final edits and keep finding new things to rewrite or fix. I also didn’t record as many episodes of Novelcast as I should and had long gaps between episodes mostly due to the intensive time commitment is requires.

I didn’t do as many solo podcasts as I would have hoped, again due to the time commitment needed. I did spend time with friends and family, but not as much as I would have hoped I would have.  I also didn’t do very well in my commitment to fitness, gained some weight back and didn’t exercise nearly enough.

As with any reassessment, I am working on making changes to that and hope to do better in the near term.

So, overall, as the year comes to a close, I am happy with how things have gone and feel this year was a marked improvement over the last two. I was looking for 2017 to be a year where I got back on course, since 2016 was a year where I was finally able to find a full-time job, completed an assessment that let me know how anxiety was driving me and where I worked on a lot of different ideas for harnessing my creative stuff.  2017 was about bringing it all together.  2018 will be a year of growth, surprises, and exploration.

Much love to friends old and new. How about you?  How did you do this year?  Did you move forward?  Did you have fun?  Remember, we’re only here for a short time, so try to have as much fun as you possibly can while helping people along the way.



State of the Internal Nation

So, I have been talking about my anxiety and such for the past year or so, and I want to give an update. Partly because I don’t get to talk to people as much as I’d like and partly because when someone gets diagnosed with a mental health issue, a lot of people don’t know how someone gets “better”.

Before I got help, I had always dealt with the anxiety, even though I wasn’t quite sure what it was.; I know that I had racing thoughts, that when I was over stressed I would feel completely overwhelmed, and there were times when I HAD TO FIND SOMETHING, and even when I found it, I wasn’t calmer, so IT MUST BE SOMETHING ELSE I NEED TO FIND.

I had serious issues with it before. In college, my Junior year, I had a long-term relationship end and for the first time in my life, school wasn’t so easy that I could do well by just paying attention.  I had massive back pain, and through therapy learned relaxation and meditation techniques.

When I had a horrific job in 2011, I was hospitalized for stomach issues, and eventually had to quit the job due to cascading panic attacks. I could also tell I was overstressed by forgetting little things, where my wallet or keys were, what day of the week it was, if I had completed small tasks because my brane was racing on other issues.  I can remember times I would be driving to work and realize I was driving to the wrong job (in one case, I was driving to a job I hadn’t work at in a couple of years).

So, in 2016 (worst year for me since 1999-2000) I again started having cascading panic attacks. I knew the external cause and got rid of it with help from my Tribe, but I kept having the issue, so I decided to get some help.  I completed a therapeutic class, got on some anti-anxiety medicine, worked harder on the meditation, and set up some mechanisms so that I wouldn’t completely overwhelm myself with Stuff To Do.

It’s been about a year, and I have only had a couple of nights where I have had full on panic attacks, whereas by July of 2016, I was having them daily. I have a relaxation routine, make sure to give myself days off, don’t force myself to do too much, and, most importantly, I take time off.  From the internet, from writing, from working, all of it.  I feed my brain, I enjoy what I have and I do what make me content.  Not Happy, content.

The anxiety is still there, but it’s maintainable and I can once again use it to help me complete things rather than giving in to it.

For those who have never gone through it, I explain that if you take how much you worry about things on a scale of 1 to 10, what normal people feel at a 3, I feel at a 10 and what normal people feel at a 5 makes me mentally shut down and go through the motions of what I have to do each day to survive. But now, it’s manageable.

Things I still do:

  • If someone doesn’t get back to me, I feel that they have obviously not longer like me and I should just leave them alone
  • Believe the worst case scenario will happen
  • That horrible thing someone said to me when they were mad? That’s obviously the real truth about me.
  • Overschedule myself so that I feel that I am needed somewhere
  • Really want to go do things, but as it gets closer to the time to do them, want to get out of it and just stay home

So. Last year in August, that list would have been about 20 items.  I’m getting better, but it’s a slow process, and to be honest, some of the things will NOT get any better, so I am learning how to deal with that.  This doesn’t mean I’m not happy.  I had a lovely Thanksgiving of doing things that I enjoy, this week I set aside an hour or two each night to have pure fun and writing this year’s November Novel made me giddy as I was doing it.

But it does mean that I feel bad if I haven’t gotten in touch with you, that it can get lonely from time to time, and I am still working on getting better.

Much love to friends old and new and thank you for your care and understanding.


How are you?

When I left the field of Juvenile Justice, I learned that I no longer said “How are you” the way other people do. Most of the time, when we say that, we’re not REALLY asking if you are doing all right, it’s a standard nothing greeting.  I have had people in my life who complain that when they ask someone how they are, they actually tell them about the negative things in their life.

By The Way, I tend to spend less time talking to those people now.

I think it’s kind of sad that we are taught to respond to “How are you” with “Terrific, never better!” I was taught that in classes, seminars that the like and it always made me wince.  I understand the reasoning behind it, but a socially acceptable lie is still a lie.

I don’t like it. So, when I ask “How are you,” I am asking out of wanting to know how you actually are.  Has something wonderful happened lately?  Great!  Please share it with me! Have you been feeling out of sorts?  I’m sorry you feel that way, tell me about it.  Are you just this close to something finally being achieved? Wonderful, please share it with me! Have you had a rough day? That blows, I’m ready to listen.

We all say we want a better world, so maybe one way to do that is to ask people “How are you” and not expect them to be a shining beacon of Dale Carnegie positivity and triumph. Just be willing to listen when someone tells you about their life.

Much love to friends old and now and….how are you?


Y’all Need To Find Something To Do

As I am working a lot more than normal (how is that possible, you may ask, and all I have to say is, I always find a way), but personal internet time is severely limited. When I am not working, I usually only have about an hour or two, and to unwind, I have been watching old episodes of MST3K and laughing pretty damn hard.

I have put up a couple of things on Twitter, since I can just drop them and not think about it afterward or be compelled to dig into what others are saying. I listen to a little bit of news on the BBC on my way to work or home so I don’t feel totally isolated.

I checked on Facebook yesterday when I had a spare minute, and one of the posts I had had generated over 200 responses. I won’t get into them other than to say, y’all need to find better things to do that yell at each other and call each other names on social media.  No one’s mind will be changed.  No one will “win” an argument.  No one is keeping score.  You won’t “own” anyone and your clever cruel remarks will fall on deaf ears.

No one will listen to you.

Let me repeat that again for the people in the back: NO ONE WILL LISTEN TO YOU.

If you and your buddies are having fun poking the people on the other side, you are the problem. Period.  Full stop.

I hear constantly “Why won’t liberals/conservatives listen to me!” Maybe because you call them libtards, hillbillies, snowflakes, dotards, and on and on and on.  I’d also like to let you know that when you start talking like that, you really aren’t saying anything anyone will listen to because you are just parroting what you heard.  Recently, someone sent me a nastygram calling me a “Beta cuck libtard snowflake SJW”.  Rather than hurting me, it made me think that the person hadn’t had an original thought in their life and we just vomiting up what they read somewhere and thought “heh, I’ll show those people who make me feel bad!”

My mind has been changed by my experiences and by learning, never by someone shouting at me and calling me names. All that gets you is blocked.

I say it all the time:  If you hurt me, even a little bit, you can fuck the fuck off.

And if I can pull that trigger on someone I have known for almost 20 years or in-laws, I have no problem doing it to random internet hatetroll.

In a perfect world, I’d ask you to quit talking and posting and listen. Listen to what people you disagree with say.  Ask them how they came to where they are in life.  Try to understand the fear that drives them to hate.

But, instead, I’ll just say that y’all need to find better things to do, so here’s a list:

  • Take a hike on the nature trails in your area.
  • Visit an art gallery or a museum and think about what was going through the mind of the artist as they created.
  • Read a book just for fun, some genre you enjoy like a mystery or action novel. Then find one in a used book store from 40 year ago in the same genre to see how writing has changed.
  • Try to find the best pizza in your city.
  • Listen to my podcasts, ya bastards.
  • Watch a foreign film. Yes, Godzilla counts.
  • Get involved in a toy drive or something for Christmas and see how you can do little things that really help people who need it.
  • I have four podcasts going, listen to them and then buy from our sponsors.
  • Make a list of how your life has improved in the last year, and if the list is too short, get to work fixing things.

Then again, you aren’t going to listen to me either. Everyone is just talking at us, not to us, and we may expect everyone to hear us, we don’t want to listen to what anyone else has to say.

Must love to friends old and new and again, y’all need to find something else to do.


What I am thinking about today, 11/8/2017

  1. One of the great things about NaNoWriMo (National novel writing month) is the sheer speed of it. You don’t have time to go back and fix things, you just keep going. Yesterday, I wrote myself into a brick wall, came up with a new character and now have a great comedy sequence that moves the story forward AND ups the tension. For the second act.
  2. I am writing a fairly epic blog post about Brian Michael Bendis jumping to DC. I think this is a big deal, not because of the series he was writing for Marvel, but how deep he was in Marvels entire creative process on TV show, animation, video games and the like. This is a very big deal and will change the creative flow of Marvel. Will he make a change at DC? Hard to say. DC is kind of a mess, creatively, right now, with a few books generating interest, but the vast majority reading like mid 90’s Marvel with C grade characters.
  3. No word on MST3k’s second Netflix season or a Turkey Day for 2017. Hey, Netflix, you gave Marco Polo a second season, what the hell?
  4. There was a big election last night where things changed. I don’t trust it. It’s an off-off year, and only the people really mad came out. 2016 showed that America is fine with racism, hate and totalitarianism and I have seen nothing that convinces me that it has changed. I have given up on Americans and only live here because I don’t have the means to leave or anywhere to go.
  5. People don’t change. They may change for a while, but they will always return to baseline. It’s the one thing I am sure of.
  6. I have been on 12 hour days at the FT job due to it being our busy season. I am waking up, going to work, coming home, eating something, going to bed and doing it all again. I thought I would get a break, since the part-time job has slowed and I am only there two or three nights a week. I was wrong.
  7. I now just leave my phone in the car when I am at the FT job. Meh.
  8. It looks like I have the entire Thanksgiving weekend off. I am going to get requited with my gym, my streaming services and the huge pile of books that has been building up since Labor Day.
  9. The Universal “shared universe” where they will reboot their classic monsters has been shelved. Again. DC has stated their upcoming movies may not be connected. Making an interconnected movies universe it’s damn hard, kids.
  10. I haven’t been making with the positivity much lately. Maybe I too am reverting to who I was before 1999. Not that it seems to matter. Meh.

Post Navigation