“My mother used to sing to me when I was scared at night. When shadows in corners turned into drooling creatures who wanted to eat me. When the wind wasn’t just benign air, but a crazed demon bent on taking my soul and my body, bit by sweet bit. I’d lay my head on her chest to feel the vibration of her singing. The song would come out in low tones and hurried breaths, and just slightly off-key. I always thought my mother’s inability to hold a perfect tune made the song better. It was as if mom had put her touch on the song she’d chosen to sing. Her voice made pleasing chills go down my spine, and made my skin turn to goose pimples. I’d burrow deeper into the blankets smiling into my pillow. Mama would end the song and ask if I wanted to hear another one. If I were asleep, she would plant a kiss on my head. The moisture and the soft smack of my mother’s lips would wake me up just enough to see her walking out of my room.”
This guest post comes to you from a longtime friend of mine, Nick Gideon. Nick is a lyricists, writer, and a no nonsense type of guy. I have never known Nick to mince words. The story in this post is quite unbelievable, but if Nick says it happened, it most certainly did. When I read it I didn’t know whether to laugh, or cry. It seems certain skills have gone by the way side…
The year 2015. The ineptly named Information Age of Earth. Satellites orbit the planet, transmitting invisible terabytes of information on any and all topics one could imagine, to any and all wishing to access it. We can instantly touch millions of people across the globe through social media, empowering the (in)significant individual with the ability to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and worst of all, their goddamned opinions, to every other human being on the planet in the blink of an eye. At the touch of a few buttons on a myriad selection of multi-colored hand held electronic devices, one can be plugged in to the Information Superhighway. Surely this achievement in broad based real time electronic communication is a victory, no… a triumph in the eons-old struggle to give as well as receive information, right? Surely this wealth of knowledge at our fingertips will usher in a new era of enlightenment, yes? As long as the servers are serving, and Apple keeps crapping out I-Phones, a veritable cornucopia of information awaits for any and all who seek it. Science and Technology have given us a glimpse into our technologically-enhanced futures…and doomed us all.
I often contemplate where the line between technological advancement for the benefit of human culture, and technological advancement just for the sake of consumerism has been drawn. Spoiler alert! It hasn’t. I remember an old Star-Trek The Next Generation episode where Picard and the crew beam down to a planet to observe what they deemed to be a primitive human culture. Upon further observation, it was learned that these particular humans had more or less turned their backs on the trappings of a technological society in favor of a simpler, more basic existence. When Picard asked one of the leaders of this “primitive” society why their culture had made this choice, the reply was simple, and has resonated in the back of my mind every day since. He said confidently to Picard, “When you create a machine to do a Man’s job, you take something away from the Man.”
Shit just got real.
To quantify this profound alien’s statement, you must indulge me, and allow me to regale you with an anecdote from my personal life. My very recent personal life, in fact…
While in an elevator recently, I happened to strike up a casual conversation with a group of teenagers. I did not ask their specific ages, but I’m going to ballpark them around 15 or 16 years old. These three guys and two girls were obviously conversing about some sort of school project or report as they entered the elevator. As they joined me in the elevator and selected their floor, one of the girls exasperated that her internet was down, and her project was due very soon. As all of her friends groaned, I chimed in with “Looks like an all-nighter with the Encyclopedia for you.”
They looked at me like I was smoking crack in a leopard print Hitler costume. (which, I assure you, I was not. It’s against Nevada state law to smoke in an elevator.)
The looks of abject confusion and shock told me I had clearly befuddled, and possibly frightened them. Of course, this was followed by about 4 more floors worth of uncomfortable silence. Finally, the bravest one couldn’t take it anymore, and asked me…
“What was that word you just said?”
All 10 eyes eagerly awaited my answer.
“Encyclopedia?” I half questioned, half replied.
“Yeah! That one!” he said, and I shit you not, all 5 of them immediately grabbed their phones and Goggled the word encyclopedia.
Shit just got real dumb.
Needless to say, I had to bite my lip VERY hard to keep from losing it, just on general principle. My mind was reeling from the concept that mine might have been the last generation in this country to know how to do anything at all, even look up a topic in an encyclopedia, without a cell phone.
Certainly, I am not blind to the fact that every single American generation since the first has hated and despised the generations that have followed subsequently, at least to some degree. For we can all hearken back to our younger days when grandfathers told tales of 5 mile barefoot walks to school in blizzard conditions, and the like. Spoiler Alert 2! That’s how old folks call young people pussies. Because the implication is that we could not have hacked it before the advent of the modern conveniences we enjoy now. Are our lives easier? Undoubtedly. Are our lives better? Who knows?
But, understand, the irony is not lost on me. I am the kind of person that has a thirst and aptitude for knowledge of any kind… except mathematics. I recall my own parallel experience as a 16 year old student who spent most of his sophomore year of high school with an algebraic boot in his ass. I kept thinking to myself…when or why will I need this? Why would this shit even be necessary to know?
And thus, the parallel…, the irony. My rationale was that if there is a hand held device called a calculator, that I can fit in my pocket and take with me, that will automatically do these complex calculations for me, then I don’t need to waste my time and energy learning this ridiculous nonsense.
Hypocrisy is the truly the greatest luxury.
Extrapolate my previous view of the relationship between learning mathematics and calculators to basically any given manual task. These young folks have GPS to tell them where they are, where they are going. Can any of them read a map? Or, dare I ask, a compass? They have Google and Yahoo to give them answers that they seek. Did any of the Useless Five (as they forever in infamy shall be known) know what an encyclopedia was? Where one was? What to do with it when they found one? Apparently not.
Maybe I’m just reaching that point in my life where I think “the country is going to hell” with every cell in my body, like countless men before me. Maybe every other young generation that came before mine thought they would change the world, and did, and then watched it all taken for granted and trivialized by the subsequent and following generations. Maybe I’m just some very logical dude who thinks if our youth is so technologically dependent that no one knows how to locate and operate a fucking reference book, it could get very ugly very quickly. Perhaps, however, unlike the previous generations, we actually are witnessing the tide turn. Could it be possible that we are living in time when our society has truly been reduced to pre-programmed consumer cattle; not only unable to think for ourselves, but unable to manually find answers even if we wanted to without the help of manufactured devices to do the work for us?
And people said my generation’s baggy pants were bad…
In celebration of me finishing Walter, my short story “A World Without” is free once again. Give it a read, and leave a review!
“If the one person in your life you loved the most was there one second and gone the next what would you do? You would explore every possibility to get them back. Losing someone is a bone crushing, soul emptying experience, but now it doesn’t have to be! At NorWorld, we prolong life through A.I. We take away the suffering with Technology.” – Dr. Thad Feast
Anthony and his wife Susan love each other very much. So much they can’t let go.
This is a short story from the up coming NorWorld series By Ernie Howard.
“At Norworld, we prolong life through A.I. We take away the suffering with technology.”
“Is that guy ever going to take down his Halloween decorations?” Rob said, as he rubbed the crust from the corner of his eye.
“Honey, he’s an old man, and it is probably hard for him to take them down. Everyone likes Mr. Samson’s Halloween decorations, they are always so, elaborate.” Samantha always found the good in people, it was her downfall. If you didn’t stick up for yourself people would walk all over you, Rob thought.
“His Halloween decorations are always great because he just adds to them from the year before. I mean look at that damn scare crow, it’s falling apart! I have had it! The HOA lets this guy leave his crap up all year, but if I have one weed in my yard I get a fine. I’m bringing it up at the next meeting.” Robs ears were getting hot, which meant he was about to lose it.
“It’s not a big deal, leave it alone.” Samantha grabbed both of his ears and pulled him to her lips, kissing him and making an exaggerated smooch sound. “I’ll see you tonight Honey.” She was out the door before Rob could get in a rebuttal.
He watched as she put her purse in the car, and looked across the street. Mr. Samson was fussing with a plastic bat that had seen better days. The string that attached it to the front door was frayed and looked like it would break in a slight breeze. His wife turned towards the window and mouthed the words, “calm down.” Rob raised one eyebrow and shook his head. Samantha threw up her hands as she got into the car and drove away.
Rob continued to watch the old man through the window. He fiddled with one of the Styrofoam tombstones that had fallen over and made his way back to the front door, pausing at the ragged scare crow that sat on a cobwebbed bench on his front porch. Mr. Samson reached out with his shaky old hand and patted the infernal thing on the head. Rob scratched the dime sized birthmark on the top of his hand, as he did when he was anxious, or something unnerved him.
The HOA meeting went just like Rob thought it would, with him shouting, and nothing being done about the eyesore across the street. They didn’t want to hear about Mr Samson’s never ending Halloween Decor. They had bigger problems. Like broken sprinkler heads, weeds, and a dwindling budget. Rob was asked to leave and never return to another meeting; which resulted in him getting physically removed by a large man who had the smell of liquor on his breath.
Rob frantically scratched his birthmark as he walked down the street. His ears felt like they were on fire when he paused in front of Mr. Samson’s yard. The tattered cloth ghosts, and sun bleached spiders only adding to the heat that originated in his ears, but now seemed to have found a home in the front of his head. He was done. If you wanted to have something done in this world you had to do it yourself. The first thing he would throw away was that damn scarecrow! He walked up the man’s driveway, kicking a rotting pumpkin out-of-the-way as he went. He lost his balance when he reached the front porch, slipping on the rotted pumpkin juice on his shoe. He reached out as he fell, grabbing onto one of the scarecrows arms, ripping it from its body. A stream of maggots and cockroaches came flowing out of the hole falling onto Rob’s face.
“What the hell!” He said, sending a maggot that had made it to his mouth, flying. He didn’t even feel the needle go into his neck, the old man was lightning fast for his age.
Those weeds are getting out of hand, Mr. Samson thought, as he stared across the street. He needed to notify the HOA. He hadn’t seen Mrs. Lawson work on her lawn since last February. He realized she was in mourning, but her yard was getting ridiculous. I mean what were they? Savages? He sighed, looking down at his new scarecrow. Well new as of last year. After Halloween he would have to replace it, it was just getting to tattered. The straw smelt funny, and look at that, one of the gloves was coming off. Mr. Samson pulled the glove up, covering the dime sized birthmark it had exposed. That will have to do for now. Halloween is only a day away. He patted the top of the scarecrows head and went inside.
The guy looked like a CIA agent, complete with plain black suit and sunglasses, that were not needed since it was almost dark. In one well manicured hand he held an envelope that had the name in question written in what looked like old cursive, or calligraphy. The envelope was old, it was browning at the edges and looked like it would fall apart at the slightest touch. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Every time I glanced up at the man, my eyes would dart back down, as if the paper were made from a magnet exclusively for the two round objects that fit neatly in my skull.
I was not Steven James, the mysterious man who gets hand delivered letters from guys dressed up like secret service. No, I wasn’t him, but at that moment I wanted to be him. It seemed his life was a lot more interesting than mine. Bet he wasn’t an assistant manager of a gas and sip, who came home every night to sit alone and watch bad TV and eating bad food.
The man extended the envelope towards me, and not even thinking I said “Yes I am,” and snatched the note from his hand. He gave me a smirk as if saying he knew damn well I wasn’t who I said I was, making me instantly want to give him the envelope back. “Humanity thanks you.” He said. The man tipped his head as he walked away. I could hear his footfalls echoing, each one making the foreboding feeling that had come over me almost unbearable. I turned around to tell him the truth of my identity, and give him back the letter, but he was gone like he had become one with the molecules in the air.
The envelope seemed to burn in my hand. It wanted to be open, the note wanted to be read.
I opened the envelope. The brittle paper crumbled in my hands. Glue that had been sealed long ago obliterated into dust, leaving my hands a chalky yellowish color. The note looked newer, and was folded in classic letter style. I unfolded the paper methodically, relishing the moment even being overcome with the most horrible fear. It said in big red letters, “Look behind you.” As I turned I felt the cold hand of death on my shoulder, and then I was staring it in the face.
The emptiness is what I remember most. Where my soul resides is a dark place where monsters lurk in every corner. Yes my friends, hell is not the fire and brimstone kind of hell. Hell resides in your mind, on a Tuesday, when your bored, and coming home from work.
Oh are you wondering what I saw…? Well I saw nothing.
Other writing by me that you can find on Amazon. Click the images if you have further interest.
Yes people, they have lied to us. They Lied to us in the most heinous of ways. Who lied to us you ask? Well Science Fiction movies, TV shows, and books. The lies started for me when I was a very small boy. I would sit on the living room floor eating my Cap N Crunch watching The Jetsons. I would watch George go to work in the sky, in his flying car that folded up into a briefcase once he parked. I believed that in the not too distant future we would have those flying cars that folded up into luggage. Not so my friends. We still drive around on rubber, and have to park our big lumbering non folding cars into parking spots! Parking spots people! In 2013 no less!
Today I watched Blade Runner for the 100th time. And seeing the “Replicants” In 2019 Los Angeles got me thinking how much Science Fiction lied to us! Where’s my house cleaning android, my flying car, and my fricken teleporter! Blade Runner is just one example of these lying Sci Fi stories. Below are 10 of the biggest offenders in my opinion.
The Abyss told us that in the not to distant future we would have command centers in the deepest part of the ocean. We would breathe liquid oxygen, speak with ancient aliens that had been on the oceans floor for thousands of years. Liars! The only thing I have seen happen is James Cameron has made about 14 documentaries about the Titanic. You can only see a rusty ship with “My heart will go on” playing in the background before you want to rip out your eyes, and shove sharp things in your ears. You lied to us James Cameron… You lied to us. And I had so much hope for deep-sea exploration…
The Fifth Element, is set in the 23rd century, but it still made the list because I don’t think we should have to wait that long for flying cars, hot looking hybrid humans that can download every piece of information into their brains in a nano second, and guns that remember where to shoot. You can keep the weird-looking skull-cap thing that Gary Oldman’s character wear’s, and Chris Tucker’s annoying character.
The Minority Report is an awesome book by Philip K, Dick, made into an awesome movie. But again they lied to us. In this movie you can actually predict when a murder is going to happen. Which is kinda cool unless you are on the receiving end like Tom Cruises character. You have holographic computers, cars that drive up buildings, and multiple future outcomes. I will be expecting at least holographic computers in the near future. Shame on you Philip K, Dick… Shame on you.
The Island is a movie that has technology that isn’t quite here yet, and maybe should never be. In this movie the people get told that the earth is too contaminated to live in. The community has a lottery every so often, and the inhabitants believe they are going to an Island that is the last habitable place on earth. The truth is they are spare parts for their rich twins who live in the real world. Harvest-able human spare parts is not something we should ever have, but out of all my movie picks it’s the one that is close to happening.
Total Recall said we will go to Mars for vacations, and be able to wear human suit disguises… I think not!. Not to mention we would get to take virtual vacations in our mind. Very cool concepts but they have not happened. I don’t think I would like to go to Mars, and call me old-fashioned, but I want to actually experience my vacation for real. It was funny seeing Arnold’s eyes bulge out of his head though. And the mutant people were pretty interesting.
Robocop… Hmmm I don’t want Robotic cops. I don’t want cops that do not have the ability to choose between shooting you for jaywalking or just giving you a ticket. Cyborgs have always creep-ed me out a bit, humans with robot parts. Robots malfunction, and humans lose their minds, not a good combo in my opinion. The car alarm that electrocuted people was kind of cool, but what if you forgot to shut it off when you get into your car, and it turns you into a human pop-tart? I guess in a way we already have robot cops, they are every where, and they see everything.
2001: A Space Odyssey missed the mark big time. If it wasn’t space travel for the public, gigantic deep space ships, crazy weird clothes, and emotional computers it wouldn’t be on this list. Crazy good director Stanley Kubrick strikes again. This movie however had big dreams, and they were all suppose to happen in 2001… It’s 2013 damn it! This movie when it came out had futurist’s salivating, now it is just something to grin at, and ah…, write blogs about… My god… It’s full of crap…
Star Trek movie’s and TV shows have been repeat offenders for years. Warp speed, weird clothes, and tribbles to say the least. However this was all suppose to take place in the 23rd century. I will say many of the things that have appeared on the TV shows, and the movie’s were invented in real life. Maybe because a lot of the contributors of the shows and movies are real scientist, and physicists. We have ipads, Google glasses, and cell phones. All of these have showed up in the Star Trek movies, and TV shows. But that doesn’t excuse them from the whole transporter thing! Beem me up Hollywood!
A.I. is a movie about an android boy made to take the place of a mothers dying son. It is one of the most depressing films I have ever seen in my opinion. The boy robot can never die, and the mother throws him away like a piece of trash, after the lady’s real kid wakes up from his coma… Its pretty messed up! We do not have robots taking the place of real kids, and its a good thing. I just wanted to remark on how this movie made me feel morbid, and depressed for about a week after I saw it…
And now we come to the last pick on this list of lying Sci Fi movies. This pick is the master of the lie, and has had my generation going for years. The movie I speak of is Back To The Future 2. Not just flying cars in this one, we have a whole slew of lies such as Hoverboards, Holographic billboards, double ties, and alternate realities, It’s enough to make Biff want to “make like a tree, and get out of here!” All of this takes place in 2015! You only have less than two years left Mcfly! Well at least we could buy some cool futuristic Nike’s from the movie, and the proceeds went to a good cause. Great Scott!!
I love all of these movies, and I pretended being mad strictly for writing purposes. Science Fiction movies, books, and TV shows have inspired many people to invent great things, and I can’t wait for the next big technology that we can mark off the list. If I missed any, which I know I did. Please feel free to comment. thanks for reading.
I know a lot of people are saying “who is Richard Matheson?” He was one of the most influential writers of our time. There are very few writers who can say they influenced writers such as Stephen King and Anne Rice. Stephen King named Matheson as one of his biggest influences, and Anne Rice has said Richard Matheson’s short story “A dress of white silk,” was one of her prime influences for her vampires. Still not impressed? Not much of a reader? More of a movie buff? Ever seen a little movie called I am Legend, starring Will Smith? Or What dreams may come, or Button, Button, a.k.a. The box, or Hell house, a.k.a. The legend of Hell House, or The twilight zone episode, where the man freaks out on a plane saying there is a man on the wing? Yup! You guessed it, all written by Richard Matheson. Even if you don’t read books, you have been exposed to this man’s work. Pop culture lost a great writer yesterday, but this man will live forever with his contributions to books and movies.
Here’s a list of some of this great authors work.
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
Beat Generation (1959)
House of Usher (1960)
Master of the World (1961)
The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
Burn Witch Burn (1962); a.k.a. Night of the Eagle (screenplay co-written with Charles Beaumont and George Baxt based on the novel Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber
Tales of Terror (1962)
The Raven (1963)
The Comedy of Terrors (1963)
The Last Man on Earth (as “Logan Swanson”, based on Matheson’s novel I Am Legend)(1964)
The Young Warriors (1967)
The Devil Rides Out (1968)
De Sade (1969)
The Legend of Hell House (based on his novel) (1973)
Somewhere in Time (based on his novel) (1980)
Twilight Zone: The Movie: Fourth segment “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (1983)
Jaws 3-D (1983)
Loose Cannons (1990)
The Box (2009)
Real Steel (2011)
Someone is Bleeding (1953)
Fury on Sunday (1953)
I Am Legend (1954) filmed as The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, I Am Omega and I Am Legend
The Shrinking Man (1956); filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man and subsequently reprinted under that title; also the basis of the film The Incredible Shrinking Woman
A Stir of Echoes (1958); filmed as Stir of Echoes
Ride the Nightmare (1959); adapted as an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and later filmed as Cold Sweat (1970 film)
The Beardless Warriors (1960); filmed as The Young Warriors
The Comedy of Terrors (1964), with Elsie Lee; filmed as The Comedy of Terrors
Hell House (1971); filmed as The Legend of Hell House
Bid Time Return (1975); filmed as Somewhere in Time and subsequently reprinted under that title
What Dreams May Come (1978); filmed as What Dreams May Come
Earthbound (Playboy Publications, 1982), as by Logan Swanson — editorially abridged version; restored text published as by Richard Matheson, 1989
I think telling a story/being a writer has always been in my blood. My father, although he never wrote anything down, could spin a good yarn. He was always regaling anyone that would listen, with the stories of his youth. Like the time he wiped out a corn field with an Indian motorcycle, or when he swam across a lake that was ten miles long just to get to work! Did I mention he could spin a good yarn?
My mother on the other hand, did not tell embellished stories of life experience, but she could spin a yarn like my father as well. She wrote scripts, and even sold a few before she passed away. She never made any serious money with her writing, but when I would find her sitting at the kitchen table with a pen and a legal pad, scribbling away she always had a smile on her face. Just as my father would be smiling ear to ear having an audience, with his interactive storytelling. Both of them told stories for the sheer joy of it. Much as I do now.
Getting pleasure from writing is something I am grateful my parents instilled in me at a young age. As a writer you have to love what you are doing. You have to love words. You have to love putting those words into sentences, those sentences into paragraphs, those paragraphs into stories. You have to write every day, and do it with a smile on your face. If writing gives you pleasure, than you are already a success. This is one of the main points of my Kindle article “Inspiration for the struggling writer.” The most important thing in life that we all strive for is to like what we do. And writing is no exception. As the old saying goes, “Find what you like doing, and do it well.”
My mother and father were never famous writers, but they told a story with exuberance and great joy. They were story tellers. They were successful writers. It gave them pleasure to entertain people with their stories. And that is what all writers are striving for in the long run. If you’re a writer take a second not to worry about the money or fame. Instead think about the pure joy you give yourself and others just by telling a story. It really is a wonderful thing.